Cartouche's Blog

Writing My Way Out of Something


Someplace, somewhere else, USA
February 09
Mind My Own Business
Artist, former newspaper columnist and restaurant critic. Award-winning author of "In Pursuit of Excellence". In my spare minute I can be found blogging here, on Huffington Post and other places that don't pay and (more often) writing for some places that do. Occasionally I tweet random thoughts and observations as @nonconfromist. I keep the really good ones to myself.


APRIL 17, 2009 5:37PM

Dave Cullen and The Dave Cullen Quartet

Rate: 50 Flag

It all started out innocently enough (these things often do).  Dave Cullen’s recently released book “Columbine” is making its presence known and so is this idea about celebrating the First Anniversary of OS.  Why not combine the two by gathering together for Dave’s Book Signing in Coral Gables and calling it a party?

Well, in order to have a “party” you kind of need to have a location and people who can attend.  The venue for Dave's book signing was decided for us (we are the ONLY party that can claim we had our own publicist!)  and so we arranged to meet at a wonderful bookstore called “Books and Books” at 6:30 pm.

I had spoken to Lea Lane on the phone and she had graciously offered to open her home to two complete strangers, AND lose her OS virginity all in the same night by meeting fellow OS members for the first time in person.  I inquired as to what time check in is and promptly forgot to bring my Mapquest printout as I hightailed it down I95 when I learned there might be room service.  Dorinda Fox wins the prize for taking the five plus hour drive to Miami (I clocked in at a little over two hours due to good tail winds).  I arrived at Lea’s home at about 5:45 pm and was promptly greeted by her gorgeous cat “Sweetie” as I exited the elevator.


Lea was a like a teenager and after much hugging and smiling and telling Lea she looks (and is) much more cheerful and peppy in person and HAS to change that avatar (more about THAT later), she offered me some wasabi nuts and told me that we were going to take a risk and drive to the bookstore without stopping to buy gas.  I like a woman who takes risks.  We felt like old friends by the time we got to the garage.  By the time we arrived at the bookstore garage, we had established that her navigational skills are dodgy at best and someone had to be in charge of remembering where the car was parked.  I was the only other choice.

 We hadn’t even begun to have any of this:


Dorinda and I had met a few weeks ago up in Sebastian so we knew it would be easy to recognize one another and she decided that she would meet us at the bookstore.  We arrived half a glass of wine behind her, but within minutes, began to catch up.  Our humble waiter John smelled trouble from the get go and held on to my credit card until the bitter end.  He also held on to some other things, but we only share this information on a need to know basis.  In a matter of moments, Kellylark arrived and we turned John into equal parts bartender and Patrick Demarchelier. 


 It didn’t take long (or much wine) to realize that we were going to be holding on to our wine glasses like microphones and that we were the only four people coming to this OS party to meet Dave Cullen AND to celebrate. The Dave Cullen Quartet was born.  Here, you can see us all doing our “sound check”.



The wine flowed and John attentively kept an eye on us as we came to the decision that we should have a bite to eat before Dave arrived.  We would have to behave ourselves in his presence.  He is after all, about to become a very famous author and he had no idea that he was about to encounter four OS groupies.  We ordered dinner, ate al fresco and I even got a massage from one of the employees as wine continued to flow along with the conversation and laughter.  Things were going along splendidly until the $1 bet was made that a character actor from “The Sopranos” was in our midst (the guy who got fed to the fishes).  There were a lot of pointy fingers coming from our table going in his direction and I was voted most likely to approach him and find out if he in fact was the actor in question.  For the record, it wasn’t him. I owe Lea a buck.

 Somewhere around this point we discussed avatar photos.  I have taken a few of my cohorts and am opening up the voting lines to OS.  Do you think Lea should get her hand off her face and replace it with this?



What about Dorinda?  She absorbs the world as she observes it, but get her a little punchy and she will beat you to the punch with her sense of humor.  Can you see it here?


Kellylark was an absolute delight!  She is warm, VERY smart and has a great sense of humor as well.  We were like four old friends catching up at a high school reunion.  Look at how happy she is to see us!


Cast your votes!

And then, Dave Cullen arrived and he recognized me and called me “cartouche”, which, in and of itself was/is starting to sound kind of normal.  Hugs and kisses went all around. We knew he wouldn’t have much time to chat so we ordered John to take publicity photos for whatever upcoming tours there might be for Dave Cullen and The Dave Cullen Quartet. 




No pictures of Oprah here.  Sorry. 

By the time we went inside to hear Dave speak, we had left a trail of carnage behind.  Lea was determined to drag it indoors too and promptly spilled red wine on her copy of Columbine (an omen?).  Dave was gracious, interesting, emotional and giving.  I know that he flew home today and we could tell he needed a well-deserved rest.  Being a famous author is tiring!  But he did manage to sign our books and chat with us some more and put up with more photograph taking.



Daveand Cartouche 

He even came back outside (we picked up where we left off) and bid us farewell.  Thankfully, he never asked us to sing.  We were surely slurring our lyrics.


A scoop, a quartet, laughter, a very informative dialogue between Dave and the audience, a book signing AND a celebration all in one evening. Is it possible that anything more could happen or go on?  Let’s just put it this way.  We CLOSED the bar, forcing kellylark to go home and call it an evening (I made sure she called to let us know she arrived home safely).  We then proceeded to spend a very long time buying gas for reasons that have yet to be explained.  I had to go and LOCATE Dorinda at Winn Dixie and then we returned to Lea’s condo where we stayed up until almost 3 in the morning.  And we tried getting a hold of you guys out in San Francisco but you had already packed it in. Take that, you lightweights!

I can’t remember a slumber party with a morning view like this:



Or a more lovely dedication from an author than this:

DCullen Dedication 

Happy First Anniversary OS and congratulations, Dave Cullen!  We loved meeting you and wish you continued success.  To my fellow Dave Cullen Quartet members, thank you for a WONDERFUL evening!  I love you all! 


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