A Pompous Clown Answers Your Questions

After the other night’s “Chronicle” episode, I was besieged with messages from old readers, new readers and, I suspect, non-readers of this column. “Besieged” is not too strong a word, since the web site got about a gaziooion hits more than average, with most of those coming from first-time visitors. Welcome!

I will respond personally to each message over the next couple days, but a lot of folks had similar questions. I’ll try to answer some of them here:

1. Music must be important in the Tiny White Box. What do you listen to when you’re writing?

Honestly, I don’t listen to music when I write. I’m more likely to put on a podcast or audiobook and use the sounds of human voices as background. Still, I do listen to a lot of music. As a random sample, the last dozen artists I’ve listened to are:

The Weakerthans Ani DiFranco Dar Williams Daniel Amos The Hold Steady Philip Glass Bob Dylan Django Reinhardt Linda Thompson The Call John Cale Tonio K.

If there’s a theme there, I don’t recognize it, I mean other than music I enjoy.

2. Would you like to get together for breakfast/lunch/dinner/coffee/a weekend away in the Bahamas?

Since I got sober, I’ve made it a rule to never turn down free food, so, yes, email me and we’ll set up a time. As for the Bahamas, they’ve never really appealed to me. On the other hand, I do have a whole bunch of places I’d love to visit. For instance:

Madagascar Mauritania Kenya Nigeria Liberia

And that’s just Africa. If you are a woman, please review the last Q and A before booking our flight.

3. Don’t you get lonely?

That’s one symptom I’ve never suffered. In fact, as someone wiser than I once remarked, I’m never less lonely than when I’m alone. Walking through a crowded mall feels much more isolating and alienating to me than walking alone in the country.

4. You seem so serious and calm. What makes you angry?

“Serious” isn’t a word people who know me well would ever use. I speak slowly, which may make me sound thoughtful in brief doses—over time it becomes apparent I’m a pompous clown. This misimpression comes from skillful editing by Paul, the Chronicle editor, who is responsible for putting together the pieces of video, sound and other scraps and turning them into a tasteful segment.

I see a through-line from Jesus to Robin Hood to Superman to Martin Luther King, Jr. Hence it makes me angry when I see the strong taking advantage of the weak. The poor in spirit (and in finances) deserve a preferential option—and we all deserve to be protected from Kryptonite. Seriously, and this has driven crazy everyone in my life, when I do get angry I become even calmer and quieter.

5. What are you looking for in a woman?

First, I’m not looking for anything in anyone. I trust the universe will present me with funny, challenging and interesting people to interact with. I think I’m funny, I’ve heard I’m challenging and I’m interested in me, so I suspect others will be as well. If I were looking for a woman partner, I’d want her to be smart, attractive, funny and between 55 and 65. Independent wealth is always nice, since it makes travel so much more pleasant.

Although it’s my goal to die at the age of 92, shot in the back by a jealous husband, I’m not interested in married women. Also, I shy away from facial tattoos, heavy drinking and and barn burning convictions.

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