Monday, October 25th, 2010

Why I Won't Talk

A recent article in a local newspaper had some kind things to say about this site, and we're very pleased with the reaction. It's a testament to the hard work that the those of us at this site—David and Choire, sure, but particularly the amazing and talented contributors who have offered us their wonderful work without worrying about compensation—have put in over the last couple of years and, hopefully, an inspiration to everyone else with a large vision but a dearth of resources. Still, one small bit has caused a number (that number is three) of people to wonder why I, "the mysterious Mr. Balk," am "never interviewed for quotation." There are several reasons, and I am happy to use this forum to set the record straight.

Journalistic Ethics: Perhaps that phrase should be in quotes. I have no sense of what journalistic ethics are, being neither a journalist nor particularly ethical. However, this policy did indeed have some sort of semi-noble goal at its outset. Several years ago I took a job where the majority of my work involved covering the media. My feeling then—and it remains the same now—is that if I reported on a story I should never be a part of the story, even tangentially. I want to make it clear that this is a strictly personal decision; I don't judge anyone else who does things differently. But my own conviction is and was that the only time you should see my name was in a byline, and the only analysis or comment made should be in that bylined story. I just didn't think there was any need to become an "expert" or someone who talks to someone else to help form a media consensus. That is probably either old fashioned or ignorant, and I'm happy to plead to both. Either way, the policy worked well, because

It Is Absolutely Horrifying To See Your Name In Print: If you've ever had the experience, you'll understand. No matter how brilliantly they write about you or how flattering the topic, there is always the immediate feeling of being kicked in the stomach. I don't know why it is, but even if there were a headline like "EXECUTIVE ORDER GRANTS ALEX BALK LIFETIME WORTH OF BLOWJOBS," I would still get incredibly queasy. Then I would grin like a motherfucker, but that's another story. So anyway, I realized how much I liked not being quoted, which is a good thing since

I Tend To Say A Lot Of Stupid Shit: This is not any kind of false humility. You have NO IDEA what kind of ignorant, nonsensical crap comes out of my mouth. I mean, look at the stuff I write; that ostensibly requires some thought. Can you imagine how ridiculously ill-informed I sound when I don't have the filter of seeing what I'm putting out there in the first place? I am every reporter's dream interviewee, because I will talk and talk and talk and basically write the article for them with my idiocy. And who needs that? Also

All The Rape Jokes: Pretty self-explanatory. Finally, and most importantly,

I Have A Gigantic Ego: It is hard to believe of someone who is so chronically depressed, bent on self-destruction, and quick to dismiss the work of others while nursing staggering insecurities of his own, but it's true: I think I am super-fucking awesome. And this is NOW, when all I do is write on my own website. Can you IMAGINE how insufferable I'd be if I saw my name attached to a quote as some sort of expert? Do you have any idea how impossible it would be to deal with me if I somehow managed to watch myself OPINING ON TV? There would not be a flatscreen big enough to hold my giant, beautiful head! I am a raving egomaniac, and the only saving grace on that score is that I know exactly how susceptible I am to flattery and my own self-promoting ways. My staying away from the press is much like Bruce Banner trying to remain calm; terrible things will happen if I don't.

So instead I write thousands of words on the Internet about things that I'm usually only half sure about. But you know what? I do it really, really well. I mean, I'm kind of the best. So there's no actual need to do press; I come off amazingly just by doing what I do.

And there you have it.

Your humble servant,
Alex Balk
King of Awesome

58 Comments / Post A Comment

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

Is any of this for attribution?

ShanghaiLil (#260)

So, just to be clear about this: no quotes EVEN IF IT WOULD GET YOU LAID? With anal?

It's a lot easier to go the "mystique" route.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

I had a coworker once who filled out every self-evaluation with the single line, "I'm just that good." Then he went into Witness Protection and I never saw him again.

mathnet (#27)

(Also because people would go He sounds like Brad Garrett.)

jolie (#16)

My favorite reaction to Balk's voice ever: "Ok WHAT THE FUCK can we talk about Balk's voice? Did he burn his larynx as a child?"

mathnet (#27)

Joles! This Saturday is [had better be] the 2nd Great Annual Change Bowl Cash-in!

deepomega (#1,720)

Please tell me there's an mp3 of this somewhere.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

WAVs or it didn't happen

jolie (#16)

@deepomega: There's video!

@mathie: I'm more excited about the anniversary that will be upon us a month from yesterday. (I still giggle uncontrollably at "BALK DIDN'T EVEN NOTICE this happening.")

mathnet (#27)
deepomega (#1,720)

@jolie+mathnet: Good lord! A voice like something from Hellraiser. This explains a lot.

I don't even have a change bowl any more. It's still permanently cashed-in.

mathnet (#27)

Then my guess is $0.00!

keisertroll (#1,117)

I'm still bidding $1.00

garge (#736)

I just wanted to say that the cran ended a lifetime of ruing the existence of Thanksgiving, and by way of the change bowl I learned that people in NYC don't do their own laundry. And I am a better person for it.

Talk to the hand(job).

KarenUhOh (#19)

The Cock, however, can be reached for comment.

