Announcing…Lowbrow Reader #13!

We are thrilled to announce the publication of our new issue, Lowbrow Reader #13. Honestly, you do not want to sleep on this one. The issue features a long Q&A with our hero, Joan Rivers, conducted at her penthouse apartment in 2007. And that’s just the start! It also brings a new humor piece by Jesse Eisenberg, Nile Rodgers talking about his work on Coming to America, a Nathan Gelgud comic about Elaine May, and a newly discovered children’s manuscript by Amos Vogel. Eat our dust, Vanity Fair!

Lowbrow #13 costs $5, shipping included. Order it via our ordering page!

Check out the Table of Contents:

Hess Is More’s CÆKE

The word of the year is, “CÆKE.” That’s right: “CÆKE!” Don’t ask us to explain what it means or, dear god, to pronounce it, but that’s the word soon to be passing through the lips, or at least the minds, of fashionable music fans worldwide. For “CÆKE” is the title of the new LP by the esteemed Copenhagen (jazz-damaged, avant-garde-inclined, electronic-pop) band Hess Is More. And this handsome record is due later this month on the chic Danish label Music for Dreams. To hear it will be to enjoy it—we promise!

After a series of smashing albums that found the band’s singer and drummer, Mikkel Hess, leading his finely tuned New York-based band, “CÆKE” brings Hess Is More back to its early days, featuring Hess performing mostly alone and in his native Denmark. It’s a charmed collection that will have you whistling its songs for years to come. Unless there is something wrong with you, of course. Then, we just can’t help you. Those in Denmark can catch the band on tour in May and June. But never fear, rest of the world! You can soon enjoy “CÆKE” from the comfort of your home, and on lovely pink vinyl, at that. (And hey! The LP features liner notes by Lowbrow editor Jay Ruttenberg.) Order it today, then wait nervously for your postman, day after day, until the record finally arrives later in the month. As the old saying goes: Sometimes, you get lucky!

Fashion Projects: 15 Years of Fashion in Dialogue

Fashion Projects, a home-baked, thinking person’s fashion journal, was born in New York in 2005, in the same Chelsea apartment that housed the Lowbrow Reader. From the get-go, the little magazine, edited by Francesca Granata, had a more rarefied vibe than the Vogues and Elles of the world. Here was a rigorous study of artistic fashion revealed through deep-dive Q&A interviews. It spawned five whipsmart issues (all long sold-out), each arranged around a different theme, along with a trove of online-only material. The high-minded magazine shared more DNA with the Lowbrow Reader than one might have guessed: Both journals examined art forms that have often been critically ignored or disparaged.

Now, in its greatest move yet, Fashion Projects has entered the book world. This week, Intellect Books is publishing Fashion Projects: 15 Years of Fashion in Dialogue, a charmed anthology featuring work from all five print editions, plus selections from the website. Lovingly edited by Granata, the book features a ton of captivating interviews. Subjects include curators (the Met’s former costume chief Harold Koda, the Museum of F.I.T.’s Valerie Steele), journalists (the New Yorker’s Judith Thurman, the Washington Post’s Robin Givhan) and, of course designers. It’s a fascinating read and a handsome book, presented in lush hardcover from the Bristol, U.K. publisher. (A paperback edition is imminent.) So don’t hesitate a single moment! Do yourself a favor and order the long-in-the-making Fashion Projects book anthology. Buy a copy or three through Intellect or their Stateside arm, the University of Chicago Press…stat!

KVS’s Dwayne Johnson in Review

By now, astute music fans of the world have had the pleasure of immersing themselves in A Little Touch of Schleicher in the Night, the handsome new LP by the charmed singer and songwriter Katie Von Schleicher, released by the newly launched Sipsman label. What—have you not noticed attractive young people walking the city streets humming these songs?

These days, you’re lucky to get a dash of liner-notes to peruse with an album. The industrious KVS, however, walks an extra mile: Those fortunate enough to order her record are receiving an entire zine, published by the musician just for the occasion. Titled Dwayne Johnson in Review, the 52-page publication features Von Schleicher and a gang of miscreants—writers, label owners, fellow musicians—examining the filmography of Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, from 2001’s The Mummy Returns through last year’s Fast X. It’s a laudably insane effort that yields a breezy survey of the muscled actor’s oeuvre. Writers take different approaches: some serious, others ridiculous. Johnson “appears and disappears in 37 seconds, like a sand castle,” the musician and writer Jana Horn notes of his early effort, Longshot. Elsewhere, the Ba Da Bing Records honcho (and Lowbrow contributor) Ben Goldberg muses on the actor’s “first billed appearance with a sentient being’s name rather than that of hardened minerals.” All told, it’s a funny, cool read—several yards better than most of the work it’s discussing. And, gosh, what an album! Don’t hesitate! Buy A Little Touch of Schleicher in the Night, and with it Dwayne Johnson in Review, pronto!

