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Bubble Gum Interview- Jeff Brown AKA “The Bawldguy”




What’s a Bubble Gum Interview?

Bubble Gum Interviews were born on in 2007 and for trillions of reason (namely that I got busy), they were discontinued. They’re silly interviews where I send questions to real estate bloggers so you can get to know them better and find obscure things over which you can connect with them. Comments are encouraged and everyone’s been a good sport about being interviewed, so to kick the series back into high gear, take a look at this interview done in 2007 below.

Jeff Brown, I’m not sorry to drudge this back up:

Just when you thought you knew your favorite bloggers, along comes the Bubble Gum Interviews. We ask the really tough questions about things like food preferences, high school stories and favorite hair products. Today’s Bubble Gum victim is none other than my friend Jeff Brown– master international investment secret spy agent. Jeff and I (and my husband) have gotten to know each other well over the past few months, and although I’m not Jeff’s boss or anything (that’s what his wife is for), let’s just say I get to call every now and then and use my “serious business voice.” I do like Jeff a lot- enough to use this picture of him in our car (taken while he was pimpin’ his pimp hat and pimp shades, talking, and pretending not to get mad while I photograph him in action). So, Jeff- tell us about yourself!

Name three Halloween costumes you wore in your childhood.

The first costume I remember was the one Mom made for me, after weeks of begging — Superman. I put it on the minute I got home from school. (1st grade) Dad couldn’t stop laughing, as I tried to keep dinner off my costume.

The next year I was the devil, which I thought was insanely rebellious, as I was the preacher’s kid. I learned later the name of that costume should’ve been called ‘cliché’.

Though I was getting older, at 12 you go for the candy. I dressed as my all-time sports hero, Sandy Koufax. I was irritated at every house we visited, because the dumb moms kept asking me who I was. Come on, who didn’t know who Sandy was?! Geez

Can a bald guy have a hairline fracture? 🙂

You need to ask my first wife that question. Once she stopped laughing and rolling her eyes you’d find out nobody bumps their head more than I used to. I must have cracked my skull 50 times against the corner of the stove hood when our kids were still pretty young. I mean hard, as in, “Daddy, your head is bleeding…again.”

Know how Deborah on ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ sometimes calls Ray an idiot? She wasn’t the first, my kids’ mom was. 🙂 She said it best just after I’d cut myself for the umpteenth time on the damn stove hood.

Disclaimer: We’re still very close friends. She and her husband enjoyed Thanksgiving with my wife and I at our place last year. 🙂

What made you switch from selling homes to the investment property?

First, it didn’t help, being a teenager with a real estate license. Being second generation was a big edge, but a bit of a hindrance too. The boss’s kid always gets a little grief, know what I mean, Verne?

What made me crazy was my absolutely inability to deal with wives who would love a house, then not make an offer because the paint was all wrong. (not to mention their weak-kneed husbands) 🙂 It should’ve been a no-brainer for me, but I just couldn’t hang. Back then (‘69-76) $50 bought you pizza for six people for an entire weekend, AND enough paint to redo every room in the house. But noooooo, can’t do that, hafta keep looking.

My very wise wife told me I had to find another way to make money, cuz I was gonna end up on the 11 o’clock news if I didn’t. That was her way of giving me the nod to move to the investment side, a big risk at the time.

Who would win a wrestling match between a medium sized black bear and Hulk Hogan?

Hulk Hogan by default — are you kiddin’ me? The bear would take one look at the Hulk, turn tail, and haul buns. 🙂

Do you have any musical talent?

In 1965, my freshman year, I made the parade band for Norwalk High. (L. A.) We marched in several parades, including the ‘Long Beach All-Western’, in which we were judged fifth best marching band in the 11 western states. I played trombone — it was nearly as long as I was tall.

