My so-called adolescent life

"Why are you like that?" once begged a cloying Claire Danes, brushing her auspiciously red hair out of her "My So-Called Life" face.

The object of her flannel flirtations was one Jordan Catalano -- Jared Leto, really -- who with equal parts intensity and stupidity, shuffled his feet in search of the great teen-age answer.

Me, I was similarly stymied in the haze of my early-to-mid-20s, still accessing teen-age ambiguity for answers to my growing debt and haphazard homosexuality. Why was I like that?

Naturally, I was in love with Jared Leto.

These days, Leto's peddling his matured brand of intense stupidity in the form of heavy-rock outfit 30 Seconds to Mars (a step up from Frozen Embryos on "My So-Called Life," presumably), preening about to airplane-hanger sonics with bits about "so I RUN, HIDE," and even popping through town for a Church Street, free-concert anomaly. (As it turned out, he ended up throwing a temper tantrum and refused to play.)

I've been informed by his PR machine that I am not to speak to him about anything but the music, man -- something which should prove about as entertaining as talking to Russell Crowe or Keanu Reeves about shoes ... or music. After all, Leto's dating Cameron Diaz (who is very fun to talk about). And he's won considerable acclaim for everything from a junk-inspired dismemberment in "Requiem for a Dream" to a bad-guy stint in "Panic Room" that was enough to push even Jodi Foster into the closet. I don't wanna talk about music. Don't make me.

"I've been making music my whole life," he makes me. "My brother plays the drums, so we've been playing together off and on since we were little kids. And it just kind of took on a natural evolution and became something we were more and more invested in as we got older and ultimately led to something we went public with, rather than just having it be just a private experience for both of us."

"But what about a private experience with both of you?" I think, but don't say. After all, this is supposed to be serious. OK then, was it hard to get taken seriously?

"It was very difficult to actually get a deal, because I think people were hesitant to get involved with someone who had another career," he obviates.

"You don't think being a TV and film star helped?"

"Well, I've been on the road since Jan. 30. We've played 158 shows this year," he justifies his hobby. "And I've made a commitment creatively and professionally to what I'm doing in front of me."

Wait till you see what I'm doing in front of me!

"I'm not doing it half-assed," he half-asses. Me neither. "I think probably a big part of the reason why so many people have embarrassed themselves before and done such a horrible job is that they haven't made a commitment. They've been hobbyists."

Russell Crowe? Keanu Reeves?

"I'm not into naming names," he diplomats with an eye roll. "You know, I celebrate people being creative. I don't condemn them for it. ... It's better than going to war and shooting people in the head. You know what I mean?"

Do you? Let's take a step down from messy polemics and entertain some superfluous discussion of musical muses and overwrought dynamism.

"I wanted to do something that's really ambitious, something that was dynamic and powerful, at times intimate and other times bombastic. ... It's just about, in my gut, what really moves me creatively."

In order to move himself, er, creatively, Leto took his band and crew to Wyoming in search of some pretend alienation. Was there a farm involved?

"No. No hay," he no-ways. "No animals. More like a warehouse. Hay isn't good for guitars."

Omigod! A joke!

"I wanted to find a location that was really extreme," he X-games. "I believe that your environment effects your artistic expression."

Not much effect in Wyoming, is there?

"Exactly. We made a deal with the state. They paid for our album, and we're going to pump up their tourism."

Another joke!

"Will there be Jared Leeeeto commercials then?" I mispronounce ridiculously.

"Um, there will probably be Jared Leto commercials," he pummels me.

"Speaking of commercials, will you be doing any acting anytime soon?" I redirect.

"Right now, I'm just completely focused and committed to 30 Seconds to Mars," he seethes.

"But you're a bankable sex symbol," I play on.

"I don't know about that," his teeth grind, as if he's even about to convince me. As if!

"If you were gay, you'd be sleeping with me," I embarrass myself. "Admit it!"

"Really? Are you gay?" he flatters me. "You better put that in the interview."

Oh, I will. And I'll put that you made me gay.

"I've brought that out in a few men before."

"Jordan Catalano made me gay."

"You're crossing the borderline."

"Final question, Jordan," I line-'em-up. "Why are you like that?"

"I ... Have ... No ... Idea."