The Interview: Joe Chandler, aka Pilliard Dickle
From Staff Reports
This month, The Paper visited with Joe Chandler, or some of you know as Pilliard Dickle for a Q&A.
Briefly describe yourself and what you do.
Years ago I came up with an idea for a new way to make calendars: Why not draw a year? So with pen in hand, and having no idea what I was doing, I drew my first calendar. It was a planetoid floating in space, with the dates carved into its surface. This was about the time I started using the pen name Pilliard Dickle. (My real name is Joe Chandler.) Since then I’ve turned that seedling of an idea into a whole world of time called The Land of Calendaria. I also write books. And then there’s my 1 1/2 Man Show, featuring the present me performing whimsical original songs with the past me (which I recorded at my kitchen table, using a spoon and coffee cup for percussion). So what do I do? Good question. The common thread that runs through all my projects is that, to bear the Pilliard Dickle brand, they must have an element of uniqueness, or, better yet, of never having been done before. That’s why I dub myself, for lack of a better term, an “Imaginationist.”
Best piece of advice you’ve received.
When you’re first starting out, put all your available cash in matching socks and food storage containers with matching lids. But nooo, I squandered it on girls and such, buying a few socks and containers here and there, and now … nothing matches!
If I had it to do over …
I would not be so timid. Of living life, taking chances. My favorite lyric is from a song called The Art of Happiness by my friend Xan. “Leave your umbrella inside, let the rain fill your eyes. For far too long life’s kept them dry. Open wide!” That.
You are going on an extended solo trip. What three albums and three books would you take?
How about an album by Philip Glass…but one that’s actually listenable. Maybe Koyaanisqatsi. And something by Beethoven or one of those guys. And — I hate to be so predictable — Revolver. No wait — The White Album.
As for books: Miriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary … because it has all the words! OK, seriously, how about The Discoverers: A History of Man’s Search to Know His World and Himself by Daniel Boorstin (the former National Librarian). And Before the Big Bang by Laura Mersini-Houghton, a cosmologist at UNC whom I definitely do not have a debilitating celebrity crush on. And lastly, one I’ve been writing since shortly after they invented fire called O Say Can You See (Your Nose)? Because maybe I’d finally finish the dang thing!
Tell us one thing about yourself that few people know.
I have a perceptual anomaly called synesthesia. It’s a cross-wiring of the senses that can cause people to, for example, smell colors or see music. In my case, I see time. That is, I picture the shapes and colors of days, weeks and months. If you say “I’ll see you next Tuesday,” I picture not when Tuesday is, but where Tuesday is, in relation to the shape of the week. (BTW, Tuesdays are red.) This might have been an influence on my having started drawing calendars.
You are hosting a dinner party for six. What five people, living or dead, would you invite and why?
Xyla Danielle, an amazing vocalist/songwriter. She was my musical partner when I lived on St. Simons Island. If they let me sing a few of my songs (and they would, because it’s my dinner party), I’d sound so much better with her backing me up.
My daughter Emily Chandler-Westergreen, because, well, no dinner party is complete without the tri-county area’s most fashionable fashionista.
My mother, so I could tell her I’ve come to realize that anything I like about myself, the good stuff I do, my determination to bring something positive to the world, came from her.
OK, I better come up with some famous folks. How about one living and one dead?
The living one: Ringo. I saw an interview where he was telling the story of being at George Harrison’s bedside in George’s final days and said he was going to have to go to New York to see his daughter (who was also ill). George said “You want me to come with you?” At that point in the interview, Ringo had to run a finger under his big sunglasses to wipe a tear. Then he looked around the room and said “It’s like a ****ing Barbara Walter’s special in here.” That’s the exact frame when Ringo became my favorite Beatle. (Plus, between entries, I’d hit him up for a coupla mil—he’d never miss it.)
The dead one: How about Nikola Tesla? (Note: He’d come back to life before the party — then he could go back to being dead again.)
Name an as yet unfulfilled dream.
To land an interview in The Pap … oh, wait.
Off and on over the years I’ve worked on a book called A Novel Without Words. As the name implies, it’s all told in pictures. The characters speak in colors. It’s never been quite finished—but it’s about to be. I have it in my sights and I shall publish that book in 2023 or my name’s not Pilliard Dickle.
If you weren’t doing what you are, you would be …
A movie critic. I mean, you watch movies then tell people what you think about ‘em. What kind of a “job” is that? You should pay them to let you do it. I think Gene Shalit might agree. (He used to review my calendars on the Today show, BTW.) (Are shameless plugs permitted?)
Your go-to food.
Not sure what “go-to” means. If it means go-to every day as a staple, it’s a whole bunch of vegetables, fruits, nuts and a bunch of other healthy stuff thrown into various salad-esqe concoctions. If it means go-to when you need comfort food, let’s do chicken-andouille gumbo with roasted potatoes and a side of bruschetta.
The Truman Show. At the end [SPOILER] when the mast of that boat pierced that wall and he walked up those invisible steps to that door in the sky and Christof started speaking to him from the moon, my daughter Emily and my wife Natalie (wife at the time, that is, and we’re still great friends) both turned to me and said “Did you like it?” But I, the perpetually verbose Pilliard Dickle, could not speak, literally. I finally got some words out in the parking lot.
Dogs or cats?
I had an orange part-time cat-at-large for a while, but he quit coming round. I do have a grand-dog—a Pomeranian named Belle Chanel, who seems to be a minor celebrity around downtown Newnan. Or, wait, did you mean to pick one? Ha, I’m not falling into that trap—I’d alienate half the readers!
Your favorite quote and why.
I try to live my life based on sayings I see on t-shirts, bumper stickers and tote bags. One that comes to mind is from Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” But that was recently superseded by my granddaughter Olivia, who was dictating her Christmas list onto my phone. One of the gifts was “Lots of hugs from Pop Pop.” And she was not even vying for ice cream!
Name something that you are extremely glad you did or accomplished.
During the pandemic I wrote a novel about an ant.
What advice would you give your younger self just starting out on their own?
Leave your umbrella inside, let the rain fill your eyes. For far too long life’s kept them dry. Open wide!