Ridgway, Colorado
May 15
A sometimes artist and photographer, sometimes I write too.  


Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 29, 2010 12:44PM

Sarah Palin in Dallas: A Non-Event

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The book signing for Sarah Palin in Dallas this past Sunday was a non-event. I showed up about midday to talk with the Barnes & Noble store director—to see if I could get access as a photographer. It was nice that she remembered me from my own book signing at the store some months past, and was gracious in talking to me about what I could and couldn't do at the store. Basically, she said no, I couldn't be in the store and take photos while Sarah was there. 


Nikki, the director, knew that I had a photo gig the last time Sarah was in the area at a competing independent bookstore. But that was the difference. While I was able to get employee credentials at the Legacy Bookstore in Plano for Sarah's first book, Barnes & Noble is a different animal. All requests had to go through their corporate offices, and I was just too late with my requests. To be honest, I didn't even know Sarah was going to be in town until I saw the OS Open Call on Friday (almost a week after Emily put up the Open Call—sorry Emily).


Another reason I couldn't get inside was that her reality television people were there filming the event. TLC managed to get B&N to restrict other media access during the signing. The local news outlets could not videotape during the actual signing of the books, there was to be no print journalists allowed and no questions could be asked of Sarah while she was in the store.


This was a big difference from when I was a part of the last Sarah book signing. I wrote about it on OS in a piece called Shooting Sarah Palin. (Folks, I know the title is a bit provocative, but please know that "shooting" is common photo/journal lingo to refer to a photography gig.) At the Legacy Bookstore event, I was granted broader access than even the official journalists, since I had store employee credentials and badges. 


At the Barnes & Noble event, I was a nobody, but did get permission from the store director to take some shots outside. Not that I needed it, since the property is accessible to the public. The person or entities who could have asked me to leave—the general property management company—since the parking lot and sidewalks outside the upscale strip center were indeed private property, were nowhere to be found.


(An aside: photographers in this country, by law and precedent, are allowed to take photographs on private property that is accessible to the public, such as malls and shopping centers, until an appropriate representative of the owners of the property asks you to stop and then you are obligated to do so. They may not, however, ask or insist that you to delete any images previously taken, nor may request or confiscate any property of yours.)


Another big difference for this most recent bookstore appearance by Sarah is that there seemed to be much less interest in her latest book, and perhaps in her. Granted we're in an entrenched Republican majority state, but Dallas' apparatchiks are by and large Democratic. Make no mistake though, the money and power in the city still derives its base and strength from Republican party sources. There are plenty of tea partiers, rednecks, goat ropers and Republicans to go around. They just didn't show up for Sarah this time.


Here's the waiting line for patrons to get their books signed while Sarah was in the store:


November 28, 2010


Compare that with the line waiting outside in 20°F weather at the previous Sarah event a full six hours before the doors opened (many waited in line for 14 hours) as seen here:


December 4, 2009


December 4, 2009


About 30 people in line yesterday, November 28, 2010


At both Sarah Dallas events, there was a common theme. The people waiting to see her were devoted and enthusiastic followers, and almost all of them were a homogenous demographic—there were very few people of color, which made that contrast stand out all the more.




The local Fox News affiliate was there, but even they didn't have much of a presence. You see below a single videographer and fill-in reporter Peter Daut interviewing a waiting supporter. I talked with Peter for a bit, and he was genuinely nice and interesting, polite and inquisitive about my photography. I gave him one of my cards, which has an image of the Prada Marfa store on it. He knew the site and was complimentary about the image even if it was only a 2" x 3" representation.


The woman being interviewed does not have one of her children in a headlock, she's holding Sarah's latest book.

Former ABC affiliate reporter Jeff Brady was there. He has his own media group business now, and we chatted a bit about the changing landscape of local modern media. Again, he's a genuinely nice guy and interested in my stuff. 

