This is not Jon Ronson, but his presence at the Dublin Writers Festival tonight (can’t wait!) has given me opportunity to slip in a photograph of the much-missed Chris Sievey, who was more widely known as Frank Sidebottom. I really loved his odd, unwieldy papier mâché head when I was younger. I still do. And look, there is Little Frank.
Jon has co-written the screenplay for the forthcoming film Frank, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, which is a kind of loose rendering of the character of Frank. And this is one of the many reasons I enjoy his idiosyncratic unusual work, you are never quite sure where he is going to take you next, it could be a documentary on Ian Paisley, or a contribution to This American Life.
I used to look forward to his weekly column in The Guardian about all the calamities that seemed to follow him around, and his books such as Clubbed Class (1994), Them: Adventures with Extremists (2001), The Men Who Stare at Goats (2004), Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness (2006), The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry (2011), and Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries (2012) all look to the less-obvious corners of the human psyche, whether it is Jon running from the creepy-sounding Bilderberg Group, or interviewing former goalkeeper, and “self-proclaimed Son of God” conspiracy theory advocate David Icke.
His adventures are numerous and brilliant, funny and sad, and most importantly, they are always approached with a sincere enthusiasm by Ronson, and a genuine thoughtfulness.
He also loves Randy Newman (which is a good sign), and his 2004 documentary I Am, Unfortunately, Randy Newman (Channel 4) is a delight.
Here is a little bit of Randy to lighten up the day, just before Jon’s event – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlmGJQq3AlM