Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Vignettes from Vermont: Q&A with Author Joey Kulkin

Joey Kulkin holds up his new book "Chalk It Up!"
in the Graffiti Vault at Fiddlehead at Four Corners

BENNINGTON -- A case of the shivering grumbles put author Joey Kulkin into a mild coma Tuesday, just a few minutes after his much-anticipated new book "Chalk It Up!" arrived at Fiddlehead at Four Corners art gallery.

The grumbles forced Kulkin to back out of several interviews -- CNN, Fox, Oprah, Nina and Star from Sprout, even the great Charlie Pierce at Esquire wanted a piece of the action. Unable to speak because the grumbles caused him to spasm, gurgle and squirt, Kulkin grunted three times, which gave Art Gallery Dude the power to handle PR for the book.

Art Gallery Dude manages Fiddlehead at Four Corners. He granted Incredible Kulk's blog request for a face-to-face Q&A (Note: some language may not be suitable for all ages):

Incredible Kulk: First of all, thank you for allowing this blog to conduct the first Q&A for Joey Kulkin's book "Chalk It Up!" -- even in this day and age of expanded media, blogs are considered the minor leagues of journalism. So again, thank you.

Art Gallery Dude: No problem, dude. Some of the best journalism is being done in the blogosphere. Take that guy over in Kingston, New York, I think his name is Ivan Lajara, the Life Editor at the Daily Freeman. I couldn't tell you what the fuck a "Life Editor" is but no other blogger in the world makes me laugh as much as Ivan when he's posting another zany cat video. Cats gets clicks, clicks galore, and the only thing that matters in today's world of journalism is clicks and the stacking of digital dimes.

IK: Right, we've heard that, too. So, Chalk It Up! is not Joey's first book -- it's the second one he has published in three months. We found "The Pink Dreidel" (HERE) and thumbed through the book and don't quite know what to make of it. Every page shows a pink dreidel at rest on a counter with words below that don't seem to make sense. It's almost as if a drunk sailor put the book together before an enema in his ass was about to release the hounds -- meaning it feels as though he put zero thought into it and published it in 2 minutes. And the cover shot looks like a pink spinning dildo. Was that the intent, a pink spinning dildo? Not to mention the figures we requested and received for The Pink Dreidel show it has generated four dollars and seven cents in sales. All in all, a rather piss-poor effort.

AGD: Joey calls it The Pink Debacle, and he hasn't received that four bucks because authors must accrue at least $10 in sales before getting a check. He doesn't plan on seeing that money. By the way, it wasn't a spinning dildo, and funny you should mention enemas ... .

IK: Chalk It Up! is a landscape-format book, 92 pages full of colorful photos on quality stock paper. It is a much stronger presentation than The Pink Dreidel, and especially the cover photo. I think the pretty girl really draws in potential buyers. What was Joey's vision for this book? How did the idea come to be?

AGD: Joey arrived at the gallery in late June after leaving the newspaper business. Fiddlehead's owner went away for the summer with his family and left Joey the keys to the gallery. The thing about Joey, and anyone who knows him says this, it's that Joey loves to create. Right away he saw the gallery needed a serious kick in the ass. He told the owner "Look, pal, you have this great art gallery in the best space in Bennington, but it's stagnant. Let's turn one of the walls into a Graffiti Wall so that people can express themselves and leave their mark in the gallery." The gallery owner -- Joel Lentzner -- loved the idea but took it one further. He removed the animation cells from the "Animation Vault" and hung them in another part of the gallery, and then he painted the vault into a 4-wall chalkboard and bought boxes of chalk and voila! Brilliant idea by Joey and execution by Joel.

IK: When did the Graffiti Vault come to life?

AGD: About the same time Joel was getting ready to paint the walls into chalkboards, Fiddlehead found out it had been selected to host a listening party for Trey Anastasio's new album "Traveler" so Joel and Joey thought it would be a great day to launch the Graffiti Vault. Joey really thought Trey was going to show up to the party and perhaps leave his mark in the vault. He even kept one of the walls virgin till the party so that Trey could christen it. But Trey never showed up. Crushed the Kulk.

IK: And the book?

AGD: Well, within a week Joey noticed how customers loved being in the vault so he began to take pictures of the graffiti artists and their works. Some of them wrote a few words or a quirky sentiment and some of them drew wall murals that would make Diego Maradona blush with envy.

IK: Diego Maradona the soccer player? I think you mean Diego Rivera the great muralist.

AGD: Yeah, him too.

IK: Well, then. The book features the artwork of people from all over the country, including two from Hawaii, as well as folks from England, Scotland, Amsterdam and several students from Bennington College. It seems the Graffiti Vault has become a global phenomenon. How are early sales for this book?

AGD: Well, let's just say Joey can afford a few more boxes of enemas.

IK: Can we move beyond talk of enemas and pink buttplugs?

AGD: That's pink dildos. And you brought it up, dude.

IK: Right. I apologize for that. We noticed in the final few pages of the book that Joey himself chalked it up. The first picture shows a chicken saying "Super Bird!" and the second one shows a portly fellow exclaiming "Ahhhh, pot pies ..." What is the meaning behind his Graffiti Vault submissions?

AGD: Yeah, those are inside jokes from his days at the Roswell rag. I can't divulge the full story behind the second one, but have you ever met a man who eats nothing but pot pies? Let me tell you, that man was full of steamy goodness -- and creamy gravy.

IK: What is Joey's favorite image in the book?

AGD: Alyssa.

IK: Alyssa?

AGD: Alyssa.

IK: Who is Alyssa?

AGD: Alyssa.

IK: So you're saying Alyssa.

AGD: Alyssa.

IK: Right, Alyssa. So what was Joey's reaction when the book arrived today?

AGD: The grumbles started to cause a ruckus minutes before it came. He ripped open the package then puked up yesterday's lunch.

IK: On the book?

AGD: No, but close.

IK: Did he get to see much of the book?

AGD: No, the grumbles hit worse than ever and he began to gurgle and spasm -- then he squirted something fierce.

Note: The interview ended right here because AGD had to rush Joey to the emergency room. AGD promised this blog the first interview when Joey's health returns to normal.

You can buy Chalk It Up! in book form HERE or in iPad form HERE.

A Fiddlehead customer reads the first copy of Joey Kulkin's "Chalk It Up!"