Interviews

New York Jews in Iceland

Joe and Avi at TARcon6. (photo by princesschristie)
Joe and Avi at TARcon6. (photo by princesschristie)
Joe and Avi, team #1 in sequester, are the first TAR6 team to arrive at TARflies. They take time out of their busy schedules to talk with us about the fun they had on the Race and in sequesterville. The interview started with a complicated maneuver that involved calling Joe at work, Joe calling Avi in the midst of his vacation and Avi ditching his other phone call. It just goes to show that these guys will drop anything to talk a little TAR with a TAR fan. If only that farshtinkener buoy hadn't been so good at playing hide and seek...

Joe: I'll answer Avi's question first: 5'3 and 1/2" tall.

[laughs] And Avi would you like to answer the same question for Joe?

Avi: No!

Okay. [laughs] First, whose idea was it to go on the Race?

Avi: Joe's.

Joe: Yeah, that would be my brainstorm.

So, were you a fan of the show?

Joe: Yeah, I was definitely a fan of the better end reality TV shows – like Survivor, the Apprentice…I could never sing or dance, so no American Idol. But I knew it was a higher end show. And, what can I say, if anybody else could do it, why not me and Avi?

Was this the first season you had applied?

Avi: Yes.

Joe: Yes – we have never applied to a past season of the Race. We were lucky.

Avi: This is the first time we ever did anything like this.

Joe, in your pre-Race interview, you'd stated that you had planned on keeping Kosher during the race. Were you able to do that?

Joe: I barely missed lunch with the amount of time we were on that episode. Yes. If I was going to break Kosher in one episode, really, I would have set Judaism back 3000 years, easily.

Avi: The producers brought it up to us many times. It's really just not a problem. It's not a problem because if you understand the laws, you can always pick the vegetarian option or vegetarian alternative and you'll be fine.

Joe: And the producers were really wonderful. Even on the glacier when they fed us, I had salmon and wild mushroom soup and that kind of thing. You know, really, I chose to have a vegetarian option. Surprisingly on the flight out of Iceland, I was shocked to learn they had extra Kosher meals on the plane that were readily available. When we flew from Boston to Iceland I had not one, but two Kosher meals.

Because I think a lot of people were wondering because later in the race there were tasks like the drinking of the blood on the Fast Forward…

Avi: Yeah, the pig's blood. If we had picked that, we definitely would have had to not do it.

So, no matter what, even if you were placed in a situation where you would lose the Race…

Avi: No. Joe's the one that keeps Kosher. Me? I'll eat pork on Yom Kippur, let's be honest. But because I grew up Kosher, my whole life into adolescence, I understand the value of it and I understand the place of importance it has in Joe's life as a practicing Jew. And I would never ask anyone to compromise their virtue or their beliefs, even if it's something that I disagree with.

Joe: And we had discussed it before the Race. Had we seen it was pig's blood, we certainly would have passed on it at that point.

Avi: We knew that every eating challenge that was going to come up, I was going to do because there was no way I was going to let Joe take the risk of violating his beliefs. You know, Joe and I have always joked that we are the friends that shouldn't be because we have such diametrically opposed views. But the one thing we share in common is that we share passion for our beliefs and a respect for people who have passionate beliefs.

And respect for each other's beliefs.
I'm not going to spin 15 minutes of fame into a reason to break a belief structure I've had my whole life.
Joe: Oh, very much so. In 17 years of friendship – it's more now – we've never had a fight. And that wasn't going to start because of this, and it never did start because of this. And we certainly had many of long discussions, and he knew that if it came down to a million dollars and more episodes verses Kosher, I was going to walk. I'm not going to spin 15 minutes of fame into a reason to break a belief structure I've had my whole life.

Avi: Even if there's a price for everything, Joe and I come from the kind of people where there is no price on your self-worth. And denigrating yourself in that way – you know, a million bucks is only a million bucks. The way you feel about yourself and the way you go to bed feeling about yourself every night, there's no amount of money that can supplant the loss of faith in yourself.

It sounds like you guys have been friends for so long that that really probably helped you in talking this out and knowing each other's limits before you even went on.

Joe: Oh, very much so.

Avi: We've accepted each other's limits. I mean, Lord knows there's a lot of personality traits I may have that Joe – well, I don't know if there's any personality traits I have that Joe doesn't like, but there's certainly certain ways that I've acted in the past that I know Joe doesn't necessarily approve of. But that's never stopped us from being friends because whatever I do, he knows I do from my heart even if he disagrees with it.

Joe: It's what makes Avi tick. I mean, we realized each other's limitations, and realistically, if there was a challenge that involved reaching up on a really high shelf, it had to be me.


Avi: If it was something like you had to crawl under something, that would have to have been me. But if we needed somebody to actually physically fit through a keyhole, you can put Joe in.

