The rules are below, my answers to tamisevens, calamityjon and prettykate (edited to add: ezrael) are under the cut.
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your LJ with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
1. Where would you most like to travel?
Generally, I want to get to Europe as soon as possible – I’m 35 and still haven’t been overseas, which constitutes a major fuckup as far as I’m concerned. Like you, I want to live in France (or, to put it another way, I want to die in France); but I think the place I’d like to visit the most, and the place I’m planning on going first, is Ireland. I identify strongly with my Arab half, but my Irish half gets all the pretty scenery.
2. Will you ever be put in the position where you'll have to be financially responsible for someone other than yourself?
In a way, I feel like I already am. My girlfriend, I’m sure, already makes more money than I do, and her daughter gets child support from the father, so I’m not in a position to have to care for her. But we’ll be living together come August, and we have long-term plans to buy a house together someday, so I’ll at least be financially responsible for holding up my end of a family unit. It’s a concept that’s both exhilarating and scary as hell, but I can’t imagine anyone else who’d inspire me to get serious about that kind of shit the way ninafarina does.
3. Do you use a microwave on a fairly regular basis?
Nope. My microwave is used only for reheating; just about everything else I use the oven or the stove for. I’m a lot more picky about that stuff than I should be; I don’t really like microwaves, and I never cook with them. I don’t even really like electric stoves.
4. What do you think is the most bad-ass thing that someone can pierce?
Piercing anything seems pretty bad-ass to me. I guess piercing your genitalia would be pretty hardcore, since it would involve lots of unnecessary pain and thus mark you as a sort of urban-hipster G. Gordon Liddy, but I also think it would be pretty bad-ass to get your palms pierced like Jesus, or to have a bolt connecting your ass cheeks. Lung or spine studs would also be pretty awesome.
5. Why is this interview thing so fun??
Because people like talking about themselves.
1. By the wonders of Energon radiation poisoning, you - Leonard, boy assistant to the virtuous Autobots - have become a Transformer yourself! What is your Trans-Form (make it a vehicle or machine of some sort, no Dinobots) and what's your name and attitude?
Well, since there’s already an Apeface, I guess I’ll have to pick something else. My Trans-Form would be a 1969 Cadillac Fleetwood (one of the biggest production cars ever built – 228 1/2” long and weighing in at a solid five thousand pounds, so wide it looked like it took up two lanes on the freeway). My name would be “Slack-Jaw”, and my attitude would be that of an on-the-make hustler more interested in picking up girls and driving non-stop from one end of the country to the other for no reason than in screwing around with the goddamn Decepticons. Basically, I would sit around waiting for Hunter S. Thompson to jump into me and take me to Vegas.
2. Even if you have to paraphrase, what were the most heart-wrenching words you've ever read? (Personal, public, in a book, an article, anything is valid)
Hmmmm, a tough one. My girl has said stuff to me that has made my heart just burst with good feeling, but that’s probably not what you’re getting at…and there’s been other love-drama that’s whipped razors across the ol’ bloodbox, but that, too doesn’t seem to exactly fill the prescription. So, instead, I’ll let you in on a little secret:
Yes, I, Luca Brasi Jr., the originoo Thug Life, am sometimes moved to tears – but it’s rarely by love, or by sadness, or by joy. Instead, I am made to swallow heat and crush down my eyelids by something like righteous indignation, justifiable anger: I can be gotten by a really moving speech. When I read about people who have been fucked, and fucked hard; when I hear people speak or write who are genuinely and legitimately hurt and who aren’t going to fucking take it; when I see someone do something I consider authentically decent or heroic (and believe me, it doesn’t happen often): that can tear my insides up and make me cry and clench my fists like nobody’s business.
Examples: there’s more of them than you might expect from politics. Barack Obama’s speech at this year’s DNC did it a little, and Mario Cuomo’s speech (“There is despair, Mr. President; there is anger in the faces you can’t see from your shining city on the hill”) at the 1984 DNC did it a lot. There’s a good lot in war: almost any speech of Churchill’s during WWII; the words of Theodor Broch, the mayor of Narvik, Norway, after being forced to flee the country after the Nazi invasion (“It was a harsh land we had, but never had it been so delightful, so desirable as now… strangers had taken over our land. They would loot it and pluck it clean before we returned. But the country itself they could not spoil. The sea and the fjords and the mountains – to these we alone could give life. We were coming back. The mountains would wait for us.”).
