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Christopher Noxon

author | JOURNALIST i illustrator

Chris is the author of the novel Plus One, which “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner called “well-observed, honest, and laugh-out-loud funny” and Rejuvenile: Kickball, Cartoons, Cupcakes and the Reinvention of the American Grown Up, which Ira Glass, host of public radio’s This American Life, called “an eye opener.” The book was featured in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, CNN’s “In the Money,” NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” and Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report.”

As a journalist, he has written for The New Yorker, DetailsThe New York Times MagazineLos Angeles Magazine, and Salon. He began his career in newspapers, working as an editor, enterprise reporter and arts critic for the L.A. Daily News, the Cape Cod Publishing Company and the Los Angeles Independent Newspaper Group, where he won two first-place honors from the LA Press Club for feature and news reporting. As a freelancer, he covered the Democratic National Convention for Reuters; lived as a patient with recovering addicts for a Playboy feature about troubles with drug rehab; wrote about marketing and new media for Kurt Andersen and Michael Hirschorn’s Inside.com; and was the first journalist to report on actor Mel Gibson’s ties to an ultraconservative Catholic splinter group in a feature for The New York Times Magazine.

His illustrations have been featured on the websites The Undo List and Modern Loss and the book Unscrolled: Writers and Artists Wrestle With The Torah.

Along the way, he has worked as a costumed character at Universal Studios, answered letters of complaint at L’Oreal cosmetics, and was director of communications for Michael Milken’s prostate cancer charity.

He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, television writer/producer Jenji Kohan, and their three children.


Transcription

Drew Kugler: You know the most Jewish people begin sentences with the word so.

Chris Noxon: So.

DK: So I'm not going to do that today. I'm going to begin by providing some context, which perhaps I should have provided in a couple earlier episodes that I've done the show. I've said in these previous tapings, and who knows where they'll come in in terms of how they're presented, but I've said that everybody's going to get the same opening question. So I am here with Christopher Noxon, a gentleman I consider a friend. And as you will hopefully find out, I got really good feelings this is going to be interesting in many ways. So that's why I talked Chris into doing this. But the key question that I've decided to start every podcast with has a reason behind it. And the reason is: probably the toughest speech setting that I've ever had to present at was when Marisa—she was then nine—her teacher asked me to come to class to present to thirty-five fourth and fifth graders about how to give a speech and how to communicate better. And the trick was that it was right after recess. So I knew I was up against it. So in they come and there's thirty-five sweaty—you know what that smells like when fourth graders sweat, boy or girl. And they're all in this room and I'm thinking what's the snappy introduction to get their attention. And I said, “I want everybody to think for just a second.” Room got quiet—it's great. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And they all went around—one girl literally wanted to be an artist, a doctor, an actress, and a psychiatrist or something. And the point I wanted to make with them, and the point that underpins my work, is that from a young age, communication from a very young age, communication makes a huge difference. And my point to those kids was that the no matter what answer they gave me, communication was going to be important. So now I ask my grown up friends in these settings, “What did you want to be when you grew up?” and we’ll take it from after you give the answer.

CN: I, the thing I remember most was wanting to be a tap-dancing brain surgeon. I told my mom when she asked me. I was really into Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly movies, but I knew that that was a little bit of a frivolous desire. Felt like it was.

DK: The tap dancing.

CN: Tap dancing. I didn't actually dance.

DK: You didn't?

CN: No, not at all.

DK: But they did?

CN: But they did on TV. I thought that looked amazing and they were super elegant and great. But I also knew that it would be cool, it would be more serious and more helpful to the world to be a brain surgeon. So that's what I said when adults would ask me. I feel like that's a thing because I have little kids, right; I have a eleven year-old and then a fifteen year-old then a seventeen year-old, so they're not so little anymore. But they the number of times that adults ask them what they want to be when they grow up typically elicits like a “I don't know, you know I'm a kid.” There's very few kids who can answer that with any kind of precision or, and that changed as I got older.

DK: Right. Before we before we leave the answer though, and this is nothing to with communication. You learned about tap dancing from the Astaire and Gene Kelly.

CN: Right.

DK: Elegant beautiful as it was, right?

CN: Cool.

DK: Very cool. And they said Ginger Rogers was even better because she had to do with heels on, right?

