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.
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.
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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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