5 Machete Questions with Ian Belknap, the Dean of Mean

September 16, 2011

Surly but studious Ian Belknap is The Paper Machete's official Dean of Mean. He's also the host of the hit spoken-word show WRITE CLUB at the Hideout; the next show is Tuesday September 27 at 7 pm. We've asked him to play 5 Machete questions.

 
1. What's stuck in your craw this week, and how will you be approaching it in the Machete?
I'll be the first to concede that my craw is an exceptionally tiny aperture, in which stuff is GUARANTEED to get stuck. You could drop me in the middle of a sun-dappled meadow, throw a rock in any direction, and hit something that would piss me off. I believe that if you are not beside yourself with rage - I'm talking about really verging on the berserk more or less all the time - then you're just not paying attention. But this week in particular it is the phenomenon of the Renaissance Celebrity - the film star who has a parenting blog, the singer who publishes a book, etc. The epic self-absorption of these people and the towering presumption implicit in their insistence that they are qualified or entitled to occupy new and uncharted swaths of the Attention Landscape is sickening to me, and I want it stopped. My approach will be to persuade people that it is past time that somebody use Gwyneth Paltrow as a weapon to beat James Franco to death. My plan is rock solid. Justice shall be ours. Take back the night.
2. If you could do anything else on this Saturday afternoon besides perform against your will in the Paper Machete, it would be...
Swatting that Antonin Scalia in his face with one of those long-handled pizza paddles. Or launching "author" Dan Brown down those stone steps from "The Exorcist". Or dragging Glenn Beck around by his eyelids. Or executing bankers. Or napping. Probably napping, most likely. This time of year? Some classic napping weather.
3. In your entire schooling, what was the subject you in which you performed most poorly? Have you been required to demonstrate knowledge of that subject since?
Physics. Totally sucked at physics. Completely eluded me. Every time an object is launched at me, which happens with greater frequency than I care to admit, actually, it serves as a disastrous reminder of 
my failure to grasp the fundamentals of physics.
4. a) Name your favorite Palin or Smurf, and give at least one sentence of explanation. b) Name your least favorite Palin or Smurf, and give at least one sentence of explanation.
a) Track. The one you never hear a goddamn word about. And it's completely unfair to ask that single out any one Smurf, since they are, as a species, uniformly delightful. b) In descending order of the malice I bear them: Sarah, Bristol, Todd, Sheeran, Willow and Trig. In a fire, I would save the latter three. If there were no dogs in the house.

5. As a member of the Chicago performance-art community, what lucrative career do you now wish you'd chosen to pursue instead? 

There is no greater or more rewarding work than what I do. As long as one does not measure "reward" in money. Or recognition. 
Or fulfillment. 
Or prestige. 
Or contentment. 
But if I HAD to select another path, I'd rather be a provost someplace.
The Paper Machete is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It's always at 3 pm, it's always on Saturday, and it's always free. Listen to the most recent The Paper Machete Radio Magazine here, or download it from iTunes here.