Instapundit Glenn Reynolds says: "I don't think that Moxie is real. I think she's distilled out of every blogger's fantasies."
My Toronto writer friend Marc introduced me to the blogger "Moxie" (not her real name) when he paid a two-week visit to Los Angeles in the fall of 2002. She's a smart slender blonde.
After running into her at a few writer events, I decided to interview her.
I pick Moxie up at 1PM, 5/20/03. She's ready to go within a minute and climbs into my battered old van with a laugh.
Moxie wears a long black patterned sundress with platform sandals and a beige sunhat. Her arms are bare and her skin is pale. She's half asleep. She had a busy day yesterday and didn't finish everything on her list.
Unemployed for two years, Moxie normally rises around 10AM but with her particularly active social life over the past two months, she often rises later.
She says she needs 9-10 hours of sleep a night. I think she's a little depressed and when her life is up and running full tilt, she'll be fine with eight hours.
We park (a laborious process that takes five minutes) off First Street and walk to Pusan on La Brea Blvd, a health-food restaurant where I once ate with W..
I quickly down two lemonades. Moxie nurses her lemonade/ice tea.
Moxie's not thrilled that I want to tape our interview. I hadn't mentioned this habit of mine. She doesn't like to hear her own voice. I promise not to play it back to her.
She doesn't think this interview is a good idea. She doesn't think she has anything interesting to say. Still, it's a good excuse to leave the house and lunch is on me.
I order the California Vegetarian sandwich and Moxie orders a French chopped salad.
I switch after my second lemonade to water.
Born and raised in Manhattan Upper West Side (her father is a CEO), Moxie graduated from Cornell with a double major in bio-chem and marketing. She worked in high tech in San Francisco for five years and in LA for five years, earning in six figures. Then when the tech boom crashed in 2000, she lost her job and she hasn't worked steadily since.
As I turn the tape recorder on, Moxie tenses up.
Moxie says she started her blog in October 2000. "I needed a structured way to write every day."
She thinks before she speaks. She prefers interviews by email. I prefer to tape in-person chats.
Luke: "Was your blog like anything you've done before?"
Moxie: "I don't know if there is anything else you can compare it to."
As a child, Moxie kept a diary.
Moxie's "not surprised [by her number of hits and emails] because it took me two years to get there."
Her Alexa.com ranking is about 90,000. Lukeford.net's is 250,000.
July 2002 was a key time in the evolution of Moxie when she met other Los Angeles bloggers like Tony Pierce at Brian Linse's party. "I only read Tony Pierce before that and he introduced me to everyone else, including the Olsens in Cleveland.
It's about 15-minutes into the interview before I get her to crack a smile and laugh.
I rarely work from prepared questions. I have a few notes on a piece of paper of things to cover but I prefer to work intuitively, throwing out questions and comments promiscuously and thoughtlessly until I evoke an interesting reaction. There's nothing I'm trying to prove or achieve with this interview or most of my interviews. That's what I like about having a website. I don't have to artificially construct stories for a daily newspaper or radio station. I can just open someone up to the universe and see what happens.
Moxie: "There are things I will never write about. I've written a lot about boyfriends, dates and relationships. I find myself writing less about that. I was lucky that when I first started, the man I was dating got me started and said, 'Hey, this is what you need to do.'"
Moxie: "Yes. He said this will give you the structure you need and it will be easy for you to write from anywhere. And he didn't care what I said about him. I was lucky. But other men I've dated have been really sensitive about it.
"I don't tell all of them that I write about them but of the ones who know, about 75% [are sensitive about it]."
Luke: "Has this caused you to pull back from the writing or from the boys?"
Moxie: "I've pulled back on the writing. It's limiting. I can't write about some things that would make great stories."
Luke: "What percentage of guys you date know you're writing about them?"
Moxie laughs: "It's becoming less and less. I've gone entire relationships without the man knowing [about her blog]. The man I wrote about the other day who would never initiate a conversation never really knew. He knew I had one but he never bothered to ask where it was because that would require him starting a conversation."
Moxie says she's dated about ten guys in the past year and had zero relationships. She says she's had three serious relationships in her life. The last one was with a Jewish guy for three years. It ended badly two years ago.
Luke: "What's your thing with Jewish guys?"
