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'Style Rookie' Tavi Gevinson Plays Not My Job

Tavi Gevinson
Courtesy Tavi Gevinson

Tavi Gevinson's fashion blog, The Style Rookie, is a must-see Web destination. She's been invited to runway shows all over the world and has written for and been profiled in magazines like The New Yorker and French Vogue. Oh, and by the way, she started blogging at age 11 ... which was four years ago. Gevinson has now launched a new Web magazine, RookieMag.com.

Gevinson is an expert in all the things people of her generation love — fashion, pop culture, irony, living off their parents. But what do she know about old people? We ask her three questions about the tastes of the elderly.

Originally broadcast Oct. 1, 2011.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

CARL KASELL, HOST:

From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Carl.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Thank you. Our show is almost done, which this weekend means it's almost time to eat again. But, we've got a couple more visits with interesting people to share with you. First up, one of my favorite guests of the past year, she's a fashion blogger, a writer and the editor of the most interesting new magazine for teenagers since the advent of "Boy's Life." She's also 15 years old.

KASELL: Tavi Gevinson had to have her parents drive her to our theater when she joined us in October 2011, along with panelists Faith Salie, Tom Bodett and Maz Jobrani. Tavi started by telling us what her life was like as a suburban high schooler by day, international fashionista by night.

TAVI GEVINSON: It is like Hannah Montana.

SAGAL: It is.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: I've noticed, I don't know much about fashion, but I looked at your blog. You tend to like vintage stuff.

GEVINSON: Yeah.

SAGAL: I'm told that you have a big obsession with the 90s in particular.

GEVINSON: You know, I like a lot of stuff from the 90s but...

SAGAL: I was there. It wasn't that much fun.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Like what? What do you like from the 90s?

GEVINSON: I like "My So-Called Life" and the Riot Grrl Movement and "Freaks and Geeks."

SAGAL: Sure.

GEVINSON: Which went into 2000, but yeah.

SAGAL: I know, it still counts under the 90s. So like the culture of the 90s is exciting to you.

GEVINSON: Yes.

SAGAL: You have this taste that you've expressed that people start paying attention to you, flying you around, and we've said. Do you begin to feel that you have some influence?

So you're like wow, I could feature this dress or this designer of this pair of shoes or this whatever on my blog and it will get a big jump in the world. Should I/shouldn't I? Are you beginning to get crazed with power, I guess is my question.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GEVINSON: No, I have not taken advantage of that. I should.

SAGAL: Right. Well, people...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Listen, stick with me, you'll go far.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: This is a personal question, because I happen to know some teenage girls. They live in my house.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: And if I wanted to talk to them...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: I haven't yet, I'm a little scared. But if I wanted to talk to my teenage daughters, can you tell me some common mistakes that I should avoid, for example?

GEVINSON: I don't know. I'm not like a parent spy. But like, I guess...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So what annoys you? You're an articulate young woman, so what really bothers you?

GEVINSON: Well this isn't just parents, but like blaming everything on, like, PMS.

SAGAL: Okay.

GEVINSON: Sorry, I mean...

SAGAL: Important tip.

GEVINSON: Yeah, because, you know, that doesn't - seems to kind of, like, dismiss emotions based on, like, an assumption.

TOM BODETT: You could be angry for other reasons you're saying.

GEVINSON: Yeah, and legitimate reasons.

BODETT: I didn't know that.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right, let me try it the other way. If there's something I wanted to say to my teenage daughters to make them think I'm cool. I know this is a lot of ask. But in general, what sort of things, what sort, you know, names should I drop or comment should I make?

GEVINSON: You should just speak in like, abrevs. And...

SAGAL: Abrevs?

GEVINSON: Yeah.

SAGAL: Like, all right, already I'm at sea.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So what is an abrev?

BODETT: An abrev is an abrev.

GEVINSON: Yeah. There you go.

SAGAL: It's an abbreviation. So give me an - so abrev is like abbreviate. So give me an example.

GEVINSON: Like, "ur tots jel of that boy, yo."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BODETT: Oh man.

GEVINSON: This is how I talk to my peers.

