By: John Evan
I'm a guitar player and songwriter living in the Midwestern United States. To pay my bills every month over the last 20 years I've worked at producing these little videos for companies who wanted to tell people what they are all about. In the course of doing that, I was asked to do some features on tax preparers who work in New York City. Doing those interviews I met some of the most amazing people; to the average person, they were just people who do your taxes, but to me they were Abouli, a father of two boys in the Bronx who immigrated from Sierra Leone, Pablo, a former airline executive, and Michael, who had once played bridge with Bill Gates, and - maybe most memorable - Bill. Bill was known around Chelsea as The Man with the Watermelon Shoes because on specific days throughout the year he wore a pair of Converse All Stars painted to look like watermelons around New York in an effort to strike up conversations.
When bill sat down to be interviewed for this corporate video, he didn't want to do it and neither did I, frankly. It was late in the evening, I'd been recording these video interviews for about 10 hours by myself and I was getting tired. Bill had shown up early and while I was interviewing someone else he was off camera complaining about having to be interviewed. I got him to sit down mic'd him up and turned on the camera for what I promised would be a 10-minute interview. Two hours later Bill and I wrapped up the interview and promised to meet for lunch the next day.
Bill was a baseball genius, a man who knew his history, numbers, he grew up in a house that was later razed to build Lincoln Center, and lived in Chelsea his whole life. I learned more about Bill from that interview than I did most people I'd known for years. It took me a few years to realize that I'd learned a lot about telling peoples' stories from talking to Bill and his friends in New York.
Until finally, one day, while talking to Juj - my better half - it occurred to me, I should just do it as a podcast. And a few months later, Iconoclast of Things was born.