A Long Distance Telephone Call
by joseph ridgwell
McCreesh: Hiya Joe, whaddya know?
Ridgwell: I’m on the dago red
Ridgwell: right, where do we start
McCreesh: Laphroaig this morning. The goddamned cork is dry, so I better finish the bottle.
McCreesh: So — we talked briefly about this ridiculous article declaring the “literary bad boy” either dead or pointless.
Ridgwell: and purile
Ridgwell: typical hack work
Ridgwell: And not very informative, was it New Yorker
Ridgwell: or NYT
McCreesh: The article was a joke. And they said no one was worth mentioning if they were a literary bad boy.
Ridgwell: What about literary bad girls?
McCreesh: And I’m not even sold on there having once been literary bad boys…so much as it was simply a way to sell books, and had little to do with the writing.
McCreesh: Or literary bad girls.
Ridgwell: Yep, there are just really great male writers, who maybe liked to drink and fornicate and partake of thee old narcotics. At the end of the day that probably didn’t have much to do with the writing, or maybe it did
McCreesh: Off the top of my head, I can think of folks whose writing might be categorized as such — and they’re all pretty solid writers.
Ridgwell: Aye. Writing comes in all forms. I myself prefer the ones who write with courage, verve, exburance
McCreesh: So, writers like Bukowski, Fante, Henry Miller…
Ridgwell: A good deal of writers today, write well, but the books are dull. I refer to it as safe writing.
McCreesh: The masters wrote with great humor, and guts.
Ridgwell: Certainly did
McCreesh: Where are the folks today who are doing it right?
Ridgwell: Well, I only have limited experience, in that I know of a few, but of course there could be loads more out there that I’ve never heard of
Ridgwell: Cookie Mueller was a literary bad girl
McCreesh: I have found a lot of tough writing coming out of the UK.
McCreesh: I’ve got most of your books, and enjoy the hell out of them.
McCreesh: Lots of fine writers out of Pittsburgh right now.
McCreesh: And there are folks dotting the map.
Ridgwell: The UK underground scene is vibrant, but an interesting aspect is that they are influenced by American writers
Ridgwell: but mostly dead American writers
Ridgwell: where are the John Fantes, Richard Brautigan’s and Bukowski’s of today
McCreesh: Culturally the UK stills seems to invest in and care about writing.
Ridgwell: You strike me as a startlingly original American poet, but you appear to be operating in a cultural vacuum
Ridgwell: Are there any lit movements over there, like the Offbeat Generation,
McCreesh: I think a few U.S. cities have lit scenes — but they don’t enjoy any sort of systematic support from their local or federal govt.
Ridgwell: fuck the govt
Ridgwell: there’s nothing worse than getting handouts from corrupt regimes
Ridgwell: any artist who does that loses all credibility
McCreesh: Well there’s certainly no danger of that happening any more.
McCreesh: In order to even be considered for such things you already need to be some sort of established academic.
Ridgwell: the writer, writing is a solitary pursuit, has to go it alone
Ridgwell: Educational establishments appear to harbour and promote mediocrity
Ridgwell: To be a genuine underground writer you have to have balls. Like John Lennon once said, they hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool
McCreesh: I actually think that now, more than ever before, it’s easy to be the writer you want to be…and there are no reasons to do any of what you don’t want to do.
Ridgwell: that’s true, but it’s a hard road to travel.
Ridgwell: In my view though, it’s worth it as reputation is everything.
Ridgwell: just got grab a beer
McCreesh: I look forward to the next Ridgwell book, and the next and the next. You’ve got a few presses that will do your books up right, and that, my friend, is all we need.
McCreesh: Sitting right next to me I’ve got LOAD THE GUNS from Blackheath, and A CHILD OF THE JAGO from Kilmog.
McCreesh: You’ve got something in the works with Bottle of Smoke Press.
Ridgwell: You know whenever I show those sorts of publications to mainstream people, it blows their minds
McCreesh: As rightly it should.
Ridgwell: the craftsmanship etc
McCreesh: They fucking bring it.