My real musical talent though, (musical?) is dancing. Yep, the BawldGuy gets it done. There are some rules though. I have to be at least half way done with my second Glenlivet. At that point I think I can dance. (Note: When you look up ‘lightweight’ drinker in the dictionary, you’ll see my picture.) After three drinks I think I’m dazzling. On the very rare occasion in which I have a fourth drink, I’m convinced you’re one lucky wench to even be on the dance floor with me. 🙂 All of which, by the way, still leaves me as the poor bald guy looking like the snook he is, dancing with a woman who’s dang near a pro. Fortunately, everyone with a lick of discernment looks at her.

How has fatherhood changed your life?

Enormously, and in ways I’m still discovering now. My daughter is a (3.5 GPA) college student, getting her degree next year in child development. Her big brother has his degree in international business, (also 3.5 start to finish) and is orders of magnitude smarter than his dad, as is his sister. I was in the room when each was born, cutting the cord on one.

I promised myself each would be taught how to be totally self-sufficient and think for themselves. They’ve turned out better than I’ll ever have the right to claim any credit for. This is especially true, as their mother was put on this earth to be a mom.

When they were babies, and looked at me the way babies do, the realization hit — I CANNOT fail.

Fatherhood forced me to be focused and purposeful in everything I did, because they either were watching, or would eventually find out. I learned being a Dad meant your job was defined as stepping up to the plate whenever and wherever it was required.

If you take fatherhood seriously, it’s impossible not to be changed — in some ways, profoundly. Kids have a way of keeping you honest, unafraid to tell the emperor he has no clothes.

So there you have it. Jeff now holds the record for “most happy faces used in a Bubble Gum Interview,” sometimes dresses up as Superman+Satan+Sandy, theorizes that baldness causes vulnerability to skull fractures, mustered a serious face as he used the words “Hulk” and “buns” in the same sentence, and is a band nerd who can dance like Travolta when he’s lit (I think the pimp hat helps). Now that you really know Jeff, what do you think?

originally posted on, published in full here as we will be bringing you new Bubble Gum Interviews soon!

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Matthew Hardy

    August 30, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Is that a mushroom cap on your head?

  2. BawldGuy

    August 30, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    I know where you live, bro. 🙂

  3. Matthew Hardy

    August 30, 2009 at 10:39 pm



    (coulda sworn Portobello…)

  4. ines

    August 30, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    I soooo miss your interviews Lani and jeff is the total BOMB!!! now I can’t wait to give him a mojito and have him dance 🙂 (San Diego maybe?)

  5. Russell Shaw

    August 30, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    I really admire a man who can wear a dork hat AND dance too. 🙂

  6. Matthew Hardy

    August 30, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    > give him a mojito and have him dance

    Bet he has something special he wears with the hat.

  7. BawldGuy

    August 30, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    It’s amazing how spot on these comments are. 🙂 Ines has great judgment.

    Russ drills right to the truth of the matter. 🙂

    I look forward to seeing many of you in San Diego this coming November. Wouldn’t turn ur back on me though.

  8. MIssy Caulk

    August 31, 2009 at 8:34 am

    I miss those bubblegum interviews, they were fun and you got to see the humor in the interviewee.

  9. Erion Shehaj

    August 31, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Man, I’ve missed these — And you bring them back in style with Jeff Brown??

    Hey Jeff, Rocky called … 🙂

  10. Ian Greenleigh

    August 31, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    If the smiley face bore such a striking resemblance to ME, I would use it just as often. Alas, there are no smileys for long haired, unshaven and under-dressed me. 🙂

  11. BawldGuy

    August 31, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Erion — That’s so wrong on so many levels — but hilarious just the same. 🙂

  12. Linsey Planeta

    September 11, 2009 at 1:41 am

    Wow! If I didn’t like Jeff (which I actually did), I’d love him now. The part about Fatherhood – yeah I’m sold. Good guy!

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Opinion Editorials

Ways to socialize safely during quarantine

(EDITORIAL) Months of isolation due to quarantine is causing loneliness for many, but joining virtual social groups from home may help fill the need for interaction.




Quarantining, sheltering in place, staying home. We’re tired of hearing it; we’re tired of doing it. Yet, it’s what we still need to be doing to stay safe for a while longer. All of this can be lonesome. As the days turn into weeks and weeks into months, the alone time is getting to even the most introverted among us.