CN: Going backwards.

DK: Going backwards, exactly. However, where did you pick up the brain surgery thing?

CN: I don't know; that's a good question. I mean, I must've seen it on TV. You know it just seemed like the most dangerous, noble, kind of smart profession you could possibly have. Risky intellectual.

DK: It's a look-good in the white jacket.

CN: I mean you have people putting their lives in your hands.

DK: So walk me through then, sure enough, communication would follow you through tap dancing. You have to listen to your choreographer. And pay attention. Obviously in brain surgery, there will be a couple shows here in the future with doctors of some notoriety who will talk about the importance of communication. But tell me where you went from there, right? In terms of what appealed to you—what you felt you wanted to do with your life.

CN: My dad was a documentary filmmaker. Did nature documentaries for National Geographic. All those Sunday specials from the 70's and 80's and he would go off on these great adventures. My folks split up when I was pretty young and so he was sort of a mythic figure to me, in any case. And he'd go off to Africa to be with you know elephants or Dr. Leakey or you know, chasing sharks and then he'd come back and he'd have these movies. And all my friends saw them and it was pretty exciting and heroic. And so I knew I wanted to do something like that something where I could go out into the world and see stuff and get paid to do it. And then I remember watching Lou Grant and thinking OK, that's what I want to do. I want to be in a newsroom.

DK: OK.

CN: So I decided pretty early, I think in elementary school, that I was going to be a journalist and did student newspapers and did that all through college and set out to to be a reporter.

DK: Got it. So when people are standing at—we're now to present day—when people are standing at a party, like we were the other night, I happened to know what you did, but when people ask what you do now, how do you describe your world?

CN: Now I mean I'm in really a position of flux. Because for years I would just say I was a writer. I went from doing journalism to writing books and wrote a nonfiction book based on an article that I'd written for The New York Times, and then wrote a novel. And then while writing the novel was doing a lot of drawing and have gotten more and more interested in how words and pictures can work together, and have been doing these kind of graphic essays since then. So now I find myself drawing as much as I am writing, and so I am a graphic essayist. I'm a, you know, I don't think I'm a graphic novelist because I don't do sort of comic form. But words and pictures. Ill-a-writer. I don't know what to call myself anymore.

DK: So what, where, do; can you trace back as we've in an elementary way tried to do it today. Can you trace back where the art stuff—the the sketching thing came from?

CN: Well, I told you about my dad. His mom was a painter and lived in Cape Cod, in this like A-frame cabin in the woods. She was divorced really early at a time when women weren't getting divorced that often. And she never remarried and taught painting and did music in her basement and accumulated a pretty astonishing body of work by the time she was eighty four. I worked—the first job in newspapers was on Cape Cod—and I got to spend a lot of time with her. And she was super inspiring to me. At the same time my mom was a painter until she got into museum curating and did a lot of other work in education. But so I've always been sort of surrounded by and interested by visual art, but never went to art school. Never took an art class. Was just a doodler.

DK: Right.

CN: And as I was writing my novel I was drawing in the margins, writing longhand. And I ended up using a lot of those drawings in the actual text. Every chapter had a little spot illustration at the beginning and we ended up publishing those. And then I found that that was more exciting to me than a lot of the text. So now I'm just—that's beginning to take over.

DK: So which which book was that?

CN: Plus One.

DK: Plus One. And remind me and the listeners.

CN: Plus One is a novel about house-holding men and sort of breadwinning women. So it's about families when the traditional roles get reversed. It’s based loosely, but pretty faithfully, on my own life. I’m married to Jenji Kohan who created the show Orange Is the New Black and Weeds. And when her TV career kind of took off, I was working in communications for Mike Milken, doing charity work for his cancer stuff. And pretty quickly after she sold her first pilot and things started to sort of rev up, I realized that the money that I was making in nonprofits really wasn't a factor anymore. So I kind of off-ramped and started taking more and we start having kids and I became kind of a householder. I was still writing, but I was much more, much more involved in our family's life. And I just found that to be a really fascinating dynamic and I wanted to—I knew there was comic and crazy kind of story possibilities. I started to write it in essay form as a journalist, and I knew how to do that, and realized that our own lives were pretty boring. And wanted to sort of ask myself, “What if I did all these things that I knew would kind of be bad for my life?” So what would it like if I got into reality television because a friend told me it would be amazing? Or what if I had the affair with the woman who was interested in getting to my wife? Or what if I...so I just kind of like followed—I had my kind of mid-life crisis on the page so I wouldn't have to have it in real life.

