Originally posted on DUM DUM Zine
DUM DUM: What are you drinking right now? DUM DUM is having a vodka soda with lime.
NewerYork: Whiskey with an ice cube and a splash of lemon juice.
DUM DUM: It’s a conversation of spirits! All right, onward we go. How were you conceived, NewerYork? Are you the bastard child of The New Yorker‘s tryst with an awesome punk?
NewerYork: I was born with the name Fuck the New Yorker, a product of my editor’s ADD and The New Yorker‘s endless articles on stories that already broke elsewhere. Though, more likely I am the result of whoopee between The New Yorker and one of Bukowski or Marshall McLuhan’s illegitimate children who happened to grow up normal, save that he had some deformity and/or happened to be sober.
DUM DUM: In DUM DUM’s mission statement for the “Tour of L.A.” summer writing workshops Free/Write/Shop, one of the mottos is “FUCK THE ACADEMY.” If you could fuck the academy, how would you? Please be specific in accordance with positions, durations, props.
NewerYork: I would take Webster’s Unabridged dictionary, and page-by-ripped-out-page stuff it in the academy’s orifices, especially the ones that hurt, and then ask softly: “How do you define success?”
DUM DUM: What is that set you off about the rigid literary powers that are Fiction and Poetry? Was it a specific piece of literature?
NewerYork: No specific piece of literature, though just to note: Jonathan Franzen IS an asshat of a human/writer. Today, he epitomizes the royalty and pedestal where writers and Literature are held that theNewerYork aims to crumble. I first heard the term “Experimental Literature” used at Random House where I was interning. It was in reference to Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. I was already pissed that many of the high level executives and editors at the world’s biggest book publisher were just (2010) beginning to adopt e-readers. My feelings were heightened by the fact that an author was deemed daring and experimental when they put a Powerpoint presentation into their book (Egan). theNewerYork is saying, “You think that’s experimental? Watch this.”
Also, I am in large inspired by the visual arts. Someone can shit in a bucket and put a plaque next to it and it might very well be displayed in a gallery. It has been this way for decades, and today, artists are doing some fantastic work: surface projection on the side of buildings, houses made of plants that grow out of the ground, etc, etc…In the literary world, technology has had an awkward fusing with words and creative writing…it’s not very creative to me. And I am sick and tired of the “Are books going to leave?” and “Do e-readers have a future?” debate. Just shut up and write or read whatever you want to. The future is coming regardless of whether you like the smell of books.
What sets me off is that the music and the arts world has gotten nuts experimental and we are still stuck with short stories and novels. Sure there have been some blips of creative experiments with literature, but none of it has become exposed or widespread. We are so caught up with capital “L” literature. I don’t know exactly what future I see for literature in the 21st century, but I don’t really care, I just want it to change and be excited about itself, break out of its shitty cardboard box and start exploring the world of language before libraries like YouTube make our population a-literate, and win out the war against a good narrative.
DUM DUM: theNewerYork fictional glossary prompt: fracking.
NewerYork: Fracking, n: When executives in offices in Dallas or somewhere safe use their Freudian extensions of bodies, usually 5,000 foot long steel rods filled with steaming chemicals, to fuck the Earth as hard as they can, to really find that G Spot and address their impotence, unhappy marriages, unending desire for greatness, and of course, my need of gas to get to Taco Bell by midnight.
DUM DUM: About Friday’s literary carnival: will there be whirling dervishes?
NewerYork: No whirling dervishes but there will be gay-hipster-literary-serial-killer clown characters. Time-traveling poets. Art canvases for people to make or break specific pieces from the magazine. There will be Literary Madlibs, art and books on sale, alcohol, a carnival band, a rapper spitting rhymes in Latin. And so many more absurdities.
DUM DUM: How about elephants? Will there be elephants? Tell us more about the event!
NewerYork: No elephants but there are some freaks in Silver Lake so who knows who will bring what.
The event is in a black box theatre with a patio. After drinking, hanging out, listening to some carnival music, painting on the group canvases and talking with the writers, we will move inside the theatre where the hilarious/visceral/frightening/weird narratives and performances will ensue. It is a perverted poetry reading. Not sexually perverted, perverted like the way a MadHouse mirror perverts your reflection. If literature is to be changed, so are literary readings. The crowd will be involved in the performances and we will take them on a roller coaster of narratives and emotion.
NewerYork: A shining example of how, when done correctly and with balance, form and presentation can be very complimentary to stories. That man’s get-up did not distract from the story, and without his makeup and costume, that video would be less interesting, less entertaining.
DUM DUM: Do you have any questions for me?
NewerYork: How can we get people to suck less?
DUM DUM: By publishing more. By covering the walls and every inch of public space we can harness, with writing. Because when it comes down to it, writing is inscribing. Whether it started in your head and ended up on a paper or a computer screen, the inscription makes it a physical act, act-actualization.
If we inscribe enough–cover enough–and by cover I mean onto a larger CANVAS, people will start to suck less and see more. SUCK LESS on a billboard in Los Angeles. SUCK MORE on concrete, low to the ground.
On that note, next question: L.A. experimental literature. Where do we take it?
NewerYork: We take it wherever we can. That’s not meant to be obtuse. We follow this simple rule: Do it different.
Don’t write JUST a short story, don’t write JUST a poem, don’t host JUST a literary reading. To force yourself to be different is scary, but it is also easy, and it is fun. If it uses words and syntax, it is literary. Our rule is BE EXPERIMENTAL WITHOUT BEING OBTUSE. We don’t want to alienate people and we DO want to tell stories. One day someone decided he didn’t want to rhyme his/her poems and literature and the world was changed forever. It is not the jettisoning of literary form, it is the fetishization, the exploitation, the exploration. You are a human, humans made every word we speak and every literary form, you have just as much power as Shakespeare to change the way we see and use language. Get weird.