Jeff Brady


One of the security guards who was hired to staff the event was also interested in my photography. He declined to have his photo taken, but he asked for my card and said that there was an event coming up that he couldn't talk about, but he'd give me a call so I could have access for photography. I was thinking at the time he just wanted to have my name and number on the card. After he mentioned how beautiful and wonderful Sarah Palin is, and how into guns he is, I'm not sure what my reaction will be when and if he ever calls. We'll see, I guess.





*  *  *  * 



All said, it was just a spectacularly beautiful day, and it was good to get out of the house. I'd just finished a gig of another sort, hosting and feeding 11 people for Thanksgiving, relatives from out of town, and then sending them off with a hearty homemade brunch that Sunday morning—creamy scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, homemade onion pepper hashbrowns and marzipan scones. Some of you may remember my mentioning that my bride cannot cook—in fact, I'm convinced she could burn water. I try to keep her away from my good knives and pots and pans, but she makes up for it in doing so many other things well, I don't complain. But it was a hella lot of cooking, thank goodness the cook doesn't have to clean (although I did a lot of cleaning too).


Here's the apple cranberry pie I made for Thanksgiving dessert, with the requisite Apple logo on the homemade pate brisée pie dough.



No, I'm not really an evangelical Apple fan boy, it was just a fruity lark.




One last note: At the Legacy Bookstore signing in 2009, Sarah signed about 1,300 books. At the Barnes & Noble store, they set aside about 250 books for her to sign. 


It was a non-event. 




all photos © 2010 barry b. doyle · all rights reserved





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thanks for the reporting, barry, in words and pictures. maybe the low attendance was as a result of the public suffering a palin overdose, what with the reality show, the fox presence, etc. one can only hope. i keep thinking it's such a travesty to celebrate mediocrity.

nice pie, dude. mmmm.
Great photos -- Mrs. P really has managed to manage the media really well...
So at the very least, you made a great contact for future events. Way to network, Barry! And your apple cherry pie...anything but a non-event!
Nice reporting, and of course, photography. I esp. like the girl with the t-shirt. And the pie is tdf. My local bookstore sold out of the Bush autobio this weekend, but had stacks of the Palin book.
Candace, thanks for the compliment on the pie! I think there is something to be said for the connection between her overexposure and the growing disinterest in all but the most avid of supporters.

MsH, she does have some professional handlers, but even they couldn't bring in the crowds on a beautiful day.

L&P, I'm going to have to rely on reviewers I trust who have actually read the book, since it's not on my iPad or Kindle purchase plan. And the combination of the cooked fresh cranberries and the honey crisp apples made that pie taste wonderful...well, the crust was very nice too as was the whipped cream, not shown. Thanks for stopping by L2D.

Cathy, love your new avatar, and yes, it was nice to get out and get some networking done. The fact that my book is still for sale in the store meant something to the people I encountered as well, sort of a bonus gravitas.

Lucy, thanks so much for stopping by, that's interesting about the Bush vs Palin books.
Always interesting to get an up close look at the cultists. Like the contrast between the previous signing. I would hazard to guess that if she sees her visibility waning that would actually prompt her to run for President. One can only hope.

All you needed here, though, was a videographer?!
bbd, I know you are so talented in taking pictures of people, wildlife and scenes of Americana. However, if you start taking pictures of food, I must request a warning of some kind be included.

Pie pictures are especially dangerous viewing before a lunch break.
Harry, ha! You have a video camera, yes? A new one? And you're local? You should have gone to the non-event too. I dunno that she can get over the hump to be in the running for president though.

Catherine, I have many scrumptious photos of food on OS, but you must not have been aware of them and thus inoculated against the ill effects by overexposure. I'll send you a warning next time. Thanks for coming by.
It's encouraging to know that Sarahmania may be on the wane. We can hope.

I was really struck by the portrait of your friend Jeff. I hope you make sure to send it to him, it's an excellent picture.