Solitary confinement is considered one of the most psychologically damaging punishments a human can endure. The New Yorker reported on this in a 1992 study of prisoners in detention camps in the former Yugoslavia, as well as Vietnam veterans who experienced isolation. These studies showed that prisoners who had experienced solitary confinement demonstrated similar brain activity to those who’d suffered a severe head injury, noting that “Without sustained social interaction, the human brain may become as impaired as one that has incurred a traumatic injury.”

We aren’t meant to be solitary creatures. Your “pandemic brain” is real. That fogginess, the lack of productivity, can be attributed to many things, including anxiety, but being kept apart from other humans is a big part of it too. Be kind to yourself, give yourself grace, and join others virtually. Be it an app, a class, a Facebook group, a chat room, or a livestream, someone somewhere is out there waiting to connect with you too.

The good news? We are lucky enough to live in an era of near limitless ways to interact socially online. Sure, it is different, but it is something. It’s important. The best thing about this type of social interaction is being able to hone in on your specific interests, though I’d caution you against getting caught in an online echo chamber. Diversity of interests, personality, and opinion make for a richer experience, with opportunities for connecting and expanding your worldview.

Here are a few suggestions on ways to socialize while staying home and staying safe. Communicating with other humans is good for you, physically and mentally.

Interactive Livestreams on Twitch:

Twitch is best known as a streaming service for video game fans, but it offers multiple streams appealing to different interests. This is more than passive watching (although that is an option, too) as Twitch livestream channels also have chat rooms. Twitch is fun for people who like multi-tasking because the chat rooms for popular livestream channels can get busy with chatter.

While people watch the Twitch hosts play a video game, film a live podcast, make music or art, mix cocktails, or dance, they can comment on what they’re watching, make suggestions, ask questions, crack jokes, and get to know each other (by Twitch handle, so it is still as anonymous as you want it to be) in the chat room. The best hosts take time every so often to interact directly with the chat room questions and comments.

Many Twitch channels develop loyal followers who get to know each other, thus forming communities. I have participated in the Alamo Drafthouse Master Pancake movie mocks a few times because they are fun and local to Austin, where I live. Plus, in my non-quarantine life, I would go to Master Pancake shows live sometimes. The chat room feels familiar in a nice way. While watching online is free, you can (and totally should) tip them.

Online trivia in real time:

There are some good options for real-time online trivia, but I’m impressed with the NYC Trivia League’s model. They have trivia games online on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The NYC Trivia League seems to have figured out a good way to run the game live while keeping answers private from the other teams. They run games on Instagram Live with a live video of the host, and participants answer via the question feature. Clever!

Online book club:

First I have to shout out my Austin local independent bookstore, BookPeople, because they are fantastic. They run book clubs throughout the year, along with readings, book signings, and all things book-related. BookPeople hosts several online book clubs during these lockdown days, and most people will find something that appeals to them.

I’m also impressed with this list from Hugo House, a writer’s resource based out of Seattle. This list includes Instagram and Goodread book clubs, book clubs for Black women, rebels, and poetry lovers. The Financial Diet recommends the Reddit book club, if you are comfortable with the Reddit format. Please note that it’s a busy place, but if you like Reddit, you already know this.

Cooking class or virtual tasting:

This is doubly satisfying because you can follow these chefs in real time, and you end up with a meal. There are a couple on Instagram Live, such as The Culinistas or Chef Massimo Bottura.

You can also participate in virtual tastings for wine, whiskey, or chocolate, though you will have to buy the product to participate in the classes (usually held over Zoom or Facebook Live). If you are in Austin, Dallas, or Houston, I recommend BeenThere Locals. The cost of the course includes the wine, spirits, or cooking kit in most cases, and all of the money goes to the business and expert hosting the class.

Look for your favorite wine, spirits, cheese, chocolate makers, and chefs that are local to you to find a similar experience. Most either prepare the class kit for pickup or delivery within a local area.

