By “Matt Lewis & The News” guest blogger R.J. Moeller
If this is your first time reading an R.J. Moeller blog-post, relax – you’re probably a relative of mine. I’m here at the invitation of Matt K. Lewis, and appreciate the opportunity to contribute to such a fine institution as The Daily Caller. With that in mind, I wanted to include in my week’s worth of posts at least one interview with a blogging legend in the media world. Unfortunately, Andrew Sullivan was busy (and surly), so I asked Mr. Lewis himself to answer a few questions via email before he went off the grid.
Here is his story…
1) You’ve accomplished a lot in your career, but tell me about what I assume is your proudest moment yet: being mentioned by Tony Kornheiser on his daily ESPN radio program! What is it about that old, bald, orange man that makes his show/podcast a must-listen?
I could talk about Mr. Tony all day. I love TK for the same reason I love Larry David. I’m not successful enough to be a curmudgeon, but I enjoy living vicariously through them. In terms of worldview, he’s definitely an old-school liberal. Not a leftist, but a liberal. There’s a difference. And he’s also intellectually honest — and that’s what matters most to me. He’s funny as hell, too. You can sort of see that on “Pardon the Interruption,” but it really comes through on his ESPN radio show.
You mentioned the time Mr. Tony talked about me on air, so I’ll share a few behind the scenes things about that. First, it’s interesting to note that Tucker Carlson, my boss, is close friends with Tony’s supposedly British-born producer “Nigel.” So when Nigel says on that clip that The Daily Caller writers are “good blokes” — that’s part of the back story.
The funny thing is that being mentioned on Kornheiser’s show constitutes the first time my father-in-law was ever impressed by anything I did as a writer. He works at some factory out by Dulles airport, and during lunch sometimes he goes out to his car and listens to sports radio. He’s sort of a man’s man. Now keep in mind, I had done a lot of television by the time this happened. I used to do a lot more than I do now. But I don’t think he really respected me until the Kornheiser mention.
2) Like me (and Daniel Day-Lewis), do you ever feel like throwing your laptop and smart phone into the Potomac and setting out to find a manly apprenticeship with a blacksmith or cobbler? Assuming you love what you do, talk about the times you ask yourself, “What am I doing on Twitter and Facebook all day long?” I know I still cringe inside every time I have to tell a man who runs a bank or owns his own company that I blog and podcast for a living. Why is that?
I would love nothing more than to throw my iPhone into the ocean — or smash it with a hammer. But my fantasy isn’t to become more rustic as a result. I would theoretically free myself from the shackles of the 21st century in order to lounge by the pool. I’m from a long line of regular guys. Both my grandparents were, to some degree, farmers [this is not to say they owned big farms. They did a lot of odd jobs, ranging from carpentry to tenant farming, etc.] One of my favorite uncles was a house painter; his son (my first cousin) a plumber. My dad was a prison guard. They all hunted and did guy stuff. Aside from sports, I was never any good at that. I have no illusions or nostalgia about actual work. I became a writer to avoid that.
3) What is the most meaningful novel you’ve ever read (and why)? What film in your life has resonated with you on a deeper level (and why)? Or perhaps an album where the music/lyrics connected in a way others did not? Talk about the impact that pieces of pop culture like these have had on the development of your worldview. Why does this stuff matter to you personally?
I’m really fond of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” If I have another son, I might name him Atticus.
I love a lot of movies, but I’ll give you two. “Rushmore” is one of my favorites. It’s so weird and wonderful and — unlike some of the other, more cynical, Wes Anderson movies — it leaves you with a sense of hope. On a more serious note, I absolutely fell in love with “Amazing Grace” about the life of William Wilberforce — so much so that my son’s middle name is Wilberforce.
Music is really important to me. My dad was a terrific musician (for a while, he played professionally). And I played in bands growing up. Nothing big, but we did play the now-defunct Philadelphia Music Conference, and had a few gigs at places like The Galaxy Hut in Arlington, VA, etc. There are too many good bands for me to even talk about. But I can tell you what I’m listening to a lot right now. It’s mostly old stuff: The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds.” Sublime’s self-titled album. And Lucinda Williams’ “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.”
In terms of worldview, I don’t think the art has shaped my politics except that it has made me aesthetically snobby. Much of what I hate about the GOP of late has more to do with the fact that it is culturally out-of-touch and really un-cool. This may sound superficial, but it becomes a legitimate critique when one understands that a lot of voters put style over substance all the time.
4) What are three or four must-eat joints in the greater DC-area? Plot out my eating lineup for the next time I’m in Washington. What type of food gets you out of bed in the morning?
For lunch, go to Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, VA and sit at the bar (Val, the bartender is terrific. Just get there by 11:30 if you want to be seated.) In the city, Old Ebbitt Grill is a classic choice. If it’s summer, get there heirloom tomatoes. If it’s winter, get the chili.
For dinner, go to either Michel Richard’s “Central” if you want to stay in the district, Bourbon Steak at the Georgetown Four Seasons — or if you want to venture out of town — Jose Andres’ Jaleo in Crystal City (I’m a big fan of tapas.)
5) I’m newly married as of July 2013 – let’s hear some marriage advice! Beyond “Happy wife, happy life”, what else can you offer a young man in my newly-wedded position?
It’s too late to give you my best advice, which comes from Angela Duckworth: “Choose easy/work hard.” Once married, there are so many important things, such as “good communication,” etc. But I think the fundamental thing is a commitment to make it work no matter what. If both people have this attitude, you’re home free.
R.J. Moeller is a blogger, podcast host and CEO of the media/entertainment company Hashtag Productions LL