Gene Weingarten, the Man and the Machine, ‘Gobbled’ Crystal Meth at Age 12

Washington Post funny man and two-time Pulitzer winner Gene Weingarten answered questions over e-mail for Mother Jones‘s Michael Mechanic. They

Washington Post funny man and two-time Pulitzer winner Gene Weingarten answered questions over e-mail for Mother Jones‘s Michael Mechanic. They discussed Mr. Weingarten’s methods, his childhood in the Bronx and the relationship between laughter and anxiety.

On learning to be funny growing up in the Bronx:

I was small and weak and Jewish instead of large and fierce and Puerto Rican. You need something.

On drugs:

Brother was six years older, which explains why I gobbled crystal meth at 12, smoked hashish at 13, and was shooting smack at 17, which explains how I got Hepatitis C, which was the basis of my first book, which was a humor book about dying.

On his two work modes:

I report as a machine; I write as a person.

On how he started writing:

I walked into the college newspaper and discovered the elation delivered by a byline.

On when to stop reporting and start writing:

It is never time to stop reporting, but you have to make the call at some point. In my case, it’s usually when I know I have a good top and a good kicker, and feel relatively certain I’ve got enough to fill the spaces in between, and to answer all the really big questions.

On how people read:

They create a theater in their minds.

On his favorite piece to report:

[T]he time I used petty cash to finance a visit to a whorehouse for a column.

Read the full exchange here. Gene Weingarten, the Man and the Machine, ‘Gobbled’ Crystal Meth at Age 12