Once again I was honored to do a book signing at the BookExpo in NYC in May of 2015. This was my fifth official signing at the BookExpo America, and this occasion was for my latest release, AC/DC FAQ All That’s Left To Know About The World’s True Rock ‘n’ Roll Band.
I used to live in New York, so going back is always like going home for me. I was lucky enough to stay with my good friend, Ronnie Norpel, who is a published author herself. You should definitely check out her book, Baseball Karma & The Constitution Blues, which is available on Amazon.
Ronnie now works as an associate producer for the Barry Farber radio show. Barry has been on New York radio for over five decades, and he is fascinating to talk to. I didn’t get to Ronnie’s until Wednesday evening, and spent all day Thursday, May 28, enjoying the BookExpo. I was interviewed by New York journalist, Bruce Alexander and met Frank Todaro, who hosts his own paranormal radio show, The Invisible World.
I also tried the 60 second writing challenge, where you had to pick a noun, a verb and an adjective and then they gave you a question and you had 60 seconds to answer it using those key words. To my surprise I actually came up with something, and they were very happy with me. Of course being a published author, it came as a great relief that I didn’t fail their test. Somewhere there is an actual video of this, and thankfully I haven’t been able to find it.
So I left my first day tired, weary and ready to head back up to Ronnie’s apartment. Getting a cab from the BookExpo is nearly impossible, and the train is a good 4 blocks away. Keep in mind, NYC blocks are about one half mile long, each. Thinking I had outsmarted the system, I got on a free air conditioned bus that was headed for Grand Central. I could catch a train there. However, the bus was going to a hotel on 49th and Lexington, which is miles away from where I needed to be. Ronnie had booked me for an 8pm interview with Barry that same evening, and it was already past 6pm. After begging the driver to let me off the bus, unsuccessfully, I enjoyed the scenery of 57th Street, passing Fifth, Park and Madison Avenues. After a frantic call to Ronnie to ask what to do once I got to Grand Central, I waited to disembark. Once inside Grand Central, I took a sharp right to catch the S Train to 42nd Street which took me to the regular subway, where I took the Express to 96th and then the local to 103rd. In less than a half an hour, I was at Ronnie’s door, dead tired, but confident in the fact that I had most certainly gotten my New York groove back!
The next day, Friday May 29, Ronnie accompanied me to my book signing at the Javits Center. I was scheduled for 2pm, and thanks to a wayward cab driver, who pretended that he couldn’t speak English, we arrived at my station with only five minutes to spare. Just like Keith Richards, I looked at my frantic publicist, and said, “Can I get a bottle of water, and where is my pen?” Over the next 33 minutes, I signed 60 books and met some of the most amazing people. Thanks to John Cerullo, my publicist Wes Seeley, his assistant Lindsay, Dave, Mike and my editor, Bernadette of Hal Leonard/Backbeat Books, my book signing was a smashing success.
After three long days of meetings, speeches, signings and sales, many of the publishers celebrate the closing with drinks, snacks and free books if you can carry them. We were treated to vodka spiked tea, a cold Corona and a snifter of brandy garnished with chocolate dipped apricots. Of course we had to try them all, and as we were wandering around watching people pack up, we ran into Allison from Harlequin Books. My daughter, author Clarissa Cole, is shopping a romance novel, so I thought I would stop by and pitch them her book. Not only was Allison interested and very gracious, but she was so tired, she gave Ronnie and me free concert tickets to Billy Idol who was playing down the street on Pier 97 that same evening.
Of course we had plans to see a punk rock photo exhibit in the Village, and then meander further south to see a band that her friend played in, but free Billy Idol tickets trumped all of that. Before we knew it, we were sipping a cold Lager on the Hudson River, looking toward the stage with the city of Manhattan starting to glitter as the sun went down. Billy, his band and especially his guitar player, Steve Stevens sounded amazing! They rocked the pier, where under the stars over one thousand Billy Idol fans were shouting their best “Rebel Yell.” We also hooked up with two amazing ladies from Long Island, Jean and Bernadette, who made that night that much more fun. That’s what I love best about the Big Apple, you never know what’s going to happen or who you are going to meet.
With one more day left of my visit, the next afternoon we strolled down to the Dakota and Strawberry Fields. It was a beautiful sunny day, and there were hundreds of people enjoying the serene surroundings of the Imagine mosaic. Proving again, that it’s all about synchronicity, I chose a bench to rest on, and all the benches have nameplates dedicated to someone by their family. I just happened to chose one of the few available benches that was dedicated to Ronnie’s friend’s nephew, Adrian, who tragically died young from a drug overdose. Ronnie doesn’t live that far from Strawberry Fields, but she never knew about the bench. It was a beautiful, yet poignant encounter that brought tears and wonder, and made me believe in the magic of New York City. Something I miss every day.
From there we made our way downtown to visit a friend who plays in a band called Too Many Lauras. They were playing later that evening, and since I was flying back home the next day, they invited us to sit in on their rehearsal. The band includes singer/songwriter, Peter Chance, who plays guitar and harmonica. Accompanied by violinist Cecil Hooker, bassist Michael Muller and Pat Robinson on accordian, their songs were beautiful, melodic and bittersweet. Including two of my favorites, “Graduation Day,” and “Carole Lombard.” Go to iTunes or CD Baby to check them out at http://cdbaby.com/cd/thenovellas.
If that wasn’t enough of a treat, Peter cracked a bottle of champagne to celebrate my new book, and took us out to dinner at La Carbonara on 14th Street. They had the most amazing lobster filled ravioli and between the food, wine and the company, it was hard to say goodbye. But the boys had to pack up and head to their performance and Ronnie and I took off for the train.
Considering it was only 10pm, when we hit 42nd Street, I dragged Ronnie off the train and told her we needed to go to Times Square for the sightseeing. Now 10pm on a Saturday night in Times Square is a movie in itself. There had to be at least 50,000 people walking around, including people dressed as super heroes, naked ladies covered only in body paint, and someone dressed as the Statue of Liberty counting their money from posing for pictures with tourists.
It also happened to be the month that New York City launched “Midnight Moment,” which was the largest coordinated effort in history by the sign operators in Times Square to display synchronized, cutting-edge creative content on electronic billboards and newspaper kiosks throughout Times Square every night for three minutes, starting at 11:57 pm. We were there to see the Andy Warhol’s Screen Test, from 1964-66. You can see it at http://www.timessquarenyc.org/times-square-arts/projects/midnight-moment/screen-tests-1964-66/index.aspx.
Once Andy Warhol’s exhibit was complete, we hit a few souvenir shops, popped into a karaoke bar to dance to, “Uptown Funk,” took tons of pictures, and when our feet couldn’t take it anymore, slid into a cab and headed home. I flew out the next afternoon, but not before I picked up roast beef sandwiches at Zabar’s at 81st and Broadway. All in all, it was another incredible trip. I’ve been to many cities around the world, and there is no city like New York City.
Much love and thanks to Ronnie, her son Adrian, Peter, Mike, Pat and Cecil from Too Many Lauras, and everyone at Hal Leonard/Backbeat Books. A special thanks to all those who stopped by for a signed book, a picture and a smile.