by Vivien Dunn
Fizz magazine, 1995
Webmistress’ note: Vivien Dunn did an infamous interview with the Ramones for Fiz magazine at the age of 9 or 10. I am guessing that this interview was conducted when she was 10 or 11.
Well, I finally interviewed Come. Before this I had tried to interview them at one of their shows, but I was going to have to wait like an hour, and I didn’t want to do that. So I didn’t get to see them play, but I listened to their CD, because fortunately I got a CD player for my birthday. I thought they played really good. When I interviewed them, we had some friends and relatives with us — my Aunt Cindy, Scott, Lew, and of course my parents — we had all these people there. It was kind of funny. Whenever I asked a question that was kind of hard that they couldn’t answer — like what their favorite TV show was — everyone would start laughing in the other room. And when we got to Nils’ [Bernstein, current “Page 4 Whore”], the singer wasn’t there. And when she got back from the store where she went to get cigarettes, there was a guy with her who wanted to interview them, too. For some strange reason he taped me interviewing them. That was really strange. They are really cool, and it was kind of funny.
Vivien: What are your names?
Arthur: Arthur Johnson, drummer in Come.
Sean: I’m Sean O’Brien, the bass player.
Chris: I’m Chris Brokaw. I play guitar.
Thalia: I’m Thalia Zedek. I sing and play guitar.
Vivien: (not veering from her pre-written questions) What do you play?
Arthur: I started that one.
Vivien: Why did you call your band Come?
Chris: It was a last-minute decision. We had been playing together for awhile, and we booked a show, but we didn’t have a name yet for the band. The guy who booked the show said, “OK, you have to have a name by 11 o’clock tonight or else I’m going to come up with a name for you.” We threw around a lot of really terrible names, and Thalia said, “Why don’t we just call the band Come?” And we said, “OK.”
Thalia: It was the only name we could all agree on.
Vivien: What is your favorite cartoon?
Thalia: Ren & Stimpy and Rugrats.
All: Ren & Stimpy.
(Nils, being the always-gracious host, begins serving coffee to everyone)
Nils: Vivien, you want some coffee?
Arthur: Do you drink coffee, Vivien?
Vivien: No! What is your favorite CD?
Arthur: Combustible Edison at the moment.
Chris: My favorite CD at the moment is Oh Yeah by Charles Mingus.
Arthur: Coincidentally, that happens to be most people in the band’s least favorite CD!
Vivien: What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
Arthur: When I was two years old my brother gave me a peanut in the shell, and I swallowed it. It went down my windpipe instead of my throat. It wound up in my lung, and I almost died. I had to go to the hospital and have it surgically removed.
Chris: Eight years ago two guys beat me up. I had to go to the hospital and get new teeth and all this stuff. That was probably the worst night of my life.
Thalia: My turn? Well, since we’re talking about injuries … probably when I ran into this fence thing and it went into one of my eyes. My eye was bleeding and everything. It was gross. I had to wear a patch over my eye.
Sean: Nothing bad’s ever happened to me. My life’s been a perfect dream. I can’t complain about anything.
Arthur: Sean refuses to acknowledge the bad things that happened in his life.
Sean: They’re not really bad things, they’re just different things!
Vivien: Oh, well. What is the best thing that’s ever happened to you?
Sean: (in whimpering voice) Nothing good ever happens to me!
Arthur: I got married.
Sean: Winning 65 bucks on a slot machine.
Chris: Waking up in Nils Bernstein’s apartment this morning!
Arthur: I thought you were going to say “arms”!
Sean: Getting back to the worst thing that’s ever happened to Nils!
Thalia: Uh … meeting these guys and getting in a band with them!
Vivien: Did you like math when you were a kid?
Sean: I kind of did like math.
Arthur: You can control it. There’s a right answer to everything.
Sean: Yeah, exactly. There’s not too many variables.
Chris: I didn’t like math. I still don’t like math.
Thalia: (to Vivien) Do you like math?
Vivien: I hate all subjects. Except for maybe art and science … Do you believe in ghosts?
Thalia: I’ve never seen one, but I’ve had encounters with them.
Chris: We, as a band …
Thalia: … had a ghostly experience.
Vivien: What happened?
Chris: We were sleeping in a hotel in Toronto, Canada, and I was having this really terrible …
Thalia: It was just me, you and Sean, right?
Chris: Right, and I was having this dream that I was driving the van, and I had driven it through this hole in the ground. We were sort of going through this tunnel in a hole in the ground. There were all these people on the outside of the van trying to pull the van open. And I kept driving up these walls inside the tunnel, and it was really terrible. It was a really bad nightmare, and I woke up. Thalia was next to me crying. She was just crying and whimpering, like something really bad was happening — and actually, part of the dream was that Thalia had fallen into this hole in the bottom of the van. And I was like, “Thalia! Thalia! Come back!” But I woke up and I was half awake and there was just something really weird going on in the room. Thalia was crying. And Sean, like, just flew up — bolt upright. And it was like, “Someone’s in this room!”
