19 October 2007
SHORT ZACH BRAFF ENDORSES THE SHORT BOOK
This concludes Zachary Kanin week on Riff Market. For more info, visit "The Short Book" at Smallotry.
18 October 2007
ZACHARY KANIN WEEK: READING AT KGB BAR THIS SUNDAY
Illustration by Zach Kanin
ZACH KANIN READS "THE SHORT BOOK"
85 East 4th St
More info here
17 October 2007
RIFF MARKET CONTINUES TO PRESENT: ZACHARY KANIN WEEK AT RIFF MARKET
ZACH KANIN WEEK: DAY THREE
THE MOMENT YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR
EXCLUSIVE RIFF MARKET BOOK REVIEW OF ZACH KANIN'S "THE SHORT BOOK"
I haven't read this book. Zach and I sat at Eatery a few weeks back, the book was there on the table, I said, "Can I borrow this book so I can write a review of it on Riff Market, as part of the Zach Kanin Week on Riff Market we've been talking about for a while now, this meal being the culmination of years of planning," and he told me, in no uncertain terms, that I could not borrow this book, that the publishers had only given him a few copies, that if I were to buy the book, say, on Amazon.com, I could singlehandedly bump his Amazon ratings by the hundred-thousands, that I kinda sorta had a lot of nerve asking him to borrow the book when so much was at stake. So I haven't read the book, and am still debating whether I will ever make plans to, whenever the 300 copies I ordered finally arrive.
In the meantime there is plenty to talk about, such as this exclusive excerpt. There hasn't been much critical thought put (to my knowledge) into how a musician's height affects his ability to make music, the kind of music he aspires to, the instruments he is capable of playing at (so to speak) high levels of technique. Prince, Thom Yorke, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Dolly Parton--the bum's question is what do these short musicians have in common. Can we characterize their music, as we can them, as short. I don't think we can! I just don't think it's possible. Or more bluntly: How many of these short musicians, from a legal standpoint, have seen or wanted to see the secret pair of "short breasts" Dolly Parton keeps flapped under her regular ones? None! My guess is Parton herself has no idea about the breasts.
One critique of the book I have, just on principle, is the title. The scenario I'm imagining goes like this. I'm short. I go into the Barnes and Noble at Astor, downstairs into the reference section, then maybe go upstairs for a bit and rip off the protective plastic around the expensive magazines like I'm the fucking Peter Pan of the publishing industry. Then I go downstairs to the line where the checkout is, then wait in line behind some guido-looking guy about to buy that Clublife book by Rob the Bouncer. Eventually I get to the cashier, who is beautiful in a Barnes and Noble sort of way, and I'm holding a book called The Short Book. Keep in mind I'm short. She takes the book and smiles at me, maybe even winks, like she gets it, like don't worry your secret's safe with me. "It's for a friend," I say. "I mean Zach's my friend. I'm actually totally comfortable with my physical appearance." She thanks for me for shopping at Barnes and Noble, and I'm on my way, and you'll notice that in this entire transaction she didn't even think to ask me if I wanted a Barnes and Noble membership.
Zach is a brilliant writer, relentlessly funny here mostly because the book's premise is not height but insecurity, and how we deal with insecurity. Not to say there's a dark side to this book in the way there was in Simon's, , but both writers operate with implicit gravitas for sure, Simon's based in the tragedy of the weak, Zach's in the concept of physical grossness. You look at Zach's art or read this book and the driving belief is not that short people aren't gross, but that ALL people are gross. That we, short fat tall skinny beautiful ugly, are all just as unsightly as the cockroaches we stomp on indiscriminately, the rats we're convinced are genetically modified to terrorize us, the skunks we used to put into brown paper bags and light on fire when we were young. You're not going to hear that anywhere I don't think--you shouldn't really; the book is basically a super-funny bathroom-type jokebook masquerading as a reference guide--but if you're wondering why Zach's jokes hit and yours don't, it might have to do with the size of his ticker, smaller physically, a bit weird looking, but infinitely kinder.
16 October 2007
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: ZACHARY KANIN
ZACH KANIN: DAY TWO
RIFF MARKET PRESENTS: ZACHARY KANIN WEEK
TODAY: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR OF THE SHORT BOOK (AS PROVIDED BY THE AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR)
Yesterday I kicked off Zachary Kanin Week at Riff Market, in support of the New Yorker cartoonist's debut release The Short Book, out now and purchasable. Today Zach provides exclusive answers for some of the more popular interview questions he's had to field over the last few weeks. Thanks for reading. --NBS
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: ZACHARY KANIN
What is your favorite thing to do?
ZK: My favorite thing to do is to ride in my Dad’s 1986 Volvo Sedan from Providence to New Bedford with the windows down at night, wearing one of those blue bubble jackets with a fur or fleece interior, smoking cigarettes, and listening to shitty guitar rock from the 70s.
What kind of cigarettes?
Unimportant. I don’t know how to smoke cigarettes so I just try to keep them lit without smoking too much.
What do you do in New Bedford?
Nobody goes to New Bedford, they’re all just passin’ through.
Do you want to talk about the book?
Looking at your post from yesterday I noticed that that is probably the worst excerpt from the book.
I thought it was good.
It’s out of context. The context is that the whole book is about musicians and that chapter is just about short ones. Sort of misleading.
Now you’re being misleading.
