Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Jeremy Show Interview: Big Brother Winner Andy Herren

I think I love Big Brother so much because I love observing people, looking at people do extraordinary mundane things, I always look in other people's medicine cabinets, sociopathically stare at people on the train, etc.And I am going to go out on a shaky limb here and say that Big Brother is one of the most underrated documentaries of our time or ever in the universe.  

The television show has all the over produced, cheesy, offensive (to some) trappings that come with all reality TV shows. And I eat that all up and love it.  The video feeds are something different. You can watch a group of people fight, be bored, sleep, make out, make friends, eat, cry, laugh and take showers for three months, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Like any fan describing their obsession to a non-fan I can't articulate how much I love Big Brother- it's heroin candy.

The premise is simple- the houseguests are locked in a house for three months. The show is on on three times a week every summer. Every week 2 houseguests are nominated for eviction. Every Thursday, during a live show the house votes to evict one of the nominated houseguests. The strategy for being the last houseguests standing (and winning $500,0000) varies- but always includes lying, deceit, physical endurance and social manipulation. On the last episode, alll of the other houseguests who have been evicted vote on who (out of the two remaining) they think should win the money. All the while everything is filmed and viewers have access to watch everything that goes down.

This summer Andy Herren of Chicago won Big Brother. Not only was he the first openly gay person to win Big Brother but he’s from Chicago and he’s delightful. I had a chance to speak with him and talk about his time on Big Brother.

You said you weren’t an insane fan of Big Brother but a pretty big one. How did you get into watching Big Brother?
I got into watching Big Brother by accident, actually. I was flipping through channels, and somehow landed on CBS. What was on? Big Brother 3! You know, the season where Marcellas used the Power of Veto on someone other than himself. I started watching, and the rest is history!

So...You won $500,000! Congratulations! Did your thoughts on what you would do with that amount of money change when you actually had the check in your hand?
I always knew I would be smart with the money. I'm investing it, for the most part. I want these winnings to turn into more and more winnings as the years progress. As for frivolous spending, I'm going to travel extensively! Europe, Australia, Japan, and Hawaii are on the agenda at the moment.

This season was hailed as the "Most Controversial" ever. One of the houseguests, Aaryn did say some ridiculously racist things and a handful of other houseguests said stupid things. Besides Aaryn- who I truly don't think realized that what she was saying and the way she was saying it was going to cause a lot of problems for her -- I just think the rest of it was just general jackassery like any group of young bored people. Did you have any idea that all of this would be so controversial when you were living in the house?
NOBODY had any idea this racist stuff would take off in the way it did. Granted, we all did notice Aaryn's comments, but I believe you are correct in assuming that she had no idea her words would cause such an uproar. She even started saying racist things just to say them, as we would all joke that she was the house racist. Do I condone her comments? Hell no. Do I think she is young and ignorant and not actually an evil racist bigot? Hell yes. I was very surprised by the attention this all got. I mean, any comment that makes others feel bad isn't right, but I really never felt like I was in a hateful environment. I very strongly believe that nobody in the house is actually racist, and I hope that we can all move on from this and remain close with one another. As for me...I am MUCH MORE offensive in real life as opposed to the house. I'll leave it at that.

You tweeted, "It's slightly discomforting that I was so hated while on BB. Not because I'm embarrassed, but because in real life I'M SO MUCH WORSE." Explain this tweet.
Basically, I say ridiculous things all the time. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm actually a very kind, loving person, BUT I have a filthy, vile, disgusting, awful sense of humor. Nothing offends me, because I am usually the one doing the offending. This is especially prevalent when I'm drunk. I wasn't drunk too often in the Big Brother house, but when I was, I said some gross things. Remember my "Elissa is a chronic masturbator" rant? Yeah, I was drunk during that, and it was not meant to be taken seriously. The problem? Many Americans do not sense sarcasm, and they took it seriously.

Do they even give you enough alcohol in the house to get drunk?
If everyone has a drink, they do not give us enough alcohol to get drunk. If people give up their share of alcohol, then others can drink the shares that have been given up and feasibly get drunk. For example, I gave up my alcohol 90 percent of the time, and then on the rare occasion that I wanted to get drunk, I would remind people that I had been giving up my shares, so they would give me theirs. I rarely drank because people would get super selfish about alcohol, and it put me in good graces if I gave it up. Looks like that strategy paid off.

One of the best moments of the season was after you were announced the winner- you came down and hugged your parents. They looked SO proud of you. Tell me about them. What did they say was their experience like when you were in the house?
THEY ARE AMAZING. They were so damn happy for me while I was on the show. My dad is a very quiet, stern guy for the most part, but after the show he gave me the biggest hug and said he had never been more proud of me. It was a lovely moment. My mom watched the feeds 24/7, and my dad would get updates from her. My mom was actually so scared about my possible eviction when I was up against Aaryn that she couldn't watch. She said she heard my dad screaming/cheering, and she knew all was well. They loved me being in the house, and, according to them, all they really experienced was positivity. They aren't on Twitter, and that is where most of the stupid assholes who hate me dwell.

How was your experience coming out to your parents? How did you tell them?
I was outed by a neighbor before actually telling my parents about me being gay, but they were both cool with it. There's nothing much more to tell! My mom was sad I didn't come out earlier.

