DON'T ARGUE THE CAPTAIN
from WET 010580
by kristine mckenna
is ±03.80 interview
* interview text with different picture(s?) reprinted with unknown title in england 0106?86 art line vol.3 #2
* less than half of interview text reprinted as don van vliet - 1980: venice, california in usa 2001 book kristine mckenna * book of changes
part 1 - THIS is PART 2
do you know anything about your ancestry?
yes, i had a relative named peter van vliet who was a dutch painter that went around with rembrandt. but he was too hot to handle and had a lot of trouble with the kings and queens. and richard halliburton, the man who wrote 'golden voyage' [should be 'the royal road to romance', as corrected in the book version - t.t.], was related to me. halliburton was a daredevil - he dove into the sun-worshippers pit. (glancing at a cover of wet:) can i turn that over, please?
why? do you find it unappealing?
yes, it's horrible. who'd want to see something like that. a little too slick for me. (flipping through wet:) you know, if you want to do something on me it's gonna' have to be better than this. hmmm. james brown in the same magazine as shakespeare?
do you think that's fair?
no. james brown is important because he decorates the clock correctly and he's good with lower mathematics. don't get me wrong - he's good. i like james brown - even like 'the goodfoot'. (looking at poster on wall:) that's disgusting! what sort of abnormal person put that up? girls scratching each other's backs - yeecchh!! there are wonderful things about scratching - i do it all the time because i like the feeling, but i certainly don't think there should be a poster made like that. a lot of people can't handle those kinds of things. somebody could come up and scratch you for no other reason than he saw a poster and was too stupid to comprehend how lame it was. i don't like that s&m stuff. it's exploited for no reason other than to make money, and mostly at the expense of women.
why does the public consume it?
they're too dumb to do otherwise. i think if it happened in their faces they wouldn't like it.
people seem to be intimidated by the media into wanting to do things 'right' to the point that they'll follow any and all instructions.
i'm afraid that's true - that's what happened in nazi germany, and much as i hope it never does, that kind of thing could happen again. posters like the one on the wall at wet sure aren't a good sign. on the other hand, i really don't believe we're headed for an apocalypse. whenever it's election time we're led to believe there's one just around the corner, but i don't believe it. you know, i can always tell when we're due for an election because the road crews are always in front of my house! the ants get upset and come in, so i give them a little sugar.
you feed your ants?
sure. i would never kill a living thing, although i probably have inadvertently while driving automobiles. and i hate seeing those moths on the windshield.
but isn't that part of the natural order?
yes, but i've never been able to deal with that part of nature. it's so violent - god, is it violent.
when viewed in the overall scheme, then, human beings manage to control themselves fairly well.
not bad. not bad at all really. but still, most dangers are man-made. man has done a lot to make himself dangerous and animals get the worst of all of it. but then, man too is an animal.
would we be better off if we were more in touch with that fact?
oh yeah, definitely. but people use funny toilet paper because it means their rich if it's perfumed - and i think perfumed toilet paper causes rectal cancer. you can almost judge how screwed up somebody is by the kind of toilet paper they use. go in any rich house and it's some weird colored embossed stuff.
what sort of music do you listen to these days?
i don't listen to nothing - i don't need to. bob dylan impresses me about as much as..., well, i was gonna say a slug but i like slugs. 'you gotta serve somebody' - shit, trash poetry. too much lsd. you know they usually do that - they go right up to jesus. what about buddha? he seems like a lot more fun.
he's a big fan of mine. i used to see him out in the audience in england and he'd stand up and holler. he's funny. smart too, and a nice guy. don't think he's a jerk because he isn't. too bad he had that sid vicious thing happen around him. that sid vicious was obviously a schizophrenic, kind of a mean one too.
what do you think of [modern] composers like phil glass and steve reich?
i think it's bullshit. i just don't think they're very creative. there was a girl named pauline oliveros who did a piece i like. and a lot of good electronic music comes out of germany, stockhausen for example.
have you listened to much music of other cultures?
a little, but i've always found it to be somehow lacking. i think shakespeare is really the one. words as music and music as words. everything he wrote was good, which is really frightening. shakespeare. under the skies of fiction comes a lot of reality.
is it hard for you to get people to play things the way you hear them in your head?
very difficult. i've been pretty fortunate, though, in that i seem to be able to bring things out of people the way i want them. it's very selfish, but to play with me you have to be able to forget what you've learned before. but then, the human mind does that automatically.
are there some things that have been in your head for a long time that you've never been able to get on record?
oh yeah, many. the wind is a very difficult sound to get. it's always changing.
do you think you hear differently than other people?
hmmm. i know i'm here differently than other people, but i don't know if i hear differently. i think that people cut off their hearing ability and why they do that is something i wonder about a lot. what do you think the largest living animal is? well, i'll tell you: it's the absent human mind.
what is sound for?
i don't even know what sound is, much less what it's for. it isn't to make money that's for sure. i've never made any.
are you more attracted to the system of natural sounds, or musical sounds?
natural sounds, other than stravinsky. stravinsky was brilliant in all ways. he invited me to come and visit him before he died but i was in the middle of doing 'trout mask replica' and i missed the chance. if i had it to do again i'd have met stravinsky and not have had 'trout mask replica' come out.
who's working now that's of comparable talent?
me. me. me.
who else in the past?
who in the past? who in the hell. i think painting's gone further than music. i brought along some books by some painters that i like. franz kline - oh wow. yeah.
do you think we're going through a sparse period right now as far as great thinkers?
seems like it doesn't it. they seem to be dormant at the moment.
how have you dealt with fame?
with kid gloves. and i've spent a lot of time signing [record sleeves and such with the dedication:] 'love over gold' hoping that people would realize. i've gotten a few autographs myself. lenny bruce, jimmy durante, mort sahl, dick gregory, john coltrane. and roland kirk. he was wonderful. he had a great facility on his instrument but he never let it overpower him - he always got out the true feeling. anyhow, i've got my autographs in a book and i look at them occasionally and it reminds me of the people.
you seem to have an unusually intense bond with nature. do you think that's because you grew up in the desert?
no, i think it's because i've always known i'm an animal.
most people struggle to block that knowledge out - how have you kept those channels open?
tenacity. and the truth is so obvious - it's impossible to be cut off from dirt because gravity keeps us in and of it. you can't escape gravity.
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