Born Rivals No. 1: Joe Bernardi

Miles Klee is a little-known novelist. Recently, he decided his best career move would be to start a feud with another writer. This is his ongoing attempt to find (and destroy) the perfect rival.

When Klee first announced these intentions, the swiftest reply was from Joe Bernardi, who has written for Paste Magazine and Vice’s Motherboard.tv, among others, and claimed he was “born to play” the role of literary nemesis. He turned out to be, at the very least, quite annoying.
 
KLEE
Joe Bernardi, thank you for blundering into this opportunity for self-promotion. Before we get started, I feel I should tell our audience that you declined to be interviewed last night because you were a “fully-grown man who is getting a ZZ Top tattoo.” Would you say ZZ Top is your main influence?
 
BERNARDI
There’s something ineffable about ZZ Top that makes them completely unable to influence a medium like literature or journalism. It’s something worth celebrating, but not something I’m going to try and cram into a story. The way I live, though, has been strongly—probably too strongly—influenced by the bearded, sharp-dressed genius of Gibbons and Co.
 
KLEE
Way to get “ineffable” into the first answer. Speaking of sartorial concerns, it may interest you to know that I have such low hopes for this conversation that I didn’t put clothes on for it. Nor am I entirely sober. I have not phrased this as a question, but you may respond.
 
BERNARDI
Nothing is more boring than hearing about another man’s alcohol intake but, if you’re insisting on taking us there, my roommate just lost his job at a local restaurant and a minute ago I paid him below market value for a beer so I’d have something to do during this thing. That I lead a life that requires me to sometimes put clothes on before 7PM on a weeknight is fine by me.
 
KLEE
Glad you could screw your unemployed friend out of a couple bucks. Joe, I think we could classify much of what you write as criticism. Do enjoy explaining popular entertainments in a condescending tone, or is it that you just don’t know what else to do?
 
BERNARDI
I’ve been writing a lot of criticism these days because the field of internet-friendly Klee-style mini-features bores me, but what good writer doesn’t like being condescending? Getting on a stage and acting like it’s a level playing field is the one of the most condescending things you can do.
 

KLEE
Well put—and yes, making a living from your words is not for everyone. I couldn’t help but notice that your website’s URL is ihatetourists.com. Are you, sir, not a tourist in the heavenly realm of serious thought? A trespasser on the plane of true art? Interloper at the wedding of Cool and Awesome, stuffing your face with so much ill-gotten cake?
 
BERNARDI
I don’t know from true art, but I’m posted up in the realm of serious thought, brother, and it’s the barely-clothed likes of you who come and go as they please. If the time I’ve spent reading and writing in this most erudite of zones has taught me two things, it’s these: “Cool” and “Awesome” don’t mean anything, and free cake is free cake.
 
KLEE
Erudite zones? This isn’t your music blog, dude. I have to warn you that becoming my rival is bound to be a lifetime commitment, with lots of important anniversaries and crying jags. When I have finally ground your spirit into dust, what will you write in your suicide note?
 
BERNARDI
Crying jags? This isn’t your music blog, dude. If I ever take myself out of the game, the only message I’ll leave will be an ice-cold 24-ounce can of Budweiser with a note taped to it that says “whoever finds this can drink it if Miles Klee dies without writing a second novel.”
 

KLEE
Joe, I want to thank you for being the first subject of this series, and for being the first to draw blood. I just hope the next interview goes better.
 
BERNARDI
I’m going to go yell at my neighbors for backing their truck up into my house. It’s going to be springtime in Paris compared to this.
 

 

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