Interviews and Profiles

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During my years working as an arts journalist, I talked to hundreds — in fact, probably thousands — of artists and other creative types. I didn’t get the chance to write many of these encounters up, alas. But here’s a sampler of some of the interviews and profiles I did have a chance to do.

  • The controversial California designer David Carson helped change — for better or worse — our visual environment. Peter Plagens and I profiled him for Newsweek.
  • One of the first great culture websites was Arts & Letters Daily, and one of the great aestheticians of our age was Denis Dutton, the man who created it. I did a q&a with Denis for Salon magazine.
  • The Irish novelist/filmmaker Neil Jordan made a mark with “Mona Lisa” and became famous for “The Crying Game.” I talked with him at length for Interview magazine.
  • Polly and I were close friends with the movie critic Pauline Kael. Back in 1989, we had a wide-ranging conversation with her for Interview magazine.
  • I talked with Pauline again a few years later for The Modern Review.
  • I enjoyed the glamorous youth Western “Young Guns II,” so I gave Geoff Murphy — the film’s brilliant director — a call.
  • As much of an arts-fan as I am, I’m anything but a huge supporter of government support for the arts, at least in the U.S. I interviewed the NEA critic Lynne Munson about the history and politics of the program.
  • I wrote a short profile of that great eccentric, the doctor and writer Oliver Sacks.
  • The novelist Silvia Sanza brings a true bohemian’s outlook and tone to bear on her work, which is soulful and poetic. I did a short interview with her.
  • I got fascinated by right-wing political thinking for a while and treated myself to a wide-ranging conversation with the British political philosopher Roger Scruton.
  • Just my opinion, of course, but I think the Southern writer Lee Smith may be the U.S.’s greatest living novelist. I visited with her for Interview magazine.
  • Lots of thanks and credit to Salon magazine, which — although as liberal as can be — let me publish a provocative q&a with the libertarian rightie Thomas Sowell.
  • The composer Morton Subotnick has not only created a lot of beautiful music, he’s also been one of the most shrewd and enthusiastic of artists where the new-digital-media world goes.
  • I hung out with the infamous renegade filmmaker James Toback. He’s quite a character, as well as an entertaining, superbright guy.
  • I loved the music-history-on-CD-ROMs that were created by the UCLA music prof Robert Winter, and I got Wired to let me write a profile of him.