Thursday, June 9, 2016

Stephen King at Loew's Theater in Jersey City, NJ - June 7, 2016

Some pictures I found recently of chalk sketches of the great writer himself.

In this video, King recalls an amusing story of when he wanted to use the lyrics to a Judas Priest song, only to find that they wanted a considerable sum of money for the privilege.

I have seen Stephen King a few times now, but I have never, ever witnessed either the sheer number of people waiting on lines before the event, nor the level of enthusiasm of the audience overall. They really were fired up to see this guy!

The event did not start on time, most likely due to the crushing length of the line to get in. You would not necessarily think that it would take quite so long, but in order to organize the seating arrangements on an individual basis (this is a movie theater normally, and not a big event kind of venue), ticketholders had to wait outside on what seemed like an impossibly long line in order simply to get in.

However, the organizers of the event made sure that all ticketholders had the chance to get in and be seated before King came out to speak, so he came out considerably later than his scheduled 7:30pm appearance.

It was probably closer to 8pm when he finally came out, and jokingly mentioned that this is when he always hopes his fly is zipped up.

For the most part, Stephen King just basically conversed normally with the crowd, talking about anything and everything that came to mind. He told a story about one woman that he ran into (in a supermarket, if memory serves correctly) that told him that she did not like the awful subject matter of most of what he wrote about, meaning horror. She claimed to like more uplifting stuff, such as "The Shawshank Redemption." When he mentioned that he had in fact written that, she responded definitively, "No, you didn't."

He took repeated shots at Republican candidate Donald Trump, even mentioning him later in the evening when talking about his book, The Dead Zone, about the dangers of electing a crazy politician into a position of great power, such as the presidency. In recent weeks, King has taken aim at the presumptive Republican nominee for president in a series of tweets, although he certainly did not restrict his attacks to Twitter feeds on this evening.

King explained that while it was his job to scare people, he was unlikely to be able to do so in such a large and public assembly of people, as the 1,500 people assembled. Still, he said that eventually, everyone there would be alone, and he jokingly planted scary thoughts, asking if this was the day that we might have forgotten to lock either our car doors, or the doors to our home. It was unlikely, he suggested, that some maniac was in our home right now, finding his way to the bathroom, and then into the bathtub to pull the shower curtains and disguise his presence while waiting for a victim. Or, for that matter, perhaps some maniac had managed to get inside of the unlocked car, and was not there just to check on the odds and ends of the contents of the glove compartment, but decided to get inside of the backseat and wait until the owner could become the victim of some senseless act of violence.

Typically, King showed his humorous side throughout the evening, and recalled the various times that he had been recognized in public, but mistaken for the wrong celebrity. On average, according to him, he gets mistaken for Steven Spielberg happens eight or nine times per year. He recalled another humorous story about how he was once eating at Nathan's in New York, and noticed one of the cooks looking at him. Each time he looked up at the cook, the cook would quickly look away and get back to his cooking, but would return to staring at King as soon as he returned to his book. After a while, the cook approached King, and asked if he was Francis Ford Coppola. King went along with it and confirmed that he was the famed filmmaker, and granted an autograph request, although he had to ask how many p's are in Coppola's last name.

He told a somewhat similar story of meeting Bruce Springsteen, and having a Springsteen fan recognize King and request an autograph, all while completely ignoring Bruce himself, not realizing that his hero was right next to him.

Well into evening, decided to abandon the original idea of doing a reading from his latest work, "End of Watch," feeling that we, the audience, we fully capable of reading it on our own.

King mentioned that he went on a trip to Great Britain with his family back in the late 1970's, and that for some reason while the entire rest of the family slept, he was suffering from insomnia, and just could not sleep. So, he went down to the concierge, and asked if there was a place where he could write, and have some tea. They accommodated him very nicely, bringing him to the most beautiful desk that he had ever seen. He wrote for six hours straight, in what would become his famous novel, "Misery," about an obsessed fan who gets her hands on the writer that she is dangerously obsessed with. After six hours of writing, King was ready to get to sleep, and wanted to thank the employees at the concierge for being so accommodating to him. He specifically mentioned how impressed he was with the desk, which was the most beautiful desk he had ever seen. That was when they told him that the desk had belonged to Rudyard Kipling, and that the famed writer had actually died on the desk. So, the master of horror wrote for six hours on the desk that Kipling died on, without even knowing it!

He also mentioned one low point, when he was still relatively unknown, and as yet not used to book signing tours. He had attended a function, and probably received food poisoning, because he was not feeling well at all. He went to the bathroom, and was horrified to find that the bathroom stalls did not have doors or much privacy to them, but he was not in a position to find better accommodations. So, he was going about his business, when he saw that the bathroom attendant was staring at him, and recognized the writer, asking if he was indeed Stephen King. The attendant went up and asked for an autograph, and so King wound up signing a book for someone while he was sitting on a toilet, taking a crap. That, he said, was really a low point.

Which character would he least like to meet in a dark alley? Pennywise.

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