Vancouver. Seattle, Portland, San Francisco. Los Angeles and San Diego. Each city is an inflection on the same West Coast theme. Everybody in Seattle seems to agree that its moment has passed, so who knows where’s next?
0 You devote the first 50 pages of Polaroids to Grateful Dead fans - Deadheads. This tribe seems to be something of a throwback. Why do you believe they are a defining sub-culture of the 90s?
A Well, the fact is. they are a defining sub- culture (by the way I’m not a Deadhead). And now that Jerry Garcia’s gone, Deadheads are trying to figure out who and what they are in the absence of concerts and the Deadhead formula.
0 Since the term Generation X was hi-lacked by advertisers and marketing people, you have reversed away from the ‘spokesman of a generation’ tag. If you’re not speaking from within, does that make you some kind of social scientist collecting field data?
A Wake up! I write about people in and around my own area of experience. Think of how idiotic it would seem if I wrote a story about an 85-year-old black woman from the American South. Huh? The ultimate extension of your direction of thinking is that the only books people are allowed to write is autobiography. I write about what I know which tends to be (shock!) people in and around my own age and demographic sector. By the way: I never accepted the whole idiotic spokesman mantle.
0 Have you heard whether Bill Gates read Microserfs?
A Yes. The Washington Post asked him and he said he’d read it and liked it.
O Has there been any other feedback from senior Microsoft apparatchiks which suggests you were on target?
A Actually, yes. But I don’t really care about the apparatchiks’ response. I care about the response from the other 99 per cent of the employees. They’ve been almost universal in their agreement on this issue, and the tiny few who didn’t were so
strangely bitter as to make everybody wonder what was going on inside their heads.
(I In Polaroids you write about the ‘middle- class tranquillity and freedom’ of Palo Alto in Silicon Valley and yet come down heavily against LA’s super-rich ghetto, Brentwood. Aren’t they basically the same - neighbourhoods which insulate themselves with money and lack the vigour of different cultures colliding?
A Vigour? Cultures colliding? I get the feeling you’re trying to catch me out on some sort of lie or something — or that you believe I have a secret, powerful and wildly hypocritical agenda I’m trying to withhold from you. Pleasejust take it on fact that I write about people and events that happen in and around my life and that’s what I do. I’m not a member of any political party, I don’t make bombs. I don’t live in a mansion. I’m not in league with the Freemasons or Rotarians. I drive a sensible medium-size car and like being around trees more than buildings.
0 Are you taking the unfashionable step of fighting back for middle-class pride?
A Unfashionable? Not over here. The answer is yes.
0 The US presidential election result is just in, and apparently less than 50 per cent of the electorate voted. Does that say something about the 90s?
A Not really. Historically people tend to be lax about voting whenever the economy is good — which it is now.
0 What are your own plans while Glinton serves out four more years?
DOUGLAS COUPLAND FEATURE
A Hmmm . . . I think I’d like to get into crime. I’m not saying this as a joke. The idea of crime is fascinating. It’s the one remaining outpost where the individual can drop out of the homogenized global mono-culture. I don’t think I’d like violent crime because there are many many more people out there who could do a far better job of it. The
perfect heist? Emerald smuggling? Eco- terrorism? I’m working on it. Polaroids From The Dead by Douglas
C oupland is published by Flamingo at £12.99.
Douglas Goupland on:
I had never asked you to make me care about you, but it happened — against the hype, against the odds — and now you are in my imagination forever.
Within the limits of her biology and intellect, Monroe went as far as it is possible for a human to travel into the hyperspace of fame. After this occurred, sex, high culture, temptations and the sating of earthly desires had lost all attractive charms for her. She had realised the limits of how far the body can take one.
TIIE O. J. SIMPSON TRIAL
The Simpson episode pornographically exposed the full infrastructure of fame- generating technology in all its scope. beauty and ugliness.
We emerge from our mother’s womb an unformatted diskette; our culture formats us.
The List l5-28 Nov I996 11