Thursday, June 15, 2006

Lyrics of the Day

Today's selection comes from the last song I heard in my rented Chevy Malibu tonight on the way back to the Moline Motel 6 from the Borders in Davenport -- "A World of Hurt" by the Drive-By Truckers from their latest album, A Blessing and a Curse:
The secret to a happy ending is knowing when to roll the credits
Better roll them now before something else goes wrong
I should have rolled the credits this morning after I finished signing books for the Grand Illinois Trail and Parks (GITAP) riders. It's not that the rest of the day went badly, just that the happy ending came and went too early.

Bob Morgan and I were at our table in Borders from 7 PM to 9:15 PM. We were encouraged by the employee who told us this was already his store's third order of our books. I signed a couple of books, and Bob signed three or four. Some people talked to us for five minutes and walked away. Some goofy old codger talked to Bob about everything under the sun, including how he was turning 76 next week. And to think I feel old at 36. Anyway, after a steady stream for a very brief time, the well ran dry. We got hardly a look for the next 90 minutes, even though our table was right by the entrance.

Two things saved the evening. One was talking politics (for lack of a better word) with Bob. It is so refreshing to have a conversation with someone who perceives many things the way I do. We were practically finishing each other's sentences. My favorite part was hearing how Bob stood up at a political rally against the estate tax when a politician claimed it had to be abolished to save the farms of the people in the audience. Bob asked, "How many people here intend to leave an estate worth more than $2 million?" No one answered, but the politician started to get mad. Bob said, "Then guess what? The estate tax doesn't affect any of you!" The politician continued on as if Bob never existed, but I hope some of the audience recognized this great myth being told about the estate tax: while Republicans claim that families are forced to sell their farms because of the estate tax, it just isn't so:
Despite oft-repeated claims that the estate tax has dire consequences for family farms and small businesses, there is in fact very little evidence that it has an outsize impact on these groups. Indeed, the American Farm Bureau Federation acknowledged to the New York Times that it could not cite a single example of a farm having to be sold to pay estate taxes.
Earlier in the day we had discussed unsustainability and water issues in the West and the High Plains. Usually I'm either arguing or educating about such topics, so it was nice to hear some agreement for once. Now if only we could convince enough people to overthrow the current regime (just for starters).

The other thing that saved the night was the huge stack of books that the Borders guy had us sign. I read somewhere that authors should sign as many copies of their books as possible because once they are signed, they cannot be returned. If that is true, I effectively sold dozens of books at the Davenport Borders tonight. I had to laugh when the employee said he was going to put them on the Father's Day gift table. My father hasn't been on a bike in decades!

Total sales for the day: 17 copies sold personally, two copies sold at Borders. Considering that I sold 84% of those books before 8:15 AM, perhaps I should have rolled the credits then. It was a fun experience being a celebrity author for a day though, and at least the GITAP sales covered my motel, gas, car rental, meals, etc. I'm not getting rich, but I can live with breaking even.

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