Ridgwell: truly, but it always makes me smile
Ridgwell: gotta Singha beer, Thai beer, reminds me of my Buddha Bar days
McCreesh: They are amazing artists.
McCreesh: Ah, BUDDHA BAR — another gorgeous book.
McCreesh: If people ONLY buy books from megabookstores then they will never see the vibrant small press masterpieces created every year.
Ridgwell: But I don’t want to be too critical of the mainstream. Most times it’s not their fault as such. There are some good people working in it, but they are controlled by bean counters. I feel sorry for them. Often they are bitter about it, you know kinda frustrated
McCreesh: With the internet, social media, all the various ways to spread information about there’s no excuse for people to simply accept what’s on the shelves.
Ridgwell: You know as well as I do, that you can put stuff out online and it disappears into an information highway blackhole
McCreesh: White noise — to be sure.
Ridgwell: Anyway, what about your booze book, you’ve been promoting the fuck out of it – worthwhile or soul-sapping?
McCreesh: I thought of promo for the book as an experiment.
Ridgwell: You know I love to drink and get drunk, and defo have a deep and gorgeous thirst,
Ridgwell: not to sayan unquenchable thirst
Ridgwell: but it’s a big book of poetry
McCreesh: I’ve been writing some 15 years now, and promo — to me — seemed pointless. The white noise again.
Ridgwell: about booze, where did you get the inspiration?
McCreesh: Mainly I just remember all my drunken escapades, and found a way to write them that worked.
McCreesh: Promo for it has been a lot more fun than I expected.
Ridgwell: so, you’ve been drunk a good deal
McCreesh: Not nearly enough!
McCreesh: I love drinking.
McCreesh: It’s a joyous fucking enterprise.
Ridgwell: Some of the poems were quite existential, or so I thought.
McCreesh: I told myself I’d push this book as hard as I could just to see what, if anything, came of it.
Ridgwell: I take my hat off to you ya for effort
McCreesh: And I believe there is value in pushing. I imagine all books from here on out will have a promotional period.
Ridgwell: I couldn’t do the same, don’t have the energy, but I like the way you’ve gone about it. It’s like fuck it, I’m gonna have to do this myself
McCreesh: But you have to do it in a way that’s fun…for yourself if not others too.
McCreesh: And that’s truly it: at the end of the day, the outlaw, the rebel, the true artist wants to do it themselves.
McCreesh: You’ve got an event for JAGO coming up.
McCreesh: That’s exactly what I mean.
Ridgwell: As you know, my partner, Miss Urchin Belle, is getting pretty famous. Last six months all she’s done is promo work. Can’t get any writing done, and is constantly bitching about it. D’ya think it takes away from the writing at all?
McCreesh: Get some booze, book a mitt joint, drink too much, and sell a few books.
McCreesh: That’s the stuff that matters.
McCreesh: Not fucking NYTimes articles saying literary bad boys don’t exist, or aren’t worth your time.
Ridgwell: Yep, Jago reading is coming up week after next, but I see that more as a big party. I don’t like reading, not very good at it. Usually only do one a year or less if I can
McCreesh: It absolutely keeps you from writing…while it’s happening.
Ridgwell: I think so, but breaks can benefit a wrier
McCreesh: These are the first readings I have ever done. And I don’t feel comfortable — but try very hard to give a good read.
Ridgwell: Yay, when doing something or committing to something, best to give it your best shot
McCreesh: I saw a bit from Rock/Rap producer Rick Rubin in the TV.
Ridgwell: beastie boys
McCreesh: He said, as advice for bands, make music, record it, go out and do shows– and don’t pretend that it happens any other way.
McCreesh: And it’s true.
McCreesh: Put your fucking heart and soul into what you’re doing — and then go share it with anyone smart enough to get it.
Ridgwell: Writers can hide away, but not forever, at some point they have to come out and face the music
Ridgwell: some names to drop into the hat
McCreesh: I think of it like this: If you don’t grab people by their throat say “just give it a look — you’ll like this” then they never will.
