Without ever exuding the frenzied, smartphone-dependent aura of the modern businessman, Blow is a zealous maximizer of his time. He loathes watching sports, because they yield few tangible returns on the hours you invest in them. If the electric razor and the billowy tufts scattered around his bathroom sink are any indication, he appears to cut his own hair in a dozen quick swipes whenever necessary. And to make the half-hour commute from his apartment to Berkeley more constructive, Blow listens to audiobooks of literary classics in his Tesla. When I visited, he had just jettisoned Anna Karenina for being “too much like a soap opera.” Now he was listening to Walden.
Throughout my visit, every time I contorted myself into his Roadster, we would immediately hear an actor doing his best Thoreau impression, declaiming in stentorian tones about the furry beasts in their burrows. This had a certain jarring quality. One day, however, after a long talk about Blow’s vision for The Witness, Shockingly Loud Thoreau seemed almost clairvoyant. “With a little more deliberation in the choice of their pursuits,” he proclaimed, “all men would perhaps become essentially students and observers, for certainly their nature and destiny are interesting to all alike.”
Blow clicked off the stereo and turned to me. “I honestly didn’t plan that,” he said.