Monday, October 13, 2003
Greetings! Just got back from another trip to Birmingham. The occassion this time was David Sedaris's appearance Sunday night. He read from a couple of soon to be published essays, plus a previously published essay, did a little Q&A. He was exactly what you'd hope for: the ultimate cocktail party guest. The tickets in Birmingham were considerably more expensive than other venues, but if he's near your town, it's worth seeing.
What was really impressive about him though was how he declined to be drawn into a political discussion during the Q&A. An audience member asked about his opinions on the Democratic candidates. After demuring about how he wouldn't want to receive political advice from somebody as stupid as himeslef, Sedaris politely shamed the questioner for asking it. The gist of his argument was: if you read me, you can probably guess what my opinions are; but, the question is not about eliciting information from me, it's about your wanting me to agree with you or your assuming that I will agree with you and others, even most, of the audience; and while I may agree with you and say something and get applause for it, it's cheap applause and completely unearned, and I won't do it. Pretty impressive.
As fun as his stories were, it was also interesting to hear him talk about living in Paris and the US/French feud over Iraq. What people don't realize, he said, was that people in France are anti-Bush and not anti-America, and that we as Americans are not so good at making the same distinctions. While we cancel trips to France--he told of an American friend who is a tour guide who had dozens of folks cancel, all except one, who demanded an armed bodyguard with him at all times, but when he was told one could not bring weapons into the Louvre, he finally cancelled--they still write stories about where to visit in America and things to do here on their vacations. It's good to hear that relations are not completely doomed.
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