How’d You Get That Awesome Gig, Ben Kaplan?!

Name: Ben Kaplan
Occupation: Feature Writer at The National Post, Arts & Life
Location: Toronto, Ontario
First Job: Let’s see. First job ever? I worked in the snack bar of the pool at the Jewish Community Centre in Rockville, Maryland when I was little. My first significant job was a camp counselor in Malibu, California at Camp JCA Shalom — although I’m not real religious, it was just that my dad had a job in the Jewish community. My first published piece was in Black Book magazine, and my first editorial job was at P.O.V. with a bunch of folks I’m still friends with, including Randall Lane and Larry Smith.
Best Job: Tough to say that’s it’s not my job now. I ran into work this morning, wrote about DMX’s Christmas song, then Hey Rosetta, and now I’m doing this. I taught English on a tobacco farm in Greece for a while, this was before moving to Canada and right after New York, and that was cool. I went backstage at a RZA show in Athens for Vibe magazine and he was trying to start an orgy, then kind of gave up on it, and went to smoke some weed.
Greatest Professional Challenge: Right now, I’m trying to get my book published: Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now, which is about how to train for a marathon and my own little tale about the birth of my darling child, plus music selections per chapter for the 26.2 chapters – the length of a marathon – from folks like Katy Perry (see picture above), Ghostface Killah, Willie Nelson, Jack White and Feist. What happened was my publisher went bankrupt right before my editor was giving me her changes and now, well, I’m in limbo. It stings.
So how did you get this awesome gig anyways? The accumulation of a lot of small things. I’m from New York where I bounced from jobs a lot, and eventually went from GQ magazine to New York, writing for places like the New York Times and Spin on my way. That helped, but I answered phones and did people’s expenses — stuff I’m not sure people do nowadays.
What do you like best about what you do? Meeting people, talking to folks, meeting my heroes, making a story work, seeing concerts with my wife, when people say they like something I did (one thing I hate about what I do, or about myself, is how hung-up I am on what other people think).
Any special skills required? Tons, but where to begin?
Favourite experience on the job: My favourite early experience was riding in a town car with Slick Rick and sharing a box of his Popeye’s Chicken on a way to the Johnny Cochrane Show. This was 1997 and it still gives me chills.
Advice for people who want your awesome gig: Answer phones and do other people’s expenses, and keep writing. I didn’t use to pitch ideas, but finished stories (which one of my editors here, Maryam Siddiqi, says is dumb), but that’s what I did and it worked. Seventeen magazine, what? What!
Favourite Canadian music venue: The Dakota Tavern, one hundred percent.
Favourite record at the moment: A Cup of Kindness Yet by Hey Rosetta!

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