5 Minute Interview: Jesse Thorn
Alvin: Who are you, what do you do, and what do you enjoy most about it?
Jesse: My name’s Jesse Thorn. I host a public radio show called The Sound of Young America and a men’s style show called Put This On. When I’m doing The Sound of Young America, I get to interview people I admire – it’s great every time.
Alvin: Who’s your role model and how were you influenced?
Jesse: It’s a cliché to say it, but my parents were and are my role models.
My father grew up in a tough home, and volunteered to join the military when he was in college. When he came back, he dedicated his life to the peace movement, co-founding an organization called Veterans for Peace. He struggled with alcoholism and drugs, but when I was a toddler, he went into recovery and has been sober for almost 30 years now. He’s never stopped working for what he believes in. About ten years ago, he started the Jhai Foundation, which works to help improve the lives of very poor people, especially those in areas of Laos which his aircraft carrier bombed during the war. They do it by listening to the people they’re serving, and enabling them to improve their own lives.
When my mom decided to go to college, her parents didn’t speak to her for years, despite the fact that she was living in their house. If she were 40 years younger, she would have been diagnosed with some pretty severe learning disabilities, but she wasn’t, so she had to finish school through the brute force of her intellect. She did all kinds of things when she was young, but when I was a kid, she decided to go to graduate school and become a college professor. She was well into her 40s.
I learned from both my parents that as long as you can eat and take care of your family, you should pursue what’s important, and not money or any other baloney.
Now… in terms of style? Andre 3000. Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco. Again, my mom.
Alvin: What’s the common misconception that people often have about men clothing/style (and, if known, why)?
Jesse: That dressing well is a result of excessive self-regard. I think many men who dress well do so out of a respect for those they interact with, rather than a high opinion of themselves.
Alvin: What’s the next skill or knowledge set you want to add to your repertoire?
Jesse: I’m trying to learn to sew. My medium-term goal is to make scarves from some Harris Tweed yardage I bought online.
Alvin: Tell a story, name something that you’ve done or experienced that became your largest step to manhood?
Jesse: I’ve been with my wife since we were 17, but it took me until I was 26 to propose to her.
Alvin: If you were forced to live someone else’s life who would that be and why?
Jesse: I’m very happy to be who I am. I really admire the life my friend John Hodgman has made for himself, and I hope in ten years I might have something like it. He does all these things he loves – writing, performing, even acting sometimes. He’s wonderful at them, and he’s always working on something new.0