He strides into the cafe we’ve agreed to meet at. Leggy, silver-tressed, with creamy skin lightly dusted with freckles, Harper’s president and publisher Rick MacArthur is a knock-out at 62 even in the rumpled khakis that glide over his still-boyish hips. When he collapses into a chair, he lays a Trapper Keeper on the table, murmuring that it’s ten times better than that [bleeped] phone nonsense.
Announcing that this is his cheat day — “I learned recently this referred to food!” — he peruses the menu — “This menu’s paper quality is fantastic, isn’t it?” — before ordering a green juice, bananas Foster, and a double Scotch. He asks me when the guy who’s doing the interview is going to show. He is adorable. He asks again, using the words, “Chop chop.” He’s everything this interview said he’d be.
I’m still mesmerized by how stunning Rick MacArthur is, in person. The Author’s Guild photos don’t do him justice. I ask who dressed him for our interview and he gazes at me with fathomless confusion before laying his fingertips lightly on his shirt-front and saying, “I should know this! He’s worked for our family since before I was born. He’s going to be so mad at me. Not that he’ll ever express it.”
As the long-awaited second installment of Tales From the Crip’s series, Imaginary Interviews With People Who We Wish Were Imaginary, our new FuckAbility™ Research Council‘s Crip Carpet Correspondent, Janky Wheelchair, follows up on TryHarder™ Magazine’s recent take-down of John Hockenberry’s
journaling essay, “Exile,” by devoting an entire episode of THE SIT-DOWN to publisher of the essay, Harper’s Rick MacArthur.
The vivacious magnate talks nonstop about why paraplegics can’t sexually harass anyone; why he, a Francophile, is launching a Moi Aussi men’s movement to counter Me Too’s “Soviet-style” excesses; why paper is the future of Harper’s; and how everyone forgets how great John Hockenberry was in the film Coming Home. Keep reading for the unedited transcript of Janky Wheelchair’s exclusive hard-hitting interview with lively minx Rick MacArthur.
Flambee your bananas and keep the Scotch flowing because Harper’s RICK MACARTHUR is gracing the cover of NotPeople magazine as the CLUELESSEST MAN ALIVE!
THE CURRENT TRANSCRIPT FOR SEPTEMBER 24, 2018
Host: Janky Wheelchair
VOICE: I’m talking about feminists! The feminists love the World Wide Web, let me tell you. They luuurve free content. They hate paper! They hate pay-walls! I’m going to build a pay-wall around our journalism and the feminists are going to pay for it.
JANKY WHEELCHAIR: I’m talking with Harper’s Rick MacArthur about his recent decision to publish a 7,000 word essay by disgraced journalist John Hockenberry or, as TryHarder™ Magazine put it, give “its highly prized literary space to sloppy writing about how being disabled and having sex problems is relevant context for sexual harassment in the workplace.” I want to talk to you about wheelchairs —
RICK MACARTHUR: Well, before we go there, I’d like to inform your readers, excuse me I’m not thinking about my readers, that you’re a wheelchair, which is something you really ought to. Hock’s a paraplegic, so that does inform the piece immensely. Yeah, but seriously, what is up with you being that thing? What happened to you? Were you bitten by a radioactive polio bug or something?
JW: I’m a celebrity wheelchair journalist. You’ve probably seen me in He Won’t Get Far On Foot and other things. I’ve cradled the asses of some of our finest non-disabled actors.
RM: I’d like to remind you I employ women editors. Would you say you’re more like a…male-ish wheelchair or a…femaleish one. Just curious!
JW: Are you concerned about my professional competency?
RM: I’ve donated a significant amount of money to civil rights organizations.
JW: You’re half French, if I recall correctly, and publish in France regularly.
RM: Damn skippy. But even France is going to the pissoir. Even their culture’s being invaded, taken over.
JW: You hate immigrants?
