Morrissey is dead.

Not literally, of course. In terms of media exposure, the great and powerful Moz is more alive right now than he's been in years, what with the recent stunts he's pulled in the name of animal rights. But make no mistake: Steven Patrick Morrissey—the  Mancunian who, in the '80s, wrote the songs that made a whole generation of sexually confused lit majors clutch copies of The Picture of Dorian Gray and cry in their bedrooms—died long ago. Like Elvis or John Lennon, Morrissey is now less a person than an idea, an abstract concept that only truly exists in the minds of his most obsessive fans. 

This is problematic for someone in my position. Dead men make terrible interviews. And anyway, knowing Morrissey, he'd probably force me to sign a waiver promising not to eat meat for a month before talking to him on the phone. (I love the Smiths, but not enough to give up Slim Jims.) Rather than go through a whole process to inevitably get turned down, we decided to do the next best thing: Interview Jeremy Petersen, host of OPB's In House music program and frontman for Smiths tribute act This Charming Man, and ask him the same questions we'd pose of the actual Morrissey. 

WW: So, Morrissey, how are you feeling after your recent health scare?

"Morrissey": A bit surprised to be here, but the loins are girded and so forth. Aging before the public is one thing, but I don't ever plan to be a Rolling Stone.

You've been in the news lately more for your animal-rights activism than anything else. At what point do you worry about your militant vegetarianism overshadowing your music?

Outside of the title of what some have claimed is at once the worst Smiths song and best Smiths album [Meat Is Murder], I think the two have been kept sufficiently separate. Not that it's an either/or scenario. I don't need to sit with serial animal killers or sell out my beliefs in order for my music to be heard. 

Portland is a vegan-friendly town, but we also put bacon in everything. There's got to be one meat dish you are at least curious about trying while you're here. 

I'm not the least bit curious about the taste of death.

Smiths tribute acts have become something of a cottage industry. Being that you are Morrissey, what is your opinion of them?

I suppose I'm flattered. They're silly, but they probably mean well. By all means, if your city has one, heap your love and adoration upon them!

Many of your most fervent fans these days are young Latinos. How do you account for that?

As an outsider by birth and by choice, it's a status I've written about again and again in one way or another over the years. Perhaps that's something that Latino-Americans in particular are able to relate to. Maybe it's the quiff. In any case, the feeling is mutual.

What is your opinion of Johnny Marr's new solo album?

Do you mean the fact that it exists? I'm happy that one of us has a record deal.

What will it take to reunite the Smiths?

Only the dissolution of the British Royal Family. It would only be prudent to consider it at that point.

Now that you've reached an advanced point in your life and career, would you, Morrissey, describe yourself as a happy person?

I am generally happy, yes...or as much as can be reasonably expected, given the circumstances. But does it really matter either way?

SEE IT: Morrissey plays the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, on Friday, March 8. 9 pm. $53.50-$68.50. All ages.