Tell me about the transformation from relative anonymity to instant fame. What are the good things and bad things about it?
It's been pretty easy! I like people recognizing me. It is sweet. The only negative side is the INSANE hate I got once I left the house. I'm used to being well-liked, so it was odd to see so many people wishing me nothing but the worst. I played the game I needed to play, and I have no regrets. I get that I didn't play a very likable game, but anyone who respects the game should see what an amazing job I did. I played EVERYONE, and was rewarded for it. I also like the free stuff people give me! That's a neat perk of being "famous."

Rumor has it that you lost your job over your appearance on Big Brother. Did you lose your job and if so, what was the reason? What happened there?
I did not lose my job! :)

Who are you still in contact with outside of the house? Who do you think you won’t keep in touch with?
I have been in good contact with most of the cast. The only two people I haven't talked to are Elissa and Howard, who I have no ill will towards. In the house I hated Elissa, but outside of the game I would like to be on good terms with her. I talk to Amanda and McCrae every day, and I talk to Judd, Spencer, Helen, Kaitlin, GinaMarie, Candice, Aaryn, Jessie, and Jeremy relatively frequently as well. I also text back and forth with with David, who is a hoot. I don't like having negative relations with anyone, so hopefully we can all move forward and be pals, because we all shared such a unique experience.

Is Judd as adorable in real life as he was on Big Brother?
Judd is EVEN MORE ADORABLE IN PERSON. He is wonderful. I can't imagine anyone meeting Judd and not loving him. He does have a fiery side though (that temper!...fiery yet still ADORABLE).

What has been your best experience with a Big Brother fan and your worst experience with a Big Brother fan?
Best experience with a Big Brother fan: My roommate and I were running late to the movies a few weeks back, and a car pulled up beside us. It was a husband and wife, and they were big fans. I then asked them for a ride to the movies, and they obliged! Ha! I haven't really had any negative experiences with fans, except online, but most of the online fans are complete waste of space morons who don't actually understand the game, so they don't bug me too much.

What are some things, secret little behind the scenes things that you think most Big Brother fans would be shocked to know? Did your gaydar ever go off on any of the male houseguests?
We NEVER see any people while we are in the house. It is weird. Like, I didn't know what the producers looked like until the show wrapped. Another secret: They give us the same food week after week, which can get monotonous. I wanted a bit more variety! Although they fed me all summer for free, so I shouldn't complain.

Did your gaydar ever go off on any of the male houseguests?
My gaydar went off on Nick a little bit, because he would do odd things like always call me over to talk while he was in the shower. I'm 50/50, though. If he's gay, I wouldn't be shocked. If not, I would also not be shocked.

Do you think there could have been a possibility of a bromance- whether or not it would have just been used to get you or whoever else further in the game? Did any of the straight guys ever flirt with you?
I was in a bromance with Spencer!!! We were BFFs from the beginning, which you NEVER saw on the show. He kept me sane in the house. He is an intelligent and hilarious guy. SPANDY FOR LIFE!!! I do believe our bromance got him further, as I never wanted to sever ties with him. I wanted him at the end because I liked him and I knew I could beat him.

What is your dream “Celebrity Big Brother” cast? And who do you think would win?
Oh goodness, I have no idea who my dream Celebrity Big Brother cast would be. It would most certainly include Anderson Cooper, Ryan Gosling, Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, and myself. I say this because I selfishly want to meet these people (and school them at Big Brother).

You said that you were rejecting friend requests on Facebook like it’s your job. Are a lot of people asking you for money?
I basically reject Facebook friendships because I like to keep Facebook personal. Like, only people I actually know or could see myself getting to know in real life are people I will be friends with on Facebook. Twitter/Instagram/etc are for people who I may not know to be able to interact with me. And nobody has asked me for money yet! I think people know I'm smart with my money and won't fall for any hair-brained schemes. I also think my friends and family know how hard I worked for the money, and they aren't the type of people who would see my winning as a way to better themselves financially. When I left the house I wanted to get back to Chicago to retain my strong personal relationships with friends and family, so relationships haven't been strained at all. I love the people I surround myself with!

Are you dating anyone?

I am casually dating, but nothing serious. I'm SUPER picky and tend to lose interest quickly, so I don't bother really dating anyone unless they seem very right and I see long-term potential. I'm also a hopeless romantic and retain the belief that one day I will meet the man of my dreams and it will happen exactly like it does in cutesy romantic comedies (I know, I know...BARF). And when I go on dates, I love it when guys don't know about Big Brother. It's nice to know that they like me for me and not for me being a television personality.

What are your plans for the holidays?
For Christmas I'll be going to my parents' house in the suburbs to spend time with friends and family who are at home.

Can you tell me what you have in your medicine cabinet? Please list all the contents, brand names, etc.
Flintstones Chewable Vitamins, Advil Liqui-Gels, Crest Whitening toothpaste, Edge shave gel, contact solution, a toothbrush, Old Spice Aqua Reef deodorant, cherry Chapstick.

Do you ever still feel like cameras are watching you?
When I first came back, I definitely woke up a few times thinking I was being watched (which was super weird), but, to be honest, the whole being filmed thing faded quite quickly. I was back to picking my nose and masturbating in no time!

What are you buying yourself for Christmas?
I have no idea what I'm buying myself for Christmas! I'm very low maintenance. Maybe a book or something?

Last question- If you were describing to a four year old how you won the money how would you say you won it?
I lied to lots of people, and then the people I lied to gave me tons of money.

