MY BLOOD IS BASICALLY MOLDY COFFEE AND DOG PISS: An Interview with Artist/Writer Michael Seymour Blake
By Brian Alan Ellis
Michael Seymour Blake once randomly sent me a video of himself cussing and spitting at his own reflection in a bathroom mirror. He’s one of my favorite artists.
BRIAN ALAN ELLIS: Leza Cantoral just asked me to do a monthly column for CLASH Media. *LOL*
MICHAEL SEYMOUR BLAKE: About what?
BAE: Anything. Maybe I’ll interview people. Interested?
MSB: The fuck would anyone care what I had to say? *LOL*
BAE: I do. You say some pretty interesting shit. I want the interview to be casual. Like, none of that “Who are your influences?” crap.
MSB: If you want to then sure, but I won’t be the first.
BAE: Why not?
MSB: Not into that.
BAE: Interview has already started.
MSB: Just copy/paste out entire chats. Done.
BAE: I will. If you’re into it.
MSB: That would be a monster of a task.
BAE: First question: Why do you live in New York City? Do you like the smell of garbage… the dashed dreams… the horrible people?
MSB: I’m change averse.
BAE: So the smell of garbage/dashed dreams/horrible people is ingrained in your entire being?
MSB: My blood is basically moldy coffee and dog piss.
BAE: Great answer. You should tweet that.
MSB: *puts into “tweet later” file*
BAE: We both have this weird Sly Stallone fetish. Can having a Stallone fetish improve one’s art?
MSB: I think the work speaks for itself. Nothing can improve our art.
BAE: Not even after the charge one gets after watching Demolition Man? I find that hard to swallow. What do your parents think of your art? Do they rock your t-shirts?
MSB: My mom likes it because she’s my mom. My dad seems confused by it but kind of has the “whatever makes you happy, I guess” attitude. You’re not using any of this because it’s ridiculous, by the way.
BAE: I totally am.
MSB: Go ahead, it’s your funeral. And mine too, I guess. I can already see the glazed over eyes of anyone who dares read this shit. My name is pretty much trash, but you have a rep to maintain.
BAE: Do you have any rituals when you make your art, like listening to music or lighting candles, or do you just make art while complaining to me on Facebook messenger about how little talent you think you have?
MSB: I don’t have a ritual. Rituals are for people who are next level thinkers and creators, usually. A lot of great artists have rituals. If I have a ritual, it’s to freak the fuck out about something, scribble onto a piece of paper, and then eat cereal.
BAE: Are there any artists you’d like to karate chop in the face, besides yourself?
MSB: 100%. That was a gut reaction to that question. No, I don’t literally want to karate chop anyone, unless they are physically attacking me or someone near me.
BAE: When was the last time you were in a physical altercation with someone, and how was it?
MSB: I got into a few major fights in middle school, but my last altercation was probably in 10th grade. Maybe 9th. I crept up behind this guy I kind of knew during lunch period and put him in a fake rear naked choke. Well, he didn’t like that very much. He was bigger than me and he flipped me over his head like a bag of marshmallows. Right onto the slate floor. Maybe it was slate. It was hard. I started kicking him in the knees and shins from where I landed to keep him at bay, which worked until the “fight” got broken up. While waiting to be scolded by the principal we both were like, “Hey that was really pointless and weird.” We made up before getting detention.
BAE: I was in one fight in 6th grade. It happened at the bus stop in front of the trailer park we both lived at. I let this kid with missing teeth punch me in the face a lot. When I got tired of him punching me in the face, I put him in a weird head scissors hold until he wore himself out. He tried to be my friend in 7th grade but I wasn’t really feeling it. What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you in high school?
MSB: When I had dreads a jock literally stood up in class and leaned out into the hallway and yelled, “WASH YOUR HAIR, FREAK!” and the teacher didn’t do shit about it. The most embarrassing part was no one reprimanded him at all. High school was pretty insane for me. I don’t get embarrassed easily, but that story just popped in my head, so…
BAE: I was anorexic in 9th grade and weighed probably 90 pounds and this kid called me a concentration camp victim in class and nobody, not even the teacher, said anything. That was pretty cool.
MSB: I had another instance where, in home economics class, a guy put me in a bear hug. He was squeezing the shit out of me and I couldn’t break free so I leaned in and kissed him on the lips. He always spoke about how gross gay people are so I knew it would stagger him. It totally worked. He was shocked and kept yelling, “THE GUY KISSED ME! HE’S NUTS!” He never had a problem with me after that.
BAE: One of the best high school stories I’ve ever heard. Wish I’d thought of that.
MSB: It could have went a very different way. Pure desperation. Surprisingly, I was never bullied because of my height or acne, never, only for my clothing. My high school was crazy with bullying and beating the shit out of people, specifically “freaks,” which I was considered until I got into punk and hardcore, then people kind of lost track of who or what I was.
BAE: Would you say you are the poet laureate of popping zits?
MSB: I try not to pop them unless they are white these days. I used to squeeze my undergrounds until they did something, but now I don’t touch them. They still get red as fuck, but I feel like they maybe don’t get AS red? I really don’t know. Oh, uh… to answer your question… prolly not.
BAE: Do you ever miss having dreads, like do you have dreams where you still have dreads?
MSB: Not really, and no I don’t. I have a bunch in a Ziploc bag somewhere in storage though.
BAE: This went pretty well, digging up some of our past trauma, like being anorexic and having dreads, so last question… If someone cared about you enough to publish one of those big, stupid, expensive hardcover books filled with your art that some asshole would keep on their coffee table to seem dope, what would you title it?
MSB: I don’t know… Half-Assed Nonsense from a Mediocre Fuck or something.
MICHAEL SEYMOUR BLAKE is the author/illustrator of 12 Days of Santa Crying. His work has appeared in Entropy, Fanzine, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Talking Book, Paper Darts, People Holding, Autre, and Reality Beach. He has painted various murals around NYC, including one that was prominently featured at Silent Barn in Brooklyn, home to the new Mellow Pages Library. He lives in Queens. www.michaelseymourblake.com
BRIAN ALAN ELLIS edits the literary journal Tables Without Chairs, and is the author of three novellas, three short-story collections, a book of humorous non-fiction, and Something to Do with Self-Hate, a novel. His writing has appeared at Juked, Hobart, Monkeybicycle, Literary Orphans, DOGZPLOT, jmww, Heavy Feather Review, Connotation Press, Electric Literature, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, People Holding, Hypertext Review, Queen Mob’s Tea House, The Collapsar, Fear No Lit, Talking Book, and Atticus Review, among other places. He lives in Florida. brianalanellis.tumblr.com