Laurie Rosenwald, Part 1
Graphic designer Laurie Rosenwald can be found in the young adults’ section.
GLENN O’BRIEN: Okay, so you have a new book with a really amusing title.
LAURIE ROSENWALD: Yes…
O’BRIEN: Which is…
ROSENWALD: Which is All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem.
O’BRIEN: Have you been thinking about this subject for a long time?
ROSENWALD: No, I have never thought about the subject and I wouldn’t say that the book is even about the subject.
O’BRIEN: Well, I know it’s not, but I mean, that’s something I’ve been thinking for as long as I’ve known certain people.
ROSENWALD: It’s a truism. And so what I mean to say is that I’ve thought of the idea, not for the book but the title, like fifteen, twenty years ago. I wrote it down. I save a lot of ideas that I write down like on a napkin and then I put it in my computer, and then when I made this book it was there. So the, the title came, you know, fifteen years before the book.
O’BRIEN: Yeah. So what should the book really be called?
ROSENWALD: Oh, I think it’s the perfect title for the book.
O’BRIEN: Oh. Well, what’s the book about?
ROSENWALD: Well, that’s a toughie. None of the bookstores know, but it’s supposed to be for teenage girls. An editor at Bloomsbury asked me to do a book for teenage girls, and I said, “What do I know? I was never a teenage girl.” So I did it, ‘cause she liked the way my New York Notebook looked. A book that came out about five years ago. Because it’s all collage-y and fun.
O’BRIEN: I like that book.
ROSENWALD: Thank you.
O’BRIEN: So what were you when you should have been a teenage girl?
ROSENWALD: I was joking. I was a teenage girl.
O’BRIEN: I thought you were gonna say you were a frog.
ROSENWALD: [LAUGHS] No, but I just thought, if it was a serious thing like I was giving advice or, you know, really writing to them I wouldn’t have done it. I just did the funniest, greatest book I could do and hope that they like it.
O’BRIEN: So where would one find it in a bookstore?
ROSENWALD: One can find it in the young adult section, sometimes.
ROSENWALD: Some people think it should be in the art or humor sections-the bookstores decide. Maybe that’s why mostly people buy it on Amazon.
O’BRIEN: As an unsuccessful author I find this to be a big problem–having one’s book wind up in the wrong part of the bookstore.
ROSENWALD: Well, I have a confession to make-but I found two copies at the Strand in the “childhood problems” section. That was not good.
O’BRIEN: I have this column that’s really popular in GQ called The Style Guy, and it has all these fans, and so I did this book based on it, and then I would go to the bookstore and I would ask for it and they would say, “Oh, that’s in men’s studies”.
ROSENWALD: Oh no. [LAUGHS] That’s bad.
O’BRIEN: That’s death! Men’s studies is, is death. It’s like signing with William Morris.
ROSENWALD: I guess so. But I got a great review in Publisher’s Weekly with a red star. So that was good. It hasn’t sold that badly, considering–that nobody knows what it is. So I shouldn’t really be kvetching.
O’BRIEN: No, that’s good.
ROSENWALD: I’m not kvetching.
O’BRIEN: But maybe that’s ‘cause it has an attractive cover.
ROSENWALD: It does. I hope you have yours somewhere. I brought another one just in case.
O’BRIEN: It’s at my home.
ROSENWALD: Oh, that’s a good place for it.
O’BRIEN: So what qualifies you as somebody to give advice to young women?
ROSENWALD: I’m completely unqualified and I’m not helping anybody.
ROSENWALD: It’s just for fun.
O’BRIEN: [COUGHS/SNEEZES LOUDLY] Sorry, I have allergies today.
ROSENWALD: Oh, to-I hope it’s not from my book.
O’BRIEN: What’s this page? For notes?
ROSENWALD: It’s a do-it-yourself.
O’BRIEN: Oh, okay. You always have this in your books. You’re running out of ideas.
ROSENWALD: It’s interactive– I like that.
O’BRIEN: Yeah, it makes me feel guilty, just looking at it.
ROSENWALD: When you don’t fill it in?
O’BRIEN: Like your New York book, it made me feel guilty- ‘cause it was too, it was too interactive. I hate interactive. I’m a book collector. I would never draw or write in a book.
O’BRIEN: That’s alright.
ROSENWALD: Well then you were lying when you said you liked the book?
O’BRIEN: No, I do love it, but I couldn’t possibly interact with it.
ROSENWALD: Well, some people really do.
