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Books, Special Event, Touristy

Terry McMillan and the National Book Festival

On one hand, the last minute application for and acceptance of a press pass to the National Book Festival was oddly exciting. This is a signature event in the publishing world, held out side on the Mall, that thousands of people plan their trips to our nation’s capital around. The parade of successful and well-known folks that come into the media tent is impressive. Who wouldn’t want to fire a few questions at a David McCollough or a Garrison Keillor or a Dave Eggers?

On the first day, we had a long Friday night and a bocce game in the neighborhood Saturday, so we didn’t arrive at the two-day Festival on day one until mid afternoon, despite a 10 am start time. had we been right at 10 am, we would have had a chance to meet and interview Julianne Moore. Why is this significant? Well, dummy, beside being a talented actress-turned-children’s-author, a redhead, Maude Lebowski, and exceedingly gorgeous despite being 51 (!), she’s JULIANNE MOORE. We didn’t event know she was going to be doing press, let alone to start the first day, so had this interview happened, we almost certainly would have made a fool of ourselves trying to ask questions on the fly of someone is who is legitimately that famous (and, Maude Lebowski). The only question I could think of to ask her might have been “Are you ever going to age?”

This taught us the lesson of always showing up for the beginning of whatever, even if it means missing week one of our bocce league, which seemed a suitable activity, since we already did a feature on that once before. So, Sunday, we were there bright and early, and as a result, became the first interview for best-selling author Terry McMillan (“Waiting to Exhale”, “How Stella Got Her Groove Back”). This turned out to be a fun interview because we got off topic from books and started to talk about music, specifically lounge and even more specifically Thievery Corporation, who Ms. McMillan swore hailed from Berlin. It’s a rare chance we know (anything) something our interviewee doesn’t, so imagine our elation that we could be helpful to someone with so much more knowledge (and let’s face it, marketable skill) than us.

The horror of the day wasn’t realized until Monday when we loaded up our 6 interviews only to find that the five after Ms. McMillan contain audio that was no good. (We’ve sinced ordered a new specialty mic cable, since the adapter we have now appears shoddy, despite being only a month old). We went from having a week’s worth of content and laughs to having just one, albeit very enjoyable, interview. It seems the Man on the Street DC DIY aesthetic is alive and well, overwhelmingly so.

We lost not only our interviews, but our running jokes with the other authors, including their plans to hug mascots or if they planned to ask Ms McMillan to sign their Kindles, because “she loves that sort of thing.” (Our favorite response was from daughter of the legendary Bob Marley, Cedella Marley, who responded “Wait, are you setting me up?”), A story from Bob Edwards about his nonprofit book publisher going electronic (in that great Bob Edwards voice of his), talking about the business of books with John Bemelmans Marciano of the Madeline series, a surprise interview with Miss International 2011 which I’m still not clear on what that is, and then Wally Amos.

Wally Amos gets his own paragraph. The founder of Famous Amos Cookies and Uncle Wally’s Muffins is always on. He launched into an uplifting explanation of his early childhood campaign Read It Loud! even though I got the title of it wrong. I asked him what he thinks of the cupcakes explosion in DC and he said “It started in LA” which allowed me a chance to quip that DC would never copy something form somewhere else. He laughed. He played the kazoo. He let me try on his hat. He asked if I’d take part in his Read it Loud program. I said “You DO realize I’ve over 6 years old right?”. He said it doesn’t matter. Then, he gave me a hug. I’m getting sick just thinking about how I don’t have this interview in all its glory. Wally Amos is like Bill Cosby, if the Cos lived and breathed as the cartoon characters he created in Fat Albert.

It was a great experience that showed we could successfully be “press” when the event calls for it. Time to get a roadie to make sure all this equipment. works.


About manonthestreetdc

Reporting on events in the nation's capital



  1. Pingback: The Lost Interviews at the National Book Festival « Man On The Street DC - September 27, 2011

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