American interviewer PAUL LESLIE, host of The Paul Leslie Hour radio show, talks his daily rituals and pleasures, the women who inspired him the most, books, music, movies and coffee and what is great about being himself. He also tells us a joke, a secret (don’t expect too much, though) and paints a beautiful picture of Paradise.
What are the first things you do in the morning?
I’m a creature of habit who thrives under certain routines. I wake up and drink 32 ounces (946 ml) of room temperature water. I light a candle and take 10 deep and long breaths in and out, exhaling and inhaling and recite aloud some affirmations. Then I meditate for about 30 minutes. I follow this by taking a small shot of half apple cider vinegar and half water. I grind and brew my coffee and find a tremendous amount of peace in the repetitions and sounds. The whirring of the coffee grinder crushing the beans, the sound of the teapot beginning to whistle and finally the trickling of the water pouring over the coffee grinds into the French press…it’s a ritual. After the breathing exercises, the meditation and the one cup of coffee I generally feel a sense of excitement to start another day.
What makes a day perfect?
What makes a day perfect is to be completely and totally in the “now”. I have had seemingly plain days where I enjoyed myself more than when I was in some exotic locale doing something fun.
What makes a day perfect is finding the joy in it.
What are your favorite TV shows?
“Seinfeld” remains my favorite television show of all time. In “Seinfeld,” everyone is a character and I’ve found it is not much of an exaggeration. There are characters everywhere! Generally the people who disagree with this are the real characters. Think of the people in your life who do not feel they are crazy. I’ve found those are the people who are nuts.
Secondly, “The Late Show with David Letterman.” I have no doubt I interview people in large part because of staying up late to watch Dave as a youngster.
What are the newspapers and magazines you read constantly?
I used to read “Time” magazine quite a bit and sometimes “Rolling Stone.” I don’t read print publications as much. I tend to read online publications like the English articles in LaRevista.ro.
Who are the three most influential people in the world right now?
Fats Domino, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. I’m not kidding, either.
What is the biggest myth about journalism?
I suppose I am a journalist, although I consider myself more of an archivist. The biggest myth about journalism is that it is not a service job. When done without malice or unethical intentions you are facilitating communication across borders – the ultimate service job.
What does luxury mean for you?
Luxury means being able to treat your friends to things that you want to give them and showing people you want them to feel special.
What does poverty mean?
Poverty means desperation and feeling you don’t have a choice. For many people around the world it’s not a feeling, it’s reality. I try to remember that fear feels the same in everyone’s heart.
What is the weakness you most criticize yourself for?
Procrastination. I’ve been meaning to change that about myself.
When was the last time you felt ashamed?
When I found myself being overly considered about losing money, which is just another shade of fear. Worrying about money has never ever helped anything…it’s true of most types of worry. Like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but you can’t get anywhere.
What was the greatest proof of love you’ve ever received?
This question makes me feel very blessed because I’ve been showered with love by so many people, including people I don’t really know. That’s a fascinating thing, isn’t it? You can express love to a stranger.
The greatest proof of love though is being born and the moments we have every day that can be taken for granted. Songwriter John Goodwin once told me that love is like a kind of mercy that hopefully falls on all of us. There have been many moments where I was really in trouble and someone had mercy on me… but, they are all equal to me.
What is the best thing you’ve done in life until now?
Forgave myself and everyone else.
What’s the worst thing you would do for money?
People will do different “worst things” for money based on desperation. I don’t think we should live in fear, but we should never assume we won’t find ourselves in desperate circumstances. In the flick of an eye everything can change. If our lives depended on it, we would steal food or medicine.
If you could turn back time, where in your life would you want to stop for a while?
I don’t want to go back. I want to be in the present. That’s not to say I don’t have fond memories. One of the fondest is very simple. My mom was in the kitchen of our house in the Philippines. She was making plate after plate of banana pancakes with confectioner’s sugar sprinkled on top. She was telling me I was a growing boy. I can ever remember what I was wearing. She makes great banana pancakes. Ask around. Money can’t buy you everything.
What is the form of art that touches you the most?
No question. It is music. Nothing has made a bigger impact on my heart.
What’s the sound that you dislike the most?
Someone expressing a lack of gratitude. Even if I am the person expressing it.
What’s your favorite smell?
I love the smell of early springtime when it is late at night and certain flowering trees are starting to bloom. That smell can send me into ecstasy. It is without a doubt my favorite smell.
Best part of the day:
When you see a friend or someone you love and you both smile without a word spoken because you know each other so well.
Who is the most spectacular person you’ve ever met?
My mother… followed by Joseph L. Duke. They see more of the picture than I do and that’s what it is all about.
What’s your biggest addiction?
Food. If I could get back all of the money I have spent at restaurants. Who am I kidding? Money is a poor substitute for the pinnacle of gastronomic pleasure.
If you could do anything today, what would you do?
I would like to quote Paul McCartney’s lyrics from “The End” on Abbey Road: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
What’s the most useful invention for you?
Anything that records the spoken word. What I try to create is “a sound portrait” of a person. To me it’s not just the words, but also how they say them, their accent, their pauses…it’s all storytelling. Stories are what make us human. So whether it’s a Tascam recorder, a pocket digital recorder or a cassette recorder, it is the most useful thing.
What’s the worst habit you have?
