Friday, October 14, 2005

October 14 , 2005 Bonus Blog
Big dust-up yesterday at the Western History Association convention at the Camelback Inn. I had a speech at the downtown Rotary at noon. Speech went well. Only 18 in attendance but they bought $400 worth of books! Go figure. You can never underestimate the buying power of a well-read crowd. I have had speeches to 300 where I have sold nothing. Crowd dynamics is an amazing thing. As Brian Label quipped to me last weekend, “The longer I’m in this business, the less I know.”

Got to the Camelback Inn Conference Center at about 1:30 and with the official True West dolly loaded in our magazines and books to booth #18. All the big University presses were there. Got set up and asked my neighbors, Western Writers of America, what time it was, since I had a phone interview to do with KTAR radio at 3:30. Kathryn Swarthout (whose late husband, Glendon, wrote The Shootist) told me she would alert me to when the time came close. Ted Simon’s producer told me on Wednesday they preferred not to do the interview on a cell phone, and encouraged me to find a “land line.” I didn’t think that would be a problem in a place as classy as the Camelback Inn (four or five stars). I easily found a courtesy phone around the corner from our booth and called the operator. She curtly told me I couldn’t call out from this phone. When I asked her where I could find a land line phone, she told me to use my room phone and when I told her I wasn’t staying at the hotel she suggested a pay phone. I said, “I’m going to be doing a live radio interview with KTAR from your hotel and you’re telling me you can’t help me?” She gave me the standard “Sir, I’ll need to call you back” routine, and five minutes later, the phone rang and a young lady named Brook asked me what the problem was. When I told her, she said she would be glad to procure me a phone. I started to thank her profusely, but then she added, “for an $85 charge.” I was stunned. “Are you kidding me?” I barked. Actually there was another word in there, after the “you” and I think there were a couple of other colorful Western expressions following the “me,” that I learned in my formative years as a rear chainman for Thyrogod & Associates in Kingman. I was so steamed. I slammed down the courtesy phone (some courtesy!) and went down the hall to do the interview on one of these new-fangled pay phones. First I had to bum 50 cents off Mrs. Swarthout and when I called the station the clock starts running (you only get 15 minutes and a doomsday digital timer counts down on the display window). There is no phone number on the phone, so the station couldn't call me back. They were in commercials but the producer Steve told me he would alert Ted and try and get me on ASAP.

The interview went great, although I was talking fast with one eye on the phone timer. Although I went out of my way not to mention where I was calling from. I finished with 11 seconds to spare, got in a great plug for the website (three orders already this morning) and went back to the booth and hawked mags and books. At five, Paul Hutton, the executive director of the conference, came by and asked me if he could buy me a beer. As we walked down the hall towards the poolside cantina, Paul said, “You want to tell me your version of what happened with our event coordinator, Brook?”

Brook’s version of the above events tomorrow.

“What a delight it is to make friends with someone you have despised!”
—Old Hotel Concierge Saying

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