DK: With, with the sketches.

CN: With text. And then as I was writing the text, every chapter had some kind of symbolic object at the center. The first chapter is about the guy who goes to the Emmys® with his wife and she buys him the tux and some shoes and they go to the red carpet and and he’s walking the red carpet his shoes fall apart. Literally the soles come off and he asked his wife what what's the deal with the shoes and she tell she tells him that she bought the shoes at the county morgue thrift shop. Because they're a real bargain. This actually happened to me and Jenji. And they tape up the shoes with some gaffer's tape and he goes in. This really happened, and I just knew it was an amazing story, and so I call the chapter “Dead Man's Shoes”, right. So this guy's in this moment of of learning to be arm candy, learning to be the plus one to this powerful woman, and literally his shoes fall apart. In real life my wife actually was the one who ran off to find the gaffer to tape up the shoes. In the book, and it's changed, because for a lot of reasons, but I needed to introduce a character who would sort of guide him into this world of men attached to women who have careers and incomes that far surpass their own. So he's kind of led into this world by a guy who appears out of the crowd named Huck. Who is totally familiar. He’s the husband of the star of the woman’s show and she's he sort of becomes the the spiritual father who leads him into this world of of these kind of lay-about guys.

DK: And that's what you...

CN: And that's what I wrote. So anyway the original title of that chapter was “Dead Man's Shoes” but I was drawing shoes as I was writing this chapter. And then I ended up using the drawings in the text instead of the title. So now every chapter has a drawing instead of the word, and you kind of come across that image in the text as you go.

DK: So have you received—from people who have who have looked at your work—this combination this hybrid of words and pictures that you've created—have you received and had conversations based on how people either did or didn't experience the work differently as a result of the pictures?

CN: One hundred percent. I mean that's been the thing that's really motivated me to keep going. Because when I was a journalist and even in my you know foray into fiction, the only thing I really wanted to do when I start off to write the book—I —you never know with publishing and fiction and and books are such a hard business to be in. You really have to do it because you're obsessed with the world that you're creating. And I am obsessed with fiction and I love to read books and literature is super important to me. But when I really boiled it down, like was I trying to make a bestseller? Was I trying to get a book deal? Was I trying to write another book? What was I trying to do? And I had to really think deeply about what my goal was. And my goal really was that someone I respected and liked would come to me and say, “This was really important me.” Just because that's the feeling that I get when I read something that I love. I want to have to give that experience to somebody else and the book the books I've done have sort of done that. But that the graphic stuff that I've been doing, you know, instead of people saying, “Wow that was great” or “I really like that” in a kind of polite, you know perfunctory way; I've gotten people telling me that they've wept. That they've felt something really deeply. That they've, “Wow that awoke something in me.” That kind of core emotional response that I didn't get with just my words. And it's weird because the words to me seemed to me so important. And it turns out that if you add a line and some color it operates on a whole different level in how it's consumed.

DK: Is there a piece—you obviously as you were telling that story—I always know in talking to clients when they're expressing a feeling as strongly as that conversation hit you—that there is a conversation in your mind's eye that specifically—that somebody said it really hit them. Do you know specifically—it's a chance to talk about some of these works that people could look at—what piece was that or or your favorite representative work?

CN: For sure; I mean I've done now too since in 2017, this year, graphic essays that have come out. The first one I think was the one that really kind of—I had been working on a book about converting to Judaism. And it was a word picture piece—kind of combination of handwritten words and drawings. And I had the full manuscript and full chapters done and then this election happened. And I happened to be in Memphis on a book tour with a novel. I was supposed to talk about house-holding and breadwinning and gender roles and all that. And it was two days after the election; I was in Memphis. And I was like hollowed out, and just dumbfounded and really raw. And I was supposed to go to Graceland, but I ended up feeling like that was not going to be the right thing to do. So I went to the Civil Rights Museum and I followed the address and I got to the place and I got out and I looked over and there was no museum. It was a—it was a hotel. And I was kind of confused but I recognized the architecture a little bit and I walked closer and there was a wreath on the banister. And I realized this was the place where MLK was shot. And you know I think a lot of people had strong reactions in the days after the election and that was the place where I had my strong reaction. I just fell apart.