[laughs] Yeah. I don't want to sound too mushy, but I've always thought the definition of a friend was not necessarily someone who doesn't annoy you, but someone whose annoyance you accept and can live with and deal with.

Joe: Let me tell you something. After a month and a half of doing this thing 24/7, if we ain't accepting each other now, it ain't happening.

Avi: You want to talk about annoyance you can accept? You should listen to Joe laugh.

Joe: [laughs]

Avi: I've been listening to that laugh for a long time.

Joe: Yeah, try waking up for a month and a half and the first thing you see when you wake up is the shine of Avi's forehead.

Avi: It's enough to do permanent eye damage.

Joe: That was why we didn't spoon.

Oh, my goodness. Let's see.

Joe: Something tells me Chip and Kim's interview didn't quite go this way. Right?

No. There was a lot of laughing, but you guys –

Joe: No. They're good people. We met them at TARcon. They're really great people.

Yeah. They're sweet people.

Joe: They've actually become friendly with quite a few people in our cast who are based out in L.A.

Oh, really? That's great. Okay. The way it presented on TV, the ice climb seemed like the better Detour choice. So what was the thought process you guys went through to do the buoy?

Avi: Let me field that one. Basically, what happened was – and this is the kind of stuff you don't see on the show or hear about – well, I guess we've said it in interviews so you can hear about it there – is that the week before we left, Joe sprained his wrist.

Oh, that's right. I do remember reading that.

Avi: And if you're a fan of the show, you obviously know anybody who's injured on the show gets eliminated. That's just a fact. Take the season with the guy who fell and scraped his knee up. I mean, you may not get eliminated that leg, but you get eliminated.

Joe: And realistically – Jim was his name – he was never really in the game.

It'll catch up with you, yeah.

Avi: Right. And when you get the clue, it didn't say how high the Ice Climb was. All you knew is you were going to climb a wall of ice. And so what we were thinking was, well, you know something? Joe's wrist was actually hurting him in the airport in Boston, he told me, after we'd been running with our bags. And I said, we've got to be careful with that wrist. And we figured, it's the first one, we should take it easy and not risk injuring it any more. So that was a major part of the decision.

The minor part of the decision was that the boat for the Ice Search was located literally across the street – I mean, you could see it from where we had parked – whereas the Ice Climb was located at a hotel some 30 miles away. And you have to ask yourself, because you can only Monday morning quarterback this, at the time you have to say to yourself, well, is it 30 miles closer to the Pit Stop or 30 miles further from the Pit Stop? If it's 30 miles further from the Pit Stop, it's really 60 miles.

Right. And is it hard to find or in an out-of-the-way place, too?

Avi: Exactly. And it's something you just don't know at the time. The Ice Search was located right there and because of Joe's wrist injury, we decided, forget it. If it had been a run, like running across the snow or something like that, we probably would have picked it because it was a physical activity we could do and Joe wouldn't have had to stress his hand like he would have from climbing. And so climbing just wasn't a good idea.

All that's going to do is hurt the wrist more?

Avi: Exactly.
I'm like, dude, we have an hour lead, so big deal. If we lose an hour, we're tied and still ahead of the game, you know?
Joe: If we were guilty of one thing, being in the first shuttle, knowing we had an hour advantage over two teams and a half hour over five teams, we really never dreamed that it would take that long to search for it. And we also gambled. I'm like, dude, we have an hour lead, so big deal. If we lose an hour, we're tied and still ahead of the game, you know?

Avi: Exactly.

Joe: And people have to find it. We really never dreamed it would take close to an hour and a half. And unfortunately, it was a luck thing. Jonathan and Victoria found the thing in 15 minutes. Gus and Hera found it in under a half hour, too. We just went everywhere but where the farshtinkener ["rotten" in Yiddish] buoy was.

[laughs] It was hiding from you. And again, the thought process we don't get to see on the show: You guys chose to take the back roads to the Blue Lagoon. Looking at the maps, did it look like that was really going to give you a good advantage?

Avi: It did because the Blue Lagoon was located closer to the southern route than it was to the northern approach. There were a couple things you could say we out-thought ourselves on, one was that we're hitting what you would call rush hour traffic, which basically on a road that's one lane each direction means you're driving behind farm implements that are going 20 kilometers an hour. And we were starting to get really annoyed with that. The other part of it was on the map they show that a great portion of that southern route is paved and some of it is unpaved. They do show the road being squiggly, for example; that's the best word I can give you in terms of being twisty and turny. What they don't show because it's not a topographical map is that is also goes up and down through the mountains. So we were literally approaching things that were blind ahead where we had to slow down to almost a dead stop because you had to wait to look over the roof of the car off a cliff.

