By Bryan Hood | This week’s New York magazine features a — let’s just gush here — tremendous profile of Fiona Apple. The singer/songwriter’s eagerly anticipated “The Idler Wheel…” comes out tomorrow, and in the preceding month, she’s done a fair bit of publicity, at least by her standards (The article’s appropriate subtitle: “Hiding Out with Fionna Apple, Musical Hermit”). But, nothing compares to writer Dan P. Lee’s account of his 30 hours spent with her in New York and then L.A. The author delves into the stories behind the new album, but more than anything he provides an unprecedented look into Apple’s world.
Besides providing an illuminating portrait of the mercurial Apple, the piece also stands as one of the weirder examples of magazine journalism in awhile, a personal account that illuminates the subject and writer at the same time. Here’s a rundown of some of the profile’s weirder moments:
Late Night/Early Morning Text Messages
After their first meeting, Apple soon begins texting Lee random observations of what’s going on around her at all times of the day (1am, 5am, it doesn’t matter). One of the better examples of their late night correspondence: “Laszlo, I am half asleep but in my 4th hour of mobwives … wwooooooww…”
That’s what Apple tells everyone Lee’s name is at the photoshoot he tags along to. She doesn’t let the name drop either, using it to refer to him throughout the story.
Drugs and Alcohol
As is made clear many time throughout, a good deal of Lee and Apple’s time is spent in a state he describes as “not sober.” An awful lot of time is shared lying down and looking up at a spinning ceiling. Oh, and like anyone else, Apple was pretty dismayed by the price of liquor in the hotel minibar. Her solution: taking from the bottles, but covering her tracks by filling them back up with water.
Apple, who doesn’t want kids of her own, carries around a copy of “Raising Happiness, 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents” that she likes to notate and highlight passages in. She also enjoys reading about bombardier beetles — the kind that spray a noxious spray from their hind quarters — because…why not.
They Become Friends
In literary journalism it stopped being a surprise when a writer and their subject became close ages ago, but rarely do things unfold like this. As Lee writes about Apple’s reaction to him coming out to visit her in California: “ ‘We’re friends,’ she said. ‘I mean this.’ ”
And this is only just scratching the surface. At more than 7,000 words, reading Lee’s article is a great way to spend “The Idler Wheel…” Eve.
Image: Fiona Apple/Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images