SAGAL: So I should - okay, so I should go up to my 13-year-old daughter and I should say "Ur tots jel of that boy, yo."

BODETT: I need a subtitle here.

SAGAL: Hold on, hold on. If I were to say this and you should tell me this now before I try it. If I were to say this to my daughter, what would I be saying?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GEVINSON: You should just say it and go and improvise.

SAGAL: Really? Just see what happens?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GEVINSON: Yeah. My goal is to sabotage the Sagal family.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Be like but no, Tavi Gevinson told me - Tavi Gevinson, she knows Anna Wintour, don't hit me again. Is it your PMS? No, I didn't mean that, I'm sorry.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Well, Tavi Gevinson, we are just delighted to have you here with us and to spend some time with you. And frankly, I'd talk to you all day, but rules are rules and we have to play a game. And today, the game is called?

KASELL: Frankly, I really miss "Murder She Wrote."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: You're an expert on the things people of your generation love: fashion, pop music, irony. But what do you know about what old people like?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: We're going to ask you three questions about the tastes of the elderly. And if you get two right you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, Carl's voice on their home answering machine, which is something that elderly people still have. Just so you know.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Carl, who is Tavi Gevinson playing for?

KASELL: Tavi is playing for Ann Lamoureux of Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

SAGAL: All right. Tavi, here is your first question. You ready to do this?

GEVINSON: Yes.

SAGAL: All right. Now, old people are very fond of a TV show called "Law and Order," which recently went off the air after 20 airs. And one of the most famous elements of that show was a specific sound. It's called the Law and Order Clang. Here it is:

(SOUNDBITE OF LAW AND ORDER CLANG)

SAGAL: Now just those two beats were created by composer Mike Post. He says he combined six or seven different sounds just to get that effect. Among the things that you're hearing in that is what? A: a single shirtless man jumping out of a vinyl chair?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: B: 500 Japanese men stamping their feet on a wooden floor? Or C: Walter Cronkite clearing his throat?

GEVINSON: The 500 dudes.

SAGAL: The 500 Japanese guys jumping on the floor?

GEVINSON: Yes.

SAGAL: You're right, yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

FAITH SALIE: Whoa. Wow.

MAZ JOBRANI: Nice.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: According to Mike Post, that's what you're hearing. Very good.

GEVINSON: Thank you.

SAGAL: Next question: another thing that older people like is the music of Neil Diamond.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Something most people don't know about the famous singer songwriter is that he is also what? A: an expert swordsman. B: a devout Hindu. Or C: an avid builder of elaborate LEGO displays.

GEVINSON: Hindu?

SAGAL: Hindu, you think?

GEVINSON: Yeah.

SAGAL: No, actually it's swordsman.

GEVINSON: Oh gosh.

SAGAL: He's an expert fencer. He fenced for New York University. And to this day, he sometimes warms up for concerts with a little blade work. All right, this is exciting though, because you have one more chance. If you get this you win, here we go - or win for our listener. Sometimes old people will drive around in their Buick Regals, listening to something else they like: NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Which of these was the title of a real NPR program? A: Period, Comma, Exclamation Point. B: I'd Rather Eat Pants. Or C: The Joy of Flutes.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GEVINSON: The pants one.

SAGAL: The pants one, I'd Rather Eat Pants?

GEVINSON: Yes.

SAGAL: You're right, yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SALIE: Oh wow.

JOBRANI: Whoa.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: However did you know?

GEVINSON: I don't - I'm a genius.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Yes, well. I'd Rather Eat Pants was a, quote, hilarious, unquote, original radio play broadcast by NPR during Christmas 2002. It starred Ed Asner and Anne Meara. It was about old people.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Carl, how did Tavi Gevinson do on our quiz?

KASELL: Well, Peter, Tavi had two correct answers, and that's enough to win for Ann Lamoureux.

SAGAL: Well done.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

GEVINSON: Thank you very much.

SAGAL: Tavi Gevinson is the young woman behind Rookie Magazine online at rookiemag.com. Tavi Gevinson, what a pleasure to have you with us. Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

GEVINSON: Thank you.

SAGAL: Tavi Gevinson, ladies and gentlemen.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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