I’m flying back home from my second media tour. Sharing a row with a super-overweight lady. She can’t get her tray down. I think she had to buy the seat next to her as well, which makes me kinda sad. I guess there’s a point where practical space issues force you to face the music. She seems very nice. Must be humiliating.
But it works out great for me! I’ve got an empty seat to my left. I can type!
Shared a green room with Gene Simmons the other day for the CBS morning show. He was on to promote some book about hookers. I missed his crack-of-dawn treatise on socialism, but one of the other guests told me about it. A producer said they were going to try to get him to dance with me while they went to commercial. I wasn’t too sure about that being such a great idea, but whatever.
I think someone ran it by him, cause a couple minutes later he was shooting me some nasty stink eye. I smiled and waved back, but he held firm behind his sunglasses like I’d just kicked his dog. There was to be no dancing with Gene Simmons.
When I relayed this story to Melissa, she thought I was talking about Richard Simmons and was surprised he wouldn’t dance with me.
This happens a lot with Melissa. I fear for the day we run into Gary Oldman on the street and she asks him to recite catch phrases from Diff’rent Strokes.
A few seconds before I went on air, Harry Smith walked over and whispered in my ear, "I knew about you before you were in the Times."
The New York Times piece has really changed things. I’ve stopped asking people if they’ve seen it. Everyone has seen it — which makes me feel like a philistine for rarely reading the Times. Apparently I’m the only one…well, maybe me and Gene Simmons.
But it’s not just readership. Acknowledgement by the paper of record lends a weird air of legitimacy. News anchors are way nicer now. They come over and talk to me after the segment is over. One of them gave me her email address.
Here’s a thing I’ve learned: no one ever talks to you after the segment is over. There’s no longer any reason to be cordial. They’re on to the next thing. So if they do stop to talk, it’s generally for real.
On to MSNBC. Everyone was obsessed with Jesse Jackson’s nut-severing antics. That and Christie Brinkley’s divorce; an ongoing story that can be boiled down into four words: "Look! She’s still hot!"
Met with my book agent. I’m no longer all that concerned with being able to find a publisher. Now it’s more about finding the right publisher, the right concept, and then carving out time to author the damn thing.
Lunch with some TV folks. Not sure I’m a fit for that whole realm, but I’m listening and talking and considering.
Met with Reuters in Central Park, right at the spot where we danced in the video: Bethesda Arcade. The interviewer had talked to billionaires, movie stars, and heads of state. He asked me what’s different about internet celebrity as opposed to real celebrity.
I’d say it’s lack of insulation, a different and in some ways greater control over our images, and we generally don’t smell as good.
Phone interview with the Globe and Mail; the big paper in Canada. Got tested about the details of my relationship with Stride.
Is it really as simple and transparent as it appears? What exactly is Stride’s angle? Is it all some sort of marketing hoax?
I am a terrible liar. Fortunately, I didn’t have to.
Had drinks with someone who wants me to do something that sounds like it might be fun.
Back to MSNBC for an evening news show. They wanted me dancing on a green screen with that footage of George W. Bush shuffling in front of the White House.
"You don’t want to dance with the president?"
"Who would you rather dance with?"
"Uh. Anyone. Anywhere. Ever. Since the dawn of man."
"How about the Dalai Lama?"
"…if you can find footage of the Dalai Lama dancing, fine."
They picked Ellen and Barack Obama. Next best thing, I suppose.
If I look weary and exasperated, it’s cause I am. That’s me answering a question for the eighth time in a day. It’s a question I’ve been asked every day for the last five years.
Also, green screens irk me. First off, I’ve got enough people thinking the whole thing is fake. Second, it’s really hokey. Third, it’s kind of the exact opposite of what my thing is all about.
But I did it and it was fairly painless. They put me on the moon with some astronauts. They put me in that Filipino prison with the Thriller dancers. It could’ve been dumber.
Trust me. It could’ve been dumber.
Morning interview with CNN. Again with the genuine interest, enthusiasm, and courtesy.
I think it has to do with me being back a second time. That old F. Scott Fitzgerald aphorism about no second acts in American life has proven to be the most colossally wrong thing anyone has ever said about our culture. Just ask Ozzy Osbourne or Hulk Hogan or Robert Downey Jr. or freaking Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Ask Gene Simmons.
America loves a second act.
I’m used to being treated like the cute, disposable gimmick of the day. I’m not used to being treated like an auteur.
And it makes me nervous. It feels like one step closer to the ledge. All my favorite forms of artistic expression are things that no one takes seriously; videogames, comic books, internet video. In my opinion, as soon as they start getting critical analysis and respect, they stop being interesting.
Next room over. Interview with CNN International in London. This is the channel I watch more than anything while traveling — largely because it’s the only English channel in most places I go. I am deposited alone in a room facing a giant robotic camera. It’s like trying to have a conversation with HAL 9000.
Met with a book publisher. It seemed to go well.
Met with the UN. That went very well. I pitched a project I want to do in the fall. They offered their support. They can’t fund anything, obviously, but that’s not really what I need. They have resources on the ground that will help me get into the areas I want to visit and accomplish what I want to do. They also suggested using their name to help get partners onboard. I am very excited about this.
We were talking about all the media I’m doing and they asked why I’m not going on The Daily Show.
"I’m not substantial enough for the The Daily Show. I’m only substantial enough for CNN and The New York Times."
Afternoon segment on Inside Edition. They sent me around midtown to dance in front of landmarks. Times Square, 30 Rock, Radio City Music Hall. Much to my surprise, I must confess, this was kind of fun. Every time I danced, people on the street recognized me and joined in. Pretty amazing.
Dinner with my dad and good friend, Aaron. Aaron is now doing PR for the New York subway system. He wants me to do a dancing video for them.
"The MTA needs help. We have projects that are not funded and they absolutely have to get done. The Javitz Center extension, the 2nd avenue line…we have sump pumps pulling thousands of gallons of water out of the tunnels every day just to keep them running. The only way to make people aware of what’s going on is to get some goofy guy to dance in front of everything."
My dad has been enjoying fame-by-association among his coworkers. He is not the kind of man you’d expect to be related to someone who dances badly for a living. People usually ask if I’m adopted.
He felt a little guilty after reading the Times article. I told the reporter my dad didn’t want to pay for me to go to college if I didn’t want to go.
"I kind of sound like a cheapskate," he said.
What I didn’t mention to the reporter, for fear of sounding pompous, is that my dad attended Cornell and Harvard Business School and felt like it was a mistake he didn’t want his son to repeat. That information certainly casts him in a better light, but what can you do? I still think he came off sounding smarter and braver than a lot of parents, even without the extra details.
Slept almost a full eight hours for the first time in a week, loafed around the hotel room until they came in with a crowbar, then meandered over to JFK — still my least favorite airport. Still the slowest, least reliable, least efficient, rudest facility I’ve ever had the discomfort of squeezing through.
$15 to check luggage. $10 for a turkey sandwich and potato chips. Armageddon is at hand.
Oh. By the way, this is awesome.