This week I learned of the passing of beloved restaurateur, philosopher, and iconoclast Kenny Shopsin. While we at Arcana are friends and fans of the work of his talented daughter Tamara, it wasn't until a decade ago that I discovered the legacy of her family's long-lived Greenwich Village eatery - and its idiosyncratic menu and dining rules - through the Jason Fulford-illustrated book "Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin". The true revelation though came with catching Matt Mahurin's captivating 2008 documentary film about Kenny and the Shopsinverse, "I Like Killing Flies." It is a must-see, best viewed anywhere other than on Amazon.com... Faced with moving his cozy-bordering-on-claustrophobic establishment of three decades with little warning, he reacts with equal parts bravado, panic, and denial - all the while dispensing his no-nonsense accumulated personal wisdom and professional ethos as his family and the viewer are equally held in the thrall of his sublime, suspender-ed maelstrom. Often when I've found the expression of my passion for Arcana's environs and books misinterpreted by visitors here during the course of the day - more often than I can count - I've thought of Kenny Shopsin and the sheer force he displays in the film preserving his vision for his establishment irrespective of the consequences. Mind you, this was prior to the rise of the Yelp review, but to understand anything of him from his book and documentary is to know that would have mattered not one iota to the man. I bow to his humanity and curmudgeoness, and will rue the fact that there is one fewer fighters of the good fight among us.
This Saturday, September 29th from 3:00 to 5:00 PM, Tamara Shopsin and Jason Fulford will be having a local booksigning for their slew of new books oriented towards readers both young and old!