Title: Tom Waits: Proust Questionnaire
Source: Vanity Fair magazine (UK). November, 2004. Transcription by Conor McMahon as sent to RaindogsToo Listserv discussionlist, October 14, 2004.
Date: published October, 2004
Keywords: Napoleone Pizza House, Kathleen, favourite writers


Tom Waits: Proust Questionnaire


"For more than 30 years, singer-songwriter (not to mention actor and playwright) Tom Waits has been the godfather of the gravelly-voiced barroom ballad. With a new album - Real Gone, his 20th - in stores this month, the gruff Renaissance man pauses to reflect on his affection for lies, the bliss of washing dishes, and his favourite Journey"

VF: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
TW: Happiness is never perfect.

VF: What is your greatest fear?
TW: Being buried alive.

VF: Which historical figure do you most identify with?
TW: Cantinflas.(1)

VF: What is your favourite journey?
TW: Actually, I don't own any of their records.

VF: What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
TW: Honesty.

VF: On what occasions do you lie?
TW: Who needs an occasion?

VF: Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
TW: "Do as I say and no one will get hurt."

VF: What or who is the greatest love of your life?
TW: My wife, Kathleen.

VF: When and where were you happiest?
TW: Nineteen sixty-three, one A.M., washing dishes on a Saturday night in the kitchen of Napoleone Pizza House(2), 619 National Avenue, National City, California.

VF: Which talent would you most like to have?
TW: Being able to fix the truck.

VF: If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
TW: A bull in Wyoming.

VF: What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
TW: The floor just below that.

VF: Where would you like to live?
TW: Hotel Esmarelda, Storyville.

VF: What is your favourite occupation?
TW: Blacksmith, ventriloquist, magician, jockey, train conductor, tree surgeon, and lion tamer.

VF: What is your most marked characteristic?
TW: My ability to discuss, in depth, a book I've never read.

VF: What is the quality you most like in a man?
TW: Generosity, irony, bravery, humour, madness, imagination, and the ability to take a punch.

VF: What is the quality you most like in a woman?
TW: Good bones, sharp teeth, big heart, black humour, full of magic, plenty of forgiveness, and a good sport.

VF: What do you most value in your friends?
TW: Jumper cables and a tow chain.

VF: Who are your favourite writers?
TW: Rod Serling, Breece DJ Pancake, Charles Bukowski, Woody Guthrie, Bill Hicks, Fellini, Frank Stanford, Willie Dixon, Bob Dylan, O. Henry.

VF: Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
TW: Frankenstein. And Dumbo.

VF: How would you like to die?
TW: I don't think I would like that very much at all."


(1) Cantinflas: Mario Moreno Reyes (August 12, 1911 - April 20, 1993), better known as Cantinflas, was a Mexican actor, circus performer and comedian. Charlie Chaplin once called Cantinflas the 'funniest man in the world'. Cantinflas started out performing at a circus in the 1930s. In 1935, he joined the Follies Bergere theater, becoming a popular figure on Mexico's theater scene. He also appeared in a few movies during that time, but it was in 1940, that Cantinflas finally became a movie star, after shooting Ah� est� el detalle. The phrase that gave that movie its name became a Cantinflas catch phrase for the rest of his career. From there on, Cantinflas went on to make more than 50 feature films, becoming a widely known entertainer and legendary comic all over Latin America and in Spain. Cantinflas went to Hollywood in the 1940s, making two popular movies in English, Around the World in Eighty Days and Pepe. Later, Cantinflas became President of the Mexican actors' union as well as Secretary of their filmworkers' union. He invested his earnings in real estate and in the sport of bullfighting. Cantinflas was so fond of bullfighting that he played his torero scenes himself . Cantinflas died in 1993. Among the things that endeared him to his public was his comic use of language in his films: his characters, like El Barrendero, loved to strike up a normal conversation with anyone in the movie, and then complicate the conversation to the point where no one understood what they were talking about. This manner of talking became known as Cantinfleada, and it became common parlance for Spanish speakers to say �estas cantinfleando! (loosely translated as you're pulling a 'Cantinflas'!) whenever someone became hard to understand in conversation.

(2) Napoleone Pizza House: further reading: Napoleone Pizza House (full story)