Books and Books, Miami Beach

September 29th, 2006 | Uncategorized

I had a really nice reading last night at Books and Books. Actually, it was at the Design Within Reach store next door, which is a furniture showroom. So everyone sat around on these groovy modern couches and chairs, like we were in a big living room. And there were a lot of people there because the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce sponsored it, and many of their members came. I love the Chamber of Commerce! I like just saying it. Chamber of Commerce.
reading in the furniture store

(Right now I’m at a Chili’s in the Atlanta airport. The waitress just asked “What can I get you, sir?” Usually people say “I’m sorry” once they hear my voice. But she just came back with my coke, “Here you go sir.” It’s 10:45 in the morning and I’m having a hamburger because this is the only restaurant on the concourse and that’s all they have.)

The Atlanta airport is full of soldiers—lots of guys in white navy uniforms, and men and women in those strange new digitized camouflage fatigues that look sort of fake, like a kid’s halloween costume. (Uh…and by the way, I think I’ve spotted about a dozen lesbians so far.) It reminds me of a Norman Rockwell painting of Grand Central Station during World War II, with soldiers from various branches bustling through, meeting relatives. I remember looking at that as a kid and thinking, wow, that’s what it looks like when there’s a war going on. Yeah, it is.

This is a very blurry picture because I didn’t want to be conspicuous and use my flash.

It’s easy to forget about what’s going on in the world when I’m traveling and doing all this self-absorbed stuff about my book. I try to retain a grip on reality by watching Democracy Now when I can. Like last night, while I was having my room service dinner at the Ritz-Carlton.

amy goodman at the ritz

I took a picture because it seemed so incongruous, Amy Goodman at the Ritz. She’s on an eighty city book tour! Every time I watch, she’s broadcasting from another place. And I bet she’s not staying at no Ritz-Carltons.

18 Responses to “Books and Books, Miami Beach”

  1. Ann says:

    I got called “Sir, Ma’am, Whatever” once by a store clerk.

  2. sunicarus says:

    Just saw Amy Goodman and her brother, David, who have co-written a new book entitled “Static”. Amy Goodman is an incredible storyteller as well as journalist. Her memory is phenomenal.

    If you haven’t heard of Raed Jarrar, check out the link as follows:

    Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi blogger and activist, was forced to change his t-shirt before boarding a plane. Raed hadn’t planned on being an activist that day but his shirt read “We Will Not Be Silent” in English and Arabic. He was told that wearing a t-shirt with Arabic script on an airplane was like a going to a bank with a t-shirt saying, “I am a robber.” Raed was told by JetBlue airlines that he would not be allowed to fly if he wore the t-shirt. That day, Raed started a movement.

    The t-shirts have sold into the thousands and activists and artists are wearing the shirts and boarding planes in solidarity with Raed.

    “We Will Not Be Silent” originates from White Rose, a student resistance movement in Nazi Germany.

    If you want to know more, write to

    If Amy and David come to your city, check them out.

  3. atlatl says:

    I was called a “perfect gentleman” the other day. what does that even mean, ‘perfect gentleman’?

  4. Suzanonymous says:

    Does anyone ever recognize you at the airport, you as the cartoonist they don’t know personally, but recognize from the books and blog?

  5. Deb says:

    I have never been called by a masculin pronoun but………..someone asked me if I wanted to be a man because I was gay and had my hair short. A family member in fact! She still asks me if I play the man or woman part of my relationship. ARGH!

  6. Marci from Miami says:

    Just before the Miami lesbian community pushes me to utter despair, Alison Bechdel does a reading at Books & Books. Thank god. Hopefully the next book and reading are not another 7 years off.

  7. Silentarmy says:

    I laughed at this comment: (Uh…and by the way, I think I’ve spotted about a dozen lesbians so far.) My wife just returned from Baghdad. When she first got there she sent me a card that simply said, “Honey, we’re everywhere over here!” Living such a closeted, secretive life due to the insane “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” means the majority of lesbians in the service live in isolation or risk being kicked out. So to see so many ‘fellow lesbians’ was a bright spot in an otherwise horrible year.

    Looking forward to seeing you at Politics & Prose in DC.

  8. Jessica Ware says:

    ATL is my own version of hell—nothing to eat other than “Chili’s to go” or “burger king” and a seemingly endless series of grey carpeted corridors with a underground tunnel system lit by yellow/orange lighting that makes the whole place oddly reminiscent of the 1980’s episodes of Dr. Who.

  9. Becky Asrai says:

    Every single time we go out to somewhere with my parents some waiter/ress calls my girlfriend “sir”… around where we live, in what I call “the bubble”, there are enough butchy lasses around for them to identify the difference, but take one step out of that, and she is sir (and she has really big breasts, it is amazing that that doesn’t tip them off). she sometimes confronts them about it, and occasionally they apologise, but usually they keep calling her sir!!!

