Craig Wilson, USA Today columnist

On November 20, 2007, by AMI Staff

While USA Today’s Craig Wilson no longer wears a mustache, he has certainly demonstrated that he is a friend of the mustached American. And for that matter – the mustache humanoid.

Wilson is a popular feature writer and columnist, perhaps best known for his “The Final Word” column which he’s written at USA Today for the past decade. He is also the author of “It’s the Little Things: An Appreciation of Life’s Simple Pleasures” (Random House). Wilson was kind enough to sit down with the American Mustache Institute recently for a Monthly Interview.

Q: You once had a mustache. Why on God’s green earth did you remove it?
A: It was turning grey, then went all white. I thought it made me look older than I was.

Q: Your brother still has a mustache. Are you jealous in any way?
A: No, not really. I think he looks like a bit of a jerk with it now.

Q: Should the removal of the mustache be a crime against nature?
A: Depends. I love mustaches and I LOVED mine. Very Tom Selleck it was. And then…

Q: You are a social commentator and you certainly don’t see as many mustaches – nor perms or turtlenecks – very often anymore. What killed the mustache? And for that matter, perms too?
A: I think it’s just a cycle. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 10 years everyone has a mustache again. Just like 1970.

Q: There is no question the mustache is on the rise but still in a tough period. What will bring the mustache back?
A: As I said, it’s a cycle. I bet what could bring it back faster is if a BIG star sported one. That would do it.

Q: Former Houston City Councilman Joe Roach, who was the first dwarf elected to office in a major American city, once said, “I want to be known as a good council member or a bad council member, not a Republican midget.” Do you agree with his premise or is there a middle ground?
A: I agree with the councilman’s premise.

Q: Was Herve Villechaize the finest actor of our generation?
A: No. Not even close. A small talent.

Q: Do you believe Tom Selleck’s sex appeal was drastically reduced when he shaved his mustache for “Three Men & A Baby?”
A: Yes. It was the only thing he really had going for him and he got rid of it.

Q: Recent polls have shown that one-fifth of Americans can’t find the United States on a map. Why do you think that is?
A: Well, a weak education system for one. I’m amazed people I work with don’t even know where things are and they work for a national newspaper. I drew a map of New York State once and asked a colleague who grew up in Brooklyn to put in the upstate cities of Buffalo, Rochester, etc. She didn’t have a clue. Wasn’t even close. I found it all quite amazing, and depressing. I’ve always loved geography. I think you could give me a blank map of the USA and I could pretty much put most things in their proper place. Is there a mustache connection here somewhere?

Q: As a recovering reporter, let me ask you, why on earth did you get into journalism and where did you begin?
A: I often ask myself the same question. We joke here at the paper that newspapers were invented to employ those of us who are not employable in mainstream society. But I love it. It’s not quite what it used to be, but newspapers are still filled with their fair share of characters. Not enough drinkers anymore, but…My first job out of journalism school was at a small paper up in the Adirondacks of New York State.

Q: Many print reporters work their entire careers trying to write for a USA Today, a New York Times, or a Wall Street Journal. You’ve reached it, you are 57, and your USA Today employment contract says they can legally shoot you along the median of I-495 right outside your building after age 55. Is there another writing chapter for Craig Wilson, and if so, what does it look like?
A: Yes, that’s true, but so far they haven’t taken me out there yet. Not sure why. Is there life after USA Today, you’re asking? I think there is. I just don’t know what it is yet. A book maybe? Running a coffee shop? Who knows? I’ll keep you posted.

Q: If USA Today were a mustache, what kind would it be and why?
A: Short, neat, of course. Well trimmed. No excess.

Q: You’ve been writing your Final Word column at USA Today for a decade? Does your dog Maggie help you find your writing Zen?
A: Yes, she does. And Murphy, who died two years ago, did too. Both sit by my desk and look at me as if to say, “Well, Bud, what’s on your mind this week?” Sometimes it’s quite obvious there’s not much on my mind.

Q: Your eyebrows are very, very dark. Do you shop in the same stores as Keith Hernandez and Walt Frazier?
A: That’s a very private matter.

Q: Give us your final word on the mustache.
A: On the right person, there’s nothing better. On the wrong person, there’s nothing worse.

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