John Perry Barlow “Interviewed” by Steven Colbert (The Colbert Report)

(Update: You can now view a 5 minute video of John Perry Barlow’s “interview” on the Steven Colbert show.)

I just got notice that a fine freakish friend of mine will be on the dumb television tonight. Fellow Burner John Perry Barlow has worn many hats. Most likely best known as one of the chief songwriters for the Grateful Dead for over two decades, he’s also one of the founders of the vital, important, and necessary EFF, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is effectively a watchdog against government incursions into the internet in regards to censorship, privacy, and 1st Ammendment issues. Rather than explain, just visit the EFF website…. and donate money! I do as much and as often as I can (being an internet addict and all…)

Here’s a picture of Barlow and I in July 2006 at a Barlowfrendzie in Malibu, photgraphed by the lovely and talented Shiho, baby!:

John Perry Barlow and the notorious Twan

 

Tonight, as is detailed below, Barlow will be on the Colbert Report facing off with Steven Colbert. This should prove to be a bit of fun.

TWO WHITE GUYS SITTING AROUND TALKIN’

JP Barlow wrote:

Since I don’t watch television – not even the “good” stuff – I’d never heard of Steven Colbert until he soared into my consciousness with what I think was the bravest act of humor since Jonathan Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal.” (In this essay, Swift, a compassionate Englishman, suggested that the Irish might address this famine bother they were experiencing by eating a few of their own children, of which most of them had in rather greater abundance than potatoes.)

I refer to Mr. Colbert’s astonishing address to the White House Press Corps (most of them too scared to laugh) during their annual dinner last April 29. If Congress conferred medals for courage in the service of dark laughter – which, although it’s a good idea, the current Democrat-controlled Congress is even *less* likely to do – they’d have no choice but to give Steven Colbert the Congressional Medal of Humor with oak leaves and clusters.

I mean this guy eats dinner seated between George and Laura Bush and then gets up to the podium and compares the Bush administration to the Hindenberg! (If you haven’t seen it before, I strongly recommend that you watch this video. If you do, observe the weird displacement of The Decider’s head in relation to his body over the course of the address. I didn’t know cervical vertebrae could do that.)

Anyway, this speech made me a devout Steven Colbert fan. He didn’t convince me to start watching television, but he did convince me that if I were to watch television, it would be mostly so I could watch him and his kind (if he has one).

Turns out my next opportunity to watch him will be at close range. He is interviewing me on his show tonight.

I think it will air at around 11:30 pm in a lot of places, but I really have no idea when it might be on in your area. Those of you who still navigate The Vast Wasteland probably know how to find it. If you don’t watch enough television to have developed such tracking skills, don’t start now on my account. It’s not worth the risk. You can maybe catch it later on YouTube.

With any luck, it will be worth catching. I don’t know what he wants to talk with me about. (Though I kind of doubt that he wants to talk about EFF’s recent legal intervention when The Colbert Report was trying to get a MoveOn parody of the show stricken from YouTube.)

When I asked about the topic, the staffer said, “everything.” Ah, television. An environment where they think you can cover EVERYTHING inside of six minutes. Describe the Universe. Give two examples. Break for a commercial.

We won’t accomplish such a feat as that, but it could be pretty good anyway. For one thing, you ironists ought to enjoy the sight of someone who looks, talks, and behaves like a Republican, but isn’t, interviewing someone who fits none of the contemporary Republican stereotypes, but is.

I tried being a Democrat for a year. Hated it. I traded my sense of humor for sanctimony and gutless indignation. I was nearly overcome with impulses to save people from themselves, using force if necessary. I found myself becoming hysterical, brittle, and cowardly.

I am not a comfortable Republican – and I’m no Republican at all if George W. Bush is to be the measure of the GOP’s beliefs from this point forward, but I do have balls. So I ended up switching back. I may be the last Republican who believes that the party stands for limited government, personal freedom, prudent fiscal policies, genuinely free markets, and a deep wariness of foreign military adventures. Just as I didn’t flee my country when I saw it being taken over by religious zealots, plutocrats, fratboy incompetents and make-believe soldiers, I won’t flee my party on the same grounds either. (Though I’m starting to think that there is a grand new party waiting to be born in the space vacated by these latter-day Republicans.)

I strongly suspect that when Mr. Colbert is just kicking around the house, his ideology and cultural style differs from what his persona projects on-screen. Nevertheless, I have decided to take him at face value and contest him as I would his “mentor” Bill O’Reilly. In fact, I will take him on as the very sort of pious, closeted gay fascist who decided to become active in the GOP when he learned that poor people and weirdos could actually vote and that the Episcopalian church didn’t field political candidates. I have even prepared a defense of wild, marauding bears. So it should be fun.

Anyway, I probably won’t see you tonight, but you stand a good chance of seeing me.

Yippie-ti-yo,

Barlow

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