Weekly Wire
NewCityNet Paging Mr. Lincoln

Making book on mascots.

By Sam Weller

JUNE 8, 1998:  "My feet are killing me," says a guy on stilts garbed in Merlin the Wizard duds traversing the show floor of BookExpo America-a ratty gray wig stuck to his sweaty face. Glancing around, you just gotta wonder what mascots have to do with bookselling. Evidently something, because there are a whole lot of 'em about.

Abe Lincoln walks past, looking hungover as hell, yawning and offering a graveled "hey." A David Lettermen look-alike, champing a cigar and sporting a Cubs hat, says hello. The publisher who hired this guy could have just paid the Borders book remainder buyer-a dead-ringer for Dave who sports the attitude to boot. Spider-man waxes arachnid. A blind Cookie Monster slams into a table. A gruff voice inside a giant puffy baseball says he's "gonna have a heat stroke." A swing band in fuchsia suits sings a song inspired by the latest L. Ron Hubbard book.

Everywhere, mascots. Homer the Home Depot character waves but doesn't have a clue as to how to fix a broken air conditioner. George Washington strides by in a pair of tight-ass Valley Forge jodhpurs. Can you say sterility? Giant cartoon characters lope down aisles as publishers schmooze and talk about what parties they will be attending. A man in a Dalmatian suit asks what time it is. How do you go to the bathroom in that thing? "You hold it."

(Sam Weller)

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