And the pie! I'm going through a pastry phase myself and I admire your crust.
Ablonde, I did send that image to Jeff, he always seemed to be more than a talking head to me, and when you talk to him in person, you also get the sense that he's genuinely a nice guy. As for the pie, I used the recipe for it, and for the foolproof pastry dough--the recipe that includes chilled vodka in it to retard gluten buildup.
You can only sing the same old song so many times until you end up at the side lounge. Sarah has reached that point.

Cool apple by the way.
As much as one might hope, Ms. Palin's 15 minutes are taking up way too much time. Oh if only the meager turnout were a trend. Nice mix of shots here Barry.
Nice to get some cheery Palin news for once. A non-event is more in-line with what I think she merits, that's for sure.
Very interesting story and photo--nice to get observations from someone you can believe in. And that pie looks fantastic.
Thanks for this report. I just wish she was non existent....hahahaha
Barry, the scariest thing about this story is that TLC managed to stifle any other media and convinced Barnes and Noble that was the right thing to do. Good story and photos. RRRR
ON, I don't know, I think there are enough supporters of her all over the country that still think she's capable of being a leader...I mean, nearly 50% of those who voted in 2000 and 2004 voted for W. What does that say about the analytical abilities of the electorate--and it continues.

Stacey, I think it is trending that way, but wait till she is in a safer demographic, the crowds might return, for whatever the reason.

Laura, I agree, thanks.

sophieh, the pie was indeed to die for, wonderful combination of flavors.

Sheila, eventually Sarah will get there, but it's all about the damage along the way.

Bern, I agree, it didn't seem like that was a plausible thing when I heard it, but maybe there was acquiescence related to concerns related to security and the small space she was to be in. I think because of TLC being there the setup was changed too from last year, she wanted to spend more time with each supporter, perhaps for the benefit of the TV camera. That may also be one reason the crowd was so sparse, that they limited access to the event by issuing wrist bands and then limited the number of people allowed to get in, but that doesn't match the normal routine of selling as many books as possible. I think it's more plausible that they saw the relative disinterest and constructed the visit around the expected numbers.
May she have a good many more "non-events" if she has any events at all. I never liked her and I doubt I ever will.

Congrats on getting beamed up to the mothership. :-D
Pah! I tried to "Like" this, but FB is acting up for me all of a sudden.

I'll stop back later and try again.
Good reporting. Gorgeous pie. I wish she would come around D.C. so I could cover a non-event too. I enjoy stuff like that. ~r
I liked the part about the pie.
Hey, I've burned water! It's not as easy as it sounds! All in all, this article bodes well for the American people. Let's hope Sarah "Flash in the pan" Palin's next book is a Harry potter rip-off that takes her years of seclusion to complete.
Thanks for the report. I'm guessing from the comments that your pie would have outsold her book.
Barry, thanks for the informative photo essay on this with your signature crisp and well composed photos! It's a huge contrast to compare the crowd scene from your shots of last December with Sunday's photos. Regarding the taping of the book signing by TLC--watching paint dry has got to be far more interesting to view!
Thanks for the photos and information. I posted a link on my blog re Palin at If any readers need more information re palin I have created a new web site, Thanks, Malia Litman
I am truly curious how one of those good ol' boys or gals who find fishin' to be the most exciting activity on the planet reacts to the TLC video clearly showing Bible Spice has never before seen a halibut or paddled a kayak in her life ... trust me, a paddlin', fishin' Polynesian can tell immediately, so, I know they can tell too she's a total fraud, and I want to hear from em'

Come on, Y'all!!!
Wow, what a difference from the last event. Even though you couldn't get inside, you managed to take some great shots. Very nice Barnes & Noble, by the way (the entrance at least)!
Thank you for this post and photos!
Glad to see Palin fever has died down some. She was beginning to give me hives.
Very nice, Barry--you brought a bit of class to a non-event.

The local news outlets could not videotape during the actual signing of the books, there was to be no print journalists allowed and no questions could be asked of Sarah while she was in the store.

