Monday, October 27, 2008

Stop Smiling

The other day, I linked to an interview I did with Ana Marie Cox for Stop Smiling, but I feel like I should give some more love to the magazine, and not only because I’ve started writing for it. I’ve been a fan since I was put on its media mailing list when I worked for a book publisher. (Jack Shafer of Slate, put on a similar list, declared it his favorite magazine.)

Each issue is organized around (but not stifled by) a theme. The new issue is centered on Washington, D.C., and it showcases the magazine’s eclecticism. In it, you’ll learn about a forgotten (but mega-seller at the time) comedy album about the Kennedy family, the city’s legendary music scene, and its food -- my friend Jon reviews the Florida Avenue Grill, which, as he writes, feels like “the diner that will make you breakfast every day in heaven, if you’ve been good enough.”

It also features interviews with humorist Christopher Buckley, political writer Thomas Frank, former Alaska senator Mike Gravel, and two people involved with the best dramatic TV show of all time, The Wire -- writer George Pelecanos and actor Anwan Glover, who played Slim Charles on the series:

SS: Let’s segue into The Wire. You’re responsible for probably my favorite scene in any episode, when a wasted McNulty drives his car twice into a bridge abutment. (ASWOBA Ed. Note: This might be my favorite scene in any episode, too.) Any personal inspiration for that story?

GP: He was just on a bender, and I can remember those nights, and I’ve had my nights involving cars, too. I got in trouble in my 20s. The last time I got in trouble, among the things I was charged with in one night are driving on the sidewalk, fleeing and eluding police, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident. I had a whole laundry list that night.
SS: You were coming up during a very violent time in some parts of DC. Was it hard to avoid trouble back then?

AG: Yeah, very hard. Coming through the alley just getting to my school there were dope needles, dead rats, dead cats, dogs running in the alley. Then when I was living on Morton Street, we were going to school one day, and right by the trash can there was a dead body. There was yellow tape, and the kids were so excited to see it. It brought a chill through my body. I was like, “Why is everybody so excited to see a fucking dead body?” I never got that, and I was like, “This is not where I want to be.” I used to get away and go to the zoo, just to imagine different places. Ride my bike to the airport. I always wanted to get away.

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