Sunday, June 7, 2009

Gaiman & Palmer

Here's a tale about a writer and a musician and a little cafe in Manhattan:

Last Wednesday Catherine and I headed into NYC to see Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer at Housing Works for SPIN’s Liner Notes event (the blurry picture above is the best I could get with my iPhone from where I was). It was the second entry in SPIN’s new series pairing a writer and a musician.

It was a very cool night as they traded off spinning stories and singing songs, pausing only to auction off an advanced copy of Ms. Palmer’s photobook Who Killed Amanda Palmer, which Mr. Gaiman wrote stories to accompany; and to interview each other with audience questions, during which it was revealed to the world they have been dating for several months now (and I thought that was lovely for them, good on you guys! I did have to resist the urge to title this post “Gaiman & Palmer sittin’ in a tree…” thought that would just be in poor taste).

You can find other places online to give you a rundown of who performed what during the evening, but I will let you know the auction generated $1,300.00 for Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, an organization that supports homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with AIDS. (Other reported amounts for the auction itself varied, from reports of $1,100.00 to $2,000.00, but being there I watched in amazement as it crept up to the $1,300.00 as both Palmer and Gaiman at times proclaimed “Naked Amanda Pictures!” to the audience.) The night has a whole garnered something like $10,000.00 for the charity. Awesome.

I had seen both of them live once before, each on a different occasion. Neil Gaiman I met at a convention years ago in NYC not too long after I had discovered Sandman. It was a signing, where the convention volunteers wrangling the line made sure to tell everyone not to talk to Mr. Gaiman because he didn’t like that, and generally made him sound to be some sort of fan-hating monster. My friend and I thought this weird, and I was worried the experience would be short and uncomfortable. It wasn’t. He was very pleasant, saying something to me which I can’t recall now as he signed my copy of Death: The High Cost of Living #1 and some random Sandman comic (which I wish was issue number 42, the first one I had read – huh, 42, I just got that – but of course was not). I’m shy in person, and take a while to warm up to people, so I’m sure I mostly responded to his kindness in brief. I do recall leaving there thinking the convention staff at that signing were idiots, probably trying to make themselves seem more important that they were. Mr. Gaiman proved to be nothing more than the incredibly wonderful and charismatic guy he was then and is now.

Amanda Palmer I saw in concert with Catherine on New Years Eve 2007 as she played with her band The Dresden Dolls. It was an awesome show where New Years came six minutes late because someone stopped watching the clock or something. It didn’t matter. The energy of that night was incredible, and though I had only become a fan a few months prior (I sense a theme here), I became one for life that night. It was an extra special night because that was Catherine and my first New Years together, and a grand way to spend it.

That’s my story about Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. I have more to say on both, and will do so soon enough but this was a bit timely and timeless as far as events in my life go, so I wanted to share now. Moby was there, too, but aside from passing ten feet in front of me, he doesn't really figure into this tale.

One odd off-shoot of the whole affair occurred over on writer John Scalzi’s Whatever blog. A reader emailed to scold him for not letting the world at large know via his corner of the internet about the Gaiman/Palmer romance. He went on a little rant about why, even if he had advance knowledge of such relationship, he was not obligated and/or inclined to do so. While he sometimes gets a little too snarky for me (though I hang on because he is damned entertaining in all other aspects), Mr. Scalzi has a pretty much spot on sense of what is right/appropriate, and let the anonymous emailer know exactly what he thought of the scolding. It’s weird how some people view those working in entertainment.

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