Yeah but he only talks in spits and spurts.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Understood. So the obvious question is why you use your real name, then.

Matt (#26)

I would now like a rebuttal piece from The Hulk.

jennyjenn (#2,923)

Goddamn, how much do I love Alex Balk.

HiredGoons (#603)

"We have ways of making you talk, Mr. Balk."

*uncorks handle of Maker's Mark

*Starts to pour bourbon down drain while Balk watches helplessly, tied to a chair

Art Yucko (#1,321)

"I tend to say a lot of stupid shit" why, we're just getting started.

cinetrix (#47)

*uncorks handle of Maker's Mark Wild Turkey. There, FIXED.

HiredGoons (#603)


cinetrix (#47)

@Goons: There, there. It happens to us all. Next time, go with your liver gut.

saythatscool (#101)

Ah yes rape…it's not just a walk in the park you know.

C_Webb (#855)

Balk is an eager and energetic blogger who just finished blogging about a rapist!

elecampane (#1,877)

"I come off amazingly"–>shift in authorial voice?

kneetoe (#1,881)

What surprises me here is "usually" and "only" and "half sure about.". The rest is obvious.

Flashman (#418)

Since this news broke this morning, folks in the blogosphere are suggesting that this 'Mr Balk' is simply an Anton Kreizeresque character, invented to do the task that the real Choire Sicha doesn't have the stomach for: firing writers, schmoozing advertisers, demanding tables and passes…
You've got to admit that their writing styles are very similar. And one seems to walk into a room only once, and a few minutes after, the other has left.

joeks (#5,805)

"It is hard to believe of someone who is so chronically depressed, bent on self-destruction, and quick to dismiss the work of others while nursing staggering insecurities of his own, but it's true: I think I am super-fucking awesome."

I know all about that.

mathnet (#27)

Hey BTW could somebody explain to me why Carr's disclosure pops up at that particular place in the piece?

brent_cox (#40)

Also, "not so much"? Not exactly the fullest of disclosures.

Alex, perhaps try a spokespuppet?

jolie (#16)


Show me on the dollie.

C_Webb (#855)

Blow Me Balk? (Or Bourbon Me Balk, I can't decide.)

Vulpes (#946)

You ARE the best, Balk! *hugs*
Also, I have one word for you: \"spokesbear.\" Or how about \"spokesSPIRITBEAR\"?

Solidarity w/ the bears.

Smitros (#5,315)

I may adapt (i.e., steal) most of this to explain why I am a recluse and troglodyte in my place of employment.

Aatom (#74)

I just always thought of you as the Teller to Choire's Penn.

hockeymom (#143)

Who made you the King of anything?

josh_speed (#97)

Hey! You forgot to mention how not talking creates mystique. Anyone can yammer.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

"… We're doing mighty fine I do suppose
In our streak-of-lightning cars and fancy clothes.
But just so we're reminded
Of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought to be a man in black."

IBentMyWookie (#133)

But my own conviction is and was that the only time you should see my name was in a byline.

With the one glaring exception being our wedding announcement, obvs.

Some level of online success!

worst_1_yet (#681)

Oh goodness. Tears of joy as you give us another reason to love(?) / admire your hierarchy of awesomeness.

Thanks for this, Alex!

Next topic, please: Why do you never show your face in photographs?

Inquiring minds want to know.

ae38 (#1,097)

Yes! This! I have spent more time over the years randomly Google Image searching Balk than I'd care to admit. I like to imagine he will be the white, pasty guy of my dreams to sweep me away with his indelicate prose…and…uh, blog write ups.

Claire Zulkey (#7,101)

This is a beautiful companion piece to the Denton profile in the NYer.

wallsdonotfall (#6,378)

They even reflect each other in their big, beautiful heads.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Totally unrelated, but I now understand the look John C. Reilly has been going for.

bee (#5,609)

That last egomaniacal paragraph has me wondering why my pants are still on…I wish I had written it word for word. About myself. Balk, let's get married and have ten million self-obsessed babies?!

libmas (#231)

Re: the last graf: it put me in mind of Garrison Keillor's 95 theses:

34. For fear of what it might do to me, you never paid me a compliment, and when other people did, you beat it away from me with a stick. "He certainly is looking nice and grown up." He'd look a lot nicer if he did something about his skin. "That's wonderful that he got that job." Yeah, well, we'll see how long it lasts. You trained me so well, I now perform this service for myself. I deflect every kind word directed to me, and my denials are much more extravagant than the praise. "Good speech." Oh, it was way too long, I didn't know what I was talking about, I was just blathering on and on, I was glad when it was over. I do this under the impression that it is humility, a becoming quality in a person. Actually, I am starved for a good word, but after the long drought of my youth, no word is quite good enough. "Good" isn't enough. Under this thin veneer of modesty lies a monster of greed. I drive away every faint praise, beating my little chest, waiting to be named Sun-God, King of America, Idol of Millions, Bringer of Fire, the Great Haji, Thun-Dar The Boy Giant. I don't want to say, "Thanks, glad you liked it." I want to say, "Rise my people. Remove your faces from the carpet, stand, look me in the face."

Ziggy (#529)

Shine on, you crazy, crazy diamond in the rough.

Post a Comment