Joe: Dirt road, gravel, the whole nine.

Avi: And the other part of it was when we first went down that road, and they never showed that footage, the road went straight down to the ocean and it looked like it just paralleled the coast. And the Blue Lagoon is right along the coast. But what you didn't know was that, let's say, 20 kilometers into the distance, after the first bend, it didn't stay in the coast. It went straight up into the mountains. And that's where we really lost our time. If that had been straight – we looked at it and it looked like it was Ocean Drive in California. If it had been something like that where it just went straight along the coast, we wouldn't have been out. But because it turned up into the mountains, it just slowed us down tremendously.

Joe: And there was another small detail which ultimately – it was a combination of disadvantage and bad luck. The route to the actual parking lot, the right parking lot to go into, was the one that was closer to the main interstate road, the one that everybody else came from. So the one that we went into was really – first of all, it was the main entrance of the Blue Lagoon.

Avi: I want to clarify that, Joe, which is that the clue that we got said, go into the main parking lot.

Joe: Yes, it did.

Avi: You know how you saw how we went into the building and we came out and then I said, "Oh, I see it – it's over there"? Basically, what they wanted you to do is they wanted you to pass the parking lot that they had. They were actually parked in a power plant behind the Blue Lagoon. They weren't in the Blue Lagoon. They were behind it. So they wanted you to go into the Blue Lagoon building, ask where the thing was. Nobody knows where the hell it is. You go outside and you see it and then you have to figure out, how do you get there? I mean, Joe and I were ready to take our clothes off and go through the water.

So that was also probably part of the reason why, when Gus and Hera said it wasn't in there, you thought maybe they had missed something?

Avi: Correct.

Joe: We knew there was only one main parking lot.

Avi: You know, they only showed a clip of that conversation. They didn't show the whole conversation. The whole conversation is not Gus saying it's not in there and then me saying, I don't trust him; let's go see for ourselves. The whole conversation is Gus telling me how he came from the north and it wasn't that way. And I told him, hey, Gus, we came from the south. It's not that way. If I had never said that, he would have gone south and kept driving. We would have gone north next and found it. But because you don't see – people think that we violated or we didn't trust our alliances. Totally not true. We did trust the alliance. We shared our information.

A lot of people know there's more that goes on than what we see. And so that's one of the reasons why I was wondering about that because I figured there's got to be some reason, especially if you at all thought you were the two last teams, why you wouldn't just take off and at least start following them because then you're right with another team and you know you're not last.

Avi: No. And you know we would have beat them at a foot race.

Joe: And Gus would be the first one to tell you that. We really understand, like it or not, that was their destiny. Hera has told us repeatedly that literally, were it not for that one minute that we happened to be in the same place at the same time, they would have gone off into oblivion and guaranteed they would have gone off in a different direction. So had we missed them on either end by a few minutes –

Avi: Right. Had we missed them coming out – because we only saw them coming out – had we missed them coming out, they would have gone south and we'd have been there. Had we been there two minutes earlier, we would have gone north and been there. And had we never shared that piece of information, it would be a foot race and it would have been us.

Joe: You know, we suspected – I think, Avi, it was a little bit me more than you – I sort of figured we were sunk once we did look across the lake.

Avi: Yeah. When Joe saw how many cars were there, he knew.

Joe: Mary Jean coined the term, "Ten out of eleven teams every season have an 'Oh, shit!' moment." And I do want Mary Jean to get full credit for that one. My "Oh, shit!" moment, was looking across that lagoon, and at first saying, "Oh, my God, Avi found it, we know how to get there," and then saying, "Avi, there's ten SUVs there."

Avi: Right. There was more than ten SUVs.

Joe: And Avi kept saying, "No, it's production. It's production. Don't worry about it."

Avi: I was just trying to keep positive.

Joe: What are we going to do, turn around and say, let's go home?

Because it looked like on the mat, Avi, you looked a little more surprised on the mat than Joe did. Was it just surprised that this was really coming to an end? I mean, you had a feeling it might be but –

Avi: I wasn't surprised. It was just the total disappointment. Joe and I, if you watch – obviously, you watched it, but you look at the tape of like Jonathan and Victoria, for example, in the first episode arguing the hell out of each other. The thing I hated the most about – and I truly believe, by the way, that the editors do show you as you are. I don't care what anybody says. Anybody who complains about that is just sad and does not accept the reality of their own personality. But the thing I'm sad about is that there's at least 48+ hours of footage of me and Joe cracking up that you didn't see. We had a fantastic time. We were laughing the whole time.

