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BookExpo 2005

Relentless Aaron and me on Google Video


So last year, you guys may remember that I interviewed Relentless Aaron (Front Porch Podcast, episode 6, a super prolific street lit author from New York. Since then, he's been featured in the NY Times. I'd like to think I broke the story a little bit. Well he or someone on his crew remixed the interview with a video slideshow and some info about me. It's pretty interesting. BTW, I ran into Relentless at this year's BookExpo but didn't have time to interview him. The man was, predictably, busy busy busy!

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The Front Porch Podcast #006 BookExpo Part 2 (some of everything)

Podcast #6 and the second full segment from BookExpo America. Features interviews with Kevin Liles of Warner Music, Relentless Aaron, Orson Scott Card again and more! Ways to get the show: subscribe via iTunes, download the mp3 file or subscribe to my feed with a podcast aggregator like iPodder or, for Mac, a great one is iPodderX. Shownotes In this segment, we continue the extensive one-man coverage of BookExpo America 2005 in the form of five interviews: I hope you like it. There's more BookExpo in-depth coverage to come! Theme music is "Diplo Rhythm" by DJ Diplo of The Hollertronix. Grab the track on iTunes now! Field recordings were done on an iRiver IFP-795T with radio shack stereo lapel mic. Audio processing and mixdown courtesy of Soundtrack. Normalizing by Peak Express and MP3 conversion and tagging done by iTunes. Send audio feedback to frontporchpodcast-AT-gmail-DOT-com. Leave text comments in the comments link below or email them. and stay tuned for more! ---------------- You've been listening to BookExpo in 3-Part Harmony, Podcast Edition – part of a multimedia one-man coverage of the publishing industry’s’ largest get together during June in New York City. Check out the other parts of the series in written blog and flickr photo set. Baratunde is a comedian, author and vigilante pundit. His book, Better Than Crying: Poking Fun at Politics, the Press & Pop Culture, has been read by several people outside of his family, and he performs standup comedy regularly in Boston and NYC but will go anywhere people will listen. He currently resides in Somerville, Mass. but keeps a mailbox in Cambridge since that’s the largest real estate he can afford in the hip 02139 zip code.

The Front Porch Podcast #005 BookExpo Part 1 (authors and books)

My fifth podcast and first full episode from BookExpo. Features author and book profiles with Dr. Steven Farron, Fancy Pants Press, Orson Scott Card, William Dawson and Kevin Smokler. You can download the mp3 file or better yet, subscribe to my feed with a podcast aggregator like iPodder or, for Mac, a great one is iPodderX. Shownotes So this is the real debut of my BEA podcast coverage, and it's a showcase of a wide variety of authors and books I found on the exhibit hall floor. We bring you five interviews: I hope you like it. There's more BookExpo in-depth coverage to come! Field recordings were done on an iRiver IFP-795T with radio shack stereo lapel mic. Audio processing and mixdown courtesy of Soundtrack. Normalizing by Peak Express and MP3 conversion and tagging done by iTunes. Send audio feedback to frontporchpodcast-AT-gmail-DOT-com. Leave text comments in the comments link below. and stay tuned for more! ---------------- You've been listening to BookExpo in 3-Part Harmony, Podcast Edition – part of a multimedia one-man coverage of the publishing industry’s’ largest get together during June in New York City. Check out the other parts of the series in written blog and flickr photo set. Baratunde is a comedian, author and vigilante pundit. His book, Better Than Crying: Poking Fun at Politics, the Press & Pop Culture, has been read by several people outside of his family, and he performs standup comedy regularly in Boston and NYC but will go anywhere people will listen. He currently resides in Somerville, Mass. but keeps a mailbox in Cambridge since that’s the largest real estate he can afford in the hip 02139 zip code.

