Celeste Fremon is the kind of writer who gives journalists a good name. She’s able to combine solid reporting with a conscience and an urban consciousness. But she’s no goody two shoes, and proves it by unleashing her inner torch singer and answering our unexpectedly probing questions.
1. What’s the first thing(s) you read in the morning? My email, LA Times, NY Times, WaPo, Huff Post, LA Observed, How Appealing, Sentencing, Law & Policy—and FBLA, of course.
2. What’s your favorite guilty pleasure website? I’m a research freak. So I can fall down a rabbit hole on the web while researching one minor fact and not come out for, like, ever. My capacity for screwing around under the guise of work is truly frightening.
3. What job do you fantasize about having? Writer of hardboiled mystery novels.
4. Last movie you saw? No Country for Old Men. It was bloody, but brilliant, the Coen brothers at their dark best. Besides, I like Cormac McCarthy.
5. Last book you read? Tom McGuane’s Gallatin Canyon. I also just listened to Heart of Darkness on my iPod. I hadn’t read it since college, and it was great having it read to me. Ditto Anna Karenina, Great Expectations and Candide. I’m on a classics kick.
6. Best show legendary biz/movie star encounter. Once Jane Fonda told me that Katherine Hepburn told her that you need to do something new every day or otherwise you become â€œsoggy.â€ I also had a memorable encounter with the late King Hussein of Jordan that I wrote about somewhat embarrassingly here.
7. Proudest media moment? Once just the fact that I was present as a reporter helped a woman with Down syndrome get the heart-lung transplant that she needed to save her life. Before I showed up, she’d been repeatedly turned down on account of her disability by the transplant teams that could do the surgery. She had an IQ of around 45, yet she was funny, intuitive, and one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. Whenever my writing seems to have helped trigger some policy change for the good, I’m a happy gal.
8. Ever had a brush with the law? Describe I was once held at gun point for several hours by a bored and drunken police chief in small town outside of Guatemala City. It was one of those creepy times when you think, “Okay, this could be bad.”
9. If you got a unicorn what would you name it? Spike.
10. What does your TiVo think about you? It tried to get me to dump my 24 habit last season when the producers went on their torture kick, but I didn’t listen.
11. Character of fiction you most resemble? It changes every day. Today I resemble Stellaluna in the children’s book by the same name.
12. Who plays you in your bio-pic? I like the Bob Dylan/multiple actor strategy. So maybe John Goodman, Gwen Stefani, Diane Keaton, Don Cheedle, and Felicia Pierson, the actress who plays Snoop on The Wire.
13. What’s your ringtone? Tom Waits’ Cold Water from Mule Variations. Steve Barr of Green Dot already had Johnny Cash doing I Walk the Line or I might have used that instead.
14. Favorite electronic device? My iPod, because I have books on it. Also that call button thingy that lets me find the cordless phones I absentmindedly lay down in very odd places. If I could, I’d have call buttons for everything of importance in my life.
15. What do your friends say is your best quality? That I see the good in people.
16. What do your enemies say is your worst? That I look harmless.
17. What natural talent do you wish you had? I’ve always thought I’d be great as a ’40’s torch singer who wears bias-cut satin dresses and drapes across pianos. Unfortunately I have a voice like a crow.
18. What’s your theme song? Don’t have a theme song. But Iâ€™ve told friends and family that if they ever need to bring me out of a coma, just play the first couple of bars of either Thunder Road or Born to Run and it’ll snap me right out of it.
19. Do you believe in love at first sight? Sure. For me the concept of that instantaneous instinctive connection doesn’t just happen around romantic love, but also occurs with friends and pets.
20. When’s the last time you volunteered? Where? I volunteer a lot. But I had the most fun volunteering this year when I was the co-director of a thing called the Homeboy Stories Project where my friend, novelist Leslie Swartz and I helped former gang members find their voices as writers. The guys were entirely brave and amazing.