Friday, June 3, 2011

Culture Spotlight - Harry Potter Interview

June 3rd, 2036

4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey - Once a place of great importance, the house at this address now stands in almost total ruin. The front yard resembles a briar patch, and the mailbox flaps lazily in the wind from being broken in two. The front door is ajar, and stray cats roam in and out at will. In Green People Soup's 25 years of tracking down and talking with former cultural icons, this is one of the saddest sights I've ever had to describe. Standing next to me is Harry Potter, who some of you might remember from that time he pointed a stick at a bad man in, like, 1999.

 The interview started with me dancing gingerly around the elephant in the room, as I asked him what he'd been up to since his Hogwarts days.

"Not fuck all," was his initial reply. He seemed annoyed at the question, and hastily made his way into the dilapidated house of his youth. Once inside, I could hear him rummaging around, throwing empty cans of string beans across the room and mumbling something about peaking too soon. I hesitantly let myself in, careful to mind my face, lest it get beaned by a can of beans. I noticed the apparent lack of anyone giving a shit about this place for the better part of two decades, and Harry, with almost magical intuition, sensed my being taken aback.

 I think I found where the beans went. To the left. No, lower. A little more to the right, underneath the growing thing under the gross thing.

"Yea, I know this place is crap now, but it used to be a looker," he said as a look of nostalgia washed over his unwashed features.

I didn't pick up any sarcasm in his voice, so I took him at his word. He gave me the grand tour, which lasted all of five minutes, so afterwards we decided to take an even grander tour of the surrounding neighborhood. As Harry walked alongside me (sometimes in a zig-zag pattern), I couldn't help but notice his resemblance to his childhood home. Gone were those impressionable, young, bespectacled eyes. His hair was no longer silky brown; in fact, I wasn't sure what color it actually was. Leaves and dirt were splattered all over his hair and clothes, and he resembled a tornado victim that was too heavy for the funnel to actually pick up. I'd go so far as to say his constantly bewildered gaze completed the disaster survivor motif.

Pictured: Harry, right after our interview. His forehead scar from Voldemort is the only clean part of his face.

"That, right over there." He pointed to a boarded up, nearly unrecognizable building on the corner, about 3 blocks from our original meeting place. "That was the first liquor store to sell me booze. I was, um, 19 at the time? 19. Yea, 16. So I was 14 when they sold me my first beer." I heard a faint jingling, and when I looked down, Harry was shaking a coffee can back-and-forth. As the coins inside were flung about, I got the subtle hint. I dropped a few bucks into his coffers. I don't think he noticed it was American money, but I had already figured out that his powers of perception weren't quite as eagle-eyed as I had imagined beforehand.

Eager to move the conversation in a more positive light, I inquired about his life directly after his school days. In a biting tone, he said, "That Hogwarts, I tell ya. Full of shit, the lot of them. Name me one, just one famous wizard. Ya can't do it, can ya? That's cause there aren't any! least I showed 'em. I made off with that invisibility cloak. It's pretty fuckin' great. One time I took an entire gas grill from a Wal-mart. I forgot to get the food, but man, that was amazing."

I remembered how famous he was back when he was in school, but Harry was quick to point out that "Magic can't flip burgers or collate reports. Well, I guess it can, but it creeps people out. I know. I was fired once from an office temp job for using the copier from across the room. I wasn't hurting nobody, I swear. You don't understand how much more efficient it was for me to have my wand do the copying while I played Spider Solitaire. It's not like regular Solitaire."

That seemed true enough, and I really think that was the turning point in our short relationship. We bonded over past jobs, talking shop and the like, but the conversation dipped to yet another low when I probed deeper about his use of magic.

"The problem is, most people don't believe in that shit. So in order for me to make any kind of a living, I had to pretend like I was faking it. You know, birds out of your hat and rabbits from your sleeves, that kind of shit. Maybe that's the other way around. Fuck, it's all a blurry cloud of horseshit in my head."

His vision of wizardry after graduation didn't really pan out.

As he elaborated, he told me about the ten years he spent as a traveling magician slash stage hand. He would have to put up all the props, set up the lighting, and take everything down after his shows. According to Harry, the shows themselves were usually made up of him using magic to do things like place coins in an audience member's pocket, or really 'get' someone's nose.

Part two of this epic conversation will be posted in the next few days, wherein Harry Potter waxes poetic about evading gang warfare with spiral-y water shields, and that time he crapped in Hermione's sink.

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