Who should I interview next? Why should I interview you? Email me at and let me know.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

You can have it all

I fired my therapist and psychiatrist yesterday. It was a dispute over a balance that I had incurred. Ask anyone who knows me and the first thing they will tell you is that I am knows that I am meticulous with money. So the blame is obviously on the evil psychiatric behavioral industrial complex. And not me. Never me.

Wednesday was awful. I got in a raised voice with the receptionist at my behavioral health center on Chicago's fabulous Magnificent Mile. Exchanged icy looks and words with my psychiatrist, abandoned my umbrella that obviously had a hole in it, fought with Sallie Mae, stood outside in the rain waiting for busses for 30 minutes multiple times, lost my headphones multiple times.

My only saving grace was listening to the angry sexy genius raps of Mr. Marshall Mathers. My beautiful blond Eminem. My angry best friend, my muse. Allegedly misogynistic, playfully homophobic and slightly deranged. Just how I like him.

Until I losty headphones. Fucking stringy, tangled, earpieces always falling off, balled up in my pocket. I had three pairs and left them all at work and they were.gone the next morning. On the floor. Cleaning people at work? Good for them.

You can have them. You deserve it. Cleaning up after me. Take everything else while you're at it. My files, my computer, my pens that are all out of ink, my job, my life. Take it and run with it. See if you can make something out of my island of misfit toys, my menagerie of hopes and dreams and cigarettes and lube and neurosis and Direct TV and various magazine subscriptions I dont read. Take it, cleaning woman or man. Clean it all up, organize my internal and external crap, Windex the shit out of it and sell it all on eBay. My heart, my soul, my life. Get 20 bucks and order a pizza. Make a night out of it.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Jeremy Show Interviews: Mister Rogers Archivist Tim Lybarger

Tim Lybarger visiting X The Owl in The Neighborhood of Make Believe.
It was announced this week that a film about Fred Rogers (based on a book by Tim Madigan's memoir I'm Proud of You) is in the early stages of development. I sat down with the Internet's authority on Mister Rogers Tim Lybarger, the creator of The Neighborhood Archive: A Collection of All Things Mister Rogers. Read what we talked about as we took a nostalgic walk through The Neighborhood of Make Believe.

So, what are your thoughts on the movie coming out?
I'm actually pretty surprised. There was a lot of talk a few months ago about this but it was all so vague that it didn't seem anything would really come of it. Looks like that may not be the case. I'm thrilled for Tim Madigan -- his book is wonderful and he's such a great person!

Jim Parsons

And who do you think should play Mister Rogers?
That's a tough call to make. I'm not sure that the actor have to be a spitting image of him, but thinking that way, Jim Parsons would be great!

I was a big Mister Rogers fan. My Mom said that she thought Sesame Street was too fast and loud for me. I didn't really get into it. Do you find through your archival work with Mister Rogers that their are Mister Rogers people and Sesame Street people? Is there anything specific you've noticed about a Mister Rogers fan? 
Not to say that there aren't kids who enjoyed both programs, but there are definitely Mister Rogers kids and Sesame Street kids. These two programs were groundbreaking in very different ways. Likewise, they were applicable to children in very different ways. While one was fast-paced and emphasized the ABCs and 123s, the other kept a slow tempo and taught kids that it's okay to have feelings. Is there anything specific I've noticed about Mister Rogers fans? Absolutely. Among the many that I've heard from through the Neighborhood Archive, they are a very kind, caring, and patient group of people. Whether this is fully attributed to their appreciation of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood or not is up in the air...but I certainly think it's no coincidence.

You have six different websites/blogs which are all amazing. On the main portal to your site your intro line is "archiving the insignificant." Tell me about that statement.
It takes a certain kind of person to have any kind of interest in what I do. Either you get it or you don't. My brother has a pretty solid music collection and I remember him jokingly saying once that he was "archiving for future generations." I, too, am archiving for future generations. I'm just archiving stuff that only myself and a very small niche of other people are interested in. To most people it's insignificant.

I think we are all librarians of pop culture in some way. We all have our libraries of DVD's and books and toys from our childhood. What is the focus of your collection? How much do you have? And how does your wife feel about it?
I guess the focus of my collection would be things that remind me of my own childhood. I've often said that I had a wonderful childhood and given the opportunity, I would relive ages 2-17 over and over again. So I often find myself picking up items at flea markets and garage sales that I owned as a kid -- books, games, toys. Likewise, I love watching television shows that I enjoyed when I was young. I'll take the A-Team or a healthy dose of Saturday morning cartoons over America's Got Talent any day. As for my wife...she's doesn't get it. I don't mean that in a negative way either. She's the type of person who is content to take a picture of something and throw it away while I love being able to physically see something to bring back memories. She does a good job of tolerating my collection and humoring me when I start telling her about the latest thing I've found.
My favorite Mister Rogers song, or the one I remember the most is "I Like to Be Told." Bette Midler sang it in a concert I saw and I cried. That song has so much meaning. The idea is mainly- children (and adults) like to be told the truth. And with truth comes trust. The more I think about it the more I can see it applies far beyond children and into the adult world- work, relationships, government. What Mr. Rogers song resonates for you?
This is exactly what got me into archiving the career of Fred Rogers. I had grown up watching the Neighborhood program and as an adult, parent, and educator, I began to recognize that his message was one that wasn't just for kids. I Like To Take My Time can be applied to rush hour traffic and Let's Think of Something to Do While We're Waiting can help during a lengthy stop in any waiting room. I can't say that I really have one specific Mister Rogers song that resonates with me any more than others, but I often think about his overall message of patience, love, and compassion for others -- our neighbors -- in this world.
Lady Elaine Fairchild
OK tell me everything you know about Lady Elaine. She is my favorite. What's her deal?
She's a feisty one, that Lady Elaine. Fred often talked about how he expressed his various feelings through the puppets in Make-Believe. No doubt any mischief was expressed at the Museum-Go-Round! (Most) everything I know about Lady Elaine can be found on her page of the Archive site -