RM: I’m talking about feminists! The feminists love the World Wide Web, let me tell you. They luuurve free content. They hate paper! They hate pay-walls! I’m going to build a pay-wall around our journalism and the feminists are going to pay for it.
JW: Why do you love paper?
RM: You can touch paper, you can put your hands all…over it. You can wad it in a ball and throw it away and it won’t come back to bite you in ass when you’re not looking if you’ve burned it all up, nobody believes a filthy scrap of…Katie Roiphe! She’s the one who said, “You should publish Hockenberry!” It was all her idea! I was afraid of Katie! Everybody’s afraid of Katie! On moonless nights she turns into Caitlin Flanagan!
JW: The idea that you published John Hockenberry’s essay because you were afraid of Kate Roiphe is ridiculous. Let’s talk about the Me Too movement. There’s a rumor that you were told to leave [REDACTED] last year because you kept offering the young women servers a “bite of your baguette.” Did this happen?
RM: No! Well, yes. But no! My baguette was crusty! I never said anything unromantic and just followed the courtship rituals of my generation: I grabbed their asses and denied, denied, denied. I’m not in a wheelchair, for chrissake.
JW: I’m sure your baguette is very crusty.
RM: Thank you. I just feel we’re so under attack. Men. Normal, non-wheelchair-using men, like me. Where’s our movement? So I’ve started Moi Aussi, for…sophisticated, romantic men like me who feel endangered in the Siberian labor camp of love that is the world right now.
JW: More Maurice Chevalier, less Ivan Denisovich?
RM: Exactamente. People think I don’t understand their la-dee-dah “Soviet work experience” and that is so untrue. I read Solzenitsyn in a cold room once! My father did not keep the main house warm during the winter months!
JW: Maybe just avoid the little-girl-related messaging.
RM: It’s a charming message! And why get all wrought up about a few little words?
JW: So you’d like your tenure at Harper’s to be remembered for it’s disbelief in the power of words?
RM: I have plans for the magazine. Big plans. Big ideas. And what do you have to do with plans and ideas? Get them on PAPER. So that’s our future: We’re going to be the paper magazine of ideas. We’re going to phase out words and focus on paper. Because people need paper to write down their ideas on. This is INTERACTIVE. We’re gonna replace the Harper’s Index with the Harper’s Thermometer that’s a blank sheet people can note the temperature on throughout their day. Nobody believes there’s a vent above my desk but by god there’s a draft and my records are going to prove it.
JW: How do you respond to those who claim you’re actually the actor Dabney Coleman in the world’s longest running performance piece?
RM: I don’t understand the question.
JW: Look, bottom line, do you get that even though he uses a wheelchair, John Hockenberry can be a bully at work and sexually harass people?
RM: No, you look. All I’ve ever seen John Hockenberry do is scream at my secretary that he’s not leaving until “he sees me, too.” John Hockenberry is in a wheelchair. My god. He’s a husk of a man. A husk who wore down my secretary, yes, and who — according to her — then invited her for a horizontal mambo. How could he know that this would be taken out of context and, by context, I mean of course wheelchair. A wheelchair doesn’t make a pass at you. It’s absurd. Though I’m grateful no written record exists of this happening.
JW: That’s about all we have time for —
RM: Wait a minute! Now I know where I’ve seen you! You played John Hockenberry’s wheelchair in Coming Home! Which he did not have sex in!
JW: First, that was my dad, Jacked-up Wheelchair; two, that was Jon Voight; and three, he had quite a bit of sex, you clueless jack-hole; and not for nothing, you nob, consensual sex has nothing to do with harassing anyone.
RM: I see you’re female-ish. Don’t get hysterical.
JW: Oh darn we’re out of time. Rick MacArthur, president, publisher of Harper’s magazine. NotPeople’s Cluelessest Man Alive, sounds a little understated, considering. I’m Janky Wheelchair and this is The Sit-Down, proudly sponsored by Hamilton Beach, the first name in toasters.