As part of my daily routine, I check out the Lexington Herald-Leader‘s online edition to scour the headlines and see if anything jumps out at me. I also use this time as an excuse to read the paper’s blogs, particularly those dedicated to the worlds of entertainment and pop culture.
On Monday, Rich Copley offered this blog/interview thingy, and the former reporter in me perked up. Here’s a nutshell version of what’s going on: Someone interviewed him for a blog under the condition he agrees to interview anyone who leaves a comment asking to be interviewed. Repeat as necessary.
So, not having often been on the interviewee side of the recorder/notepad, I signed up. Here are Rich’s questions (it appears he scanned my blog for some ideas, and I’m always glad to get one more reader, no matter how temporary it might be), followed by my answers.
1. You’re a former journalist. Why’d you leave the field, and what are your thoughts on journalism today? I’m not sure most journalists would like me being lumped in there with them, as Rich seems to be a bit loose with the language. But assuming that I am indeed a “journalist,” as my degree in journalism might attest to, I’ll run with it.
So, the easy answer is money. Despite the glitz and glamour most people associate with the life of a reporter, the profession is notorious for being on the low end of the salary spectrum. How low? I know people who made significantly less at a newspaper than they would if they worked at Sonic, if only they had learned to roller skate in college, or maybe elementary school.
I’m still in media, as I handle media relations, and that gives me some closeness to my former ilk, while also paying me enough money to be able to afford to buy the product they produce.
But, the truth is also that I was burned out. Severely burned out, and my boss (and everyone else around me) knew it. Eight years at a small, community newspaper is like dog years, so it was time for a change. I didn’t want to leave Central Kentucky just yet, so my reporting options were limited. My current job seemed to offer quite a bit of things I was interested in, so I tried that route and haven’t regretted it yet.
As for the other part, well, journalism today is exactly what the people want. They bitch and moan and complain about nonstop celebrity coverage, particularly things featuring Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton et al, but then don’t watch “important” news. Don’t get me wrong – as an entertainment junkie, I love pop culture news, which is why I subscribe to Entertainment Weekly and pour over the LHL’s Weekender every Friday. However, I expect more out of news services than constant coverage of Paris in crisis. Some papers, including Rich’s employers, seem to have embraced a happy middle ground and know when pop culture, e.g. Harry Potter, is worthy of the front page.
2. I think you and I are the only Mets fans in the Bluegrass. How did you get into them, and have you ever seen a game at Shea? I won’t lie about it, Rich: I jumped on the bandwagon. Of course, that was in 1986 and I was 10, so I think I can be forgiven, particularly since I’ve stuck with them all this time.
I think most people who don’t grow up in a particular region blessed with a pro sports team seem to pick a team of their own somewhere in the years 8-11. For me, everything about the Mets that year just seemed larger than life, and Doc Gooden, Daryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Gary Carter, Ray Knight and Mookie Wilson pretty much were larger than life. At the very least, most of them were very drunk and or coked out, even though I didn’t know that at the time.
All summer long, my love for the Mets just kept growing and growing, and by the time they defeated Boston in one of the best World Series ever, I was hooked, probably from some of the coke residue left over from one of their parties.
And, no, I have never been to Shea, although a stranger from New York invited me up as we waited for Pearl Jam to take the stage at Lollapalooza.
3. You say you’d never dress up as a Star Wars character, but if you could be a Star Wars character, who would it be? First, let me say that I’m not disparaging anyone who dresses up as a Star Wars character. I’ll save my comments for people who dress up as Star Trek characters.
I won’t even try to act cool here (and I’m speaking in relative terms, mind you, since we’re discussing a grown man dressing up as a Star Wars character) and try to say some obscure character that even George Lucas wouldn’t recognize.
No, for me it comes down to two people: Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker. Vader, at least in episodes IV and V, is the epitome of all things evil. Who wouldn’t want to crush an underlings throat, just by using the Force? It would be a great power, as well as an instant conversation starter. Then, the story of his redemption in ROTJ (that’s Return of the Jedi, for those of you who have a life and/or girlfriend), just completely humanizes him, which is a bold statement for a man in a big robotic armor.
And Luke, well, Luke redeems his petulant ways in IV and V with some amazing skills in ROTJ. The dude is, ahem, a Force to be reckoned with and knows it, particularly showing off his skills at Jabba’s palace.
As a child, I knew three truths:
1. I wanted to marry Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia. Unfortunately, she was already married to Paul Simon.
2. I hated Paul Simon.
3. I wanted to be Luke Skywalker when I grew up. Now, I didn’t really want to be Luke, per se, as I knew it was just a movie. What I thought, though, was that when it got remade in 20 years or so, I would play Luke. The only thing stopping me was that I couldn’t stand on one hand like Luke does in The Empire Strikes Back. I can’t believe I didn’t break my neck as I practiced and practiced, but I failed and failed and soon gave up.
When I found out George Lucas was making three prequels, I thought I would be the perfect choice to play Anakin Skywalker, if only to be able to tell the above story on all the late-night talk shows.
4. It appears you are quite the Lollapalooza fan. What was your first Lollapalooza, and what’s the best band you’ve ever seen there? Last year was my first Lolla experience, and I really hope to keep going in the future. I have so much fun despite the drama or the potential for it that accompanies me to Chicago.
Overall, I would say Pearl Jam put on the best show, combining the raw energy of a band 10-15 years younger with the hits that made them famous in the first place. They were amazing, and even though they’re one of my favorite bands, I was shocked at how much I enjoyed them.
Last year, Kanye West proved to be entertaining, despite repeated problems with his sound equipment. Maybe some of the fun was knowing someone was about to get in deep trouble because Kanye was getting incensed.
The Flaming Lips provided the most entertainment, what with giant hands a giant ball used to walk on top of the audience. Wilco, though, tops my list, as they are a) my favorite band; b) they were playing a hometown show; and c) it’s the first time I heard “Impossible Germany,” which might very well be my favorite Wilco song.
5. Do you think text messaging will lead to a previously undiscovered ailment? Yes, and when they do, they can call it Copley Tunnel Syndrome (note attempted use of humor and flattery by referencing interviewer in answer).
Actually, I’m fairly certain we’re safe because all those years of playing Nintendo never hurt my thumbs, even though I was truly convinced that the harder you pressed the buttons, the harder you would hit the ball (or punch an opponent or whatever).
The fact that the phone companies are moving toward QWERTY keypads, though, does give me significant pause.
So, that’s that. Now you see why I was the interviewer all these years – I’m really not all that interesting. If you think you are, though, leave a comment asking me to interview you. Here are the rules, predetermined by Alison Kerr, who started this.
1. Leave me a comment saying “interview me.”
2. I will respond by e-mailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog (so you have to have a blog) with a post containing your 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.