Dispatches From Toronto, Part 2:
I left off somewhere about the time of the homeless guy yelling at me for talking to the birds, I think.
I finally met up with everyone at the right hotel around 3 PM. In one of those odd moments, the elevator doors opened to none other than Barrett McGivney, who I had not seen in years even though he lives only a few suburbs over in Palos Park. In fact, he did not even know that I had moved to Burbank in 1999. Much later that night, he and I went to a place called Zanzibar, lots of ambiance and pretty women. We spent about $250.00 between us in just over two hours, but I did get to meet a nice native Torontonian as well as a girl from Romania who told me a lovely made-up story about how doctors sew up the belly buttons on all the baby girls. You had to be there, but then you'd also have spent money like we did.
Prior to that was the autograph party. I am always curious as to what people will bring up for me to sign, earlier that day a man had me sign 3 copies of VAMPIRE DETECTIVES. Several people had copies of DOWNWARD SPIRAL to sign, in part, I believe, because another contributor, Gord Rollo, is from Ontario. In a sudden surge, I signed copy after copy of DARK DREAMERS, the collection of black and white photos Beth Gwinn has taken over the years. My pose was from WHC in Atlanta, 1997. The program book was passed around, it was a HARDBACK, and people were asking for our signatures in a nice little section at the back. Many of us were angry because we never did get our "goodie bag," being given various excuses, until Saturday. This could be a contributing factor to Barrett and I going to Zanzibar. (I should have photos of the neon signs in the downtown area by tomorrow evening).
There were several parties that evening, and I saw Yvonne Navarro for the first time in many years. Now married and living in Arizona, I have known her the longest of all my writer friends, beating out my first meeting with Sid by four years. A few blocks away there was a restaurant called Devil's Advocate, which served a decent meal an a reasonable price. Jeremy Lassen of Nightshade Books and Maurice Broaddus, a writer from Indianapolis who I met, oddly enough, through the letters column of a STARMAN comic (yea, sounds weird even now) were tied for who was dressed most flamboyantly. I was content to wear a Frankenstein T-shirt and was pleasantly surprised that Roger had brought along a shirt I gave him last year that I picked up at the Salvation Army, touting that he was Head of Security at O'Hare Airport. Larry pretty much dresses like Larry all the time, wearing dress shirts compared to my T-shirts. Claire wore one of those glittery mind control helmets that Zelda Fitzgerald made famous, this alone made her stand out over Kasey Lansdale in the "who gets noticed first" department.
Saturday was much of the same, only parties overlapped with anesthesiologist convention, and I recall talking with people from Seattle and, again, Toronto, about their jobs. They were intrigued by my recounting the various people who have gassed me up over the decades before my various operations. We drove back home through torrential rainstorms in Michigan, Roger as stoic as Sgt. Rock behind the wheel of his Jeep, and within a day of returning, the temperature here dropped 50 degrees.
And that was my first stay in another country, believe it or don't.