As long as I ever shall live, I will never, ever, and I mean fucking never ceased to be amazed at just what a wondrous and magical journey this life is.
Right now my computer is rendering all the wonderful video footage of this past weekend, which I partly filmed for my own memories and partly for all of you. The restaurant where we had the book launch (Varzarie) was packed to the rafters and I know some people couldn’t make it inside. I know others of you live far from here. And so in the next day or so I will put a little compilation video of the events online for all of you to see.
I really was unbelievably touched and moved by the whole thing, from the hundreds of messages I got throughout the day, from the good folks at TVR who gave me 8 minutes on the national feed on 1 Decembrie, the biggest secular holiday of the year, to the guy (Sabin Gherman) who not only invited me on his show (T Look/Live) but literally couldn’t put down the book during commercial breaks and bought literally the first copy, to the extraordinarily beautiful and lovely folks at Editura Eikon, to the wonderful man who played a song that nearly brought me to tears in public for the first time in my entire life, to the friends, supporters and completely awesome and fantastic people who have cheered me on since I began this leg of my crazy adventure.
I noticed several Unicorn City bloggers in the audience (there was no admittance fee), who sat there and didn’t do jack fucking shit, who bought no food from the restaurant, who didn’t buy a copy of my book and didn’t even bother to post on their blogs mentioning that they had just witnessed one of the most unique and special events of their short, pathetic lives. Hope you enjoyed the free tuica, dumbasses!
Other than that, everyone was beyond amazing. The whole thing lasted 3 or 4 hours and there’s no way I’m going to put the entire footage online so I’m going to recap here briefly. If you’ve ever been to a book launch in America or Britain, it’s a rather modest affair. Quite often it is in a coffee shop or else a book store. The publisher or maybe two or three people stand up and give a little speech about the book. Then perhaps the author speaks, maybe even reading a passage out loud to the audience, which is all sitting down sedately in chairs. Then the author sits behind a table and signs books that people bought from elsewhere in the store/shop. That’s it.
But because Romania is the most flippin’ awesome country EVER you know that’s not how it went down with my book launch. Heck no. I had something like 7 or 8 different guys come up to the microphone and talk about how awesome my book was, how much they loved it, how much it touched them and all about how it was the best thing since sliced bread. So far not that different from an American launch.
But then I and several other people were dressed in traditional folk clothes (awesome!). There was singing and music, including this insane shepherd thing that you’ll just have to see on the video. Then there was quite literally unlimited free tuica being poured for everyone in the place. Then there was dancing and yes I mean ME, little old me, dressed in Romanian clothes and dancing Romanian steps to a Romanian song. Fuck yes. And then everyone and their brother came up to me and stuffed cash in my pants and I signed a million copies and it was just awesome.
It was a party, a real and true party, and everyone had a blast. The food was delicious, the speeches and dedications moving, the music wonderful and good time was truly had by all. I shook a million people’s hands, traded a billion shots of tuica with people, got hugged and kissed on the cheek and really it was stupendously wonderful. Nobody was sitting around being posh and reserved (except at the very beginning) and it was a riotous, raucous affair.
Oh and then if that wasn’t ENOUGH, to top it all off, City Hall fired off about a bajillion fireworks (because of Dec 1) and there was no skimping. I’ve never fought in a war but I was about to get PTSD from all the thundering and booming. Just a massive display that I wonder how they will top on January 1.
Other than me possibly wearing some kind of folk costume and that a bunch of people I didn’t really know would talk about my book, I had ZERO IDEA of what was coming up. I’ve never been to a book launch in Romania and plus because it was me, I knew it would be different. By the time they gave me the microphone, mi-a ridicat tuica in cap (hehe) and I was firing off jokes in Romanian. Flipping awesome. I even gave Miorita the (metaphorical) bird, to great applause. Fuck yes!!
Her name is Aurelia Cristea and she’s a politician running in the upcoming December 9 elections. I’ve literally seen her posters and crap all over town too but didn’t recognize her in the flesh because her posters are all in the “stern official face” style that Romanian political ads always have. Seriously, I’ll pay you 50 lei for every political print ad that you bring me with a smiling politician.
Anyway, had no idea who she was until I met her, knew nothing about her politics, her allies, her previous voting record (she’s been elected to stuff before), what she’s done before in the PSD (she’s been USL since day 1) or any of that. I had a short but incredibly intense conversation with her, which will remain totally secret and undisclosed until I am dead in the grave but it was utterly amazing.
