Not My Job: Gov. Deval Patrick Gets Quizzed On Burning Man

Aug 29, 2014
Originally published on August 30, 2014 10:10 am

Deval Patrick was elected governor of the commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2006. He's finishing his second and final term, and he clearly no longer cares because he's agreed to join us to play our quiz.

We've invited him to answer three questions about Burning Man, the annual art festival/hippie magnet taking place in the desert of northern Nevada.

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And now the game where people who have nothing left to prove don't bother trying to prove anything. It's called Not My Job. Deval Patrick born in the South Side of Chicago but came east when he couldn't get into the University of Chicago, and instead went to a safety school, Harvard.


SAGAL: It was disappointing, as you can imagine. He did OK anyway. He was elected Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2006. And as he finishes his second and final term in that office, he clearly no longer cares because he's agreed to join us here. Gov. Deval Patrick, welcome...



PATRICK: Thank you, Peter.


SAGAL: Some people, Gov. Patrick, have said that your rise to the senior position in statewide office was unusual or surprising for a number of reasons, but let's admit it, it's because with a name like Deval Patrick, everybody thought you were Irish.

PATRICK: True. That is true.


SAGAL: Did that help?

PATRICK: That did help. I - we didn't use photographs, that kind of thing.


SAGAL: Now in reality...

ADAM FELBER: Mostly radio ads.

PATRICK: Exactly. Exactly.


PAULA POUNDSTONE: And he often referred to his shillelagh.


SAGAL: In reality, of course, and I'm proud to say as an adopted Chicagoan - you're from the South Side of Chicago.

PATRICK: That's right. And you're from Massachusetts?

SAGAL: Well, I spent a lot of time growing up here in Massachusetts. You and I have traded places...

PATRICK: Own it, man.


PATRICK: Be proud of it.

SAGAL: I would.


POUNDSTONE: He doesn't get to be.

SAGAL: I would except I feel that I didn't really earn the right to say that I grew up in Massachusetts.

ROY BLOUNT JR.: Also, you're from New Jersey.

SAGAL: Yes, well...

POUNDSTONE: Well, that's the other thing.


POUNDSTONE: I think perhaps, Peter, the facts get in the way. This is like I'm talking to my teenage kid.


SAGAL: Back to the governor. We do have a governor here, by the way. Very important person.

POUNDSTONE: So nice to have you, sir.

PATRICK: I'm glad to be here I think.

POUNDSTONE: If anybody else were here, he would continue to lie about where he was from.


SAGAL: The - you grew up in the South Side of Chicago to a single mother, right? And you got a scholarship to the prestigious and more than somewhat preppy Milton Academy.

PATRICK: That's right, down in Milton.

SAGAL: And here's the question, what was that transition like?

PATRICK: (Laughter) How long is this show?


PATRICK: No, it was like landing on a different planet.

SAGAL: Right.

PATRICK: I tell the story about how they had a dress code in those days and boys wore jackets and ties class. So when the clothing list arrived at home, my grandparents splurged on a new jacket for me to wear to class. But a jacket on the South Side of Chicago's a windbreaker.


PATRICK: So the first day of class, all the other boys are putting on their blue blazers and their tweed coats, and I had my windbreaker.

SAGAL: Really?

PATRICK: I want to point out I had figured it out.

SAGAL: Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah, you're looking dapper.


PATRICK: Thank you.

SAGAL: So you were - so I'm just trying to imagine. You're from the South Side. You come to Milton Academy. You get the blazer straightened out eventually, I would imagine. And was there a moment where you were like, yes, I want to come among these people, become one of them and then rule over them?


PATRICK: That is a more - succinct account than I might give.


SAGAL: What about being governor of Massachusetts, in particular, or just being a governor in general, has most surprised you that you did not expect?

PATRICK: Probably the most amazing thing is how you meet people - and I will say you meet all kinds of people - the mighty and the meek and everybody is interesting and engaging. But it's - they are very intimate very quickly.

SAGAL: With you?


SAGAL: OK. So people are coming up to you and saying, governor I've got this problem. Governor I got this, governor I got that.

PATRICK: Yeah, or sometimes it's very - it's intimate and inappropriate.


PATRICK: Oh, and by the way...

BLOUNT: Go on.

PATRICK: By the way, one of the most probably important things to do sort of politically, and I think fulfilling things in many ways, is to visit senior centers.

SAGAL: Yeah.

PATRICK: And seniors vote and they're really great and they have terrific insights and so on, but they are deeply flirtatious.



PATRICK: Deeply, deeply flirtatious.

SAGAL: So you're telling me...

PATRICK: I have had my backside pinched by any number.




PATRICK: And I remember once I went into this one senior center in the eastern part of the state, and this woman came up to me and she said Governor, she said, I'm a cougar.


