Hello. I’m Gavin Edwards, the public speaker and the New York Times-bestselling author of The Tao of Bill Murray, the ’Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy series, and Kindness and Wonder: Why Mister Rogers Matters Now More Than Ever. If you’re interested in hiring me, click here for more information.

Having Fun On Stage With Everybody

(Photo taken by me at a 2013 M.I.A. concert at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles.)

Back in 1995 (or thereabouts), I made something—a mixtape? an audio art project? an interstitial supercut? banter-o-rama? Well, I cut together an hour-long cassette tape that was sufficiently its own thing that a quarter-century later, I’m still not sure what to call it. It did have a name, which was Having Fun On Stage With Everybody. It answered the previously unasked question “What would a live concert album sound like with all the songs taken out?”

I dubbed two copies and sent them to my friends Rob Sheffield and Ted Friedman. And I figured that was about the natural size of its audience.

A quarter-century later, here in the year of our internet 2021, I realized that while this project wasn’t for everyone, it was possible that the interested listeners might number in the previously unthinkable double digits, or maybe even triple digits. So I am pleased to share it with you: check it out on Bandcamp, on SoundCloud, or at the Internet Archive. It’s absolutely free at all of those places (and I’ve given it a Creative Commons license: in keeping with its audio-scavenger aesthetic, you’re free to slice it up or use it for your own purposes, so long as it’s not for commercial gain).

The sound quality reflects the limitations of its sources (vinyl to cassette to digital files), just as the material reflects the limitations of my record collection back then. If I was making this today, I’d make different choices (but honestly, I’d probably just tweet about it as a thought experiment rather than spending the time required to make it a reality).

Oh: the title was drawn from the record that inspired me: Elvis Presley’s 1974 album Having Fun with Elvis on Stage.

I believe that this project is a textbook example of fair use, but it won’t shock me if it runs afoul of copyright bots, so if this is something you’re interested in, I suggest you listen to it and/or download it as soon as possible. Enjoy Having Fun On Stage With Everybody!

posted 23 July 2021 in Unpublished. 2 comments

Bad Motherfucker

I have a new book coming out, called Bad Motherfucker: The Life and Movies of Samuel L. Jackson, the Coolest Man in Hollywood. It’ll be published by Hachette Books on October 19, but until then, I invite you to judge the book by its cover.

You say you want to preorder now? Well, I can’t argue with that.

You can order the book at your local indie bookstore, or at other retailers including Powell’s, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Bad Motherfucker: ask for it by name.

posted 17 June 2021 in Buy My Stuff. no comments yet

The Enormous Head and the Disco Chicken

In the latest issue of Our State, I wrote about public art in Charlotte, specifically Metalmorphosis by by David Cerny and the Firebird by Niki de Saint Phalle. I also got to quote my awesome wife Dr. Jen Sudul Edwards and my awesome friend Beth Troutman (although the magazine removed the part where she called herself “a goober”). In the article I alluded to the similarities between the Firebird and a certain Flaming Lips album cover—judge for yourself.

posted 16 April 2021 in Articles. no comments yet

Holiday Shopping 2020: How to Buy a Signed Copy of One of My Books

I don’t really trust anything on the 2020 calendar at this point, and time seems to have no meaning, but nevertheless, it appears that the holiday season will soon be upon us. You might not be thinking about shopping for your loved ones yet, but you probably should be.

Might I suggest that you consider one of my books as a gift? You can buy my books at your local bookstore (an excellent idea in a hard year for bookstores!), or at major retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or Powell’s. If, however, you want a copy that’s been signed and inscribed by me, your best bet is to call up my local bookstore, Park Road Books in Charlotte, North Carolina. They will be happy to sell you one or more of my books and ship them to you (or anywhere else in the world you like)—and if you like, before they send them out, I will swing by the store with a Sharpie and personalize them. (If you want me to do that, just be sure to let them know the name of the recipient.)

