Tag Archives: Naked in Dangerous Places

Dying, but having fun doing it.

Only profound excitement prevents me from writing a full blog entry today.  

Friends came to dinner last night. One of them’s a sound engineer, and he told me he’d been doing some recording at the Getty Museum in Malibu over the weekend. While he was there, he found my new travel book on sale in the bookstore and was able to report that every copy had sold out by yesterday. That’s huge.

Huge because book sales generally are declining. We’re in an important period of transition that happens occasionally, moving between an old, tired format – the printed word: books, newspapers, magazines – and a new, sparkly bright one, of Kindles, Sony Readers, and a whole slew of e-reading devices that are in the pipeline and which, in time, will revolutionize our reading habits.

For instance, it’s unlikely you’ll be buying my future books at the Getty or any other store – I’ll be emailing them to you. I may even call you before I write them, to make sure you’re interested in reading them, stuff like that. It’s a bright new world. 

From there, who knows? Some people, down the road, might actually develop a reading habit and start buying books again, where before they were content to waste whole evenings numbing their minds with mediocre television. As standards deteriorate and TV shows become steadily worse, to the point where most of them are just derivative mindless swill (a state known as being “utterly kardashian”), there’s a chance that quality prose, either in newspapers or books, might once again become attractive to a fickle general public looking for thrills.  

Better still, as the next generation emerges, kids will find they no longer have to carry around heavy bags with text-books in, but are able to download them all onto a single thin gadget, a flat tablet that can be tucked in a backpack, their pocket, or even behind their ear. At that stage, quality fiction and non-fiction could become sexy (and profitable) again and find a whole new audience.

Y’know how in history they had major ages, like the Industrial Revolution, when everything in society changed and the human race marched off in a different, unforeseen direction? Well we’re at the start of one of those now. In the future, history books will be written about us, marveling at the way we coped with such cataclysmic changes. History books that won’t be published, mind you; they’ll go straight to Kindle and be deleted almost immediately.  

Within the next five to ten years bookstores will become unviable and close down, newspapers and magazines will cease publication in print form, saving millions of trees and therefore the planet, and we’ll all resign ourselves, some not happily, to carrying around these zippy little flat-screen devices – there’s a new one from Apple on the way this year that will even support video and be in color – in much the same way we carry cellphones and Blackberrys.

Now, of course, when that happens, we’re as good as dead. We’ll be increasing tenfold our chances of contracting cancer from radiation. EMFs are already a major threat to our wellbeing. We each walk around in an invisible cloud of electromagnetic frequencies all day, and it’s only going to get worse. But hey, come on. We’re making history here! Dying horribly by being eaten from the inside is a small price to pay for the progress we now face. 

And anyway, look on the positive side, while we’re lying terminally ill in hospital, these little gadgets will be a godsend, helping us keep in touch with the world by bringing magazines and articles to our bedside. Or – here’s a suggestion – how about my latest book, Naked in Dangerous Places?  There’s a laugh on every page.

Did I tell you it sold out at the Getty this weekend?

By that point, the peculiar act of reading a fold-out tabloid newspaper or a single volume of fiction will seem as astonishing and antiquated as – oh, I dunno…listening to disco on a boombox, or finding something innovative and good to watch on the Travel Channel.   

 

TV Swami – he say YES to dying prematurely but  informed.

www.cashpeters.com

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A future bestseller is born

Over the weekend I attended the LA Times Festival of Books at UCLA, where I sat on a panel of writers to talk about traveling for adventure and making a living from writing, neither of which I know much about, to be honest.

I’d been dreading it for weeks, but once I finally got there, it turned out to be huge fun. Crowded hall, lots of laughter, and fine chat. I rapidly became quite addicted to speaking into a microphone, telling a room full of eager, attentive people a bunch of stuff I’d just made up, and sounding convincing doing it.

Interesting panel, too. The guy on my left was a journalist for Rolling Stone, routinely heading off to war zones and almost getting killed. The guy on my right nearly got killed in Australia when he was 19, swimming in a lagoon full of crocodiles. And I almost died a couple of times making a cable TV show. Actually, our little trio was so much fun that people assumed we went around together doing this all the time. Like the Three Stooges, only unfunny.

