The Nathan Rabin Interview

June 28, 2002

Today is the day to enjoy the refreshingly crisp citrus taste of Fresca.

You know, the Nickname Claire Zulkey-a-thon is still on.

So, have you ever heard of a funny little publication called "The Onion"? Apparently, they are popular with the kids these days. Anyway, let me tell you a humorous anecdote. I was reading a piece on Sweet Fancy Moses called "Selected Thank You Letters from God", written by a young man whose name I recognized from the AV Club of the same Onion. "This high-falutin' guy will not care," I thought, "But I will write him a letter telling him how much I liked his piece." Well, he wrote back, saying "I don't care," and I never heard of him again. No, wait, he did write me back, and he's so very cool, I thought I'd share him with you. Without further ado:

The Nathan Rabin Interview: Slightly Less Than Twenty Questions

You interview a lot of people for the AV Club. How does it feel, now that the interviewer has become the interviewee?
The hunter has truly become the hunted. It is only now that I understand the sheer psychological trauma that I inflict upon the people I interview. Not only will I never conduct another interview again, but I plan to move to South America, where I hope to open a chain of North-American theme restaurants.

Since you have first dibs on the hip hop music at the A.V. Club, you usually get last choice on the movies. What are some of the worst movies you've reviewed? Is it more fun to review bad movies than good?

That's a good question. "Free Enterprise", a film about the world's whiniest, most self-obsessed Star Trek fans, is quite possibly the single most excruciating film I've ever seen, although the Ja Rule-Pras vehicle "Turn It Up" runs a close second, and I was subjected to an entire upside-down reel of that joint, which had the effect of making an already nauseating experience vaguely surreal.

When people find out that you write for the Onion, do they try to figure out how you can get them a job? (Bonus question from my mom: "When people find out you work for the Onion, do they.cry?")

Yeah, that has happened quite a bit, and it tends to make me hella uncomfortable. Incidentally, I cannot get you a job at the Onion, although I may be able to hook you up with a free copy of a current issue. If you're lucky. And you curry my favor by interviewing me for your website.

What's the difference between something being "off the hizzity" and "all gravy train"?
Well, I'm no E-40-type cunning linguist, but "all gravy" is like a state of utter contentment, while off the hizzety simply means that something is the bomb diggity, and perhaps "all gravy" to boot. Incidentally, all my slang I borrowed from William F. Buckley. That brother got soul by the pound.

You've freelanced for a great variety of publications (and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention "YM" by name.) Shaped by your experiences as a freelancer, what kind of editor do you think you would be?
The sort that would never change a word of anything presented to me, lest I destroy its very heart and soul. No, seriously, I think I'd try to communicate more clearly with writers. Good communication is important. Also, paying on time. Seriously, folks, can we pay on time for once? For the
sake of the children? Also, the babies?

You're a devotee of Ebay. What are some of your favorite purchases?
I'd have to say my favorite ebay purchases have been the ones where after I received the item I said to myself "Now why the fuck did I want this in the first place?". Such items include a 2Pac can cooler (for all those instances in which you need a thug in your life to keep your cans cool) and a Dream Warriors sand sieve. The Dream Warriors, incidentally, were a Canadian rap group that rapped about rolling the twelve-sided die, which makes them, officially, the coolest people ever.

What were some of the best and worst interviewees you've had? What makes a good interviewee? And who are you still hoping to interview?
Best: probably Russ Meyer, KRS-ONE, Pam Grier, The Unknown Comic, Rick James, D.A Pennebaker, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Rudy Ray Moore and Gene Simmons. Worst: probably Will.I.Am, Chuck D and Eddie Izzard. Talking to them was like pulling teeth. A good interviewee is generally somebody who really, really likes to talk about themselves, has strong opinions and a tremendously colorful life story. Being crazy and/or belligerent also helps a great deal.

Who is killing all the great chefs of Europe?
I think they all died from inside jokes run amok. Also, George Segal was involved. Also, Hootie. Have you seen that Hootie is trying to re-invent himself as an R&B lover-man? His new single is even called "Wild One", as in "I, Hootie, the doughy poster-boy for wussy folk-rock stylings, fancy myself a wild one on account of my lascivious and decadent lifestyle". Well, I tell you something, Claire: I'm twice as wild as Hootie. Maybe even three times as wild.

You have written for B.E.T. Did you have to pretend to be black like the guy in "Soul Man?" I assume that's how your name appears on the "Anarchist People of Color" website as well.
No, no, I'm afraid I did not have to engage in any comical mischief to write for BET. I may have to engage in some comical mischief if they're ever to pay me however. I hope this interview makes clear just how much time and energy I devote to thinking about when I finna get paid. Also, how much I care about the babies.

What's a nice Jewish boy from the Midwest doing knowing so much about hip-hop?

Claire, I'm from the streets, so it's second nature for me to kick knowledge about the rap game, which, incidentally, is alot like the crack game. No, honestly, I've always been attracted to the genre's anti-authoritarian bent. Also, the sheer number of big booty freaks currently waiting for a brother such as myself to get his mack on old school. All of which is to say that we should all put the interests of the children first.

Who would you say knows more about insider trading, you, or Martha Stewart?
Probably Martha Stewart, although I probably know more about constructing Yuletide-themed doily out of common household items.

The Critical Beatdown was a surprising and very satisfying interviewing method. If somebody were to perform it upon you, what are some things they would hit you with, and how would you counter?
I tell you Claire, I am such an enfeebled girly man that if someone were to say anything bad about me-that, for example, I overstate my belief that children are our future-I would break down and sob uncontrollably like a little girl.

You endured a short stint in the advertising world. Tell us about it.
Well, I have a friend named Claire Zulkey-you actually, the person interviewing me, and she was all like "hey big boy, why don't you come over and pretend to be an employee at my firm." So I was all like "Alright, bet". Well, long story short, I ended up spilling coffee all over Mr. Dunkenheimer, thereby costing us the Peterson account. You haven't spoken to me since, and threatened to blackball me from the field.

You possess a lovely singing voice. What do you do to keep it in top form?
Coffee enemas.

You own two cats, Sweetie Pie and Maggie. Do you realize that after you own more than three cats, you're considered legally insane?
Yes I do, but I do indeed love my little angels. They remind me alot of children, who are the future, as well as Leopold and Loeb, in the sense that I suspect the two of them are plotting a "perfect crime".

As the undisputed star of Team Onion, how do you spur on your teammates to do a good job without making them feel like worthless human beings?
Sexual favors. Also, candy.

Rank the following "Mr.'s" from worst to best: "Mr. Ed," "Mr. Show," "Mister Mister," "Mr. Dobalina, Mr. Bob Dobalina"?
Mr. Show
Mr. Dobalina, Mr. Bob Dobalina
Mr. Ed
Mister Mister

What are some new consumer products that we should be aware of?
I would like to recommend a product named "Munchies" which combines the deliciousness of pretzels with the saucy exuberance of sun chips, sunflower seeds, pinatas, black licorice and tofu.

How does it feel being the 13th person interviewed for
Very lucky. I'd like to take this time to say that Claire Zulkey is a dynamic, goal-oriented hyper-achiever who is a consistent provider of e-business solutions and a credit to her people. Also, she all that, as well as a bag of chips, and a 22 ounce beverage as well.