I know they have plenty of copies in stock of The Tao of Bill Murray, The World According to Tom Hanks, and Kindness and Wonder: Why Mister Rogers Matters Now More Than Ever—and they tell me they can quickly procure my other books, such as Last Night at the Viper Room. (I’m sure they’ll also be happy to sell you books by people who are not me, which is a great idea! Books are awesome!)

The phone number for the good people of Park Road Books is 704-525-9239, or you can reach them via orders@parkroadbooks.com. If you want to be certain that the books will get where they’re supposed to by December 25th, you should place your order not later than Friday, December 11th (allowing extra time for the package to make its way through our nation’s overstressed shipping system). And please have a safe, healthy holiday season.

posted 24 November 2020 in Buy My Stuff. no comments yet

The Great Lost Alan Moore Interview

Back in 2006, I went to Northampton to visit the greatest living Englishman, comics writer Alan Moore, author of Watchmen and From Hell. We had a fascinating three-hour conversation, on subjects including magic, Finnegans Wake, and pornography (his latest book at that moment was the erotic fantasia Lost Girls)–but when Rolling Stone bumped the article for several issues before killing it, the interview lay fallow for over a decade. In 2018, Dirk Wood was starting a hardcover anthology for IDW Publishing called Full Bleed, and hearing through a mutual friend that I had this interview on my hard disk, was excited to run it (at much greater length than it would have originally seen). That issue of Full Bleed is now out of print, so I am pleased to share it with you here.

“People have asked me why, in the first chapter of my first novel, I decided to write it in some form of sub-English that readers would certainly find off-putting. The best answer is that I wrote it that way to keep out the scum.”

posted 20 November 2020 in Articles. no comments yet

Gathering the Magic

“Manic Scribe” would be a good job title to put on a business card, actually.

If you pick up a copy of today’s Washington Post, you will find my first article for that fine publication, about the card game Magic: The Gathering, the player Lee Shi Tian, and what heroism means in 2020—both in card games and in what we still like to call the real world.

I don’t think I’ve ever had an article take so long between the reporting and the publication—roughly nine months passed between my attending a Mythic Championship tournament in Richmond, Virginia and the current moment—and given how life has turned inside-out for everybody, at various points I assumed this piece would never run. So my thanks to the good people at the Post, especially editor David Rowell, for not only sticking with it but making sure that it felt relevant and resonant when it finally was printed.

You can read it here.

posted 9 August 2020 in Articles. no comments yet

Alex Trebek: the Man, the Myth, the Mustache

Alex Trebek (left) and me in 2000.

One of the weird things about writing advance obituaries: you immerse yourself in somebody else’s life, striving to get the details right and to sum up the broad strokes of their existence. If you do that right, you’re proud of the results (and likely sympathetic to your subject)—but then you may have to wait years for the obituary to be published. You want people to read what you wrote, but not at the price of the subject having to die.

When Alex Trebek announced last year that he had advanced pancreatic cancer, Rolling Stone asked me to write an appreciation of the man (and the story of my appearance on Jeopardy! back in 2000), anticipating that he might have only weeks left among us. And then, stubbornly and gloriously, Trebek has stayed alive.

So this outcome was an unexpected delight: Rolling Stone decided to publish my article today. I’m glad Alex Trebek can read it, and I’m glad you can too.

posted 21 July 2020 in Articles. no comments yet

Please Mr. Postman

The Grimshawes post office, roughly the size of a postage stamp.

My first article for Our State magazine–the glossy monthly about the life and history of North Carolina–took me to the mountainous town of Cashiers so I could explore the history of the Grimshawes post office, a shack once reputed to be the nation’s smallest post office.

I also got to spend an afternoon with a 99-year-old local legend and to correspond with official historians of the United States Postal Service (who knew the USPS had a history department?). All in all, not bad for a Carolina road trip.

posted 5 July 2020 in Articles. no comments yet

Ben Day and Aqua Net

In recent weeks, I wrote two articles for the New York Times arts section: one was about daily newspaper cartoonists grappling with how to address the pandemic in their strips, while the other was a playlist of 15 essential hair-metal videos.

The pandemic-comics article made the front page of The New York Times, albeit as a tiny capsule in the lower right hand corner.