What was really interesting about guy number two, though, was that his wife had just left him, taking the kids back to Virginia, forcing him to sleep in his car. He told me this while we were waiting to go in. Worse, she’d persuaded him to quit his job a month ago to be with her. The instant he did, she filed divorce papers. So right now he has no work, no home, no family, and is carrying his world in a large backpack. He was understandably depressed about the situation, yet you’d never know it from listening to him speak from the dais yesterday.

When it came to my turn to tell the audience something, I chose a topic I really believe in: how you have to find your own destiny, chase your own dreams, and not allow yourself to be forced by teachers, church-leaders, or especially your parents into doing something THEY would like for you. As I was speaking, a woman halfway back stood up in anger and dragged her three children out the door.  One of the ushers outside said she stormed to a line of chairs, sat the kids down, and said, “You must never repeat what you just heard to anyone for the rest of your life, d’you hear me?”

Odd, because she sounds exactly like the kind of frightened, narrow-minded parent kids should never pay attention to.

How many people are now doctors or lawyers because their mother and father insisted they go to college and do something that would make the family proud? Now, of course, they’re desperately unhappy, but with responsibilities and kids of their own and they can’t quit.  If we had happy, contented lawyers in this country – that is to say, only the ones whose destiny was to actually be lawyers and who desired to seek justice, not the ones who are merely in it for the big house and the money (which is practically all of them) – I don’t think there’d be half the cases and law-suits that there are.

Once the panel was done, we were led outside to sign books – but fast, because they were serving free food in the authors’ lounge ’til five and we had to get there before they took it all away. The canny UCLA volunteer chaperoning us around said in a whisper that we should sign ALL the books on the table, whether people were buying them or not. Then they couldn’t be sent back and the store would have to keep them and sell them, no matter what. A-ha! So with that in mind, I grabbed every single one and stuck my name on it. Like a cat leaving its scent.

Once we were done eating, the living-in-his-car guy and I chatted in the parking lot about future projects. I said I was thinking of quitting writing to go out and live life for a while, gain some experience. He, for his part, said he was looking for a new adventure to write about. He had two ideas. Both sounded incredibly dangerous. So I suggested, “Why don’t you make this your chapter one: guy quits his job to be with his wife, who then serves divorce papers on him, leaving him homeless, jobless, and alone?”

What a great start to any book, right? From that point, throw a dart at a map and start your travels there.

And that’s how we left it. As he walked off, wearing his huge backpack – probably containing the entire contents of his car – I felt really sorry for him, but also exhilarated.

Whenever life has dealt me that kind of blow – and it has a couple of times – it’s always turned out to be the best thing that ever happened. I wouldn’t be in America now, for example, if I hadn’t lost my job, my money, my relationship, my home, and if my family hadn’t turned evil, my brother married the wicked witch of the north and cut me off, and my father been so ruthlessly and gratuitously nasty that it made living in the UK impossible. Thoroughly awful, every last bit of it, but look where it took me. Nowadays, I’m hugely grateful: I have a fine life in America with a new partner, new job, and money; meanwhile, my brother’s still married to the wicked witch of the north. Karma, she sure is a bitch.

We spent an hour on the panel yesterday talking about life and taking risks and having adventures, and the homeless author was actually living that. Horrible emotionally, but also a glorious opportunity, I reminded him. If he goes off to Queensland now and writes about crocodiles again, instead of chronicling this episode about his ghastly wife, who seems like the biggest crocodile ever, then it’s a total waste of an idea, as well as a complete contradiction of everything we’d been telling those people.

And, as I was also quick to remind him, bullshitting a crowd is my job, not his.

 

TV Swami – he say YES to making life an adventure.

www.cashpeters.com

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Jeremy Piven with his shirt off. Yes, THAT Jeremy Piven.

It’s weird that on a day of the year that some  might say is ” v. important,”  I woke up, not thinking about that, but about Jeremy Piven, of all people.

