23 NOV 2013 14 MAR 2014
The Naked Interview: With The International Man of Mystery Behind This Blog
Just to remind peep’l just who (and what) is behind the unfunny hilarity of this blog.
Those who’re in an almighty hurry can head straight for the Executive Summary instead.
MORE THAN five years of almost daily blogging on WordPress and a decade of sundry online writing — at least one About page, one About me (this) page,
one Statement page on my personal philosophy — and STILL the ungrateful sods people say there’s nothing in this blog (or elsewhere) about me! Talk about paying attention…
So here’s a good chunk of text to brood over in your coop and marvel at how difficult it has been for you to recall fun facts about The Naked Listener without awkward pauses, flubs or missteps. Sod off if you don’t like it.
WHO IS THE NAKED LISTENER?
By Special Correspondents of The Naked Listener’s Weblog
(Click some images for larger photos)
Professional name: Robert Lee
Real name: It ain’t Far Eastern, that’s for sure…
Other blog: [here]
BACK TO BASICS
Age? Too old to live, too young to die, too slow to burn out, too fast to stay still.
Describe yourself in three words. Disengaged, disembodied, dislocated.
Your favourite word or phrase? “Do you realise the heat you could bring on to the rest of us?” Actually, it’s that distinctly English (as in England) phrase “not to put too fine a point on things.”
What are you? A human being, as opposed to a bowl of jelly or a robot.
We meant jobwise or person-wise. Biologist by training, lawyer by qualification, writer by history, printer by work, biker by practice, and layabout by inclination. I’m also 66% lucky.
HISTORY AND LEGENDS
Where were you born? Let’s say it would’ve been London if I had came out two weeks early or Rome six weeks earlier.
And raised? All over the place — like in a baton relay race between mum and dad. I’ll lay it on you (in alphabetical order):—
- Hong Kong
- Honolulu — right on Waikiki Beach!
- Kuala Lumpur
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- São Paulo
It’s nothing to brag about. All it means is growing up nowhere.
They’re not countries. Why? I didn’t realise those cities were in different countries, until it was much too late.
Where do you live now? I live at home…
Why? I make bad judgment calls all the time, so I can make BETTER decisions later. Hong Kong has not been a good decision, I don’t think, but it’s home, so there.
Family? Not since my mum and dad passed away.
What kind of family did you come from? One with PEEP’L in it, as opposed to robots or psychopaths.
Are you related to anybody famous? Yeah, on both sides and it’s ridiculous. It just sounds too unbelievable, so skip it.
Where did you attend college? Depends on your definition of college. I never went to school until I was 12, and then I finished my formal education at 17. If you mean college as in university, I went to the University of London to read psychology and statistics and then law at the Nottingham Trent University.
MONEY FOR NOTHIN’ AND INNER SPACE
What do you print? I can’t talk about it, other than it’s financial printing — stuff for listed companies around the world.
Have to ask — Robert E. Lee — does your name similarity ever come up? I get hit with a lot of Robert E. Lee jokes. He was a good general. I kinda like to think I resemble him in some small way.
What kind of stuff are you interested in? Ain’t sex or money, that’s for sure…
What’s hot for you? I’m easily fascinated by colour and motion.
What puts you off? ‘Soloing techniques.’ Highflalutin’ words. Let’s settle on those two for now.
What started your interest in The Naked Listener? I never really knew, apart from the fact that I was collecting people’s words and funny names since a young age. I’m not talking about quotations from famous people or from books — there’s plenty of that to go round. No, just collected words spoken by ordinary people that happen to be interesting to me. I bang them down in little notebooks and the whole thing just grew from that.
I must’ve been one of the earliest people to use email (in 1989?), go online, that sort of thing, in 1996 or thereabouts. I chucked my stuff online around 2001 or ’02 on one of those Yahoo webbie-sites that came built-in with the email. In 2005 or thereabouts, I decided to go with a proper blog. And here we are.
Added on 12 Jan 2013:—
What’s with the blog name? Why ‘Naked’? “The Naked Listener” is my ‘handle’ — like those CB radio nicknames in the Seventies — that I use for signing guestbooks and logbooks when I’m on the move. [Read the full story here instead]
All-time greatest quote? Look up a dictionary of quotations. They’re all great. But if I’m really pressed, I got a couple—
“Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” (Anon.)
“Question your answer.” (Grandpa)
“I don’t wanna die. I don’t wanna lose either” (John McClane)
“If you tolerate this, your children will be next.” (English proverb)
Your pastimes? My life is one long emergency, so I try to be a couch potato whenever I get the chance. Kinda understandable, dontcha think? If you’ve got to know, I’m a biker (the motorcycle variety) and I ride in my fringed leather jacket — mine’s black and there’s a white one, American size 6, for my ‘chick.’
¹ The 70hp Yamaha Midnight Star XVS13AW(C).
My motorcycle gang is The North Coast Thunder Lobsters.
The only Harley I like is the Harley-Davidson XL883L Sportster SuperLow, which is NOT a muscle chopper.
I don’t do scooters or mopeds. I ride slow, but not f@#king dead slow like those dangerous scoots.
What are your real hobbies? Apart from sex, it’s a tie between collecting 16th- and 17-century silverpoint engravings and Roman coins. The oldest engraving I own dates from 1648 [during the English Civil War 1642–51] and I have two Roman coins each 2,000 years old. What do you collect — dust?
Do you moonlight? Yeah, as a financial printer! Truth be told, I moonlight as a ghostwriter for couple of people. I’ve also moonlighted as a political fundraiser back in the UK before.
For which party? The party that WINS.
You have a day job and moonlight? What’s the longest ‘day’ you’ve worked? My regular day is longer than you could imagine. My overtime exceeds that of most people’s regular day. But I catch your drift. The longest days have to have been those 36-hour shifts as hospital labtech in London. At £65 weekly take-home and the shift hours, I couldn’t even afford petrol — it just wasn’t worth the suffering.
SCRIBBLES AND SCRABBLE
Why is your blog so wildly popular? Great question. It isn’t. Next question.
The best thing about blogging? The money and the jetsetting lifestyle! Duh. Okay, it’s a fun way to share my opinions and stories about people and places that I couldn’t otherwise do. Duh. That’s the corporatised version. The REAL version is I’m always sitting around waiting literally for hours for the clients’ markups — so why not? Only I know the absolute truth that I could write about anything I like, with or without foul language or defamatory remarks. I could put in couple of dirty pictures too, but I haven’t found any yet that’s dark and depraved enough.
Whose blog would you love to read? YOURS! I subscribe to more than
200 321 325 blogs of all kinds of subjects. But I’d love to read yours.
What advice would you give to other bloggers? Let’s just say lots of bloggers out there do a helluva better job than what I’m doing, so fuh’get advice from me.
What advice, then, would you THINK a blogger might like to hear? Stop being gormless and tell how you really feel. Have some gumption inside you when you talk about things — because in any kind of writing, you ‘talk’ through the written word. Things don’t have to be The New Yorker or The Literary Review grammar-correct. Stop fretting over commenters disagreeing with you. After you finish writing the ‘About’ for your blog, then DON’T write about yourself again. Unless your blog really is about yourself, don’t do stupid things like what we’re doing right now.
You’ve worked long in publishing. Any advice for would-be authors? None. You can’t learn from my mistakes or the mistakes of others. You have to go out and make your own. The passion of writing is in the risk of never getting published — it’s like the passion of falling in love is in the risk of loving someone who might not love you back as much, or at all.
Is there something more than THAT? I’ll at least say this: you can write about ordinary things with a different perspective, or ‘different’ things with an ordinary perspective. Whatever you do, don’t write about ordinary things with an ordinary [perspective] but in a way that tries to please all parties. Don’t ever write different versions of the SAME sentence to describe the same thing — stick to one. Nothing’s so imperfect as perfection.
Those ‘corporatey’ magazines turned out by lots of professional or corporate bodies or academic institutions do exactly THAT — and they’re incredibly shitty. They don’t even realise they’re making themselves sound like liars.
Your workweek lasts 80 hours — where do you find the time to blog? By not fretting over grammaticalities and ‘the right way’ to express things. Grammar is the poisoned apple designed to hold back good, clean, crisp language.
Favourite local blogger? Can’t think of one right now. But it ain’t the la-la crap on Xanga by over-imaginative but under-promiscuous schoolgirls. Actually, I have a hard time understanding the local bloggers, not because of their English, but because they tend to drive in circles the way they write [even in their own mother tongue]. But the good ones are pretty good, just that they’re mostly not homegrown.
DEATH THREATS & SURREALIST ART
(Added 13 March 2014 from original interview)
Threats of violence. You’d be surprised, but blogging has actually put me in being threatened with violence, twice. That fact actually puts me in a rather select company of distinguished writers. I couldn’t tell if the perps just used the blog thing as their excuse or if it was the real deal. Whatever the reason, both times felt pretty serious — but pretty surreal too.
Why surreal? Because of the subject matter of their complaints.
The first death threat. Two skinny blokes came up and told me point-blank that they’ve been “watching” my blog and “忍了你很耐” (“had put up with you for a long time”). Over what, they couldn’t exactly say. They just said they’re “gonna move on” me if I didn’t stop writing about the increasingly dirty streets of Hong Kong and the lack of government relief for the disadvantaged. TRY, I told them, and see if they know “how my shit works out” when I was a combat infantry officer and had been in Beirut before. Surreal, no? I was more alarmed that these two morons managed to spot me in the street when I hadn’t even put up any pictures of me yet on the blog.
The second. I had this twentysomething lady in a fast-food restaurant telling me I shouldn’t write “so much” about women and putting up pictures of “nude” women. I explained I put up no such thing of anyone in extreme undress or compromising position. She was close to slapping me in the face. Then it transpired that she just googled “listening to the radio naked” @_@ and clicked on the first photo that popped up — an image from the post on the Red Bull F1 Dragon Run. Go have a look yourself and decide if the photos were of “nude” women, for chris’ sakes.
Near-death experience. If getting printing requests from my New York city clients could be counted as deadly, then the only thing that came close to an actual death threat was getting an off-site comment email about my post on curbing smoking. That email branded my views as “worthless” with the warning “I will make sure you and your blog die.” Surreal enough for you? Interestingly, the pictures of two women in that smoking post showed MORE SKIN than those from the auto race — yet not a whimper of displeasure from these people…
Hate mail. Of course I have received hate mail before! Find me just one single blogger who hasn’t had hate mail even once, and I’ll introduce you personally to at least three bloggers who’ve received NOTHING BUT HATE MAIL. Hate mail goes hand in hand with blogging territory, pal. And, yes, I’ve kept all the hate mail I’ve ever received.
What are they about mostly? For some unexplainable reason, about 91% of the hate mail complain about the blog’s language — specifically that it’s in English, that I’m Chinese and ought to write in Chinese. Many also point to my English being “not academic” in tone. Honestly, I’m floored by all this.
Examples? For my blogging in English, I’ve had email accusing me of being 洋腔洋調*. I’ve even received two TYPEWRITTEN letters in the mail from two people — or maybe just one person with a split personality — telling me how much they hated me for “refusing to write in your own mother language.” Both letters were in English, by the way. Oddly enough, none of my haters say they found my posts bitching or making characterisations about the Chinese in any way offensive. Go figure. I’ve had those two typewritten letters framed and put in the office. I highly suggest you do the same so I could add to my collection.
* 洋腔洋調(Cantonese: yeung hong yeung diu, Mandarin: yáng qiāng yáng diào) a Chinese idiom with the usually derogatory meaning of ‘to speak with a foreign accent or use words from a foreign language.’
So why not write in another language? I would if I could. I know some languages, but I don’t know how to write in anything but English.
Trolling. Everybody gets trolled on the Internet, or it isn’t the Internet. I’ve had one ‘personage’ who harangued me once a week for more than a year about the word ‘Naked’ in my blog name, saying its use was “uncharitable.” Frankly, I would’ve preferred if that personage just said it was offensive.
But how do you deal with all this aggro? All hate mail, death threats, etc, received won’t be ignored, won’t be laughed at. They will be ‘graded.’ They say, “I don’t like your attitude” — or my face. I’d say, yours aren’t to be congratulated on either. ‘Yours’ — plural, geddit? I DIDN’T start ragging on you first, so what does that say about you?
Haters: A standing offer. If you hate and detest my attitude, my work, my blogging language, my diction [distinctive choice and use of words], my long hair, MY LEATHER KNICKERS or anything else about me, you may do one of two things:— (1) take the anonymous coward’s way out and engage in defamatory commenting, or, (2) come and arrange a face-to-face chat with me over tea and authentic English scones, alternatively, English bangers and English ale. If you choose Option 2, only two provisos — you come TO ME in Hong Kong, and we agree upfront that the conversation is off the record. Email me to set one up. My predictions? (A) You’re too gutless and/or gormless to confront me personally. (B) If you do confront me, I’ll win you over.
And in return? I hate no one. I grew up all over the world and have met all sorts already, c’mon. Needless to say, if I were to hate someone, and if the hate were bad enough, bank on me to email the someone for a face-to-face meeting so that I could get to see and figure out why that person has to behave like an anal ringworm towards everybody. Fair warning, I can be QUITE persistent but in a very polite sort of way in wanting my face-to-face meeting.
Has it ever actually happened? Only once. And she was shaking and knees knocking all over the place from fear. It’s kinda stupid to work yourself into walking into that situation she did. I think she now knows what ‘in over your head’ means.
What’s your take on all this? I’m not making this up, man. I don’t honestly know what to make of all this. I suppose the bizarre behaviour has to be jealousy — these psychopaths must’ve been jealous of my English-language writing abilities. There’s just no other possible or credible reason, based on their complaints’ subject matter. I AM good in English, but not THAT good to deserve this kind of treatment. Do I give others the two fingers up or go around intimidating others for their great Chinese-writing abilities?
CULTURE & SOCIAL CONTROL
Favourite memory? It’s the longest-lasting, it’s anything but favourite. Next question.
What plays on your iPod? Podcasts mostly — podcasts of radio shows or music shows, sometimes speeches.
Favourite music or musician? Anything by CCR, “Sweet Home Alabama,” KC and the Sunshine Band, David Bowie (especially as Iggy Stardust), Johnny Cash, McFadden and Whitehead, Tom Jones and ZZ Top. But I’m into breakbeats, techno and ambient music too! I listen to anything, c’mon. No Cantopop, thankyouverymuch — they’re off-tune and just sounds too weird.
- Metropolis (1927)
- Easy Rider (1969)
- The French Connection (1971)
- The Mechanic (1972)
- 2001: A Space Odessey (1968)
- 633 Squadron (1964)
- Bullitt (1968)
Plus 300 more.
- The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776)
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974)
- Animal Farm (1945)
- Dress for Success (1975)
- First Steps in Latin (by F. Ritchie, 1909)
- Living French (by T.W. Knight, 1968–74)
- 道德經 (“Tao Te Ching” by Lao Tzu, 6th century BC)
I don’t read overwritten or affected crap like “Wuthering Heights” or “Brideshead Revisited” — I’ve read both, by the way.
Favourite TV shows?
- Blue Peter (BBC, 1958 to present)
- The Old Grey Whistle Test (BBC2, 1971–87)
- The World at War (ITV, 1973–74)
And a whole lot more.
FOR THE EATING IRONS AND HANGERS
Favourite dish? Roasted guineafowl with madeira and spiced oranges, served with roasted Round Red potatoes seasoned with dill, parsley, leaf basil and thyme. With Warre’s 1963 Port quaffed in the ‘English’ manner — pewter tankards. Luuurve’it.
You don’t like Chinese food? No, I’m not terribly fond of Chinese food — or any Asian food for that matter. If I HAD to choose, it would be Pekinese first, then Shanghainese, but not Cantonese.
Favourite article of clothes? Real… American… Made… Cowboy… Boots… From… Tennessee… And… Maybe… Also… Texas.
LAST THOUGHTS & EARLY WORDS
Favourite place to get away from it all? I don’t ‘get away from it all.’ I make it go away from me. I admire House for the same thing. Anywhere with a cold climate.
Your broadcasting hero? ITN’s Reginald Bosanquet! It was bloody hilarious that night. Was it f@#king ever! You just had to be there and saw it happen. He was the meme for our generation.
Famous last words? Let’s not do THIS again. Please. If I’m not back in a hour, call in a bomb scare.
Yours truly in three different guises
Now check out some RANDOM FUN FACTS about me
Creditably creditworthy credits:—
‘Fud’ came up with the idea. ‘D-Rapbox’ and ‘L.A.’ asked the questions, ‘L.A.’ operated the voice recorder, and ‘Fur’ brought the sammiches, crisps and booze. The lot chose the excerpts. Yours truly had to transcribe his own words (because none of them could do it — properly, that is) while the four of them milled around all night, fighting over what excerpts to put in. True pros they were. *Eyeroll*
This page was furloughed on 15 MAR 2012 and reinstated on 26 MAY 2012 by VERY popular demand.
© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011–2013. All Rights reserved.
All images by The Author except:— “No Drugs or Money…” via c4c ♦ Santaco Plane via c4c ♦ Harley Davidson Mofo patch via Hurly-Burly ♦ Love Weapons via c4c ♦ Airmail Label via The Graphics Fairy ♦ Smoking Man in Milanese Style by Trashness via mix4fun ♦ The Evil Sandwich via c4c ♦ ‘What if you wake up…‘ via existingvisual.
First published 19 Feb 2011 (as blog post)
Reposted 01 Jan 2012 (as blog post)
Republished as static page 06 Mar 2012
2012 Updated 5 times: May 26 (reinstatement); Jun 19, 21 (formatting, photo updates, links, etc); Oct 01, 08 (formatting, minor amendments, missed items)
2013 Updated 9 times: Jan 12, 13, 14, 18 (new text from original interview, colour fixes to Pantone 17-5641 or Hex #009B77, minor amendments, extra photo); Feb 10 (headline change, new links); May 18 (reformatting, image copyright correction); Jun 08 (shirttail amendment); Oct 17 (typo & boldfacing fixes); Nov 23 (formatting revisions).
Updated 14 MAR 2014 (added section on death threats)