BookExpo in 3-Part Harmony: Day 0.5

mini-riffington.jpgEven though I just got my first car ever, the idea of driving from Boston to New York wasn’t high on my list. It’s hard to consider that option when a day of NYC parking costs more than a week’s supply of sweatshop-produced fake-me-out Prada on Canal St. It’s harder still to consider in light of the fact that Wednesday night June 1, the night before my departure, I got to bed around 3am. Add to this my 2002 experience of falling asleep behind the wheel on the Massachusetts Turnpike and crashing into the median at 65 mph, and you’ll understand why this year was gonna be my first BookExpo via public transportation. Usually, I like to get in to town Wednesday night. The exhibit floor doesn’t open until Friday, and official BEA events don’t really get going till Thursday evening, but daytime Thursday is devoted to African American booksellers and publishers. There’s a morning program, keynote, lunch and evening reception. But with my 3am bedtime I just wasn’t down for the super early bus to “The City.” By the way, the bus I’m referring to is the Chinatown bus operated by FungWah (www.fungwahbus.com). As their hand-drawn Canal Street sign says: “No Washington. No Philadelphia. Only Go Boston.” The joint costs $15 one-way, and is a steal. Many people assume there are chickens or bags of cocaine being smuggled on the buses to explain the low prices. I do not even care. They could have a stash of illegal immigrant terrorists in the cargo area… with SARS. As long as I can get to New York for less than the cost of a cab from Boston to Cambridge, it’s all good people. Almost as soon as I entered the Javits Center, I ran into the familiar and friendly face of an editor of a highly regarded black magazine. I couldn’t have asked for a better first encounter. We exchanged the pleasantries, and she asked what I was up to – a perfect opening to explain the new book project I’m working on. I’ll share it with you right here. Essentially, it goes like this:
When you get off the plane in Johannesburg, the first billboard you see is for the American TV show, Survivor. The second billboard you see is for The Apprentice. University educated students in Ghana think that African Americans are all filthy rich because we’re all drug dealers and gang bangers and rappers with Saudi-Royal-family-supporting SUVs and Nigerian regime-backing bling-bling. A young kid in the Bronx grows up in the shadow of his ghetto superstar father and escapes, not by running away, but by painting pictures on subways – graffiti. Meanwhile, there’s a new generation of black people comin up – born in Kenya, educated in New York, practicing law in London. For too long the story of Africa has focused on disease, corruption, war and famine. The related stories of her extended family across the Diaspora have done the same and are almost always written by some professor, by some think tank, by some “expert.” This book tells a new story of Africa by a new generation of Africans across the globe, and hip hop is a central part of the story – sometimes for better, other times for much, much worse. This is the story of music, of youth and of the new Pan-African renaissance.
Just look at you. You are sooo wanting to read this book! I can see it on your face, because I’ve hacked into your computer and installed microscopic camera equipment in it. We’re calling it the Sweet Mother Tour project, and you can find out more over at www.sweetmother.org After laying down the verbal proposal (and a little four page PowerPoint), she promised to help. It was an auspicious start to the weekend. One flight of stairs later I met Ron Kavanaugh, publisher of Mosaic Literary Magazine out of the Bronx. I managed to get a cool podcast interview with him discussing the magazine and how the Bronx Museum is using Hip Hop programming to attract younger visitors. Next stop: buzz. The editor and publisher buzz forum is the one absolutely essential part of BEA. I would find it ridiculous to go to the tradeshow and skip this session. In it, editors and publishers sit on a panel and get 10 minutes to talk up one or two books they think are absolute winners, with the added context that these books aren’t necessarily first up for major promotion and marketing. It was on previous buzz panels that I was introduced to such phenomenal books as The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Fortress of Solitude, How to be Lost, and We Are All the Same. It was on this panel last year that I first encountered