Makes Moves with John Hammond

Podcasts! They are the future! Or…the present? Who the hell knows? But here’s one super sharp program to glue your ears on: Make Moves with John Hammond, produced in loopy California. Each episode features a glorious deep-dive interview with a creative risk taker, be it a musician, feminist art collective, or artisan baker. Through it all, Hammond proves an alert and curious interviewer.

But at the end of the day, who takes more creative risks than the Lowbrow Reader? Honestly, has any other American publication been pounding the pavement all these years, lobbying the Nobel Committee to grant a posthumous peace prize to Rodney Dangerfield? No! It’s a lonely road. Thus, in its most recent episode, Make Moves turns its gaze to our humble comedy zine, via an extended interview with Lowbrow editor Jay Ruttenberg. Check it out through the Make Moves homepage, or Apple Podcast, or Spotify, or YouTube, or however else you prefer to cast your pod!

Announcing…Lowbrow Reader #11

We are thrilled to announce the publication of our new issue, Lowbrow Reader #11. It’s the first Lowbrow Reader issue in over three years. Was it worth the wait? That’s a no-brainer! The issue features long articles about Andrew Dice Clay and “Hey! It’s Enrico Pallazzo!,” plus stellar contributions by David Berman, Professor Irwin Corey, Dave Eggers, Sam Henderson, Steve O’Donnell, and more. Dig it! We go to 11! Order the issue today via our ordering page!

Lowbrow #11 costs $4, shipping included. Check out the Table of Contents:

From the Desk of the Champion

To Associated Grocer,

I hope you are staying safe during this crazy time.

I recently placed a delivery order for two cans of Coca-Cola, one box of Frosted Flakes cereal, and 96 Teddy’s Frozen Hot Dogs. Regrettably, when the order arrived at my house, it was 92 dogs short.

Please know that the franks are a necessity not only for my health and well-being, but also for my profession. You probably would recognize me from my trips to your store before life was upended by this horrible virus. However, I suspect you do NOT know my identity as the reigning Hot Dog Eating Champion from Teddy’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Brooklyn, New York. As I’m sure you will understand, I prefer to be discreet when interacting with the public in my day-to-day life. I am “outing” myself now as the Contest is mere months away and I cannot afford to lose time training.

Know that helping me prepare for the Contest will allow your store to play a small but critical role in my ultimate victory.

Respectfully yours,

Arthur Rendaro, Hot Dog Eating Champion

To Hank’s Franks,

I hope that everybody at Hank’s Franks is okay during this terrible time.

This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. You may find it hard to believe, but despite my standing as defending champion, the corporate “powers that be” behind Teddy’s Hot Dog Eating Contest have been unresponsive to my numerous queries regarding this year’s Contest. Sports leagues across the globe are canceling events and, as I’m sure you know, the comp-eating world is abuzz with rumors that Teddy’s plans to follow suit.

Enter…Hank’s Franks? If you sponsor a tournament—guaranteeing proper social distancing to ensure the safety of both eaters and civilians—I can be persuaded to participate. I am confident that my presence would lure Naoyuki Kurihara, my most fearsome rival, to emerge from his medically-imposed retirement. Other comp-eating notables—Otto the Infinity Tummy, Fritz “No Potatoes” Belson, Big Vinnie Lambardo, Little Tony Ratowski, Kenny Pickles, Salt Whitman—would surely answer the irresistible call of competition, as well. Once Hank’s Franks steps in during this time of national emergency, Teddy’s “flavorless franks” will be forgotten to time.

Stay safe and keep swirling your cherished Secret Signature 14-Spice Blend. Know that in this difficult moment, your work is giving sustenance and hope to everybody from humble frontline workers to globally recognized Hot Dog Eating Champions.

Respectfully yours,

Arthur Rendaro, Hot Dog Eating Champion

Note to Self

[Here’s the text for tomorrow’s video. Remember to wear shirt.]

Hi Guys! [Wave] It’s the Hot Dog Champ here. I hope you are all doing well in this time of crisis. I’m sure that like me, you are all stuck at home. As an entertainer, I thought I would bring a small amount of joy to everybody who might be bored under quarantine [Core-an-tiine]. For the first time ever, I am opening a window to my practice routine, and letting you [point at camera] watch as I consume 35 hot dogs in 10 minutes time.

But before I begin eating, I have some important business to address. As you probably know, the status of this summer’s Teddy’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, set to occur in the Brooklyn section of New York City, New York, is currently up in the air. I hope we all do everything in our powers to save the Contest!

[Serious face] Look, when eating franks, I try to leave my politics at the door. Whether we identify as eaters or fans, we are all people—not splotches of red or blue. Regardless of political affiliation, now is the time to contact your elected officials. While I have been unsuccessful in my quest to reach representatives at the city or state level, I am happy to report that the White House has been very engaged with the situation surrounding this summer’s Contest.