DK: Did you really?

CN: Yeah. Just standing on the sidewalk eleven o'clock in the morning, just weeping. And I think it was—I thought about why it was that moment. It was the reminder that history goes backwards as well as forwards. And this is a deeply troubling time and we've had them before. And then I went to the museum and there's this incredible story of people standing up to a establishment that was against them and sort of moral clarity. And so for about two weeks after that I was on this kind of civil rights tear. This bender of—I was just drawing mug shots in my journal—you know the mug shots of you know all those Freedom Riders in the protesters who were down there and they're young and they're old and they're black and they're white and they're in their suits and they just have this unbelievable intensity and conviction and dignity and poise. And so I wrote and drew about that. And the response to that was like you know—and it took me a couple months to do it came out around the inauguration. It came out actually in the same week of MLK's birthday and when John Lewis and Trump had their little Twitter war. And I just got really—and I think part of the response that I was getting was all wrapped up in that—so it's kind of sharing a moment with people who are also feeling as conflicted and as you know difficult.

DK: Right. Where did where did that piece...

CK: It ran a thing called Fusion which I had not heard of before. But a friend pointed me towards—they're doing a lot of political work. This is—I mean the kind of stuff that I want to do takes up a lot of real estate— so it's hard to figure out where to publish it. The last piece I did I did one that just came out last week in a magazine called Tablet, so it works online. I'd love for it to work on pages because I like to see this stuff in print. So I’m hoping to do in a book now about movements of the past and political change and this sort of civil rights story and how it applies to now.

DK: Is as a writer you just made that point about internet versus online versus the the printed paper word. I was listening to this blogger—famous in the world of marketing a guy—named Seth Godin. And Seth his has written I think he estimates 6,000 blog entries. He blogs every single day. SethGodin.com as a small affiliated plug if you want to see that. But somebody was asking him, and Debbie Millman was talking—the design guru on podcast—was talking to him about what that's like because he doesn't really do books that much anymore. And he says it's good and it's bad. He says it's good in that I get a lot more people because they're on the Internet that are going to see my work and they're going to be moved by my work. But he said with a couple things going the wrong way, it could all be gone. Right, with the server going down or something—and then it's just gone. So I wonder in a more general way, do you feel different conversing through your writing on the Internet versus paper? I mean it just—Seth’s comment stuck in my head as you were telling your your story—here or does it feel the same?

CK: Yeah; look I'm both encouraged and discouraged. I'm encouraged by the fact that you know I read a lot on tablets and on my phone and on my screen. But the work of the people in this kind of micro genre that's not really graphic novels, it's not really picture books. There's a woman in Maira Kalman who's she does a lot of stuff for The New Yorker. She wrote a book called The Principles of Uncertainty which is sort of my bible. And there's another woman named Wendy MacNaughton in San Francisco who does these kind of illustrated journals. She has a cookbook out right now that's extraordinary. They are books and they are—I would never look at them on a screen. You have to hold them. So I feel like this is a great place for someone who loves books to be. Because there's no way to really—I mean that you can do them the the screen versions that I've done these graphic essays are good on screen. But I think they'll be better in print. So you know as things get more and more digital, it's great to be working in an analog space that can't be that well-reproduced.

DK: Yeah. So let's make a transition to another topic that I know you feel strongly about and I certainly do, and that's being a dad. A dad as conversationalist, OK. Meaning, you know a whole thing—and I will come—we'll go on another podcast about it—but this notion of fundamental belief that I have, that we can still help kids change. And I have less hope for adults, right? Just in terms of really changing their behaviors. But what are some efforts— especially from spending the amount of time that you've been fortunate enough and I believe truly fortunate enough to spend with your kids as they've grown up—are there moments that come to mind—things that you've attempted to impart to them about connecting in the world and about interacting with others?

