Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Better Know a Teen Girl: Read RED

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

RED_girls.jpgIn the last couple of weeks, I’ve been lucky to catch two readings of RED: The Next Generation of American Writers–Teenage Girls–On What Fires Up Their Lives Today, which is a remarkable collection of essays. At the first reading, my friend David—and author of two books himself—turned to me and said: “This is the best reading I’ve ever been to.” When I caught a second reading this past Tuesday at the Lower East Side Girls Club in Manhattan, RED editor Amy Goldwasser revealed that seed of the book was planted at that very spot, in a sense for what she called “selfish” reasons. Goldwasser realized that she much preferred lending a hand to the LESGC girls on their college essays by night to the paid work she was doing by day in NYC’s magazine jungle. “As opposed to professional adult writers,” she told me later, describing the process of editing 58 girls for the final incarnation of the book, “they really had no interest in pleasing me–which made for the very best, purest kind of editing. I never rewrote a word, I just got to ask a lot of questions then eagerly await (and cut-and-paste) their answers. These girls don’t follow conventions. Their writing is a lot more pure, honest, real.” I read personal essays each and every day, yet what I heard and what I’ve read have been nothing short of a revelation. That’s why at the second RED reading, I made sure I had plenty of SMITH cards to give to these young writers—writers who I suspect we’ll be hearing from a lot more in the coming years. And that’s why I hope you’ll read these three essays which we’re honored to publish here (and you can click through to three more on Salon), and then buy a copy of RED.

Countdown: 1-2-3-4-5-SIX.

Monday, December 17th, 2007

testcolbert_1.jpgBooks are strange and beautiful beasts. How is it that a prison memoir, a dog memoir, and a book of six-word memoirs are all considered “memoirs”? Yet they are, even if they are completely different animals. And books move at such strange speeds. The time from conception of SMITH’s six-word memoir book to completion of the first and quite-close-to-final draft was just a few months. The time from that draft to publishing date is close to a year. In between, you mess with covers and have meetings about marketing and bite your nails and turn into a walking, talking hype machine (which, let’s face it, makes you somewhat insufferable to your nearest and dearest).

The fuzzy math of marketing dictates that we don’t want to push the book too early before its release, so my co-editor Rachel Fershleiser and I have been positively restrained (for us). However, a few daily newspapers who received advance copies of NOT QUITE WHAT I WAS PLANNING: Six-Word Memoirs By Writers Famous and Obscure decided to cover the book early—so here we go. Atlanta-Journal Constitution scribe Phil Kloer wrote that he “fell in love with this book” and offered his copy of it to a reader who sent in his or her own six-word memoir. Within days, six-word memoirs in response to his column broke the paper’s record for comments.

6WORDMEM_yellow_blue.JPGLast week, Toronto’s largest daily, The National Post, wrote a feature on the making of the book (with this image above of one of the book’s memoirists). Writer Ben Kaplan zeros in on the heart and soul of why we made this book, and why the six-word memoir has captured imaginations across America. And when you make a book, even a seemingly “small” book like this, it means a lot when people get it.

And we hope you pre-order your copy of NOT QUITE WHAT I WAS PLANNING: Six-Word Memoirs By Writers Famous and Obscure today and get it on February 5, 2008.

Because Us Jews Can Get Funky Too

Friday, December 14th, 2007

I recently had to admit that, though I’ve heard of Soulja Boy, I’ve never actually heard him. I used to be cool, I swear. Still, I find this video funny anyway.

Also, thought I’d share another thing I found recently, a comic strip that is a shocking expose of the short, sad life of a YouTube star. Read it here.

The Story of Shooting War

Thursday, December 13th, 2007


Does giving away your content free—online or elsewhere—discourage readers or listeners or any sort of content consumer from plunking down their hard-earned dough for the work later? It’s an ongoing conversation we have with publishers whose works we want to excerpt on Memoirville: If you give us 2,000 words from a book rather than the 600 words, will that make readers more or less excited to buy the book later? Invoking, among other examples, The Wilco Effect, I always argue that it’s in everyone’s best interest to give as much away as you can.

When SMITH Mag first serialized Shooting War in 2006, Anthony Lappé and Dan Goldman had every intention of turning the material into a book at a later date. At the same time, we believed the 11 chapters we posted were substantial—not the entire book, but quite a bit of it. Then what happened? A community of rabid readers found Shooting War, contributed thoughtful and intense comments and at times even shaped the story as it unfolded, told everyone they knew about it, and could not wait for a hardcover Shooting War book to glisten on their coffee tables. If we had just popped a few chapters on the site with a big ugly note announcing, “Want more? Then buy our book, Pally,” I strongly doubt we would have attracted the passionate community of readers, bloggers, and indeed future book buyers that we did, and did so organically. Once the publishing world got interested in Shooting War, the authors added much more new material—more than 100 pages—than even they first imagined they would in book form. Everybody wins.