Remember to wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and—if you want things to return to normal by the time of the Contest—STAY INDOORS! And now, watch as I devour these delicious Teddy’s franks. [Hold wiener vat up for camera]

Dear Naoyuki,

We have always faced one another as the fiercest of rivals; know that any verbal and physical aggression on my part was only generated in the heat of battle. I wanted to reach out to check on your well-being during this pandemic, which I know has been particularly devastating to the Oriental Region.

As you may have heard, the “Einsteins” behind the Contest have been noncommittal regarding the fate of this summer’s event. Major League Baseball has floated the prospect of moving its players to a massive quarantine in Arizona. Assuming that the chronic conditions afflicting your gallbladder, esophagus, pancreas, gastrointestinal tract, and anus have subsided, might we borrow this idea from our fellow sportsmen? If the traditional venue proves inhospitable to this summer’s Contest, you and I might still face off, mano a mano—quarantined together, alone with a tub of franks.

Respectfully yours,

Arthur Rendaro, Hot Dog Eating Champion

PS: Please accept my condolences on the death of your wife to this dreaded virus.

Coming Attractions

Me and Lee—The Musical

With Bob Dylan’s new single “Murder Most Foul” rocketing to the top of the Billboard chart, all of America’s youth are wondering: Who was this JFK guy? What the hell happened to him in Dallas? And wait a second, why would anybody voluntarily go to Dallas in the first place?

Rushing to fill the informational void is Me and Lee—The Musical, a filmed version of the stage musical by longtime Lowbrow friend Jason Trachtenburg. The production is an adaptation of the book Me & Lee: How I Came to Know, Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald by Judyth Vary Baker, who recounts a romantic entanglement with the notoriously dreamy Oswald, America’s sweetheart himself. Look, the only American conspiracy we want investigated is why it took so long for Rodney Dangerfied’s star to ascend, okay? But we adore Trachtenburg and his wondrous way around a melody. In the musical, the playwright himself sharply portrays Oswald, even slipping into Russian. And his music, not shockingly, is winning: Hum along with the cast as they sing Trachtenburg’s sweet songs of love and LHO! Stay home, wash your filthy hands, and watch Me and Lee—The Musical. The whole darn thing is streaming on YouTube—check it out!

Coronawhat, Now? (Take 2)

Interviewing My Grandfather, Who Died in 2003, About the Coronavirus

Me: Pop-Pop! I’ve missed you so much. Thanks for agreeing to take a few minutes for this interview.

PP: I’ve missed you too, Colin.

Me: A lot has happened since you passed away.

PP: I know! I can’t believe the Indians lost another World Series.

Me: Heartbreaking.

PP: That goddamned rain delay.

Me: Unbelievable. Anyhow, the topic of the day is…

PP: We heard about it up here: the coronavirus.

Me: What are your thoughts?

PP: Like they said: Wash your hands.

Me: But, Pop-Pop, it’s spreading so quickly.

PP: I was born in 1923, five years after the onset of the Spanish flu that killed tens of millions of people. My parents often reflected on the friends they’d lost.

Me: Oh, right. Well, a lot of the news has also been focused on the economy and the stock market.

PP: I lived through the Great Depression. It was worse for others; Dad had a job. But, you might remember that my toes were crooked from having to wear shoes years past their fit.

Me: Well, let’s see here. I do have to admit that I’m worried about my job.

PP: I was a rivet salesman, traveling the Rust Belt by car for 50 years, away from my family five days a week. You’ll figure it out.

Me: Point taken. Still, I’m not sleeping well.

PP: When I was in the Army during World War II, I learned to sleep with my eyes open.

Me: Mom told me about that. They say we might have to quarantine ourselves at homes indefinitely.

PP: That reminds me of when I watched over dozens of Nazi prisoners after the Battle of the Bulge.

Me: Makes sense. How about this Trump administration? They aren’t making things any easier.

PP: I can’t help you there. Those guys are idiots.

Me: Okay. I have one more question. I hesitate to ask but: I have a bit of a cough. Am I going to die from this?

PP: Maybe. Maybe not. I, myself, died of a protracted battle with lung cancer.

Me: Welp! I’m gonna let you go, Pop-Pop. Thank you so much for taking the time. I love you.

PP: I love you, too, Colin. Go Tribe.

Me: They just delayed baseball season.

PP: You gotta be fucking kidding me.

Coronawhat, Now?

The time has come, yet again, to craft an unbelievably hilarious humor piece, at once demonstrating my peerless wit and charm while leaving no doubt that the lethal coronavirus sweeping the globe has barely crossed my mind.

Let’s get down to business. Perhaps I’ll drum up a bit on how we can’t even make airplane peanut jokes anymore because no airline still offers them. No, no that’s no good: Airplanes and travel and maybe even food are off limits. Because of, well, nothing. Never mind. Moving on.

Is that a siren? Is someone sick?