Sean: I was having this dream that I’ve had on several occasions, where I know that I’m asleep, but I’m lying in bed. The lighting and everything looks the same. I know that I’m asleep, but I can’t wake up. I can’t move, and I try to scream. Because usually someone’s trying to strangle me. But that same night, a dark, shadowy figure came into the room and tried to pull the covers off of me and tried to strangle me. So I’m trying to wake up, and end up waking myself up because I’m actually screaming. (he screams) Then I’m still not sure if I’m still dreaming or not, because everything in my dream looks exactly the same in the room — the lights are out and there’s a little bit of light coming in through the window.
Arthur: It was all me! It was just a bunch of wires. I was turning the lights off and on. And you guys fell for it!
Sean: Shut up! That’s not true.
Chris: There was definitely something strange going on.
Thalia: Because we all woke up at the same time. Arthur is a nonbeliever, though.
Vivien: Um, what was your childhood like?
Arthur: I had a very happy childhood, basically because I’m a very happy person. Or I was when I was a kid, anyway. I had a great dog.
Vivien: Was it a girl or a boy?
Arthur: It was a girl. She was a lab mix. She was an incredibly faithful dog. She’d follow me anywhere and wait for me for hours, no matter where I was.
Vivien: Like at school?
Arthur: I went to school right behind my house, so she would come over at recess and play with me and all my friends. It was great. And, like, this woman I met — Jessica Green — I never met her in elementary school, but I met her again 15 years later. And she said, “I knew your dog. I used to play with your dog at recess.”
Nils: Is that why everyone called you “Dogboy”?
Thalia: You do kind of look like a dogboy.
Nils: You know how they say that owners look like their pets? It’s true. You look like your dog!
Vivien: I hope I don’t look like my dog! My dog has had neck surgery, and he walks kind of like this (bends sideways) and he’s almost bald and we had to shave him because he has a skin condition!
Nils: Your dog’s in bad shape! Have you ever thought about getting a cat?
Vivien: We have one.
Nils: Is the cat in good shape?
Vivien: Yes. He’s skinny.
Nils: Do you kind of look like the cat?
Arthur: I bet the cat comes in at night and whispers ideas like, “The dog needs surgery.” “Shoot the dog.” “Lose the dog!”
Vivien: Do you like candy? What kind?
Arthur: Atomic Fire Balls®!
Sean: Sweet Tarts®.
Chris: I’m pretty boring. I just like chocolate.
Arthur: You like Japanese candy.
Chris: Oh, yeah. I like rice candy and stuff like that.
Vivien: I like white chocolate.
Thalia: I like circus peanuts.
Vivien: What is your favorite TV show?
Sean: The X Files. That’s the only show I’ve seen for awhile that I thought was good.
Arthur: I used to have favorite shows, but I’m not able to watch them anymore. I really liked Seinfeid for awhile.
Thalia: I think America’s Most Wanted.
Arthur: She sits there and eats her circus peanuts and yells, “Go get that guy!”
Thalia: “I think I saw him!”
Vivien: I saw this thing last night. I think it was Code 3 or something and this electric saw got bumped and it almost cut a guy’s hand off!
All: Ooooh! Eeeee!
Arthur: Did they show a reenactment of it? Was there blood and stuff?
Vivien: Yeah! And he was lying down.
Thalia: Was it live? Some of those are live.
Arthur: Did a video camera show up at it?
Vivien: Yeah, he was live. No, I think they redid it kind of. It really happened, and they redid it so the guy didn’t have to go through the whole thing again!
Arthur: “Come on! We’ll have surgeons right here! We’ll do the other wrist!”
Nils: That happened to my grandpa. He used to work in the forests of Norway. He sawed his pinkie off. He had to walk like 800 miles to the nearest doctor, and his pinkie was hanging on by a thread of skin. And he went to the doctor in hopes that the doctor would be able to sew it back on. And the doctor said, “What do you think you’re doing, walking around in this blizzard with your pinkie hanging off?” And he chopped it off and sewed up the stump.
Chris: It couldn’t be saved?
Nils: Nope — the doctor just plucked it off.
Arthur: Well, they saved John Wayne Bobbit. I mean, geez, that thing was laying in a field for two hours!
Vivien: What is your favorite song?
Thalia: “Land” by Patti Smith is definitely one of mine.
Chris: “How Deep Is the Ocean” by Irving Berlin.
Thalia: You’re so suave.