Moxie: "Contrary to popular belief, I don't just seek them out. They just happen to be the ones... I don't even know they're Jewish. We go out on a date and we get along well. They know how to treat a girl, a woman on a date. The guy who would never initiate a conversation was not Jewish."
Luke: "Have you ever dated a black guy?"
Luke: "Would you?"
Moxie: "I don't know. I've definitely met black guys who were smoking hot. It would depend on the person."
Luke: "How would your parents react?"
Moxie: "I don't think they would be thrilled."
Luke: "Who's the male version of you?"
Moxie: "I don't know. There are a lot of people who do what I do."
Luke: "What's with the more active social life over the past two months?"
Moxie: "I've had a hard couple of years and I just decided that if I want things to change, I have to get out and meet people."
Our food comes and we quit the interview while we eat.
Afterwards, I ask for the desert menu.
Waiter with a foreign accent: "We've got chocolate cake with ice-cream and tart, the one over there, with ice-cream and berries on top."
Luke to Moxie: "What would you like?"
Moxie: "I don't have a sweet tooth."
Luke: "I do. I'll have the tart."
We decline coffee. Moxie gets another half and half.
Luke: "Why haven't you pursued more aggressively writing for a living, or have you?"
Moxie's taken aback. "It's a little bit hard for me to talk about. I am pursuing it but it's not something that will be obvious right now. I really can't talk about it but I have some projects going on, not journalism, with my writing."
Luke: "Are you working on a book?"
Moxie: "Yeah, I'm working on a book but this is something bigger than that."
Luke: "What can you say about the book?"
Moxie: "It's a group of short stories. I hope to get it published at some point."
Luke: "Fiction? Autobiographical?"
Moxie: "It's a lot like my blog."
Luke: "Then it's nonfiction."
Moxie: "There are things in for spice but the basic story line, oh yeah, is autobiographical. I have to change names and situations."
Luke: "What do you think of the comparison of your blog to Sex in the City?"
Moxie: "I know so many people that live that life... I don't think it's the most flattering comparison. I'd like to think I'm more unique than that. The show is well done but it is not unique."
Luke: "What do you love and what do you hate about having your website?"
Moxie: "I don't think I hate anything about it. I don't love it either. It just is."
Luke: "How would your life be different if you never did this?"
Moxie: "I'd have an entirely different group of friends. I'd probably never write. I'd think about writing a lot but I'd never write. My house wouldn't be such a mess. It takes a lot of time out of my day. I'm a slow writer. It doesn't just spill out on the page."
Luke: "Is it possible that it is distracting you from anything?"
Moxie: "A couple of months ago, yeah, I think it was. But I haven't been spending as much time on the site lately. I've been focusing on looking for a job and my real-life friends."
Luke: "Why aren't you leading a religious Catholic life?"
Moxie's taken aback: "I don't really believe in organized religion. The Catholic church is very corrupt. I don't like the way they treat women. It's much better for me just to be spiritual than to participate in something that's disrespectful to my gender. Now we're hearing about all the priests molesting little boys. It's just disgusting. There'd be a better chance of peace in the world if people weren't so fanatical about organized religion."
Luke: "Does God communicate to you and do you communicate with God?"
Moxie pauses: "I don't think so."
Luke: "You don't pray?"
Luke: "Do you believe there's intelligence in outer space?"
Moxie: "I don't see why there couldn't be. I don't think about it. It'd be pretty arrogant for us to assume that we're the only planet with intelligent life."
Luke: "Have you ever had any kind of communication with an alien?"
Moxie laughs: "No."
Luke: "Do you think there's truth to astrology?"
Moxie: "Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. I'm nothing like a Capricorn, however, I have noticed my friends and people I date do sort of fit their astrological sign."
A Mexican cleans away our dishes.
Luke: "Do you think there are too many Mexicans in LA?"
Moxie answers immediately: "Absolutely not."
Moxie: "What do you mean by too many?"
Luke: "There are more Mexican babies born than white babies. In 30 years or so, Mexicans will be a majority in this state. That doesn't bother you?"
Moxie: "Everybody came to this country from another country. That's discrimination. That's..."
Moxie: "Yeah. Based on skin color? Why would that bother me?
"Why, do you think there are too many Mexicans in LA?"
