3:AM: I want to talk about your time in Florida. How did you like Florida? To what extent do you feel that your location—Florida versus Chicago—influences your writing? Or pretty much, are you the type where it doesn’t matter. You could be living in Turkey or Russia or South Africa, and you would still find something to write about. I think it would be safe to say that your art sort of gives you a reason to be out and about. Wouldn’t you say? It’s like comedians who do observational humour. It’s almost like they need to be out so they can people-watch and interact with someone on the street or see something peculiar while standing in line at the gas station. This gives them their material. I think the way you think, you are able to be in a normal situation but then you’ll notice something that may not seem interesting or bizarre, like an everyday thing, but when you hone in on it and focus on it like you do in your writing, then it becomes bizarre / interesting.
SP: i like the nature in florida a lot. ‘white ibis’ is a bird i found out about there. there was just one that would pace slowly around the driveway of where i was living. this weird white bird with a long neck and long beak. if you don’t know what a white ibis is, look it up. look it up and ask yourself what the fuck this thing is and what the fuck is it doing. so yeah, there is way too much shit to write about anywhere man. you can maybe run through it to some degree, but no one place isn’t inherently better than another. it’s you. it’s you man. wake up man. it’s you.
Every time I went outside, it’d be shuffling around where the driveway met the street.
Not really doing anything or going anywhere, just kind of pacing.
With a long white neck and a really long orange beak, walking around like a dumb-ass on its stilt legs. [White Ibis]
3:AM: I like the change in tone with White Ibis because it’s the character dealing with life at a different speed; a slower pace, if you will—and the types of people that come with this. Whereas in Chicago, you are around people all the time, whether you like it or not. It’s like you watch the same character dealing with two different worlds and what that means to him.
Reading The Garbage Times, I felt stressed out. Reading White Ibis, there are several moments where the main character is stressing out, yet, comparatively, I felt more calm while reading White Ibis, perhaps because I am more comfortable with and can relate to the types of situations presented in White Ibis?
SP: i agree, especially now that i’ve moved back to chicago. i never realized how much of a mindset it puts you in. but that made going to florida so special. it felt amazing to just be walking around and there’s a weird bird walking around too. or the screaming bugs. florida is more of a backyard bbq party and chicago is the house party that will inevitably end in a fight / the police coming. i also think i’ve mellowed out a little. when i look back on really old writing it’s clear that i was in a different state mentally. it’s kind of one of the reasons it’s nice to document stuff, especially mental stuff, it shows how you’ve changed.
3:AM: White Ibis, the progression of the story and how you tell it, is more cohesive and I feel like you’ve mellowed out as a character, like you’ve retired in a way. In Florida, it’s more like you are naturally invited to events. You run out of money and try and find a way to deal with that. But even when not everything works out, Florida is more mellow and with that feeling, there is a vibe that you cannot shake. Almost like Florida is telling you to just chill and go with it. Like, I sincerely do not think you could have written something like White Ibis without moving out of Chicago. Like you said before, going from somewhere like Chicago to Florida puts a lot of things into perspective and I feel that it’s unlocked something in you. No?
SP: yeah for sure. i’d recommend if you’re a writer, or any kind of creative person, to switch up your element. most people move to la or new york, which would be a different element for some, but there’s so much to immerse yourself in and learn. even the colors / technique of my drawing / paintings were different once i moved. i never even touched a paintbrush before i moved to florida. and now painting is one of the most important things to me. anxiety is the fear of the unknown, and joy is overcoming it.
3:AM: Was Florida where you thought you wanted to spend the rest of your life?
SP: it might have been, but i didn’t want that. i moved because it was my girlfriend’s home. i was willing to forego one more winter and that was it. that was IT, brother.
3:AM: A few people have commissioned you for art and now have tattoos of your work. How do you feel about all this? That you have created something that is going to be on someone forever.
SP: oh man i feel awesome about it. i have a bunch of weird tattoos i drew as well. it’s awesome. random people stop me to talk about them. to be quite frank, fucking get some, dude. i’m actually trying to get into tattooing. so if anyone reads this, and seriously wants to train me, i would like to do it. i’ll be serious about it and helpful and try to make you money and make you laugh and DEFINITELY sweep.
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