Nearly six weeks ago, I put together a list of 10 books every guy should read. But in the tradition of bullshit that are list stories, I didn’t read one of them. It was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I finally read it.
It’s an odd book, which is why it continues to attract such an eclectic audience. I first heard about it from B. Free, a black hippie rollerblader from Texas, and received a copy as a gift from my dad, who watches Fox News, reads Bill O’Reilly, and listens to Rush Limbaugh too much.
The resounding message of the fable is chasing your “Personal Legend.” Essentially, it was fulfilling a destiny of greatness, should you choose to pursue it by paying attention to the signs around you.
I’m trying to do that more often now.
My first writing job was writing obituaries for a daily newspaper in Winona, Minn. Every night, after classes, I’d write a free blurb about someone’s life, or retype whatever some casket salesman wrote at the behest of the grieving. Either way, I was in charge of typing out the legacy of school teachers, housewives, or insurance salesmen.
Doing that, while taking classes concerning what I’d do for the rest of my life, had a profound effect on my life.
Like most things, I Didn’t realize it at the time.
Essentially, I want to create a life that will hopefully make for an entertaining obituary. It’s like a Personal Legend (much, much more self-serving), especially as someone who hopes to be remembered by the words he’ll leave behind.
I call The Alchemist odd because you can read it at many different points in your life and find something different each time. This time around, this is what sticks with me:
“… there was a language in the world that everyone understood… the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as part of a search for something believed in and desired.”
I’ve heard that language before. I’ve heard it in friends fulfilling their dreams, chasing what they believe to know to be true. I’ve heard it spoken by those unaffected by the obstacles in life. I’ve heard it among those who have since died testing its limits.
And, in case I didn’t bug you enough to get the money to do it, I’m about do do something like it this summer. I’m traveling the continental U.S. to spread the word about my writing. To me, there’s no way I can fail. The day I drive away from my parents’ house in Wisconsin in a truck I’ve never driven and head for the second tour stop, I’ve already won.
If The Alchemist and other books like it, as well as 32 years of personal experience, have taught me anything, it’s that the only way to truly fail is to never try.
So I’m going to give it my all.
But I’m dreaming big.
Because that’s what you’re supposed to do.
While I’m slinging books harder than a 1980s Times Square hooker’s hoochie, I’ll need a way to fill in the blanks.
As long as I’m dumb enough to attempt to sell printed books in the second decade of the 21st Century, I’ll take the rest of the lunacy with me: I’ll rollerblade and write about it along the way.
But since my parents shelled out more than $25,000 for me to get a degree in journalism, I might as well put that to use as well.
I want to really take a good honest look at the stories of the bladers I’ll be hanging out with along the way. When they skate, where they skate, how much they skate.
I want to tell the story about the current state of American blading.
I’m not exactly sure what that means completely, but I don’t want to waste any aspect of this kind of opportunity, one I may not ever have again.
I want to write about blading like I did for Shred ‘Til You’re Dead II. If you read it and thought I was on the trip, I wasn’t. I did a lot of homework for that thing. But now I get to do a blading-ish road trip across a country that used to be free because people used to be brave.
I’m not out to get clips (nor would you want to see them). I’m out to see what’s really going on, beyond the comments, likes, retweets, and whatever Rollernews calls news.
And please, Other Parts of the World, don’t take any offense. It isn’t about any ‘Mericuh vs. The World, although we are back-to-back World War champs. It’s just that I can’t drive a 15-year-old Ford Ranger to get to you and plane rides are fucking expensive.
This, to me, is about home.
It’s about America—the land I haven’t left yet—and rollerblading, the one thing in my life I’ve loved the longest. (Except for masturbating, of course.)
Call it journalism. Call it market research. Call it the only way I could afford to do something like this (Tax-deductible! Woo!). Since you all invested your hard-earned money on the Kickstarter, I vow to make the most of it. (I ask for your support and you give me 126 percent. You rascals.)