I spotted him on Friday. In a clothes store on Robertson Boulevard in West Hollywood. Though we were there for two entirely different reasons. The store has a bar next to the check-out and serves cocktails to celebrity customers while they shop. And seriously, what could be more handy or appropriate, or hysterically ludicrous actually, than sipping a pina colada while trying on a pair of pants? Who’s idea was that?

Anyway, I was there to interview the staff about this happy hour thing. Meanwhile, Piven was in a changing room experimenting with shirts.

Of course, I didn’t know it was him. But the manager was quick to point it out. “Oh, we can’t do the interview just yet –  Jeremy Piven’s over there shopping.”

That Jeremy Piven.

Well, immediately, I was fascinated. I pretended I wasn’t, but I was. It’s Hollywood, how can you not be? Plus, the guy’s on Entourage, for God’s sake. He takes home Emmys the way the rest of us take home groceries from Costco.

But, like gazelles in a wildlife park, celebrities scare easily, and you don’t want to rattle them by climbing out of your vehicle at the wrong time, especially not in a clothes store, and not when you’re carrying a microphone. So, being considerably less famous than Piven – in the sense that I’m not famous at all – I was forced to lurk in a back office well away from him, while assistants ran around with armfuls of clothes, servicing his needs, which I assume were great.

Then it was over. Bag in hand, he slipped on his shades, said a quiet goodbye, and disappeared out the back door into the alleyway.

Dunno why, but I always assume celebs will be obnoxious in some way. Too loud, too argumentative, too self-focused, too something.  But that’s just the news outlets doing their job, portraying it that way. In real life it’s not like that most times. They tend to be low-key, eager to duck the limelight, and stay out of harm’s way. In fact, many cower from exposure, as though one more camera flash, one more dumb heckle from one of the paparazzi jackals, one more inane question from an ordinary guy with a Flip camera hoping to get footage on TMZ or Entertainment Tonight, will drive them right over the edge: they’ll shoot a pistol into the crowd and start taking hostages.

Piven was like that. Not the taking hostages part – but rather the gentlemanly, eager to play it cool, ultra-pleasant, quick to exit part. Standing there in front of me one minute; then, like a wisp of smoke, or Robin Williams in Aladdin, gone.

What’s interesting about this – and I know you’re thinking, “Please God, let there be something interesting about this” – is that this isn’t my first encounter with Jeremy Piven. Back when I was in TV, he was making a travel show with the same production company. Called something like Journey of a Lifetime. The idea: take a celebrity to India and let him do yoga. That’s it. There was only one episode, as far as I know – Piven’s episode – then it vanished. Something else we have in common.

For that reason, he’d sometimes be in the building, sitting in the next edit suite watching a rough cut of his documentary. And of course there’d be an immediate buzz. The production assistants would run around in a tizz, going, “Jeremy Piven’s in the building. Next door. Watching footage. Yes, Jeremy Piven. That Jeremy Piven.” They couldn’t have been more excited. So clearly the guy has something, even if it’s not entirely obvious to me what that is. A sense of danger probably. Or, as an outside bet, talent.

However, back then, one of the production guys who went to India with him was less than complimentary, I recall.

Really???

Oh yes. Piven was passionate about yoga, sure, but oddly less passionate about making a show about yoga, or so went the story.  At least, that’s what I heard.

TV production people are notorious liars almost by habit, so the whole of this may be a fabrication, with Piven being the very model of a host and extremely dedicated. That said, the production guy did seem very flustered when I met him, so something went on. I just can’t say for sure what.

Besides, I know a thing or two about this. About TV production. I was extremely dedicated when I was making my TV show, and also very agreeable for the most part. Yet my producers were in despair a lot of the time too and couldn’t wait for the whole thing to end and to come home.

So, in short, maybe the India thing says more about TV crews than it does about a certain quiet, agreeable, and unobtrusive celebrity I saw buying shirts in a West Hollywood clothes shop.  That’s all I’m saying.

JP gets five magic carpets out of five for his behavior in a clothes store.

