WBEZ | interview http://www.wbez.org/tags/interview Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Obama Warns Campus Protesters against Urge to 'Shut Up' Opposition http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-edition/2015-12-23/obama-warns-campus-protesters-against-urge-shut-opposition <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/20151217_npr_obamainskeep_010_wide-c1dfe56dc8cafba6d141752544140058e55cb7c0-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res460394876" previewtitle="NPR's Steve Inskeep interviews President Obama at the White House."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="NPR's Steve Inskeep interviews President Obama at the White House." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/19/20151217_npr_obamainskeep_010_wide-c1dfe56dc8cafba6d141752544140058e55cb7c0-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="NPR's Steve Inskeep interviews President Obama at the White House. (Colin Marshall/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>In a wide-ranging interview with NPR&#39;s Steve Inskeep, President Obama had some advice for college protesters across the country.</p></div></div></div><p>Over the past several months, protests have occurred at schools such as the University of Missouri, Yale and Ithaca College over issues ranging from offensive Halloween costumes, to the racial climate and the lack of minority faculty at schools, to school administrators&#39; responses to racially insensitive vandalism and other incidents on campuses. Many of these protests have been led by students of color and draw inspiration from the Black Lives Matter movement.</p><p>Obama did not get into specifics about any particular recent protests and punted when asked whether schools like Harvard and Yale should get rid of symbols linked to slavery. But he did say that protesters on college campuses need to engage people they don&#39;t agree with, even as they protest.</p><p><strong>Watch the interview: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-edition/2015-12-21/obama-makes-no-apologies-fighting-isis-within-american-values" target="_blank">Obama Makes &#39;No Apologies&#39; for Fighting ISIS within &#39;American Values&#39;</a></strong></p><p>&quot;I think it&#39;s a healthy thing for young people to be engaged and to question authority and to ask why this instead of that, to ask tough questions about social justice,&quot; Obama told Inskeep. &quot;So I don&#39;t want to discourage kids from doing that.&quot;</p><p>But, he continued, &quot;As I&#39;ve said before, I do think that there have been times on college campuses where I get concerned that the unwillingness to hear other points of view can be as unhealthy on the left as on the right.&quot;</p><p>Obama pointed out instances where students protest &quot;somebody like the director of the IMF or Condi Rice speaking on campus because they don&#39;t like what they stand for.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Well, feel free to disagree with somebody,&quot; Obama said, &quot;but don&#39;t try to just shut them up.&quot;</p><p>&quot;My concern is not whether there is campus activism,&quot; Obama told Inskeep. &quot;I think that&#39;s a good thing. But let kids ask questions and let universities respond. What I don&#39;t want is a situation in which particular points of view that are presented respectfully and reasonably are shut down, and we have seen that sometimes happen.&quot;</p><p>NPR&#39;s Gene Demby has&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/12/17/459211924/the-long-necessary-history-of-whiny-black-protestors-at-college">written extensively</a>&nbsp;on the wave of protests sweeping across college campuses, noting that &quot;agitation for more resources, more active inclusion, more safe spaces and more black faculty has been a through line for black students on university campuses for generations.&quot; Demby also points out Obama&#39;s time at Harvard Law School, where he&nbsp;<a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/at-harvard-obama-dived-into-diversity-fight#.dcdGaMda">spoke out about faculty diversity</a>, an issue college protesters continue to raise.</p><p>Obama wrote of his time as a student activist at Occidental College in his memoir <em>Dreams from My Father</em>.&nbsp;On Feb. 18, 1981, he&nbsp;<a href="http://www.oxy.edu/our-story/oxy-people/obama-oxy">gave a speech urging Occidental to divest</a>&nbsp;of its investments in apartheid-era South Africa. To make the point that students in Africa were being silenced, Obama was dragged offstage by two white friends before he could finish the speech.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/12/21/460282127/obama-warns-campus-protesters-against-urge-to-shut-up-opposition?ft=nprml&amp;f=460282127" target="_blank"><em><u> via NPR</u></em></a></p></p> Wed, 23 Dec 2015 11:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-edition/2015-12-23/obama-warns-campus-protesters-against-urge-shut-opposition Obama Makes 'No Apologies' for Fighting ISIS within 'American Values' http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-edition/2015-12-21/obama-makes-no-apologies-fighting-isis-within-american-values <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/20151217_npr_obamainskeep_003-982321798949bfd5d792806c358aeb8f3e49a18a.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Stressing that his administration has &quot;been at this for a long time,&quot; President Obama launched a forceful defense of his strategy against ISIS in a <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/12/21/460030344/video-and-transcript-nprs-interview-with-president-obama" target="_blank">year-end interview with NPR</a>. He makes &quot;no apologies,&quot; he said, for wanting to target terror groups &quot;appropriately and in a way that is consistent with American values.&quot;</p><p>Speaking with Steve Inskeep, host of&nbsp;<em>Morning Edition</em>,&nbsp;Obama also urged Americans to &quot;keep things in perspective&quot; when it comes to ISIS, though he says he understands &quot;why people are worried.&quot;</p><div><p>&quot;This is not an organization that can destroy the United States,&quot; he said, nor is it a &quot;huge industrial power&quot; that poses great risks to the U.S. &quot;institutionally or in a systemic way. But they can hurt us, and they can hurt our people and our families.&quot;</p><div><p>Here&#39;s how he explained why remembering &quot;who we are&quot; will lead to ISIS&#39;s defeat:</p><div id="res460339453"><div style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MNop1dom1m8" width="560"></iframe></div><div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Obama added that while ISIS, which he refers to as ISIL, should be taken &quot;seriously,&quot; domestic terrorism acts have killed at least as many Americans &quot;as those who were promoted by jihadists.&quot; Since Sept. 11, 2001, 45 people have been killed in the United States at the hands of Islamist extremist-inspired terrorists, and 48 have been killed in domestic terrorist attacks, according to a&nbsp;<a href="http://securitydata.newamerica.net/extremists/deadly-attacks.html" target="_blank">count</a>&nbsp;from the New America Foundation.</p><p>Though Obama expressed deep confidence in his approach to fighting ISIS, he is facing a country with just as much criticism of that strategy &mdash; only 30 percent of Americans surveyed in a recent Gallup Poll approve of his handling of ISIS.</p><p>He said he understands where some of that sentiment comes from and that people are legitimately concerned about terrorism &mdash; though he says that fear is fueled in part by the media. &quot;If you have been watching television for the last month, all you have been seeing, all you have been hearing about is these guys with masks or black flags who are potentially coming to get you,&quot; he said.</p><p>He also believes there was a failing on his administration&#39;s part in not better informing the public of action that has been taken to fight ISIS.</p><p>&quot;So if people haven&#39;t seen the fact that in fact 9,000 strikes have been carried out against ISIL, if they don&#39;t know that towns like Sinjar that were controlled by ISIL have been taken back, or that a town like Tikrit, that was controlled by ISIL, now has been repopulated by previous residents, then they might feel as if there is not enough of a response,&quot; he said.</p><p>Obama also addressed the criticism from Republican presidential candidates, who have hit at his strategy frequently and forcefully on the campaign trail and in debates. The president&#39;s name came up at least 35 times in last week&#39;s Republican debate in relation to national security or ISIS. Diverging from the president, some called for leaving Syria&#39;s Bashar Assad in power to protect the country from falling to ISIS, while others pressed for widespread bombing of regions controlled by ISIS. In a year-end news conference last Friday, Obama reiterated that for the sake of stability in the region, he believes Assad must go.</p><div id="res460323339"><aside aria-label="pullquote" role="complementary"><p>Speaking to NPR, Obama responded to those strategies, saying that more bombs are not the answer. &quot;Well, when you listen to them, though, and you ask, &#39;Well, what exactly are you talking about?&#39; &#39;Well, we are going to bomb more,&#39; &quot; he said. &quot;Well, who is it you are going to bomb? Where is it that you are going to bomb? When you talk about something like carpet-bombing, what do you mean?&quot;</p></aside></div><p>&quot;If the suggestion is that we kill tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent Syrians and Iraqis, that is not who we are,&quot; the president continued. &quot;That would be a strategy that would have enormous backlash against the United States. It would be terrible for our national security.&quot;</p><p>The overall criticism from the Republican candidates boils down to a sentiment that Obama isn&#39;t showing enough strength against ISIS. At the Republican debate last week, Ted Cruz said, &quot;ISIS is gaining strength because the perception is that they&#39;re winning. And President Obama fuels that perception.&quot; Marco Rubio blamed the president for &quot;outsourcing&quot; foreign policy.</p><div id="res460430691"><aside aria-label="pullquote" role="complementary"><p>Obama, as he often has during his presidency, used a long-game defense. The one piece of advice he would leave the next president when it comes to battling ISIS, he said, is that it&#39;s &quot;important not just to shoot but to aim.&quot;</p></aside></div><p>Obama did have rare praise, though, for one GOP presidential candidate.</p><p>&quot;It is important in this seat to make sure that you are making your best judgments based on data, intelligence, the information that&#39;s coming from your commanders and folks on the ground, and you&#39;re not being swayed by politics,&quot; Obama said.</p><p>&quot;What&#39;s interesting is that most of the critics have not called for ground forces,&quot; he said. &quot;To his credit, I think Lindsey Graham is one of the few who has been at least honest about suggesting &#39;here is something I would do that the president is not doing.&#39; He doesn&#39;t just talk about being louder or sounding tougher in the process.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div><em>Listen to more of NPR&#39;s interview with President Obama this week on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/12/21/460281332/obama-makes-no-apologies-for-fighting-isis-within-american-values?ft=nprml&amp;f=460281332" target="_blank">Morning Edition.