But the one that just kills me the most, the one that just punches me in the heart every time, is from, of all places, a Negativland song. It’s “You Don’t Even Live Here”, one of the last tracks on Escape from Noise, and it’s a bunch of clanking, whootling Nega-noise under a verbatim recording of a woman in California protesting the contemptuous attitude of the local government and Pacific Gas & Electric towards the community not too long after Three Mile Island. The rage in her voice, the I’ve-had-as-much-of-this-shit-as-I’m-goi
“Sir, there are hundreds of people outside. They can't get in. You have even gagged us. You have not allowed us to speak at this hearing. We asked you to stop construction of the plant, and you didn't listen to us. You didn't listen even to your own two consultants on the Advisory Committee on the reactor's safeguards, when they said that this plant is dangerous. You don't have to talk. You don't even live here. You have no stake in this. You told us that a Class 9 accident was incredible. Our fellow citizens have learned too painfully that you were wrong again! The NRC said eight years ago money would never be a factor in licensing this plant. Yet today, self-righteously, you made claims that we've got to get this plant licensed because any delay costs the plant millions of dollars. Sir, may I remind you that, as tax-payers, we in this community pay your salary? As taxpayers, we pay the NRC's salaries. As wage-payers, we pay PG&E's salaries. We, sir, are paying for this whole goddamn proceeding, and you won't even let us talk!”
It tears my heart out. Every time.
3. You have a magic word which grants you the terrific powers to accomplish superhuman feats of glory and wonder. What's the word?
Do you mean a regular word, or an anagram a la SHAZAM? If it’s the former, I pick “BOOM”, because it’s easy to remember, and I think it would be fun to say “BOOM” and then commence to whompin’ on everybody’s ass. If it’s the latter, I pick “GABBA” (power of God, strength of Allah, wisdom of Buddha, bad-assitry of Baal, and hott-ness of Apollo), because then I would be like a Ramones/pinhead/Freaks superhero. And that would be awesome.
4. Neverminding the apple, in your mind, what would REALLY be the fruit of temptation ... and why?
The peach. Because they are delicious, impossible to resist (they’re way better than apples), and they kinda look like a butt.
5. You're the victim of a terrible airplane crash, where only you - as far as you can see - have survived. You watch the plane sink beneath the waves from the vantage of your empty liferaft, when you see what you think might be survivors. Instead, it turns out to be three pieces of luggage. The thought strikes you, you may be able to retrieve just one piece of luggage before they sink. It's desperate on your part, because you realize there MAY be something in one of these bags which could help you survive in this wide, desolate ocean, just long enough for help to arrive. Quick, they're sinking, do you salvage (A) the briefcase, (B) the diaper bag or (C) the well-worn rucksack before they go under, and why?
Oh, boy, a “Choose Your Own Adventure” question! Well, I wouldn’t pick the briefcase, because it would probably only contain paperwork, which isn’t going to help me much while I’m marooned at sea. I suppose it might have a cell phone in it, but most businessmen carry those on clips or in their pockets these days. Being intimately familiar with the contents of diaper bags these days, I know the only things in there will be diapers, handi-wipes, and maybe a bib, none of which is going to help me much. There might be a bottle, which could keep me alive for a bit, but I don’t think it’s enough to turn the tables. The well-worn rucksack would be my choice; it likely belongs to an active person, or at least a packrat, so there’s probably all kinds of widgets, doohickeys, electronics (the rucksack person is less likely than the briefcase person to CONSTANTLY need access to their phone, so I’m betting there might be one in it), books, and maybe even bottled water, granola bars, and shit like that.
1.) I like this question that I just gave Casey: What would make you vote for someone, even if you disagreed with almost everything else they said? What is the most important political issue to you? Is there one?
I don’t think there’s any way I would vote for someone if I disagreed with almost everything they said, unless they were running against Hitler or something, and even then I probably just wouldn’t vote. I don’t have a single most important political issue, but it all wraps up into class/economic justice issues: if you don’t think that everyone everywhere deserves to live with a minimum of dignity and comfort, if you don’t think the primary responsibility of government is to help people who need help the most, then you ain’t on my team.
2.) If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
See my answer to Tami.
3.) Can you keep up? Baby Boy? Make me lose my breath? Bring the noise? Make me lose my breath? Hit me hard? Make me lose my Ahhhh-haahhhh?
When the mornin’ sun comes up I’ll be there by your side – fetch your coffee in your favorite cup, do anything to keep you satisfied. Now people say this, people say that, people say they know where it’s at; but the proof of the pudding is in the pan, and I gotta be your man.
4.) Can you pay my Bills? Can you pay my Telephone Bills? Can you pay my Automo Bills?
I can’t even pay MY bills. But I could get you free tomaters.
5.)Charlie, How your Angels get down like that?
‘Cause I took them away from all that, and now they work for me.
