May 22, 2024

Yale Club, New York

Yale Club, New York

Source: Bigstock

Until recently, I would have guessed I’d never get to do an old-fashioned book tour in my lifetime.

After all, I didn’t make a single public appearance in more than a decade, from February 2013 until June 2023. I’d occasionally get invited to give speeches, then hear that the hotel had canceled the conference out of fear of Antifa violence or of bad publicity for platforming a crimethinker like myself who thus deserved to have his conference smashed up by Black Bloc thugs.

Granted, in retrospect it seems extremely weird that an avuncular, public-spirited, and intensely reasonable citizen like me was treated this way, but that’s how crazy America was during the recent decade of the Great Awokening: I was de facto banned from public speaking, while Ibram X. Kendi was handed tens of millions of dollars.

Finally, Peter and Lydia Brimelow bought a castle-shaped stone building in Berkeley Springs, W.V., to use as VDARE’s fortified compound. (It’s featured in the postapocalyptic game Fallout 76.) So I gave my first speech in a decade there last June.

“Having people tell you they are your biggest fan turns out, to my surprise, to be a blast.”

Nor did it seem likely that any publisher would deign to release a book by me. Sure, I’d been recognized since the mid-1990s by discerning readers as one of the more insightful voices of my age. But what if a summer intern majoring in Gender Studies threw a hissy fit? How could any respectable publisher afford to publish me when an unpaid intern might object?

And wasn’t the concept of the book tour obsolete? Isn’t this the Age of Zoom?

Wasn’t the old-fashioned publishing industry less of a rational profit-making enterprise than a conspiracy of rich kids to take each other to expensive lunches? I can recall the only previous time I’d been invited out by a publisher, going to lunch a couple of decades ago on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with a publishing executive whose dad was one of the most famous writers in the world—the one time I’d run into his father on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, he was dressed head to toe in Burberry—and thinking that, as much as I had enjoyed the experience, the profit margins in publishing must not be fully optimized.

But a couple of years ago my friend C., who takes on the task of getting me out of my closet-office, told me I absolutely had to meet a guy named Lomez for lunch to talk about a book deal.

I was familiar with Lomez as a fairly well-known online figure. On Twitter, I’d been following this Ashkenazi-Croatian-American’s quest to dunk a basketball one final time after turning 40. (Balkans, like Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic, are probably the best white basketball players in the world.) Lomez, a former UC San Diego player, is a little under six feet tall, so it was impressive he managed to do it once more.

In person, Lomez turned out to be a charming, handsome fellow in the style of, say, Daniel Day-Lewis. He’d been reading me for a couple of decades. He introduced himself as a college lecturer and publisher who had recently founded a company, Passage Publishing, dedicated to publishing unpublishable authors such as myself and Mencius Moldbug. They had merged with another start-up dedicated to printing beautiful books.

Lomez explained his vision of publishing an anthology of my best stuff from the past three decades. Within fifteen minutes I was convinced that I’d finally met The Guy who ought to be my editor.

Passage Publishing had some novel ideas, like charging radically more for the leather-bound hardcover ($395.00) than the softcover ($29.95). But they also had some old-fashioned ideas, such as the classy book tour.

So, Passage came up with Los Angeles, Austin, Miami, and New York as destinations, to which I added the VDARE spring conference in West Virginia, which sounds remote but is merely a long commute from D.C.’s Dulles airport.

In each city on the Passage book tour, I’d do both a private dinner and a public speaking engagement. What about the threat of organized violence? While VDARE will tell participants the location of its events but not email you the exact dates until after you sign up, Passage, in contrast, communicated dates, but not precise street addresses until the last moment.

The dinners tended to be extremely Uptown and the book readings extremely Downtown. For example, the Los Angeles dinner for a couple dozen was in a house in Malibu Extremadura, which was lovely green in March, while the speaking event brought 75 to a warehouse in downtown L.A.

How’d they pick these four cities?

Los Angeles was an easy choice because that’s Passage’s headquarters and my native hometown. Plus, L.A. is mildly fashionable with tech industry refugees from the woke San Francisco Bay area because it’s a superficial place where nobody cares about your ideology, only your box office. As the world’s smallest internet nanocelebrity, I like that in my two dozen years back in Los Angeles, I’ve been recognized only twice while going about my daily life.

On the other hand, as I’ve discovered this spring, having people tell you they are your biggest fan turns out, to my surprise, to be a blast.

I recall in 1982 running into the late Johnny Ramone standing on a street corner in Greenwich Village eating an ice cream cone with his mom, and me slobbering all over him, telling him I was his biggest fan. Johnny was exceptionally gracious to put up with this bumptious yuppie, and afterward I was embarrassed by how uncool I was. But still…

I’m guessing that Passage picked Austin and Miami because those are two of the cities that Silicon Valley tech guys have been bailing out to in this decade.