Joe: Even though the crew isn't supposed to talk with us, we had a lot of down time and they were also interesting guys. Our sound guy spoke nine languages and was talking to me – I work in radio – was talking about radio in Africa. We had a good time. We made the most of it. We were there, obviously, to win and be competitive but to have fun.
Joe and I are always show up to have a good time – first and foremost. You have to live your life that way. Otherwise, you live your life in disappointment.
Avi: Joe and I are always show up to have a good time – first and foremost. You have to live your life that way. Otherwise, you live your life in disappointment.

You live your life stressed out and yelling at people and complaining about editing.

Avi: Exactly. To me, these people are all – all the people out there who are saying that kind of stuff, they need to rewatch the footage and take serious stock in self-analysis and saying, accept that I behaved the way I actually am. I don't see how people can deny as if it didn't happen. It was caught on tape. You did say it. You did do it.

Joe: And I've got to say, Avi, I don't know how many interviews or what have you you've read in the last couple of weeks. But I read a few with Adam and I give him a lot of credit. In any interview I've ever seen, Adam is like, look, I'm not going to blame the editing. That's me. I did it. I'm a better man for it. But I'm not going to excuse it.

Yeah. I really liked him a lot more after reading the TV Guide interview. I thought that they really just stepped up and said, okay, whatever. That's us. What can you say beyond that?

So you guys got eliminated at least in a really cool spot. Did you get to hang around and enjoy the Blue Lagoon for a little bit or anything?


Avi: No. Actually, it was our biggest bitch, was that we didn't get to go. When they said we were going to Iceland, I told Joe there was only two things – I actually had planned to go to Iceland last spring and it ended up not materializing. It's really funny. But there's two things I wanted to do in Iceland. Number one, I wanted to go into the hot springs, and number two, I wanted to ride – they have horses that are descended from the original Viking horses – well, they're known as the finest horses in the world. They have like five different ways of running and stuff like that. Unless you're into animal breeding, that's boring as crap. But the reality of it is it would be very nice to ride those horses and to go into the lagoon, and we didn't.

Joe: That was a letdown because I think a lot of our cast members did have the opportunity to do that while they had the down time there for the 12 hours.

Avi: We were in Iceland overnight. And I will say that –

Joe: Yeah. I actually posted something about that on another site, so yeah, that I think we can –

With Harry and Dave?

Joe: With Harry and Dave.

Avi: Besides that – see, that was Joe's best part and I couldn't give a shit about that. I'm the least star struck person you'll ever meet. I can sit down next to Angelina Jolie and just say, "Excuse me, ma'am. I think your lips are large. You need to not have injections." Not that she's not gorgeous because she is. But you know what I'm saying? I'm just not like that. To me, the best part was when we were on the glacier, I asked the guy who made the food, the cook, I said, "What's the national dish of Iceland? I wish I could try it." And he told me it was puffin. You know what a puffin is?

Yeah.
And that gave birth to the sequester event, which is, Will Avi Eat It?
Avi: So when we got eliminated, the woman who took care of us – her name is Meredith Rabitzsky– or, actually, she has a new last name because she just got married, but she has a line production credit if you ever get to watch the credits as they flash by – but she took care of us. And I told her, "There's one thing I want to do before I leave Iceland." I said, "I'd like to eat puffin." And so the next day when we were basically lounging around, Joe and her went into town and they found a restaurant for me to eat puffin. And that gave birth to the sequester event, which is, Will Avi Eat It? And everywhere we went, there was something where the game was, Will Avi Eat It? And I still think the craziest stuff I ate was in Iceland. I did eat puffin, and although I am a true, true animal lover and a true, true environmentalist, I honestly thought there would never be another time I might be able to eat this, so I did try whale meat.

Oh, my.

Avi: And let me just say, and you can put it in print, they shouldn't be killing these creatures because they're sentient and they also really don't taste that good. Don't believe the hype.

[laughs]. It's not good on any level. Right?

Avi: No. It just goes to further show that there's just no reason to be killing these creatures. Really, I don't know what the Japanese are thinking.

Joe: My favorite part was dining with the hosts of The Early Show. His favorite part was eating a bird. America's not going to side with my best friend on that one.

Well, like you were talking, respect the differences.

Joe: We took to the inter-borough rivalry with the Queens girls.

Avi: When we saw Dave Price, I know him because he used to be on another station, Fox in New York, which was the station I watched every morning. I woke up to the guy for like three years in a row. So as soon as we saw him, I'm like, oh, my God, it's Dave Price. That's so awesome. And Joe sees Harry, who I know is much, much more famous, and I don't know who the hell the guy is. I haven't a clue. What's his last name again, Joe?

Joe: Smith. I know it's a hard one.

Avi: I don't know who the guy is. I'm like, who? Harry who?

The only reason I know him is because I watch The Early Show for the day after interviews. And he actually likes the show.