</a></em></div></div></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 21 Dec 2015 08:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-edition/2015-12-21/obama-makes-no-apologies-fighting-isis-within-american-values NPR's Kelly McEvers celebrates an anniversary, talks Cubs http://www.wbez.org/nprs-kelly-mcevers-celebrates-anniversary-talks-cubs-113453 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEDS%20KellyMcEvers-8x10_2.jpg" style="height: 313px; width: 250px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="(Courtesy of NPR" /></p><p>NPR&#39;s Kelly McEvers is marking her one-month anniversary as one of the two new hosts of <em>All Things Considered</em>. She and fellow newcomer Ari Shapiro join Audie Cornish and Robert Siegal.</p><p>Kelly got her start right here in Illinois but many of us got to know her work during her time as a reporter on the national desk and as a Middle East correspondent.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong><a href="http://transom.org/2013/diary-of-a-bad-year-a-war-correspondents-dilemma/" target="_blank">&quot;Diary of a Bad Year: A War Correspondent&rsquo;s Dilemma&quot;</a></strong></p><p><em>All Things Considered</em> Host Melba Lara talked with McEvers about her career covering conflicts around the world, her ties to Illinois, and predictions for her &#39;Cubbies&#39;.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 21 Oct 2015 15:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/nprs-kelly-mcevers-celebrates-anniversary-talks-cubs-113453 The Nancy Jo Sales interview: A talk with the author of 'The Bling Ring' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-06/nancy-jo-sales-interview-talk-author-bling-ring-107549 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/nancy_jo_sales.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Photo: Jayne Wexler" />In 2010, today&#39;s interviewed published an article in Vanity Fair called &quot;<a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2010/03/billionaire-girls-201003" target="_blank">The Suspects Wore Louboutins</a>,&quot; which now you can read in a longer form in a new book called <a href="http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/0062245538" target="_blank"><em>The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World</em></a> as well as see in a soon-to-be-released movie by the same title directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Emma Watson. Nancy Jo Sales is an award-winning journalist, editor and author who has written for <em>Vanity Fair, New York, Harper&#39;s Bazaar</em> and many other publications covering subjects like Angelina Jolie, Hugh Hefner, Russell Simmons, Taylor Swift, Tyra Banks and Paris Hilton. You can read a lot more about her <a href="http://nancyjosales.com/home/" target="_blank">here</a>.</p><p><strong>What were some of the challenges of turning the article into a book, aside from the quick turnaround time?</strong><br />The sheer physical effort was pretty intense. I felt like I was running a marathon. I didn&rsquo;t sleep very much. The book was constantly running through my head, which was both interesting and distracting.</p><p><strong>You were on the other line of one of my favorite <em>Soup </em>clips of all time, so I have to know, what did Alexis&rsquo; final voicemail actually sound like, and were you surprised by her reaction to the piece?</strong><br />I was surprised that someone who was being charged with burglary was upset that I had allegedly misidentified her shoes! I found the whole thing very confusing.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/2xb-gCV59WU" width="420"></iframe></p><p><strong>Something that&rsquo;s funny and sad to me is that Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan already seem a bit passe compared to a few years ago. Has starlet/fame-worship culture changed, do you think, since your original article? (Perhaps influenced by the prevalence of Twitter?) </strong><br />Those particular starlets have faded&mdash;although Paris seems to be enjoying a little comeback with <em>The Bling Ring</em> movie&mdash;but I don&rsquo;t think our culture&rsquo;s focus on celebrities has diminished at all. If anything, I think the amount of celebrity &ldquo;news&rdquo; (which isn&rsquo;t really news), celebrity talk, and trash talk has increased.</p><p><strong>I already thought of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan as being a bit desperate in terms of fame, so the <em>Bling Ring</em> were somewhat bottom feeders of celebrity. What was the victims&rsquo; reaction to the thieves&rsquo; becoming famous?</strong><br />In the book I quote Paris calling them &ldquo;scumbags&rdquo; [and] quote from the grand jury testimony in which the celebrities describe coming home to find their homes ransacked. The thieves took tons of stuff&mdash;&ldquo;bags and bags&rdquo; of stuff, says Audrina Patridge. They developed a method where they would go in, find suitcases, and start filling them up. So, even though these celebrities were famous, privileged people, I think their testimony shows how they were true victims of serious crimes. And they all seemed very traumatized by it. Lindsay said she was so freaked out she could never return to the house they robbed, and she didn&rsquo;t.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Party girls are not a recent innovation: are there any &ldquo;famous for being famous&rdquo; starlets of old that you think an Alexis Neiers could benefit from reading up on?</strong><br />&ldquo;Party girls&rdquo; started with the flapper era, really. Joan Crawford was maybe the original party girl, known for dancing on tables in nightclubs, just like Paris Hilton. The 30s had many movies about high-spirited heiresses getting into trouble (including<em> It Happened One Night</em>). The real party girls of Hollywood who didn&rsquo;t achieve that kind of Crawford-level fame often met bad ends, including Virginia Rappe (who died at a wild party in San Francisco; Fatty Arbuckle was charged with accidentally killing her) and Elizabeth Short (&ldquo;The Black Dahlia&rdquo;).</p><p><strong>How much did Sofia Coppola consult with you prior to or while making the film? What parts of the movie seem distinctively her as opposed to the story you covered? </strong><br />We met several times in New York while she was writing the script. We talked about the story and the characters and the themes in the story, i.e. celebrity obsession, social media obsession, materialism and conspicuous consumption. We talked about kid culture today. The movie is like a roman a clef, a thinly veiled account of the facts. The basic story is there but the style and atmosphere is all Sofia.</p><p><strong>What are some of your favorite other sidelong looks at the nature of fame in pop culture? </strong><br /><em>The Day of the Locust</em> by Nathanel West, the movie <em>To Die For </em>with Nicole Kidman, <em>Sunset Boulevard</em>, of course, and Lisa Kudrow&rsquo;s brilliant show about a reality star, <em>The Comeback</em>, to name just a few. Fame is such a theme in American culture, there are so many.</p><p><strong>I know from speaking to other celebrity profiling reporter friends that it&rsquo;s a job that&rsquo;s not as glamorous or glitzy as it looks, but I always have wondered how one does become a writer who is entrusted to eat lunch with Angelina Jolie. What were the first few stories that broke you through to being a trusted celebrity reporter? </strong><br />As a young freelance reporter I started doing these really small Q and As for the <em>New York Times Magazine </em>in the mid-90s. Somehow I got assigned Jerry Lewis and John Cleese. I love them both, and in both cases what was supposed to be a 15 minute interview turned into like two hours. They made me laugh. I still have Jerry&rsquo;s fax to me after the interview, which says, &ldquo;It was fun today&hellip;. Thank you for a great sense of humor.&rdquo; I cherish it.</p><p><strong>For those aspiring to do what you do, what have been some of the most important lessons you&rsquo;ve learned about how to interact with celebrities and what to expect when you write about them? </strong><br />Just be natural and listen, and don&rsquo;t have an agenda. I try and forget everything I&rsquo;ve read about this person at the moment of the interview and just let them tell me about themselves.</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 351st person interviewed for Zulkey.com/WBEZ?</strong><br />I&rsquo;m very honored.</p><p><em>You can find a lot more interviews <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/interviews.php">here</a>. Follow Claire Zulkey&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/Zulkey">@Zulkey</a></em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 07 Jun 2013 08:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-06/nancy-jo-sales-interview-talk-author-bling-ring-107549 The Stephen Rodrick interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-05/stephen-rodrick-interview-107320 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sr.authorpic%20final2.jpg" style="float: right; height: 428px; width: 300px;" title="Author Stephen Rodrick (Jeff Minton)" />Stephen Rodrick&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://www.themagicalstranger.com/#!the-book/cdjd" target="_blank">The Magical Stranger: A Son&#39;s Journey Into His Magical Life</a>,&quot; explores the life of his father, a Navy pilot who died when his plane crashed into the ocean, through the lens of current members of his dad&#39;s former squadron as he traveled with them on their aircraft carrier. You may also know him as the <em>New York Times</em> author of &quot;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/magazine/here-is-what-happens-when-you-cast-lindsay-lohan-in-your-movie.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">Here Is What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in Your Movie</a>,&quot; the fascinating look at...well, you can figure it out. <span class="font_8">He is a contributing writer for <em><span class="italic">The New York Times Magazine</span></em> and a contributing editor for <span class="italic"><em>Men&#39;s Journal</em> and </span></span><span class="font_8">his work has been anthologized&nbsp; in <span class="italic">The Best American Sports Writing</span>, <span class="italic">The Best American Crime Writing</span> and <span class="italic">The Best American Political Writing</span></span><span class="font_8">. He has also written for <em><span class="italic">New York</span>, <span class="italic">Rolling Stone</span>, <span class="italic">GQ</span>,</em> and <em><span class="italic">The New Republic</span></em>. </span>Chicagoans, you can watch him speak Thursday&nbsp;<a href="http://www.medill.northwestern.edu/newsreleases/archives.aspx?id=221657" target="_blank">at Northwestern</a> and later&nbsp;<a href="http://newcityrodrick.eventbrite.com/#" target="_blank">at the Boarding House</a>, so check him out.</p><div><div><div><div><p><strong>I know a lot of people in the book opted not to read it until it came out, but how much did you feel compelled to alert about what you would publishing about them?</strong><br />Not as many as you&#39;d think. Most of my family members and the guys in the Navy said &quot;Write what you see.&quot; That was incredibly freeing. The only person who got a pre-read was my Mom and we worked out her problems with it, that wasn&#39;t easy, but we got through it.</p><p><strong>Why now?