Let’s put it this way – if I could vote for her, I would. And if I could donate to her campaign, I’d do that too. That woman has my vote in every sense of the word. I’m sitting there in the middle of this party, signing autographs while everyone’s laughing and drinking and taking a million photos (including with my camera!) and suddenly she approaches me for an autograph and I had no idea who she was. She pointed to the pen she was handing me, emblazoned with her name, and that’s when I was hit by a bolt of lightning. We had our little conversation, but it was just for confirmation. And then she went on about doing her thing and I went on about doing mine.
Listen, folks, just so it’s clear – I meet a heck of a lot of people in my life. I meet my usual friends. I meet people all the time at parties and functions and meetings. I get stopped on the street all the time and I regularly meet “fans” of the blog or my books who come to visit here in town as well. In my previous reincarnation in the United States, understanding people was my job for many years. I meet a lot of interesting and good people but there’s just some people you meet whom you instantly know are special.
Aurelia Cristea is one of them. I know lots of good Romanians, and try to promote their activities on here when I can (it has to be a public thing) but I never expected a veteran politician to be one of them. But that’s why life is interesting, eh? A lot of people have no faith in democracy and politicians and I thoroughly understand and agree. But if you want to know who the good ones are, Aurelia Cristea is one of them.
So we had beautiful speeches, awesome music and singing, dancing, drinks, food and fireworks at my “little” book launch. I truly could not ask for a single thing to have gone better. Even some of my supporters who couldn’t make it into the place got some tuica and I had a lovely chat with them out on the sidewalk and I was one happy guy by the time I managed to stumble my way home and into bed.
From the bottom of my heart, thanks to everyone who attended the launch, everyone who made it happen, everyone who has supported me over the years and spoke about me to your friends, linked to my stuff, etcetera, etcetera, basically ALL of you. You have all given me a wonderful gift and I am so incredibly thankful that my words about this FUCKING AWESOME country were received so well by so many people :)
Oh, I almost forgot! There was a ton of media exposure over the past few days and I want to add the links here before I forget. Later I’ll hardcode them to my own YT channel but for now (at least) all of these work:
TVR – Fast forward to minute 2:41:00 or the last eight minutes to see me.
DIGI 24 – Strangely enough this was done with a journalist I was interviewed by BEFORE when she worked at another channel. Hi, Bianca!
Transilvania L!ve – Featuring the very first time EVER on Romanian television where you get to see my cat, Mr. Zig. Yay!
Beautiful article from Adevarul with pictures from the book launch.
A nice one from Ziua de Cluj using my photo from my earlier Realitatea appearance. Gosh I like that photo!
And last but not least, Transilvania Reporter (in PDF form). If you’re in Cluj this week, you can probably pick this up in hard copy (paper) as well. Ramona Costea is an amazing journalist!
Oh yeah, one more funny story from the book launch, which simply has to be told. There was this guy there from Mediafax with a huge super professional (still) camera taking about a billion photos. After it was all over, this is how our conversation went:
Mediafax Guy: Hey man, awesome party. But I need your full legal name.
MG: Because otherwise I can’t publish your photos.
Me: That’s a goddamn lie. Everyone else does it.
Me: Yes! I swear to God. Name a newspaper or TV station and I’ll show you the proof.
MG: Yeah but do you understand I might sell these photos on the international market as well? I need your permission to do that.
Me: Fine. You have my permission.
MG: No. I need your full legal passport name to do that.
Me: No you don’t. You just think you do because someone told you that. I get it. You’re Romanian. But you can film me right now telling you on camera that you have my permission.
MG: No! I really can’t do this without your full legal name. Don’t you want a chance to get mentioned in the international press?
Me: I don’t give a fuck then. Sorry, it ain’t going to happen *LOL*
MG: Look, I’m a stringer. I only get paid when someone picks up my photos. And I can’t put these out there without your name.
Me: This is 2012. We’re in the European Union now. The Securitate is out of business, bro. Now sit down and drink some free tuica and quit stressing so much. It’s bad for you!
I hope all of you had as wonderful a weekend as I did (lots more good things happened on Sunday too – but a story for another time, eh?). You know, a lot of people ask me how it is I’ve been so many places and had so many amazing adventures. It’s really simply – you do something a little crazy and wild every day and follow your heart and then you will never ever be bored again. In fact, you’ll never, ever be able to stop being amazed at how wonderful it is.
You only live once so make the most of it!