The FishbowlDC Interview with National Geographic Traveler’s Contributing Editor Carl Hoffman

Sometime during the holidays, Carl Hoffman will take off to New Guinea to investigate the disappearance of Michael Rockefeller for a new book, Somewhere in Eden, set to publish in 2013. Authorities declared Michael (son of Nelson) dead in 1963. He either drowned or was killed by locals, Hoffman explains on a cold, rainy morning at Tryst cafe this week. Most days National Geographic Traveler and Wired’s Contributing Editor can be found in faded Diesel jeans on a faded couch there or down U Street at Big Bear. Born and raised in Washington, he graduated from University of Massachusetts/Amherst where he majored in Social Thought and Political Economy. He’s always lived in Washington minus his studies at U. Mass, traveling post college and a year as a ski bum in Vail. “Do you want a bio or something?” he asks helpfully. “I could send you a lot of shit.” Thank you, Carl. We appreciate shit and a lot of it. Hoffman’s bio says he has driven the Baja 1,000, ridden reindeer in Siberia, sailed an open dinghy 250 miles, and traveled to 65 countries. It also says his three children make fun of him often. He recently memorialized his father, Burt Hoffman, who he deems his greatest writing mentor. And rightfully so — his father, who died of lung cancer in Chiang Mai, Thailand, was Editor of the Washington Star and National Journal. Though Hoffman’s clearly at home in Washington, he says it might soon be time to leave. “Might be time to go live in a crowded, exotic, dirty city far away for a little while,” he muses aloud.

If you were a carbonated beverage which would you be? Grapefruit soda.

How often do you Google yourself? I don’t. I have a Google alert.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor (or vice versa)? You’re retarded. How’d that go over? Not well. I come from a long line of burn bridgers.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? I love C.J. Chivers and Anthony Shadid at the NYT. Both are amazing.

Do you have a favorite word? Why.

What word or phrase do you overuse? Why.

Who would you rather have dinner with – ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s Candy Crowley or NBC’s Andrea Mitchell? Tell us why. I guess I’d want to have dinner with Christiane Amanpour because she’s been a lot places and she’s seen a lot of things. She must have a lot of curiosity of the nooks and crannies of the world. Definitely not Andrea Mitchell.

You are ordered to go on a road trip to an undisclosed location. You can go with White House Spokesman Jay Carney or Bo, the President’s Portuguese Water Dog. No ones feelings will be hurt. Who do you take? Honestly it’s really hard to travel with a dog, especially the places I go. I’d probably pick neither. It’s much better to travel alone – always more interesting. Although the dog, if you got hungry you could always eat.

What’s the name of your cell phone ring? It’s silent.

It’s 3 a.m. and you get up to use the bathroom or get a drink of water. Do you check your BlackBerry or iPhone? Absolutely.

What word do you routinely misspell? There’s so many. Every word with an i and an e. Handwriting spelling I always got D’s in. Actually, now I’m a pretty good speller because of spell check.

What swear word do you use most often? Definitely fuck.

Find out why Hoffman gets weepy often…

If you weren’t a journalist what would you be? It’s all I’ve ever wanted to be – is to be a writer. So I guess I’d just be dead. I’m curious and full of wonder. I’d be a storyteller, a filmmaker.