</strong><br />My dad&#39;s plane, the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northrop_Grumman_EA-6B_Prowler" target="_blank">EA-6B Prowler</a> was finally being retired. It was my Dad&#39;s plane. If I was going to follow his old plane with his final squadron it had to be now. So that was a great motivator.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>In <a href="http://www.theawl.com/2013/05/how-to-write-about-tragedy-andor-lindsay-lohan-advice-from-stephen-rodrick" target="_blank">an interview with the Awl</a> you discuss your initial efforts to sell the story, which were unsuccessful. As a magazine writer I imagine you have a lot of experience pitching stories: what&rsquo;s the difference when it&rsquo;s your own life, both in terms of the pitch and how you feel if it gets passed on?</strong><br />Actually, I wasn&#39;t unsuccessful. I sent in my proposal, my agent slapped a cover page on it and we had an auction a few days later. The editor I mentioned passed on it, but there were other offers on the table thank goodness. We sent it out to probably seven or eight places, some passed, some didn&#39;t. The different in pitching this versus a magazine piece is I knew what I wanted to do and was prepared to take less money from a place that would let me tell the story as I wanted it to be written. That isn&#39;t always possible in magazines.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>What are some of the biggest real-life cliches about living on an aircraft carrier?</strong><br />The noise. You can not imagine how loud the flight deck is. You can not imagine how a catapult launch will nearly shake you out of your bunk. There is noise everywhere and all the time.</p></div><strong>What&rsquo;s one (or two or three) things you wished you had packed for carrier life that you hadn&rsquo;t?</strong><br />I wished I&#39;d packed ear plugs and more clothes. Trying to do laundry on a boat with 5,000 men and women was a real &quot;Lord of the Flies&quot; experience.</div><br /><strong>In that Awl interview you talk about the parallels between being a military kid and the transience of a magazine writer&rsquo;s life. For someone considering doing what you do, what tips do you have for making it easier to pick up and move quickly to a new story and location?</strong><br />An understanding spouse. If you don&#39;t have a partner who is independent enough to survive when you&#39;re gone 10 weeks of the year, it&#39;s going to be tough. And try to park yourself in a place where stories are happening all around. If you&#39;re in Chicago, stay in Chicago. Plenty of great stories here.</div><br /><strong>I&rsquo;m curious how you pitched the Lindsay Lohan story to your editor at the <em>Times</em>, because while it was a story about Lindsay Lohan and what a mess she is, obviously it was much more than that.&nbsp;</strong></div><p>It was really simple: Lindsay Lohan. Bret Easton Ellis. Paul Schrader. The porn star next door. Complete access. That story was green-lighted in about ten minutes. That is the exact opposite of most pitches and it was because I knew Schrader a little and I emailed him directly and didn&#39;t have to go through a squadron of publicists. Lohan&#39;s people balked, but Schrader insisted to his everlasting credit.<br /><br /><strong>How much do you hold on to grudges when it comes to stories you&rsquo;ve pitched and believed in, that got killed? Are there any that you still lament didn&rsquo;t see the light of day?</strong><br />I try not to bear grudges, but there is a certain pain when you see your idea at another magazine simply because you couldn&#39;t convince your editor of the idea. It doesn&#39;t get easier as you get old. <a href="http://gawker.com/376100/i-love-being-a-caricature-julia-allison-profiled-as-car+stealing-blithe-spirit" target="_blank">I did a story on Wilmette native Julia Allison</a> who was basically internet famous for no real reason. It got killed by <em>New York</em> and I place it elsewhere. I think it&#39;s one of my best profiles and it&#39;s a bummer it didn&#39;t reach a larger audience</p><div><div><div><strong>Which athletes, either who you&rsquo;ve profiled or you&rsquo;ve just followed as a fan, do you think have established some of the best post-athletic-career lives and careers?</strong></div><div>That&#39;s a good question. Many of the players I written about&mdash;Brett Favre, Riddick Bowe, Dennis Rodman&mdash;has struggled mightily in retirement. Grant Hill is retiring this year. I suspect he will do great things<br /><br /><strong>What are some of your favorite pieces of creative nonfiction?</strong></div><div>Updike&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://www.baseball-almanac.com/articles/hub_fans_bid_kid_adieu_article.shtml" target="_blank">Hub Fans Bid The Kid Adieu.</a>&quot; Anything by Julian Barnes. The flying stuff by James Salter is the best.<br />&nbsp;</div><div><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 350th person interviewed for Zulkey.com/WBEZ?</strong><br />Grateful and unworthy.</p></div></div></div><p><em>Follow Claire Zulkey&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/Zulkey">@Zulkey</a> You can find previous Zulkey.com interviews <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/interviews.php" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 23 May 2013 07:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-05/stephen-rodrick-interview-107320 The Jon Ronson interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-05/jon-ronson-interview-107111 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ronson%2C_Jon_by_Barney_Poole_-_for_PSYCHO_TEST.jpeg" style="float: right; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="Author and filmmaker Jon Ronson (Photo courtesy of Barney Poole)" />Jon Ronson is one of those writers who embodies what creative nonfiction is all about by demonstrating just how strange and wonderful the world can be. A Welsh journalist, documentary filmmaker, radio presenter and nonfiction author, his books include<em> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Them-Adventures-Extremists-Jon-Ronson/dp/0743233212">Them: Adventures With Extremists</a></em>, <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Psychopath-Test-Journey-Through-Industry/dp/1594485755/ref=la_B001H6KH4U_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1368141216&amp;sr=1-1">The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry</a></em> and most recently <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Sea-Jon-Ronson-Mysteries/dp/1594631379/ref=la_B001H6KH4U_1_2?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1368141216&amp;sr=1-2">Lost At Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries</a></em>. His book <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Men-Who-Stare-Goats/dp/1439181772/ref=la_B001H6KH4U_1_4?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1368141271&amp;sr=1-4">The Men Who Stare At Goats</a></em> was turned into a movie starring George Clooney. You can learn a lot more about him <a href="http://www.jonronson.com/">here</a>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>I saw that you have <a href="http://www.jonronson.com/faq.html">a standing reply</a> on your website that you will not investigate people&rsquo;s claims that they are victims of mind control. Aside from that, what personal information do your readers tend to volunteer to you most frequently?</strong></div><div>That they are married to psychopaths. Or that they&#39;re worried they may be psychopaths. There is an adage in psychology that if you&#39;re worried you may be a psychopath that means you aren&#39;t one. Because psychopaths never worry about being psychopaths. They&#39;re FINE with it. Which makes me suspect that psychopathy is the most pleasant feeling of all the mental disorders.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Isn&#39;t it interesting that so many people share the exact same delusion - that they&#39;re being mind controlled by the CIA. When our brains go wrong they go wrong in uncannily similar ways. It shows that we aren&#39;t all individual snowflakes. My guess is that some of the people who believe they&#39;re mind control victims actually suffer from a rare disorder called Delusional Disorder. The symptoms include &#39;non-bizarre&#39; delusions. That delusion is non-bizarre because some people over the years HAVE actually been mind controlled by the CIA.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Of the different cultures you&rsquo;ve written about, what have been some that seemed most tempting to join up with, even if just in theory?</strong></div><div>I had a good time writing the story Running Through Cornfields for my first book, <em>Them</em>, about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Secret_Rulers_of_the_World">Rachel Weaver</a>, one of the survivors of Ruby Ridge. But that&#39;s just because I liked Idaho and&nbsp;Montana. The rivers and mountains. But I guess that&#39;s not a great reason to become a white separatist. Anyway, they&#39;d never have me.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>How can you tell which media are right for which subjects (what works well for radio, web, books, etc?)</strong></div><div>Sometimes it&#39;s just whoever is interested in having me work with them at any particular time. I go in and out of favor with different people. For instance, British nonfiction TV has no interest in me at the moment. Sometimes the subject matter dictates it. I once made a documentary about the band The Shaggs that I knew had to be for the radio. There was no way I could do that story without getting to play their music. Here it is:&nbsp;</div><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/3lhfKJauQV4" width="420"></iframe></p><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But the thing I&#39;m always looking for is an adventure that might become a book. Whenever I do a documentary or a feature I&#39;m always wondering if it could be a rabbit hole that takes me to a book.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I remember asking Christiane Kubrick - when I was making my film <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htQq3oYO5sI">Stanley Kubrick&#39;s Boxes</a> - what her husband was looking for during those ever&nbsp;lengthening&nbsp;gaps between films. She said, &quot;The magical moment of falling in love with a story.&quot; I know that feeling well. Whenever I start a story I look for that magical moment of falling in love with it enough that it may become a book.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Who are some of your &quot;favorite&quot; criminals (&quot;favorite&quot; of course meaning compelling, not as in you&rsquo;d want to move in with them).</strong></div><div>I loved my&nbsp;adventures&nbsp;with David Icke and Alex Jones in <em>Them</em>, infiltrating <a href="http://www.jonronson.com/them_bohemia.html">Bohemian Grove</a> with Alex. Not sure he counts as a criminal. <a href="http://blog.ted.com/2012/08/15/the-complexities-of-the-psychopath-test-a-qa-with-jon-ronson/">Tony in </a><em><a href="http://blog.ted.com/2012/08/15/the-complexities-of-the-psychopath-test-a-qa-with-jon-ronson/">The Psychopath Test</a>.</em> I liked him personally, and also he was mysterious. He claimed to have faked madness to escape a prison&nbsp;sentence&nbsp;and now he was stuck in a hospital for the criminally&nbsp;insane and&nbsp;nobody&nbsp;believed he was sane. I loved trying to work out if he was insane or not. It opened up such an interesting area about how we view and judge other people, how we read between lines, how morally corrosive it can be.