Before there was “The Daily Show” and the Internet, there was one outlet where Generation Xers like me got their news: “MTV News” and its host, Kurt Loder.
After attending two years of college, Loder was likely to be drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War, so he joined in order to get into the journalism school. For the Annenberg Foundation’s “News Writing” series, he said, “So my entire journalism background is four weeks, provided by the Army journalism school. That's it. Nothing else. You can learn journalism in four weeks. It's not an overcomplicated thing. It's very, very simple. And I can't imagine stretching it out into four years, but I'm told that's done.”
After three years in the Army, Loder worked for various New Jersey and New York publications, eventually making his way to Rolling Stone magazine in 1979.
In 1987, Loder joined MTV as host of “The Week in Rock.” It expanded to “MTV News” and encompassed world news, politics, as well as news about the music industry.
Recently, Loder joined the libertarian Reason Magazine as a contributor. He is the author of three books; his latest, The Good, the Bad and the Godawful, is a collection of his insightful movie reviews. Reason.com Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie told me, “The only thing better than reading Kurt Loder on movies is listening to him talk about them. He brings a fan's enthusiasm to the medium -- and a fan's sense of outrage when the content sucks -- that illuminates and inspires. His The Good, The Bad, and The Godawful isn't simply the essential guide to the last decade's worth of movies, it's a master class in how to think and feel about film for the next 100 years.”
I regularly read his reviews with writer’s envy. My first regular column was for the Tallahassee Democrat at age 14 as their “Teen Movie Critic.” My love of politics and pop culture is best summed up with this week’s interviewee. For me, Kurt Loder isn’t just a journalist, but a cultural icon.
Each week the De Pasquale's Dozen asks political figures and free market-minded writers and entertainers to take a break from politics and talk about their pop culture obsessions.
1. If there were a television channel that only showed one movie over and over, what movie should it be?
Roman Polanski’s The Ninth Gate, so I could leave the room and never come back.
2. What’s one of your favorite movie quotes?
“You never f--- me, and I always have to drive” – memorably delivered by frustrated wife Kelly Lynch to her junkie/heist-artist husband, Matt Dillon, in Drugstore Cowboy.
3. In A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell was strapped down with his eyes propped open and forced to watch images until he was "cured." If you could give President Obama, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Leader Harry Reid the "Clockwork Orange” treatment, what movie would you make them watch?
The strapping and eye-propping would be enough, I think. Head out for a couple beers and just leave ’em there…
4. Tell me about a public or private moment when you thought to yourself, "This is what Elvis felt like every day.”
Actually, I don’t take drugs anymore.
5. Who would be on the perfect “Red Eye” panel?
Just Greg [Gutfeld], in a moody chiaroscuro close-up, talking among his many selves…
6. What canceled TV show would you put back on the air?
Firefly – hello? Is this a trick question?
7. If Democrats and Republicans had theme songs for 2012 what would they be?
The Beatles’ “I’m a Loser”? Iggy Pop’s “Dum Dum Boys”? In any case, same song for both parties (if you get my meaning). And one for the electorate: “Something Better Change,” by – appropriately! – the Stranglers.
8. What books are on your reading list this month?
I recently finished Anthony Horowitz’s terrific neo-Sherlock Homes novel The House of Silk – so good – and am now embarked on a number of other books all at once, each strategically placed in a different location around the house: Alan Furst’s Dark Voyage – one of his great World War II espionage novels; Ken Emerson’s Always Magic in the Air, a wonderful history of the pre-Beatles Brill Building pop era; and Roger Corman’s one-of-a-kind autobiography, How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime, which I’m revisiting. I also keep going back to Clive James’s Cultural Amnesia and Gore Vidal’s Palimpsest, which I think is one of the finest of all memoirs. And since Jasper Fforde is taking his time cranking out a new one, I’m also rereading his first six Thursday Next books, which are singular fantasy classics.
9. What one thing would you do as President "just because you could"?
Give Paul Ryan the keys to the Cabinet.
10. What are your two favorite non-news websites?
11. Considering you've met so many people and still maintain your composure, which movie, television or rock star would cause you to lose your ability to speak if you ever met?
John Lennon. If only because he’s dead.
12. Tell me about the moment you decided to become more vocal about your political beliefs.
I think I was born with a snotty resistance to top-down institutional control. I grew up in a little town on the Jersey Shore, where generations of residents had harvested clams and crabs from the back bay. One day some state bureaucrat from the Ministry of Annoyance came down, took the temperature of the water, decided it was too warm, that any shellfish taken from it might be Not Good for You, and decreed that henceforth, no one would be allowed to do so. The bureaucrat went back to his Trenton rat hole and the residents – ignoring his proclamation without a second thought -- carried on as they always had, clamming and crabbing in vigorous good health. I found this to be an excellent model for interaction with government edicts, and still do – at least until we can get the government out of the Good for You business.