Unreal: What's your ethnic background?
Leeann: My mother's Filipino and Spanish, and my dad's Norwegian.
Bethany: My dad's Dutch, and my mom is a mixture of a lot of central European countries like England.
Do you go to tanning booths?
Leeann: Oh God, no! I hide from the sun. I wear [SPF] 50 sunblock all the time.
Bethany: No, I don't. I tan fairly easily, and I figure if I'm going to get skin cancer I might as well enjoy being out in the sun and not be stuck in a booth.
What do you think about all that cosmetic surgery, Botox, making yourself taller by using extra insoles and stuff like that?
Leeann: You know, I think if people want to do it...to each his own.
Bethany: Why not? Everybody has something they don't like about themselves, and I guess if you're satisfied with changing that, then it's okay.
How come you haven't been in Maxim or anything like that?
Leeann: I have been. I've been in Maxim; I've been on the cover of FHM. I'm on the cover of Complex magazine right now.
Bethany: I don't think that would be very good for my image as a social worker.
Tell us about your celebrity boyfriend.
Leeann: It's Josh Beckett, who pitches for the Florida Marlins. I always thought he was pretty damn hot. I'm mostly either where he's at, or in Miami when I can.
Bethany: None currently. I'm supposed to be single during my reign anyways. I can't get married because then I would be a 'Mrs.', and that wouldn't go over very well.
Who do you think is going to win the National League pennant this year?
Leeann: Um, I'd like to say the Florida Marlins, but they're not that good right now. The Cardinals are pretty damn strong; they're busting up on the Cubbies. I don't know about going all the way to the World Series, but I think they'll be in the hunt.
Bethany: The what? I hope the Cardinals.
Who do you think is the best-looking player on the Cardinals?
Leeann: [Long pause] I think Albert [Pujols] is pretty good looking. He's got the perfect nose, and the perfect lips, you know what I mean. He's kind of got the tan skin. Jim Edmonds is a pretty good-looking guy too.
Bethany: I haven't been to enough games this year to check out all the players.
Who do you think is the best-looking female athlete?
Leeann: That new Sharapova girl is pretty hot. She's pretty damn hot.
Bethany: I don't know. I don't usually sit around thinking about the best-looking female athlete.
So, how do you like John Edwards as a vice-presidential pick?
Leeann: Well, I'm not a Democrat, let's put it that way. He doesn't have a lot of background and a lot of experience, but I think he'd be all right. I think I'd like him better than I'd like Kerry. I think he was actually smart instead of picking Gephardt.
Bethany: Anyone but Bush.
How do you react when guys really aggressively hit on you?
Leeann: I put them in their place! And it's not all the time. It's not as much as you think. I heard Elle MacPherson say once that guys never hit on her, and I was like, 'Yeah, right!' But it's true. Guys are either intimidated or don't come up and talk to you, or the guys that do are like the idiots who drop stupid lines on you. And I can be a bitch.
Bethany: I usually try to remove myself from the situation.
As someone who has had a crush (from afar) on you since the days when you used to run for mayor (will you run again?), I'm always pleased to read your musings on love and lust in the Unreal column. You seem like a decent fella with a healthy attitude toward women and sex. So what does Bill look for in a woman/relationship? Write sort of a "personals ad" on yourself.
Since my first mayor's race in 1992-93? How sweet. Having a crush should be a great blessing for you and a great honor for me, but that's a long time to wait unrequited. I feel your pain and may be able to help. I've written ads before, which were somewhat playful, but this will be more serious. Here goes:
"SWPM, 6-foot, 180 lbs., ageless, petty, shallow, whiny, petulant, too quick to judge, occasionally mean-spirited, messy apartment and life, seeks pretty (inside and out -- inside is better and lasts longer in a relationship, but both are nice) woman who thinks above qualities are outweighed by my being smart, athletic, not boring, affectionate, passionate, loyal, knowing right from wrong and trying to do it even when it's not easy. Must have a good heart and good hair, and though her dreams are unfulfilled they are still intact -- for love forever.
Adoring me is required; not being able to sleep or breathe if I'm not there is better. Your and my most erogenous organ should be our heart -- most else is negotiable.
Though relationships come with no guarantees, if we find that good love, you'll live. And, when the time comes, you'll pass on in the arms of someone who adores and loves you more than air and will never let anything bad happen to you. And if you want me to follow you into the next life, too, I will.
As I always say, it's healthy to follow your dreams, so feel free to find me -- at the least we should be friends forever. (And hopefully you're a female. That's not a value judgment, just a personal preference.)
