Publishing

Everybody’s getting into the Renaissance man act – San Francisco Chronicle


Sean Penn’s debut novel, “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff,” was so poorly received two years ago that he took out a New York Times ad — a humorous get-attention ploy — referencing critics’ chilling comments. Googling, I harvested these:

Jeff Giles wrote in the Times, “Conspicuously un-fun. For every plain-spoken sentence, there are dozens of linguistic traffic jams where you can almost hear the words honking at each other to get out of the way.”

Sian Cain wrote in The Guardian: “Penn’s novel is repellent on one level, but stupid on so many others.”

And Claire Fallon wrote in the Huffington Post: “A garbage novel … written by a craggy white man with an unearned sense of intellectual superiority and a well-thumbed thesaurus.”

So what’s an award-winning actor/gonzo journalist/uncelebrated novelist to do? Write another, of course.

Rare Bird Books will publish Penn’s second novel, “Bob Honey Sings Jimmy Crack Corn,” in September. The release says this is a “continuation of his Bob Honey Book Series,” and in the words of the publisher, “establishes Sean Penn as a fixture of the literary landscape for years to come.”


Designer/singer/raconteur Isaac Mizrahi performed his cabaret show, based on his book “I.M.: A Memoir,” at the Lodge recently. Most everyone seemed to be loving the show.

Maybe I’m jaded, but it made me realize how far we’ve come. It seemed to me by this time that it’s not enough (thank you, Harvey Fierstein) to revel in “I’m gay” and certainly not enough to revel in “I’m Jewish from Brooklyn” (am I, a Jew from Brooklyn, allowed to say that?). Been there, done that.

“If you would have told me when I was a kid,” said Mizrahi, “that I would be a designer, a performer, I would fly around the world, I would have said, ‘Yeah, sure.’” That wasn’t said sarcastically; he was saying he’d been filled with hopes and dreams. Mizrahi’s material may include a lot of kvetching about his hard-to-please Jewish mother, but it’s clear she spoon-fed him bowlfuls of self-confidence.


It seems that the more Marie Kondo sings the praises of de-acquisitioning, the more that others sing the praises of collecting. Kathleen Hill, food and wine editor of the Sonoma Index-Tribune, has collected 4,000 pieces of old kitchen utensils, each of which seems to delight her.

Hill says that in the ’70s, when she started her collection — on display in “Kitchen Memories, 1945-1965,” at the Marin Art and Garden Center — the maximum amount she would pay for an item was $3. The price of everything’s gone up. She paid $200, she admits, for a particularly cherished 1920 Sweetheart toaster.


The 35-year-old San Francisco ad agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners will be honored with the Lion of St. Mark, the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award for “services to creativity in communication.” This will be bestowed at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June, which takes place every year after the film festival, and after a pornography festival. “We’re third,” says Rich Silverstein.

The firm — which has made ads for clients as diverse as Doritos, Liberty Mutual, Xfinity and BMW — sends someone to the festival every year. This year, “a whole bunch of people from the office” will go, Silverstein says. “It’s kind of embarrassing that they have picked Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein for the best advertising as a lifetime achievement. It’s crazy big. It’s not local, San Francisco or American; it’s the planet.”

Goodby and Silverstein were first paired by adman Hal Riney, for whom they both worked. Although they have created many award-winning ad campaigns, Silverstein seemed most proud of creating jobs that have sustained a staff. “We employ 400 people in S.F. They have raised their families with us. The firm is part of an industry in San Francisco. … I don’t think anyone in San Francisco understands that.”

As to the demands of the profession, “Every day you wake up and say ‘Am I any good?’” says Silverstein. “Every day is a challenge. New clients and new young people, advertising is all about the new. You’re just constantly reinventing yourself. I turn 70 the same week that I’m getting the award. Being part of what’s going on in the world keeps you young. … You’re always learning new things, being with new people with new problems. It’s never dull.”

PUBLIC EAVESDROPPING

“I proofreaded her essay for her.”

Young woman to young man, overheard on BART by Janice Wood

Leah Garchik is open for business in San Francisco, 415-777-8426. Email: lgarchik@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @leahgarchik

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