I pulled into Houston a little later than planned, with just enough time to change clothes and drive over to Domy Books. I was blown away by the magnificence of my hotel, however, the ICON, located in the heart of downtown. I don’t know I know what a five-star hotel is, but this seemed to be it. A beautiful lobby with a three-story atrium, old-fashioned cast iron elevators, and my room…. Let me put it this way: they left me a plate of chocolate-dipped strawberries. A jacuzzi bathtub with sliding doors opening onto a view of the TV. A glass-walled shower stall with the best water pressure I’ve ever experienced. Not to mention the turned-back king-size bed with the proverbial mint on the pillow. Now this is the life of an author on book tour! Never in a million years did I think I would "merit" this kind of service. The only drawback to it all was that Sari wasn’t there to share it with me… and that I didn’t have time to enjoy it, as I had to run off to my signing/presentation.
The Domy event itself was good, though not nearly as well-attended as the Austin Book People event the night before. Kinda surprising when you think about what a strong connection there is between those who evacuated from New Orleans to Houston… but then Houston isn’t nearly the book town that Austin is. Domy is a cool store, reminding me a bit of Chicago’s famous Quimby’s, with a nice collection of art comix, zines, and assorted detritus of underground culture. And the store employees were really sweet: they were all over the book’s production design, admiring the colors, the jacket design, and all the other crap I spent months agonizing over (as well as bringing in whiz-bang designer Charlie Orr to tie it all together for me.)
The presentation took part in a beautiful backyard patio where cicadas chirped and people sipped drinks. What made it all remarkable, however, was that C-SPAN’s BookTV was there filming the whole thing! A crew of five, a director, the whole nine yards. It was really cool; I just wish there had been a crowd more like Book People’s. Though the presentation itself went off without a hitch, there was no life to the Q&A session. Thank Rao for my ol’ comix pal Scott Gilbert, the only person to actually ask me a question. I tried to draw the answer out as long as possible, but I cut it short after that as it was clear no one else was motivated.
Besides Scott, other folks I knew at the signing were Toby Craig, a friend of A.D. characters Leo & Michelle who himself makes an appearance himself in the book; and my ol’ pal Chris Oarr, former CBLDF executive director, and before that co-founder of SPX. It was great seeing Chris after too many years, and we promised to catch up the next morning, when Chris promised to treat me to "a real Texas breakfast!"
After signing the rest of Domy’s stock I was totally beat and drove directly back to the ICON. What with the late arrival into Houston and rushing straight over to Domy, I hadn’t had a chance to have dinner. Unfortunately, however, I arrived back at the ICON just after room service had ended for the night. I was forced to make a meal of the afore-mentioned strawberries and a cranberry juice and some roasted nuts from the room’s minibar. Before completely collapsing, I soaked a bit in the jacuzzi and caught up on the day’s baseball scores via ESPN.
First thing Friday morning was a phone interview for Bob Abdelman’s Mr. Media podcast (which I suppose will be up soon). Then I checked out and drove over to meet Chris at La Mexicana, his favorite Tex-Mex joint. I did indeed have a great breakfast of chilaquiles, tortillas, and refried beans, enough to last me all the way to New Orleans — a five-plus-hour drive…
Here are some photos of my room ;->