For lack of a more endearing term, I’m calling it…
Rock Town Tour 2014: Books, Beers & Blades
(Forthcoming tour poster from Jason Reyna)
Yes, the primary goal is to travel across the country to promote my latest novel, Assault Rifles & Pedophiles: An American Love Story. And I’ll do it because I’m chasing the mother-fucking dream of being a writer. You know, one people have actually heard of.
And since I already have the idea for my next novel, this tour, and the experiences I have on it, will directly serve as its inspiration. So that’s good if you like my fiction writing.
But I’ll be talking with a lot of bladers and not doing something with it seems kind of stupid.
It might be a book.
It might be scene reports on here.
It might be photos and videos, if people are down.
Either way, something is going to come of it, and with your help along the way, we collectively we can put something awesome together.
Hopefully, at least, the local skaters in the cities I’ll be visiting would be kind enough to offer a little hospitality and extend a couch or backyard for my tent. Hotels are fucking expensive, too.
Then again, as long as I’m in town, let’s do a session. After six months of 15-hour days in front of a computer and the thousands of miles I’ll spend in a car, I’ll need some exercise.
After a sesh, let’s have a rest. Well, you’ll try to rest in an uncomfortable chair while I do the writer-in-public thing.
Because let’s face it, I also need butts in seats at book events, whether library, bookstore, skate shop, or bar. If you can make it out, please do. I’ll be telling stories, reading stuff—including a forthcoming piece in The Radvocate—and hopefully giving you insights into American media from someone inside it.
I’ve been to many book readings that are boring as fuck, but I’ve also seen Chuck Palahniuk do his thing. So, in the interest of trying to be dry as some intellectual fucktard, I’ll do my best to blend conspiracy theories, many themes like Joe Rogan’s podcast, and stupid things I’ve done, seen, or experienced through the years, just like my books.
And then we’ll drink some beers immediately after (at the event, if they’re cool).
So here are the 25-or-so cities I plan to visit, based on strict criteria of possibility of having an event, having a connection, or neither. Because why not:
- Wisconsin Rapids, WI (June 5, McMillan Memorial Library, the one I learned to read at. Then Mom’s throwing me a party)
- Minneapolis, MN (College buddies and bladers? We’re going to jail)
- Winona, MN (Home to back cover quote author Prof. John Vivian)
- Davenport, IA (Midwest Writing Center, Iowat?!)
- Rock Island, IL (June 13, Icons. My Cheers)
- Chicago, IL (The Pull)
- Columbus, OH (Home to book designer Brandon Ballog)
- Pittsburgh, PA (Bruce, where you buy your books?)
- New York City, U.S.A (Fish, Franco, Elijah, Jenna, etc.)
- Boone, NC (Home to fellow blade writer/The Radvocate contributor Thomas Martin)
- Augusta/Atlanta, GA (Looking at you, Dirty)
- Orlando, FL: (/r/rollerblading’s gonna make it happen)
- New Orleans, LA (Put something together, Thomas)
- Austin, TX (Frank Stoner owns the word scene down there)
- Tulsa, OK (Rumors are I’m taking the stage with skateboarder Clay)
- KCMO (Because AJ)
- Omaha, NE (Call people, Buller)
- Denver, CO (Stang’s going to make it happen)
- Salt Lake City, UT (Opalek and Tiff are driving down)
- Ketchum, ID (Hey Mark Zuckerberg, can I stay at your ski cabin?)
- Missoula, MT (Camping in Cameron’s backyard again!)
- Seattle, WA (home to cover artist Kyler Martz)
- Portland, OR (Amir is my Spirit Animal)
- San Francisco Bay Area, CA (JSF)
- Bakersfield, CA (Intuition, of course)
- Santa Ana, CA (I’m inviting myself over, Julios)
While The Alchemist told me about my Personal Legend, reading Hunter Thompson told me the journey is much more fascinating than the destination.
Your books will be in the mail in the next few weeks.
I’ll be on the road before I’m ready for it.
Thanks again, everyone. See you all soon.
Blade or Die,
— Brian Krans
P.S. — You should order a copy of my new book. It’s my best yet. If I can’t convince you here, come to a reading. If I can’t convince you there, then it wasn’t meant to be.