Moxie laughs: "So you're prejudiced against Mexicans."
Luke: "I don't believe diversity is a strength."
Luke: "I think they're wonderful for Mexico."
Moxie aghast: "You're kidding me, right?"
Moxie: "Oh God."
Luke: "Those that come here legally are fine, as long as they learn the language and are law abiding. I don't think they should be given welfare until they've been here a certain amount of time. If I lived in Mexico, I'd probably be an illegal immigrant too to America. I'm not being righteous about this."
Moxie: "I see them as the cogs, as the grease in the wheel. You're not going to find a 25-year old white guy from Omaha dig trenches and clean toilets..."
Luke: "For $5 an hour."
Moxie: "For them, they're excited about that. It's good money."
Luke: "Yet you wouldn't date one?"
Moxie: "Why not? I did date someone who was Mexican and Spanish. Sure, why not? They take many of the jobs Americans are too proud to take."
Luke: "What about Muslims? Do you think if there was an influx of Muslims into the city and country, would that bother you?"
Moxie thinks for about 15-seconds. "Yeah, maybe a little. Only because they want to impose their religion, their way of life."
Luke: "What books have you been reading of late?"
Moxie: "I'm actually not reading anything right now."
Luke: "What's the last book you read?"
Moxie: "I don't know."
Luke: "What's the last social or political issue that got you really passionate?"
Moxie, who supported the war on Iraq: "The celebrity backlash against the war."
Moxie is not political. She normally dates liberal Democrats.
Luke: "What's your attitude towards psychotherapy?"
Moxie: "I know there are situations where it is needed and effective but I think the majority of people who go into therapy are looking for someone else to help them shift the blame. I think it's better to talk to friends and deal with issues through writing, unless you're schizophrenic or have heavy mental issues to deal with."
Luke: "From your website, you've written about battling depression. So you never considered going into therapy?"
Moxie: "No. For one, I can't afford it. Two, I don't believe in it. It wasn't clinical depression. It was my life sucks. Going to a therapist would only make it worse. It would drain me of more money. I've never considered that."
Luke: "How good are you at judging the moral character of the men you date? How often do they surprise you and disappoint you?"
Moxie: "Every time. I'm not a good judge of moral character. In every situation I've been greatly let down and disappointed. I don't think there's been a time when someone hasn't shocked me with their moral character."
From the way Moxie says "moral character," it feels like it is a phrase she doesn't use much.
Luke: "That's fascinating that every guy you've dated has shocked you with their moral character? So why do you think that is?"
Moxie: "I think everyone wants to put their best face forward. Some people are better at hiding it than others. I always try to give someone the benefit of the doubt. The first time I catch someone lying... I have an uncanny sense of when someone's lying. I've had things happen where someone has lied to me and friends saw them... It always comes out in the wash."
Luke: "Could it be that you are valuing other things than ethics when you get to know somebody?'
Moxie: "How can you know that without getting to know somebody? When you've got your game face on... I haven't dated that many people. I've probably only had three boyfriends. Maybe two."
Luke: "Do you believe people are basically good?"
Luke: "And you want to believe the best about people?"
Moxie: "Yeah. There are definitely people out there that are not good but I think the majority of people...
"I'm not that impressed with myself.
"The more bloggers you meet, the more people expect you to read their site every day. I try to go to whomever has commented on my site first and then I go read Instapundit, Dawn Olsen, Foxnews.com and MSNBC."
I drop Moxie off at her home at 2:45PM.
Fred writes: "Well, for one thing, I'm not surprised that you had a tart."
Matt Welch writes: "Moxie: She's a lovely and unique girl. I feel like I've known her for 15 years, even though I've only seen her a half-dozen times. Some of the best design and photographs of any blogger, and her writing is a treat. Classic undefinable Southern Californian personality. Few things strike me as more L.A. than to see Moxie, you, Tony Pierce, Cathy Seipp and Tsar ... all on the same night. Pigeonhole *that* crowd.
"Stories: Tony Pierce has some good stories. Moxie let me try to drive her Porsche one night when we were picking Tony up for some costume party, and she was absolutely gracious and kind about me nearly crashing it maybe seven times within two city blocks. That was like the first or second time we'd ever met, and here I was stammering and lurching, running red lights....
