C&C: What do you have in your pockets?
I only wear (Levi’s) 511s so I don’t have a lot of pocket space. Right now, I’ve got my phone, a button from the Cock Sparrer show a couple weeks ago that I can’t seem to take out of my pocket because I’m still trying to relive that set, a receipt for parking from the MWA dinner last night, a to-do list for writing, a to-do list for the house, a grocery list and a to-do list of my to-do lists. I’m not joking about the last one. I really wish I was. I can’t help it.
C&C: You’re a tattoo artist? What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to tattoo on someone/the strangest story of a tattoo session (or both)?
I help run a shop but don’t actually tattoo. A couple of my friends said I could tattoo them but I’ve never gotten round to it. That aside, I’ve been hanging out at shops for the last ten years and have seen a bunch of weird stuff. Probably my favorite was at Inksmith and Rogers in Jacksonville. This dude wanted a super-realistic indian chief head on his shoulder with an American flag waving behind it and an eagle somewhere in there. I said, ‘You do understand the relationship between indians and Americans, right?’ to which he replied, ‘Yeah, but I wanted the flag waving, like the wind’s blowing real hard.’ Another guy down there wanted USMC written in Kanji. I asked him the same question (but with Chinese subbed for indian) and mentioned the threat of nuclear oblivion and he called me a hippie faggot. Florida’s got all kinds of great stories for tattoos.
The ones we see most now are either meaningful words/Beatles lyrics in script on the ribs or all these college girls who come in to get a cross on their wrist. When you get a tattoo, it should be oriented for the viewer, not the wearer. They don’t listen to us when we tell them that so there are a bunch of Prada girls walking around Baltimore with upside-down crosses on their wrists. It’s the small things in life you have to appreciate.
C&C: How many tattoos do you have?
Five: My arms, my legs and my torso.
C&C: What was your first job?
I worked at a steak stand then a sausage stand in the Renaissance Festival for two years when I was 14 and 15. If you haven’t seen the Ren Fest, it’s basically people dressing up in medieval swag and drinking beer from oversized steins and eating drumsticks of meat and it’s an excuse for debauchery and public vomiting. My bosses liked me because I was clever and people wanted to see a fourteen-year-old kid yelling out these incredibly innuendo-laden calls for people to eat my meat and whatnot. It was horribly inappropriate but I thought it was funny. I always wanted to be one of the jouster-people but the guy told me I was too fat. He was a dick.
There was a dumpling stand a couple doors down from us. We’d trade steak and sausage for their whipped cream cans and do whip-its in the back path area. It looked like a teenage Vietnam, all these kids laid out from whip-its. The customers always complained because there was never any whipped cream for their dumplings.
C&C: What did you scribble and draw on your notebooks/desks in school?
When I was in kindergarten I drew turtles with speech bubbles that said School Sucks. I’d show them to this girl, Kathy, who sat beside me and she’d laugh, so I’d draw more. My family went to the same church as my teachers, so they’d tell my parents and they’d ground me. I think middle/high school was mainly Guns-n-Roses pictures, Nirvana, Bones Brigade and Kryptonics logos and those little flipbook drawing of people doing tricks I couldn’t figure out how to do on a real board. I still can’t do them, actually; even 25 years later, all I do is big slow ollies and power slides. I’d also copy these creepy drawings I found in various books that Kurt Cobain did. I was big into Nirvana. Real big. Hearing ‘Lithium’ for first time changed the way I thought about things and I’m convinced if it wasn’t for that song, I wouldn’t be who I am today. That got me heavily into punk rock (because I could never find the bands that were in the old Powell Peralta videos when my mom took me to Sam Goody [remember when CDs came in those gigantic packages? Like the liner cards or whatever they’re called for books? And you could grip a rack of cassettes like an eight-track Wolverine?]) I started writing songs–which led into shitty Beat poems which led to shitty Nick Hornby stories which led to the shitty Jim Thompson stories I write now–when I was around thirteen and would find these random Nirvana bootlegs and appropriate his lyrics as my own because my friends hadn’t heard the songs. They said, ‘Man! That sounds just like Nirvana!’ and I’d say, ‘Yeah, I was just messing around and it happened.’ I remember crying when my Bestamor (grandmother) died, and crying when my parents told me they were getting divorced, but I bawled when I heard Kurt Cobain did himself. Well, I don’t think he actually killed himself and have heard pretty convincing arguments from people in that circle, but that’s a different story.
What was the question again? Oh yeah. Courtney Love can suck it.
C&C: Is Halloween your favorite holiday? And do you trick-or-treat?
Totally, though I also really like the four weeks leading up to Christmas, what with all the decorations and music and people being relatively civil with each other. I don’t care much about Christmas Day because I feel uncomfortable with people buying me stuff (residual Catholic Guilt) and I’ve been working since I was fourteen, so I can buy what I need myself.
But, yeah, Halloween. We actually just brought up our decorations and are super stoked to scare-up the house. Last year was the first time I’d gone trick-or-treating because I took my son, but I went all the time when I was younger. Probably the reason I’ve had most of my teeth filled. My Wee One is going as a bee this year and wife will be the queen bee, but I can’t find a costume to look like Yaritza Burgos, so I don’t know what I’ll be. Possibly a skeleton or werewolf. They’re classic for a reason.
On a related note, they should make sequel to Trick-R-Treat every year rather than remaking all the good old movies.
C&C: No meat at all? Health or philosophy, or both?
I started eating seafood when I was 22 because my doctor told me I’d have a stroke in ten years if I didn’t change my diet, so I’m not a vegetarian. Well, I call myself an 80s-vegetarian, back when fish wasn’t meat and ketchup was a vegetable. It started at philosophy, though the hardline stance has softened over the years. As long as the animals are humanely raised and slaughtered with no hormones and crap, I don’t have a problem with it. I do think everyone should see an animal both before it’s slaughtered and during, just so they have an appreciation for it. That’s my whole outlook on food, though, is that there’s a very large disconnect between what’s in the fields and what’s on our tables. Industrial farming has ruined our relationship with our meals for a number of years. It’s nice to see the local-food movement taking our bodies back from government subsidies.
C&C: Which Batmobile is your favorite? Go back to Adam West’s for the show, all the way through Bale’s Tumbler, give it a think and tell me your honest opinion.
Tim Burton’s. I like Adam West’s as an actual car more than the Batmobile, and though the Nolan one is pretty gnarly, it’s a little too high-tech for me. Don’t get me started on that Bat-wing thing. I wanted to see Batman, not Independence Day dressed in black.
C&C: What was your first pet?
A box turtle called Boxey, a chameleon called Chameley, a beta fish called Betty and a huge tortoise called Biggie. If you read my books, you’ll see that same creativity at work. The first pet I had who was actually mine was a cat called Isabela, named after Bela Lugosi because she drew blood from me on a regular basis. She was my homegirl for ten years and I had to put her down last winter. I bawled like a little girl with a skinned knee. I wanted to get a tattoo for her, but a dude with a picture of his cat on him isn’t very tough.
C&C: How many times have you seen Back to the Future?
Enough that I’ve used it to build a class lecture on narrative chronology (which none of the class understood because they’d never seen BttF [Fitzgerald did not write about The Damned Generation; I teach them]) and written an essay about the inherent time-ism (prejudice regarding era as opposed to race or class) of the movie for my Masters program. My professors weren’t nearly as impressed as I’d thought they’d be. Sometimes Brits have no sense of humor. I also wrote the main points of that essay into a conversation in my book Stay God but cut it out because it wandered a bit too far.
So, a couple times.