1 - They've tried you for a crime you didn't commit and sentenced you to write the screenplay for a movie based on a Harry Stephen Keeler book. Which one would you choose? Why?
I would choose The Marceau Case. It's so long and ridiculously complicated that by the time I got done writing a treatment for the first section alone, my jailers would either have died, or gotten so bored with the project that they would simply let me go.
2 - List your top three obsessions and explain why you're obsessed with them.
Oh, man, what a hugely huge order. Just pinning down my top three obsessions is hard enough -- they tend to change at least once a year -- but explaining them would require a team of very patient psychiatrists. Still, I'll give it a shot:
I: Literature. I'm a fanatically devoted reader of almost anything and nearly everything; I read whenever I can, and when I can't read something new, I read something I've already read a hundred times. Why? Well, partly because I'm a writer, and being a writer generally necessitates being a reader. Partly because I find a lot of sheer joy in just knowing things. Partly because I think literature is a uniquely powerful thing, an inherently false and untrue thing that nonetheless uses the power of empathy, of metaphor, of irony to communicate useful truths across times and cultures. But mostly, I like made-up stories. I like to write them and I like to read them. When I find this world unsatisfying and poor, I can look into the works of someone who has built a different world with different rules out of nothing. When I find this world satisfying and rich, I can look into the works of someone who articulates and elucidates my joy in a way I never could.
II. Philosophy. I suppose I could expand this obsession to something madenningly vague like "language" (since, as a post-structuralist, I think that language is all), or narrow it down to something worthlessly specific like "literary theory" (probably the most pointless branch of philosophy, a field already not notable for its utility). But when it comes down to it, I'm obsessed with what people think about the world: what it is, what it means, whether it means anything, why we can't agree on what it means, whether it even exists. Why? Because it's the Big Issue. Philosophy is behind everything we do. Literature, politics, culture, society, even science are all answers to the questions philosophy poses. Everything we do, say, think and know (or think we know) is a suitable topic for philosophy, and without basic starting points in their philosophies, two people can never hope to communicate.
III. Comic books. I guess this is really a subset of literature (in particular its escapist elements, its overlap with art, its unique philosophical ramifications) -- only with big dudes in snazzy outfits who can do magic! I'm obsessed with superheroes, I'm sure, because I am an avoidant fantast in a state of retarded adolescence, but I spend an awful lot of time thinking about them and vacillating between regret that they don't exist and horror at the prospect of what the world would be like if they did.
3 - Imagine Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Nicholson Baker, J.G. Ballard, and Bret Easton Ellis in an elimination wrestling tournament. Who wins? And who does the winner get to fight in a Texas Torturga Torture match? And what the hell is a Texas Tortuga Torture match, anyway?
Well, I suppose I could be a smartass and note that since Ballard is dead, he's probably not going to win, but as loath as I am to do it (because I hate his writing so very, very much), I may have to go with Ellis. None of these are big or strong guys, and Ellis is pretty young and fit and he also has access to tons of drugs, which might give him a fighting edge. Winner gets partnered with Charles Bukowski in a tag match against Ernest Hemingway and Norman "Ernest Hemingway Jr." Mailer in a Texas Tortuga Torture match, which I'm guessing is the same as a Texas Death Match only it takes place in the Far Tortugas and it's torture for the viewers to have to endure all the blustering of these macho blowhards.
4 - Name a couple of bands you imagine I probably haven't heard of and tell me why I need their music.
Well, I'm taking a chance here, since your musical tastes are pretty broad and I have no idea what you've heard of, but here goes:
1. Hovercraft. You need them because you probably haven't been exposed to too many jam bands who specialize in hardcore industrial noise.
2. Muslimgauze. You need them because they're prolific, political, and because they perfected a fascinating blend of techno and Arabic music.
3. Mountain Goats. You need them because you can never get enough perfect quavery guitar-folk with brilliant, literary, depressing lyrics.
4. TV on the Radio. You need them because they're proof that not every Williamsburg band is insufferable, pretentious, self-absorbed and overrated.
5. Electric Wizard. You need them because they really are as advertised, the heaviest band in the universe.
5 - As a man who has written long commentaries on both the DC and Marvel encyclopedias of the 80's/90's, please comment on why some people need to know things like the size of ROM's jockstrap or how much lint the Abomination has to clean out of his bellybutton.
Well, there's a lot of really pathetic geeks in the world, and they have money to spend, and they have big chunks of their brains that aren't otherwise occupied remembering stuff like baseball statistics, interest rates, or their girlfriends' birthdays, so they gravitate to other meaningless pseudo-facts to prevent themselves from slipping into a coma and being sold as insulation to billionaires.