Born in Venice, California (1950) Marc Cooper got tossed out of the state university system in 1971 by then Governor Ronald Reagan and landed in Chile. At age 21 he became a translator for Chilean President Salvador Allende. After surviving the 1973 coup, Marc became a journalist. Over 30 years he has written for scores of publications, ranging from The New Yorker and Harper's to Rolling Stone and Playboy, and written three books. He's currently a contributing editor to The Nation magazine as well as host and producer of the syndicated Radio Nation. He also teaches and directs fellowship programmes at USC's Annenberg School of Communication. Marc has been married for 30 years to Patricia Vargas whom he met in Chile. His 20-year-old daughter Natasha is a union organizer. He blogs at Marc Cooper.
Why do you blog? > I hope to never really discover why. I tell myself, however, that as a writer it keeps my gears oiled; it forces me to think and write and exercise whatever grey matter remains in between paid assignments – sort of the way a hooker must look at brief interludes of voluntary sex.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Taking the piss out of Michael Moore (repeatedly).
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > For God's sake, have something really interesting to say. The world's already brimming with people who have nothing to say. No reason to have more of them clutter up the Internet.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > George Orwell, Victor Serge and Graham Greene.
What are you reading at the moment? > Nation of Rebels. Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Frank Sinatra, Buddy Guy, James Gandolfini, Robert de Niro.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > The Comedians by Graham Greene.
What is your favourite movie? > Casablanca.
What is your favourite song? > A Tie: 'As Time Goes By', sung by Dooley Wilson; and 'Come Fly With Me', by Sinatra.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Tons of them. Everything from a watered-down endorsement of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat to the invasion of Kosovo. I now reject the former and support the latter.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > You get old and then you die.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Any notion of an afterlife.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Homage to Catalonia. Orwell's thin volume still stands as the most vivid, nitid critique of totalitarianism no matter its colour.
Who are your political heroes? > Jean-Paul Marat (just for coming up with the name 'Committees of Surveillance'); Buenaventura Durutti (for sheer romantic heroism); Salvador Allende (for his commitment to democracy); Lula (for his inspired pragmatism).
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > 'It ain't beanbag...'
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Outlaw private political contributions and make all elections publicly funded.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > The fairly universal short-sightedness of most people which, in turn, can lead to any imaginable sort of catastrophe.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Depends on which day you ask. Most times, the former.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Understand that, in the end, it's all about the simple whims, desires, dreams and foibles of people. Grander projects always rise and fall on that simple basis.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Authentic intellectual curiosity and open-mindedness.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Self-righteousness.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > Too many to number! Remember, I am a journalist.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I think France is best to visit when the French are away on vacation. East Germany (if not all of Germany) was probably a safer place under Stalinist occupation. It's near impossible to conduct proper business with Israelis or Iranians. And, oh yeah, I don't care much for racists.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'Reward your friends and punish your enemies.'
What, if anything, do you worry about? > I'm Jewish. There's nothing I don't worry about.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > Danny DeVito.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Rome.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Fishing. Surf-fishing. Boat-fishing. Pier-fishing. Anything with a hook, line and sinker. When it rains, I like thinking about fishing while I clean my fishing reels.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Blues guitarist.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > George Carlin and the eternal Mort Sahl.