Kazoo News: September Update

September 27, 2023

Kazoo News: September Update

Before / After: The last wild ride of Summer 2023.

Hello friends,

What I really want to know is where did this summer go? I blinked, and the kids are suddenly back in school. But, September, its promise of new pencils and fresh notebooks to fill, still excites me. And, it's nice to have a quiet moment to sit and write to you, so, Hi. 

For the first part of the summer I was working non-stop to get Kazoo's 30th issue off to press. The rest was spent at our family cottage with the kids, where I built a cabinet! (Scroll down for the results.) And, we discovered new things to do in the country, like hitting all the best local ice-cream shops, hiking, and swimming in Lake Erie as many times as possible. 

Here's more of what I dove into this summer: 

  • Spreading the Light:Kate DiCamillo, who I interviewed for our Light issue #7, told me that "Stories ARE light" and that "light is precious in a world so dark" so I wasn't surprised (but was so touched) to read that she still writes by candlelight every single morning. In a recent feature, she also tells The New Yorker that before she was published, she received 473 rejection letters. "She lived off beans and rice; she pinned some of those rejection letters up in her room and threw darts at them" before she ever wrote a word of her break-out success, Winn Dixie. But she never gave up. And thank goodness for that. 

  • Speaking of not giving up: Ms. magazine turns 50, and my friend Anna Holmes reviews a new book about the magazine that ignited a revolution in the NYT. Did you know Ms. had a kids section? 

  • Write this down, on paper: Sweden's classrooms are going off-line, because “there’s clear scientific evidence that digital tools impair rather than enhance student learning.” Which, yes! (This is part of the reason why Kazoo is print-only by design.) I wish my kids' NYC public schools would do the same.  

  • Lovely Artist Lisa Congdon, who you might remember from OUR VERY FIRST ISSUE, and the feature in Kazoo #25, has her own museum show, Hold it Lightly, in homage to another of my favs, artist Sister Corita Kent. It's all about "radical love & hope," which, don't we all need more of?  

  • WHAT IN THE WORLD? Child marriage is legal in most of the USA, and many republicans hope to keep it that way. ???

  • Into Tweets Again: This summer I stopped scrolling twitter but discovered the free Merlin Bird ID app by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (featured in Kazoo #4) and began a little obsessively collecting birds. Upon our return to Brooklyn, the girls tried to fool the app with bird calls of their own. (The Teeny editor does a great owl impression, which I'm sure all our neighbors enjoyed.) But alas, Merlin was not fooled. 
Hiking, baking, kayaking. These memories will keep me warm this winter. 

  • Do we even know what we like anymore? I was blown-away to learn about the manipulation of Rotten Tomatoes, like when misogynist trolls hijacked the platform, coordinating to tank women-led movies before they even opened. But, I suspect that this just the tip of the iceberg. Twitter view count, likes, etc, also untrue. And though I consider myself kind of media savvy, I often I decide to watch or read something because "people online are talking about it." I wonder how many things I might have missed because they've been artificially buried in the wreck? 

  • Diving into the Wreck, online. I have to set aside a bit of time every week to search and untag Kazoo in inappropriate (adult or just gross) facebook posts, which seem to pop up again immediately, then check google to report spam or naughty sites, using "Kazoo magazine" as a keyword. The other day I had to remove literally thousands of fake duplicate accounts from our Shopify store. (I don't know who is doing this, or if we are specifically targeted, or if every business has to do the same.) With so few print opportunities left for actual reviews or features of our magazine, our online presence matters. But, what are these tags doing to Kazoo's reach, when someone else looks for us? I wish it didn't matter, so much. Any digital marketing experts among you feel like offering any advice? 

  • Shout it from the Rooftops: Stumbled upon this old clip of Sarah Paulson saying “I love you Holland Taylor” and it reminded me how much I loved Peggy Peabody on The L Word and ALSO got me wondering if she would invest in Kazoo the way Peggy did in Bette Porter’s Art Center. I should ask costume designer Cynthia Summers (who we featured in Kazoo #6) to get me some cufflinks, so I can try out a pitch. (If you are a Peggy Peabody type, click here. And if you got all those references you should call me immediately because we should probably be best friends).

