The New York Times gets hip to North Vancouver homeboy Nardwuar!


This week’s New York Times Magazine features a glowing tribute to Vancouver’s own Nardwuar the Human Serviette.

Vancouverites, and Canadian music fans, have long acknowledged Nardwuar – known as John Ruskin to family and friends – as a national treasure whose fearless interviewing style has endeared him to thousands of music fans. Now, millions of Americans are waking up with their morning coffee and newspaper to an appreciation of the beloved VJ/DJ/music journalist/musician.

Written by humourist David Rees, the author of the book How to Sharpen Pencils, the piece describes Nardwuar as “a shrieking British Columbian who dresses like an exploded 1970s Soviet golf catalogue.” The piece also goes into detail about Nardwuar’s interviewing style, described as “chaotic” and “like an explosion; you begin outside its blast radius, until ‘the Nard’ subsumes both you and the subject into the smoking crater of sincerity at its core.”

Nardwuar with The Evaporators

Nardwuar with The Evaporators at Mint Records Ridiculously Early Xmas Party, Ukrainian Hall, Vancouver, Nov 30 2013. Katelyn Maki photo.

Besides hosting a show on the University of British Columbia’s student-run radio station CiTR, Nardwuar also fronts a fun punk-rock band called the Evaporators and another called Thee Goblins. Many of his interviews, which have been collected in the past on VHS and more recently on DVD, can also be seen on YouTube.

Rees mentions some of his favourite Nardwuar interviews, including one with rapper Big K.R.I.T. (watch it here). He also mentions a couple of the interviews that went awry, such as a 1998 encounter with Henry Rollins and a 1991 debacle with Sonic Youth. The latter “proves that noise-rock pioneers can be as cruel as the collar-popped jocks in a John Hughes movie,” writes Rees.

Unmentioned is another unfortunate interviewing incident, one in which Nardwuar was bullied by a member of the Britpop band Blur. (Dave Rowntree, the musician in question, has since apologized for his behaviour.)

Also unmentioned is how, at an APEC conference in 1996, Nardwuar was the one journalist brave enough to ask then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien about a pepper-spray attack on protesters outside the conference. The question gave rise to Chretien’s famous (well, in Canada, at least) response: “For me, pepper, I put it on my plate.”

You can read the full article here.

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