Tuesday, August 4, 2009

An Interview with Zel McCarthy

Zel is the only person on this earth who addresses me by the erstwhile nickname "Cato"--not because of the philosopher, mind you, but because of an esoteric Clueless Kato Kaelin reference--and for that reason alone he deserves an interview. However, Zel is also remarkable for the three following reasons: first, on Mother's Day he upstaged me and LRC by giving our mother a better gift; second, he likes to build bookshelves; and third, he's a Trojan who loves Hillary Clinton. He also founded and writes for Soundbleed, which is where I learn everything I don't know about the music world (try wrapping your head around that one). So without further ado, I present the one, the only, ZEL.

Cato and Kylie: the twain shall meet!
CGCWhy is Kylie the greatest female entertainer of the '90s and the oughts?

ZM: I could go on for a day about Kylie. Or write a treatise - my friend Bradford Nordeen has a chapter in his book about her and Kevin Killian wrote an entire book about her, but I can't bring myself to read it as I'm afraid it might be too objectifying or even analytical. I adore Kylie, wholehearted and unreservedly. What makes her so enduring and so loved the world over is that she is so many things to so many people - dynamo, coquette, chanteuse, sex kitten, style maven, survivor, showgirl. For me, what she is doesn't matter. Kylie is an endorphin for me. Listening to her, or sometimes watching one of her concerts or even looking at some of the books or other Kyliephenalia in my collection (yes, it's a whole collection) just makes me feel better. That's why she's the greatest - she makes me smile - always and forever!

CGC: True or false: Taschen is to Penguin as Silver Lake is to Brentwood.

ZM: OK, totally false! Let's say Penguin is Brentwood - traditional, a little uppity, and in so many ways generic. Silver Lake is either a refuge for hipsters and the fashionable nouveau riche or a home leftover hippies and working class families. That may be all well and good, but Taschen is edgier and more cohesive. It's more like Venice. There are some expensive (even overpriced) properties where some celebs even live, but there are also surf shacks that tell the story of the city and occasional gang violence. Plus, Venice is desirable, and Silver Lake just isn't. We could also say that Penguin is Orange County and Taschen is Hollywood. But it's better we not get involved with a publisher/New York neighborhood analogy. It could get political.

CGC: Envision the following scenario: you're nearing the end of a vigorous, 90 minute astanga yoga session, and as you rise into your last updog, you notice that the two individuals in front of you--who are a couple--have decided to enter savasana early, and are lying side by side on their mats while holding hands. Their eyes are closed, beatific smiles grace their faces, and the man, who has a smooth bald head and soul patch, is wearing tight capris and an o'neil surfing shirt while the woman is wearing lululemon hot pants and a tight Patagonia camisole, which barely covers the floral tattoo above her hipbone. What is your reaction to this couple?

ZM: Oh, this is such a shame, but just as this couple decided to get a little prematurely tantric, I was doing a headstand. Usually, I'm pretty good at balancing for a while, then lowering my legs halfway down, raising them back up, all that. But unfortunately today, I just lost my balance and have tumbled - crashed really - onto the yoga love birds disrupting their savasana and kneeing soul patch in the groin. Lululemon lady got off easy, but I hate that fucking store. Such a rip off. Did you know it was founded out of a Landmark Forum project? Talk about a pyramid scheme.

CGC: When will a contemporary Russian writer win the Nobel Prize for Literature?

ZM: I would have said within 5 years but after the tense Obama-Medvedev meeting in July, I don't know if it's in the cards. Those Nobel voters like to eschew contemporary political statements, don't they? That's not to say they don't recognize politically infused writing, but recent winners seem to be distinct from the politics of the moment. So, maybe after 2014. Wasn't the last American to win Toni Morrison? It's been a while for both super powers.

CGC: Do kittens cry?

ZM: They don't cry but they do weep; usually it's for show but it can be very affecting.

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