O’BRIEN: I would feel like I was ruining it,-
ROSENWALD: Oh, okay.
O’BRIEN: -defacing it.
ROSENWALD: By the way, all the stories, everything in it is true. The story about my therapist…
ROSENWALD: Did you read that-do you want me to? Well, never mind. I will.
O’BRIEN: Go ahead.
ROSENWALD: I went to the shrink, right?
ROSENWALD: And I was late because I wash my hair in the morning–so I stuck my head out of the cab, I took a cab ‘cause I was late and I stuck my head out of the window to dry my hair and then when I got there for some reason I told her this ‘cause I was sort of proud that I was such a good multi-tasker and she said “Oh, Laurie. Do you really think that’s a good idea? The air out there is so dirty.” And then I didn’t say to her, but I was thinking, “Where do you think the air in your hairdryer comes from? The Swiss Alps?”
ROSENWALD: And I’m paying her to be smart, you know? I can’t believe she said that. And I have a thing on my website about ‘the Shrink Pimp’ and all the shrinks I’ve gone to. There really is a shrink pimp. In the story I call her Doctor Human [SOFTENS VOICE] but her real name is Doctor Peoples.
O’BRIEN: What does she call herself?
ROSENWALD: She doesn’t use that term.
ROSENWALD: But she doesn’t treat people, she just advises which shrink is right for you. She’s too high and mighty to actually–therapy-ize. But um, and then the shoplifting-all, all of these stories are true.
O’BRIEN: Uh, the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Muffins?
ROSENWALD: From Facebook.
O’BRIEN: Yeah. Is that a recipe?
ROSENWALD: No. Not even a recipe.
O’BRIEN: What is it?
ROSENWALD: I have no idea. That’s why it’s called Bizarre Stuff That I Found on Facebook. I just put in whatever I think is entertaining.
O’BRIEN: Are you on Facebook?
ROSENWALD: I am. It’s very confusing.
O’BRIEN: I’m afraid to look at it.
O’BRIEN: -‘ ause I heard it was a cult and then you can’t really look at it unless you join. It’s like The Masons. It’s a secret society because you can’t see what it is unless you join it.
ROSENWALD: Well, you could make a fictitious person that joins it just to look around. Nobody’s checking.
O’BRIEN: They’re not?
ROSENWALD: No. I made a group for my book, so I have a All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem group. And then they can be a fan of the book. It’s completely confusing. I have friends, then I have fans. I think I have six hundred friends and nobody to go out with on a Saturday night and I feel sorry for myself. But it’s really good for if you’re doing something like a show, like I’m having a show in Paris, so then I can tell everybody at the same time. You know, it’s practical. But it’s annoying, too. And it’s fun.
O’BRIEN: So how come you became a commercial artist and not a fine artist?
ROSENWALD: Because my father was a sculptor and a drunk.
O’BRIEN: So you thought that if you became a fine artist you’d have to lead a dissolute life?
ROSENWALD: Exactly. My mother was a part-time poet. My father was a full-time drunk and part-time sculptor-a very gifted sculptor, but he never got anywhere and so I was afraid to be an artist-artist, I liked the idea of being, you know, practical and having a sort of a job, but I really was an artist and I still approach things that way.
O’BRIEN: Well, yeah, that’s why I asked you the question because obviously, you know, you coulda, what did Marlon Brand say? You coulda been somebody.
O’BRIEN: [LAUGHS] I’m just kidding. [in a loud, crude voice] You coulda been a contenda.
ROSENWALD: [LAUGHS] I’m still a contenda.
O’BRIEN: No, you know what I mean.
ROSENWALD: Yeah, I guess so.
O’BRIEN: It’s a different level of respect that one get. You have great respect among your peers, but you know…
ROSENWALD: Well, I’ll tell you another reason.
ROSENWALD: It’s because I like surprises and I think the whole gallery world and that whole scene I was kind of brought up in … I’m just the kind of person that it seems, ninety-percent of it seems incredibly pretentious and humorless to me. And I don’t like it.
O’BRIEN: I’m with you.
ROSENWALD: I don’t like fine art-I don’t like art. [LAUGHS]
O’BRIEN: Also, in fine art, it’s hard to change, because they don’t want you to change because then it won’t look like what you’re known for and then your dealer won’t like that. He’ll have to come up with a new sales pitch.
O’BRIEN: And you don’t get to collaborate. Which you get to do all the time.
(To be continued…)