Interview with Homeless
January 24, 2019
What the hell are you, anyway?
I’m a coiled ball of clogged arteries being batted around by a diabetic cat. But then the cat, already losing interest and growing bored, already losing steam, accidentally bats me under a couch. The cat wanders over to the couch, peers underneath, gives me a lazy, uninterested look, and, seeing I’m too far back to be reached, leaves me there. And I have no choice but to stay in place, collecting dust, thinking, “Things could be much better… Things could be much worse.”
Or the non-literary, less annoying, less douchey, more simple answer? I’m a 34 year old guy who likes cats and McDonald’s.
This Hasn’t Been a Very Magical Journey so Far is a debauched fairy tale of sorts. A book equal parts sleazy and tender. You called it “a children’s book for adults.” It made me smile and laugh throughout with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. It broke my heart. Why did you write it? What influenced you to hybridize these disparate styles into something singular?
I wrote this because it was the type of book I wanted to read. I really began reading kind of late in life. In my mid to late twenties. School had butchered literature for me. Forcing me to read books I had no interest in and then over analyzing those same books to death. So randomly after I graduated from college I had the idea to reread all of my favorite books from childhood, which was mainly all of Roald Dahl’s work. Turns out I loved those books just as much, if not more so as an adult. I found the imagination captivating. Especially as an adult who felt like he was always trying to hold on to what little imagination he had left. And from that derived my admiration of reading children’s fiction. As an adult. Which I still occasionally like to do although I’ve moved on to reading “adult” fiction.
On that note, your characters range from anthropomorphic animals, often cats, to wryly drawn humans with names like Hank Williams and Patsy Cline. Do you have cats? Listen to country music? Watch cartoons?
Yes, I have three cats. I loathe most country music, especially modern country music, but I think Hank Williams and Patsy Cline are brilliant. I love cartoons. Especially The Simpsons.
This Hasn’t Been a Very Magical Journey so Far is, above all, a love story and dreamy road trip novel, perfect for Valentine’s Day. It is poignant and playful, ultimately hugely romantic and philosophical. What experiences informed the decision to explore such a universal theme? Why do you think love stories and songs are so often sad?
I don’t think I was trying to explore a universal theme. This book was really just an attempted exorcism per say. It was me trying to expel myself of a certain girl. It kind of worked. It kind of didn’t. I think I learned you can never fully expel yourself of certain individuals. You just learn to live with the memories of them. And if they were ultimately good and kind to you then you give that person a nice little quaint place to live in your head. Keep them there. Stop by every once and awhile. Say hi. Then peace out. Rinse and repeat.
And I think songs and stories are often so sad because life is innately sad itself.
There’s an absurdist, bizarro streak to your work. Where do you get it? You call yourself a crap artist/shithead laureate. What does that mean?
Crap artist—an artist with no talent who creates art simply because he enjoys doing so and doesn’t expect anything from the art other than the fun of making it.
Shithead laureate—a writer who’s a silly shithead and doesn’t expect anyone to ever take him seriously but he still writes anyway because he doesn’t have much of an interest in anything else.
I think the absurdist streak just comes from wanting to do something that I feel is imaginative. Something fun and creative and unique. Because that’s what I’m really drawn to in the arts. Seeing something that is, of course, great, but also like something I’ve never experienced before.
You are based in New York. I lived there for a term myself. What are your thoughts on the literary and art scenes there? The way it’s always changing? Do you enjoy the concrete jungle? Does it inspire you? What about the culture do you find appealing or dismaying? And community in general?
I really don’t see much of a scene anywhere in NYC. I’m not sure why. Maybe because what was once a great city where artists could flourish is simply becoming a playground for the rich? Or maybe because I don’t know where to look for a scene. Or maybe I’m just not even sure if I want to look for a scene.
As much as I love the idea of “scenes” or “communities,” both always seem to inevitably become nothing more than a small group of artistic friends circle jerking each other and anointing those close to them. Scenes always seem to become very exclusive to me, and, therefore, excluding. Scenes always seem to involve a lot of kissing the same rings.
But, at the same time, I love the idea of being surrounded by creative people who inspire you. I’ve just never found a scene that’s openly supportive. Where it’s people creating because they love creativity rather than artists just trying to become more well known and popular. Maybe such a place doesn’t exist. However, it’s just been my repeated experience that in the literature and street art and music scenes I have dabbled in it’s just a lot of people trying to sell themselves, which, I dunno… gets exhausting to be around. And which I don’t find to be particularly inspiring either.
The trite but quintessential question: which authors, musicians, comedians, filmmakers, artists influence you?
I like this trite question because, although I feel weird talking about myself, I love talking about people I love. Like Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Roald Dahl, Richard Brautigan, Tom Robbins, punk rock, The Ramones, Green Day, Basquiat, Invader… I tend become obsessive about artists I admire. I consume everything they’ve made, I read biographies on them, watch documentaries on them. I consume them until there’s nothing left. Then I find someone new to obsess over.
I guess this kind of makes me sound like a serial killer but so far I haven’t killed anyone, which I’m pretty proud of.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on another novel and I’m also in the process of working with this great artist who’s turning this screenplay I wrote into a graphic novel. I’m pretty bonered up about that.
Who, or what, do you write for?
I write for the little fat kid I used to be. The very same one who used to sit in his room and write stories and make drawings but then was forced to grow up and work shitty dead end job after shitty dead end job. He had a hard time. He was wildly unpopular in school and had acne and thought he’d probably never get to touch a boob. Creativity was all he had. It was all that got him by. I write in memory of him.