the amazing young editor, Anika Streifeld, of MacAdam/Cage Publishing (who, BTW, promised me a joint podcast interview with The Jungle Law author Victoria Vinton but managed to escape – we’re apparently going to set up something via phone). In the pre-panel seat-shuffling, I met and interviewed Jennifer Kitchen. She works at a Borders in Bridgewater, NJ, and this was her first BEA. She wasn’t there representing Borders though. She was just a book fan who’d heard great things about BookExpo and saved up vacation time to see for herself. She was a sort of ambassador for all the Borders employees, who shifted their schedules around so she could make it. In the full podcast interview, you can hear more about Jennifer and the book she’s buzzed about called The Traveler, by John Twelve Hawks. Jennifer and I wrapped up our interview as the panel got underway. The panelists this year represented such publishers as Harper Collins, Viking, Scribner and Warner Books. Let me just cut right to it. Here are the books that got me excited:
  • HarperCollins will be releasing “F.U.B.A.R” by Air America’s Sam Seder. Editor David Hershey shared some hilarious excerpts about the bestseller list in the year 2020 and had this to say about the book: “I’m sure there are millions of people out there who won't find the jokes in this book funny. They are called Republicans.”
  • Hyperion buzzed The Tender Bar, a memoir by J. R. Moehringer. This is the memoir of a boy whose father abandoned him as an infant, and his mom, fearing that he didn’t have male influences, encouraged him to hang out at the local bar. There the drunks decide to become his collective father, taking him to ball games and the beach, teaching him what it means to be a man. According to VP Will Schwalbe, “I love bars, and this is a love letter to a bar. Plus, it has the single funniest sex scene I've ever read.”
  • Viking repped The Trudeau Vector by Juris Jurjevics, an international epidemic thriller set in the arctic against the backdrop of major geopolitical instability.
  • Random House pushed Maybe a Miracle, a first novel by Brian Strause. This story is told from the perspective of a teenage boy named Monroe Andersen of Columbus, OH, described as “the kind of guy who would total a car in driver’s ed.” Monroe finds his sister face down in a pool and saves her, but she’s stuck in a coma, and this does some interesting things to the family. Mom turns to religion and dad to work and beer. Meanwhile a religious spectacle develops around the comatose sister, with strangers making pilgrimages and the media eating it all up. Random House’s Johnathan Carp promises, “This is the most satisfying book you’ll ever read about a girl in a coma.”
The end of the buzz forum posed a bit of a conflict for me. In one room, there was a reception to close out the day of African American programs. In the main hall, comedian Billy Crystal was giving the keynote to officially open BEA. I had this same conflict last year between the Af-Am reception and Bill Clinton, but that was easier – Clinton, being the closest thing to a black president, was the clear choice. This year, I dissed Billy Crystal and went to the Af-Am reception. It was a good choice. I got to catch up with BEA-buddy and author Lynette Khalfani, met the owner of a Lithonia, GA bookstore, and basically enjoyed food, folks and fun. Not bad for the first half day, and I left in time to keep my power yoga regimen going by hitting up Hot Yoga People in Brooklyn. That’s the end of the first dispatch. Stay tuned for the next edition in the blog series on Day 1 where I’ll tell you about how Orson Scott Card ended up recording a promo for my podcast and what happens when nice people from Ohio give me a pile of free drink tickets at an industry party. ---------------- You are reading BookExpo in 3-Part Harmony, Blog Edition – part of a multimedia one-man coverage of the publishing industry’s’ largest get together during June in New York City. Check out the other parts of the series in The Front Porch Podcast, flickr photo set and complete blog coverage. Baratunde is a comedian, author and vigilante pundit. His book, Better Than Crying: Poking Fun at Politics, the Press & Pop Culture, has been read by several people outside of his family, and he performs standup comedy regularly in Boston and NYC but will go anywhere people will listen. He currently resides in Somerville, Mass. but keeps a mailbox in Cambridge since that’s the largest real estate he can afford in the hip 02139 zip code.

