Joseph McKeown: The DLG-Proust-Actors Studio Questionnaire

by Protima Daryanani

The one fact that I love recounting about Joseph is that it took him four years (maybe more) to find a pair of rain boots. This is not an exaggeration. Around the time he first started working at the firm, he was looking for rain boots. He ordered a few boots, didn’t like the fit, ordered more, again didn’t like the fit, left the law firm for an extended trip but still didn’t have the right boots. (He wasn’t afraid of sending a pair of boots back and starting again even when they came all the way from France.) When he came back to the law firm, after a year of traveling the world, he was still without rain boots, and, finally, only in the past year did he find, purchase, and keep a pair of rain boots.

Joseph hydrating.

Joseph hydrating.

He is precise. I admired his stubbornness in shopping for that “perfect” pair. (Okay, I was mostly amused by it and made fun of him as much as I could.) But he knew what he wanted. He was discerning. These are, after all, the traits we look for in a paralegal, blog editor, and human resources manager.   

Joseph was born and raised in Middletown, Pennsylvania, a town near Three Mile Island, about two hours west of Philadelphia. “It was a small town,” he explains. “Surrounded by lots of farmland and cows.”

Joseph is the third of four siblings, all of whom were homeschooled by his (very brave, I might say) mother. “It was a bit isolating, but there’s a lot more flexibility in what you can study. I got to focus on subjects that really interested me, like English and writing.” After completing high school, Joseph traveled across the country to attend Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California. “It’s a Great Books program," he says, "meaning that essentially there are no textbooks. You just read the original works of Western civilization from the likes of Plato, Aristotle, and other pre-Socratic philosophers, all the way up to modern writers and philosophers.”

After college, Joseph joined his brother in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and started working as an immigration paralegal, initially at Barst Mukamal & Kleiner, and later with DLG. After a couple of years with our firm, Joseph took an extended sabbatical to travel the world and pursue his writing. During this time, he traveled to Australia, Croatia, France, Italy, Spain, and Mexico, this time in search of the perfect pizza, among other things.

What did he work on during these travels? I ask him.

“Mainly short stories. They’re probably a little dark. I think a lot of them are funny, but most people say they’re depressing.”

And the question that we’re all wondering. “How are your boots working out?” I ask.

“Great. I think I made a really good decision with these boots. I’m happy with them.”

“Happy?” I exclaim. “That’s great. You’re usually never ‘happy’ with things. That means you absolutely love them. But moving on, what else should people know about you?”  

“You tell me,” he says.

“You like tacos.”

“Yes, I do."

“You like riding your bike.”

“So true.”

“You like bourbon not so much scotch. You don’t enjoy puns. You’re not really 'chatty.'"

"All true."

“I think that about sums you up.”

“That’s it, you’ve totally captured me.”

At least he's not sarcastic.

(Questions taken from and/or inspired by the Proust/Inside the Actors Studio/Bernard Pivot/AnOther Magazine questionnaires). 

What is your favorite word?

What is your least favorite word?

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
You Can Do It by Ice Cube.

What turns you off?

What is your favorite curse word?
Fuuuuuuuuck! (said that way).

What sound or noise do you love?
Snow falling.

What sound or noise do you hate?
Car horns and traffic.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Backup dancer.

What is your idea of happiness?      
Day drinking.

What is your idea of misery?
Wet socks.

If not yourself, who would you be?  
Michael Keaton.

What would your last meal be?       
Seafood tacos, a Negra Modelo beer, a shot of Don Julio 1942 tequila (okay, maybe two).

What natural talent would you like to be gifted with?
A much better singing voice.

How do you wish to die?      
Pushed off in a raft or canoe with a bottle of bourbon in subzero temperatures under a cloudless night to look at the stars as I expire. You know, something simple.

What is your present state of mind?

For what fault have you the most toleration?   
Being late.

What are you thinking of right now?
A cheeseburger. Okay, fine, tacos.

What makes you laugh?
British humor.

What makes you cry?
Not getting enough sleep.

What do you consider to be the greatest invention?
The bicycle.

Where do you feel most at home?
Where it’s warm and there is food cooking, a sleeping cat, and someone I love (awww).

What do you most like about the age we live in?
Everyone’s so kind and respectful of each other.

What is the biggest risk youʼve ever taken?
Selling all (well, most) of my belongings and going to travel the world.

What is a book or movie that has changed your perspective on life?
Oedipus Rex.

If you could wish for one change in the world what would it be?
Longer lunch breaks.