A Chat with Jim Kopeny!

How did you get into the world of writing and editing? How did you get started?

I’ve always written but I actually started off as an art student, drawing and such were my main thing, and for years I thought that was the path I’d take. In high school I was the school paper cartoonist and sometime columnist, and it was there I started writing about music on the side. I kept cartooning in college but grew disenchanted with the art program I was in—no one offered any real critiques and mostly just patted each other on the back, which was really boring—so I started to pursue writing more seriously. It kind of just grew from there.

Where does the name Tankboy come from?

I was a huge fan of Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin’s Tank Girl comic in Deadline, so when I got my first AOL handle in the early ‘90s I decided to base it on the cartoon character. I never expected it to stick. When I started writing for Chicagoist in 2005 I planned on using my own name, but the arts editor at the time convinced me to keep building on the 'Tank Boy' brand since it already had a foothold, had a history on other blogs for a couple of years already, and, face it, is kind of memorable.

What is one thing we would never guess about you?

There are two. I’m famously known to be pretty apathetic towards sports, but I played pretty much every sport there is as a kid. Everything from football to swim team to lacrosse and more. The other would be that I’m an Eagle Scout, and earned the badge building stars to what was then a just discovered and freshly excavated wine cellar at the Charles Carroll House in Annapolis, MD. I know, weird.

Where are you from originally? What was it like for you growing up there?

I was born in the Chicagoland area, but moved around a lot as a kid. I spent almost a decade in south Texas—the Valley—as a kid and in the ‘70s that was almost like living on another planet. I think it’s what primed me to pursue creative endeavors later in life since I spent a lot of time down there in my own head, creating different worlds for myself. I then moved to New Jersey for a while, Maryland for a few years, back to the suburbs of Chicago to finish out high school, downstate Illinois for a few years of college and then back to Chicago in '95. Chicago is now the place I've lived in the absolute longest.

Tell us about your typical Sunday in Chicago.

It’s usually lazy. My wife and I are so busy during the week, Sunday is our down day. Or just a day we use to completely unwind before revving back up for the work week. For instance yesterday we went to brunch at this place named Longman & Eagle because I was craving their chicken and waffle, hopped on a train to Garfield Park Conservatory afterward, and finished up the day grilling outside our coach house before unwinding with some quality Sunday night TV. I know, wild living!

If you could have 5 more hours in the day, what would you do with it?

Read more books. Most of my time is spent catching up with so much digitally delivered info I feel I neglect reading and deny myself that most pleasurable experience.

What’s the one piece of style advice you can give you anyone, anywhere in the world?

No one ever went wrong with jeans, a concert t-shirt, and black boots.

Tell us about your Orient Golden Eye Watch!

I picked this one because it’s got a timeless class that will always be in style. And it looks good with any outfit I could possible pair with it.

If you could go anywhere, any time - where would you go and why?

I’m going to avoid any crazy ancient historical choices here, but London during the Britpop era would be pretty excellent. But only if I was also magical friends with the guys in Blur so I could witness their ride firsthand. But the future? Maybe I’d just pop 10 years ahead to see just how music and artists are surviving as the industry collapses around them so I can come back and be the one to figure out that puzzle.

Jim Kopeny, also known as "Tankboy," resides in Chicago where he serves as Chicagoist's Senior Editor for Arts and Entertainment. As if that weren't enough - he's also a Writing Director for one of the city's great digital marketing agencies. You can find him tweeting at @tankboy and read up on his personal site: tankboyprime.blogspot.com.

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