I was invited to be on National Public Radio's Day to Day program for a prerecorded interview this evening, and spent about 15 or 20 minutes speaking with Deborah Amos, NPR foreign correspondent.
, for a recorded interview. [Ed.:—Sorry, I must be stuck in "Redundant Mode" right now! Nothing can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong...] Can you guess what the topic of discussion was?
That's right—our friend Shakeel Bhat, the world-famous Rage Boy
!If you ended up getting here from NPR, be sure to read the wisdom of sir Christopher Hitchens first, if you haven't done so already. The man has a way with words that is truly a gift from God.
The interview was cordial, and Deborah was quite pleasant to talk with. I'm very
happy to say that I was not
put face-to-face with a representative of CAIR, as R. H. Potfry was
—which is probably pretty good, as I don't think I would've been quick-witted enough to keep up with them. The topics of discussion were somewhat odd, though. I'm not exactly sure what angle NPR is going for, but I'm confident that I could have done a better job of getting the point across no matter what angle it ends up being.
The questions that stuck in my mind the most were related to how I "felt" about Rage Boy, and if my attitude of him changed after I read the AFP interview
. She also seemed to expend quite a bit of effort initially to ask why I personally thought Rage Boy is funny.
How does one describe it? I did my best to explain it in as neutral a manner as possible:—He is "funny" to me because his facial expressions are, well, unique
. Heck, don't take my
word for it—judge for yourself
See? It's purely a matter of aesthetics. Certain facial expressions just have a tendency to be caricatures
of themselves, particularly
when they appear in a series of of photographs
taken over a period of years.
"Contrived" is the word I used to describe it, if I remember correctly.
Don't get me wrong:—There's no doubt in my
mind that the guy has real "feelings." But when you consider that he manages to trot out the exact
same feeling nearly every
time a camera is present, well, it just compounds the humour of the entire situation. Not to mention how much it detracts from whatever point he and his compatriots are trying to make.
Another point of discussion was the merchandise that was created
around a caricature of his persona, and the background in general. I did my best to give credit there to the guys who deserve it
, and mentioned that I was already aware of TNOYF's work
from the Pope Benedict protests
of September 2006. It all tied together neatly for me when AMDScooter
pointed out our frequent protester around the time of the Salman Rushdie knighthood
protests, though, and that's where I hope I left it.
We went on to talk about the AFP interview
, during which I was asked, after hearing of his childhood of dropping out of school and picking up arms [Ed.:—as in, "becoming a terrorist", something I neglected to point out in the program]
at an early age, if I somehow changed my attitude towards him. I answered that in all reality, I did not
, as his "persona" was still quite funny. She continued, asking if somehow this whole Rage Boy phenomenon made protests (in which stuff gets burned) somehow "less frightening" for me. Of course
it does not, as these protests are not frightening to me in the first place."Oh, is that because they're so far away?"
Quite the opposite—as I recall, we have had our own problems
with violent protests here in the United States
. Generally, though, I don't think that protesters are something to be afraid of, as their actions don't typically lead to anything larger than their signs.
Heck, I could be wrong, but that's my Chertoff™ gut feel on it.
All in all, the interview didn't go as badly as I feared
it would. There are a couple of places that I wish I had done better, and Lord knows how NPR will edit it to make me sound
, but hey, them's the breaks. If they pull something funny, I'll be rebutting right here, so at least you'll get the whole story.
I would like to thank NPR for giving me the time, and hopefully the chance, to try and explain some of this phenomenon! Hopefully, I did a "good enough" job at it!
The program will air sometime around noon tomorrow
on your local NPR affiliate. You'll be able to listen to it archived online after 3PM as well.
I'll be on the edge of my seat waiting to hear how all of this turned out, that's for sure!Update:
As an aside, wouldn't I look like a real
silly goose if they decide to jettison the story? I mean, for all I know, I could've bored everyone
there to death, right?
As I always say... I've got a face for the radio, and a voice for the newspaper.
Ah well, even if they don't run with it, it was still a very fun experience!How cool is that?
It seems that The American Spectator
, a conservative American magazine, has chimed in on Rage Boy. Oh, and just in case you're yearning
for another example of existentialist comedy, I have just what you're looking for
! (Also posted on Christopher Orlet's blog
I'm listening live now, via KPCC
. We'll see how it goes...UPDATE:
Looks like it just might be a go
. The name's "LEDBETTER," by the way. The "A" costs extra, you know... I do look forward to hearing what my counterpart from the AFP thinks of this whole dust-up!UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE:
Special Action Alert™—I was right!
According to the reporter from AFP, Shakeel Abdul Bhat ("Rage Boy") is
a PROFESSIONAL PROTESTER
, which is exactly
what I SAID he was
. It is really neat to see my suspicion confirmed like that!
thanks to NPR (and to both
Deborah's) for their coverage on this story! I'm amazed that I didn't end up sounding as bad as I thought I would... I'll be posting audio and a transcript as soon as I'm able to, so stay tuned!Exit Question:
Do I sound like as big a moron to you
as I do to me?
I reckon I probably ought to shake the bugs out of the Podcast code before I try to post audio, right? Might be a good idea. So, if this works correctly, I present this hopefully pleasant musical interlude, from legendary Japanese guitarist Akira Takasaki
. (高崎 晃) His work isn't necessarily for everyone
, but this is from his 1996 輪 ("Wa") album, which was a nice fusion-jazz/rock experiment.Urban Nights(That ought to do it. Let me know if you experience any problems playing the above file!)
Rage Boy Sightings