CK: Absolutely. I mean, you know all my three kids are so different and they're such individuals and the one real truism that I can possibly offer from the ridiculously complicated world of dealing with these little humans is that they came in with their own marching orders. I sort of feel like I could've screwed them up and really that's all I could have done. They were who they are they, they are who they are. I have a really scholarly, super thoughtful, very sensitive kind of uber-nerd, who is my oldest. And then I have a very dramatic, very expressive, very sensitive, super-talented kind of volatile girl. And then I have this incredibly confident, really physical, social—the least neurotic person I know—who's an eleven year old. And I think that what I mean is that I don't know that anything really that I can do is going to change fundamentally who they are. They are who they are. They came in as these people.

DK: Did you believe that from pretty much from the beginning of your career as dad, or does that something you discovered? Did you try, in essence, to provide orders?

CN: I think they they set me straight pretty fast. I think they really did. I mean I do I do think I can offer them kind of hacks, you know, like little lessons, you know, tip well.

DK: That's a big one.

CN: That’s a huge one. Never send a picture of your penis. I’ve let that my kids know that. I. You know I think, I hope, that they are willing and more more generous with their time with people they don't know, because of my example. I think that the most that they can learn from me, is how I am in the world, right? It's the example not that it's the show, not tell. And I do hope that I have told each of them, I think kind of pointedly, that I really hope that they're able to share the parts of themselves that they are less proud of with others. I really feel like some of the best relationships I've developed have been based in a sense of vulnerability. That when I'm honest with people about how screwed up I'm feeling, how nervous I am, how awkward I am, how sick I feel, how grief stricken I might be—whatever it is; the yucky bits. That sharing that with someone who, you know—over-sharing sometimes can actually create the kind of bond that really is helpful and useful and lasts longer than trying to lead with a kind of false sense of bravado or confidence.

DK: Do you have any idea where you learned that?

CN: I don't know.

DK: Is that just something...

CN: I remember a friend of mine's a TV writer and she got she was lucky enough to meet with Steven Spielberg for a project. And I was like, “What was he like?” You know I wanted to hear the full story. And she said he's emotionally available. And I was —both of us were like—that is so much more impressive to me than showing off his Indiana Jones memorabilia or  Schindler's List book or whatever it was. The fact that he was able to talk about the kind of shitty day he was having or how the problem he was having with us he was just emotionally available. And I think I guess I was really struck by “OK, that's a goal.” To really be honestly, emotionally available with anyone you're with.

DK: And it—does it—ever backfire?

CN: I'm sure it backfires if—I'm sure—I mean it must backfire. I can't think of a time right off the top of my head. You know—you don't want to be emotionally available—like I have to pitch a group of editors—or if I'm having a shitty day and I don't want to lead with my discontent, right? So you got to be able to edit yourself. But at the same time I think as a tactic, it's really—just you can move through the world in a lot more genuine way.

DK: Well is that when you said you don't want to share that in a pitch, as you said that, there’s a the new book out, fairly new book in the last year, called The Originals by a Professor from Wharton, named Adam Grant. Wrote a book called Give and Take and now he's written this other book with Sheryl Sandberg that's out now called Option B. He's an excellent writer and his book about The Originals would actually—was like advising people on how to pitch as a startup. And what he noticed, and what he's actually studied, is the patterns that emerge from the best pitches. And he found something so counter-intuitive and I was just thinking about it as you said what you said. He said somewhere soon in your pitch at the top, you should lead with something that didn't go right and what you did about it, or what you will do about it in the future. Because it goes to your point about vulnerability. And when when VC's in this world of Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach and all the rest—that they're looking for that to invest in because at the heart of it, we all invest in each other based on like that. So I actually advise people, to be as you say genuine. And actually be proud of it. And what I take from your story is that idea. Is that that connects you in a deeper way than a perfectly-worded, perfectly-delivered friendship. And that—I was just thinking about that.

CN: Yeah, I mean, when I, as I said earlier, I converted to Judaism about a year ago, and while I was doing that I was doing a lot of study and I was doing a little bit shul shopping, and I was going around talking to a lot of rabbis. And one of the things that really struck me was that the people—the rabbis who got through to me the most, and who seemed to be the most successful, were the ones who talked about their struggle, and their uncertainty, right? It was these people who talked about how hard it was to confront some of the problems that we were all facing. It wasn't—I mean it's funny because I think that people in leadership positions think that they're supposed to give answers. And a lot of the time what we're actually looking for is a reflection of our own struggle.