Ridgwell: Michael Keenaghan and Jose Arroyo. I think at some point both will cross over
Ridgwell: Jose’s from Calif
McCreesh: His woodcuts are gorgeous.
Ridgwell: He’s doing the artwork for my SS collection on BOSP
McCreesh: That’s a fine fine thing!
McCreesh: He needs to do a cover for Burrito Deluxe!
Ridgwell: Talk about blowing one’s own trumpet, but I think that collection will twist a few melons
Ridgwell: Ha, Burrito Deluxe, it’s a road book that has become like On the Road, first started writing that in 2003
Ridgwell: and still not in print
McCreesh: Well, just like ON THE ROAD, it’ll hit, and you’ll fall apart, disappear into the bottle.
Ridgwell: Lots of interest, publishers don’t know what to do with it
McCreesh: Fuck ’em.
Ridgwell: It’s a book without a plot. note to wanna be writers, include a plot
McCreesh: It’s gonna be fine.
McCreesh: Unless you want to write a world changer like TROPIC OF CANCER.
Ridgwell: And it’s a little misogynistic. Note to wannabe writers. Don’t go there.
McCreesh: If a plot organically grows out of a thing we’re writing, great — if not, who gives a shit?
Ridgwell: fucking a
Ridgwell: so, what you got planned next, what’s up Hosho’s sleeve
McCreesh: Follow one goddamned compass: your own spirit.
McCreesh: This year I’m finishing Chinese Gucci.
McCreesh: My first novella.
McCreesh: In fact, starting March 18th — that’s all I want to be doing.
Ridgwell: Promo. I’ve got two copies of Marching Unabashed. One for me one for Jenni. note to collectors, be jealous
McCreesh: My THIRST promo will be done. No readings booked.
Ridgwell: Good, get the word down
McCreesh: It’s 70% there.
McCreesh: And I’m loving it so far.
McCreesh: Think a Japanese Holden Caulfield meets Under the Volcano.
McCreesh: Also, he sells fake purses on eBay.
Ridgwell: Liking it
McCreesh: Juarez, Mexico — one of the murdering-est places in North America these past few years, plays a decent role in the book.
McCreesh: And the lead, Akira, is a world-class shit that I just can’t help but root for.
Ridgwell: I don’t know what’s going on in Mexico, it’s like drugs have reverted them back to the violence of the Aztec era. Legalise drugs!
McCreesh: Not the drug so much as the black market for them!
McCreesh: It’s capitalism failing on a grand scale.
Ridgwell: You know I travelled extensively through Mexico in the last days of the last century, and all I found was peace and love. But then, I was a gringo
McCreesh: It’s so stupid. Would you risk get your throat cut over an ounce — or would you prefer to buy it at the local drug store?
Ridgwell: Looking at life through the eye of the cactus. (Peyote)
McCreesh: That’s fantastic.
McCreesh: Legalize it; tax it like booze; help anyone who wants off the shit get off but otherwise keep it safe.
McCreesh: And make a pretty goddamned penny doing it.
McCreesh: Maybe then the govt could fund a decent art project or two?
Ridgwell: you know Hosh, they never will, not while we’re alive anyway
McCreesh: Well, if they were doing things like guaranteeing you had the chance to be the person you want to be — instead of some 40hr/wk drone — then a lot fewer people would say “Fuck the govt!”
McCreesh: I know, I know…I can’t help it. I’m a dreamer.
McCreesh: I think we should put every idea through my Caveman-o-meter:
Ridgwell: Don’t get me started on work
McCreesh: if it doesn’t make sense to a caveman, then maybe we don’t need it.
Ridgwell: At present I’m very anti-work
McCreesh: Work is a hard thing to not be ANTI about.
McCreesh: Work sucks: that’s why they give you money to be there.
Ridgwell: Have read the essay by US anarchist Bob Black
McCreesh: But, like the true artist — man, I want to control my own destiny as much as is possible.
Ridgwell: The abolition of work?
McCreesh: I vote yes.
Ridgwell: I’m with William Blake
Ridgwell: I must create my own system or be enslaved by another man’s
McCreesh: If we can figure out how to not fucking want shit we don’t need and not eat each other in the process.