Joe: They both were real fans and they were really cool to us about trying to keep our spirits up and saying nice things and letting us down easy and buying us beers and the best piece of salmon I've ever had in my life.

Well, and after all, they only ran one leg, too, so you tied them. So you didn't really come in last. You were tied.

Joe: Dude!

Avi: That's right. But they took the easy route. They did the Ice Climb, not the buoys.

Joe: Yeah. Seven square miles is not that big.

So I think the answer to the next question someone sent in you've already kind of answered. Someone said, "Looking back, if you knew you were just going to make it one leg, would you do it all over again?"

Avi: Yeah. Absolutely.

Joe: Sign me up tomorrow.

Avi: Absolutely. It was so much fun. And I don't think everybody in the world gets to sleep on a glacier. I mean, it's a total trip. I was in Alaska the summer before, and the one thing I didn't do was go on a glacier. So for me it completed an experience that was left incomplete for me from the last adventurous trip that I took.

Joe: I've got to tell you, honestly, a lot of the other Racers called Iceland their favorite leg.

You were probably still awake enough to enjoy it.

Avi: You are, but also the scenery there was breathtaking – not that it wasn't in other places, but like other places you also were hit with like the abject poverty, the blistering heat, and things like that. We had wonderful temperature – except for being on the glacier where it was actually cold – Iceland was incredibly temperate, it was beautiful out, and everybody was super-friendly. And Joe's right. Quite a few people would say that the coolest thing was sleeping on the glacier.

Someone had said that it does get kind of warm in the little tents. Does it at all, or were you just shivering all night?

Avi: Oh, no, no. We were fine. Listen, I wouldn't say I was sweltering in there – it wasn't a sauna or anything.

Joe: You'd be surprised now not freezing we were. It still astounds me.

Avi: I would use the same phrase: It was not freezing.

Joe: I'll put it to you this way: Avi and I did joke that even though we're not a couple, if ever we were going to become one, that would have been the night. But there was really never any great need to not sleep on each other's side of the tent.

So you weren't forced to spoon…

Avi: I was actually kind of hoping Joe would go sleep with Adam so I'd get Rebecca into the tent. I worked real hard at it, believe me. You saw that little piece of footage of Lori and Bolo wrestling, and here I'm counting them out. What you didn't see was the whole exchange on the glacier was Lori and Bolo going at it, and then me and Rebecca started going at it because we were mimicking them in the background. I actually got to sweet talk her a little bit.

Joe: I'll say this for Rebecca: She really is the only one in the cast who can see Avi eye to eye.

Avi: That's right.

Joe: Yeah. It wasn't going to happen with either of the Mormon girls, let's face it.
Avi and Lena (photo by emjaytee and KonaKini)
Avi and Lena (photo by emjaytee and KonaKini)
I had no idea they were that tall. My goodness!

Avi: Oh, they're giants.

When I saw them at TARcon, I was like, oh, my gosh! They're so tall!

Avi: They're giants.

Joe: Yeah. Now what you need is a center and two guards.

[laughs] I think someone posted a great picture, Avi, of you standing on a chair to hug them.

Joe: I've got that one.

Avi: Joe, you got to send me the link.

Joe: I just literally in the last couple of days have downloaded all the photos. I was going to send them all to you.

Avi: Just send me something to look at. See, Joe's the one who keeps up on all this stuff. It sounds bad to say I couldn't be bothered, but I really couldn't be bothered.

Some people are not computer people and some people are.

Avi: Oh, no, no. I'm incredibly a computer person. But I spend my time, like, shooting people playing America's Army instead of browsing for my own name, which I should do.

Joe: The irony is Avi really is the one with the bigger ego.

Avi: That's actually true.

Joe: Can you believe we weren't married in a past life?

Either that or like sisters.

Avi: Yeah. Sisters instead of brothers.

Joe: I could see that.

So it sounds like you guys really had a great time in Sequesterville. I know you can't tell any specific stories about places or anything. But it just seems like, from what we saw at TARcon, that you guys really get along with the other Racers and stuff. Was Sequesterville just a blast or –

Avi: It was. You know, Joe and I basically decided after we got eliminated, after Meredith simply – I can literally credit with saving my life because it's like you want to kill yourself the day after.

Joe: Not contestant Meredith - the woman who ran Sequesterville.

Avi: Right. Sequester Meredith. Joe, tell the truth. You call her "My Meredith" because that's how we refer to her. There's Racer Meredith and My Meredith. She was just fabulous. She basically knew that if she gave us free reign to do whatever we wanted to do, we would be able to have as much fun as possible. And by lifting us out of that depression, Joe and I decided we were going to become the ambassadors of goodwill in Sequesterville.

