you to Randee for sending this in!
Viggo book signing at the International Center for Photography-February
The day began with both anticipation and
anxiety. I was looking forward to seeing Viggo Mortensen at the ICP book signing. I’ve
always managed to miss other times when he’s been in New York City for an appearance. I was also looking forward to meeting Marina Rundell,
who runs the internet site Electronic Books Here. We had been corresponding by
e-mail periodically ever since I bought her Viggo e-book. She was flying in
My anxiety came from first, the weather. It
had been unseasonably mild all week, but today it was raining. I hoped it would stop, since I
had been told from ICP that we would be waiting outside until the signing.
There was another problem. How long before the signing should we be there?
ICP had no clue. They were just hoping that mostly art fans and not movie
fans would turn up. They didn’t want it to turn into a mob scene.
This I could understand. When we had gone to a CD signing for Hugh Jackman, we got
there 5 hours before, and there were already 30 people on line! Borders
had to give out numbers. There had to be at least 300 people there.
Even a news crew turned up. Was this going to be a similar situation?
ICP was very specific, saying that only Linger
would be signed and
maybe one or two other art books. No movie memorabilia or CD’s.
That was fine with me; my problem was which books to take. All of Viggo’s
books are special in their own way. Marina was taking all of hers, so I
decided to do the same. Since my daughter Melissa and son Scott would be there as
well, I’d just portion the books out between us. The only book I left
home was Miyelo. It’s a long book, and it didn’t fit in my bag, and I was
worried that it might get ruined if it continued to rain.
Melissa and I got to ICP around 12:00.
Luckily, it had stopped raining
and it was turning out to be another nice sunny day. We went to the
bookstore and bought a copy of Linger. I looked at Lindsay Brice’s
It was very well done, but I’m just not a fan of dolls, so I didn’t
it. We even went inside and looked at the exhibit. Then, since
no one was waiting yet, we decided to do what all good New Yorkers do and find a
Starbucks. We found one with seats and sat for an hour. I gave
Melissa three of my books. She looked through Hole in the Sun and said,
“Should I ask Viggo if he had permission to take pictures of these pools or did he
just randomly go into people’s back yards to take pictures of their
pools?” Then she thought against it in case he took offense. (We are known
for our rather random sense of humor.)
Around 1:00 we walked back over to ICP.
There were a couple of ladies standing outside. We asked them if they were there for the signing,
and they said yes. Both of them were from out of state. They had
been to Viggo’s presentation at Gallery 16 in California. (I was fortunate
enough to get one of the limited signed books). One of the gals even had some
specialty chocolates for Viggo. She had given him these same
chocolates when she had met him before.
Suddenly Melissa nudged me and I looked up, and
realized that Viggo waswalking past us. He smiled and said hello. All of us were
rather dumbstruck. It was one of those humorous situations where a
celebrity walksby and you almost don’t realize it because it’s unexpected. Two other ladies walked up and greeted the other two. They
had all met previously at another Viggo event. (I never did find out their
names). They all decided to go have lunch, which left Melissa and I first in line.
There were a few people behind us at this point.
We spoke with the lady behind us. Her name
was Toni and she was from New Jersey. Another blond lady came up to us. She wanted to
know if we were part of a Viggo website e-group. We said no, we had found out
about the signing from Perceval Press. I was wondering where Marina was, maybe
she was stuck at the airport? Then it occurred to me that I should have
asked her for her cell phone number, if she was bringing a phone. That
would have been the obvious thing to do. Sometimes I’m just not that
Around 2:00, Scott showed up and I gave him some books
to have signed. There were about 30 people on line. A man came out from ICP and put
up a tension pole to keep us all in line. There was a sign on top telling
about the book signing. Now people would come by and ask us who was
signing. We told them, and would direct them inside to the book store for more
Around 3:00, Viggo walked by again. He said
hello again as he went
inside. Scott happened to be inside buying another copy of Linger.
stopped Viggo and asked him questions about the Sigor Rios concert he had been to. Scott loves alternative and indie music and will talk for
hours about the bands he’s seen.
At 4:45, we watched the folks from ICP setting up for
the signing. They set up another tension pole to keep everyone in line, and set up a large
table where Viggo and Lindsay were to sit. Another table was set up
off to the side with what looked like plastic cups of wine.
At 5:10, we were let in. Scott went first.
He gave Viggo his books to sign. Viggo asked his name so he could personalize the books. Scott asked him how many albums he’s done with Buckethead.
Viggo said seven. Scott asked him if he knew Mike Patton. Viggo said, “No, I don’t think I know him. Unless I do.”
Then Scott asked him if he knew the members of Audioslave, since they seem
to be familiar with Michael Moore. Viggo said no, he didn’t. Lindsay said she knew them. She
and Scott discussed music for a few minutes. Meanwhile, Melissa and I went up to the table.
Viggo looked at us, then Scott, and asked, “Are you all together?”
We said yes. Melissa gave him her books to sign. Viggo asked
her name, which he had to repeat twice because Melissa couldn’t hear him. He
speaks very quietly. I took a couple of pictures of him signing the books.
He seemed pleased that we had Un hueco en el sol and showed it to Lindsay.
Then Melissa asked him what his favorite flavor jello was.
He considered a minute, and said “One of the red ones.”
(That’s about six possibilities). He asked where we were from and Melissa told him
Long Island. I gave him my books to sign and he asked my name and I told him and how
it’s spelled (as long as he was going to sign the books, I wanted him to have
the spelling right). As he was signing Recent Forgeries, he asked, “So, what baseball team do
you like?” This took me totally by surprise and I looked at him
blankly. “Mets or Yankees?” He prompted.
“Oh!” I said, “Would it be a problem if I said the Mets?”
“No, I’m a Mets fan myself.” He answered. “You’re not going to ask me if I like the Rangers or the Islanders,
are you?” I asked. (This is a “New York” thing. You usually like either the Mets,
the Islanders, and the Jets, or else you like the Yankees, the Rangers, and
the Giants. Don’t ask me why. It just is. And people are
very passionate about their teams, believe me.)
“No, we won’t discuss hockey.” He said and showed me the title
page of the book, where under his signature he’d written “Go Mets!” “How’s that?” He asked.
“That’s great! Thanks!” I appreciated the
personalization. “Thank you for having all my books.” He said.
I moved away to let Toni have her turn and spent a few minutes talking to
Lindsay. I didn’t realize she had done so much photography work.
(We did some research on line later.)
After that, we didn’t hang around, since we had to catch a train home.
I was disappointed that I didn’t get to meet Marina, but I figured that
we’d missed each other and I’d e-mail her tomorrow and find out if she’d
been there and if she’d gotten her books signed.
We discussed our experience on the way home, and decided that it had been
fun and it was great to have met Viggo. He was very gracious about
signing all of our books. I didn’t get to ask any of the questions I wanted to,
because by the time we got in, I was so darned cold, my feet were killing
me and my mind was a blank. We decided that Viggo would be a great
person to just hang out and have a beer with and talk to.
I just hope I get the opportunity to see him again one day.
After all, Miyelo still needs to be signed.
to page 3 of March column for pictures from Sandra and Linda and Randee's
account of her meeting with Mr. Mortensen.