I'm sitting in a little room with international recording artist Moby as a crowd gathers in the attached Hollywood art gallery, surveying the apocalypse-themed photo exhibit he has on display. There is no one else in this little room and, as I chat with the six-time Grammy-nominated musician, I'm feeling bad about a couple of things: I'm not familiar with any of Moby's music -- couldn't name one song -- and I just spent more time at the gallery's complimentary bar -- they were pouring Jameson -- than I did looking at his photo exhibit.
Moby and I are the same age, and we quickly bond over the fact that we're both more comfortable in one-to-one social situations than we are when thrust into the sensory overload of a Hollywood art exhibit opening/party, like the one happening in the next room.
Though I know very little about Moby the artist, I'm intrigued by Moby the person, and find him to be a wonderfully articulate and soft-spoken mix of gentility, compassion and superior intelligence. Frankly, he's too intelligent for me to keep up with and a lot of what he has to say about his apocalypse-themed photo exhibit is simply beyond my comprehension. Instead of focusing on the exhibit, I ask Moby what matters most to him?
"It's a tricky question to answer without sounding like a Southern California, New Age cliché," Moby begins. "But what matters to me is having an honest, personal response to the human condition and trying to figure out what it means to be human. I'm fascinated by the human experience and what, if any, significance it has. What is a good life? How can one lead a good life? And that simple, baffling question of what happens when our human life ends? So, what's important to me is living with these questions and trying to be honest and also putting things in perspective."
"In the course of my day," Moby continues, "there are things that seem important to me, that maybe in hindsight aren't that important, like sitting in traffic and yelling at someone. In hindsight, that might not be the best use of my time. So, I like to live in an honest way that's in keeping with my perspective of the human condition."
I ask Moby what he hopes for? This is basically the same question I've already asked, but with just enough of a spin to keep him rolling in his groove.
"If you think about the last hundred years in human history, all the problems humans have faced are problems that humans created for themselves," Moby explains. "A thousand years ago, our problems were rotten teeth and bears. Now, the problems are climate change, obesity, heart disease, war, rape, things that we have created. So, my simple hope is that the future involves us as a species being less stupid and just making fewer obvious mistakes, like, if given the choice between raping and not raping, just choose not raping. If given the choice between dredging oil from two miles below the tar sands or figuring out how to have solar energy, choose solar energy. It just makes more sense. As a species, we should start thinking a little bit about the longevity of our species. Instead of thinking, 'let's burn all the oil and waste the planet in the next 10 years,' how about thinking about something that will enable our kids and grandkids to just be alive? It just seems like common sense."
When my conversation with Moby ends, I return to the complimentary bar and order another Jameson. This time, I make the rounds, looking at Moby's apocalyptic photos and doing my best to interpret their meaning. As impressed as I am with Moby, it's hopeless. I just don't get it.
"I really like this one," a beautiful woman says of a particular photo that's confusing the shit out of me.
"Yeah," I respond, as we exchange smiles. "I think it's my favorite."
I gaze deeply into her piecing blue eyes and scramble for the perfect thing to say, just as her boyfriend returns from the bar with her chardonnay.