Not putting things away after I use them. Everything in its place. I don’t like that habit of mine at all.
What’s your biggest disappointment?
I try not to dwell on the past. There were things my parents told me to do when I was younger that I didn’t and now wish I had. Here’s the thing…there were things my parents told me to do that I did and now I wish I hadn’t.
Disappointment is usually an obstacle from going forward.
If you could choose one word to represent you, what would it be?
What’s your favorite cartoon?
“Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist” was one of the most hysterical, brilliant and under-rated cartoons ever!
Who are the women who inspired you the most?
Well… Some of you may have eaten at IHOP, International House of Pancakes. I grew up in IHOW, International House of Women. Three sisters and my mother. They have inspired me the most.
Most recently the editor of LaRevista.ro has inspired me. Our mission is the same.
When you think about the world of love and marriage what do you regret the most?
I worked in a business where every day I was speaking to people who were getting divorced. It really paints a horrible picture. I was convinced I was never going down that road. My parents got divorced like so many people. You know what? Most people who get divorced get married again. Two people spending their life together is a beautiful thing. It’s not for everyone, but I wish I had been able to see the good.
If you went to a masquerade ball, what would be your costume?
What’s the best movie soundtrack?
I love the movie soundtrack of “True Romance.” The theme music heard throughout is by Hans Zimmer, but also includes a great variety of songs such as “A Little Bitty Tear” by Burl Ives, “Al the Way” by Jerry Delmonico and “Two Lonely Birds” by Charles & Eddie. While the credits roll you hear “Two Hearts” by Chris Isaak. The soundtrack is just great.
Who are the most beautiful women in the world?
The most beautiful women in the world are both ambitious and feminine.
What is the trait you most admire in a man?
The trait I admire most in a man is calmness.
What is the trait you most admire in a woman?
The trait I admire most in a woman is patience.
What is the sexiest piece of clothing a woman can wear?
What was your favorite meal when you were a child?
I always loved my mother’s meatloaf. There were a lot of things. I always loved it when she made breakfast for dinner too, which sometimes included her banana pancakes.
And what’s your favorite meal today?
I love a great Cobb salad with salmon, but if I am feeling very decadent my absolute favorite meal is a really good cut of steak cooked medium rare with potatoes cooked in various ways and asparagus. Sometimes followed by really good cheesecake and coffee.
How do you take your coffee?
I really love coffee and most days I take it with a generous amount of real cream (not half and half) and a good sprinkling of ground cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg. Sometimes I add a teaspoon of coconut oil.
What are your biggest extravagances?
Dining out! I am not very into luxuries, but good restaurants are a passion of mine. Occasionally and I mean not frequent at all—a good cigar can be everything.
If your life was a movie, what kind of movie would it be?
A comedy. A number of ironic things have happened to me… I have felt like the “Woody” character in a Woody Allen film too many times.
If you could live in a book, what would it be?
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huck Finn to me was the quintessential American and adventurer. The notion of escaping something is in all of our hearts. There’s something so wonderful about getting on a raft and floating down the Mississippi River. Plus, Huckleberry was kind of a trickster. I usually have more respect than disdain for people with just a little bit of the grifter soul.
If you could steal something without being caught, what would it be?
It’s always appealing to me to think about switching out the labels or bottles of an extremely expensive bottle of wine with a mediocre bottle and watch what the drinkers of the wine would say about it without knowing of the switch. In my imagination I’d put the traded out wine to good use.
Paradise is everywhere and anywhere you want it to be. I would describe it as somewhere that doesn’t get too cold and there is lots of tranquility and greenery. Most importantly, nobody is telling you what to do. Freedom and paradise are synonymous.
Tell me one thing that makes you weird.
I laugh several times a day when I am completely alone because thoughts enter my head. They are things that only I find funny. If I am caught and try to explain what I am laughing at, I am generally looked at in pity.
Tell me a joke.
A priest, a rabbi and a minister walk into a bar. The bartender says, “What? Is this some kind of joke?”
Tell me a secret.
If I told you it wouldn’t be a secret.
Still, tell me a secret.
If you insist, I will confess that I spilled candle wax all over the carpet today. So what’s the secret to getting it out? Place a piece of ice on the chunks of wax stuck in the carpet and then use a butter knife or your fingernail to chip off the large pieces. Then take a paper bag and put it over the carpet and use a clothing iron to get the wax hot again. Then you can get the wax up using a paper towel or a rag of some kind.
Tell me three of your guilty pleasures.
I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. I’m not ashamed of pleasures.
Tell me three good things that happened to you yesterday.
I saw and spent time with a friend I had never seen before.
I did not get arrested.
I made money.
What’s great about being Paul Leslie?
I get so much joy from things that aren’t hard to find or expensive to buy. I find joy in everyday living. Furthermore, I can see how extraordinary people are. Because of this I am constantly in a state of fascination. I really do celebrate people who create joy and celebrating joy is a self-perpetuating thing.
What do you do every night before you go to sleep?
I eat a banana and then a little while later I drink a mug of Sleepytime tea. I turn off any electronic devices so that my mind starts to wind down. I try to think about serenity and calm and this is how I end my day. Frequently I fall asleep with an image of nature in my mind. More and more I look at sleep as a gift that doesn’t cost anything. Wherever you are, I wish you a good night’s sleep tonight because the night is a magical time. Good night.Semnat de Corina Stoica