Tell me about the evolution of your amazingly thorough and beautiful archive. Where did it start? What are your future plans or developments do you have coming for the Neighborhood?
My brother and I had a Mister Rogers record when we were kids and one day I was looking for some details about it online. I figured surely there was some catch-all site detailing every nook and cranny about the long and influential career of Fred Rogers. Much to my surprise, there was nothing of the sort. Having spent several years detailing the career of constantly-touring folk singer Todd Snider on, I figured there was only one thing I could do. From there, the site just caught on like wildfire as other fans of Fred and his work picked up on my efforts. As the site continues to grown, I'm constantly amazed by the response I regularly receive from Mister Rogers fans around the world.

Did you ever get to meet Mister Rogers or other cast members? Tell me about that.
Although I never had the chance to meet Fred in person, I did invite him to my college graduation (sort of). Finishing my undergraduate degree, I was sending announcements to family and friends and had a few left over. Not expecting any sort of response, I sent one of the extras to Mister Rogers with a note thanking him for the message he instilled in me and countless other children around the world through our childhood visits to his Neighborhood. Much to my surprise, within a matter of just a few days, I received a personal response in the mail from Fred. It was at this point that I knew this man was so much more than just the host of some show I watched when I was a kid. As for others, I've had the chance to meet David Newell (Mr. McFeely) a few times and very briefly met Betsy Seamans (Mrs. McFeely) once. I've had a few phone conversations with Audrey Roth (Miss Paulificate) and Burt Lloyd (Mr. Allmine). Betty Aberlin (Lady Aberlin) and I have corresponded off and on through email and Twitter over the past few years and I've recently been in contact with Francois Clemmons (Officer Clemmons). In every one of these cases, I can say that each and every one of these people have been wonderfully kind and generous as they are very clearly not far removed from the characters they portrayed on the Neighborhood program.

As for the Neighborhood of Make Believe itself- it seems to be a trippy mirror image of what's going on in Mister Rogers "television home." What's the psychological reasoning for all of this as you see it? Why is the show set up in this way?
The shows were scripted from start to finish and no detail was left unaccounted for, so the similarities between the "real" neighborhood and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe were certainly intentional. I've always felt that the show spoke to children on various levels in different ways. While some where able to take away Fred's message from his "real" neighborhood segments, others were more comfortable with the make-believe portions. To me, this provided children at various stages in their lives with the opportunity to pick up the same important message being shared on any particular Neighborhood episode.

Yo Yo LaBelle
Who is your favorite Neighborhood of Make Believe resident and Neighborhood resident?
In the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, if I had to pick a favorite, I'd say it'd probably be X the Owl as I appreciate his light-hearted outlook on life. That being said, I have a somewhat weird obsession with the alien character -- Yo Yo LaBelle -- that only appeared in a few episodes. In the "real" Neighborhood, it's hard to pinpoint a favorite. If I had to chose, probably Mr. McFeely simply because of the regularity of his appearance and his fun interactions with Mister Rogers throughout the run of the show.

Do you know what happened to the set and props of the show?
Up until recently, most of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe set was on display throughout the building which housed the office space for the Fred Rogers Company. Earlier this summer, the FRC relocated to new space in Pittsburgh and I'm not sure if these pieces went with them or went into storage. The Neighborhood of Make-Believe models were on display in the FRC offices at their previous location and I can only assume that they are on display in their new space as well. I've also been told that the street display seen in the opening and closing of the program is on display in the new office location, too. As for the set of Mister Rogers' television house, the last I knew is that those pieces were in storage.

Why wasn't there much merchandising for the show?- it seems like Sesame Street was all over the place. I would have killed to get my hands on that playset.
Yeah. The playset. Tell me about it. I'd do anything to get my hands on one of those. I've tried asking everyone from the Fred Rogers Company to the individuals who designed that piece and have come up with nothing. The best I can put together is that a prototype was created but never marketed on a mass scale. I think the fact that there wasn't a huge market for Mister Rogers merchandise can be attributed to Fred's nature of simplicity. I think his one and only focus was reaching out to children on a personal and individual level. He could have taken the Neighborhood to a mass market and capitalized in a major way through merchandising opportunities. Instead, he chose to keep the focus on the message rather than the market. Typical Fred, from what I understand.

With your own kids, do you see anything else on children's television that gets close to Mister Rogers' style?
Nothing. There's Daniel Tigers' Neighborhood which is the "next generation" of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, but there's nothing out there that comes close to a daily visit to the Neighborhood. Everything on TV for kids is either fast, flashy, commercialized, or all of the above. I've yet to find a children's program that has reached the masses that Fred reached in such a simple yet unbelievably influential way. For the record, my kids LOVE Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and I could not be happier to see Fred's message carried on in such a positive and popular program. The response to Daniel Tiger has been phenomenal!

