Tuesday, October 4, 2011

An Interview with the Man Who Interviewed Pistachio Girl - A Retweetable ZWR Exclusive


Clem Murray/Philadelphia Inquirer
Earlier this morning my face almost literally, figuratively and hypothetically fell right off when I read this article by Philadelphia Inquirer human-interest writer Michael Vitez. To summarize for you: Pistachio Girl is just as awesome as you'd expect. In addition to the words of Pistachio Girl herself ("It's physical labor, dog."), there are stories and quotes from Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo, as well as tiger mug references and confused fans. Trust me, just read the article I linked earlier before you proceed. Go ahead, I'll wait.


You back? Okay.

Instantly I knew what had to be done. I NEEDED to interview the man behind the interview with Pistachio Girl. So thanks to the world-changing democratic powers of Twitter*, I reached out to Michael Vitez via Twitter direct message, and before you know it, the 1997 Pulitzer Prize winner had agreed to an exclusive email interview with an anonymous penguin with a silly Phillies bolg.

Above: Michael
Picture from ChristopherWink.com

Here is the interview in its entirety. Nothing has been edited. Enjoy:

Q: How did you first become aware of Pistachio Girl? Was it the videos online? 
I SAW HER AT THE PARK. I HAVE TIX TO 13 GAMES IN SECTION 119. BUT THE REAL IMPETUS WAS JON STORM, OUR INQUIRER TV WRITER, WHO IS ALSO A REGULAR AT GAMES AND HE IS GAGA OVER HER. ENCHANTED. THEN I ASKED THE PEANUT LADY ABOUT HER. SHE WAS A FAN. "THE SONG DOESN'T SAY 'BUY ME SOME PEANUTS AND PISTACHIOS,' " THE PEANUT LADY SAID. "IT'S A HARD SELL BUT SHE'S DONE A GOOD JOB. SHE TOOK THE ITEM NOBODY ELSE WANTED, WHICH IS WHAT I DID WHEN I STARTED 37 YEARS AGO." MY ORIGINAL IDEA WAS TO WRITE A STORY ABOUT THE PEANUT LADY AND PISTACHIO GIRL. BUT THEN I CHANGED GEARS AND FOCUSED ENTIRELY ON PISTACHIO GIRL.

Q: How was researching and preparing this piece similar to teaching at Ivy League universities? Which of her bits/sales ploys do you imagine would be most effective in getting F. Scott Fitzgerald to buy some pistachios?
HONESTLY, IT TOOK SOME NERVE TO ASK THE PHILLIES ABOUT HER. STUTES LOOKED AT ME LIKE I WAS CRAZY. HE CLEARLY DOESN'T GET PISTACHIO GIRL. BUT HIS MOTHER RAISED HIM RIGHT. HE WAS POLITE TO ME, AND HE'S POLITE TO HER.  BASTARDO, ON THE OTHER HAND, HE GETS HER. HE WOULD HAVE TALKED ABOUT HER FOR AN HOUR. THE RESEARCHING AND PREPARING FOR THIS WAS EXACTLY THE SAME AS TEACHING AT PRINCETON AND PENN, ACTUALLY. YOU DO YOUR HOMEWORK. YOU SPEND THE TIME, FOLLOWING HER, INTERVIEWING HER, TALKING TO FANS ABOUT HER. HATE TO BE SERIOUS HERE BUT GOOD JOURNALISM ONLY LOOKS EASY. FITZGERALD WOULD HAVE APPRECIATED HER BOOTS AND BOUGHT LOTS OF NUTS. BTW, YOU SHOULD GET A COPY OF HER PAINTING OF HERSELF AS PISTACHIO GIRL, WITH STUTES, BASTARDO AND THE PITCHING COACH IN IT, AND THE PHANATIC. YOUR VIEWERS WOULD LOVE TO SEE IT. I WILL FORWARD IT**.

Q: I mean, be honest, can you ever top this?
BEING INTERVIEWED BY ZOO WITH ROY COMES CLOSE.

Q: Please rank your favorite nuts.
I AM A CASHEW GUY.

Q: How hard did you have to fight Bill Conlin to get this story? 
BILL WOULD HAVE SPUN THE STORY OF PISTACHIO GIRL INTO GOLD.

(Editors note: probably an anecdote about hidden Third Reich gold)

Q: Do you think Roy Halladay will go to the zoo with me? 
I REALLY DO.

Q: TOPICAL - Give us all a prediction on how the Phillies postseason will play out (while employing a nut pun). 
iF WE CAN CRACK THE FIRST NUT, THE CARDINALS, WE WILL BE ON OUR WAY.

-30-



* "Pistachio Spring"

** Pics from Debbie the hostess, via Michael Vitez: 




15 comments:

  1. This is FANTASTIC. Kudos on having the "nuts" to DM him for this story!

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  2. Always a home run.

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  3. Fantastic work! That painting is bad ass as well.

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  4. The painting is, quite literally, the best thing ever in the history of best things.

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  5. That article literally quotes an old guy saying "I've got pictures of her on my mobile phone." Creepy.

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  6. Pistachios 6 dollars! I'll take eleventy!

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  7. Does her painting feature a man-goat Wilson Valdez?

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  8. "Does her painting feature a man-goat Wilson Valdez?"

    No silly, that's Alfred: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CxHATXa_j0

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  9. Call me crazy, but I think Dana Carvey's best role was as 'Phistachio Disguisey' in the underrated masterpiece 'Master of Disguise'

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  10. She calls them "PISS (pause) tay-she-owes."

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  11. Mike Vitez is awesome

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  12. PHISTAAAAAACHIOS!

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  13. I'd seen Pistachio Girl several times on my walk back to the Broad Street Subway after the game, when she was hawking DVDs in front of the Veterans memorial. I'd had no idea prior to the Inquirer article who she was, or what the content of the DVDs might be. I am ashamed to admit I suspected porn, and I hustled my kids past her without making eye contact.

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