I wonder how long Palin's celebrity, especially as a former (and future?) politician, can survive under such tight control. Indefinitely, I suppose, though that wouldn't be possible without Fox News. It's odd, though. If I were in a philosophical mood, I'd say that the ephemeral nature of her contact with real people (no photos, no recordings) should indicate her place in history.
Great pics and great reporting, and great looking pie. =o)

Hmmmmm..... so Sarah's not the draw she was a year ago, even after the blowout on November 2.

Nice to know. I was fearing the country, having finally shed GWB, was having a new viral stupid outbreak by worshipping HER. I hope Govzilla is nearing the end of her half-life....
Marzipan scones? That is so intriguing...

...oh, I'm sorry. Did you say something about Sarah Palin?
Bill, thanks for wading into the OS waters to make a comment here. You know I love you brother. And yeah, there must have been a FB link mess up, there used to be about 15 likes on the FB counter, then it went to zero, and now started over again. Must have been a glitch of some sort. And thanks for your kind words.

Joan, you've done some good work in DC already, too bad she's not going to be there for you.

Conrad, the pie was worthy of being liked, according to reports.

Johnny, not sure she's going to go into seclusion, Fox has to get their money's worth after all.

Damon, no, I was happy enough that the family enjoyed the pie. The funny thing is that of course my own book signing in the same store was much much a smaller affair. But I had the lovely honor of having OS's Mrs Michaels stop by for a signed copy. That was great.

John, you always have a very perceptive comment, thanks so much for that. And thanks for your kind words, always.

Malia, thanks for posting your links.

Oahu, they just had a riff on that theme on the NPR show Wait Wait Don't Tell Me when they talked about W saying catching that 7 lb perch was the highlight of his presidency. One of the panelists said he wanted to defend the former president on that, and said he agreed that it was indeed the highlight of his presidency. Of course that cracked everyone up. I said when George was elected in 2004 that it takes a village of idiots to elect the village idiot then, it would apply to SP as well.

Karin, yes, it is a nice store. Sadly, the event last year at the Legacy Bookstore cannot be duplicated as that independent, one of the largest in the country has ceased operation. And it was simply a gorgeous store to be in. Thanks for stopping by.

zanelle, thanks.

Boko, (any relation to the Joni Mitchell song on the Hissing of Summer Lawns?) It's interesting to see the people that are avid fans, it's what faith must be like...belief in the substance of things not seen.

Rob, I love it when you stop by, thanks so much and for your kind words. I doubt that she will fare well in the long run, people will have a new favorite.

Shiral, I think that's what's happening. Maybe the Murkowski win was like a stake in the heart.

Divorce, the marzipan scones are my mother's recipe. You know the things they call scones in Starbucks and other places...those aren't real scones, they're intended to be broken with a hammer and for you to use the pieces to level the wobbly tables. The secret is a very wet dough with just the right mix of ingredients so that when you bite into it, not only do you get to keep all your teeth, the scone actually melts a bit in your mouth as you're breathing in the ambrosia. You see, I'd rather talk about baking.
Couple of things...first, NICE PIE!

Second...everything I have heard from her supporters about this reality show is that "It's only 8's not a big deal!" This is their defense of it, to prove she isn't "out for fame and fortune" - as if that is any sort of defense!

So, if they were there filming yesterday, what exactly does that tell us? How will they spin this??

And third...I loved the compare/contrast of last time vs. yesterday. Nicely done! Thanks for taking your time to fill us in!
If I was told that Sarah Palin or George W Bush were behind me, I would not make the effort to turn around in order to see them. Glad to see the enthusiasm has waned some.
I liked how you stuffed in the pie.
Now, we know what to buy bbd.
Pepto Bismo and a Red T-shirt.
Eat pie with Palin T-shit. Shirt.
Shit is not a bad word. O, bbd.
We need great cranberry pies.
brisse pie dough? Pepto Bistro?
she can't fade into obscurity fast enough.
Nothing beats a first-hand OS report! r.
Nice read covered by great photography !
I'd wait in line in 20 degree weather for a piece of that pie.