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Culture Questionnaire: Jon Mooallem

by Jon Mooallem

Publicat pe 13 octombrie 2016

The 6th edition of the Power of Storytelling conference is coming up, on October 14-15, at the Pullman Hotel, part of Bucharest's World Trade Center. We know that poets and journalists, illustrators and musicians are coming over to speak before us. We consume their work and enjoy listening to them, but we also want to know what they enjoy. What moves them? What have they been reading lately, what did they like? What do they recall from their childhood? Some of the speakers from this year's edition of the Power of Storytelling agreed to answer the questions in this questionnaire, obviously inspired by the Proustian version.

Jon Mooallem is a longtime contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, he was a TED speaker, and he's also a contributor to Wired and This American Life. He wrote a book titled Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America - the 2013 book of the year, according to The New York Times Book Review and The New Yorker. He uncovers odd stories, which often have to do with animals, money, and death. You can sample his writing on his website.

What are you reading right now? Why?

I’m re-reading Brendan Koerner’s book The Skies Belong to Us, the story of a young couple that hijacked an airplane during “the golden age of skyjacking” in the 1970s. I’m reading it again because I’m getting ready to start a historical project of my own and I want to take a closer look at how Brendan pulled this masterpiece off.

What are you seeing through the window?

Cedar trees. Maple trees. Tall grasses. Ferns. Logs.

What is the best trip you ever took as a child?

We went to Tokyo when I was six. My father had grown up there. The stores all had electronic sliding doors—we didn’t have those in the US yet—and so it felt like we were walking around in Star Trek. That was mostly what I got out of it.

What are the three best things you discovered this summer?

I discovered a small pond down the street that I didn’t know was there.

I discovered a marijuana pain relief cream that makes you feel nice.

I discovered a tiny skull in the mud.

What song is best for packing up your bags and leaving?

Razor Face, by Elton John. It is the best song to leave any room to, period. I feel strongly about this and have felt strongly about it for years.

What is the one living person you most admire, and why?

It’s cliché to say my mom, but: my mom. Tough lady.

What’s at no. 3 on your bucket list?

Run for local government.

What’s your favorite word?

I never thought to have one. I overuse the word “increasingly”, so I guess it’s my favorite the way heroin is a junkie’s favorite.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Thomas Jefferson, a Neanderthal and Muhammad Ali.

Who would direct the movie of your life, and why?

Werner Herzog. It’d be amusing to see everything I cherish reframed as gloriously, absolutely meaningless.


Questions: Luiza Vasiliu and Ioana Pelehatăi

Facilitation: Ioana Burtea

Illustration: Ioana Șopov

13 octombrie 2016, Publicat in English, please /

text by

  • Jon MooallemJon Mooallem

    New York Times contributing writer, author of Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America, Wired and This American Life contributor.

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