He makes his home near Washington National Cathedral in an apartment so disheveled that he allows only close friends inside. There is no bed (he sleeps on a pallet), no bookshelves, no couch, nor much to sit on other than a kitchen chair. He does not have a car, a driver’s license or any mechanized means of transport, not even a bicycle. He has no cellphone, no DVD player, and his Internet connection is sporadic. Though he loves movies and trash daytime television — in particular, those judge shows — he has only a 10-year-old, 13-inch TV and has never had cable. He has never been to a sporting event. He has no deep romantic attachments. He says his closest friend has been Lil Coyne, an elderly woman who for 20 years lived down the hall from him in an apartment building in Alexandria. She died this summer at age 90.
He has a friend cut his hair instead of going to the barbershop. Cooking, he says, is plunking a chicken in the oven “until it doesn’t bleed when I stick it.” He has a fondness for soul food, most particularly chitlins. If he is to have dinner with friends on, say, Wednesday, “I start worrying about it on Sunday. It sort of eats the whole week up, and then I get there, and I have a wonderful time and wonder what I was so worried about.”
The story is somehow the Post’s first full-length profile of Jones. Maybe I’m missing something, but beyond reviews, the longest previous piece is ’05 coverage of the never-learned-how-to-do-drive author’s reading at a Volvo dealership (the last time I blogged about Jones in the Post).
But Tucker more than makes up for lost time. Watching Jones, you get closer to the roots of his storytelling and purposefully sparse existence than in any profile of him you’ve read, yet you’re consistently reminded you know relatively nothing, same as Jones, as Tucker, as everyone.
A caution: Don’t visit the gallery. The photos are good, but one breaks the story’s spell too easily and feels internally spiteful/sloppy. I’m sure there’s no story-perspective-destroying spite at work, but poor form.