Quarantine chat:

To interact with another quarantined person seeking social interaction, there’s Quarantine Chat. Quarantine chat is one of the ways to connect through the Dialup app, available on iOS and Android devices. Sign up to make and receive calls when you want to speak with someone. The Dialup app pairs you randomly with another person for a phone conversation, at a scheduled time, either with anyone or with someone with shared interests.

Quarantine chat takes it a step further with calls at random times. When your quarantine chat caller calls, you will not see their number (or they yours), only the “Quarantine Chat” caller ID. If you are unable to pick up when they call, they will be connected with someone else, so there is no pressure to answer. It’s nice to hear someone else’s voice, merely to talk about what you’ve been cooking or what hilarious thing your pet is doing.

Play Uno:

Uno Freak lets people set up games and play Uno online with friends or strangers. Players do not need to register or download anything to play. Uno Freak is web-based.

Talk to mental health professionals:

If your state of loneliness starts sliding toward depression, call someone you can speak to right away to talk over your concerns. When in doubt, call a trained professional! Here are a few resources:

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, ET, 800-950-NAMI (6264) or
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to this text line 24/7 for someone to text with who will also be able to refer you to other resources: U.S. and Canada: 74174, U.K. 85258, Ireland: 50808.
  • Psych Central has put together this comprehensive list of crisis intervention specialists and ways to contact them immediately.

There are many ways to connect even though we are physically apart. These are just a few real time ways to interact with others online. If you want something a little more flesh and blood, take a walk around the block or even sit in a chair in front of where you live.

Wave at people from afar, and remember that we have lots of brilliant doctors and scientists working on a way out of this. Hang in there, buddy. I’m rooting for you. I’m rooting for all of us.

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Opinion Editorials

Working remotely: Will we ever go back? (Probably not)

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Now that the pandemic has opened the door on working remotely, there’s no way we’ll put the genie back in the bottle. But, here’s some ways you can adapt.



Woman working remotely on her couch with a laptop on her lap.

When it comes to working remotely, will the toothpaste ever go back in the tube?

Mark Zuckerberg recently said, “We are going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale…” By 2030, Zuckerberg anticipates that over half of Facebook’s workforce will be remote. Many other companies are jumping on the work from home bandwagon. Working remotely has helped many businesses manage the pandemic crisis, but it’s unsure what form remote working will take over the next 10 years.

We know that employees are responding positively to WFH, as reported in this article – Employers: Lacking remote work options may cause you to lose employees. As offices transition to a post-COVID normal, here are some things to consider about your office and remote work.

What does your business gain from allowing workers to WFH?
The future of remote work depends on a conscious application of WFH. It’s not just as easy as moving employees out of the office to home. You have to set up a system to manage workers, wherever they are working. The companies with good WFH cultures have set up rules and metrics to know whether it’s working for their business. You’ll need to have technology and resources that let your teams work remotely.

Can your business achieve its goals through remote work?
The pandemic may have proved the WFH model, but is this model sustainable? There are dozens of benefits to remote work. You can hire a more diverse workforce. You may save money on office space. Employees respond well to remote work. You reduce your carbon emissions.

But that can’t be your only measure of whether remote work fits into your vision for your organization. You should be looking at how employees will work remotely, but you need to consider why employees work remotely.

The work paradigm is shifting – how will you adapt?
The work environment has shifted over the past century. Remote work is here to stay, but how it fits into your company should be based on more than what employees want. You will have to work closely with managers and HR to build the WFH infrastructure that grows with your organization to support your teams.

We don’t know exactly how remote work will change over the next decade, but we do know that the workplace is being reinvented. Don’t just jump in because everyone is doing it. Make an investment in developing your WFH plan.

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Opinion Editorials

The truth about unemployment from someone who’s been through it

(EDITORIAL) Unemployment benefits aren’t what you thought they were. Here’s a first-hand experience and what you need to know.




Have I ever told you how I owed the government over two grand because of unemployment in 2019, and only just finished paying it back this year?

