RIP, Kenny Shopsin, New York City's greatest restaurateur

Kenny Shopsin was the proprietor of Shopsin's, an incredible, storied, secretive, boisterous, tiny restaurant and general store in Greenwich Village, whose cookbook/memoir is a masterclass in sloppy diner chef-craft in the mode of Daniel Pinkwater's Fat Guys From Outer Space. He died this week. Read the rest

Arbitrary Stupid Goal: a memoir of growing up under the tables of the best restaurant in New York

To call Shopsin's "a Greenwich Village institution" was to understate something profound and important and weird and funny: Shopsin's (first a grocery store, later a restaurant) was a kind of secret reservoir of the odd and wonderful and informal world that New York City once represented, in the pre-Trumpian days of Sesame Street and Times Square sleaze: Tamara Shopsin grew up in Shopsin's, and Arbitrary Stupid Goal is her new, "no-muss memoir," is at once charming and sorrowing, a magnificent time-capsule containing the soul of a drowned city.

Recipe: picture book that introduces sloppy cooking and social engineering

At my house, we've fallen in love with Recipe, a 2013 picture book about a little girl who tells her good-sport mom that it's time she learned to cook, and hands over a set of ingredients for Mom to buy, including a new puppy, a Cleveland Browns sweatshirt, a helmet, a water squirter, and 20 bags of marshmallows. Read the rest

Daniel Pinkwater's brilliant, hilarious, life-changing books as $3 ebooks

Children's author, essayist and hero of literature Daniel Pinkwater has revived his classic backlist as a line of DRM-free ebooks! Each one is only $3, and there are some astoundingly good titles in there.

Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy From Mars was my first Pinkwater, and it literally changed my life. It's your basic nerd-discovers-he-has-special-powers book, except it's not: it's got saucer cults, green death chili, mystic bikers, and a sweet and inclusive message about following your weird without looking down on others. It literally changed my life.

The Education of Robert Nifkin is another take on an Alan Mendelsohn-like story, but this time, it's all about taking charge of your own education and an alternative school where the inmates run the asylum. It's probably no coincidence that I ended up at a school much like Nifkin's after reading Mendelsohn (here's my full review).

Young Adults is a hilarious, bawdy romp through the conventions of young adult literature. When got my first paperback copy, I walked around for days, annoying my roommates by reading long passages from this at them until they forgave me because they were convulsed with laughter. Dadaism was never so funny.

Wingman is such a beautiful, compassionate book about race, comics, and a love affair with literature. I read my copy until it fell apart.

What can you say about the Snarkout Boys? They sneak out at night and go to an all-night B-movie palace where they have comic, X-Files-style adventures with the paranormal and diner food. Read the rest

Boing Boing Gift Guide 2009: nonfiction! (part 4/6)

Mark and I have rounded up some of our favorite items from our 2009 Boing Boing reviews for the second-annual Boing Boing gift guide. We'll do one a day for the next six days, covering media (music/games/DVDs), gadgets and stuff, kids' books, novels, nonfiction, and comics/graphic novels/art books. Today, it's nonfiction!

If Your Kid Eats This Book, Everything Will Still Be Okay: How to Know if Your Child's Injury or Illness Is Really an Emergency (Lara Zibners): Apart from a terrific title, the book has plenty going for it. Basically, Even if Your Kid Eats This Book is a detailed guide to everything you don't have to worry about. It has an orifice-by-orifice guide to detecting and removing Lego! A list of things under the sink that won't poison your kid! Sensible advice about how to get rid of dry skin! (Hot bath, then anything greasy from Crisco to Vaseline, then time).

Full review | Purchase

Reset: How This Crisis Can Restore Our Values and Renew America In 96 pages, Kurt Andersen describes the United States' previous boom and bust cycles and explains why the bust cycles are essential for innovation and improvement of living standards for everyone. Times of crisis, he says, open new opportunities for making positive changes. Full review | Purchase Read the rest

Boing Boing's Holiday Gift Guide part five: Nonfiction

Here's part five of the Boing Boing Holiday Gift Guide, a roundup of the bestselling items from this year's Boing Boing reviews. Today's installment is nonfiction books.

Don't miss the rest of the posts: kids' stuff, fiction, gadgets and comics. Tomorrow I'll wrap it up with DVDs and CDs.