TV Swami – he say YES.

More ongoing celeb news on Twitter @TVSwami.

Follow Cash Peters on Twitter  @cashpeters.

Cash Peters’s book Naked in Dangerous Places is published today.

www.cashpeters.com.

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Naked. And very, VERY excited.

Today is a big day. A big, bad, bracing-for-tomorrow day.  And tomorrow, as we know, is an even bigger, badder-than-today day.

After all this time and so many books, you’d think that I wouldn’t be the least bit excited. In fact, I told friends who asked, “No, it’s fine. You don’t get excited after all this time.”  But I was wrong. I woke up this morning and realized I was. Very. I can’t help it. Excited and proud and happy, and all the rest.

You see, I had a TV travel show. It seems like millennia ago now. A travel adventure show in which I flew around the world, visiting bizarre and exotic cultures and living among them for a few days. Sounds great, right? But I was totally wrong for it. Quite apart from all my phobias, I’m also allergic to a whole bundle of foods that can be lumped together under the single heading of “foreign.”

And that was it. Lions in Kenya. Bears in Alaska. Monks and landmines in Cambodia. Lesbians in Greece. Six days in hospital….

All very interesting, and the resulting show was great. Just not for the guy hosting it. For over a year I struggled through what became a mounting catastrophe of global proportions; a deep, dark crevasse of fears and horrors that I thought would never end. But it did. And that’s what the new book’s about.

Naked in Dangerous Places, the Chronicles of a Hungry, Scared, Lost, Homesick, But Otherwise Perfectly Happy Traveler.

The new travel book

The new travel book

Out tomorrow in paperback and on Kindle.

So indulge me please. Allow me my brief moment of confined excitement. I’ll be back writing the blog within a couple of days.

Hee hee.

www.cashpeters.com

If you want to see a brief, limited edition mini-documentary about the book, it’s on YouTube.

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A massive tease, an undeniable treat

Today a few lucky people get to take a peek at the video tease for my new book.  Bear in mind, it’s a low-grade version that may stop and start when you first run through it. But the second time – this assumes multiple viewings, possibly in awe – it flows like a dream. The high-grade version will be up there next week, inviting more viewings and more awe.  

The video is available only on a secret page of my website that nobody else can see. That’s because the book isn’t out yet, and won’t be for another two weeks. But on a slow but happy Monday morning, it’s my little gift to you. www.cashpeters.com/promo.html.

This monumental event is spoiled only by an ABC promo I saw today for a new quirky cop show called The Unusuals, which was so good that it made me want to buy expensive software and invest time in learning how to make professional promos myself. I mean, how hard can it be, really? You stick a bunch of the best scenes together in a row and every time you think viewers are about to get interested, you do a quick fade to black and cut the thing dead. Simple.

The Unusuals marks Amber Tamblyn’s return to network TV after the demise of Joan of Arcadia. Her character joins NYPD’s Homicide Division, a smart, swift, jokey bunch of cops “to whom things happen” (a standard plot device in drama). Strangely, despite the title, it’s more in line with the usual kinda police drama stuff we get on TV, except more jokey, like MASH. But it’s well-written…

Two cops pledging allegiance to each other:

A: “I’d throw an old lady off a roof for you.”

B: “I’d throw an old lady off a roof for you too!”

…well-played, and looks a lot of fun.

The Unusuals gets four magic carpets out of five.

TV Swami – he say YES.

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The new travel book is here, people.

New book
New book

This is a first peek at the galley cover for Naked in Dangerous Places, my new travel book about living with a whole bunch of different cultures around the world for my TV show.

It’s a sequel to Gullible’s Travels, and is published by Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House. Available 21st April.

The advance reviews have been fantastic. Everything from ‘Beautifully written and very funny’ to  ‘Cash is our generation’s Alistair Cooke – a travel writer who sees things none of us would see ourselves if we were there. Of course, sometimes you wish he’d just kept his eyes shut.’

Read more reviews on www.cashpeters.com.

Needless to say, I am deeply flattered. And very excited.  

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