Interview

My Bill Maher Q&A: Fall, 2015

Forget Barack Obama and Donald Trump, Bill Maher is America’s most politically polarizing living figure. Whether you like him or not, Maher is one of those people you see on TV and go, “I wish I could talk to that guy, just for 15 minutes.” Not because of aligned political ideals, or because of simple celebrity, but rather, because Bill Maher is informed, convicted and unafraid to talk about his beliefs. I got my 15 minutes, thanks to Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living magazine, and those minutes were enthralling. To be honest, I could barely keep up. 

Say what you want about Mr. Maher, but you have to hand it to him: the guy is an entertainer — always on and ready to talk. Speaking of that, Warning: Explicit language!

Between Real Time with Bill Maher, HBO’s Vice, and a national stand-up tour, I’m curious: Are you so busy that you have to stop through Spokane just to pick up some legal weed?

[Laughs] Believe it or not, it’s actually legal where I live in Los Angeles. See, I have a medical marijuana card to treat my infirmity. I don’t remember what that infirmity was, but I do know that marijuana is very helpful in treating it.

Being an outspoken proponent for drug legalization, do you see Washington and Colorado as the first dominoes to fall?

We’re hopeful of that. There are some unfortunate rearguard people. Chris Christie is very much against any sort of legalized marijuana. Because, you know, he’s very disciplined about what he puts in his mouth. [Drug legalization proponents] have waited. Obama fixed the economy, healthcare, gay marriage, he opened up Cuba, he made a climate deal with China, and a nuclear deal with Iran. I’m hopeful his last thing out the door will be … Weed! “Weed, bitches!”

Turning to the 2016 presidential race, it seems like both a comedian’s goldmine and low hanging fruit. How do you maintain a balance when writing? (more…)

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Job Interview Horror Stories: AT&T Ret(hell)

“I’m a customer,” she says. “Approach me.”

I hate role playing.

“I just walked in,” she says. “I’m looking at phones. Okay. Come over.”

If I had to choose between job interview role playing and polishing a trumpet while the trumpet player is trumpeting, I would choose the trumpet. Every time.

“Hi,” I smile, but oddly, like someone is holding a shiv to my side, “can I help you?”

“I’m looking for a phone,” she says. Her name is Sally. “Something new. Something really cool.”

“Do you like iPhones?”

“Okay. Stop right there. Ask what she currently has.” This is Sandra. She’s watching from the side, a few feet over at the table we were all just interviewing me at. “Meet them where they’re at.”

It’s always wise to learn from mistakes.

“What phone do you currently use?”

“The Dell Aero.”

“Oh.”

Some mistakes I’m happy to leave behind.

“But I don’t want the Dell Aero anymore.”

“Right,” I say. “Do you like iPhones?”

ikea-job-interview

My job hunting and interview history has left me with many regrets. Like, for instance, the time I applied to AT&T as a retail representative, somewhere in Washington state, circa 2010.

It didn’t start off very well either. (more…)

Interview: Gar Mickelson, Kaleidoscope Community Services

I walk into 2nd Street Commons, a nondescript building in downtown Coeur d’Alene (CDA), Idaho, sandwiched between a dive bar and a closed gun shop. Once inside the first thing I realize is that I have no idea how to categorize the premises, though I try: a coffee shop without a coffee bar, a living room without a TV, a pub without the liquored smell of vomit, a church without a program. There is no schema that fits, and I love it.

People are simply scattered. They look weary, but comfortable, at ease, respite. Some folks relax on the couch while others bustle up and down hallways, in and out of the kitchen.

It is here where I meet Gar Mickelson. He wears a bright smile, gives a big hug, and introduces me to everyone. “This is my friend Kevin,” he says. And everyone I meet makes me feel like family. They, too, give hugs and handshakes.

Gar gives a tour of the facility. As we walk along I continue to meet people, a mix of volunteers and visitors. Some are cooking, cleaning, painting, hauling. The volunteers are passionate and dedicated. Because I am cynical this is all odd for me. I’m waiting for the hook, the agenda, the money making scheme, something to take me out of this fairy tale of genuine coexistence.

We walk into a new room, “Excuse the camping gear,” Gar says. “We’re holding that for someone who was forced to leave his camp site.”

“For free?” I ask. “You’re holding it for free?”

“That’s what we’re all about here, Kevin. ‘Come and be for free.'”

I really want to give Gar another hug, but that would be too weird. So instead, we head into his office, and I ask him a few questions about how Kaleidoscope Community Services started, when it started, and what the heck this place even is.

What is Kaleidoscope Community Services? What is 2nd Street Commons, and how long has the CDA location been established?

Kaleidoscope Community Services is a private, faith-based non-profit corporation based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. KCS exists to bridge the gap between community needs and community resources, and we do this in a variety of ways.

KCS opened the 2nd Street Commons at the end of January, 2014. Since that time we’ve had over 100 volunteers from 10 different churches, served almost 500 gallons of coffee, served almost 1000 meals, and have gone through approximately 6 miles of toilet paper…  (more…)

City Whisk, the app that localizes discovery

The following story appears in the current issue of 585 Magazine (July/August ’14).

Jonathan Marcowicz is the first real explorer I’ve ever met.

We sit in a café, sip coffee, and reminisce of travel. He speaks of his past like he’s still there: a heuriger inVenice, a Chopin concert in France, serendipitous nights of intrigue in Versailles. His voice has heart; his eyes tell me all I need to know. And, really, I do know.

I tell him about an Ireland trip that changed my life. About Dingle, where the locals pointed me down a windy dirt road, past roaming sheep and old ruins, a path that led me to a drop-dead gorgeous cliff edging the endless Atlantic Ocean.

“That’s it!” he says. “Exactly.”

To Marcowicz, locals are the secret ingredients for intrepid adventure—a belief he cemented after a New Orleans New Year’s road trip.The more natives he spoke with, the more unique and engaging his expe- rience became. That’s how CityWhisk—a mobile app he cofounded with Marissa McDowell and Stacey Lampell—was born. The app offers travel itineraries from a local perspective and recently won first place in the Existing Civic App category at the 2014 AT&T Rochester Civic App Challenge.

Read more at 585Magazine.com