What is known about Mister Rogers private life? Is there anything that has surprised you or that you found interesting in your research? Has there been any good biographies you can recommend?
When it comes to Fred's personal life, everyone has this part of them that hopes there's some dirt somewhere...some sort of secret life that could tarnish the seemingly perfect persona seen on television. While I hate to disappoint, everything I have gathered over several years of researching his life and career has pointed to one thing -- he was the same kind and caring person in real life that you saw on TV. There are two different biographies that I would recommend for anyone interested in a quick look at Fred and his career -- both in video format. The first is Fred Rogers: America's Favorite Neighbor. This one is a fantastic look at Fred's life and career scattered with many clips from the show as well as lengthy interviews with Fred himself. The other is Mister Rogers & Me (available on Netflix Prime) -- a documentary featuring various individuals touched by the message of Fred Rogers.

What do you discuss on your podcast?
The podcast started out with conversations with a few other fans of the Neighborhood and has evolved a bit into mostly interviews with people who have been involved with or heavily influenced by the Neighborhood program in some way. I've spoken with a handful of Neighborhood cast members such as Audrey Roth (Miss Paulificate) and Bert Lloyd (Mr. Allmine) as well as others who were involved behind the scenes (Eliot Daly). I have to admit that the podcast is one aspect of the Neighborhood Archive that I tend to neglect. For some reason it always seems to go to the back burner as you can see by the fact that there are only about 20 episodes.

Clearly, you were a child of the eighties- what is it about the eighties? What do you remember as the vibe of that decade for you?
It might just be that I was a kid and things are simple when you're young, but I feel like the 80s were a much simpler time than we live in now. We didn't have the flashy movies and video games we have today...but we didn't know any better. We were content to drop a quarter in a machine for a few minutes of Pac-Man or to hear a song we liked played from a jukebox. I'm sure that the 80s were no less complex for adults than today is for people my own age, but the feelings of comfort and simplicity that come back to me with memories of my childhood in the 80s cannot be matched.

When people are passionate about something (for me it would be Madonna, Martha Stewart) I find it interesting, no matter what it is. My boyfriend is a BIG Disney fan. I might be wrong but I do feel like you can follow the trail of our deep passions (like everything else) back to our childhood. How do you feel about that? Do you think that you are trying to get back something from your childhood? Or does your passion for pop culture relate to something else?
I think you've hit the nail on the head. Many people -- myself included -- find comfort in remembering simpler times. Being able to thumb through my baseball card collection from when I was a kid immediately takes me back to summer afternoons of backyard baseball and trips to the drug store to buy wax packs of the current cards. Listening to certain songs will immediately put me back in my bedroom on a warm summer evening with the windows open while I listened to the local pop music request show. I've often said that I can't tell you much that I learned in college, but I can easily come up with any detail from my childhood that you'd care to request. While some people may say I'm stuck in the past, I look at it as a recognition of the wonderful childhood that I was blessed enough to experience.

Visit Tim at The Neighborhood Archive and follow him on Twitter!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I'm on the porch. I spend as much time as I can here. My Dick Tracy mug is almost out of coffee, just the cold, dark last sip left for me to savor. I read somewhere that it is better to drink somewhat cold coffee- you can actually taste the flavor. I don't like super hot boiling coffee. I try to ask for 4-5 ice cubes in my Starbucks Grande Dark Roast. Sometimes, for some reason, I become very shy at Starbucks and am even to scared to specify Dark Roast.

If my coffee is too hot I feel like I am suffocating, I can't breath, I need to take off all my clothes to escape the heat and sit outside in the snow naked drinking coffee. If you think about it coffee does taste the best just right before it starts going to lukewarm. That's when the caffeine has kicked in and any conversation you are having with your friend or lover or yourself becomes almost electric. The possibilities are endless! The day is so full of opportunities! We should do this and we should do that and sex and movies and food and sex and paint the kitchen green and.... Target!

I am the guy that's always on his porch when you walk by. If I could smoke in my apartment I would be in my room in front of my computer. But, as the world does it's slow crawl toward cigarette prohibition I am placed here on my porch for the time being. This is good though, because I would not leave my room if I was allowed to smoke inside. And when I don't leave my room I have a habit of eventually hospitalizing myself.

Tonight I heard someone playing Donna Summer's "Love To Love You Baby" in their apartment. Now I hear what I would call "gameshow theme jazz." Very upbeat Price Is Right style jams. I can get down with that.

There are regulars that pass by my perch through the alley. The aforementioned lesbians (who seem somewhat angry at me- see my post about them), the leather daddy who nervously, incessantly walks his dog multiple times a day and night, always looking behind him as if someone his after him, my neighbor and good friend who jogs at night and stops by to pay a visit. My other neighbor and good friend, his wife, that pokes her head through the railing, checks in on me and blows me a kiss.

There is a new neighbor right across the alley. He's in his twenties and gay and does not like me. This is what I think is going on with him- He has his first real job, foolishly bought a condo (believe me when I tell you I am not one to judge specifically on financial decisions or lack thereof, but I just get the feeling this was a hasty decision that he will regret) and now he's thinking he's in Andersonville and he's going to find a boyfriend and get a dog. He might get a dog. But with the dirty look he shot over at me when I first said "Hello!" I can say with a certain amount of confidence that he will not be finding a boyfriend anytime soon.

He bought a barbeque and some Target outdoor multi-colored lights and some plastic deck chairs. I heard him say to one of his female friends referring to our lights, "They only have white lights, I have colored!" Fuck off you angry ugly young gay man! He's in that real queeny stage of development. The only people I've seen him have over on his deck are gaggles of fag hags who he takes on tours of his apartment. I am only included on the deck part of the tour. He is real braggy about his condo and he's just an ass. I don't really remember what he's bragging about but it's annoying and stupid.