This isn’t exactly the forum for memoirs, but this is relevant to everyone. So I’ll tell y’all anyway.

It all started back in 2018 when I came into work early, microwaved my breakfast, poured coffee, and got pulled into a collaboration room to hear, “We love you and your work, April, but we’ve been bought out and you’re being laid off.”

It was kind of awkward carrying my stuff out to the car with that Jimmy Dean sandwich in my mouth.

More awkward still was the nine months of unemployment I went through afterwards. Between the fully clothed shower crying, the stream of job denial, catering to people who carried rocks in their nostrils at my part-time job (yes, ew, yes, really), and almost dying of no-health-insurance-itis, I learned a lot!

The bigger lesson though, came in the spring of the following year when I filed my taxes. I should back up for a moment and take the time to let those of you unfamiliar with unemployment in Texas in on a few things that aren’t common knowledge.

1: You’re only eligible if you were laid off. Not if you had quit. Not fired. Your former company can also choose to challenge your eligibility for benefits if they didn’t like your face on the way out. So the only way you’re 100% guaranteed to get paid in (what the state calls) “a timely manner”, is a completely amicable split.

2: Overpayments have to go back. Immediately. If there’s an error, like several thousand of Texans found out this week, the government needs that cash back before you can access any more. If you’re not watching your bank account to make sure you’re getting the exact same check each time and you have an overpayment, rest assured that mistake isn’t going to take long to correct. Unfortunately, if you spent that money unknowingly–thought you got an ‘in these uncertain times’ kinder and gentler adjustment and have 0 income, you have a problem. Tying into Coronavirus nonsense is point three!

3: There are no sick days. If ever you’re unable to work for any reason, be it a car accident, childbirth, horrible internal infection (see also no-health-insurance-itis), you are legally required to report it, and you will not be paid for any days you were incapacitated. Personally, my no-health-insurance-itis came with a bad fever and bedrest order that axed me out of my part time job AND killed my unemployment benefits for the week I spent getting my internal organs to like me again. But as it turned out, the payment denial came at the right time because–

4: Unemployment benefits are finite. Even if you choose to lie on your request forms about how hard you’re searching for work, coasting is ill-advised because once the number the state allots you runs out…it’s out. Don’t lie on your request forms, by the way. In my case, since I got cut from my part-time gig, I got a call from the Texas Workforce Commission about why my hours were short. I was able to point out where I’d reported my sickness to them and to my employer, so my unpaid week rolled over to a later request date. I continued to get paid right up until my hiring date which was also EXACTLY when my benefits ran out.

Unemployment isn’t a career, which is odd considering the fact that unemployment payments are qualified by the government as income.

Ergo, fact number five…

5: Your benefits? They’re taxed.

That’s right, you will be TAXED for not having a job.

The stereotype of the ‘lazy unemployment collector burdening society’ should be fading pretty quickly for the hitherto uninformed about now.

To bring it back to my story, I’d completely forgotten that when I filed for unemployment in the first place, I’d asked for my taxes NOT to be withheld from it–assuming that I wasn’t going to be searching for full time work for very long. I figured “Well, I’ll have a tax refund coming since I’ll get work again no problem, it’ll cancel out.”

Except, it was a problem. Because of the nine month situation.

I’d completely forgotten about it by the time I threw myself into my new job, but after doing my taxes, triple checking the laws and what I’d signed, it was clear. Somehow…despite being at my lowest point in life, I owed the highest amount in taxes, somewhere around the 2k mark.

Despite being based on a system that’s tied to how much income you were getting before, and all the frustrating “safeguards” put in place to keep payments as low and infrequent as possible, Uncle Sam still wants a bite out of the gas-station Hostess pie that is your unemployment check. And as I’m writing this, more and more people are finding that out. And even as we enter 2021, there is still more to be aware of – we’re not out of the woods yet.

I’d like to end this on a more positive note… So let’s say we’ve all been positively educated! That’s a net gain, surely.

Keep your heads up, and masked.

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