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>If you had to teach a ten-minute course on interviewing, what advice would you be sure to impart upon your students?</strong></div><div>This could be terrible advice, but don&#39;t plan any questions in advance. That way you have to listen.&nbsp;You&nbsp;have to be a twig in the tidal wave of the&nbsp;conversation. But not preparing any questions doesn&#39;t mean don&#39;t do research. Do lots of research, just assimilate it, rather than plan and structure the interview. As I say, that might be the worst advice.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>You immerse yourself so fully in the stories you write. What have been some scenarios where you were conducting research or interviews and then found yourself in a potentially unsafe environment?</strong></div><div>The most recent time was writing <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B005ZOCFNQ/boingboing">The Amazing Adventures of Phoenix Jones</a>, which is in my new collection, <em>Lost At Sea</em>. He&#39;s the real life superhero I was patrolling with in Seattle. He took me to Belltown to break up a gang of armed crack dealers. They were, &quot;What the f*ck are you doing coming here in your costumes? This is not fun and games to us. If you don&#39;t get off our block we&#39;re going to shoot you.&quot; And Phoenix said, &quot;We&#39;re staying.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>What are you reading right now?</strong></div><div>Nothing. I&#39;m watching <em>Freaks and Geeks</em> on Netflix. I think it&#39;s just about the best thing I ever saw. It breaks my heart that they only made one series. It makes me feel so helpless that I can&#39;t go back in time and fix it so they made more. It&#39;s like finding out someone died. Although I did notice one or two jumping the shark moments in the last episode or two - like James Franco liking Dungeons and Dragons. So maybe it was for the best that it died young and left a good looking corpse.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Do you stay in touch with anyone you write about?</strong></div><div>I would like to stay in touch with everyone. I consider it a real&nbsp;honor&nbsp;and&nbsp;compliment&nbsp;if people want to stay in touch with me after I&#39;ve written about them. Even if we massively disagree with each other politically, I always think we&#39;ve been thought something intimate together when we&#39;ve had some kind of encounter or adventure. They feel like family members.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>What have been some of your most recent obsessions, even if they were only fleeting? (I for instance spent part of today googling Aleister Crowley and his ilk.)</strong></div><div>Ha. Last few days I&#39;ve looked at <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disappearance_of_Maura_Murray">the disappearance of Maura Murray</a>, workplace bullying and Amanda Palmer.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>What&rsquo;s a potential story topic you figured would be rich for material but turned out to be relatively banal, and then another where you stumbled upon a wormhole in an unexpected place? &nbsp;</strong></div><div>The saddest example of a story that went nowhere was&nbsp;the months trying to write a book about the credit card industry. This was before the crash.&nbsp;I realized was that all these people who work in the credit industry &ndash; the list brokers, all these people who&rsquo;ve got these devious tricks to&nbsp;keep us ensnared &ndash; are really important. But they are also incredibly boring. They couldn&#39;t light up the page for me. So I abandoned the book. And instead I went to Alaska to write my story <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2006/dec/23/weekend.jonronson1">Santa&#39;s Little Conspirators</a>, that ended up in <em>Lost at Sea</em>, my new collection. That was about&nbsp;shenanigans&nbsp;in a Christmas theme town.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The opposite - a story I wasn&#39;t into but turned out to be extraordinary - was going to Hawaii to interview a soldier called Glenn Wheaton. He had been part of the US Military&#39;s <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_viewing">remote viewing program</a>. The&nbsp;psychic&nbsp;spies. I really didn&#39;t have any interest in them. The writer Jim Schnabel had already written a very intricate book about them called <em>Remote Viewers</em>. I felt like I was&nbsp;telling&nbsp;a story that was already known. It was really miserable for me. While I was interviewing him we got talking about the &#39;other stuff&#39; they were doing. He said they were trying to become invisible and kill goats just by staring at them. So the wormhole opened up. And I ended up writing <em>The Men Who Stare At Goats</em>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Factchecking your work must be thrilling and exhausting. Which stories of yours were the most difficult to clear before publishing?</strong></div><div>I don&#39;t remember ever having much of a problem. I&#39;m pretty assiduous when I&#39;m gathering the stories. So fact checking is&nbsp;usually&nbsp;fine.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>How does it feel to be the 348th person interviewed for &nbsp;<a href="http://zulkey.com/WBEZ?">Zulkey.com/WBEZ?</a></strong><br />It feels good!</div></p> Fri, 10 May 2013 08:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-05/jon-ronson-interview-107111 Q&A with Julie Klausner, author of 'Art Girls Are Easy' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-05/qa-julie-klausner-author-art-girls-are-easy-107004 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Julie-Klausner-1844.jpg" style="float: right; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="Julie Klausner (Photo by Mindy Tucker)" />You <em>probably </em>know Julie Klausner from <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/2010/08/the_julie_klausner_interview.php">my 2010 interview with her</a>. If not for that, maybe her memoir <em>I Don&#39;t Care About Her Band</em> or her personable podcast <a href="http://howwasyourweek.libsyn.com/">How Was Your Week</a>. Starting Tuesday, you will also know her for her role as Young Adult author, as her new book <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Art-Girls-Easy-Julie-Klausner/dp/0316243620">Art Girls Are Easy</a>, </em>a funny and romantic summer camp romp with an artsy twist, will be released May 7. I asked Julie what it&#39;s like wearing a new YA hat, and below that, check out an excerpt from the book.</p><p><strong>How hard or easy was it to switch gears into YA writing? What challenges did it pose?</strong><br />It&#39;s completely tough to write a book, period. But switching gears into fiction was absolutely challenging, if only because I had to make sure I wasn&#39;t using my own voice the whole time when I was writing&mdash;whether it was in the description or in the dialogue. I don&#39;t have a lot of experience writing fiction. Part of that is because I have such a loud nonfiction voice. I am who I am. Another element of the challenge of having to sit down and make sh*t up is imagination. As I grow older, I become more and more fearful that I have little to no imagination. The kind of abilities I had as a little kid to just play and make things up as you went along. So, I had to get past that fear to crack the story, and then to write in the voices of the kids I invented. But as far as it being a challenge from a YA perspective, I honestly have to say that I just tried to be true to the material, and I didn&#39;t think of the audience as being below or necessarily less sophisticated than somebody I would usually write for. I didn&#39;t dumb down my prose&mdash;or, I tried not to.</p><p><strong>You don&#39;t have to give us details (but feel free to), but how much of the book was inspired by your own young adulthood?</strong><br />I absolutely relate to the main character in the book. I was a very emotionally intense adolescent, very interior. I was eaten alive by my own passions, which were equal parts artistic drive and sexual madness. That&#39;s where I drew the inspiration for Indigo&#39;s tumult. Her conflict is more internal than it is a concrete struggle with her best friend. She does have some love affair gone sour stuff with her best friend Lucy, but the main plot exists within Indigo, I think. As far as the setting, I did go to a Fine and Performing Arts sleepaway camp, but it wasn&#39;t like Silver Springs at all, insomuch as the counselors were NOT sleazy and I will go on record as saying nobody ever tried to make out with me at the time. Which is still disappointing.</p><p><strong>What YA books have inspired you, either when you were a young adult or now in your general adulthood?</strong><br />The first Gossip Girl novel, by Cecily Von Ziegesar, was a huge inspiration, in terms of when I was first researching the genre and my agent suggested I see what was out there. I was so impressed by its satire and humor and its references, as well as by its structure. It read like a television show in how it was laid out; each scene introduced a couple of characters and they all converged in the middle and at the end. I mean this as a huge compliment. So, that absolutely encouraged me to write one of my own. AS far as growing up, like everybody else I was shaped by Judy Blume&#39;s opus, but I also want to give a shout-out to <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Paula-Danziger/e/B000APCI5K">Paula Danziger</a>. She wrote some steamy&mdash;for me, at the time&mdash;novels about teenage girls making out with dudes and coming of age, and I plowed through every one of her novels. Also, if you Google her, you&#39;ll find some pretty incredible photos of her <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=Paula+Danziger&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;aq=t&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;um=1&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;hl=en&amp;tbm=isch&amp;source=og&amp;sa=N&amp;tab=wi&amp;ei=FiCEUZG-CM20qQGYzoDwCA&amp;biw=1920&amp;bih=952&amp;sei=GSCEUd60Eo2yrgGmpIDADA">wearing a jaunty headband</a>, which I guess, along with her purple glasses, was a trademark. She&#39;s dead now, which is very sad. A fellow redhead, too! Redhead Hall of Fame for her, no doubt.</p><p><strong>What are your plans for celebrating your first YA book&#39;s release?</strong><br />None as of yet! But I will probably overeat that night.</p><p><strong>Who is currently your favorite animal? (Neither your nor my pets qualify.) </strong><br />Well, that is unfair to disqualify <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=zulkey+briscoe&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;aq=t&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;um=1&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;hl=en&amp;tbm=isch&amp;source=og&amp;sa=N&amp;tab=wi&amp;ei=UyCEUcTVOYjMqQG03IDQDw&amp;biw=1920&amp;bih=952&amp;sei=YyCEUYrUJJHNqAHN4IGYBA">Briscoe</a> and <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=klausner+jimmy+jazz&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;aq=t&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;um=1&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;hl=en&amp;tbm=isch&amp;source=og&amp;sa=N&amp;tab=wi&amp;ei=mCCEUY6UG4qhrgGjq4CADw&amp;biw=1920&amp;bih=952&amp;sei=miCEUej0GsfXrAGxt4HoBg">Jimmy Jazz</a>, but I&#39;ll play along. I&#39;ll go with most recently adored instead of utmost overall pet. Yesterday I met Marc Spitz&#39;s two basset hounds, <a href="http://nypress.com/downtown-then-and-now-with-marc-spitz/">Jerry and Joni</a>. Jerry dazzled me, with his vocal displays of neediness and alpha-tude, but Joni ultimately won me over with her nuzzles and her plaintive, God-like eyes. I love them both. They are good hounds.