On Sunday, I was sitting in Tea Lounge, a coffee shop in Park Slope, reading a book, when all of a sudden; I looked up and saw Morgan Spurlock purchasing an iced coffee. He was with his wife (the same woman that he was dating in Supersize Me) and his baby boy. I thought about walking up to him, staring at his baby, and saying, “Wow! I would have sworn that due to all of that fast food that you ate, your child would’ve been born retarded!” But instead of saying that, I continued to read my book, and there are two reasons for this. One reason is that I like Morgan Spurlock and I didn’t want to piss him off, but the second, more important reason is that I have a blatant disregard for my readers. And for that, I want to sincerely apologize. I know that you expect more from me.
I do, however, continue to find myself in situations that might raise the eyebrows of the well-adjusted.
–Jim Knipfel, “Quitting The Nairobi Trio: A Memoir
This is the quotation that’s on my MySpace page, and until recently, it was the quotation that I put on the bottom of my e-mails. It fits me perfectly. Whether it’s one of the countless surreal situations that I intentionally put myself in (for example, the No Pants Subway Ride), or if it’s one of the countless surreal situations that just occur randomly (like being selected as a juror in a BIZARRE murder trial) the fact remains that if my life were a reality TV show, it would be the most watched program in television history. Now there’s nothing unusual about coming across a celebrity in New York City. In fact, it’s common. What is unusual is for someone to be gifted enough to stop and say to himself, “You know what? I should go and ask that celebrity why his child is not retarded.” What’s even more rare is the ability to have those ideas and have enough courage to act on them. Ninety-nine percent of the time, that has never been a problem for me, and that is why I am both confused and ashamed to have “chickened out” with Morgan Spurlock. A good reporter isn’t afraid to ask tough questions. You would think that I, of all people, would know that.
I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. There’s been that sex scandal I was involved in with Eva Longoria (and the subsequent messages on my voicemail from Tony Parker in which he has threatened to kill me), and I’ve been putting in a lot of hours at the Associated Press. People take it for granted, but the level of stress that one endures while putting out a successful newspaper is almost unbearable. I cannot, however, use that as an excuse for my poor performance. In fact, you might recall that, last October, after I felt unappreciated by my readers, I faked my death and moved to Paris. I can honestly say that that brief sabbatical was the worst time of my life. Sure, I had relieved myself of the daily stress involved in the pursuit of journalism, but without that stress, I had never felt more empty. Because it’s not the stress that I’m addicted to; it’s the sense of pride that I feel when I’m sitting on the subway in the morning and I see someone reading one of my articles, and I can tell that they are absolutely captivated by what they’re reading. Or, like the other day, when I was sitting in a diner, eating breakfast. A husband and wife sat at the counter. The husband was reading the newspaper, and he said to his wife, “Hey, honey! Look at this! President Bush had plastic surgery so that he could turn himself into a human wheel! Is that guy out of his mind or what?” A political discussion ensued. They left shortly after, and the husband left the newspaper on the counter. A few minutes later, a couple of businessmen entered the diner and also sat at the counter. One of them picked up the newspaper that was left there, and after reading my article on Bush’s plastic surgery, they too, had a discussion on politics. To think that neither one of those discussions would have occurred if I hadn’t written that article!
That’s the reason why I came back from Paris–to feel that jolt that runs through me every time I see a satisfied reader, that jolt that I never get tired of no matter how stressed out I might get. Despite the international acclaim that I have achieved as an investigative journalist, this incident with Morgan Spurlock (or lack of an incident) proves that I am not perfect. But tomorrow morning, the same commuters will take the same subway lines to the same jobs that they had the day before. The only evidence that anything had changed in the previous twenty-four hours will be the newspaper that they hold in their hands, with new stories that must be told not only to those commuters, and not only to the businessmen in the diner, but to the dumb son of a bitch on the BQE who’s trying to read the newspaper and drive at the same time, and to the third grade student of Harrison Elementary School, who will use the newspaper in his art class to merely cover the table while working with clay, but will then become distracted and shout, “Holy cow! It says in the paper that a blonde bombshell almost blew up a bus!” They are the reason why I have chosen this path, and they are the source of my strength. Therefore, dear readers, I promise you that even though I have let you down this one time, I will do everything in my power to never let that happen again, even if it means that I have to get my jaw broken by Morgan Spurlock.
Until that day comes, I would like to once again apologize for my previous failure. And yes, I would like to have that apology super sized.
July 14, 2007