Awful Interview: Bryan Furuness

8 Jul

Bryan Furuness is reading at the Vouched Presents DOGZPLOT Literature Party on July 18th, a place where you should be if you’re in the area, and hell, there are planes and you can fly to Indy if you’re not. Basically, you should be here to see him read.

Futurist Ray Kurzweil has made the following predictions about Bryan Furuness:

In 2017, Bryan will be the first man to be fully integrated with a machine. He will try to get people to call him “Mr. Roboto” or “Terminator F”, but, like all self-granted nicknames, these don’t stick, and he becomes known as “Robodork.”

In 2023, the robotic parts of Bryan will declare war against the fleshy parts, which will result in Bryan hitting himself in the face while saying, over and over, “Why are you hitting yourself? Why are you hitting yourself?”

In 2031, Japanese scientists will grow a new, fully-grown Bryan in a basement in Spokane. In an attempt to prove Bryan 2.0’s superiority over Bryan 1.0, the scientists arrange a public chess match, which will go awry when neither Bryan can remember if the pawns can jump each other, and before the scientists can intervene, Bryan 2.0 sticks two bishops up his nose and goes, “King me,” at which point Bryan 1.0 laughs so hard he knocks over the board. The scientists’ weeping will be heard from blocks away.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your day job?

I’m from Indiana, the part around Gary that calls itself “the Region,” or, when it’s feeling especially clingy, claims to be part of “Chicagoland.”

I write, teach, and edit. At coffee shops, Butler, and Booth and On Earth As it Is, respectively.

I’m always intrigued by creative minds, how they do what they do. Where do you get your ideas? Do you have a Muse?

Daydreams. I’m an inveterate daydreamer. But I don’t have a Muse. I think you’re only issued one of those if you’re a poet. From the eighteenth century. Who’s wearing a frilly shirt. And a sexy, pouty expression. Dammit, now I’m daydreaming about Byron.

What do you think about the word “soul”?

I like it, especially when it’s followed by “train.”

Do you like rap music? Why/why not?

Does anyone call it rap anymore? Besides white guys over thirty? A group that includes me, so maybe I shouldn’t cast stones, since I do feel weird every time I say “hip-hop,” because in my heart it’s still rap.

I grew up watching Yo! MTV Raps with Fab Five Freddy, and later Doctor Dre (no, not that Dr. Dre) and Ed Lover. And I wasn’t just a casual watcher, either. I taped the episodes and watched them over and over, and called my buddy Jim Boren afterwards to talk about it as breathlessly as any tween ever talked about Justin Bieber. Did you see that new MC Hammer video? Hammer, don’t hurt ’em!

Rap was it for me back then. I practiced the Ed Lover dance in front of the full-length mirror in my bedroom, I beat-boxed along with my Fat Boys tapes, and I played the Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill to death. The black tape just snapped; I wore that sucker out. So I went to Kmart and laid down twelve bucks for another one.

I wasn’t alone, either. Almost everyone I knew in high school had a Public Enemy tape in their car, and in college, you weren’t cool if you couldn’t quote lines from The Chronic. But after that, something happened. White guys my age stopped listening to new rap. They still held the old stuff in their hearts—play NWA’s “Express Yourself” for any middle-aged account executive and watch his eyes light up—but that was just nostalgia. When guys my age listen to new music now, it’s what we used to call “alternative,” but what now seems to be mainstream rock. Stuff that ranges from Cake to Modest Mouse.

I’m not banging on that music, or those bands. Hell, Cake is a cornerstone for one of my Pandora channels. And it’s not like I’ve exactly stayed the course with rap while all my peers have fallen away, either. Although I like to listen to 96.3, the mainstream hip-hop station in my town, and more edgy stuff on the high school stations, you’re much more likely to catch me listening to instrumental hip-hop like Blockhead than some new underground rap artist.

But I guess my real question is this: what happened to my generation’s love for rap, and why? Did we move away from rap, or did it move away from us?

Why do you write? Is it to express yourself? To gaze lovingly at your navel? To incite a riot?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, actually. My best and most true answer might be connected to flow. I’m talking about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of flow, about the way you feel when you’re completely absorbed with a task, and everything falls away and when you finally look up, you realize you’ve been sitting in a coffee shop for two hours with your mouth hanging wide open.

I think it’s important to say that I don’t feel this sense of flow every time I read or write or daydream, but when I do feel it, it’s almost always while I’m doing one of these three things, which is why I think I like doing them every day.

Writers are supposed to know things and be political and stuff, right? What do you think about the war in Middle East?

It’s taking all my editorial restraint right now to not insert a “the” in that question, to make it “the Middle East.” Though it’s kind of funny without the definite article in there. It makes it sound like “Middle Earth.”

I’m sorry, what were we talking about?

Man, I love birds in art and literature. Do you love birds? Stars? The moon?

Birds, yes. Especially the buzzards in Karen Russell’s Swamplandia. Stars, too. I like them. But the moon can go fuck itself.

I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.

You know what? I’m not sorry. And the moon knows why. It knows what it did.

Have you ever been to Indianapolis? What’s your impression of Indy, whether you’ve been here or not?

I have lived in Indy for the better part of thirteen years. I love this city, though sometimes it’s the kind of love you feel for your old dog who’s half-bald and pisses the carpet every time the doorbell rings.

Actually, it gets easier to love this city all the time. Culturally, it’s gotten so much better and richer and more varied in the last decade that it’s hard to believe. To risk a moment of sincerity here (which might just break the internets), I’d like to say that Vouched and Big Car are big forces behind the rising cultural tide in this city. Thank you for all that you do.

What would you like to say to people about coming to see you read at the Vouched Presents: DOGZPLOT Literature Party?

Come hear about the moon’s dirty, dirty secrets. Then follow me up to the rooftop, where I have stashed some RPG’s donated by the service station’s neighbor, Don’s Guns. Amid drunken ululation and shaking of fists in impotent rage, a few select volunteers will fire grenades at the moon’s smug, smug smile. First one to knock the fat bastard out of the sky drinks for free the rest of the night.

So, come. Bring the whole family.

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