He has barbeques with his ladies but he doesn't seem like a great entertainer. One of those people who would just have hot dogs and have a bag of chips. His girlfriends stay a short time on his deck and they all gossip about the girl who isn't there. Just real mean spirited insecurity based gossip. Kind of like what I am writing here. I wish him well. He's fine. I haven't seen him on his porch lately. Or in his house. Maybe he already moved.

Then there are the neighbors down below who feed stray cats all night. At first it annoyed me a lot. The cat would come up to my deck and expect me to feed him. I ignored him. I am not so easily tricked by animals (or people for that matter)/ There has to be a boundary.

Anyway, this couple below me spends an hour every night feeding and playing with random cats that walk through the alley. I do not approve of this. I think it's cruel. Unless they are planning on adopting the cat I feel like you are just leading them on. But these two are very faithful to the cat(s) and do this every night and  because it seems to be a consistent activity that they take seriously it bothers me much less.

I didn't tell you about the Mexican man who decided to sleep on our porch. I came outside at about 9:00 on a Friday night to have my cigarette and nighttime coffee and there was a disheveled Mexican man sleeping on our porch with his back up against the brick wall of our building. This was happening at the same time the neighbors were doing there cat feedings. The girl saw the man and said "Hey" very sweetly.  Almost as if she was saying "Hey welcome to the neighborhood do you want me to feed you?" She was behaving like she found a new cat.

No. Not welcome to the neighborhood. I approached the man who was sitting very near my smoking and drinking coffee zone and said "Hey- you have to go." He said nothing, he was really really drunk. He was doing some sort of drunk sign language like, "No, go away, it's fine, don't worry about it." I was irritated and just kept saying, "Hey you gotta go." "You need to leave." "You have to go NOW." He shooed me away with his hand as if I was being rude and bothering his sleep.

I was just really irritated that he had interrupted my smoking time and encroached on my spot. So I called 911 and explained the situation. My wonderful straight roommate came out and did his best "very serious don't fuck with me shpeel" to get him to leave. The Mexican man shooed him away too. 

The police came and got him off our porch. I guess he was carrying a desk lamp around in a plastic bag because the policeman asked if the desk lamp in a plastic bag was mine. If you are on the right side and the stakes aren't too high - Chicago Police men can be very sexy. I feel like a schoolgirl around men in uniform.

When I got up the next day, the desk lamp in the plastic bag was still there. Out of the whole experience this was the only thing that made me said. This guy walking around Chicago, near death drunk, carrying a broken desk lamp in a plastic bag. Did he buy it? Was he going to try to sell it? Whatever way it came into his possession and whatever his plans were for it- it just made me really sad. Desk lamp. Drunk.

Call me a racist if you like. But this man was Mexican. He was virtually wearing a sombrero. I know there was more to the man than being Mexican but to me he was the Mexican man. This is not a judgement against Mexican people I am just saying....forget it. I'm not going down this Paula Deen road. He was my Mexican man. And I hope he is ok, I hope he has more to love right now and more loving him than a broken desk lamp.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Deleted Scenes


I'm sure some people would frown on it. Especially the psychiatric community. But I am finally ready to come out and say I am engaged to my therapist. He is a wonderful man and I am over the moon that we will be spending the rest of our lives together.

Our first date was pretty casual. Pretty much like any other date I've ever had. We spent a pleasant hour together looking into each others eyes, making small talk, talking about my problems, my idiosyncrasies and my severe debilitating clinical depression.He didn't seem phased. As our date came to an end, we agreed to meet for another date for a week later.

I've dated a lot of men. But as I casually walked home I smoked twelve cigarettes and thought about him. I know he

Evil Empire

Listen! If you don't like Wal-Mart. Then start your own Wal-Mart. Start your own goddam store.


Marilyn Monroe movies help me fall asleep the best. Something so comforting about her. The hair?

Random things coming to my head as I just wake up

"You know what really gets my goat?" referring to nothing
Schizophrenics have something called word soup.

Out Of Body Experiences

Just a cup of coffee and a bed with a cool comforter. 


Oh honey, you don't know the half of it. The 

I got my rock moves

What horrible emotional landscape are you exploring?

I passed by one of thirtysomething boys in Andersonville- the kind that seem to be on every corner on a patch of grass waiting for their dog to relieve themselves. I say hello and receive a non committal half smile. That's fine I'm really not asking for anything more. I couldn't handle anything more.

I take note of my depressed mood as I glance at flowers sticking out of a chain link fence. It's like there are the flowers and I am depressed, tired, weary. There is the sidewalk drenched in my mild depression and anxiety. This cigarette has depression coming out of it.

I wonder what the other guy sees. How differently we perceive the world through our emotions! Like for him the flowers could be beautiful, or maybe he doesn't like flowers, or they make him think of his grandma, or maybe when he looks at them he's not even seeing the flowers- he's seeing them but thinking about Doctor Who or Jimmy Johns or whatever. But what emotion is he seeing life through?

He could have some real problems- not my stupid made up ones. He could be going to jail tomorrow or have a terminal illness or he could be cleverly hiding a gun.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Jeremy Show Interviews: Artist Matt Irie

Last week I had a chance to sit down and talk with local artist Matt Irie about imaginary friends, Marxism, Prilosec and art. You can learn more about Mr. Irie at his website

What is inspiring you right now?
British crime dramas, my new bike, contemporary abstraction. I would like to say the Turrell exhibitions in New York, LA, and Houston but unfortunately, I don’t think I am going to make any of them.