Basically, when people get there, they have their sob story. But you know something? No one can have a worse sob story than we can because we were out first. So we could say, listen, we know how bad you feel because you can't feel as bad as us. But please, tell us what happened, we all can recapitulate, and then we'll go on and bitch about the whole thing. And then we'd say, okay, now you've done that. Let's go get a drink. Let's have a good time. It's over. It's doable to get back and have a great existence again.

So you were like the welcoming committee for everyone?

Avi: Absolutely.

Is there any favorite story from Sequesterville you'd care to share?

Joe: I'm trying to think of –

Avi: I don't know really how much we're allowed to talk to you about.

I understand.

Joe: I'll tell the one that I told at the lunch [DimSumCon] because I think that's safe and it won't give anything away, if you want a meaty anecdote for those who weren't at the table. One of my personal favorites, which really just was the embodiment of Gus and Hera in a nutshell, is – Avi, stop me, obviously, if you think I shouldn't be saying this –

Avi: It's the karaoke one?

Joe: Karaoke one.

Avi: You can tell it. I think it's boring compared to the other shit that we did…

Joe: I agree. But we're under contract.

Avi: No. To me, it's a really boring story. We had really good adventures. Go ahead.
Gus happens to be walking by and totally doesn't break stride and goes, "Unchained Melody? That's my song!"
Joe: What can I say? We were all staying at the hotel and there was a karaoke night. And it was particularly dead in the place, and this woman who was running the karaoke is like, okay, Unchained Melody. Can anybody sing Unchained Melody? And the woman was like dying. Nobody was coming up. Gus happens to be walking by and totally doesn't break stride and goes, "Unchained Melody? That's my song!" So Gus proceeds to sing Unchained Melody. And while he's working the crowd, Hera basically spends most of the song with her head buried in her hands, saying, "Not my dad. Please, not my dad."

Avi: Yeah. It was really funny.

Joe: The funny part was that standing like two feet away from Hera was this guy with this thick Jersey accent who was totally into Gus's singing, and snaps at Hera, "Hey, your father's good!"

[laughs] Oh, my goodness.

Joe: So it was one of those in the moment things. But there's got to be something diplomatic to say that doesn't violate any agreements.

Avi: Can we tell them about the plate?

Joe: The plate? That's a good idea. Yeah, that we could do.

Avi: Gus actually turned 50 while we were in Sequester. And they had this thing like paint your own pottery kind of crap. And Hera had an idea to make him a plate where we would paint a scene from all the different countries where they were at and all this Race-related stuff. And she came up with the ideas, and this is very late in Sequester – actually, Jonathan and Victoria had joined us. And Victoria, because she's an artist, helped to draw everything and paint everything. And we made a collage of all these different things, like Iceland and all these other places, Stockholm, all the places that we had all been, and gave it to him for his birthday. And he almost really broke up. It was really – it was a very touching gift from his daughter. And we were happy that it included all of us and the whole adventure as well since he had to spend his 50th away from his wife and the rest of his family.

Joe: He made a beautiful speech and thanked us for what he called the first real birthday party anybody had ever thrown him in his life.

Avi: That's right.

That's a big birthday to be celebrating away from your family.

Joe: Hey, how many people can really say they got a plate painted by a Playmate?

Avi: I was hoping she would paint my ass.


Or you could paint with your ass. Oh, no, I'm sorry.

Joe: I was hoping anybody would take Avi's ass at that point.

So, Avi, you're teaching high school, right, at your old high school?

Avi: Yeah. I teach at high school. I'm a chemistry teacher and I'm also a dean of discipline. You ask what I am. I'm also the disciplinary person.

Well, being a dean of the school, I think that takes someone with a big ego, to take care of all those kids.

Avi: I'm sorry. Repeat the question?

I was just saying – you guys were joking earlier about how you have the bigger ego, and I think it takes a strong personality and a bit of a big ego to get all those kids in line.

Avi: Yeah. It takes a lot to be a dean, it really does, because – I have it on my own website, if you read like my website, which is still out there, which, by the way, I can't access or update because I changed ISPs. But if you read that piece, I talk about my personal story and why I became a dean. I became a dean because the school now is not like it was when Joe and I went there. It's not really just the school; it's the whole city education system. And I became a dean to make a difference. And we do. We absolutely do.

Just two weeks ago, before I came down to Florida, I sent two kids out for a year, one girl because she pushed me because I told her to take a hat off her head, believe it or not, and another kid because I caught him literally drunk in school. I mean, he also had a BB gun and knife on him, but that doesn't really matter.

Wow.

Avi: The point is, when you can make a difference like that, when you can get a kid like that, who does not belong in the building with children who wish to be educated, out, it's worth the river of shit that I have to wade through every day to do it. I mean, my personal kids, the kids that I teach – I teach the gifted classes – are fantastic, wonderful human beings. And they are my pride and joy. I love them and I love teaching them and I love working with them. And I also love that other side of my job. I do love being able to kick ass and get the garbage out of the building.

