Ten Speed Sold to Random House

March 2nd, 2009 — 8:58pm

I read today that my old employer, Ten Speed Press, was sold to Random House.

Ten Speed was my first publishing job. I started on the phones (“Yes sir. I understand you are the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, but you still need to include a self address stamped envelope with your manuscript,” and “Yes, this is Ten Speed. Who is calling?” The voice on the other end said “Ram Dass”. I was speechless. He repeated himself. I was still speechless.  “That’s R-A-M-D-A-S-S” said the voice on the phone  patiently). Soon after that, I moved on to PR.

During my 3-1/2 year tenure, I cooked chicken feet on the David Letterman Show with Ernie Mickler, author of the remarkable “White Trash Cooking”; made limp celery stand erect, also on the Letterman Show (from the book “How to Repair Food” — I was on a roll), yelled at ex-Black Panther, Bobby Seale, for driving the wrong way over the George Washington Bridge and missing a TV gig, and worked on books ranging from “How to Shit in the Woods” to “Flattened Fauna” – both published around the same time. I had to explain to a Wall Street Journal that this was not a scatological trend. I was wrong .  I also had the pleasure of working on Mollie Katzen’s cookbooks, and as an added bonus, she became my friend.

I have enormously fond memories of Phil Wood, the former  owner, George Young and David Hinds, ace editors, and the rest of the nutty crew there.

Ten Speed permanently warped my idea of publishing, and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

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