As Scott and Joelle mentioned this weekend, the DSD blog is now a year old, which means we oughta stop crapping our pants this year. (It’s Monday, folks. You expected we’d start being classy on Mondays now?)
We plan to have our collection for you this month. It’s called TERMINAL DAMAGE, a series of eight, linked stories that touch each other. (Haha-hoho-heehee. Oh, and don’t get like that with me, now. Bryon’s story has a stripper, so don’t you go starting with me. Jay’s has a wrestler. I can’t remember whether those two stories collide, but I should probably go back and re-look.) Right now we’re negotiating a mountain of cash for the collection, with all proceeds to benefit The Human Fund.
This last week of the DSD first-year has been batcrap crazy. Have you seen these Kindles? Seems you can now buy machines that allow to read books. Weird, huh? All this time I had all these books in my house and no way to read them. Now, for $189 I have a machine that allows me to read them.
Also, newspapers and magazines. What? You know all about this? I’m behind? Well, fine.
So I’m sitting out back of the bakery waiting for them to throw out the day-old bagels and I’m reading The New Yorker on my Kindle. (Hooray for birthday money.) I’m reading an article about this dandy of an entertainer called Brad Paisley. Nice looking fella. Sings all pretty the way the women in the suburbs like. And every time I make a joke about him, he’s probably made another ten million dollars. And not so much from his recordings. Sure, people download “[Insert some joke title here to see if anyone notices]” for a dollar online or buy his CDs in WalMart, but that isn’t where most of his money comes from. The dude makes serious bank by flying around the country, waking up at some coliseum and singing those same songs to tens of thousands of people who’ve paid hundreds of dollars to see him. To sing the song you listened to on the way to the concert. That you’ve already heard fifty times on the radio.
Let me try to explain. You fire up the 8-track and listen over and over again to “Cluster Pluck” (which I think is a play on the term “Cluster Fuck.” I have not heard the song, so I cannot in good conscience comment on the aptness of the title. I assume the word-play “Pluck” for “Fuck” is some sort of show of Paisley’s cleverness.) or “What a Friend We Have In Jesus” (a traditional song off the same album, undoubtedly as much a testament to Paisley’s Christianity as the “Cluster Fuck” song is to his cleverness).
Anyway, people pay money – much money – to hear Paisley perform LIVE the songs they’ve heard him perform on the album. Now, I’ve never knowingly heard any of his songs. I’m sort of loopy at the dentist’s where they do play the suburban country station, so it’s possible something from "Sleepin' on the Foldout" has seeped into my brain. I don’t have anything against Paisley and from The New Yorker article (which wasn’t written by Sasha Frere-Jones, so might well be trustworthy) he seemed like a nice young man.
I would not pay to see Brad Paisley perform because I’m not a fan of his work. Keep that in your head for a second. Now add in the idea that Paisley makes a ton of money from his concerts, as most big-name performers do. Their albums are meant to kick off their national tours, where they make the real money.
And they’re supposed to play the songs just as they sound on the albums. God forbid Dylan should plug in or Bruce Springsteen should go a cappella for “Thunder Road.”
With all the craziness in the book world, what would it take for authors to make bank on book tours? Brad Paisley makes money touring. Why can’t a best-selling author?
Can you imagine if BLOOD’S A ROVER was used to propel James Ellroy on his big national tour? Sure, twenty bucks for the book, but it’s two hundred to see him read from it. Would you pay for that? To see him perform the same chapters you’ve read? You know full well that the show will include Mr. Ellroy’s discussion about the size of his penis and insults aimed at Bill Clinton. As entertaining as a Brad Paisley concert? Would you have to have a light show included?
Why does Brad Paisley get serious buckage for performing while Charlie Huston doesn’t?
Heck, how many times have you heard about a writer you like having a hard time putting butts in chairs at the Barnes and Noble. And that’s probably about 30 seats to fill.
I guess David Sedaris can sell tickets to his readings. Who else? Can Laura Lippman or Michael Connelly?
Janet Evanovich just signed a four-book deal in which she was promised $50 million. Plus, she gets a million-dollar bonus for each home run she hits once she passes 30 in a season. And Eddie Van Halen has to come to her house and take out all the green M&Ms from her bowl. Could she get twenty-thousand people paying $200-per to hear her read?
I turn on CSPAN-2 and see historians at book festivals talking to half-empty (half-full, for you hippies) tents and wonder how many books they’re going to sell from that.
I paid good money to see Hank Williams, Jr. play. I’d pay more to see Hank3 play. I’ve paid for PIL, Deadeye Dick, Violent Femmes, Sonny Rollins, and many more. Heck, I even paid to see the Smithereens. Many, many other people did, too.
Why can’t Charlie Huston or JT Ellison make their livings by flying around the country giving readings to sold-out coliseums?
Who would you pay $200 to see read?