DK: Exactly. There's a there's a lot of research that backs that up—that basically says no one truly takes on authentic or genuine leadership capabilities until they have failed. So you go back to Moses you go back to—you have the list right. I mean you go back all the way through through real and created history of people who have emerged, and it was all from a flaw. And that...

CN: And yet we’re living in this culture where the the emphasis is all on success.

DK: Yep.

CN: And how do we—and then to focus on success because success creates more success and if you're confident you know the secret all that—just manifest and keep your eyes on the on the thing you want to create. You know it's difficult to find that thread.

DK: I find—it’s so funny what you talk about what to keep your eyes on—and I go back to your story of crying on the corner. And a lot of clients, whether because a business climate or anything can be fairly discouraged these days, right? As we all can be. But I managed to dig up a clip of Bruce Springsteen singing Eyes on the Prize, right, which was what King lived for. And as long as you keep it in that longer view, if you will, communicate in a—with a longer view, you're likely going to be able to get through most, if not anything. So I don't know I was thinking of that as you were crying on the corner in Memphis. So let’s end—you read—you mentioned earlier not taking a picture of your penis which I appreciate that advice once again.

CN: To a seventeen year old boy.

DK: A seventeen year old boy right. And letting your daughter have perspective on that as well; it's something I've dealt with with my two girls. But let's go to the other piece of writing that I know you did—this notion of converting to Judaism. And all that you've been through. And I want you to tell, because I started to read about it is I prepared for this. Talk about that the title in the story...

CN: You want to hear about my penis don’t you.

DK: About what they what they wanted to do, right? What was the...

CN: Well, there's three, yeah there's three requirements to convert. You have to go before a beit din; three rabbis, usually three, sometimes more. It’s like defending your thesis. They have to quiz you on some knowledge and your genuine desire. Then you got to do a mikveh, so you get dunked in the Jewish jacuzzi. And then you have to be circumcised, and that applies to all men, you know even those who were like me, not that you asked, already circumcised. So you have to get pricked, and they all demand it. Even the groovy reform guys make you get pricked. And I’ve known that for a long time. I married my wife almost twenty years ago, and thought about conversion at that time just because it would have been made easier for the kids, but there are all kinds of issues. Didn't do it and partly because I was just thought this is a bizarre tribal rite.

DK: The prick part.

CN: The prick part. It’s nuts.

DK: This is a Seinfeld episode; I'm sorry this is the obvious one that comes to mind.

CN: Is there are Seinfeld of a guy who gets pricked?

DK: Oh, go home. Go home and well, you don’t even have to go home. Pull up the mohel episode and how Kramer struggles with the whole notion of going to...

CN: I remember I've been told about a lot about an episode about a guy who converts so that he can tell jokes about Jews.

DK: Played by Bryan Cranston.

CN: Bryan Cranston.

DK: That’s right. So anyway there you are avoiding...

CN: So anyway—so I avoided it for a long time but I ended up sort of—I have three kids—they went to Jewish school. I started doing Judaism. I started like we would do Shabbat. I would go to services occasionally, just hanging out. And reading like Heschel and thinking about the tradition, and just basically getting what I could from the tradition without identifying. And at a certain point, and I really do still feel quite strongly that that fifteen-some years of doing without being taught me something really powerful. About, to me, obviously, obviously there are incredibly righteous and exemplary atheists and Muslims and Catholics and Protestants and maybe not so much Scientologists. But anyway, there are all kinds of really righteous people I would seek to emulate with and they're not all Jewish and nobody has the answer. But the deeds are what matter to me, right? It’s the are you leading a good life? Are you making the world better than when you found it? Are you contributing? And what does the tradition offer you to help you to get there? So like I found that there were things about Judaism that I could reinterpret and do; I started unplugging between Friday night and Saturday. And you know the process of Yom Kippur and just the traditions had, when reinterpreted and thought through and acted in fresh ways, felt really powerful. So you know doing, being, and then at a certain point I was like I just want to be, I want to go to the next question. So I went through the the...

DK: Who does that?

CN: It used to be done on the High Priest in the temple.

DK: Of course.

CN: Now, at least in the circles that I travel in, it's a guy named Dr. Andy. He's a urologist. He's a moonlighting mohel. He's out in Calabasas. My appointment was at 9:30 on a Thursday night.

DK: Who went with you?

