These days, Mayer, unlike many of his peers, focuses on staying in contact with the silent majority of his fans: people who don't come backstage or post on the Internet. "Celebrities are the world's worst data gatherers," Mayer says. "We're day-trading in a small sliver of a demographic: people who read a third-rate gossip website and just have to post comments. Why would I want to jockey for position intellectually with people who read Perez Hilton or X17online.com?"

Perhaps wary of sounding uncharitable, he pulls back a little. "I appreciate that if you come home after making staplers all day, you might want to sit down and incite somebody on the Internet. They're exercising a voice. I get that. I'm lucky because I get a really big voice."

Mayer sometimes utilizes that voice on what he calls "my quest to annoy." Let him explain: "Hopefully, I'll get you on something—hit you with one song, and you'll go [jaded-hipster affect], 'Act-ually, I've gotta say, that song's my jam! But I still think he's a douchebag as a guy. . ."

When he's not adding to his impressive collections of watches, guitars, and automobiles, Mayer is clearly obsessing about those people who, for whatever reason, find him loathsome. "What if I had a booth on the street and I said, 'Attention, everybody who hates me: If you have a problem with me, I'm ready to hear your gripes! I will be outside the Barneys store on 60th Street from two to four this afternoon. I will not be speaking to fans. I will only be speaking to people who do not like me. Come out and let me have it. I will not speak back.'

"How many people do you think would be standing there? I'm talking about people getting the chance to tell me directly, 'I think you're a douchebag.' You know how many people would do it? Ze-ro. You know what they'd do? They'd walk up and say, 'I'm just messin' with ya.' And you know what I'd say? I'd say, 'You're a douchebag!'"

Mayer's surprisingly detailed revenge fantasy is almost drowned out by a genuine douchebag at an adjacent table: some middle-aged Hollywood type loudly acting out his own personal Entourage fantasy, 20 years too late. "When I first met you two gals, you were naked!" he brays at a couple of expensive-looking female companions.