"Some day soon an editor will wake up and give La Slade a regular column, and it will be one of the best things in the paper."
Marc W. writes: "Moxie is one of the few flesh and blood media manifestations of what I grew up thinking a grown-up female should be like or, rather, COULD be like. Dawn olsen's three year-old daughter Lily might be a stubborn kind of kid (according to her mom) but she had a similar positive response to meeting both me and the mox. And I'm someone who trusts a three year-old's judgment over someone ten times that age.
"Also, it is one thing to know how to speak yiddish words, it is another thing to MEAN them. When Mox speaks yiddish she means it. She is a media phenomenon waiting to happen ... there is no template for what she is currently in the process of creating. You can't take any existing hollywood or NYC mould and apply it to her. She is a mogul, a creative force AND a product all rolled into one. There is no division or distinction, she is not going to waver from being one to another and back again. Yet don't confuse her with some kind of desperate attention-seeking angelyne character. You are talking about a genuine person here, this is the root of her appeal to anyone fortunate enough to "get" her."
KHUNRUM writes: "Moxie the Blogger is a terrific photographer. My favorite pics are of Moxie. The ones she posts of herself with lot's of skin showing reposing with a pouting expression. I wrote to her and suggested more of those ahhhhhh! "cheesecake" shots..Maybe even some nudies. I believe she blocked me from further comments after I made those suggestions. She's not a bad writer either."
Cecile du Bois writes: "I like her a lot. She linked me once. But I never met her personally. I love her blog though. She's very creative and a talented photographer. I think she should write a book though."
Amy Alkon, the advice goddess, writes: "She's got a great eye and she seems to be aptly named. She snapped a classic photo of Carrot Top and me."
Imam Muhammet ibn Abu of the Westwood Mosque writes: "Moxie is a fine woman who would do well to rid herself of her cats and instead take care of a husband. She should bear and raise his human babies instead of caring for subhuman cats. This is what the Holy Q'uran teaches, and this is what she should do.
"She also needs to get a real job of some sort until such time as a man claims her in the name of Allah. It is not good for a woman to spend her days alone with animals."
Ken Layne writes: "[Moxie] appeared to me online fully formed as a writer & personality, and when I first met her in person she was exactly that personality. That's a rare feat. Not too many people can write themselves."
Moxie writes on her site: "I look up to Ken Layne, as any aspiring writer should. As always Ken is right -- I should link to the Moxie interview. Another LA icon, writer Luke Ford interviewed me last week. I felt shy and weird about basically linking to myself, but Luke did such a great job with a difficult subject (a cranky tired Moxie) you all should go over and read it. Luke is a prolific and talented writer and his site should be on your daily rounds. Just don't forget to come back and read Moxie!"
Chuck writes Moxie: "Wow -- a blast from the past. I'd always wondered whatever happened to Luke, after he sold lukeford.com -- reading lukeford.net, he's seriously retcon'ed himself; you'd hardly know he was one of the pre-eminent porn industry gadflies just a couple of years ago -- even reading his bio... But Luke still writes like Luke, albeit a little less tortured."
Jamie writes Moxie: "That whole bit about the Mexicans was kinda weird."
Moxie writes: "I'm not sure who that guy Fred is, but I'm guessing his tart comment was some thinly veiled insult."
Fred writes: "Always glad to help out a blogger by causing lots of free content. Tell her she's welcome. I wasn't really implying that she's a tart so much as joking about LF."
Sir Nerdalot writes: "This whole blogger world seems more than a bit onanistic in its orientation. I say the whole lot of you unplug yourselves from your computers and live life as though the internet had never been invented. My sense is that the more time one spends online, the less happy one is with life."
Moxie writes: "No one's unhappy -- that was Luke's incorrect projection. One of the downsides about giving interviews. But hey...you are welcome to your opinion, I just don't have to agree with it."
Emmanuelle Richard writes: "A world without Moxie wouldn't be as good. A blogosphere without her would be sad. Even when shit happens to her, she manages to smile and ask questions to people. It's rare in this town. I was only once angry at her when I prepared a souffle for her and Marc and they arrived so late the souffle had collapsed into a terrible pile of goo. But as soon as she went inside and said hi, the souffle outrage was completely forgotten. She is such a delight. Hope she can bump into a good, exciting guy one day."