Arthur: Maybe “You Belong to Me.” Patsy Cline did it and Patti Page. It’s a really good song. I can tell you the first single I ever bought. It was the “Welcome Back Kotter Theme.” I got it at a Sears in Memphis.
Chris: The first single I ever bought was “Return to Sender” with “Girls, Girls, Girls” on the other side.
Sean: The first single I bought was “Monster Mash.”
Vivien: Do you have a girlfriend or wife or boyfriend?
Arthur: I have a wife, Donna.
(Vivien looks at Thalia, surprised, then quietly giggles as she realizes the implications and nods her approval)
Vivien: Um … What is your favorite tape?
Arthur: Video tape or audio tape?
Vivien: A tape. Audio tape.
Arthur: Can it be one we made ourselves?
Arthur: I have a tape that has old guitar stuff and jazz. Johnny Mathis stuff. It’s my favorite tape.
Chris: I have this great tape of French accordion music. It’s all chewed up and muffled now.
Sean: I have a tape of messages people have left on my answering machine. It’s pretty funny. I don’t actually listen to it all that much, but I think it’ll be a lot more entertaining and valuable 20 years from now. So I can remember what I was doing at that time.
Thalia: Oh, gosh. Maybe this tape that a friend of mine made me called Music to Strip By.
Vivien: What is your favorite poster?
Arthur: I had the Farrah Fawcett poster on my wall as a kid. I quite liked it at the time.
Thalia: I’ve got this Nam Goldman poster — a photographer who I really like.
Sean: I used to have a really good Bruce Lee poster and a Raquel Welch poster, too.
Vivien: Do you like Betty Boop?
(long pause and laughter)
Arthur: Are you a big Betty Boop fan?
Vivien: I have three Betty Boop tapes, plus I was Betty Boop for Halloween once.
Arthur: Did people know who you were?
Vivien: No, but I wore bright red lipstick and a real garter belt … What kind of home do you like?
Vivien: Kind of like, what’s your dream home?
Arthur: A house boat on a canal in Amsterdam would be great.
Thalia: It would probably one of those old Victorian, New Orleans style houses.
Chris: A huge, stone castle with lots of chandeliers.
Sean: A big old house with secret passageways.
Vivien: What’s your favorite video?
Chris: I bought a Foghorn Leghorn video for my sister that is good.
Arthur: Do you have your own tapes?
Vivien: I have E.T., I have Happily Ever After, I have Aladdin. I have three Betty Boops like I already said. I have this one with lots of different kinds of music. I have Hairspray. I watch it over and over until my parents get sick of it.
Arthur: Can you do the Madison?
Vivien: Yeah. I know almost all the songs and dances in it, because I’ve been listening to it for so long. Do you have any pets?
Arthur: I have two pets. I think I’m the only one here with pets.
Chris: Arthur has one of the largest cats in the world.
Arthur: It’s a big cat. She’s like 15 pounds.
Vivien: We saw a really big cat in New Mexico. It weighed 40 pounds. It had thumbs!
Arthur: So that means it could pick up apples and stuff and eat them if it wanted to?
Vivien: We were like, “It has thumbs!”
Arthur: How weird!
Vivien: What book have you read lately? I mean, what is your favorite animal?
Chris: What’s yours?
Vivien: Ring-tailed lemur.
Arthur: Well! Wait a minute! Wait a minute! We’ve got better answers. Ring-tailed lemurs! Man!
Chris: Duck-billed platypus.
Arthur: The yellow-tailed barn swallow. So did you go to the zoo? How did you find out about them?
Vivien: No. I did a report on them, and I got an A.
Arthur: But how did you find out that that was your favorite animal?
Vivien: Because I saw it on a bulletin board, and I thought it was so cute. Then I read about it. I read, like, a monkey and apes book I did research on them, and I got an A on the report. And I’m like, “I like this animal!”
Vivien: What book have you read lately?
Arthur: I just read a Harry Crews collection of stories.
Chris: I started reading some Harry Crews books right before we left.
Sean: I’m reading the biography of Dean Martin, which is called Dino.
Thalia: I kind of pick up books and read a few chapters and then look for something more interesting.
Vivien: What is your favorite painting?
Arthur: There’s this painting of John Singer Sergeant’s in Boston that’s a really beautiful painting of a dancer. It’s huge, too. Size always impresses me.
Thalia: I don’t know. I went into this Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam that had really great paintings.
Chris: There was this one painting I saw at the Van Gogh museum of these fish. It was a really dark painting of these fish swimming. I saw it there the first time I went, and then we went back a couple of months ago and I couldn’t find it. It was really frustrating.
Vivien: Maybe somebody bought it.
Arthur: I don’t think they could buy it in a museum. What’s your favorite painting, Sean?
Sean: Oh … “The Temptation of St. Anthony” by Bausch is one of my favorites.
Vivien: That’s all!