People seem very happy to ignore what it is that I'm doing. The majority of people who are aware of me at all are probably unaware that I have written these books. TheDaily Show has a million and a half viewers nightly .The Apple ads have a factor more than that. The math suggests that most people know of my work from there before they know it from an advice column I wrote for McSweeney's in 1999. For most people, if they come to my books at all, they come to them after knowing me as the resident expert or as the PC, which is just fine.
DID YOU EVER MEET STEVE JOBS? I didn't, but we exchanged some nice emails. I wrote him a letter that was very true, which was that I'm amazed to be a part of these ads for a lot of reasons, especially because I never expected that a pasty-faced, round-faced, wall-eyed 35-year-old would suddenly have a career in television. I never expected that I'd be known to millions of people. But, most of all, I'm excited to be affiliated with this brand. Everything that I've created as a creative person in the world, going back to the very first Macintosh that I got — which was the very first Macintosh ever in 1984, the 128k — has been made using tools that were designed by Apple.
He didn't reply. . . . I would send him the message again, in one form or another, through the course of the campaign, because I didn't feel that I could remind him of it too frequently.
What I feel is most sad about Steve passing is, first and foremost, that he leaves a family behind — and he was not very old. That's very, very sad. In that amount of time, he accomplished several lifetimes' worth of important work. I guess the next-saddest thing is that there will be people who remember him as a designer of pretty gadgets. What he was really making was tools — both physical and intuitive design tools — that would allow people to communicate and be creative in very meaningful ways for a long time still to come.
I once had an opportunity to meet him. Someone I knew was meeting him, and he invited me along. I said, "No — Steve Jobs knows where to reach me if he wants to meet me, I don't want to crash any parties, and I'm sure I'll have a lot of opportunities to meet Steve Jobs in the future." I was completely wrong.
If you have an opportunity to meet someone who inspires you and you have a few nice things to say to them and it's not awkward, you should say it. When I was young, I was first published in The Paris Review. We went to a party, and I drunkenly told George Plimpton what he meant to me and that he was a huge inspiration, and he took it very kindly. Then I wandered downtown, and I happened to run into the musician Joe Jackson.
IN THE SAME EVENING? THAT'S CRAZY! That's normal for me now. I drunkenly went up to him and told him how much his music meant to me. I don't think he liked it as much as George Plimpton did. That may have been due to my level of inebriation at the time.