TAMPA — It was the ultimate clash of high and low brow.
Randall, the voice behind the smash-hit YouTube video/Internet meme about the Honey Badger who doesn't give a you-know-what, and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
The men almost passed each other by Monday evening on Ybor City's E Eighth Avenue without recognizing the other — until a Tampa Bay Times reporter asked if they knew each other.
"No," Brooks said. "But he does." The columnist pointed to his 13-year-old son, Aaron.
Randall — that's what he calls himself and he declined to give his real name — gladly agreed to a photo with the columnist's son.
"One more," Randall said. "We have to do the claws, though."
Then Randall raised his hands and opened his mouth, baring his teeth.
"Claws up," he told the 13-year-old. "I'm going to bite your head off."
Then Randall invited Brooks to attend his 7 p.m. Tuesday press conference at the Roosevelt 2.0 at 1812 N 15th St. Randall will be announcing the Honey Badger party's official entry into the 2012 presidential campaign. (See www.honeybadger2012.com.)
"Honey Badger 2012," Brooks said. "Okay. I've heard of this."
"I can't make it," Brooks said.
"Oh, are you here for the RNC?" Randall asked.
"Is that here?" Brooks dead-panned.
But that's okay. Other media outlets are already lining up to hear about the Honey Badger platform — although "media" in this case refers to the Daily Show and the Colbert Report.
But Randall, who has recorded a series of amusing animal videos, said his message about preserving the environment is no joke, and said he's finding a receptive audience among the conservatives he has met here for this week's Republican National Convention.
"The more we keep destroying this planet, we're destroying ourselves," he said. "I take it very seriously but I'm going to do it with humor because people will laugh and then they'll realize: .... He's making sense! We have to do better for this world."
Jamal Thalji can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3404.