Douglas Coupland,

Girlfriend in a Coma

Tour 1998
Day 10

     The whole book tour caught up with me today and I crawled onto the plane feeling like a sack of hammers. The flight to Boston was empty–a huge plane and only three passengers. It felt like a Flight of the Dead.      Did a whack of press and then a photographer came at 3 for a 20-minute shoot that turned into three hours in the driving rain sitting in a chair. He was one of those ‘60s rock ’n’ roll photogs who says things like “Sexy!” and “Give it to me!” and it was corny, but I could tell he was doing a good job. We got into a discussion. He said he can’t figure out how Polaroid manages to keep fresh patents on a product they haven’t changed in four decades. How do they?      As is normal on tour, food was not factored into the schedule, and I crashed big-time just before the Booksmith reading. I felt as if I were underwater for most of the event. Great big crowd and a good mike–mikes are so simple and easy, and they make all the difference. Oh–whenever they lower the lights to increase the intimacy, I always say, “Shoplifters of the world unite!” from the Smiths’ song title, and the bookstore people blanch.      Oh–just before the reading I went to the Gap to buy eight new white T-shirts, and five cops burst into the store because somebody had been caught shoplifting, and it was so dramatic. I had to leave before I saw how the situation was resolved.      Wendy Kohn showed up at the reading. She had just returned from Bilbao, Spain, with Bruce Kuwabara. We went to the hotel and ordered grilled cheese sandwiches from room service, and she tortured me by telling me how great the new Guggenheim was. I think it’s like this huge Mecca for people with IQs over 130. She described the Jenny Holzer sculpture there, and I was so jealous that I haven’t seen it. It reminded me of Jenny Holzer’s N.Y. Guggenheim installation, which I always tell people is the best book I’ve ever read. If it weren’t for Jenny Holzer, I never would have thought of writing.      Bought a wonderful photography book called Requiem–a collection of photos taken by Vietnam War journalists who were killed on the job. Mind-blowing photos–these landscapes that resemble Vermeer paintings and Spielberg movies, and it’s all just so sad.      Did my daily collage, and I got a sick feeling as I considered the amount of postindustrial detritus we leave in our wake–the endless bar-coding and snack wrappers and tags and stickers. It never ends. Was there ever a point in human history when we didn’t leave a trail of litter behind us? When future historians construct a final history of this century, will they remember to re-create a wastebasket in a Westin Hotel in the year 1998?      I had, like, 62 messages on my machine, and I couldn’t finish them all. I fell asleep with the light on.