CN: My wife—to this tract house.

DK: Actually after those bad shoes she bought you. So anyway...

CN: So we go up to the track house and he lets us and we go down to his office and that's like right next to his laundry room where his sneakers are in the dryer going—just like a drug deal—really felt like a drug deal. And we go into his home office and they're talking, and I realize I could not hear any words coming out of people's mouths because of what was about to happen. Because I knew it was and I was just like in raw panic. And then he, he puts on these surgical gloves and takes out a little Lancet and I took down my pants and I got super self-conscious because I was wearing striped underwear and that felt entirely too festive.

DK: For the moment, right.

CN: Totally. Hadn't thought that through. And then he did some Hebrew prayers and there's a little snap and it's over. It's not that big a deal. It's sort of like the moderate day at the dentist. There's no like he doesn't give you any topical or anything. And then we went for Chinese, which felt incredibly Jewish. Yeah.

DK: There's good. Was going to ask question about Chinese in Calabasas but...

CN: But no we had to go to the San Gabriel Valley—long drive. Long drive.

DK: Well, I just could not let that—and so you wrote about it. Is that story—that story’s in print.

CN: Yes. That story is in print. And I'm and I illustrated and I'm illustrating it. And then just all those sort of associated lessons about doing and being and religious observance and sort of it's a spiritual memoir.

DK: There you go.

CN: But even saying those words makes me want to cringe. And again, like at this particular moment, I don't feel like it's time to talk about my spiritual memoir. There are—you know—the house is burning down, people.

DK: Got it. Does it really feel like that to you?

CN: It does. It does this feels like a really historic moment.

DK: So what do you feel, as we as they say in Temple, as I begin to conclude here, given that the house is burning, another one of my friends referred to it as the apocalypse. It’s some fairly strong language going on here. What can—what do you hope that people who you care about—what you hope they do?

CN: Well, first of all I really hope I'm wrong, and I hope that the people who are panicking right now are just being a little hysterical. You know, I hope we look back in five years, and just say oh boy that was scary and it's just it turned out OK. And I'm encouraged by the fact that this guy who seemed like could be ushering in a new era of sort of Naziism turns out to be really bad at being bad, you know. He’s pretty inept.

DK: Yes.

CN: So I'm hopeful that he's going to bumble his way through not getting done all these horrible things he wants to get done and we'll be OK. However, I think that it's very hard to concentrate on anything but kind of preserving basic civil liberties and the health of the planet right now.

DK: Yeah.

CN: I think we have to keep all hands on back to kind of just protect.

DK: Right. I'm tempted in picking guests for the show to get somebody who's going to come up with a viable explanation of how he's going to pull off what he had hoped for. Because so far he has failed on so many levels. If you look at the budget and this one we're taping, the budget came out last week and he didn't touch Planned Parenthood. He didn't get a brick for the Wall. It goes on and on—so far, speaking of communication issues, he is the one who has gotten in his own way, which we often do in conversation. We are the ones who cause, we the individual, are the ones who cause our own effectiveness most often. And A. accepting that, which he doesn't and B. working on that, which he clearly doesn't, if you watch him continue to try to read a teleprompter. He’s dropping the ball consistently on key political rhetoric and communication moments that he needs to get through the reality of how hard politics is. So I'm more optimistic than than you're sounding as I watch him, as you say, be bad at being bad. It's a fascinating time to watch that. So thank you for for sharing at least one view. And and most importantly thank you for sitting in today. As I said, we just put this together last week and I’ve met you a few times, but this was really cool of you to do.

CN: Happy to do it.

DK: And I appreciate it and there will be more obviously that you've heard about ways to—anything—any place where people can go to to look at the latest stuff? Tell me about that.

CN: Sure well I have a website of course, you know, ChristopherNoxon.com. And you know update that with pictures. And then the book is Plus One. It's out in paperback. It looks really great. It has drawings in it and you should read it.

DK: I’ve already and I got the tablet by the way; I read the tablet one this morning.

CN: Yeah that came out last week it's about immigration crisis and about Syrians. But it's a comic, so it’s fun.

DK: It’s fun. It’s easy to read.

CN: Easy to read.

DK: Well, thank you.

CN: Thank you.

DK: Thank you Chris.

CN: Appreciate it.

DK: Thanks.