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Not Your Typical Book Signing

In the following essay, I make reference to an individual named Lee Romero. I also mention his “political ambitions.”  Lee Romero is a friend of mine who, at the end of his e-mails, writes, “Modern problems need modern solutions. Lee Romero for president, ’08.

When I first moved to Brooklyn, I worked in a bar in Bay Ridge called Lily’s, which is now called Henry Grattan’s. The bar had a fireplace, and within the first hour of my very first shift, I was picking up glasses off of the mantel when I heard a glass break behind me, and felt shards of glass hit me in the back of the neck. I turned around, and a blonde woman whose face was covered with blood got shoved into my arms. That’s because some bitch had gone ultraviolence on her and hit her in the face with a wine glass. Sadly, the glass was full. After the fight was broken up, one of the bartenders, Kieron Slattery, turned to me, laughed, and said, “Welcome to New York, lad!” The cops showed up, and the girl who went ultraviolence said, “You can’t arrest me! Do you have any idea who my father is?” It turns out that her father is Pete Hamill of the Daily News. The cops were aware of this because, apparently, she had reminded them of this on several occasions being that she had a habit of going to bars all over the neighborhood and hitting people with glasses. The cops used to take her last name into consideration, but by the time that she did it at Lily’s, they were tired of her bullshit, and they arrested her. While walking past the Barnes & Noble in Park Slope the other day, I saw a sign in the window that said that Pete Hamill will be discussing and signing copies of his book “The Gift.” As you can imagine, the temptation for me to do something stupid is at an all time high.

Before I continue, I should mention that in the five years since we had his daughter arrested, Pete Hamill has become one of my favorite writers. I don’t read the Daily News since my IQ is above 60, but I’ve read four of his books. “The Gift” is good, but not great. However, I LOVED his books “Downtown” and “Forever,” which I consider to be mandatory reading for all New Yorkers. He also wrote a wonderful biography on Frank Sinatra entitled “Why Sinatra Matters.” But this is not a book review. This is a very serious essay about the dangers of flying glass, and the impending consequences. Now I don’t know what happened to Hamill’s daughter after she left Lily’s in handcuffs. If she ended up going to jail, I’m guessing that she’s probably out by now. Whether she was able to escape jail time or not, I wonder if she learned her lesson. There’s only one way to find out though, and that’s by asking.

“Hey, Pete! How’s the hammer hanging? Listen, I was wondering…about five years ago, I was working at a bar in Brooklyn when your alcoholic daughter viciously attacked one of my customers, wasting a perfectly fine glass of Pinot Grigio in the process. Whatever came of that?”

Actually, it would be very rude of me to not mention how much I admire his work. I should mention one of his books.

“Hey, Pete! How’s the hammer hanging? Listen, I was wondering…about five years ago, I was working at a bar in Brooklyn when your alcoholic daughter viciously attacked one of my customers, wasting a perfectly fine glass of Pinot Grigio in the process. Now I have two questions. First of all, did your daughter go to jail as a result of that? And second, you wrote a book entitled “A Drinking Life,” which was about how you’re a recovering alcoholic. Therefore, do you find it to be ironic that you’re daughter has a problem with alcohol? I mean, don’t get me wrong. I don’t know if your daughter drinks a lot. In fact, if she’s in prison, her alcohol consumption is probably limited. The reason why I say that she has a  problem with alcohol is because every time that she drinks, someone gets rushed to the emergency room. Anyway, how’s she doing? I miss her.”

Is that smooth or what? Writers all have a big ego, and if you want to get information from them, you have to mention one of their books. “That’s fucked up, Keith! Don’t mention to him that his daughter’s a loser!” You’re right. There’s no need to do that. After all, the eyes are the window to the soul, and after Lee Romero and I dress up in drag and he hits me with a wine glass, we’ll be able to find out what happened to Hamill’s daughter just by watching his reaction. If his eyes are filled with a profound sense of pain, we will know that his daughter is still in jail. If the pain appears to be quick and fleeting, we will know that we conjured up memories of events that are long gone, memories that involved events that appeared to have worked themselves out. For all of you academics out there, it would be the equivalent of Act 3, Scene 2 of Hamlet, in which Hamlet instructs the actors to recreate the murder of his father in order to see how Claudius reacts to it. “No no, Keith. Do not, by any means, drag Lee Romero into this. He may very well be our nation’s next President, and it would be an act of political suicide if he were to dress up in women’s clothing and commit a savage act of violence in a crowded book store.” Yeah, maybe you’re right. I should leave Lee Romero out of this. In fact, I won’t even need a partner. When it’s time for Pete Hamill to sign my book, I’ll walk up to him covered in blood, and I’ll quietly say to him, “Hey, Mr. Hamill. Great book.” He’ll ask me, “What the hell happened? You’re covered in blood!” And I’ll shout “I KNOW I’M COVERED IN BLOOD! LEARN HOW TO CONTROL YOU’RE FUCKING DAUGHTER!!!

You see, unlike Lee Romero, I can get away with doing stuff like that since I don’t plan on pursuing a career in politics.


October 28, 2005


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