Wednesday, July 25, 2007

An Interview with [Redacted]

The other day a friend asked me why [Redacted] is so hung up on concealing his identity. I had no ready, pat answer. I could only reply that he is a strange and interesting man. Thinking about it later I decided to put the question directly to [Redacted.] I called him at his North Atlantic retreat. Below is a transcription of the phone call—yes, I am that much of a geek that I recorded the interview.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

[Redacted]: Hello.

Me: Hey, [Redacted] it’s me.

[Redacted]: What’s going on John. Are you guys coming up?

Me: I dunno. We’re going away with Katie’s parents this weekend and my band is playing the week after that, so it looks like my free time is getting eaten up pretty quick this summer.

[Redacted]: That’s funny. I heard that you don’t do shit all day.

Me: Well, yeah, I mean notwithstanding that fact—listen, before I go any further, I have to let you know that I’ve hooked my minidisk player up to the phone and.


[Redacted]: Oh jeese. You’re recording this?

Me: Yeah.

[Redacted]: (Laughing) What the hell is wrong with you? Really man. What are you trying to do here?

Me: (chuckles) I don’t know [Redacted]. I’m just trying to find meaning and order in an otherwise orderless life.

[Redacted] Odorless? You lead an odorless life?

Me: Orderless. I said, “Orderless.”

[Redacted]: Is that a word? I mean wouldn’t you say “disorderly?”

Me: That’s what I meant.

[Redacted]: Well fuck. You’re supposed to be the writer. I’m just a [redacted]. Did you finish your book?

Me: I submitted the manuscript at the beginning of July. I’m sure the editor will have changes for me.

[Redacted]: Well no kidding, especially if you’re writing shit like “orderless.”

Me: . . .

[Redacted]: Are you really recording this?

Me: Yes.

[Redacted]: Such a jackass.

Me: Some things don’t change.

[Redacted]: No, I guess they don’t.

Me: So I wanted to ask you why you’re so against revealing your identity on the Internet.

[Redacted]: Well, I already told you that.

Me: Yeah, but I wanted to get it in your words.

[Redacted]: Did you ever hear the story that Nick Tosches tells about cheeseburgers?

Me: Yes, but you tell it.

[Redacted]: (sighs heavily) Alright, well Nick Tosches has never eaten a cheeseburger, and he’s like seventy. At a certain point in his life, he realized that he’d reached middle age without eating a cheeseburger and it became part of his identity. If he, I don’t know, ate a cheeseburger it would change him. He wouldn’t be Nick Tosches any more if he ate a cheeseburger.

Me: Has he ever eaten a hamburger?

[Redacted]: How am I supposed to know?

Me: I don’t know. It’s hard for me to believe that someone could go through life in the 20th century and avoid cheeseburgers the whole time unless he ruled out burgers as a class.

[Redacted]: I think it’s just cheeseburgers. He always says “cheeseburger” when he tells the story.

Me: What if he ate cheese and then a hamburger? Even separate bites. Does he apply Kosher meat and dairy rules? I don’t know about that story.

[Redacted]: What, you think Nick Tosches is lying?

Me: Over a lifetime of hamburger eating, it seems to me that somewhere along the line someone would have accidentally served him a cheeseburger. Tosches drinks at least socially, right? I don’t know about you, but I’ve put some things in my mouth while drinking that are otherwise not a regular part of my diet.

[Redacted]: Yeah, I guess we’ve all been there.


Me: So is that the only reason? You don’t want to start participating in the Web culture because you haven’t participated up to this point.

[Redacted]: Well that’s a big part of it.

Me: What’s the other part of it?

[Redacted]: Oh jeese. I don’t know John. It’s just silly, you know. I don’t get it. I don’t like looking at computers. I can’t type. No one’s ever shown me anything on a computer that’s better or more interesting than something I’ve seen in real life. So I just don’t want any part of it.

Me: How do you feel about the changes I’ve made to the posts about you?

[Redacted]: Well, I haven't looked at it lately. What did you do?

Me: I erased all references to any identifying characteristics. I use the term "Redacted" in place of your name. I put it in brackets.

[Redacted]: This is how you spend your time? Don't you have a motorcycle? And a girlfriend?

Me: Some people have said they enjoy reading it.

[Redacted]: (Laughing) They need to get a life. And so do you. Come up and stay for a little while in August.

Me: I’ll try. Okay, so I guess this is the end of the interview.

[Redacted]: Yeah, I gotta get back to work.

Me: Alright. If I have any more questions, can I call you again?

[Redacted]: Sure.

Me: Can I record the calls?

[Redacted]: Are you really recording this?

Me: Yes.

[Redacted]: Such a goddamned nut. Alright. Yeah, fine. Just don’t bug my house.

Me: No problem [Redacted]. I’ll talk to you soon.

[Redacted]: Bye now.

Me: Bye.

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