</p><p>[Editor&#39;s note: Both Marc Spitz&#39;s and my dogs are named after Jerry Orbach.]</p><p>Now please enjoy an excerpt from <em>Art Girls are Easy:</em></p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Wake up!&rdquo; Eleanor hissed. Sure enough, the bus was pulling up to campus, and the sign welcoming motorists to Silver Springs elicited cheers and general rabble from the peanut gallery of young campers at the front.</p><p>Indigo felt disoriented and groggy. She rubbed her eyes carefully so as not to smudge her mascara and looked out the window.They were just pulling up to the front of the camp.Indy could make out the lush lawn and blue buildings with sloping gray roofs in the near distance. Massive shady trees were spaced evenly throughout the campus, and the Silver Springs camp flag, which bore a feminized coat of arms that represented each discipline taught at camp above the Latin phrase<em> ArsGratiaArtis</em> (&ldquo;Art is the reward of art&rdquo;), danced lightly in the breeze. The overall effect was quite ethereal. Indigo began to imagine which colors she would mix to achieve the specific shades of the scene if she were to paint a landscape right now. Chartreuse and goldenrod. Maybe some cerulean.</p><p>&ldquo;You were snoring.&rdquo;Eleanor smirked, her thin lips a line graph of contempt under her Lancôme burgundy matte stick. &ldquo;It was&nbsp;pretty annoying.&rdquo;That was rich, coming from her. Indy gathered her things: she couldn&rsquo;t wait to get off this bus and avoid Eleanor for the rest of&nbsp;the summer.</p><p>As the girls lined up like elegant, talented cattle down the bus&nbsp; aisle, the camp director, Lillian Meehan, greeted each camper as she exited with a lei made from organic peonies tied together&nbsp;with red kabbalah string. Lillian was tall and amiable, and thin enough to look great in clothes, though not necessarily pretty. Basically, she was Glenn Close with dark hair and a whistle around her neck.</p><p>Lucy looked back at a still-sleepy, rumpled Indigo before getting off the bus. As the two girls made eye contact for the first time since their light dish session about Tyler or Taylor or whoever, Lucy smiled and winked at her friend, and Indy felt the&nbsp;warm rush of camaraderie wash over her. She smiled back and soon enough emerged from the bus into the warm kiss of sunlight on the grassy patch, where Lillian greeted her with a lei. And&nbsp;when she lifted her face to take in the familiar postcard of the sprawling green campus before her, Indigo found something&nbsp;small and sublime in its composition.</p><p>There, on the lawn of the main sprawl of Silver Springs, right near the office, stood Nick Estep, holding a blowtorch to a life-size rectangular metal sculpture. Goggles rested over his longish hair, which trickled onto the collar of his Nirvana T-shirt in the Berkshires sunlight.Indigo&rsquo;s heart rocketed to every point on the surface of her skin. He was here after all.</p></blockquote><p><em>Follow Claire Zulkey <a href="https://twitter.com/Zulkey">@Zulkey</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 06 May 2013 08:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-05/qa-julie-klausner-author-art-girls-are-easy-107004 Interview with 'Sexy Feminism' co-author Jennifer Keishin Armstrong http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-05/interview-sexy-feminism-co-author-jennifer-keishin-armstrong-106958 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JKA%20author%20photo%20official.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Jennifer Kieshin Armstrong (Photo courtesy A. Jesse Jiryu Davis)" />I chat with a homegirl today, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs before moving to New York, where she spent a decade on staff at <em>Entertainment Weekly,&nbsp;</em>cofounded SexyFeminist.com, and now writes for several publications, including <em>Women&rsquo;s Health, Runner&rsquo;s World, Writer&rsquo;s Digest, Fast Company, </em>and <em>New York</em>&lsquo;s Vulture. Jennifer Keishin Armstrong&#39;s history of <em>The Mary Tyler Moore Show</em>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Lou-Rhoda-Ted-History/dp/1451659202/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1345127707&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=mary+and+lou+and+ted+and+rhoda" target="_blank"><em>Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted</em></a>, is coming out on Tuesday, while&nbsp; her collaboration with Heather Wood Rudulph, <a href="http://jenniferkarmstrong.com/about-girls-just-wanna-have-success-style-and-love-heres-how-being-a-sexy-feminist-can-make-it-happen/" target="_blank"><em>Sexy Feminism</em></a>, was released earlier this year. She has provided pop culture commentary for CNN, VH1, A&amp;E, and ABC and teaches for Gotham Writers&#39; Workshop. You can learn a lot more about her <a href="http://jenniferkarmstrong.com/" target="_blank">here</a>.</div><p dir="ltr"><strong>I&rsquo;m guilty of this myself but often, women criticize other women&rsquo;s definitions of feminism. What were some criticisms you anticipated people lobbing towards <em>Sexy Feminism</em> that you wanted to head off at the pass and address within it? </strong><br />We knew when we named our website <a href="http://sexyfeminist.com/">Sexy Feminist</a> (and then our book Sexy Feminism) that we were being a little, you know, provocative. But we knew it would start specific discussions, and we were right. Our thing is that we&#39;re definitely NOT delineating ourselves from other feminists somehow&mdash;you know, we&#39;re sexy feminists, and the others aren&#39;t&mdash;but we&#39;re saying that, despite continued misperception, ALL feminism is sexy. And we&#39;ll stop calling our website Sexy Feminist when everyone gets that. The idea is to stop people who have not necessarily identified as feminists but who are feminist-curious to look at the book or the site and want to learn more.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Tell me about the cover of the book: what were some other possibilities (if any) that were considered?</strong><br />The only other possibility we got from the publisher was a very straightforward cover with no photos or graphics, which we thought was a little ... less than exciting, given the provocative name. This was the alternative we ended up with after sharing that feedback with them, and we felt okay about it. It&#39;s attention-grabbing, and that lipgloss is so fantastic that I ended up going out to hunt down anything I could find at Sephora that came close. (Hot tip: <a href="http://www.ulta.com/ulta/browse/productDetail.jsp?skuId=2220263&amp;productId=xlsImpprod2430005&amp;navAction=push&amp;navCount=1">Tarte&#39;s lip crayon in &quot;Enchanted&quot;</a> is my new favorite toy, and Tarte is one of our feminist-friendly cosmetic companies named in the book. Win win!)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>What do you think are examples of pop culture that got feminism right both in terms of definition/idealism but also by demonstrating it in an everyday, practical way?</strong><br />I feel a professional obligation to say this, but I also believe it: <a href="http://jenniferkarmstrong.com/about-mary-and-lou-and-rhoda-and-ted/">The Mary Tyler Moore Show</a>. They weren&#39;t trying to be feminist, but the movement was so much in the air at the time, and they had so many feminist-identified women writing for the show, that it came through. I always say Mary Richards was the original Sexy Feminist. She really came into her empowerment throughout the series, and we saw her argue for equal pay to her male predecessor, we saw her talk about the pressures of being the only woman in the newsroom, and we saw her (mostly in later years) assert herself strongly with men. In one of the last episodes, she even asked Lou Grant out. It didn&#39;t work out, but still.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>You&rsquo;ve written books about <em>The Mary Tyler Moore Show</em> and <a href="http://jenniferkarmstrong.com/about-my-book/">the <em>Mickey Mouse Club</em></a>. What are some books about shows you&rsquo;d read if they were written &nbsp;(but don&rsquo;t want to write yourself?)</strong><br />I love this question, because I can tell you that when figuring out my next book (which is now officially <em>Seinfeld</em>) I basically just pored over lists of TV shows. The ones I feel like I definitely can&#39;t tackle are sci-fi shows: I love some of them but don&#39;t have the geek-level knowledge required. So I think about stuff like <em>Buffy the Vampire Slayer </em>or <em>Lost</em>. Those are the two that I think could hold up to book treatment, but I&#39;m not necessarily the right author for them.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Tell me about what you do as a career coach/consultant. And what do you do when you feel like you need consulting?</strong><br />I&#39;m very good at running other people&#39;s lives! Actually, I have to admit I think I&#39;ve had a pretty good run in my own career so far, and I really do like helping other people figure out how to make those key decisions that can make a difference. Most of the time, it&#39;s that people are simply frozen into inaction by fear&mdash;fear of failing, fear of succeeding. And writing, in particular, is such a baffling career path full of constant decisions. You don&#39;t just take the corporate job and then wait 50 years so you can get your gold watch. So I can talk to clients about everything from getting their first few publication credits to moving to the next level of publications to getting an agent or going freelance full-time. It&#39;s funny you ask about what I do when I need consulting, because I&#39;ve just recently started feeling that itch, like, okay, what now? I&#39;ve started looking for mentors to befriend so I can ask them for a little advice in exchange for a few rounds of drinks; I also went to a great conference last week run by ASJA, and got tons of ideas for ways to advance my career more.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>What&rsquo;s something really unfeminist that you like? (Sometimes I dance to really misogynistic music.)</strong><br />Oh, man, I do love me some &quot;In da Club&quot; and &quot;Big Pimpin.&#39;&quot; They&#39;re just good songs. I also happen to really enjoy watching <em>The Bachelor</em>/<em>Bachelorette</em>. I always say I will allow myself to watch them because I have studied media and feminism enough that I watch them with a (very) critical lens, and because I don&#39;t personally have a Nielsen box, so I&#39;m not actually affecting the ratings. If I get a Nielsen box, it must stop immediately.<br /><br /><strong>When you worked at <em>Entertainment Weekly</em>, which fanbases tended to respond most rabidly when you wrote about their favorite show/artist/movie etc?</strong><br />Well, despite my claims that I couldn&#39;t write a whole <em>Lost</em> book, I did do some reporting on <em>Lost</em> in my day, and, you know, you can imagine that fan base. But more surprisingly, people get just as into their <em>Grey&#39;s Anatomy</em>, for instance. I used to recap that and couldn&#39;t ever read the message board comments. They were very, very passionate, and channeled that passion into being not-always-kind to me.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Who are some of your favorite sexy feminists in pop culture (and you cannot name either Tina Fey or Amy Poehler.)