In addition to hosting star-studded live stage talk show the Dave Hill Explosion, playing and touring with bands including Valley Lodge, and telling stories on This American Life, comic and minor guitar deity Dave Hill can add one more slash to his credentials: published author. His collection of personal essays, Tasteful Nudes: …and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation (St. Martin’s Press, $25) not only looks at Hill’s creative pursuits and personal foibles, but passes on the valuable lessons behind his mistakes. Before he celebrates with David Rakoff and the general public at the Bell House on Thursday 24, TONY asked Hill to give our readers a sneak peek at the journeys detailed in the book as well as the wisdom he gained from them, essay by essay.
“As of Now, I Am in Control Here”
Synopsis: While Hill is working at a homeless shelter, a junkie steals 300 pounds of meat from the freezer.
Why he did it: “I was like, ‘If my rock & roll dreams don’t work out, I’m gonna have to go get a straight job.’ So my brother mentioned [the shelter], and I was so broke and was like, ‘I’m gonna have access to a kitchen, I’m gonna be eating as much as I want. It’s gonna be awesome.’ ”
What he learned: “Sometimes in life, someone is gonna walk up and steal 300 pounds of meat right out from under your nose. That shit is gonna happen, and there ain’t shit you can do about it. You just gotta move on and hope it never happens again.”
What he’d do differently: “I would have been extra, extra vigilant, so much that it would have actually been kind of weird. But for the record, no one has ever stolen meat of any sort from me ever since. Not even close.” How he kept rocking: “If you have it in you to rock, you gotta keep on rockin’, figuratively and literally. Stopping is just gonna fuck you up and make you miserable.”
“Northeastern Ohio Velvet”
Synopsis: Hill plays (an angry, drunken) Santa at Christmastime.
Why he did it: “Part of me is very introverted, but then there’s part of me that goes, Oh, wouldn’t it be great if I walked into the room and everyone was really excited? [With] Santa, when you walk in, no one’s like, ‘What the fuck is that guy doing?’ Everyone’s like, ‘Fuck yeah, Santa’s here.’ ”
What he learned: “What you wear under your Santa suit, if anything at all, is entirely up to you. No one is ever going to question it—except for maybe the cops.” What he’d do differently: “I’m a huge fan of the low road. People don’t expect it, just like the guy who I confronted [as Santa] when I was wasted. It was like, Well, what are the chances Santa’s gonna try and kick your ass at a party? But I will say, it’s ultimately regrettable. The low road can be quite satisfying, but in the end it makes you just cringe.”
How he kept rocking: “I told my mom what happened and she was like, ‘Well, that’s not surprising considering the crowd you run with,’ like I’m at this lowlife Christmas party. I just had to power through it. You just can’t stop rocking. Nothing good ever comes of it.”
“Witness the Fitness”
Synopsis: Hill takes up jogging.
Why he did it: “I don’t really get affected too much by Internet commenters, but when they call you a ‘fat fucking faggot’… I was like, Well, I can’t really argue with that if everyone’s calling me fat. And another [reason] was genuinely financial. It was cheaper to lose weight.”
What he learned: “You’re gonna have times where you’re like, What the fuck is going on?!? What am I doing?!? And sometimes when you go for a run, it does something where you’re like, All right, I’m gonna stop freaking out. The other way [to stop freaking out] is just to have a few drinks. I’m a big fan of that, too.”
What he’d do differently: “My sister had been trying to get me to run for, like, 15 years. I was like, ‘Fuck that.’ Two years ago I did it, and mentally I felt better than ever.”
How he kept rocking: “Increase your virtues and increase your vices is the way I look at it. The more good you do, the more bad you can do.”
“Big in Japan”
Synopsis: Hill becomes attached to the Japanese “super toilet” and its associated bidet.
Why he did it: “As a pretty regular guy, when I’m presented with the toilet of the gods, my first thought is, I can’t possibly do this. But when I got the toilet in my hotel room, and I had all the time in the world to figure it out, it was my time to shine.”
What he learned: “Just stay calm and go with God. Whatever you worry about, the Japanese have got it covered. I have no evidence to support this, but I would assume Japan is a nation of people with spick-and-span assholes.”
What he’d do differently: “The first couple times [after using the bidet], I’d wipe and it would come away so clean. My first reaction was, I should probably save this [toilet paper] and use it for something else. Of course, I didn’t. I’m not a goddamn animal.”
How he kept rocking: “If you’ve got your asshole covered, it gives you the mental and physical energy to focus on rocking out.”
Dave Hill’s Tasteful Nudes book release happens Thu 24.