Last October, I went across America shamelessly promoting my last book, which I won't be so gauche as to mention here. I was signing them at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh one afternoon when a young boy came up to me with a large stack of records and a large amount of downloaded color prints of my face.
He wanted them all signed. Not only did he want the album covers signed but all the vinyl as well. I signed a few things and then said he should perhaps not be so crass and that he was going to be very disappointed at how little he was going to get for the items on eBay. He mumbled something and said his father had put him up to it. I told him to have a nice day. Security gently asked him to leave.
About three days ago, I was back in Pittsburgh, on the tour that never ends. Waiting outside the bus was the same kid. I recognized him immediately. He had an even younger girl with him. I figured it might be his sister. They had with them all the things I didn't sign last year, as well as a bunch of new additions to the pile. Along with the items, the telltale blue ink marker. eBay vultures seem to prefer blue.
I am programmed not to disappoint, so I signed a few things and asked him what he was going to do with them and implored him to tell the truth, amused that at such a young age, he should even think of trying to fake out a man with so many laps around the track. He admitted that he was going to put some up for sale.
I wondered if his young female accomplice was there for sympathy or something. I wondered if the father was standing by in the getaway vehicle. Seems like a great way to turn your kid into a hack and turn him off from music. Who knows, perhaps the kid is a self-motivated free-market entrepreneur, the girl the Bonnie to his Clyde, the Hewlett to his Packard.
This kind of thing has been an industry for some time -- no surprises there. What I have noticed is that there seems to be a lot more of it these days. As I sit here writing this, I can see some people outside the bus with stuff of mine to get signed. It's hours before the show and they probably won't be coming; that's not what it's about for them. It's business.