</strong><br />Ha! Those ladies do rule, but I&#39;ve been totally enamored of Lena Dunham of late. If you watch or read her interviews, man, that girl is scary smart. And a totally out-and-proud feminist. She takes the loads of criticism of her work quite beautifully, and I think her constant nakedness onscreen really is revolutionary the way she does it. We truly do need to see more body types besides 90 pounds and 5-foot-10 with Olympic-level abs. I also adore Mindy Kaling, and her show does a lot of subtly feminist things: Her character is great at her job and clearly smart, even though she&#39;s a little boy crazy and talks like a teenager. But more importantly, she has this insane sexual confidence that I think makes her a strangely wonderful role model to young women. Also, she&#39;s unbelievably funny, in her own way.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>You&rsquo;ve worked with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heather-wood/">Heather Wood</a> for a long time (<a href="http://www.mediabistro.com/mbtoolbox/pop-quiz-jennifer-armstrong_b1721">back when I interviewed you for MBToolBox about Sirens Mag</a>.) Why do you two work so well together and what tips do you have for working with a longtime collaborator?</strong><br />We definitely just have that mind-meld thing happening. We&#39;re each totally comfortable letting the other speak on our behalf as a team. I&#39;m an independent spirit, but it&#39;s nice to have a collaborator to fall back on sometimes when your life gets crazy with book deadlines or personal stuff. It&#39;s the best when I log onto the site and see that she&#39;s posted new content or edited a piece I&#39;d been neglecting. We can talk each other off professional ledges sometimes, too. The main thing is to treat it almost like a romantic relationship. Keep lines of communication open and constantly express appreciation. One of the things I&#39;ve noticed we automatically do, and I like, is to always thank each other. If she sees that I put up a new post, she thanks me. If she does our taxes, I thank her. I&#39;ve actually carried this over into my romantic relationship, and it works wonders!</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>How does it feel to be the 347th person interviewed for Zulkey.com?</strong><br />I feel really good about that number. There&#39;s something auspicious about it.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Follow Claire Zulkey <a href="http://twitter.com/Zulkey" target="_blank">@zulkey</a>, check out previous interviews <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/interviews.php">here</a> or see her at <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/funnyhaha.php">Funny Ha-Ha</a> tonight.</em></p></p> Fri, 03 May 2013 08:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-05/interview-sexy-feminism-co-author-jennifer-keishin-armstrong-106958 The Emily Bazelon interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-04/emily-bazelon-interview-106721 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Emily Bazelon_Credit Nina Subin.jpg" style="height: 423px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Photo: Nina Subin" />You&#39;d think that with the It Gets Better project and a lower tolerance for bad behavior, bullying would be on its way out as a social phenomenon. Unfortunately, it seems like every day another story comes out about someone who took his or her own life due to torment they received from their peers. Today&#39;s interviewee has been very busy discussing what she learned while researching her book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Sticks-Stones-Defeating-Rediscovering-Character/dp/0812992806/ref=la_B00ABOMYSG_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1366306956&amp;sr=1-1">Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy</a>. In addition to that, she is a writer and senior editor of Slate, where she edits the legal column, &quot;<a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence.html">Jurisprudence</a>&quot;,&nbsp; is co-editor of its blog on women&#39;s issues, <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor.html">XX Factor</a> and regularly appears on <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/gabfest.html">Political Gabfest</a>, a weekly Slate podcast with David Plotz and John Dickerson. She is also a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine and her writing has also appeared in The Atlantic, Mother Jones, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The New Republic, and other publications.&nbsp; You can find out more about her <a href="http://emilybazelon.com/">here</a>.</div><p dir="ltr"><strong>If you had to choose between your child being a bully or being the victim of bullying, which would you pick?</strong><br />If I had to choose&mdash;of course I would rather not--I would actually rather have my kids be targets. The reason is not actually that I think that would make their lives easier. When you look at the research, the targets of bullying (now, it doesn&rsquo;t happen to everyone)&mdash;but most kids can overcome this kind of adversity, but there is a higher risk of psychological problems in the short term and long term. And there also is a link to low academic performance. And I just care enormously about my kids&rsquo; treating other people well. It would kill me if they were singling out another kid to persecute them, which is what I think bullying is--that&rsquo;s the definition I think we should use. My book has made me think a lot as a parent about whether we collectively emphasize individual achievement and happiness more than we do moral development and the sense of the collective good as we&rsquo;re raising our kids.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>When I was a kid, I was really obsessed with my friends talking about me, and when you write online, that happens in real time. So I&rsquo;ve sort of been amazed by the thick skin that I&rsquo;ve been able to build up over time writing online because you can&rsquo;t take it all to heart. I wonder whether you&rsquo;ve noticed if kids have been able to develop any coping mechanisms in terms of dealing with online bullying, or whether being able to take it or ignore comes more with adulthood.</strong><br />You know, I haven&rsquo;t seen anyone compare adults and kids. My sense is that kids are not going to be as good at having a thick skin. I agree with you, I try to have a thick skin, but a lot of adults actually don&rsquo;t. I think the issue with kids is that developmentally speaking, they&rsquo;re just more vulnerable. They don&rsquo;t have it all figured out. It&rsquo;s harder sometimes for them to have perspective, even to separate the short term from the long term, right? I think that cyber bullying can be really damaging for kids. Luckily, as we were saying earlier, that&rsquo;s not always the case, and most kids can make it through. But when you see some of the cruelty that goes on online, it&rsquo;s not surprising to see findings for example, that 25% of 12 and 13-year-old girls say that they saw something written online that made them not want to go to school the next day. That kind of finding suggests we&rsquo;re not talking about stuff that every kid can just shrug off.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>How do you know, based on being a mom but also the research you&rsquo;ve done, what&rsquo;s the fine line between letting the kids work it out for themselves and when do authority figures intervene?</strong><br />I feel like, you take your cue from your kid. You listen and talk to your kid really carefully about what&rsquo;s going on. If you feel like your kid is becoming withdrawn and depressed and it&rsquo;s continuing over a significant period of time, then you have to step in. I don&rsquo;t think that your first instinct should be to jump in and try to intervene in a really policing sort of way, because a lot of times kids do need space to solve their own conflicts. If you talk to your kid, they may not want you to take that kind of step, because they&rsquo;ll be worried about what the consequences will be with their peers. Sometimes you have to override children about those types of instincts. But I think it&rsquo;s a good idea to start off relatively cautiously. One thing I always say, is that parents should talk to kids about what they think the solution should be. Because then you end up often with both an attempt at a solution that makes more sense, but also you&rsquo;re giving kids the capacity to problem-solve. One of the hallmarks of resilience is that you learn to believe that when you work hard to make a problem better and to overcome adversity, you&rsquo;re going to succeed. So it seems like in here is an opportunity for parents to really help kids build up exactly the kind of skills they need later in life to overcome problems, because obviously they are going to face trouble and conflict later on.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Do you think bullied kids have it easier now, because more people have an eye out for them? Or is it harder, because of the internet?</strong><br />I think the internet can make it harder because it feels very 24/7 and prevalent to kids, and they can feel exposed in front of a bigger audience. There&rsquo;s the sense of the visibility of the bullying, and the permanence of it. But I think you&rsquo;re also right about the heightened awareness--it just totally depends where you are. There is still a big problem with teachers turning a blind eye and underreacting. At the same time, we are seeing more vigilance and in some cases overreacting. It&rsquo;s this weird moment culturally where both of those things are going on.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Is it realistic to try to raise your kids offline?</strong><br />Forever? No. The way I think about it is this: As much delay as you can and then taking it step by step. So, I don&rsquo;t think that having ten and 11 year olds on social media sites is a good idea, and I&rsquo;m always amazed when parents just sort of seem to be like, &ldquo;Oh, I couldn&rsquo;t stop them!&rdquo; Well, why not? Don&rsquo;t they live in your house?</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>They didn&rsquo;t want to try to stop them.</strong><br />Yeah, exactly! I don&rsquo;t really get that. At the same time there&rsquo;s some point at which access to the technology becomes a really important form of social capital. When I was growing up, my parents hated that I talked on the phone, but if they had taken the phone away from me entirely, that would have left me out of all kinds of things, right?</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>I had parents who were strict with television</strong><strong>&mdash;</strong><strong>we didn&rsquo;t have cable when I was a kid, and I wasn&rsquo;t allowed to watch prime time TV until we were a certain age.</strong><br />I think limit setting is really helpful in this context. Some of the examples I give are like, maybe you feel your 13 year old is ready for a phone. But does your teen need a smart phone or would a &ldquo;dumb&rdquo; phone, that doesn&rsquo;t have the internet and doesn&rsquo;t have a camera would be a better match for what he can really handle technologically. That is the choice we have been making for our own son, who just actually lost his dumb phone! Perhaps he&rsquo;s not ready for the much more expensive item he would like to have. There are ways you can limit access in terms of hours of the day. One night, we realized our 13-year-old was sleeping with his phone under his pillow. It was innocent--he just wanted to know how a friend of his had done on her basketball game. But like, he doesn&rsquo;t need to know that at 10:30 at night. And also, what if he had gotten an upsetting message late, after we were all asleep, then what, you know? It seems like nothing good can come of any of that. There&rsquo;s no reason he needs the phone in the middle of the night. So we made a rule that the phones sleep downstairs and the people sleep upstairs.