Buffalo News - Gusto "Tell Me" May 14, 2010

Channel 7 meteorologist MIKE RANDALL hasthe uncanny knack of conjuring up the spirit of Mark Twain, to the extent that the legendary American author has become his alter ego. At 7:30 p. m. Saturday and 2:30 p. m. Sunday, the Lancaster Opera House will play host to Randall’s one-man show, “Mark Twain Live.” (Admission is $16; call 683-1776.)

Excited about Twain’s visit, The News forwarded a few questions for the great man and asked Randall to forward them to him. He graciously obliged.

Buffalo News: Mr. Twain, sir, your house at 472 Delaware where you lived from 1869-71 was torn down in 1963 and replaced by the Cloister restaurant, now closed. It recently changed hands. What would you like to see happen at your old address?

Mark Twain: How about a Health Factory? I visited one in Austria with curative springs. They claim to cure everything from headaches to hangnails. What they put me through for two weeks would free a person of pretty much everything in him that wasn’t nailed there. I feel well enough now, that is I feel better than I would if I were dead.

BN:A CD recently came out of music you enjoy, including Franz Schubert and the great virtuoso Louis Moreau Gottschalk.How is your piano playing going?

MT: I am a music lover! All of us contain Music and Truth, but most of us can’t get it out. When you want genuine music, music that will come right home to you like a bad quarter, suffuse your system like strychnine whisky, ramify your whole constitution like the measles, and break out on your hide like the pin-feather pimples on a picked goose—when you want all this, just smash your piano, and invoke the glory-beaming banjo!

BN:In “Life on the Mississippi,” you predicted the possibility of a disastrous flood in New Orleans.What is your opinion on global warming?

MT: I am no expert on the weather, but I do think it’s best to read the forecast before we pray for rain. I have experienced all extremes. In Hartford one winter it was so cold, if the thermometer had been an inch longer we’d all have frozen to death. In India, “cold weather” is merely a conventional phrase and has come into use through the necessity of having some way to distinguish between weather which will melt a brass doorknob and weather which will only make it mushy.

BN:As a former editor of the Buffalo Express, sir, could you give us your thoughts on the future of the newspaper business?

MT: As you point out, I have been an editor. Let me say now I promise to be good and do right so that God will not make me one again. It has never been easy being in the news gathering business. Regardless of the newspaper’s future—I do think that the journalist’s job will always remain the same: Get the facts first! Then you can distort them any way you like!
We are told that our newspapers are irreverent, coarse and vulgar. I hope that this irreverence will last forever. Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense.

BN:Could you tell us about something you are going to discuss in your Lancaster appearance that might surprise your readers?

MT: An orchestra, fireworks and dog act have all canceled out, so it will be just me!I will reveal the cure for the common cold. I may announce my plans to run for president. I could recount my traumatic first birthday, when I had to make my first public appearance—just the way I was born—naked and bald! Or I just might spend two hours trying to convince the audience that every member of the human race is insane!
—Mary Kunz Goldman