The Pitch-Perfect Geek

B y Burnham Holmes

 

“I refused to let this be the last time I ever wrote a book, the end of

the story,” said Mickey Rapkin to an audience of 20 at the Horace

Greeley Writers’ Conference at the Poultney Methodist Church on Main

Street on Saturday, October 15th.

 

Rapkin, a 2000 graduate of Cornell and the keynote speaker at the annual

writing conference, was talking about his first book.  This was a

manuscript that had grown from his magazine article profiling a

legendary full-time student who had spent ten years at Cornell without

graduating.  At the last moment, this perennial student withdrew his

permission.

 

A senior editor at GQ magazine, Rapkin then thought about other

possibilities and hit upon the idea of the college a capella scene and

how it has developed into big business.  Soon he had lined up three

groups, two male groups on the East Coast and one female group on the

West Coast.  The men were a breeze.  You just hung out with them and

talked.  The women were more relunctant and required 18 round-trip

flights from New York to Oregon for interviews.  “Pitch Perfect:  The

Quest for Collegiate A Capella Glory” appeared in 2008 and the book was

optioned to become a movie.  Negotiations with Disney bogged down, so

Rapkin began the search for another book project.

 

Mickey had always wanted to attend summer theatre camp as a kid.  His

new idea?  Attend the Stagedoor Manor in the Catskills, the one where

Natalie Portman and Robert Downey, Jr., had gone.  Mickey got the

go-ahead for his proposal, packed his bag, and spent the best three

weeks of his life among young people who lived and breathed theater

morning, noon, and night.  The result in 2010 was “Theater Geek.”

 

Rapkin was still at GQ and had a life of attending the Sun Dance Film

Festival, flying off to Milan for fashion week and then to London to

interview Gwyneth Paltrow.  Glamorous as it may sound, it was not the

life he wanted.  Rapkin, who wears work boots, wanted to write full

time.  So, last July, without anything lined up, Mickey Rapkin quit.

“They were shocked; I was shocked. But if you really want something

and you keep at it,” he told his rapt audience, “you can do it.  You can

make it happen.”

 

“Do you have any advice for young writers?” asked a student from

Poultney High School.

 

“Write for the school newspaper and write for blogs,” said Rapkin.

“Start a blog about something which interests you.”  Rapkin takes his

own advice and currently writes a magazine column about famous men

talking about women.

 

Mickey Rapkin had been introduced at the writing conference by an

obviously proud uncle, Jonas Rosenthal, Poultney’s town manager.  When

Jonas used to call his sister and asked how Mickey was, she would reply,

“Oh, he’s writing.”

 

Before his glamorous life and since, writing has been the constant in

Mickey Rapkin’s life, something Horace Greeley certainly would have

appreciated.

 

Things may change for Mickey Rapkin again, however, as the movie is now

set to go.  Shooting begins in three weeks.

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