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Have you noticed since your book has come out any changes from any social media platforms, or schools that are in line with your book in terms of trying to counteract or prevent bullying?</strong><br />I think schools are becoming more and more aware of this. I hear about things like the &ldquo;delete day&rdquo; idea that I wrote about, which isn&rsquo;t my idea but I highlighted that idea&mdash;I&rsquo;ve heard that other schools are taking that on. I think the social media companies have been studiously ignoring this whole conversation and the only way that&rsquo;s going to change is if we their customers demand from them that they change how they deal with teenagers.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>One thing that frightens me, with having a little baby, is that the whole conversation that&rsquo;s happening right now about bullying is scary enough, but then I think, something will come along that will make it even easier for him to make someone&rsquo;s life or have his life made into a living hell. Facebook and Twitter will be so over.</strong><br />Well, it&rsquo;s happening already--the kids are migrating on to Instagram and Twitter, as their parents are slightly more clued in. I don&rsquo;t know what the next next thing will be&mdash;of course I don&rsquo;t know that, I&rsquo;m like the lamest early adopter ever. And also the whole point is that adults aren&rsquo;t supposed to know, right? But, I do think this: The reason why I wrote <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/03/how-to-stop-bullies/309217/">in the Atlantic </a>about Henry Lieberman (at MIT), about his idea of an algorithm to help prevent cyberbullying, is I think that right now we are being too passive about the underlying architecture of the web and just assuming there&rsquo;s nothing to be done about it. The only thing we can do is throw up our hands. I just cannot believe that is true. These are sophisticated companies with an enormous level of resources. If they wanted to make these online environments take into account teenagers&rsquo; social welfare, they could figure it out how to do it. They could work with schools--they could just simply give school administrators and guidance counselors an email dropbox where they could send Hey! Help! kind of alerts. And none of that is happening right now. This is the Mark Zuckerberg line: privacy is an evolving standard, i.e. we will just have less and less of it--and that&rsquo;s just the way it is? But no, we have control over these norms.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>When you were on Stephen Colbert and <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/life/bulle/2013/02/emily_bazelon_on_colbert_report_stephen_colbert_cries_during_show_with_slate.html">you made him cry</a>, I was just curious to know how that went down ahead of time: What you were told, how did the bit came together, who came up with it and so on?</strong><br />I&rsquo;ve been on Colbert a few times now. The producer had called me and we had talked about my book, but I didn&rsquo;t know Colbert was going to ask that question. I have thought about it... I figured that either he was going to accuse me of being a bully or he was going to ask me whether he was a bully. It seemed like an obvious way for the show to go. They&rsquo;re very wary of anything that sounds rehearsed or canned. I will say, having been on a few times, I realize it&rsquo;s all about the situational, in-the-moment comedy. It&rsquo;s because he&rsquo;s incredibly quick, he&rsquo;s really good at it. You just try to say your thing and see what comes of it.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>You&rsquo;ve talked about raising your sons to be feminists. What practical things have you told them so far about how they should interact with girls? I&rsquo;m thinking back to when my brother was growing up my mom told him to always say yes if a girl asks him to dance.</strong><br />Oh that&rsquo;s great, I&rsquo;m gonna steal that one! I love that! &nbsp;I have said to my sons, you have to treat girls and women well, as a basic baseline, and that boys who are good listeners... girls really value that. That&rsquo;s something they should really make sure to try and develop. I don&rsquo;t go around preaching about feminism very much in my house, just because &ldquo;preaching&rdquo;&mdash;I mean, my kids roll their eyes.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>I read that poor <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-09/hanna-rosin-interview-102548">Hanna Rosin</a>&rsquo;s son <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/28/hanna-rosin-talks-about-a_n_1837066.html">is sick of her it seems</a>.</strong><br />I know, I know, Jacob. I used to write a family column about my kids for Slate but then I stopped because they were getting old enough that people were starting to ask them about it and I felt it was enough. Which is too bad in some ways because they&rsquo;re only continuing to be more and more hilarious as they get older. It&rsquo;s not that I never mention them, I mean, I&rsquo;m talking about them with you. So I would say that what I mostly feel about my kids, is that they are seeing their parents with not a whole lot of aplomb. My husband and I juggle things together all the time. He isn&rsquo;t very involved in their lives and I don&rsquo;t think they have the idea. They have been surprised when they have learned that women didn&rsquo;t used to be able to vote, or women used to work less. Those are sort of revelations to them.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/12/magazine/12ginsburg-t.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">Your 2009 interview with Ruth Bader Ginsburg</a> was cited in <a href="http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/?&amp;sid=cp112SUHud&amp;r_n=hr496.112&amp;dbname=cp112&amp;&amp;sel=TOC_84201&amp;">the United States House of Representatives&#39; Committee Report in support of the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2012 </a>sex or race-based abortion. Some states are working on laws banning sex or raced-based abortion. Is that a thing that is happening very much?</strong><br />My sense is, and I&rsquo;m not hugely expert in this, is that this is something that happens to some degree in countries like India and China. And that there&rsquo;s very little evidence that it&rsquo;s happening here.</p><p dir="ltr">I think that sex selection laws are essentially symbolic because like you said, people are not going to give this reason. Even if they might feel it, they aren&rsquo;t going to say it, right? And then when you look at the other laws about admission privileges, or there&rsquo;s these one that are called &ldquo;trap laws,&rdquo; where the abortion clinic has to have the same specifications as an ambulatory surgical center. So that sentence is totally boring. But what that means in practice is that we&rsquo;re going to shut down this clinic by making it so expensive to operate because we&rsquo;re going to make it have all these &ldquo;safety conditions&rdquo; in place, but really it means it&rsquo;s a lot of red tape and the clinic can&rsquo;t operate any more. That&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s really going on.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>What is going to be your next big project?</strong><br />That&rsquo;s a good question, do you have any ideas for me? I really am trying to figure that out, but I really don&rsquo;t know the answer right now.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>I think you should write Young Adult fiction!</strong><br />You know it&rsquo;s so funny, I wish that I could write Young Adult fiction novels--I have no reason to think I can do that well. There are a few different things I&rsquo;m really interested in right now, but honestly I&rsquo;m so depleted and I&rsquo;m still talking about my book! So I think I need a couple months to get my bearings. But I&rsquo;m really looking forward to having a new project!</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 345th person interviewed for Zulkey.com/WBEZ?</strong><br />It feels great! You ask such smart and interesting questions.<br /><br /><em>Follow me <a href="https://twitter.com/Zulkey">@Zulkey</a>. To see previous interviews, go <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/interviews.php">here</a>. </em></p></p> Fri, 19 Apr 2013 08:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-04/emily-bazelon-interview-106721 The Jen Larsen Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-03/jen-larsen-interview-106374 <p><p>Today I speak with beloved blogger Jen Larsen, whose recently-published memoir&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Stranger-Here-Weight-Loss-Surgery-Transformed/dp/1580054463">Stranger Here</a>&nbsp;</em>details&nbsp;her experience losing almost 200 pounds via surgery &ndash; and her discovery that weight loss is not a magic bullet for happiness.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/jenlarsen%20photo.jpg" style="float: left; height: 363px; width: 300px;" title="Jen Larsen (Kristin Guthrie Brandt)" />Larsen was the featured blogger at Condé Nast&#39;s now-defunct&nbsp;<em><a href="http://bellaonthebeach.wordpress.com/2008/12/31/have-you-heard-the-terrible-news-about-elastic-waist/">Elastic Waist</a>, </em>and her columns have been syndicated on Yahoo!&#39;s Shine Network for Women. She is a contributor to <a href="http://www.bfdblog.com/"><em>Big Fat Deal</em></a>, a blog about weight in popular culture. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Word Riot, Emprise Review, and South Loop Review<em>,</em> among other publications. You can read a lot more about and from her <a href="http://jenlarsen.net/">here</a>.</p><p><strong>Why did you use a pseudonym when writing for <em>Elastic Waist</em>?</strong><br /><br />I was ashamed of being fat in the first place, and then I was ashamed of having felt so fat that I needed surgical intervention to fix myself. I was still at the point where I was half-convinced that weight loss surgery was the easy way out, that I was lying to people in real life about how and why I was losing weight. I couldn&#39;t stand the idea of someone knowing any of it, because it felt like they&#39;d have a brutal, painful insight into me and parts of my psychology that I never wanted anyone to have access to.</p><p>It&#39;s so much safer to write under a pseudonym, and it helped me for a long time. I was able to be as honest as felt possible, and as true to myself and the story as I could. Of course, it became a fairly open secret not so long out, with all my friends and half my family reading. But I still clung to the name out of a sense of comfort.</p><p><strong>It has to be more difficult now, with your book out there in the world, but do you have days when you simply don&rsquo;t think about food, weight or size? What is going on that prohibits you from thinking about those issues on those days?