How could you see British crime dramas or your new bike taking shape in your work?
I don’t. I may have a TV problem. Geoffrey Todd Smith used to work on his drawings in front of a TV before he got a studio in the city. I was making large text drawings at the time that required a lot of reading and concentration and I was jealous. To be honest, I think I was just bored of making the drawings. Once I began working on the drip paintings in earnest and got my studio situation squared away (I have a studio at home), I set up a small TV and DVD player left over from a piece Dominick Talvacchio and I did. I started with all of the HBO and Showtime shows and then moved onto cable shows like The West Wing and Battlestar Galactica. We have a pretty great library by us and in time I moved onto what they had a lot of, which is BBC crime dramas. I like the pace of the long form television series. You don’t have to pay such close attention. I used to listen to a lot of audio books in the studio but got sucked into things like The Wire. I found myself making excuses to finish episodes or watch another one, which kept me out of the studio. The TV has kept me productive. It’s still like listening to audio books except that I now look up from what I’m doing from time to time. I just enjoy riding my new bike. It has no influence on my work that I can see.

How did you decide that art was going to be your career?
It started with my finding out that I was getting a D in physics senior year. I then learned if I was going to major in some kind of art discipline I could drop physics and take another art class. That sealed the deal. I went into undergrad as an illustration major and after asking my Drawing II instructor, Mark Arctander, which illustration class I should take, he advised me to take some “real art classes.” The next day I changed my major to painting and that was it.

Tell me about your first job.
My first job was a paper route in Fort Wayne, Indiana where I am originally from. I don’t remember much about it. I remember how bad it was trying to deliver papers after an ice storm and I remember me and couple other kids who had routes going with the area manager to sell subscriptions around the city for extra cash. I also remember the manager guy had a shitty car with a revolver in the glove compartment.

Why do you stay in Chicago, rather than a larger city for art like LA or NYC?
I worked in NYC for a summer on a Sol LeWitt mural in Midtown Manhattan between my first and second year of grad school and thought I might move out there sometime after I graduated. However, after grad school I started teaching at few colleges around Chicago and then Cougars began touring. The band, friends and family have played a big part in keeping me in the Midwest. I like New York and LA is growing on me, but I prefer to live in Chicago. Maybe someday…

Tell me how LA is growing on you because I stayed there for six weeks and almost hospitalized myself and dropped out of school.
I went to LA as a kid and liked it well enough. Then I went back a few times during various tours. Maybe it was the weather, the places we played or the bands we played with, but I got a bad vibe about the place. The airport is awful. A couple years ago Geoffrey and I went out there for an art fair and I had a better time.

Tell me about your favorite building in Chicago.
Good question! I am a big fan of Modernism so of course the Mies buildings, but maybe more so Bertrand Goldberg’s buildings such as Marina City and River City II. It will be a shame when the old Prentice Women’s Hospital comes down.
Prentice Women's hospital on it's way to architecture heaven.

I work close to the Prentice Women's Hospital. I love the building as well. But Walt Disney's quote- "Disneyland is not a museum" always comes into my mind when I hear about the controversy surrounding whether it should be saved or not. I guess I feel like if it should be saved it would have been saved- that the world can't always be a museum. I don't know what kind of fascist attitude that is but that's how I feel.
I see your point. Everything is in motion and change. For me I think it’s a matter of taste. That style of brutalist architecture is my jam. I understand it no longer meets the hospital’s needs and thus has to go, but I’m willing to bet that the building that goes in its place will have far less character, for better or for worse.

First Clown Shoes, 2008
Your sculptures (like Saucepan, First Clown Shoes) remind me of things you'd buy at a really smart novelty magic shop. It's as if your inner child is performing a magic show for the viewer. Were you a performer as a child?   
Yes. As a child I would lip sync to Michael Jackson, Prince, and Hall & Oates in the living room to an imaginary audience while my parents watched TV in another room. In high school I started playing the drums and singing in bands. I like that you refer to those pieces as performative. In one way or another I want all my work to function in a performative/experiential way.

So the first thing that strikes me (at least on your website) with your artwork is the title you give each one. What goes into titling a painting? Do the titles usually relate to the painting directly? Is there hesitation when you title a piece of work or do you enjoy it?   
My titles used to be very literal, descriptive, and/or minimal such as Drawing #1, Stop Sign, Cord, etc. I suppose Saucepan and First Clown Shoes are as well. However, shortly after I began making paintings again I decided to approach them differently. I used to try to keep what I did musically separate from what I was doing in the studio, thinking that they didn’t really have much to do with each other. Now I generate titles similar to the way I write lyrics, which has to do with word play and collage. I take notes all the time and have running lists of things that could be used for titles and/or lyrics. After I finish a painting I refer to the notes and assign a title that fits best with the specific piece in an ambiguous way. My hope is that the titles allow for another way to approach the work. I think there has always been humor in my work and this way of generating titles provides me the opportunity to inject a little humor into what might otherwise be seen as too formal of an investigation.

You shared a show with artist Geoffrey Todd Smith (who I've also interviewed for my site) called "Imaginary Friends." I forgot about imaginary friends- did you have one as a child?
No, just imaginary audiences (see above). When I was a kid I played a lot with action figures. I would give them each their own personality and character traits as if they were a part of some large story arc. Does that count?

