People I’’d Like to Interview
I would be lying if I didn’t start off with MJ. I used to have a Space Jam sleeping bag and a life-size cardboard cutout of him. As a kid I entered a contest to design a battery ad where the first place prize was a trip to Chicago for dinner with “His Airness,” and I was devastated when I came in third, winning a hat for my trouble. I am still jealous that my grandfather met him at a golfing fundraiser. I don’t even have anything in particular I want to ask him. I just want to be in the presence of greatness.
North Carolina native David Sedaris is someone I could listen to endlessly. I’ve read almost all his books and enjoyed Santaland Diaries, an adaptation of one of his stories, at Triad Stage. Even though it might be difficult to come up with questions because so much of his life is chronicled in his work, his ability to make the mundane sound fascinating would be enough to keep me captivated. Plus, maybe I would be memorable enough to be written into a story.
Who better to interview than a fugitive? Assata Shakur found political exile in Cuba after her comrades broke her from prison in 1979. Shakur was a member of the Black Panther Party and many believe she was wrongfully imprisoned for murder. She makes the list because I read her autobiography and it remains one of my favorite books. Interviewing Shakur in person would require a trip to Cuba, and maybe I’d ask about her stepnephew, rapper Tupac.
Along the same lines, I want to interview David Gilbert, Bobby Seale and Leonard Peltier.
Filmmaker Errol Morris has probably met more unique people than a talk-show host, with documentary films such as The Fog of War and The Thin Blue Line to his name. Fast, Cheap & Out of Control draws connections between a lion tamer, a robotics designer, a mole-rat fanatic and a topiary gardener. I went to high school with his son Hamilton, who is working on a film about zombies in Haiti. Errol Morris would be able to talk about fascinating people and the film industry. Does it get better than that?
No, that isn’t a typo; Paul Simonon was the bassist for the Clash. I consider my dad to be pretty dorky, but he did see the Clash live. I’m most interested in interviewing Simonon after watching The Clash: Westway to the World where he shares hilarious stories about being on tour and life with the band. He looks eerily similar to my uncle, and I want to make sure Simonon isn’t secretly the man I wrestled with as a kid or see at
Thanksgiving every year. Zack de la Rocha and Bruce Springsteen only missed the cut because the interviews would be more predictable.
The elusive Banksy would be near impossible to track down, but this list isn’t about practicality. Known for his massive, often political street art, Banksy has been featured in numerous art books and the recent film Exit Through the Gift Shop. If Howard Zinn or Studs Terkel were still alive they would take preference. Even if I was only able to speak with him on the phone, there is still something undeniably cool about interviewing someone that doesn’t speak to the media frequently but is still world famous.
I had the honor of meeting Toni Morrison when she spoke to a small group of students at Guilford College and I invited myself to make an introduction. Before the event started she was just sitting outside next to my friend, so I sat down and pretended I wasn’t shaking with excitement. We read Jazz and Sula in high school, and ever since I’ve been convinced her name belongs in the upper echelons of literary greatness.
Sister to Raul and Fidel Castro, Juanita worked as a CIA agent in Cuba but left for the United States in 1964. It’s easy enough to find Fidel’s perspective on the revolution, but what about hers? She was initially active in buying guns for the struggle but opposed communism and eventually broke ranks. She even wrote a book about her experiences Fidel y Raul, Mis Hermanos: La Historia Secreta, but I would need to brush up on my Spanish to be able to read it.
I think everyone likes to pretend they have something in common with celebrities, but it’s still worth mentioning Novak grew up a town over from where I did in Newton, Mass. Apparently his parents ran a Jewish dating service, which would yield a few questions. Novak is a writer/ producer behind the hit series “The Office” and he plays Ryan the temp. Novak also starred in the remake of Inglorious Basterds as Nazi killer “Little Man.”
Is this too obvious? I want to pretend that I’d rather interview a more political rapper like Mos Def or GRIME, but it just isn’t true. I’m not the biggest Jay-Z fan but I admit to being star-struck. He’s been accused of posing as more radical than he is, but as he says in one song, “I’m like Che Guevara with bling on/ I’m complex/ I never claimed to have wings on.” I wouldn’t object to interviewing his wife Beyonce at the same time either.