Address matters of love and lust to email@example.com, or stamp and send to Bill Me!, c/o Riverfront Times, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63130. You can also call 314-754-6411 and leave a voicemail -- but only if you promise to speak in a sultry bedroom voice.
Ticket in a Cold Climate
There are times when Unreal must vent, and this is one of them. Unreal is miffed -- no, make that seething -- over a parking ticket written by a Richmond Heights police officer on the coldest night of the year. That's why we're using our most trusted weapon, procrastination, to fight back.
Yes, we should have gone to court to plead our case sometime back in January. But really, should this kind of abuse of authority be justified by missing even one second of UPN's Monday-night lineup? Clearly, the answer is no.
Plus, when we did attempt to talk sense to the judge, the line outside city hall was so long it snaked out the door. Once Unreal got past the metal detectors and inside, a squatty cop with a crewcut kept yelling, "Hey, this is a courtroom! Keep it down." All of us in the peanut gallery looked at him with a mixture of contempt and pity, then kept talking.
After watching every ambulance-chasing attorney in suburban St. Louis get first crack at the judge while the rest of us poor schmucks waited and waited, a thought occurred to Unreal. The pint-size patrolman at the front of the room is probably the same meathead who wrote the ticket! The car, which was parked in the car owner's driveway, was ticketed because (gasp!) the back bumper protruded over the sidewalk!
This kind of lawlessness will not stand in Richmond Heights! No matter that the officer wrote the ticket at 1 a.m. and the temperature was colder than a well-digger's ass. The absolute indignity of it all! Someone might be walking their dog -- bundled in a down parka, of course -- on that ice-encrusted walkway in the middle of the night. That bumper was obstructing justice!
So here's to you, Mr. Arbitrary and Capricious Law Enforcer. We'll see you when the sidewalks freeze over in Hell.
Trolling for Endorsements
Forty-two-year-old Mark Smith is one of approximately eighty-five thousand candidates seeking to replace Dick Gephardt in Congress next year. He has no elective-office experience, but he does have the endorsement of local songster Jay Farrar. So he has that going for him. Sort of.
Unreal: So, Jay Farrar endorsed you?
Mark Smith: Yeah. His new CD is very good; it's a live thing but he's got two new songs and the first one is very political. He's always talked about people living kind of a blue-collar life and everything, but this is more overtly political. Jay's a good guy. Have you heard his new CD?
No. So did he officially endorse you as a solo artist, as a former member of Son Volt or as a former member of Uncle Tupelo?
I think all of the above. I would assume that.
Why did he endorse you? Was it because you were the candidate with the wordiest and most confusing narrative structure in your speeches?
No, I don't think that was the reason. I think...I'm not thinking of anything particularly funny for this one. I'll tell you a funny story about the first time I met Jay. I was president of the neighborhood association, the Holly Hills Improvement Association. I was coming from work in a pressed shirt and a cardigan sweater; I look like Ward Cleaver or something. I see Jay and his wife there. Jay looks very hip: He's got the big sideburns and hipster clothes. I just felt like such a square, and he looking very hip and cool and rock-star-ish. I just felt like such a dork, you know.
One widely perceived reason for the split between Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy in Uncle Tupelo was because Jay thought Jeff was selling out. Considering Jay's noble intentions, does this mean you're the candidate who will raise the least amount of money?
No, it means I'm the candidate who will not sell out. That said, I don't think Jeff has sold out. I like the Wilco stuff a lot.
One Son Volt lyric goes like this: "Another non-issue/In around that commonplace/Free loose dirt/Free the minds of those who gainsay/Living it down/Just enough time to revel." What the hell could that possibly mean?
I think it means vote for Mark Smith. It's pretty clear. You've got to read between the lines, though.
So, is it true that you used to date both candidates for Secretary of State -- Catherine Hanaway and Robin Carnahan?
Let's not talk about that, please. Throw me a bone here, man.
Okay then. Who do you think is better looking?
I'm not getting into that, either. That's a bad question to ask me.
Let's get into the hypothetical, then. If you were married to Robin Carnahan...
No -- I'm married, so I can't do any hypothetical. You're going to get me in trouble. This is more important than politics; this is my marriage and my wife, and I'm very happily married.
If you do not win your party's nomination, do you promise not to go on a berserk rampage, gunning down the residents of the city and defecating in the streets?
I'm against concealed carry, so the first part is easy. And as far as the second part, I think I can go along with that too.