Austin was terrific in April. (Of course, every place I visited had superb weather in March through May. Warning: My appreciation may not apply in July and January.) Judging by the skyline, there’s an insane amount of construction going on in Austin, with ten skyscrapers under construction between 500 and 1,000-plus feet tall. Recently, housing costs are currently dropping sharply as supply skyrockets.

Both of my events were scheduled in Austin’s East Sixth Street neighborhood, where most of the famous nightclubs and restaurants are, so I stayed there. Austin has tons of three-digit-IQ white and white-adjacent people and a relatively low crime rate, so it’s where the urban Portlandia hipster Dream of the Nineties has gone.

I like it. About 150 people crammed into my public appearance, perhaps twice what I saw in downtown L.A.

Geneticist Razib Khan, who moderated my Austin public event, suggests that Austin is well behind the Bay Area in human capital. On the other hand, Razib, a former Silicon Valleyite, says, the smaller size of Austin makes it more pleasant: You keep running into the same people.

On the other hand, Austin’s indigenous architectural style can be designated as Honky-Tonk Minimalist Crud, so don’t get too excited about the buildings, which tend to be about all you’d expect from a four-piece band’s nightclub.

For complex reasons, I then flew into west Florida and drove to Miami. By California’s shoddy standards, Florida appears to be a well-governed state with fine roads, at least until you finally get to Miami, which is a Mad Max roadscape that you’d hope for/expect from watching Miami Vice forty years ago.

Miami is politically dominated by white people from Cuba and northern South America who fear and loathe the slightest whiff of communism. And, in contrast to the Mexicans of Los Angeles, who despise living more than twenty feet off the ground, they like high-rises. So Miami has an increasingly sensational skyline.

On the other hand, Miami, for all its strong points, such as beautiful women, is not a bookish town. Unlike, say, Seattle residents, Miamians don’t feel the need to spend the rainy six months of the year curled up with a good book.

So, unsurprisingly, the public event was called off due to lack of ticket buyers.

The private dinner, however, was a blast. But the tech dudes in attendance tended to assume that they’d have to migrate back to the Bay Area to cash in on the artificial intelligence boom. In 2020, it had seemed reasonable that Miami might develop a few profitable tech specialties. But now it appears that AI will conquer the world, and thus you’d better be within fifty miles of San Francisco’s city hall to have the best AI talent at your disposal.

Or so I was told. Still, don’t look to me for AI investing tips.

One interesting pattern was how young my audiences in L.A., Austin, and Miami were: probably around early 30s median age. I’m a generation older, so I’d assumed that my readers would naturally die off fairly soon.

But now I figure I ought to try to stay alive to cash in on my newfound coolness.

I kept hearing from young people either that they’d heard about me on Twitter/X or on the Red Scare podcast. All this surprised me, as I’d figured that my natural audience was getting older (like me).

The New York events exemplified the Uptown dinner/Downtown after-dinner distinction. The New York dinner was held in Manhattan’s most formidable old-money club on the Upper East Side. It’s one of those places that, judging from its name, sounds like where Teamsters drink cans of Rolling Rock.

But instead it’s where you are only allowed to pull out your cell phone in its phone booths. (I love reading the “Guest Information” rules on websites of clubs like this. I realize I sound snarky, but, actually, I’m appreciative of this kind of cultural diversity.) As I was arriving, I ran into two congenial college professors who’d flown in to meet me. I was impressed, but the man at the front desk took one look at them and barked, “Gentlemen, tighten your neckties.”

In contrast, my reading was two nights later at Sovereign House, which sounds like a giant marble private club, and perhaps someday will be. But at the moment, it’s two rooms in a basement in Manhattan’s original Chinatown with $5 bottles of supermarket beer. It looked like about 200 people packed in, with a third of them standing. I felt like I was opening for Talking Heads and the Ramones at CBGB in the 1970s.

Almost all of my fans on my tour, not to my surprise, turned out to be men. Except in New York, where two or three dozen exceptionally beautiful women showed up as part of the Dimes Square scene of hip conservative intellectuals. The joke is a pun on “Times Square” and a “dime” being a ten on a one-to-ten scale of attractiveness. I’d been advised about my being cool in Downtown NYC for a couple of years, but I had never believed it until I saw it.

My guess is that New York has the most competitive mating market in America, so some women are so enterprising as to wonder what the best men are into, and, being highly intelligent, get interested in it themselves. Personally, I encourage lovely women to read me.

Not surprisingly, Lomez got doxxed by an Antifa-adjacent journalist in The Guardian shortly after I got home.

Yet, as I’d predicted, unleashing a charismatic natural celebrity on the world like Lomez turned out to be a characteristically inept move on the part of the Woke.

My book has been selling great ever since.

We are talking about going back on the road in the fall. Where should we go?


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