Archive for category: Interviews

Bill Moyers, for a second bite of the apple.

30 Jan
January 30, 2014

The only plausible means by which a mook with a C+ grade-point average from a state university and fifteen years covering a second-tier rust belt city can be shaved and shaped into a crude approximation of a public intellectual is to be interviewed by Bill Moyers.  I was interviewed by that gentleman today, for a second time, about a good many things.  And I know, from my first experience with Mr. Moyers and his team, that I will somehow emerge sounding almost coherent.

For one thing, his raw interview is, by design, quite long, but then edited carefully and judiciously by the Moyers team, leaving behind the useless asides and sentence fragments, the staggered brain farts and half-considered rhetoric—and highlighting instead the core arguments and premises.  This contrasts with bite-sized interviews that begin and end with a provocation or two, or worse, some long and belabored discussions that require viewers to endure every tangent and marginal aside.  The Moyers process also avoids the savage carvings of the ideological inquistor; he is as professional as journalism gets.

What I am saying, I suppose, is that good editing is the great unseen craft of prose journalism, of documentary, of drama, and indeed, all narrative.  At this, Mr. Moyers and his people are masterful and honest.  I haven’t seen the interview, but I’m guessing, based on past experience, that it bears a good chance of actually conveying some of what I do actually mean to say.

You may disagree with that content.  And despite the care that the Moyers crew takes to hone and preserve the core discussions in these interviews, you may nevertheless find me to be an insufferable idiot.  I won’t argue the point here except to assure all that in lesser hands, my performance would be worse.  Certainly, if I make no sense in this format, then there is little hope indeed.

To that end, I’m posting this preview clip and mentioning that the full interview will be available online shortly, and those interested can get showtimes and channel info by following this link: And I am also thanking these folks for their attention to some of my arguments and interests, and to say that we could do worse as a nation than to have all of our political discourse addressed and coalesced and considered by Bill Moyers.  It might not solve anything in the way of any actual argument, but hey, we could all go to sleep at night pretending to be much smarter than any of us actually are.

Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2013: Some People are More Equal than Others

14 Nov
November 14, 2013

Caption contest, though I believe Mrs. Simon has already won.

10 Nov
November 10, 2013

Photo sent to me by an Australian friend at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas there, where I spoke at the Sydney Opera House and the following day in Melbourne.  The unbalded gentleman onstage with me is Michael Williams of Melbourne’s Wheeler Center and a genuinely charming, generous and quick-witted man.  My quick-and-dirty entry would have been, “Simon In Concert.”  Subhead:  “How many opinions can one lumpy Jew have?”

Mrs. Simon thought for a moment and bettered that with:  “Simon In Concert.” Subhead:  “The I’d-Agree-With-You-But-Then-We’d-Both-Be-Wrong Tour.  2013.”

She also declaimed:  “Your most dangerous idea is what time we should leave for the airport.”


Omits and Edits

21 Sep
September 21, 2012

Read through a the transcript of a videotaped interview I gave to Reason Magazine, the libertarian periodical, that is timed for the release of Treme’s third season.  My comments seemed disjointed, unsupported.  Arguments begin and cease abruptly, unaccompanied by any supporting logic or examples.  The interviewer’s comments are highlighted as punctuation, but many fundamental ideas and contentions never progress far at all.

I emailed those guys, asked them if I could listen to the whole interview.  They kindly agreed.

Sure enough, the editing is, at points, inattentive to the task of building on or even completing a complicated argument.  I begin with an assertion — that Wall Street undid the newspaper industry, or that government is the only viable agent for the maintenance of prisons, and then all or most of the reasons for making such an argument are gone from the edited interview.  Seems I spoke with this crew for about an hour and twenty minutes.  An hour or so of that is missing from the edited version.

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