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OH, SO I’VE GOT A CUSHY job, have I? Well, I guess I did wear sneakers with a coat to Dieta Sixt’s lunch for Werner Herzog (“My Dinner With Werner,” 3/8), and I do work for AFI—but “cushy”?—even Aaron, our terminally wise-guy ticket-seller, chortled at that one. I suppose us “culture mavens” just got caught in the backwash of Eddie Dean’s parody of his archetypical “Hey, I’m the true disciple here” attitude of an acolyte barred from a solo genuflection before his idol.
But in fact he did Herzog a major disservice by botching the anecdote with which he opens his article. Herzog’s reply to the slightly embarrassed—not smart-aleck—quip, “I’ll serve as his food taster” (the speaker had started eating before the guest of honor) was not an immediately crushing and specific reference to past mistreatments, but the stunning seeming non sequitur, “That reminds me of one of the times I was in prison” (or jail). He was further specific that this was in the Central African Republic under Bokassa (the dictator who massacred the schoolchildren), a chilling detail omitted by Dean, who finally missed the point of the whole anecdote and the analogy that prompted it. The guard did not lick Herzog’s food before handing it to him, but in fact ate a crumb of each portion first—to prove to Herzog that it was not poisoned.
As to Dean’s personal anecdote of driving from Charlottesville to D.C. with only a jarful of pennies for gas and a ticket to a Herzog premiere—a typical Mason jar holds $9 and change worth of pennies. Man, that’s mileage!
Falls Church, Va.