You won’t often find me at book-signing events, sipping wine while listening to authors explaining the inspiration behind their work. But I’ve been to three in the past few days. As posted here on Monday, Mary E. Donnelly and Moira McCormick were at The Book Cellar last Saturday to discuss Boys Don’t Lie: A History Of Shoes. Band members Jeff Murphy, John Murphy, and Gary Klebe were also on hand, to take questions from the audience.
On Monday night, I took part in my writing group’s Four Minutes Of Fame: A Stand-up Literary Event at the Tokio Pub in Schaumburg. Eleven writers each got a turn to read their work to an audience. (See last Thursday’s post for a preview.) The presentations ranged from children’s books to adult novels, and, modesty aside, we all did well. The event was organized by Kym Brunner, Cherie Colyer, and Katie Sparks, and they also served as welcoming and supportive hosts. Brunner, in particular, was fun and informative as she introduced the participants and asked them to explain a bit about themselves and their books.
I read from Finding Manchester, a comedy/suspense novel based on Chicago’s alternative music scene, circa the mid-1980s. It was fun watching my fellow group members, Brunner, Colyer, Sparks, Veronica Rundell, Mike Kelley, and Susan Kaye Quinn read to the appreciative audience. Plus, I encountered the talented writers, Lori Degman, Patricia Kummer, Allan Woodrow, and Jennifer Wagh for the first time. My only (slight) disappointment was that I was a bit too anxious during my reading. I’ll work on that for the next event.
Last night, famous designer John Varvatos was at Nordstrom on Michigan Avenue to promote his foray into the rock and roll literary world. The multitude of photographs in his hardcover book, Rock In Fashion, underscore the theory that clothing and hairstyle play an essential role in the marketing of pop stars. Mick Rock took the iconic shot of Syd Barrett on the cover, and other renowned photographers, such as Bob Gruen and Lynn Goldsmith are represented as well. Like Donnelly and McCormick at The Book Cellar, Varvatos brought some rock and roll firepower with him. Mick Rock was on hand, along with guitarist-vocalist Billy Gibbons and bassist-vocalist Dusty Hill from ZZ Top.
The reception on the second floor of Nordstrom leaned more toward people in designer threads than t-shirts or blue jeans, although a steady flow of classic rock was coming through the speakers. I spotted a sharp-dressed man in a black suit and a scarf that apparently was so exquisite a woman passing by asked to fondle it. There were also huge TVs showing vintage clips from the 1960s and photo montages, as servers circulated with trays of drinks or hors d’ oeuvres.
The event started at 6:00 PM but Varvatos made a fashionably late arrival around 6:30. He introduced Rock, pointing out that the photographer’s work had been used on a number of album covers. When Gibbons and Hill appeared, it was like they had stepped out of ZZ Top’s “Legs” video. Varvatos talked about what he termed the “incestuous” relationship between rock and fashion, and how hard it was to choose one photo from his personally curated collection to be on the cover of the book. And the photographs are amazing; candid shots of musicians like The Ramones, U2, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. I was particularly taken with a vintage black and white shot of a positively impish-looking Paul McCartney.
NOTE: Looking for another rock and roll photography event? There will be an official Opening Reception at the Chicago Cultural Center for Shutter To Think: The Rock And Roll Lens Of Paul Natkin this Friday, October 25th, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. Admission is free and open to the public.