This is a hard question for me. That’s because one of my rules is “Only be a fan of the dead.” That way you’re never disappointed by their possible future behavior. Also, there are things that I care about that few people do, and it wouldn’t be helpful if I talked about the T50 . The T50 are wise writers who are alive and I want to read every book they write. The last person I added is not American.
So what is it about an American that would make them a favorite keeping in mind that I need to feel that they are uniquely American? Well there’s too much to list. Still, I know it when I see it.
So my three favorite Americans are:
- Joe Rogan
- Mike Rowe
- Neal Stephenson
Joe Rogan is the kind of person you might want to dismiss as a knucklehead. He is the direct opposite. Like all great standup comedians, he entertains the bizarre and he has an excellent grasp of what makes people tick of ‘ordinary psychology’. He has a tangible ethos about what he listens to, an excellent bullshit detector and a winning way with communications. His life journey has gone in weird unexpected directions and he has emerged sane, admirable and curious. I’m sure this dude has some of the greatest stories to tell, ever.
Mike Rowe is just a winner. I love everything about his wit, his self-deprecation, his attitude and his grace. He’s a good guy, personified. He knows how to lay the smackdown on nonsense and hypocrisy without being a nag or an asshole. Kind of directly opposite of Joe Rogan who would be the first to admit he’s an asshole (but my kind of asshole), Mike tries and succeeds at being a gentleman. Not prissy, but a real honest stand up guy who also doesn’t go for false modesty. Plus his name is Mike. That’s American as it gets.
Neal Stephenson is the right kind of intellectual. He has discipline and imagination, and dammit he’s just really smart. He’s an outstanding writer and he loves the big, the huge and the ginormous. He is one of the few rationally grounded writers who can do excellent historical fiction and excellent real-world reporting. He’s brainy and intellectually adventurous, but he’s not a revolutionary. He, like Rowe, appreciates the skills that ordinary people develop and understands what happens when that body of knowledge clashes with the knowledge of experts and geniuses. He paints worlds. He loves swords.
These are my three favorite Americans. I’d love to see them in the same room.