The Front Porch Podcast #004 Book Expo Preview Coverage

This is the fourth podcast, and it's a preview of some great things to come, including a podcast promo by Orson Scott Card! You can download the mp3 file or better yet, subscribe to my feed with a podcast aggregator like iPodder or, for Mac, a great one is iPodderX. I promise it was worth the wait. To PW Fenton, CC Chapman, the gang at Area 51 and all other listeners, I owe you something good for making you wait two months, and I'm about to deliver! This podcast is a preview of an audio series I produced at BookExpo America in New York City June 2 through 4. I interviewed over 25 people, walked over 20 miles, attended parties and signings, and in the process, collected 300 minutes of "tape." And the podcast is just one piece of the three-part coverage which includes a photo journal and old style text blog entries. This preview podcast runs just over six minutes and is designed to give you a feel for the entire series to come. Included in this segment are clips from:
  • Orson Scott Card doing a promo for my podcast
  • Interview with Chris Kimball of America's Test Kitchen
  • Profile of author, Relentless Aaron, who began writing in prison and has published 10 novels in the past year
  • Clips from presentations by Randi Rhodes of Air America and author John Irving
  • First ever radio interview with the owner of fashion label, Fuck Yoga on New York's Lower East Side
  • Interview with Prof. Steven Farron, author of forthcoming "The Affirmative Action Hoax"
This should whet your appetite for the in-depth segments currently under production. We'll focus on the Expo from the perspective of authors, publishers, media and readers. It's gonna be hot! Field recordings were done on an iRiver IFP-795T with radio shack stereo lapel mic. Audio processing and mixdown courtesy of Soundtrack. Normalizing by Peak Express and MP3 conversion and tagging done by iTunes. Send audio feedback to frontporchpodcast-AT-gmail-DOT-com. Leave text comments in the comments link below. and stay tuned for more!

BookExpo in 3-Part Harmony: Setting the Stage

bea.jpgI love books. I love the people that write them, edit them, publish them, sell them and read them. So every year for the past three, I’ve attended the publishing industry’s equivalent of the Boy Scout Jamboree (minus the bed-wetting and cries for mommy), known officially as BookExpo America or BEA for those in the know. This year was the best ever of the three I’ve attended, and you’re about to find out why. Welcome to my review of Book Expo America 2005 in Three-Part Harmony (Blog, Photos and Podcast). You’re reading the blog edition. My first BEA was in 2003 (read review). I was all wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, full of excitement. I had a book draft, a dream that one day we would judge a book not by the market capitalization of its publisher, but by the content of its pages. I also had a friend with a Los Angeles apartment (free housing, free housing!). So, I set out from Cambridge, Mass. to drown myself in the world of publishing. I attended meeting after workshop after seminar after training on everything from writing a proposal to doing media interviews. I returned wiser, more connected and heavier by the weight of about 60 books. We could call my second BEA (read review) in 2004 Mission: Guerilla Marketing. After being told by many publishers at BEA 1.0 that they’d be more interested in my book if I were a famous comedian (in which case I really don’t need them), I came to 2.0 in Chicago with scores of my self-published books in hand. I was shameless people. I must have given my book to everyone from PJ O’Rourke to Maureen Dowd to a Ugandan Bishop – because it never hurts to have a Bishop on your side (well, it depends on which side I guess. Oops. Poww. Surprise!). The highlight was asking out both Maureen Dowd and Donna Brazile live on national television, and while they didn’t say yes, they didn’t say no either. I’m still waiting for the final answer, but I’ve got it from a reliable source that my book was spotted on Maureen Dowd’s desk in D.C. So with this BEA being number three (the magic number and all) and in the publishing capital of New York city, what great things would I set out to do? What crazy stories would I collect? What intellectual hotties would I attempt to woo? And just why was I going back? The mission this year had expanded dramatically to include five objectives: 1. Enjoy the presence of those who love the written word 2. Get my hands on a crapload of advanced book copies 3. To a limited extent, still talk up my political humor title of last year 4. Gather interviews from all sorts of people for my new podcast (The Front Porch Podcast) 5. And finally, talk up my new non-fiction book project – a compilation of essays on what it means to be black or African in the 21st century, especially through the lens of music generally and hip hop specifically Yeah I know right! That’s a lot for one man to accomplish in four days, but thanks to a return of college-era sleep patterns and the airborne crack dust that is New York’s air supply, I’m happy to report success in all areas. This is a long and winding story. It’s the tale of too many chance encounters to be described as chance. It’s the experience of the world’s worst pickup line. It’s the adventure of throwing your whole self into a sea of complete strangers with the powerful assistance of free drink tickets. My goal is to take you with me on this journey, to have you experience Book Expo America through me, in three part harmony. The images from my photo album. The sounds from my podcast. The words in this blog. Stay tuned for a great story. UPDATE: you can jump directly to the next blog entry