  10. Suz in HK says:

    I can really identify with the “Sir” comment – I get it all the time, especially if I’m with my girlfriend who happens to have long hair… Usually after they see my face they get all apologetic. Sometimes I find it funny, but most of the time it is just a pain… weird part is that when I go to Thailand I never get called sir, the culture seems to get that people can be different – only seems to happen in Hong Kong.
    By the way, I am addicted to your website and check it at least once a day for new entries. New book was also fabby! Don’t s’pose you could come on a book tour of Asia?? cheers…

  11. Jaibe says:

    “I am a robber” in a bank & Arabic script on a plane — yeah, I guess those are exactly the same. They both show there’s no way in heck you are actually going to cause any problems or you wouldn’t be drawing attention to yourself; and they both might possibly frighten a few non-thinkers who are in the same space with you, though it seems unlikely. It’s slightly like when they claim they have to arrest people with anti-Bush t-shirts for security when clearly an assasin would be wearing pro-Bush ones to get close to him. But in that case the non-thinkers they are trying not to “frighten” are the ones who watch the news & the President himself — some people say the reason he did so badly in the first debate with Kerry was because he hadn’t heard any criticism in 3 years (since 9/11). Very careful handling…

  12. Deb says:

    The Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce? Well, how cool is that? I have to look into that concept. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

  13. anonymous-eponymous says:

    I took the public bus from my hotel to the airport in Seattle about a month ago. The bus driver kept very good order on the bus. I was very grateful since it is more restful to travel on a quiet bus than one full of loud, obscene, personal conversations. As I was getting off the bus she said “Have a nice day, sir”. I didn’t want to throw her off her game, so I quite consciously deepened my voice when I responded.

    I never feel offended just because I’m mistaken for a man. I think that there is some part of our brain working very hard at gender identification. A lot of this work is done no more consciously than, say, calculating the trajectory of a ball we want to catch. Once, I was entering the woman’s bathroom at a queer dance. As I was entering, another woman was exiting. We both did a double take, she clearly thinking “Should I tell him he’s entering the wrong bathroom?”, me clearly thinking “Is that a man and am I entering the wrong bathroom?”. Then, we recovered our respective poises and went about our business. We must both have been sensitive to the issues; that didn’t keep us from making the mistake.

  14. Parrish says:

    An old co-worker of mine called someone “sir” once when she shouldn’t have. I quietly said, “Actually, she’s a ma’am.” The woman in question gave me a grateful look. Then my co-worker *loudly* said, “Well, how was I supposed to know?!” This obviously embarassed the woman, and annoyed me. So I fired back, “Because most men don’t have 36D breasts!” Ok, I shouldn’t have said that. LOL. But the funny part was then the woman gave me a puzzled look and said, “How did you know I had 36D breasts?”. I turned a lovely shade of red and explained that my partner’s were that size, and she looked to be about the same.

  15. Anonymous-eponymous,
    That’s funny that you actually considered lowering your voice so as not to embarrass the bus driver. I just had that impulse myself recently…I can’t remember the circumstances, but it would have made everything so much simpler.

    I never mind being called sir. I know I’m breaking gender rules, and I’m fully prepared to accept the consequences. But I do mind other people feeling embarrassed on my behalf. It’s so awkward.

  16. Duncan says:

    Ah, but Alison, why should there be “consequences” to breaking gender rules? I don’t think you meant it like that, but my Mo-like political consciousness just had to leap in.

    Back in the 70s I had hair to my shoulders, a sort of post-hippie look; I didn’t think I was being so very androgynous, but I was often mistaken for a woman. I found it interesting, and never minded it. But then, after about three years I got tired of taking care of the hair, and my hair is fine and kind of brittle, so I went back to relatively short. So it wasn’t something I had to deal with year-in, year-out, as you do.

    My point is that you don’t have to go very far to break gender rules. I guess it’s awkward for people to make the mistake, and it’s very nice of you to care about their embarrassment (you’re clearly a much nicer person than I am), but really, four decades of change and people still haven’t gotten used to the changes of the 60s.

  17. anonymous-eponymous says:

    I think its dealing with the people’s reactions to being embarassed rather than feeling sorry for them because they are embarassed. They get flustered and upset and it’s all just a whole lot more effort than it needs to be. Or sometimes they are completely mellow and could care less, in which case it’s no problem.

    But again, my point is that our unconcious mechanisms for deciding other people’s gender are only very partly under our control. And also, at least at an unconcious level, gender is very important to us. So our unconcious works hard at, and is usually pretty good at, identifying gender. And we don’t like it when me get it wrong much as we don’t like doing incorrectly other things which our unconscious usually handles well, e.g, drinking (which we usually do without choking or spilling or getting it up our nose).

    Recently I was visiting my sister. She has two kids and at the time the younger was still not weaned. She had just moved him out of the nursery into a bed in his brother’s room to free up the nursery for me so that I’ld have a private bedroom. She explained to the kids very clearly that when the door was closed that meant I wanted privacy and they weren’t to come in. This didn’t take, so the youngest busted in just while I was putting on my swimwear—itself a unisex garment. He stopped in his tracks, staring bemused at my naked chest and said, “Why do you have those?”. Then he asked if he could nurse. I told him no and explained again that “door closed” = “don’t come in” and eventually ushered him out. Nonetheless, I found out later that he had been using the masculine pronoun to refer to me during the rest of my stay. My little nephew was born this century and I don’t think he is full of the prejudices of the 50s. There is something about my way of interacting or my general deportment or my overall appearance that was more significant to him than even my breasts when he was deciding what my gender was.

  18. Green says:

    Hi Sam! Photos i send on e-mail.