</strong><br /><br />I wish I could say every day was sunshine, and every day I am just me, Jen, out in the world being Jen-like. But I think about it every day. I think about how my jeans fit and if my boobs are going to go off and disappear on me. I think about what other people think about my body, and if they think it&#39;s OK. But I&#39;m happy to report that it&#39;s not a grinding, endless chorus in my head; they&#39;re fleeting thoughts that I chase down and kill as quickly as possible. I&#39;m getting better at it.</p><p>Food, though . . . food I rarely think about, and that&#39;s always been the problem. My weight came from my food issues &ndash; not so much binge eating as endless, mindless, thoughtless consumption. Which pissed me off. Who wants to be an evil, f*cked-up cliche of the fat person used to dismiss and ridicule all fat people? I still struggle to be mindful about food, even though I kind of hate the word &quot;mindful&quot; because it makes me feel like I smell like patchouli and whole wheat flour. That&#39;s also something I&#39;m working on getting better at.</p><p>One thing about the weight loss surgery: It forces me to be more aware when I&#39;m eating mindlessly. My little stomach fills up quickly and I go oh, right, why don&#39;t we cut that out? But it doesn&#39;t always work, because the complex emotional insanity around food is an incredibly powerful force.</p><p><strong>The Internet can be great at bringing people with weight issues together, but there&rsquo;s a lot of disturbing and negative crap out there, too. What do you think are some of the worst weight and body image trends online?</strong><br /><br />The &quot;obesity epidemic&quot; shrieking is hideous. Oh, we&#39;re worried about the children! It&#39;s about health! Right. . . .&nbsp;</p><p>I guarantee you there&#39;s not a person on earth who has ever said, &quot;Oh wait, I&#39;m fat and that offends your aesthetic sensibilities? SH*T LET&#39;S GET ON THAT RIGHT NOW,&quot; and goes and subsists on carrots for the rest of her days.&nbsp;</p><p>Let&#39;s turn the conversation away from shaming fat kids. Let&#39;s talk about that mindfulness thing. Let&#39;s talk about good food that isn&#39;t processed crap, about not feeling shame for eating, and about exercising to feel good about our bodies and to be as active, strong and bear-wrestlingly fit as we want to be. That would be rad.</p><p>I&#39;d also really, really love to stop talking about our flaws. It&#39;s supposed to be a radical thing to say, &quot;Well, you are beautiful despite your flaws! Love your flawed body, with all its flawed flaws and ugly bits!&quot; The definition of &quot;flawed&quot; here is &quot;not the body of an airbrushed swimsuit model.&quot; Your legs must be This Length to be unflawed and your ass This Wide and your t*ts This Perky; otherwise you have to force yourself to love those sad little misfits, and hope that someone else will accept them, too.&nbsp;</p><p>The fact that this is pushed as a positive, uplifting message &ndash; that pisses me off. How about we talk about how our bodies are awesome and how we need to have all sizes, shapes, scars, lengths and heights represented, so no one feels like there&#39;s only one real model of the human body, and all the rest are defects?</p><p><strong>If you could go on a food binge right now without any physical consequences, what would you ingest?</strong><br /><br />I guess I lied when I said my weight loss surgery doesn&#39;t always stop me from eating beyond the point of comfort. The idea of a real-live food binge made me kind of cringe &ndash; the physical and emotional consequences and then the endless, sweaty nap. It is hard to pretend there aren&#39;t physical consequences. But I do like Oreos an awful lot.</p><p><strong>Why do you think some people are so gullible about weight loss promises? Before I went to therapy I tended to believe anything that said &ldquo;results guaranteed!&rdquo; But I was infinitely more skeptical about anything else that made fishy promises like that.</strong><br /><br />The promise of weight loss is paired with the promise of happiness. It&#39;s supposedly a real, tangible path to actual happiness. Can&#39;t you see the lights shining bright in the eyes of the After Photo people? There&#39;s physical proof of the result: They are skinny and grinning, and you look at that, like,&nbsp;<em>I could be skinny and grinning</em>, and you believe it could actually happen. The Before and After Photos were what sold me on weight loss surgery. Those were the most powerful promises.</p><p><strong>As you spend more time in your &quot;new&quot; body, do you find that it&rsquo;s harder to recall life pre-surgery? If so, is that a good or a bad thing?</strong><br /><br />I remember what it&#39;s like every single time I notice a specific difference between then and now. I still think about it when I go through a turnstile. It&#39;s a flash of a memory, having to turn sideways to fit through. I remember when I&#39;m on an airplane and the seats are narrow but I fit with room. I remember when I do my laundry and the pants still seem impossibly small. I try not to forget. I don&#39;t want to forget the person I was, especially because I was so cruel to her.</p><p><strong>I&rsquo;m curious whether you made a conscious decision to use <a href="http://media1.s-nbcnews.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/100419-jen-larsen-hlg-12p.grid-6x2.jpg">the two pictures I see in your interviews and online</a>.&nbsp;In your &ldquo;before&rdquo; photo you look like a wilder, more outgoing person than the &ldquo;after.&rdquo;</strong><br /><br />You are the first to notice that! Yes, I was really glad to use that &quot;before&quot; photo, because I was so tired of people assuming Before is bad and After is awesome. I wanted to use a Before photo that wasn&#39;t a cliche, that didn&#39;t pander to the idea that all the smiling has to start happening in the After photo. The fact that I look kind of terrified in the After photo is actually kind of an accident. I am really not good at taking posed pictures without looking stiff and awkward.</p><p><strong>Did you view overweight people differently after you lost weight?</strong><br /><br />There was a point, not too long after I got the surgery, about 80 pounds down, that I was struck with this exhilaration. I felt lighter, like there was nothing better than that, and everyone should feel that way. And sometimes, sometimes I wanted to tell other overweight people about it. <em>Not</em> say, &quot;You are overweight and you MUST be unhappy and HERE is a way to fix it.&quot; But to say, &quot;Look, if you are sad and you think it&#39;s your weight, if you feel like you&#39;re trapped in your body, I found out about this thing. Let me tell you about this thing I am experiencing, these feelings I am feeling. I need to share this with you.&quot;</p><p>Now that I&#39;ve experienced [life] in all the sizes you can be on the spectrum, I am angry for hating myself when I was fat, and for assuming everyone felt exactly the same. I don&#39;t assume that someone who is fat hates themselves the way I did. I don&#39;t think we were all in this together. I don&#39;t ever want to assume that I can decide how someone ought to feel in their body and what they ought to do about it. And it pisses me off that it happens so often &ndash; strangers deciding how other strangers ought to look and ought to feel.</p><p><strong>I used to think that once you hit a certain weight you never had to worry about it again. I would look at thin girls and figure they lived on easy street and never had to torture themselves over whether or not to eat the cookie. Then there are starlets who blatantly lie and act like staying thin involves nothing more than the occasional hike in the canyon. </strong></p><p><strong>But we don&rsquo;t think twice about going to work on days we don&rsquo;t want to, or walking the dog when we don&rsquo;t feel like it and so on.&nbsp;</strong><strong>Why do you think struggling with making choices in terms of weight gets such a bad rap?</strong><br /><br />I think because weight and size have become so inextricably linked to your worth as a person, your moral strength and fortitude. You&#39;re told, &quot;You want to be thin? Well you have to be disciplined. Those girls who don&#39;t freak out about cake? It&#39;s because they&#39;re stronger than cake and smarter than cookies. They&#39;re not as weak as you, with your craving for ice cream, you sad person. Your weakness shows in the size of your thighs and your envy of people who are more successful than you.&quot; (In this scenario, success = thin, natch.)</p><p>&quot;Good people don&#39;t have issues with food because food isn&#39;t an issue. Your failings are the issue.&quot;</p><p>Etc., etc. flames on the side of my face, etc.</p><p><strong>What did you feel most vulnerable about when you put the book out?</strong><br /><br />The mistakes I made. The book is essentially a catalog of the stupid sh*t I thought and the stupid sh*t I did and the ways I screwed up. It is also essentially an apology to the people I love and the people I hurt. And, I suppose, to myself.</p><p>Still, to this day (I guess not so many days later and it is likely to change, I hope) every time someone whose opinion is important to me reads [the book], I cringe a little, waiting for their opinion of me to change. My boss is threatening to read it right now. That&#39;s all kinds of nervewracking.</p><p><strong>Does the book make you feel differently about food or weight? Do you feel more accountable, or is it time to celebrate?</strong><br /><br />I spent about two years writing the book and I thought a whole lot about my own story. Then I sent it off to the publisher and decided not to think about it at all. And then the book comes out and I have to talk about it every day, and it&#39;s becoming less and less about my own story and more and more about the issues of size and weight and self-acceptance and happiness and health. It&#39;s become this thing that&#39;s so much more important than just me and my feelings about weight loss surgery. I feel more accountable in that when people say, &quot;Yes, what you said resonates with me and I am trying to be happy.&quot; I want to not disappoint people. I want to keep trying to be happy alongside them.</p><p><strong>How many tattoos do you have, where are they and which one is your favorite today?</strong><br /><br />I have six tattoos! A beautiful sparrow on my foot, which nearly made me pass out and is still not colored in to this day; a stylized distelfink on my right calf; an anchor with a yellow rose on my inside right forearm, for my dad; a foo dog on my left forearm; a pirate ship on my right upper arm; and my pirate flag, on the back of my neck. I have a handful more planned. Right now and always, my favorite is my foo dog, which makes me feel fierce. But I love them all.</p><p><strong>What are you working on now that is not <em>Stranger Here </em>related?</strong><br /><br />I meant to be a novelist, not a memoirist, so I am working on a few of novels: one young adult, two literary-flavored but with fantastical elements. And I want to write a book of hilarious essays, not just about food and body issues. Though food and body issues are pretty hilarious.</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 342nd person to be interviewed for Zulkey.com/WBEZ?</strong><br /><br />It feels pretty goddamn awesome, since I&#39;ve been a fan of the site and the site-writer for years. Thank you so much for having me!</p></p> Fri, 29 Mar 2013 08:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-03/jen-larsen-interview-106374