Post SPX

14 10 2007

I have a new idea for my blog: instead of promoting upcoming events, which I never seem to get around to doing in time, whether because I don’t know what to say, or feel self-conscious about self-promoting, or harbor a secret resentment of deadlines and derive a dark joy from failing them, I’ll blog about events after they happened, and hopefully make you wish you’d been there.

This is the feeling I get, anyway, when I read other people’s blogs and find out about happenings I was stupid to have missed, shindigs I can kick myself for not having dragged myself to, or clambakes to which I wasn’t even invited but would very much like to have been a part of.

This plays to my natural nostalgic impulses: for someone so fundamentally wistful, memory is a constant component of daily perception, and instead of past, present, and future, time might better be divided for me into regret, disappointment, and anticipation.

The obvious downside to this is you’ll never know where I’m going to be. But how many people does that matter to, anyway?

I was, for example, at SPX. My first, and a fun time. Ha-hah! Bet you didn’t know that, did you? The AWESOME! anthology, which features the story that the header image above is taken from, debuted there.

Courtesy of Fred Van Lente and the ISR Forums

GB let me squat periodically at his table, and the conference police didn’t seem to mind. Periodically I would return, laden with bags of money that had somehow transformed itself into excellent comics. Even now, I still don’t know how it happened. The list of cool and extremely talented people I met is very long*, and I will be sure to mention them all in some prize acceptance speech one day. All of them. Every last one.

The car was rented. The drive was short and sunny, Fred Chao and Dylan Babb in back. We never left 95, so the breeze brought leaves to us across the lanes in swirls and eddies. Cheever says, “He shivered with longing, he felt his skin coarsen as when, driving home late and alone, a shower of leaves on the wind crossed the beam of his headlights, liberating him for a second at the most from the literal symbols of his life—the buttonless shirts, the vouchers and bank statements, the order blanks, and the empty glasses. He seemed to listen—God knows for what.” When we got to the Rockville Marriott I felt suitably far from home, and as though I’d put a clever one over on the nine-to-fivers, poor working fools. Maryland was windy, several degrees cooler, and the trees already golden.

There was also the Walt Whitman rest stop, dinner at an Afghan restaurant, another at a barbecue joint, a night on a stolen hotel sofa cushion. No, I didn’t go karaoke, but I stayed up to see them stagger back. I did manage, the first day, to accost a bearded man in the elevator. He wore a tee proclaiming Trondheim’s American tour.

“Hey,” I said, pointing rudely, “I just translated Kaput & Zosky.”

I’d just driven four hours and was feeling cavalier, if not a bit lightheaded from delayed lunch.

“I just translated some Trondheim too,” the bearded man replied with a brusque shrug. “For The Nimrod.”

The elevator opened at my floor and I waved a blithe see-you-on-the-floor.

That was, of course, Kim Thompson. Gary Groth’s mug I recognize from MoCCA. Kim Thompson I had never seen, though later I was able to prove we’d corresponded about translation by referencing a photo of his dachshund Ludvig he’d mass-mailed to tell everyone he’d be at San Diego. I still have that photo.

I’d like to think the slow, mortified dawning of realization on my face, mid-conversation, as I beheld Thompson at the Fantagraphics table and Gina G. was introducing me as an :01 translator, brought at least an inner grin to Groth’s steely mien, but not a speck of merriment showed.

GB slept the whole way home, waking only to peel me toll money off the cold hard cash earnings from his art.

Don’t you wish you’d been there!

* Roger Langridge, Alexis Frederick-Frost and Alex Kim of CCS, Matt Kish, Colleen Venable, Chris Schweizer, Tom Kaczynski, Tyler Hutchison, Leah Riley, the perambulatory Tyler and Wendy Chin-Tanner with infant Maddy, Nathan Wiedemer, Joel Carroll, and Ed Siemienkowicz. Yes, if you’re not here I have forgotten either you, or just your name. Or our conversation was limited to what pleasantries accompany financial transactions. Send me hate mail. That way I’ll be sure to remember you.

Individual exclamations, meticulous critiques, praise sudden and effusive as a summer shower to follow as reading progresses, into the wee hours, by the midnight light of desklamp.

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