It takes a lot of passion and a strong sense of dedication to do that kind of job, I think.

Avi: It does. It takes a lot out of you. You know, a lot of people say, if you can, do; if you can't, teach. But you know something? Teaching isn't as easy as it looks. And being a dean, it's physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually draining many, many days, which is why we deserve so many days off.

And Joe, what have you been up to career wise?

Joe: I have my own advertising agency that specializes in radio.

Oh, that's right. You have the radio…

Joe: Yeah. I write and produce radio commercials. I deal mostly with infomercial and catalogue people. Some of my clients have been Playboy, Home Shopping Network, a bunch of other of the late-night TV infomercial type people that you've heard of.

So do you have a company name or a website you want to plug here?

Joe: Oh, The Radio Solution Company. And no, I don't have a website.

Avi: You can plug the fact that I also have my own martial arts school, and they can find out about it at www.patiencetaichi.com.

Cool. And you do that in addition to the teaching and being a dean?

Avi: Yeah.

Okay. A lot of energy!

Avi: I also sell heroin in the gift shop. I do a lot of things. I used to teach martial arts five days a week. Now I've cut it back down. But I still do teach actively. And I also give private classes and I also give seminars all over the country.

Now, I do remember that I have two more questions that I'm supposed to ask, and one is: Tom Wopat? The hell?

Joe: [laughs] What can I say? John Schneider wasn't available.

Avi: That's a great story. The guy that I work with, the guy that sits next to me, he's a very, very good friend of mine, Matt Bonavito, who's a DJ. He was dating a girl, Amy, who was a dancer in 42nd Street that Tom Wopat was in. So he asked if I wanted to go see the show, and I was like, yeah, sure. And Joe was in town, so we all went – me, Joe, the girl I was dating at the time, Becky, who has since got the boot –

Joe: Let's just say she's in sequester.
I was like, you've got to be kidding me. You're going to watch Luke Duke? Because he's Luke Duke.
Avi: Yeah, she's sequestered, all right, thank God – and Matt went also. So she was in the show in the act with Tom Wopat, and I'm like, have you ever seen Tom Wopat? I mean, he's a singer. He was singing from dawn. I was like, you've got to be kidding me. You're going to watch Luke Duke? Because he's Luke Duke. So we got to sit with him. We met him before the show, shook hands with him, took pictures with him, and it was just ridiculous because growing up with my dad, he used to watch two and only two shows with me, The Incredible Hulk and The Dukes of Hazzard. And they were like our shows. I always have the fondest memory of The Dukes of Hazzard. So this was a total, total rush to meet him.

Joe: If you think that Avi has a high-pitched, nasal voice now, you should have heard him say the words over and over, "Luke Duke! Luke Duke! Luke Duke!"

Avi: People were like, "Dude, it's just Tom Wopat." I'm like, "No, you don't get it. It's Luke Duke." I'm like, "Do you get it?"

Joe: The Early Show host paid for dinner, that he couldn't give a shit about. Tom Wopat, he's looking at some other chick in the room as he's shaking Avi's hand.

Avi: You might be surprised that the one I really wanted to meet was Uncle Jesse.

[laughs] Oh, lordy. Okay. And then even though you've already explained it on Television Without Pity, I'm supposed to ask you: What the hell did your hat say?

Joe and Avi: [laugh]

Joe: Well, okay.

M. Darcy, who helped us set up this interview, gave me that exact wording to use.

Joe: I actually will have you know I privately e-mailed her to explain it two days ago just because I knew she was chomping at the bit and thought she deserved a heads up on everybody else, out of fairness to her. Okay. Here's the deal. The hat said "Mets" in Hebrew.

Avi: Now, do you want to know why?

Yeah!

Avi: Well, when you go on the show, they tell you you can't wear stuff with logos. And in particular, we asked - Joe and I are friends because of our similar sports alliances, with one of those being the Mets. So we asked if we could wear any kind of thing, because we thought maybe like a Mets shirt or a Cyclone shirt or something like that. And they're like, no. Major League Baseball protects their trademarks and their logos vehemently in court. They're like, absolutely no logos. Absolutely none of that. My brown hat that I wore on the show which says, "Take a hike," that I got in Alaska, they almost took that from me. Then they decided it would be okay at the last minute. But we tried to think of a way to get something on that was Mets, and Joe had the hat.

Joe: And the funny thing is, believe it or not, kind of like Chanukah, there's like several ways to spell Mets. And believe it or not, my hat really was in good domain because – and stop me if this gets too technical – believe it or not, that was the unofficial way to spell Mets in Hebrew. There actually is a more official one that the Mets actually license in Israel. So there was a lot of confusion. I noticed on some other boards there was other confusion because people were like, no, it can't be Mets. It would be spelled this way, you know?