Please Confirm

–Hi, this is Cathy from New York Dental. You are scheduled for a cleaning on Monday at 11:20. If you can call us back to confirm, it would be great!

–You have an appointment at New York Dental at 11:20am on Monday. Please text “1” to confirm your appointment.

–It’s Cathy at New York Dental. We’re looking forward to seeing you Monday morning for your dental cleaning. If you could please get back to confirm, it would be appreciated!

–Hi, it’s Mom. I just got a call from a woman who has been trying to reach you—I don’t know how she found me. Her name is Cathy, and she works at your dentist’s office. What a nice young lady. Would you believe that her father grew up in the same neighborhood as me? Anyways, she wanted to make sure that you confirm your appointment with the dentist on Monday. She said that you just need to call their office and press the “1” button. And maybe the pound key? I can’t remember, but I’m sure Cath can sort you out. Well, I hope the weather is better in New York than it is here. Dad says hello.

–You are scheduled for a dental cleaning on Monday at 11:20am. Because of advancements in artificial intelligence, in order to confirm your appointment, simply look into your phone and blink.

–LeMahieu goes down on strikes. And that will bring up Aaron Judge. Joining us now in the booth we have a special guest—Cathy, from New York Dental! Cathy, I believe you have an important message for Matthew Kurland about his dental cleaning on Monday morning?

Arggggh! Now listen up, Matthew Kurland, because I’m talking to you! It’s Mr. T! It’s a gorgeous day, the sun is shining, and I’m on this Cameo. Now hear me, Matthew Kurland, you need to do Mr. T a favor. It’s time to quit your jibba jabba and confirm your dental cleaning. You gotta keep those teeth clean, Matt, and you gotta confirm that appointment. Listen to Mr. T—call them today! Cathy and the gang will hook you up. Because I pity the fool who don’t confirm their dental cleaning, this Monday, at 11:20, at New York Dental! (more…)

Beyond the Duplex Planet

A few years back, it seemed as if every band on the planet was being trailed by a documentary film crew. Zine editors? Not so much! What gives, documentarians of America? But if there’s one homemade publication that deserves a movie to call its own, it is very clearly Duplex Planet. Born in Boston, in 1979, the magazine featured singular chats between its editor, David Greenberger, and the quirky and oftentimes funny souls residing in nursing homes. The brilliant little magazine spun out 187 issues and spouted a cottage industry that has extended to books, spoken-word albums, comics and more. (It even entered the Lowbrow Reader; a Duplex Planet excerpt appeared back in issue #8.)

Thrillingly, one such documentary is in the works. Beyond the Duplex Planet, by Beth Harrington, is nearing completion and looks like a winner. Check out a slice of the film here. Alas, movies aren’t made for free—dastardly money is needed. And we want to watch this movie!

Look, let’s be honest: Whatever holiday presents you are planning to buy your loved ones are likely to be losers. Why don’t you take some gift money and direct it in the way of this gestating film instead? Then, simply write a note to your five-year-old or your doorman or whomever, explaining that you are skipping their Christmas present this year to help fund the Duplex Planet movie. They will clearly thank you. It even appears to be tax deductible. (Your accountant will be happy, too; word is, he’s a Duplex Planet fan.)

Thirty Ways to Summarize the Plot of Sophocles’ Ajax

1. Ajax went crazy.

2. A bunch of cattle are like, “Ah! Ah! Ajax is slaughtering me! For no reason! I thought he was a good person! What the hell gives! This is so unexpected! Mooo!” The craziness of the point of view of the cattle and them talking is intended as a subtle metaphor for Ajax’s unique and horrible bout of insanity.

3. A bunch of rhinos and walruses start a—I know this doesn’t make sense—underground Sophocles fanzine, and the avant-garde self-aggrandizing of Sophocles doing this is meant as a metaphor for the main character Ajax’s Spartan madness.