Ridgwell: fucker wrote that over two hundred years ago. Nothing changes
Ridgwell: I need a rich benefactor
Ridgwell: Know any millionaires?
McCreesh: Shit — Ben Myers posted something by Basho about how stupid “useless toil” is…that was in the 6th century!!!
McCreesh: Not Basho — Li Po, my bad.
McCreesh: I’ll read that…Monday…at work!
Ridgwell: Ha, yeah Li Po wrote an awesome poem about a young man moon gazing, but then has to get up and work in the paddy field next day
McCreesh: fucking horseshit.
Ridgwell: Flip side, is that work is great for gathering material
McCreesh: Not sure why mankind invented all this busy work, this shuffling of shit from inbox to outbox…
Ridgwell: as a writer I mean
McCreesh: But I don’t imagine we’ll someday just grow tired of it and give it up.
Ridgwell: All those shit jobs I did, all that human activity and characters. I wouldn’t be the same writer without having had to go thru that shit.
McCreesh: Doesn’t matter. My job keeps my roof, and keeps me in Laproaig.
McCreesh: It fuels me, even as it takes my precious time.
Ridgwell: Like I say to all aspiring writers, don’t give up the day job
Ridgwell: But make that day job work for you
Ridgwell: that’s rebellion
McCreesh: But I’ll sack up…I’ll gut it out. And, when I get retired, like my gal’s old man, I’ll do nothing but drink, write, paint, live, laugh, clean the pool, and marvel at how fucking amazing life is when you do it right.
Ridgwell: what is a rebel? A man who says no.
McCreesh: A man who balances the juice vs. the squeeze.
Ridgwell: I’m on the verge of walking out of my job
McCreesh: Uh oh — bottles empty!
Ridgwell: Got offered a small package. Been in same job for 13 years. Gonna walk of into the sunset
McCreesh: Man — I can make a case for keeping yours, or dumping it.
McCreesh: Either one is fine. Either one works.
McCreesh: Someday the sun will devour all human effort (save the shit we’ve jettisoned beyond her reach) and none of this shit will matter.
Ridgwell: could be worse mistake I’ve ever made, but gonna do it anyway
McCreesh: A fiery cataclysm unmaking all that was made.
Ridgwell: First six months gonna write a new novel
McCreesh: We are but a pale blue dot hurtling through the vast empty black.
McCreesh: And everything’s gonna be just fine!
Ridgwell: then pray to the gods to look after me
McCreesh: They will!
McCreesh: Your a fucking writer, for christ’s sake!
McCreesh: You are favored by the gods!
Ridgwell: Gonna have to cut this short Hosh, ribeye steak and 2nd bottle of red is calling.
McCreesh: You lucky bastard.
Ridgwell: Think more productive than last interview
McCreesh: I think i should eat something. The Laproaig seems to be working!
Ridgwell: those gods are smiling, for the moment anyway
McCreesh: Man, fuck it — even when it’s terrible, they’re giving us all we need.
McCreesh: Great books are born of our ridiculous fucking suffering!
Ridgwell: Aye, eat, drinking on an empty stomach leads to blackout time
McCreesh: I know — and it’s barely past noon here!
Ridgwell: I’ll think about that as I eat my steak, hehehe
McCreesh: Good chat, man.
Ridgwell: adios amigo
McCreesh: Glad to know you, my good man.
Ridgwell: Stay groovy, man.
McCreesh: Enjoy the weekend.
McCreesh: They’ll put us back in our cage soon enough.
And for all you freebie screwball lovers:
Hosho McCreesh is giving away the DrunkSkull Survival Kit ($50 worth of fabulous prizes!). The Kit will include: -a copy of the book -a recycled wine-bottle glass with the DrunkSkull logo on it -a jar of Fiery Gardens Artisan Jams & Jellies, -a DrunkSkull fridge magnet, -some stickers -temporary tattoos -a coaster -a patch
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Note: This is one stop #10 on the tour — and fiends should check out the other stops too. (click on link below)
Milk Race fanatics, of course I never forget you far out fruits: