Off The Wall
To mark the passing of another year, I’ve retired to my office in the forest to answer a few dozen random questions with uncharacteristic candor, and thank the best fans on Facebook with the longest post of the year. Let’s begin.
Q – Over and over again I see posts that read “Rowe for president.” There are literally thousands of them. What do you think? Janake Kay Lynch
A – I think a lot of people are and ready to vote for anyone that seems vaguely reasonable and not desperate for power. I think some people are so frustrated they’d cast a protest vote for “that TV guy from the sewer.” I’m sympathetic. I’m also flattered, but obviously, not cut out for the job. Hell, I can barely keep my own show on the air.
Q – Coors Light or Bud Light? Bradley Schmidt
A – Is there a difference?
Q – Do you consider yourself a patriot? Chuck Parsons.
A – Sure. I still think America offers the best opportunity for those who are serious about pursuing life, liberty, and happiness. But, like most “isms,” I don’t see anything inherently good or bad about “patriotism.” (Hitler loved his country but still managed to be an asshole.)
Q – Gay marriage? Yes or no? Steven Hare
A – If you’re proposing, no thank you. If you’re asking me to a wedding, I’ll need a proper invitation, preferably on a creamy vellum. If you’re inquiring as to how I feel about two people of the same sex pledging themselves to one another for all time, I don’t mind.
Q – Would you ever host a political talk show? What is your opinion on the level of discourse in this country on social and political issues? Anton Kuretich
A – Politics are interesting when they reflect a persons understanding of philosophy, human nature, and world history. If there was a show that focused on those things and took place in a dive bar without pundits or tele-prompters, I’d not only host it, I’d pick up the tab.
Q – What’s the funniest movie of all time? Rick Charles
A – Blazing Saddles.
Q – Are you a Republican or a Democrat? Why not be as direct about your political beliefs as you are about everything else? Debbie White
A – Because being direct is not the same as being understood. If I tell you I’m a “D,” half the country will conclude that I’m a “Left Wing Loon.” If I tell you I’m an “R,” the other half will assume I’m a “Right Wing Nut Job.” Today’s political discourse doesn’t suffer from a lack of directness. It suffers from a lack of civility. But since you asked nicely, I’ll confess. I’m an “I.”
Q – What are your favorite colors?Jasa Woods
A– Beige, ecru, off-white. Putty, if I’m feeling festive.
Q – Last month on NPR, I thought I heard you say negative advertising was a serious threat to democracy. Did I hear you right? Tony Libonate
A – I don’t recall saying that, but I don’t disagree. Negative ads are dangerous because, in spite of all the vitriol, they’re actually very passive. They don’t ask us to vote for Candidate X; they ask us NOT to vote for Candidate Y. It’s basically a call to inaction, and the unintended consequence is killing us. Consider:
If Coke spends a billion dollars trying to convince America that Pepsi has shit in it, fewer Americans will buy Pepsi. Likewise, if Pepsi spends a billion dollars saying the same thing about Coke, fewer Americans will buy Coke. When the dust settles, one brand will still outsell the other. But along the way, millions of Americans will conclude that Pepsi and Coke are BOTH tainted, and stop drinking soda altogether. And so it goes with the electorate. Over the years, Republicans and Democrats have convinced us that the other side is full of shit. Now, congressional approval is under 15%, and voter turnout is at an all-time low. That’s not a coincidence.
Q – Hi Mike. If you keep going viral as often as you are with your recent posts and musings, a vaccine is going to be named after you. Are you flattered or intrigued by how many people are picking up what you are putting down? Sarah Connelly
A – Last week, I opened a sensible IPA, answered a random question about Ferguson, and went to bed. The next morning, 3 million people had read it. The morning after that, 5 million. Today, over 12 million. If half the people who read my scribblings watched my show, CNN would be interrupting breaking news with new episodes of Somebody’s Gotta Do It. Crazy.
Q – Who are the greatest rock and roll singers of all time? Sarah Grimes.
A- Freddy Mercury. Burton Cummings. David Clayton-Thomas.
Q – Mike, when you say “resisting arrest is not a right” your either missing the point or dodging it, and blaming the victim(s). Police don’t have the right to murder unarmed citizens who do resist. Can the officers in question really say that using their firearm was their only option? Isn’t that the issue with Eric Garner and Michael Brown? Nate Messersmith
A – There are many “issues” surrounding Garner and Brown, but there is only one central, indisputable fact – both men are dead. If we’d like to see fewer people die from similar encounters, what possible harm can come from examining the poor decisions on both sides that proceeded each confrontation? By all means, let’s do everything possible to eliminate bias in cops. But in the interest of staying alive, what’s the downside of encouraging suspects of all races to simply stop resisting lawful arrest?
Q – You’ve said you’re conservative in the “literal” sense of the word. Does that mean you’re cheap? Burt Lange.
A – Ha! I prefer thrifty, but yeah, cheap works. What I meant was, I get more pleasure from saving than spending. Consequently, my clothes are old. My furniture is old. My car is old. (My food is new, but the refrigerator isn’t even mine.) With the possible exception of underwear and socks, I’d just as soon rent everything. In general, I don’t think a better standard of living always leads to a better quality of life. I’m suspicious of short-cuts. I think progress is easier to sustain when it’s slow. I believe this is true of road-trips, love affairs, weight-loss plans, and national economies. In this way, I’m conservative.
Q – I was telling my 11 year old son Darius that you’ve been replying to fan comments on Facebook. He was wondering if you knew Morgan Rowe from Somerset, Kentucky? She’s in his class. Graziela Cabral Mink
A – I’m afraid I’ve never met Morgan, but she clearly comes from quality stock. Ask your son to give her my regards, and while you’re at it, tell him I said that “Darius Mink” is a kick-ass name!
Q – I think you are an ignorant, follow the liberal path idiot. Tressa Golden-Mills
A – Regarding ignorance and idiocy, I’ll plead “nolo contendere.” As for being a “liberal,” I’m not sure that word means what you think it means.
Q – You have a show on CNN. You’re a frequent guest on NPR. You’re friendly with Bill Maher. You live in San Francisco. You’re an animal lover, you sing Opera, you lobby Congress on behalf of the common worker, and you run a non-profit foundation. Do you understand how people might mistake you for a Democrat? Samantha Burns.
A – Sure. But I’m also on Discovery. I’m friendly with Glenn Beck. I run a small business. I affirmatively encourage entrepreneurship on every level, and while I do love animals, I also love to eat them. Can you understand why people think I’m a Republican? People see what they want to see Samantha, and conclude whatever makes them happy.
Q – I heard a rumor that Mike Rowe is a Republican. If this is true, this makes me a former “FAN”.Ozzie Sin
A – Please let me know what you decide, Ozzie. The anticipation is killing me.
Q- MaryAnn or Ginger? Tim Childers
A– Is Mrs. Howell is no longer an option?
Q – Mike, I thought you were the good guy. You’ve seriously teamed up with Glenn “I sell outrage” Beck?? Give me one good reason – that isn’t money – or lose the respect of this fan forever! Tim Kidd
A – I wasn’t aware that we had “teamed up,” but when Glenn invites me on his show, I usually go. His listeners have been supportive of my foundation, and helped spread the word in a way that’s bolstered our scholarship fund. I’ve never seen the point in associating only with people who view the world exactly as I do. As for your respect, I’d prefer to have it, but not if means getting your approval on whom to speak with.
Q – What job, dirty or not, do you think can help develop the work ethic in the younger generations? Patti Myers.
A – Everyone should be required to wait tables and wash dishes at an Olive Garden for at least 6 months. Or a local diner. And everyone should have to hot-tar a roof in the middle of August.
Q – Are you a Baltimore Ravens fan? The Pittsburgh Steelers are playing them at Heinz Field Saturday night in a playoff game, and I’m curious who your pick is. Shari McAllister Toomey
A – I haven’t rooted for a professional football team since March 29, 1984. That was the day Bob Irsay moved The Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis. Fifteen trucks from the Mayflower moving company arrived at 3am, and snuck off with my team in the dead of night, along with a big chunk of Baltimore’s identity. That left me feeling foolish. Foolish for being loyal to a team that felt no loyalty for me. So, when Baltimore coaxed The Browns out of Ohio and turned them into Ravens, I didn’t celebrate. Because I knew exactly how those poor bastards felt in Cleveland. On the positive side, the exodus of the Colts taught me a valuable lesson. I vowed 30 years ago, if I ever gained a measure of notoriety, I’d treat my fans better than the NFL had treated me. Happily, I got the chance to do that very thing. Which is long way of saying, I won’t be watching Saturday’s game, Shari. But I’d be happy to chat with you about it on Sunday!
Q – What should I be reading right now? Jack Allison
A – The Travis McGee Mysteries by J.D. MacDonald. Best pulp fiction ever. Start with The Deep Blue Goodbye.
Q -What are the odds of a miniature Mike Rowe bobblehead…A micro Mike Rowe? Eric Klandrud
A – Small?
Q – Your SWEAT Pledge says, “I’d rather live in a tent and eat beans than borrow money to pay for a lifestyle I can’t afford.” I find that offensive. Being in debt doesn’t make you a bad person, and everyone is entitled to pursue some measure of happiness. Who are you to tell someone how to spend their money and live their lives? Frances Silva.
A – Call me old-fashioned, but if I’m going to award someone a scholarship, I’d like to first know how they feel about debt. A lot of people today are unhappy in their work because they’ve traded their freedom for a house that’s too big, a mortgage that’s too large, a truck that’s too new, a diploma that’s too expensive, or a garage that’s packed with more shiny crap then they can ever hope to pay for. That’s not the pursuit of happiness. That’s the pursuit of spending. And it’s not something I wish to reward.
If I sound like a scold, I come by it honestly. My Dad still wrings out paper towels for multiple uses, and I’m pretty sure he could afford to buy a new roll everyday. But genetic parsimony aside, my foundation trains people for jobs that often require mobility. Debt makes mobility harder than it already is. As for “fairness,” the terms of the S.W.E.A.T. Pledge apply to everyone equally. No one is forced to sign it.
Q – You’re a blowhard. Who cares what you think? You’re a guy on TV, and your opinion is no more valid than anyone else’s. Roberto Gialardi.
A– True enough. I have no idea why people ask for my opinion, and no reason to assume that anyone will heed it. Then again, people like you come to my page and leave comments and questions. It would be rude to ignore them, right?
Q – Boxers or briefs? Marion Childress
A – Both. Sometimes contemporaneously. Why take chances?
Q – What the last song you listened to?
A – I’m listening to this one right now.
Before that, this.
Q – According to Celebrity Net Worth, you’re rich. Is it true? Diane Humphey
A – In every way that matters.
Q – WOULD YOU DO THE JOBS AT THE WAGES THE WORKERS GET? ME THINKS NO. YOUR JUST A LOUD MOUTH WANA BE SOMETHING AND SCREW UP MOST JOBS — PUSHING TURKEY SHIT SUITS YOU FINE. PHONY BIG SHOT NOBODY THAT YOU ARE. Charles Bourget
A – “Methinks?” Verily and forsooth Charles, Jeff Chaucer would be proud! I’m a little confused though, by the accusation of “phony-big-shot-nobody.” If I am a “big-shot,” how can I be a “nobody?” Moreover, if I am a “nobody,” how is it that you know who I am? And if I am a “phony,” then why do you suppose I am here, addressing your gentle criticisms on NEw Year’s Eve? Methinks thou hast employed an accidental tautology…
Anyway, it’s true that I’m well-suited to push turkey shit. It’s also true that I’d like to earn as much as possible pushing it, if that’s the job I find myself doing. Interestingly, the gentleman in the segment you’re referring to not only shovels the shit, he owns the company in question, and does quite well. So yes – I might be content to work for that wage.
Q -Hi Mike where does Freddy stay when you are out of town! Happy New Year! Marilyn and Carolyn The Dirty Jobs Twins
A – He keeps a pied de tier in Sausalito. When he can’t arrange transportation, the people in my apartment building fight over who gets to pick up his poop and walk his yappy ass around the block. Honestly, I don’t know how he does it.
Q – Mike, I read in a comment further below that Freddy is a therapy dog. Is this true? Megan McNamara
A – In my experience, all dogs are therapy dogs. But no – he has no official accreditation. (Having said that, Freddy could very likely benefit from some form of professional treatment. Any suggestions?)
Q – After reading some of these comments, I don’t even want 15 minutes of fame. Kristin Springer-Vinton
A – If you can get through the first ten minutes, the remaining five are a snap.
Q – Hi there Mike. Let’s say you walk into a Christmas party the same time as a women you have never met. You look up and you’re both standing under the mistletoe. What do ya do? Julie Hudson
A – Once upon a time, Julie, I would have looked at her and said, “Good evening. I can’t help but notice the mistletoe dangling above our heads. Maybe it’s fate, maybe it’s destiny, or maybe it’s just my lucky day. But given the season, and the remarkable beauty you bring to the occasion, you should know that continuing to stand here will leave me no choice but to kiss you gently on the mouth.”
Nowadays, I’d probably just offer to get her some egg nog.
Happy New Year everyone.
And thanks for keeping the conversation lively!