With that preamble, I direct you to a huge piece from The New York Times’ Motoko Rich, Crossover Dreams: Turning Free Web Work Into Real Book Sales. In it, Rich discusses different web-to-print models, including how SMITH brought Shooting War to its first group of passionate readers, and now Grand Central Publishing is bringing the story to your bookshelf. I’ve watched Lappé and Goldman pour their lives into their creation for the past 18 months. When I first clicked on the link to the story and saw one of my all-time favorite panels from Shooting War on the Times’ site, my heart skipped a beat. When I walked down to my local bodega and handed a guy a buck and a quarter for the pulpy version of the Newspaper of Record, it skipped two more.

Believe the hype.

The 12 Stages of the Office Holiday Party

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

It’s that time of year again—the season of the office holiday party. Maybe you work for the man and so you go out of a sense of obligation, and usually end up having a semi-decent time (assuming the drinks are free and plentiful). Of course, there’s always that one person who makes it memorable. The key is to not end up being that person. Let this video be your guide this holiday office party season.

A Daddy Chronicle

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Our friends at TrueMomConfessions have bungee-jumped into the world of video. First up is a tale from Christopher Noxon, author of Rejuvenile: Kickball, Cartoons, Cupcakes, and the Reinvention of the American Grown-up. Warning this includes adult-themed content, including a man dressed up as a Gorilla.

The REAL War on Christmas

Friday, December 7th, 2007

Finally, we can admit the truth — Bill O’Reilly and the rest of the Fox News crew is right. There is a War on Christmas, waged by a truly diabolical group. But it’s not who you might think…


Moby, Rushkoff, and a Million Comic Geniuses Walk Into a Bar….

Friday, December 7th, 2007

395595654_6683016fb3_m.jpgSMITH comics editor Jeff Newelt wants to extend a special invitation to our readers to attend the first of many world-wide parties/fundraisers for the Comic Books Legal Defense Fund, a colorful outfit dedicated to the preservation of First Amendment rights for the comics world. The NYC event goes down this Monday, December 10 at The Village Pourhouse and is co-hosted by Newelt, A.D.’s Josh Neufeld, Shooting War’s Dan Goldman, author and SMITH blogger Douglas Rushkoff, and comics guru and man-about-town, Dean Haspiel. Paul Pope (that’s hit Batman comic, above) and CBLDF.jpgMoby will also be in the house for what is expected to be a massive, mind-blowing melding of some of the most amazing talents in the graphic and other arts world. Monday’s fete kicks off CBLDF’s national tour, with parties in Los Angeles, CA, Berkeley, CA, and Vienna, VA. For more on the parties and the CBLDF hit, or click the invite on the left.

Paul Pope’s Batman cover from Flickr user renguerra.

Internet Animals Revolt! (LOLthat.)

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

An old friend of mine took a break from marching the picket lines to send this email:

“So, you’re probably all aware of the writers strike that’s going on.
But did you know that, in solidarity with the writers, all the
adorable animals on the internet are going on strike, too? Neither
did I, until another Colbert Report writer and I made this video:

Anyway, see if you can spot BOTH celebrities making cameos. Oh, and feel free to start up a wildly popular blog for the sole purpose of posting a link to this video.”

Way ahead of you, Frank.

UPDATE: Lest you doubt the abundant creativity (or free time) of the internet-adoring masses, requests for animalian solidarity have already been met by dogs, cats, and some…more exotic pets.

“One day you’re a hero, the next day you’re gone.”

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

If you didn’t have a little moment when you heard that Evel Knievel died, then you’re not: 1) Between the ages of 25-80; 2) Someone who ever dreamed of being a daredevil; 3) A good American. OK, that last item’s a little much, but still: Evel Knievel was an American original, and, let’s face it, had a totally cool name.

A long, thoughtful obit in The New York Times explains:

As he told the story, he acquired the name Evel as a boy. Arrested for stealing hubcaps, he was taken to jail, where the police were holding a man named Knofel, whom they called “Awful Knofel.”

They decided to call Robert “Evil Knievel.” The name stuck, and some years later, Mr. Knievel legally took the name Evel, changing the “i” to “e” because, he said, he thought it looked better.

For life lessons from the man himself, read Evel’s What I’ve Learned column in Esquire. The “What I’ve Learned” column itself is one of the best single pages in all of magazines, in which an icon is interviewed and then his words are stripped down to their bare essence. (My wife recently asked me why I carry around a tattered “What I’ve Learned” from Dick Van Dyke in my inside coat pocket; I told her I had my reasons). I had planned on writing a six-word memoir for the man who made an impression on me as a young, mildly daredevilling boy, but when I found these words from his Esquire column I realized no six could serve him as well as these 10 from the man himself: “One day you’re a hero, the next day you’re gone.”

Evel Knievel photo from Flickr user teadrinker

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