Yes. I think I had one and it involved some sort of watch that I could summon them with. This was with my friend Nicole. We both had the watches. I think mine was a girl. 
As I get older I find it is difficult to make non-imaginary friends, or difficult to find the desire to make new friends. Do you find this as well as you have gotten older?
Perhaps. Most of the new friends I make I meet through work these days. Having a full-time job, a studio practice, being in a band, and about to become a father makes it difficult. I have a number of terrific friends and with how busy I usually am it’s hard enough to find the time to see the ones I have.

You use the hammer and sickle in your sculpture and drawings- tell me about what interests you about that icon.
Poorhammer-Sadsickle II, 2008
I had a great Western Civilization professor, Marvin Rosen, who was a Marxist. He and I became very close and ever since I have been interested in the left and Marxist inspired philosophy/politics. In 2008 I started a website which no longer exists. The site was mostly an archive of screen shots of posts on craigslist of things like last Sunday’s Chicago Tribune or a half-used bottle of lotion and then the responses to the posts. I sent letters to the Hammer Museum from Sickle and a letter to Sickle, the clothing site, from Hammer as if they were old lovers trying to get back together. The Reader actually published a Missed Connections from Hammer to Sickle. At any rate, the Gifts sculpture and the Poorhammer – Sadsickle drawings grew out of that project. The icon itself interests me as a signifier for the Marxist inspired philosophy/politics mentioned above. In 2008 you could buy a CCCP or a Che Guevara T-shirt from places like Target. Working with the icon allowed me to explore the space between the ironic and the sincere, which was something much of my work was focused on in grad school.

Tell me about what's going on with Cougars. I see that the Cougars Wikipedia page says that there is a new album in the works..."Gentlemans Choice." Is that still in the works?
Cougars is still a band, albeit a much more relaxed version of it. We are now a five piece (down from eight) and all have full-time jobs, other projects, families, kids, etc. We still practice somewhat regularly, but rarely play out live. “Gentleman’s Choice” is the working title of what will be our third full-length record. It’s still in the works and at present we are one to three songs away from having enough material to record again after about seven years. I think it’s the best stuff we’ve written. We write slowly. Many songs have been put to the grave.

How does your artistic sense affect what you wear? Rupaul says the whole world is in drag- as if we are all playing some sort of character that we idealize. What character are you? Do you put that much thought into what you wear?
I suppose there is a connection, but not one that I consciously cultivate. Although here I may have a problem as well. Other than my dress shoes and the ones I wear with shorts, I’ve been wearing the same style sneaker (Adidas’ Stan Smith) for over a decade. I have a nice pair, an everyday pair, and a shitty pair for yard work and such. Likewise, I buy the same style jeans year after year (Levi’s 527) and I only wear crewneck undershirts that have tight collars. It’s the same story with sox and underwear. The only real variation is in shirts, casual button up plaids or solid color long sleeves in the fall with the occasional sweater or sport jacket and t-shirts or short sleeve plaids in the summer. However, lately I have been getting into golf shirts. I think they help to disguise my love handles.

If you are having trouble sleeping- what do you do? Is there anything that always works for you?
I don’t usually have much trouble sleeping, but when I do I generally close my eyes and think of all the shit I need to do.
What items do you carry in your bag?
The Metformin, generic Prilosec, and ibuprofen are in there in addition to Dramamine, fresh breath, 5 hour energy, and generic Nicorette. You can also find a half dozen flash drives, two or three college ruled, spiral bound notebooks, and folders full of art stuffs and lyrics. More than likely there will be the most recent Artforum in there as well.
What do you find different about students today compared to when you were a student?
I’m not sure. Perhaps there’s more apathy. I feel like when I was in school my classmates and I wanted to take over the world. Of course there were mopes then, but I feel like now there is a lack of students who really want to do great things. Maybe there’s less ambition. However, every year I always have a handful of pretty great students.

"Lamppost," your Installation for Public Art Fund NYC that you collaborated with Dominick Talvacchio on, is genius. Tell me about that experience.
Lamppost, 2009
Thank you! The Public Art Fund asked Dominick and I to propose a project for an outdoor exhibition of site-specific sculpture at MetroTech Center in Brooklyn, New York. After our proposal was excepted, Dominick and I worked with a contractor based in Queens to fabricate a lamppost that was identical to the lampposts at MetroTech, only ours was made to look as if it was wilting or being sucked into/creating a depression in the ground. Overall I would say it was one of the most stressful things I’ve worked on due to budgets and deadlines. From the beginning of the fabrication and installation, anything that could have gone wrong did. In the end we completed the piece around 3:30pm the day of the opening reception which started at 5pm.

You've worked in installations, video, public art, etc...what area of the arts do you want to explore next?
Firemud, 2011
I have always worked with whatever the idea calls for. I have never set out to make a video, just to explore the medium for example. The performances were performances because that was the best medium for the idea I wanted to investigate. For the last four years I have mainly concentrated on painting. After the stress of Lamppost, Dominick and I focused on our solo work and eventually stopped collaborating. At some point I would like to explore other ideas and I have a few things in the works that are more akin the work I was doing with Dominick. However, at the moment there is still more work to be done with the paintings.

What are you doing this weekend?
Working in the studio, going to my brother-in-law’s graduation party, watching The Killing & Newsroom, and possibly a studio visit.