4. A bunch of T-Rexes group together to stomp out crime. The complete craziness of this on its own, but also of its being in an ancient tragic play, however incongruously, is meant as a running allegory for Ajax’s crazy—which itself doesn’t make sense, which Sophocles must have meant as one of the literary devices.

5. A bunch of—I know I keep using a bunch of but that’s Ajax—Ajax the cleanser salesmen band together and offer an interesting, but ultimately unreliable, discount cleanser. This somehow doesn’t work for Ajax, who is a stickler of a teacher.


6. “Ah! Ah! This guy Ajax is going Medieval on us with a sword!” etc.—Cows. (That guy Ajax is in a lot of trouble.) (more…)

“You Talkin’ to Me?”: The Definitive Guide to Iconic Movie Quotes

Among the endless wonders of the Lowbrow Reader’s eleventh issue, unleashed upon an unsuspecting world in the heat of 2020, was Brian Abrams’s lively investigation of a single punchline from The Naked Gun: “Hey! It’s Enrico Pallazzo!” How great was Abrams’s article? Within minutes, the nation’s book publishers came knocking! How could they not? Their attention now comes to fruition, with the publication, from Workman, of Abrams’s incredible book, You Talkin’ to Me?”: The Definitive Guide to Iconic Movie Quotes. 

As in his Lowbrow piece, the author dives deeply into famed film quotes through copious research that sees him tracking down screenwriters, directors, and scholars. The book has sweep: We begin on “Wait a minute! Wait a minute! You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!” (from 1927’s The Jazz Singer) and end, nearly 300 pages later, with “Wakanda forever” (Black Panther, 2018). In between there are lines from Spartacus, Soylent Green, and Chinatown, as well as plenty of entries in the Lowbrow canon. About Blazing Saddles, we learn that the golden line in question—“Mongo only pawn in game of life”—was the work of Mel Brooks’s co-screenwriter Richard Pryor. “At that point in his career,” Abrams writes, “Pryor hadn’t yet had the chance to explore the stereotype of a meatheaded yokel. Nowhere in a sold-out Vegas performance or one of The Mack’s dire subplots would you find Pryor conjuring countryfolk like Mongo—a brutal yet inexplicably philosophical aberration.”

Itching for more? Of course you are! You are in luck, for “You Talkin’ to Me?” lands definitively in bookstores this week. What’s the wait? There’s no excuse! Order it, buy it, read it, praise it, read it again, gift it to your friends, then read it another time…today!

Richard Hell: What Just Happened

Those smart and handsome enough to have gotten their hands on the latest Lowbrow Reader issue were no doubt delighted to encounter three stunning poems by Richard Hell. This month, readers can feast on more of Sir Hell with the publication of “What Just Happened,” a collection of poems, mostly written during the pandemic, that are interspersed with new images by Christopher Wool. The book is being published by Winter Editions, both in paperback and a fancy clothbound edition signed by the author and artist. New Yorkers can make their purchases on July 6, as Hell reads from the book at the White Columns gallery during a book launch that pairs him with fellow Winter Editions author Emily Simon.

Can we say some more nice words about Richard Hell? Why not?! The author of one of punk’s foundational anthems (“Blank Generation”) and rock’s most crackling memoirs (“I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp”), he began his creative life in New York as a humble poet—and a current of poetic honesty runs through his decades of work, whether encountered on page or stereo. (While we’re here, let us grant a huzzah to the recently rejiggered Richard Hell and the Voidoids album “Destiny Street.”) We remain thrilled that he lit up the new Lowbrow issue, and are excited about more Hell poems coupled with Wool visuals.

So salute this New York poet and mensch! Do your library a favor and purchase “What Just Happened,” pronto!

J.D. O’Brien’s Zig Zag

Long-time readers of the Lowbrow Reader know and admire the writer Joe O’Brien for his deep love of Chevy Chase: His essay “The Case for Chase” helped light up issue #5, and returned in The Lowbrow Reader Reader book. This year, readers get to go deeper with O’Brien, via his crackerjack debut novel, Zig Zag, recently published by Tucson’s Schaffner Press. Funny and misty in a Pynchon mold, the crime novel traffics in bail bondsmen, the Mojave Desert, and a marijuana dispensary robbery. And the whole affair even opens with a quote from a fellow Lowbrow contributor, our beloved David Berman. Don’t zag, zig! Buy, read, read again, then give a fancy prize to J.D. O’Brien’s Zig Zag at once!