Rock On: An Office Power Ballad

What’s the best way to lead up to a reading and signing for a book called Rock On? A day of local folk musicians and poetry, of course. And if the set includes covers of Cher and Blondie, then so be it! Because, honestly, who doesn’t love a little Cher?!

All divas aside, the day-long event at Wordsmith’s Books in Decatur, Ga. was filled with Atlanta performers Amy Lashley, Julia Carrol, Laurel Snyder, Katie Chaple, Chelsea Rathburn, Ronnda Cadle, Sean Kaglis, Sealions, and Wayne Fishell, who played folk pop on the bookstore’s tiny stage. After the final musician finished his set, it was time for the main event: Dan Kennedy, contributor to McSweeney’s, took the stage. Kennedy, in a pair of Rivers Cuomo glasses that came with a disclaimer graced the audience with tales of his experience in the gritty underbelly of working for a major record label: “I just bought them in the East Village, last week. The sales person told me they were hip. I think it looks like I mugged Henry Kissinger.”

The reading began with accounts of his frantic attempts to write a marketing plan congratulating Phil Collins on 25 years of love songs and the perils of talking to the designer dogs of high-powered execs that worry over such pressing matters as the new Jewel video. In writing the book, he clearly showed no fear at sharing his embarrassment with the world. He warns, however, that no one ever mentions that you’ll be expected to relive the embarrassments with audiences all over the country, which is somehow worse than the initial embarrassment.
A prime example is the recounted run in with Duran Duran; it wasn’t so much a run in as a case of forced pleasantries gone awry, complete with unexpected and unfounded confidence. Any confidence he showed through his reading was completely fitting, allowing him to do voices and sounds to go with his stories, or do his best rock star pose for a photographer.
Kennedy topped of the reading with a signing and distributed promotional photos of himself or such subjects as hotel blow dryers with the caption, “Dan Kennedy says, “Hello from the ‘glamorous’ road.”

This was the latest of many nontraditional literary events at Wordsmith’s Books. Check out the event calendar at for more.

Rock On: An Office Power Ballad website
McSweeney’s website

By: *Molly


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