Good Calories, Bad Calories (Gary Taubes) Gary Taubes, whose NYT article on Atkins rekindled the low-carb eating movement, sums up his reserarch on low-carb eating Original Boing Boing post

Transit Maps of the World (Mark Ovenden) Sheer subway-porn Original Boing Boing post

Magic and Showmanship: A Handbook for Conjurers (Henning Nelm) Classic book about conjuring has many lessons for writers Original Boing Boing post

Laika (Nick Abadzis) Graphic novel tells the sweet and sad story of the first space-dog Original Boing Boing post

Mutter Museum Historic Medical Photographs (Laura Lindgren) Haunting book of Victorian pathological curiosities Original Boing Boing post

Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World (David Koenig) The secret history of Walt Disney World Original Boing Boing post

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (Michael Pollan) Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Original Boing Boing post

Clear and to the Point: 8 Psychological Principles for Compelling PowerPoint Presentations (Stephen M. Kosslyn) Cognitive science vs. crappy PowerPoint slides Original Boing Boing post

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (Clay Shirky) Clay Shirky's masterpiece Original Boing Boing post

The Pirate's Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism (Matt Mason) To get rich off pirates, copy them Original Boing Boing post

Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found (Suketu Mehta) Exhausting and beautiful love-note to Mumbai Original Boing Boing post

Urawaza: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks from Japan (Lisa Katayama) Make Magazine meets Hints From Heloise by way of postwar Japan Original Boing Boing post

China Shakes the World: A Titan's Rise and Troubled Future -- and the Challenge for America (James Kynge) Book captures the grand sweep of changes in the most populous nation on Earth Original Boing Boing post

Punk House: Interiors in Anarchy (Abby Banks, Timothy Findlen, Thurston Moore) Communal homes of the anarcho-syndicalist lifestyle Original Boing Boing post

The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need (Daniel H. Read the rest

web zen: shopping zen 2008

shopsin's general store baby leo funkyzilla sumolounge demeter fragrance mudpuppy magnet monsters butter ny green chair press field notes: the kit bird song organ chicken bag krappy gun rack organizer elsewares global home

previously on web zen: shopping zen 2007

Permalink for this edition. Web Zen is created and curated by Frank Davis, and re-posted here on Boing Boing with his kind permission. Web Zen Home and Archives, Store (Thanks Frank!) Read the rest

Eat Me: memoir and cookbook from Shopsin's, the best, most eclectic eatery in Greenwich Village

I first read about Shopsin's Greenwich Village restaurant in Calvin Trillan's classic New Yorker tribute to it, and its owner, the eccentric, garrulous, cranky Kenny Shopsin. The last time I was in New York, I managed to eat there, getting breakfast with Teresa Nielsen Hayden at the new location in Essex Market. I was transported by some of the most satisfying food I've ever been privileged to eat.

Now, the notoriously publicity-shy Kenny Shopsin has written a book (with Carolynn Carreno) about the philosophy and history of the restaurant, called Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin, and it, too, is an utterly satisfying, utterly peculiar experience.

Kenny Shopsin's restaurant began life as a grocery store, purchased for $25,000 by his father for his peripatetic son (Shopsin describes himself then as a neurotic who saw a therapist five days a week). In the grocery store, Shopsin found a kind of frenetic peace in cultivating and deepening his relationship with his customers (one of whom, Eve, he married). Gradually, he added prepared food to the grocery lineup, then more and more, as the satisfaction of cooking for others seized his interest, until the grocery store became a restaurant.

The two things I'd remembered about Shopsin's from the New Yorker piece was that there were 900 things on the menu and that parties of five could not be seated, ever, even if they split into a three and a two (there's a lovely bit of verse explaining this rule in the book, written by an affectionate Shopsin's regular). Read the rest

Eccentric diner-menu infodesign

Kottke's got a great, long post on Shopsin's, the "eccentric" NYC diner with a long menu that reads like the label on a bottle of Dr Bronner's soap. Kottke links to lots of great supplementary material but the gem is the PDF of the menu itself.


Read the rest

A small and beautiful restauranteur

Shopsin's is a Greenwich Village restaurant with enough character for ten eateries. The owners have refused all publicity until now. Spurred by a new landlord with big ideas about the new lease, the owenr has allowed one of his regulars to pen a lyrical appreciation of the joint for the New Yorker. It's not just Soup-Nazi 'tude that makes Shopsin's so special; it's the small-is-beautiful philosophy:

The place can handle just so many people, and Kenny was never interested in an expansion that would transform him into a supervisor. "The economic rhythm of this place is that I run fifteen meals a week," he used to say before Shopsin's offered Sunday brunch. "If I do any five of them big, I break even; if I do ten of them big, I'll make money. I'll make a lot of money. But if I do fifteen I have to close, because it's too much work." Kenny requires slow periods for recouping energy and ingredients. The techniques that enable him to offer as many dishes as he does are based on the number of people he has to serve rather than on what they order. That's why he won't do takeout, and that's one of the reasons parties of five are told firmly that the restaurant does not serve groups larger than four. Pretending to be a party of three that happened to have come in with a party of two is a very bad idea.



(via Kottke) Read the rest