PATRICK: And I didn't know what she was talking about. So I said I'm a Leo.


SAGAL: That is hilarious.

PATRICK: It's not just me. It's my wife as well. She tells a story about going to an event at a senior center during the last campaign. And there was an older gentleman in the audience. And he said to her, come closer. And she was introducing - you know, walking around, shaking hands and so forth. And she came a little closer and he said come closer. And she assumed he was having trouble hearing. And she came closer and he said one more time, come closer. And she did. And he said, will you sit on my lap?



PATRICK: So, it's rough out there, everybody.

SAGAL: Well, Gov. Patrick, it is a delight and and honor to talk to you here in this beautiful place in the state that you in fact govern. But we have asked you here to play a game we're calling...

BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: What This Festival Needs Is Burning Anchorman.

SAGAL: We're at Tanglewood, of course, a wonderful outdoor arts venue in Massachusetts. And while there are indeed several naked people out there dancing under the influence of powerful psychedelics, we've got nothing on Burning Man. That, of course, is the annual art festival and hippie magnet that's taking place as we speak in the desert of northern Nevada. We're going to ask you three questions about Burning Man. If you get two right, you win our prize for one of our listeners.

Bill, who is Gov. Patrick playing for?

KURTIS: Eric Forish of Westfield, Massachusetts.


SAGAL: Have you ever been to Burning Man? Many have.

PATRICK: I have not. I've been to Westfield.


SAGAL: All right. If you're going - here's your first question - if you're going to be a burner, which is what they call people who go to Burning Man, you have to learn the lingo. Which of these is a real word that if you hear it in Black Rock City - that's the encampment where Burning Man takes place - that you will - people will understand you if you use it? Which of these is a real Burning Man word? Is it A, plinth; B, moop; or C, deodorant?



SAGAL: Moop. Is that your answer?

PATRICK: That's my answer.

SAGAL: And that is the correct answer.

FELBER: There you go.


SAGAL: Moop is a Burning Man word. It means matter out of place, right. They're very into the leave no trace Ethos. So it refers to - moop is anything that doesn't really belong at this alkali desert, which is basically anything but dirt.

Next question - Burning Man, despite its reputation for anarchy, actually provides lots of services to its attendees. For instance, there is a group called the Black Rock Rangers, and they're there to do in part what?

PATRICK: Mooping.

SAGAL: No, they're not...


SAGAL: I think they help with the moop, but this is - one of their duties is A, remind you to take your daily Ecstasy prescription; B, give you and aura massage; or C, just sit and listen to you if you've had a rough day?

PATRICK: Oh wow.


PATRICK: I want to go - I want to go...

POUNDSTONE: You know it. I know you know it.

PATRICK: I want to go with aura massage but I'm going to say C.

SAGAL: You're going to listen to you?


SAGAL: That's right.

POUNDSTONE: There you go.



SAGAL: It can be overwhelming, you can be just a little overwhelmed. And if you need, you can find a guy wearing a Black Rock Rangers, they have little shirts that said Burning Man logo and they'll talk to you.

FELBER: I got to get me one of those.

SAGAL: They're awesome.


SAGAL: All right. Last question - Burning Man isn't just for hippies and stoners. This year, what surprising person said he was going to go? A, noted conservative activist Grover Norquist, who says he wanted to enjoy a totally stateless paradise?

PATRICK: (Laughter) My college classmate.

SAGAL: Was he really? Or B, musician Justin Bieber, who wants to enjoy the famous kids' play area at Burning Man?

POUNDSTONE: There is one.

SAGAL: Or C, the Prince of Wales, because what the hell?


PATRICK: I'm going to say Justin Bieber.

SAGAL: Justin Bieber's going to go to Burning Man to play on the kids' play area?


SAGAL: No, it was Grover Norquist.


SAGAL: Grover Norquist, as you may know, your college classmate, very well-known button-down conservative activist, very opposed to taxes, big government, he says that he wants to go to Burning Man because it represents his ideal of what happens when you don't have an oppressive state telling people what to do. And I don't know...

FELBER: There's anarchy at Burning Man?

SAGAL: There is - actually no. It's actually very well regulated apparently. But...

BLOUNT: But don't tell Grover.

SAGAL: But don't tell Grover.


SAGAL: Bill, how did Gov. Patrick do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Two out of three, which means you won.

SAGAL: All right.

POUNDSTONE: All right.

PATRICK: Good for Eric.

SAGAL: Congratulations governor.

PATRICK: Congratulations Eric.


SAGAL: The honorable Deval Patrick is the governor of the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Gov. Patrick, what a pleasure...

PATRICK: It's my pleasure.

SAGAL: ...To have you here.




TALKING HEADS: (Singing) You might get what you're after, cool babies strange but not a stranger. I'm an ordinary guy burning down the house.

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