The voters of King County are amusing. When, in November of last year, the People were presented with the unusual opportunity of having a crowded urban neighborhood removed and replaced by open pastureland - The Seattle Commons - they dutifully made their way to the polls on voting day in record numbers and in their wisdom declined the offer by 14 votes as if in some sort of drug-addled stupor.
But sometimes, if fortune smiles, the electorate is given the chance to not merely express its will but to do so coherently. The Commons mysteriously appeared on the ballot again last May: smaller by half, no more retractable dome, more expensive, but otherwise the same. And the Emerald City looked into that mirror called civic-mindedness and asked, "What sort of city do you want to be, Seattle?" And The People strode boldly back to the polls and defeated The Commons by a margin of over a million votes, which of course is what they had intended to do in the first place.
(Teens proved highly influential in the matter by not being old enough to vote for The Commons in numbers strong enough to carry it to decisive victory.)
With The Commons on the ballot again in November and then again in April of '97, Seattle voters are wondering who to thank for these repeated opportunities to reflect, consider inner needs, and embarrass city planners. Well, the brain-child of The Commons is a local character named John Hinterberger, who came out of relative anonymity as a Seattle Times food critic to ride The Commons steam-roller to a career as a failed radio personality. Nowadays, with the campaign coming to a climax, Hinterberger is busy working the interview circuit and for the time being has given up writing his column very well.
Frankly, the enigmatic Hinterberger made it difficult for us. But after a dozen unreturned phone calls, faxes, even a couple of requests declined in person, we finally agreed to interview him. Reporter Gary Durkimer was assigned the task; the two got together last Thursday.

(Sound of knocking, door opening.)
JH: Hello, I'm John Hinterberger. Did I wake you?
(Later, freshened by a quick shit and a couple of bong tokes, I was ready to start the interview.)
GD: (Reading) Seattleites voted for the bus tunnel and the new baseball stadium. So they're perfectly capable of voting for a shitty idea. What happened with The Commons?
JH: Been mulling that over. Here's what I've come up with. When a group of local celebrities takes it upon themselves to improve the lives of those around them, one of the first things that has to happen is there has to be listening. And I have to confess that maybe there wasn't enough of that. They evidently weren't listening to us. It may well be that they are incapable.
GD: (Still reading) Do you think the problem was there wasn't enough listening?
JH: Folks might wonder about the strategy of having The Commons scheduled to be on the ballot every year through the year 2012. But it's like this: Seattleites are a practical bunch. They'll eventually realize that repeatedly voting down the same initiative wastes time and money.
GD: Listen, when you first came up with the idea, what the fuck were you thinking?
JH: Well, it started as a prank, of course, but as more and more people took it seriously I realized it was in fact a bold vision for improving the lives of the decent, hard-working citizens of this shitty little town.
GD: Are there any businesses located in the area where The Commons would go?
JH: No.
GD: No?
JH: No, not especially.
GD: None?
JH: Not after The Commons is built, no.
GD: How about the demolished ones?
JH: Those, yes, but they won't really be demolished businesses until after The Commons is built.
GD: Because I was wondering if I could get in on some of the demolishment.
JH: (Smiles) Glad to have you on board. (He shook my hand. His hand was very soft.)
GD: And then we would leave the area in its new, cool demolished condition. (Reading) I realize that you would prefer that we put a park there. Question: who gives a fuck what you think?
JH: Oh, trust me, people care very much what I think: I give unsolicited advice for a living. I'm the food and restaurant critic for The Seattle Times.
GD: Oh. Interesting. Um ... could you make me some cereal?
JH: (Laughs) You don't understand. I can't cook. I can't even operate the controls on the average stove. What I can do is taste. I can taste the hell out of pasta, cheese, you name it. And it stands to reason that I can conceive the hell out of a spacious urban park.
GD: Huh. Okay, Mr. Taste. Prove it. Taste this. (I hand him something.)
JH: (He tastes it.) Intriguing. (Tastes it again) Dill ... saffron. Odd, cheese-like flavor. Do I ... do I detect a whisper of ground bone? (Laughs) Young man, you've stumped me. What is it?
GD: A Snausage, man. (I laugh long and loud) Just kidding. I don't know what it is. It was stuck here between the couch cushions. What kind of name is Hinterberger?
JH: Well, the name itself is German, although my family lineage is primarily Polish. You know, my grandmother was killed by the Nazis during the Warsaw Uprising.
GD: Whoa! Why?
JH: Well ... that's what the Nazis were doing in those days, you know.
GD: Jeez. Wow. Sounds suspicious. Hey, did you hear about the Polack who tried auto-fellatio? Burned his lips on the exhaust pipe.
JH: I ... I see.
GD: Seriously, though, did you ever try auto-fellatio?
JH: Well, if it's what I think it is, I would have to say no.
GD: Are you uptight? What do you think of sex? Do you like it?
JH: You know, I'm not really here to talk about that. I'm here to talk about getting the taxpayer to finance my vision for a better Seattle for me to live in.
GD: You live in Bellevue.
JH: A better Seattle for me to visit.
(I get bored, and turn on the TV. We watch soaps for a while. He excuses himself as if to go use the bathroom, but I can hear him rummaging through the kitchen cupboards. When he comes back, he's chewing on a Snausage. Back to the interview.)
GD: (Reading) Seattle has parks up the butt. The Commons would destroy thousands of lives. We are going bankrupt as a nation. Why did Seattleites vote against The Commons?
JH: You know, The Commons will lead to less crime. It's true. Urban parks deter the criminal element.
GD: Dude. (Laughing) That makes no sense. You are such a liar.
JH: (Laughs) Yes, I suppose I am. Did you vote for The Commons?
GD: Me? No.
JH: And why not?
GD: I only first heard about it yesterday.
JH: Alright, but now that you've been educated, would you vote for it?
GD: (Thinking) Could they move it to Lake City?
JH: (Writing) Mmm. Lake City. Mm-hmm.
GD: I've always thought bow-hunting sounded cool. Could there be bow-hunting?
JH: (Writing) Everything's on the table.
(Sound of door opening.)
Mom: Gary, who is this man?
JH: John Hinterberger, ma'am. You've read my work in the Seattle Times.
Mom: (A look of horror slowly passes over her face) I want. This ... man. OUT OF HERE! NOW!
JH: Madam, if you allow me to stay, I will, in return, generously critique your cooking. (And here the dude tried to hug my mom!)
(My mom picks him up and throws him out of the house so fast that he forgets to take his tape-recorder.)
Mom: Check to see if he stole anything. (Goes into kitchen) Gary, have you been in the Snausages again?
GD: Mom? Looks like he stole the Game-Boy. (Which in fact I had sold to Brian.)
Mom: (Enters living room) Jesus. Jesus Fucking Christ. You expect me to buy you a snow-board. When you can't even take care of the shit you have already.
GD: Maybe shit like this wouldn't happen if Dad was still alive. (Quietly) If you hadn't killed him with your fucking nagging.
Mom: What did you say?
GD: What?
Mom: What did you say?
GD: I don't know. What did you say?
Mom: Did you say what I think you said?
GD: (Sarcastically) I dunno. Maybe if I could read your fucking mind I would know what you

The sharp-witted among you have no doubt deduced that the above account is spurious. Imagine: interview John Hinterberger. We would never do such a thing. No, this is our interpretation of such an interview. Which, after correcting errors of usage and grammar, we then parodized cruelly. And after that we still had to change a number of lines because the imaginary Hinterberger was frankly making something of an ass of himself.

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