This is a great interview. Here are a few of my favourite bits :
Q: What’s heaven for you?
A: Me and my wife on Rte. 66 with a pot of coffee, a cheap guitar, pawnshop tape recorder in a Motel 6, and a car that runs good parked right by the door.
Q: What’s wrong with the world?
A: We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness. Leona Helmsley’s dog made 12 million last year… and Dean McLaine, a farmer in Ohio made $30,000. It’s just a gigantic version of the madness that grows in every one of our brains. We are monkeys with money and guns.
Q: Can you tell me an odd thing that happened in an odd place? Any thoughts?
A: A Japanese freighter had been torpedoed during WWII and it’s at the bottom of Tokyo Harbor with a large hole in her hull. A team of engineers was called together to solve the problem of raising the wounded vessel to the surface. One of the engineers tackling this puzzle said he remembered seeing a Donald Duck cartoon when he was a boy where there was a boat at the bottom of the ocean with a hole in its hull, and they injected it with ping-pong balls and it floated up. The skeptical group laughed but one of the experts was willing to give it a try. Of course, where in the world would you find twenty million ping-pong balls but in Tokyo? It turned out to be the perfect solution. The balls were injected into the hull and it floated to the surface, the engineer was elated. Moral solutions to problems are always found at an entirely different level; also, believe in yourself in the face of impossible odds.
Q: Do you have words to live by?
A: Jim Jarmusch once told me “Fast, Cheap, and Good… pick two. If it’s fast and cheap it wont be good. If it’s cheap and good it won’t be fast. If it’s fast and good it wont be cheap.” Fast, cheap and good… pick (2) words to live by.
Q: Tom, you love words and their origins. For $2,000…what is the origin of the word bedlam?
A: It’s a contraction of the word Bethlehem. It comes from the hospital of Saint Mary of Bethlehem outside London. The hospital began admitting mental patients in the late fourteenth century. In the sixteenth century it became a lunatic asylum. The word bedlam came to be used for any madhouse- and by extension, for any scene of noisy confusion.
Q: What is a gentleman?
A: A man who can play the accordion, but doesn’t.