My thanks to the cartoonists who took the time to speak with me: Lalo Alcaraz (“La Cucaracha”), Ray Billingsley (“Curtis”), Tony Carrillo (“F Minus”), Bill Hinds (“Tank McNamara”), Mark Tatulli (“Lio”), and Stephan Pastis (“Pearls Before Swine”). I always enjoy talking with cartoonists, but it’s unlikely that any of us are getting to a comics convention this year.

And my thanks to the hair-metal bands for being awesome.

posted 18 May 2020 in Articles. no comments yet

Tom Hanks, the Pandemic, and Us

Tom Hanks likes to populate his Instagram with photos of single gloves: one lonely half of a pair, lost on the ground, an object poignantly seeking a partner. But a few weeks ago, the glove he photographed was surgical latex, and it came with a medical report: Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson had suffered from some chills and fevers, and so, “To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the Coronavirus, and were found to be positive.”

In the United States today, everything seems more tangible when it happens to celebrities and sports teams, and for many Americans, the one-two punch that first convinced them that Covid-19 was a real threat was the NBA shutting down and the news that Hanks was infected. (He’s always been a positive guy, but this was a bit much.)

Being the first ailing A-lister was more accident than accomplishment, of course. He was filming an Elvis Presley movie (Hanks is playing Colonel Tom Parker),  directed by Baz Luhrmann in Australia—a country doing much better than the United States with its Covid-19 testing regime. He handled his pioneer status like the level-headed role model that he is; he and Wilson, he declared, “will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?”

Hanks was also ahead of the curve in coming out on the other side of Covid-19—he and Wilson were released from the hospital in favor of self-quarantining lots of gin rummy—and as we saw when he hosted the stay-at-home edition of Saturday Night Live, a pioneer in having an unflattering quarantine haircut.

When he was younger, figuring out who he was as an actor and as a human being, Hanks used to waste a lot of energy. On a movie set, he’d get into character, achieve a camera-ready white-hot emotional intensity, and then bounce off the walls of his trailer, trying to sustain his peak energy as one hour of waiting extended into three or four.

“You attack and it’s finally done and you’re spent and going, ‘I can’t keep doing this to myself,'” he said in 1996. “Now it’s a matter of, ‘Look, I’ve done the work, I understand that when the time comes it’s going to be alright.’ In the same way that I’m aware that if the kid has a bloody nose, there’s an easy way of taking care of it, as opposed to (high-pitched scream) ‘Oh my god, he’s got a bloody nose!'”

Hanks isn’t just admirably calm in a crisis, he believes in the American ideals of overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles through hard work, shared sacrifice, and collective effort—the values that won World War II and put astronauts on the moon. (And not coincidentally, the values that get motion pictures made.)

The movie in his filmography that best captures this moment is 1995’s Apollo 13. The movie, directed by Ron Howard, is about a moon mission that suffered from a technical failure and barely got back to Earth. In the Apollo capsule, the three astronauts were wedged into tight quarters, socially distancing themselves from Earth to the tune of a couple of hundred thousand miles. In the movie’s most thrilling scene, a room of NASA patched together a design for a replacement air filter; technical expertise counts for a lot when you’re flying a spacecraft or fighting a virus.

This pandemic will reshape the American landscape in ways we can’t fully imagine yet, killing people and businesses and school years. But most of the American people have acted more responsibly and seriously than their leaders in the federal government. Hanks isn’t a lonely man reminding Americans of their best traditions; he’s reflecting the decisions that millions of his fellow citizens have been making without the counsel of movie stars.

We choose the myths we believe in, we choose the stories we tell ourselves about America, we choose the celebrities we want to listen to—and we chose well in making Hanks our national conscience. “We are all in this together,” Hanks wrote after one week of being alone on the other side of the world, and it was never truer. “Flatten the curve.”

(For more of my writing on Tom Hanks, check out my book The World According to Tom Hanks: The Life, the Obsessions, the Good Deeds of America’s Most Decent Guy. Help keep your local bookstore in business!)

posted 22 April 2020 in Articles. 1 comment