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

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