The John Numerin Show
Interview with Darnell Dannon
Aired September 26, 2014 – 21:00 ET
NUMERIN: Welcome back everybody. Darnell Dannon is my guest. He’s promoting “I am a camera, I’m a radio,” which comes out next week. So, Darnell, which are you, a camera or a radio?
DANNON: What are you wearing?
NUMERIN: Is this a new thing? Phone sex in person? It’ll require even more imagination.
DANNON: It’s a question.
NUMBERIN: What am I wearing?
NUMERIN: Alright. A suit.
DANNON: A mansuit?
DANNON: Why are you wearing that stupid mansuit?
NUMERIN: It’s comfortable.
DANNON: It doesn’t look comfortable.
NUMERIN: It didn’t cost me anything. That makes it comfortable.
DANNON: Whom did it cost?
NUMERIN: The network.
DANNON: Like a hook costs a fisherman.
NUMERIN: Is that contempt or pity?
DANNON: Would you like paper or plastic?
NUMERIN: What does that mean?
DANNON: Whatever you want. That’s what you do. And how do you do.
NUMERIN: Fine, thank you.
DANNON: Fine? That’s fine. Very fine. Fine China. You’ll shatter to pieces at any moment.
NUMERIN: You would know.
DANNON: If you’re referring to a recent breakdown, yes. And I highly recommend having one regularly. Like a colonoscopy.
NUMERIN: What do you think caused that?
DANNON: A procrastination of pain.
NUMERIN: Would you care to elaborate?
NUMERIN: Maybe later? We can keep it off the record.
DANNON: Which one are you, Woodward? Bernstein? Redford? Hoffman? Anyway, everything’s on the record. I’m a songwriter.
NUMERIN: Are your songs autobiographical?
DANNON: In the way footprints are autobiographical. In the way urine is autobiographical. In the way reading someone else’s biography is autobiographical. We don’t live in an Ayn Rand novel, you know? Nothing’s objective.
NUMERIN: Didn’t you know Ayn Rand?
NUMERIN: I’ve seen a picture of you together.
DANNON: I’ve got pictures with everyone. I’m like one of those New York Italian restaurant owners. But I don’t know anyone. And no one knows me.
NUMERIN: Do you not want to be known?
DANNON: When you know what something is you don’t see it anymore.
NUMERIN: You want to be seen?
DANNON: I want you to stop asking what I want.
NUMERIN: What should a talk show host ask?
DANNON: How are you.
NUMERIN: How are you?
DANNON: My parents met at a slipper hop. It was more hygienic than socks. And less slippery. But during the jitterbug, my mom slipped. And my dad caught her. He had a 1957 Pontiac Bonneville with a big backseat. That is how I am.
NUMERIN: Is that true?
DANNON: You just asked the buzzkill of interview questions.
NUMERIN: Maybe we should trade places.
DANNON: But I would still have to talk. I want that machine Stephen Hawking has where he types and it talks for him. Except not. I’d just want a screen with everything I typed on display for people to read.
DANNON: Talking is just a jury foreman. It’s just “guilty or not guilty.” There’s no deliberation. That is only possible in thought, and, for the writer, in writing. It’s like Vera Pavlova says, “Heaven is not verbose…the more you talk, the more you lie.”
NUMERIN: So extroverts must be pathological liars.
DANNON: Yes. They should all be put in isolation. Then the rest of us would finally be able to read in peace, without them assuming that because we’re reading, we must be bored, and it is their noble responsibility to start a conversation.
NUMERIN: Has the American Library Association asked you to do a poster yet?
DANNON: I wish they would. That’s the only endorsement deal I’ve ever wanted. When I first moved to New York, I didn’t have a job, but I wasn’t unemployed. I applied myself to the NYPL. My 70s American Tourister bag was always full of books, music and movies, the sum of which, I was certain, would result in a new self. A new self so cool it wouldn’t talk to the old self. I was building an identity like a 1954 construction crew, with the union at its most powerful, believing that however long the job took was how long it took, breaks could be taken, there was always tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Until there wasn’t.
NUMERIN: When was that?
DANNON: My last birthday. I felt like Susan in Quality Street. “Why does 30 seem so much more than 29?” Because it is. The roaring ‘20’s are over, the stock market has crashed, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to eat. And your soul mate will not be at that party. Or that bar. Or that show. To quote Donald Miller, you have to stop worshipping at the altar of romantic completion.
NUMERIN: Have you?
DANNON: No, but I don’t bring sacrifices anymore. I just sit there, knowing it’s a false god and wanting to believe it.
NUMERIN: Wanting to believe in it even though it’s false? Or wanting to believe it’s false?
NUMERIN: Well, I can see why. You’ve been involved with some hot merchandise.
DANNON: So the newshawk wants to barber about me pitching woo with the daisies and dolls?
DANNON: You’re the one who started with the Chandler phraseology.
NUMERIN: Alright, alright.
DANNON: It doesn’t matter. I don’t kiss and television.
NUMERIN: Then pray tell, why did you agree to this interview?
DANNON: I’m a verbal processor.
NUMERIN: Well, I don’t want to throw a monkey wrench in your processor –
DANNON: Don’t worry, my blades don’t dull.
NUMERIN: – but we’re out of time.
DANNON: You mean we’re in luck.
NUMERIN: That hurts, you know? I thought we were having a good time.
DANNON: Say good night, Gracie.
NUMERIN: Good night, Gracie. And good night, everyone else.