Alas, there’s no cause for alarm! I’ve forgotten that, in an effort to make a smooth transition to my inevitable month-long quarantine, I’ve begun watching, alphabetically, every movie available to me. I’m currently on “G,” streaming that scene in The Goonies where Mouth isn’t sure if the police chase is coming from the TV or not.

Time to focus. My creative loins have given birth to this gem of an idea: Seven dirty words, updated for 2020.


I watched one of those videos for how to wash your hands properly and the guy was using a little brush to get under his nails. Checking Amazon. Little nail brushes are $86. And aren’t on Prime. And will be delivered by June 17, 2023.

Let’s all remain calm here. No problem at all.

Working out of the coffee shop—in public, surrounded by various other human beings who may or may not have watched the how-to-wash-your-hands-properly video—is shaping up just fine.

Well, except for the facts that I’ve seen two people blow their noses, everyone is touching their faces like they’re auditioning for a gig at Mary Kay and one guy is drinking tea. You’re busted, tea guy: Only sick people and hippies drink tea, and I’m not seeing a ponytail or hemp necklace from where I’m sitting.

I think I just touched my face, too.

Back on track. This is The Idea, no doubt about it: an homage to Steve Martin’s “King Tut.” The lyrics will satirize the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, mostly relying on the implication that he’s a sissy. Let’s just do a quick search to see if…oh, shit, yep: The coronavirus is in Egypt, too.


Pretty sure the gentleman closest to me is reading The Death of Ivan Ilyich in preparation for his imminent demise. I can’t believe this. We are all doomed.

Upon closer inspection, it looks like it’s a copy of InStyle.

Pull it together, man.

Wait. Did that woman two tables over just cough? No, forget it. I paused The Goonies and I’m listening to “Sweet Leaf” by Black Sabbath.

Black. Sabbath.

Of course. It’s another fucking New York Times push alert.

Now, why did—why did—why did that customer just purchase three pounds of coffee? Why would he buy that much coffee? He must be hoarding coffee. He must know something I don’t know.

Nice guy. Said he got an email from the shop about buying two pounds and getting one free.

Oh my god: Is that a group of kids running from the coronavirus as it spreads throughout our country, picking us off one by one? Ah, nope: I turned The Goonies back on again. Whoops. Fratellis, not coronavirus. Classic mix-up.

I surrender.

Facial Hair Grooming Tips

–Attention moustache wearers: Always remember to brush upwards on an ironic moustache, downwards on a sincere one.

–Look smart! Paying a white-smocked barber $35 for the same exact shave you can give yourself in two minutes yields a sophisticated look envied by men and cherished by women.

–To achieve a virile three-day’s-growth, consume several healthy swigs of Long Island Iced Tea and embark on a bar crawl, in which you travel to various drinking establishments on your hands and knees. Spend one night sleeping in an alley behind your neighborhood cathouse, one night in the drunk tank of the county jail, and one night in the arms of your best friend’s wife. Upon waking, your face will host the stubble of a Hollywood star.

–A little bitty Hitler moustache never goes out of fashion. Whatever your thoughts on the Führer’s politics, the man was a hunk.

–Those gentlemen in the early stages of puberty will want to maintain a touch of peach fuzz on their upper lip. It’s a reliable hit with older women and never fails to make its wearer appear wise beyond his years.

–When grooming during a house fire, always shave your goatee first. Otherwise, if you are forced to evacuate mid-shave, people will not think you are running from fiery flames; they will think you are running to a Stone Temple Pilots reunion concert.

Shove off, 2019!

Farewell, 2019…hello, 2020! Alas, this year seems to be heading out the door without a new Lowbrow Reader issue. But never fear: With the new year will come a new issue, the long-awaited Lowbrow Reader #11, rife with rich surprises and guaranteed to blow minds the world over. The new issue is not due for a few months, but in the meantime, we still have a handful of copies of LBR #10—it is destined to sell out soon, so buy it while it’s still available! Still want more Lowbrow? Who doesn’t?! Our sterling book anthology, The Lowbrow Reader Reader, remains available from its publisher, Drag City, as well as from the kindly retailer who controls the earth’s tilt. Order today!

Otherworldly: Performance, Costume and Difference

Rammellzee by Keetja Allard

Those aesthetically minded New Yorkers interested in art and fashion—and really, who isn’t?—are hereby alerted to the existence of “Otherworldly: Performance, Costume and Difference,” a flamboyant exhibition freshly opened at Parsons’s Aronson Galleries, on Fifth Avenue. Curated by Charlene K. Lau and the all-star Lowbrow Reader contributor Francesca Granata, the exhibition features work by a trio of uncorked New Yorkers: Machine Dazzle, Narcissister, and the late Rammellzee (pictured). All three work or worked on the margins, mining what the curators call political material “at the intersections of costume, fashion and performance.” The exhibition, at 66 Fifth Avenue, is part of the Performa 19 Biennial and runs through December 15. No plans this week? Check out the opening, on Thursday, November 21st, from 6–8pm.

Read more about “Otherworldly” at Fashion Projects or the New School.