Why the Hell Not? Actor Sean Penn interviews El Chapo

sean penn el chapo

A match made in journalistic heaven

Because the world is a totally normal place that makes sense, actor Sean Penn interviewed then-escaped, now re-incarcerated  Mexican drug lord “El Chapo” in October, and recently published his interview in Rolling Stone, the prestigious magazine famous for its responsible journalism and flawless coverage of my alma mater. The piece is over 10,000 words long, roughly 9,000 of which are completely superfluous. I wanted to do a breakdown of just how ridiculous the writing is. I really tried, guys. But I couldn’t get through more than a couple of paragraphs at a time without needing to lie down. If you don’t want to spend forty-five minutes of your life on Sean Penn’s attempt at radical-chic gonzo journalism, I have pulled out a few gems below, along with my rough attempt at translation:

It’s September 28th, 2015. My head is swimming, labeling TracPhones (burners), one per contact, one per day, destroy, burn, buy, balancing levels of encryption, mirroring through Blackphones, anonymous e-mail addresses, unsent messages accessed in draft form. 

Once, I read some Hunter S. Thompson, and thought he was pretty cool. I am also pretty cool. See how cool I am?


It’s a clandestine horror show for the single most technologically illiterate man left standing. At 55 years old, I’ve never learned to use a laptop. Do they still make laptops? No fucking idea!

I am so cool, I don’t even know what a computer is! I wrote this whole thing on a typewriter.


Espinoza is the owl who flies among falcons.

They are both birds!


His bald head demands your attention to his twinkling eyes. He’s a man fascinated and engaged.

Because I am fascinating and engaging.


We sit within quietude of fortified walls that are old New York hotel construction, when walls were walls, and telephones were usable without a Ph.D.

Ahhh, the good old days, when walls were walls, and being a rich white man was enough to guarantee that everyone thinks I’m the shit no matter how dumb I sound.


In 1989, El Chapo dug the first subterranean passage beneath the border from Tijuana to San Diego, and pioneered the use of tunnels to transport his products and to evade capture. I will discover that his already accomplished engineers had been flown to Germany last year for three months of extensive additional training necessary to deal with the low-lying water table beneath the prison.

See how I’m writing in the future tense now? I am doing this to lend a sense of immediacy to my writing. Do you understand how that works? I am very good at this.



For those of you who think you stomach the rest of this dreck, you can read the whole thing here.



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