Avi: Right. Exactly. And they were correct.

Joe: And they were correct. But that was it.

Well, did you ever think that the hat would cause this much speculation?

Avi: We were glad. We were glad about it.

Joe: We were only on one episode. Let them talk about something other than that song.

[laughs] Your song? Your theme song?

Avi: It's funny because when we saw it from the episode, I go to Joe and I'm like, "Joe, I don't remember singing that."

Joe: Because neither one of us have a memory it.

Avi: I had no idea that I sang that. And I'm saying, what the hell did I just sing? I do that – it's like an Avi-ism - I always make up songs about stupid things wherever I am. I take like a regular song and I change the words to make it funny or disgusting or have sexual innuendo. So when I heard the song, I'm like, what the hell was that? And then Joe reminded me that we did that. And then the next day, I got a plethora of calls and e-mails. Everybody in my office is singing, "New York Jews In Iceland." We joked about that it was going to available for download on Napster as a cell phone ring tone shortly.

Well, we were very grateful for it because it made for a very good goodie bag item. I was on the goodie bag committee.

Joe: Did you see the expression on our faces when we opened it?

No. I wasn't out in the front. I didn't see you guys come in.

Avi: It was great. You guys did such a job, I can't even express how choked up we were over the whole thing.

Joe: Really.

I know the lady who designed that and did the text for the inside, she couldn't be at TARcon, so I think someone had you sign a copy for her. So I know she's going to appreciate you guys doing that.

Joe: Good.

Avi: Anything you guys want.

Joe: Right. Everything you want.

Avi: Literally, anything you guys want, just say, and if it's within my power to do it, I'll do it. If you guys want to have a special TARcon, Television Without Pity, whatever group come in, I'll come out and do free workshops, free lessons, free lectures, whatever it is, stress reduction, whatever you want. Just tell me and I'm there. Because you really helped everything have a sense of closure.

Joe: Absolutely.

Avi: For Joe in particular, but for me also.

Joe: Very much so. I mean, it felt really good. And you really wouldn't have known from the way you all treated us that we were the first team out.

To me, it's so hard just to get on the show, I have so much respect for anyone who can go through that whole – well, most people – who can go through that whole application process and deal with all that and get on the show.

Avi: Yeah. I agree.

And a lot of times, the first leg – or a lot of legs – it just ends up being luck.

Joe: Yeah. Shit happens, and it was the luck of the draw. But no, Avi was right. It was that you couldn't have asked for better closure than that, you know? We were treated like a rock star.

We were so glad that you came, and it was so much fun that you came to Dim Sum even if –

Avi: You'll see me at every one of them. I wouldn't miss them for the world.

Joe: Yeah. I'll make it in as best as I can.

Yeah. It's a little harder coming from –
And just remember, nothing says thank you like a well-organized letter-writing campaign to Bertram saying, Avi and Joe for All Stars.
Joe: Coming from California. But I work for myself. We'll see what we can do. And we're happy to do anything. And just remember, nothing says thank you like a well-organized letter-writing campaign to Bertram saying, Avi and Joe for All Stars.


Avi: In all seriousness, Joe's taught me a lot about media and television and the whole thing over the course of this whole experience. And there's one thing that hit home very much at TARcon, which is that there is no show without the fans. And that's just it. And so whatever you guys would ever want, I would always be into doing. And it's got nothing to do with me because I don't care about me personally. You know, people know me, don't know me. I'm like the mayor in my neighborhood where I teach martial arts. I don't need other people to know me. I don't care about that. But if someone says to me, I'd like an autograph, or I'd like to sit down with you and talk about this, whatever I can do I'll always be glad to do because without you guys, there is no me in this particular instance.

Joe: Yeah. Avi's sort of the Ed Koch of modern times.

Avi: But I'm not gay. And I actually have a little more hair than he does.

Joe: And for me, I do feel very strongly. I do want to actually be one of the few Racers to step up and take a minute to defend Freddy and Kendra's decision to not come to TARcon. I mean, let's face it, if you had just won a million dollars and had an expense-paid four star hotel and looked like that, wouldn't you go and have sex with each other? I mean, if these people don't want to have sex under those circumstances, there's no hope for anybody else.

After all, he is worthy of having her babies.

Joe: God bless him. They earned it. They didn't get the check before the episode.

To me, it's – whatever. It's everyone's decision to make for themselves, and they've got to make whatever decision is right for them.

Avi: That's right. And maybe they'll do like Chip and Kim and come to the second one.

Well, thank you guys for your time. I really appreciate it.

Avi: You're most welcome.

Joe: We're happy to do it any time.