Recap: Calvin Trillin Talk at the Tenement Museum

Posted on: October 10th, 2011 at 11:19 am by

Calvin Trillin, making an appearance on the Lower East Side last week, regaled much of New York City with his waggish stories. At least it appeared most of New York was there, judging from the lines out the door and the packed standing room only crowd.

Seemed like the audience couldn’t get quite enough of the author or his new book, Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin. Retelling stories, both from the book and from other writings, Trillin referenced such neighborhood favorites as Russ & Daughters, Kenny Shopsin and the beloved, but now missed, Tic-Tac-Toe Chicken in Chinatown (housed inside the recently-shuttered Chinatown Fair Arcade). He brought the house down with the latter, describing how he would bring friends to play against the chicken, who would always win.

[Photo Credit: Corbis]

His story went as follows:

People would say, “But it’s not fair. The chicken gets to go first.”

“But you’re a human,” Trillin would reply. “And that’s a chicken.”

“But he gets to practice all day,” they’d respond.

“But…it’s a chicken.”

Other aspects of the talk included Trillin discussing the time he inadvertently predicted the underwear bomber while guesting on the Daily Show, saying it was so absurd it could never happen.

He also recited some of his famous poems about political candidates and public figures (his shortest poem: “O.J. / Oy Veh.”), and spoke about growing up Jewish in Kansas city.

We suspect the Yiddish references sprinkled throughout his talk got a few more laughs here than in Kansas City.

Writeup and photos by Lori Greenberg

Recent Stories

Photo: Mike Hong
‘Chinatown Art Brigade’ Takes a Stand with Anti-Gentrification Projections [INTERVIEW]

“Gentrification is Modern Colonialism,” read the illuminated stencil above the corner of Chrystie and Grand Streets. That was but one message that traveled through the neighborhood last Saturday night. These rather straightforward projections come courtesy of the Chinatown Art Brigade, which roams the namesake area armed with a light projector and a mantra of anti-gentrification. We […]

miss-paradis-1
‘Miss Paradis’ Health Food Bar on Prince Street Approaches its October Launch

Real progress is finally visible both inside and outside the stout new development at 47 Prince Street. That gaudy banner advertising for newcomer Miss Paradis was deposed a couple weeks ago after a summertime residency, and instead replaced with apple ornamentation around the two-story facade. Push to the finish line is palpable, as the store is buzzing […]

Photo: NYPL
Stories of Chinese American Women on Display with ‘HERSTORY’ Exhibit at Chatham Square Library

The Chatham Square Branch of the New York Public Library is showcasing a new “HERSTORY” exhibit during the month of October. This exhibit spans 165 years of the struggles and successes of Chinese-American women; on display include rare photographs and documents from legal cases fought in supreme courts throughout the US. The exhibit is a […]

reed-space-closing
Reed Space will Close Today After 15 Years on the Lower East Side

Fifteen years. Gone just like that. And so is Reed Space. The Lower East Side tastemaker is ending its operations on Orchard Street after business today. The store has been having a fire sale for weeks. A “reset” of sorts is promised, which would include a new store altogether. However, the location, and any future […]

Photo: Google Maps
De Blasio Wants to Remedy Rivington House Scandal with Senior Housing Development on Pike Street

Mayor de Blasio hopes that the key to escaping the Rivington House scandal is an olive branch of senior housing. Indeed, Hizzoner announced yesterday – while his deputy Tony Shorris was being grilled by City Council – a proposal to replace those services lost in the $116 million sale into condos earlier this year. The […]