  • Is this all inside-softball and too negative? Maybe this Red Panda eating grapes will cheer us up. 


  • "This is custom": Mary Oliver said: "I have never at all built anything perfectly, or even very well, in spite of the pleasure such labor gives me." It me, Mary. But, this little wine cabinet turned out OK. I know very little about carpentry. But when I get up from my desk, I love stretching another part of my brain, and I'm already thinking of what I can (try to) build next summer.

  • Back to School Fashion: I went to a MALL in PENNSYLVANIA to take both girls clothes shopping for school. (We don't have malls like this in Brooklyn, so my daughters had never been to one.) I was hoping for an Orange Julius, but no. The 12-year-old is suddenly *very* interested in fashion, which is a surprise. (I am trying to advise her, but I realized I haven't really purchased new clothes since 2020 and suspect she might know it, too.) Alas, this sort of fashion commentary makes the most sense to me.

  • Back to School BLEED KITS: Our 8-year-old had her first- week-of-school lockdown drill, where they all learned to “RUN, HIDE, FIGHT” and watched a video which reportedly also included the specific instruction to “fight off the intruder with a chair or a curtain rod” which caused her whole class of to laugh hysterically. The average 3rd grader is under 4 ft tall and weighs less than 70 lbs. The kids are little but already know the comical futility of the situation that many in government refuse to address, so they are being taught to fight ... with curtain rods. "Isn’t that so funny?” she asked us. No, no, it is not. 

  • Someone Please Do Something: Friend of Kazoo Valerie Best, who sadly decamped Brooklyn for a little town upstate, is now running for town council and needs support. Kudos to her, to Mom's Demand, and anyone who decides to run for something
  • Can you hear that? The universe is humming with gravitational waves that one scientist calls, "a choir or orchestra," most likely from black holes merging. Now that scientists can hear it, it'll help scientists understand how the universe formed.  They say it's "a whole new way to observe the universe.” 

  • What We're Reading: New books from Kazoo contributors:      
    •Renee Watson
     (author of the story in Kazoo #21Ways to Build Dreams
    •Karina Yan Glaser (from #28Vanderbeeker’s Ever After
    •Molly Brooks (from #23Growing Pangs.
    Sophie Escabasse (from #24Witches of Brooklyn: Spell of a Time.
    Any new books your kids are really loving? Let me know. 
  • What we’re watching: The 8-year-old has now made her way through Bluey multiple times (and can tell me in detail how the "Flat Pack" episode is really about evolution). The 12-year old watched Glee all summer in its entirety. (Which she enjoyed but I was slightly sad, knowing what tragedies await the young cast.) And yes, we took the girls to Barbie, which we all liked. I cried??? (It was during that montage—and not just because I was imagining the size of their marketing budget compared to Kazoo's.) I was surprised by how much I liked it. I'm more excited about this new The Color Purple movie, though I already loved the first one.

  • More importantly, what is this stink bug trying to tell us? 

Thank you for being here. 

I'm now hard at work on our Winter issue, our 31st. We are going hard on "Girl Power" for this one, which I'm excited about. Simone Biles said: “It's important to teach our female youth that it's OK to say, 'Yes, I am good at this,' and you don't hold back.” And obvs, I agree!

Tell us what your little one is great at, and we may feature her in the winter issue of Kazoo. Does she love to play soccer, paint, or sing? Encourage her to write and tell us why, or draw a picture of herself doing that great thing. You can send it to us: readermail(at)kazoomagazine(dot)com.

In the meantime, if you come across anything interesting, please send it my way. You can always find me at erin@kazoomagazine.com. 

Kazoo magazine
Founder & Editor-in-Chief

 PS: After a summer of trying, I have almost perfected my rhubarb pie recipe. If you want it, write to me and I'll send it to you.