Denton, Texas is known for many things:

1.) Benji was filmed in Denton.
2.) Robocop is from Denton.
3.) Paste Magazine named it the “Best Music Scene” in the United States in 2008. Musicians/bands from the area include Bowling for Soup, the Eli Whitney Band, Edie Brickell (of the New Bohemians), Norah Jones, Tripping Daisy, and many more.
4.) For many years the “Fry Street Fair” was hosted by The Delta Lodge in Denton, drawing upwards of 20,000 people.
5.) In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Brad proposes to Janet in Denton.

On Friday, September 9, I did the second reading for my tour in Denton. I thought it appropriate to read there because I wrote an early version of the chapter from Hustle titled “Hustle” during my final semester at the University of North Texas. Also, because I knew it couldn’t happen in another city while on this tour and I am decidedly trying to do every type of reading possible (at universities, at bookstores, at everywhere), I wanted to do an in-home reading. Musicians like Jeff Tweedy have done them, and writers do them as well. So I asked my long-time friend Seth Bracken, who now runs a tutoring business, if he would be interested, and he said sure.

I had no idea what to expect, but it was one of my funnest readings, ever. I saw old friends and met many new people.  I read in Seth’s living room at nine o’clock, and he joined me to read the chapter titled “Stages,” doing the parts of Charlie.

Afterward everyone hung out in the living room and on the front patio. We talked about writers like Cormac McCarthy and Lee Martin, and I was introduced to the work of Jens Peter Jacobsen, whose fiction I am excited to check out. Also, I was told my shorts were very shiny. I said, “I go to the store looking for the shiniest clothes possible.” Then, instantly, someone suggested I keep a lookout for snakeskin shorts; Boa Constrictor in particular, because those would be the shiniest shorts possible.

Duly noted.

It was definitely a unique and wonderful experience, and I would do it again. Over and over.

The next night, I went with my mother to the Arlington Music Hall for Johnny High’s Country Music Revue, a weekly concert where they “feature the future stars of country music every Saturday.” Entering the building, I had no idea of the history that exists within the walls, but given the many photographs of people like Merle Haggard, it runs pretty deep. We stood in line for tickets at the wooden counter and took in the crowd hanging around the foyer: mostly older men in faded blue jeans and button-downs and women in rhinestone jackets. We took our seats near the back. It was a variety show that night, with an emcee in a very shiny (though most likely not snakeskin) red suit, a nine-piece house band called “The Superpickers” dressed in matching red shirts,  and a center stage where singers would walk out from backstage, taking turns performing.

It was a wide variety of older country and newer country. There were some more experienced musicians who could work the crowd and some newer musicians (as young as fifteen) who looked and sounded scared to death. The whole experience was interesting and room-shrinking authentic, a flash back to a time when emcees thanked the sponsors individually, the performers had to audition for their spots, and the crowd consisted of regulars. All in all, fun. At times a little surreal. But fun.