I’m trying to sell myself here. Do you remember in late 2004 whenever you would go to a Loew’s movie theater and the movie screen would sing “Thank you for coming to Loews, sit back and relax, enjoy the show!” and everyone in the audience would respond “Thank you the pleasures all ours, we’re really relaxed, so start the show!”?
Of course. That happened at every movie playing at Loews throughout the whole country.
What a crazy phenomenon. Someday I’ll tell my kids about that.
How are your kids?
They’re not good. Hilsy’s got the mumps and Josh Rogan Josh has the hiccups goin’ on three year now. Thanks for asking though.
We’re running out of space, do you want to say anything else about the book?
Sure. If you feel short sometimes, this book deals with a lot of your issues, and is mainly just a really funny book with some funny illustrations. Christina did a lot of research for it also, and there are a lot of interesting facts and anecdotes in it. It’s also a good bathroom read, because it is broken into increments that correspond to various bathroom acts in terms of time.
Where can you buy it?
Any bookstore. It’s in the reference section of a lot of bookstores, which is confusing because that means it’s between LSAT books and dictionaries. But that speaks volumes about how well this book can help you on your LSATs.
What’s the worst part of being short?
Just livin’ man. It’s almost too much to take.
What’s the best part?
This sort of turned into a James Lipton interview at some point. I’m sorry about that.
When did you write this book?
I started writing it about four years ago for a Blue Mountain Books internship. Then I rewrote it from last October through June about. I did the illustrations June-July.
But you were working at the time?
I was working at The New Yorker as the Assistant Cartoon Editor. I read all of the captions for the caption contest at the back of the magazine and narrowed them down.
How many captions was that?
About 8000 a week on average. I started to have serious problems with my eyes by the time I left, which was worrisome to me, because I need my eyes.
And you were cartooning?
Right, I was and am submitting about 15 cartoons a week to The New Yorker.
What is your best cartoon?
My most popular cartoon is a tombstone with the inscription “Wouldn’t Stop Picking At It.” My least popular cartoon was two guys with scalpels operating on something on a table and saying “There’s gotta be an easier way to get candy from a baby.”
That seems a little out there for The New Yorker.
A lot of people wrote in. One guy wrote that injury to an infant is unacceptable to the species. People thought that I (and therefore The New Yorker) was advocating dissecting babies for their candy.
And you weren’t?
I submitted a follow-up cartoon that had two guys holding a vacuum cleaner to a baby’s mouth and saying “There’s gotta be an easier way to get an appendix out of a baby.” It didn’t fly.
15 October 2007
RIFF MARKET PRESENTS: ZACHARY KANIN WEEK AT RIFF MARKET
Illustrations by Zachary Kanin
ZACH KANIN: DAY ONE
RIFF MARKET PIMPS "THE SHORT BOOK" FIVE-PART MINI-SPECIAL
Zachary Kanin, a New Yorker cartoonist and old friend of Riff Market, has just released his first book, entitled The Short Book: Tall Stories, Freakish Facts, and the Long and Short of Being Small in a Great Big World, available for purchase on Amazon and from what I understand, misleadingly, in the reference sections of actual bookstores. The book is a mishmash of short-centric humor pieces, bizarre found facts such as celebrity heights and this story about one person murdering another person over an argument about James Brown's height, and misc riffs on the science of short and the short lifestyle.
Riff Market ostensibly being a music blog, Zach gave me an exclusive excerpt from his book, "Chapter 41. Musicians," the one in which he deals with the legacy of short musicians. That's for today. Tomorrow I will be interview Zach about his writing process, and later in the week I'll be publishing some book-related surprises Zach has put together exclusively for Riff Market. The book's own blog, Smallotry, can be found here.
Chapter 41. Musicians
By Zachary Kanin
“If music be the food of love, then it must not be very nutritious, or else the following geniuses would have been taller.”
Sammy Davis Jr.: 5’3
A member of the famous “Rat Pack” with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, Sammy mixed comedy and charm with lounge singing. While Sinatra was known as “Old Blue Eyes,” Sammy had only one real eye and enjoyed a less complimentary nickname: “Mr. Little Bones.”
Greatest Composer in History
Ludwig Van Beethoven: 5’4
Not only was Beethoven short, but he also became deaf, and yet he still composed some of the best sounding and tallest symphonies ever.
No matter what name he wants to be called, he’s the prince of being short and musical. He once made a man pregnant by making love to a woman near him—that is how potent the dude is.
Little Jimmy Dickens: 4’11
This country music legend and hall-of-famer was known for his hits “Take an Old Cold Tater (and Wait)” and “I’m Little but I’m Proud.” He referred to himself as “Mighty Mouse in his pajamas.”
Bob Dylan: 5’6
Some scholars believe that Dylan’s anti-war anthem “Blowin’ in the Wind” was actually about a day when a strong gust knocked him off his little feet and sent him thousands of miles to Vietnam where he could witness the futile atrocities of the war firsthand. Others say that never happened.
Did someone say, “More musicians please?”
-Gustav Mahler (5’4; composer)
-Igor Stravinsky (5’4; composer)
-Paul Simon (5’3; singer/songwriter)
-Pat Benatar (5’1; rock singer)
-Phil Collins (5’5; pop singer)
-Dolly Parton (5’0; country singer/actress)
-Thom Yorke (5’4; lead singer of Radiohead)