- What’s your favorite anti-capitalist book or film?
That’s a hard one, but the first thing that came to mind was Borne by Jeff Vandermeer, mainly because it shows a variation of earth where big business and the military industrial complex has run wild and now there is a giant flying bear hovering around eating everyone it can as a result. I think that’s a pretty good metaphor for capitalism on the whole. The book is beautifully written (as all of Vandermeer’s books are) and the world is so sad, but also so beautiful. Vandermeer also goes wild with his descriptions of other lab engineered creatures throughout the novel and I’m a sucker for crazy monsters in fiction.
- What radicalized you? How did you first become critical of capitalism?
I think I became critical of capitalism before I really knew what that truly meant. Growing up I listened to a lot of punk stuff from a very young age. Like Choking Victim, Anti-Flag, Lawrence Arms, and Nofx in middle school. At that point, my brain was just like this is great and I internalized a lot of what they were singing about, even if I didn’t really understand it. So I think from that age, I’ve always been very skeptical of many of our economic and social systems.
- Everyone has a ridiculous work story. What’s yours?
I have so many it’s hard to pick, but the worst story also came with a big realization… So I used to clean public bathrooms at the beaches around Harwich Massachusetts. I’d go in and clean the toilets, restock supplies, sweep, and do basically whatever needed to be done. Sometimes it was shooing huge spiders out the door. Sometimes it was unclogging terrible terrible things that should never be in a toilet from said toilet. But there was one morning where I was cleaning a bathroom down by the docks. It was five AM. I cleaned the women’s side and it was fine. I opened the men’s side and was greeted by an ocean of vomit on everything, an inch or so deep in some spots. I had no idea where to start. The smell was horrible: beer, vodka, and Italian food. I just stared at the mess and was like, Is there someone I can call about this? And the answer was no. I was the one who anyone else would call to take care of it. I was literally the lowest guy on the totem pole and there was nothing I could do besides hose the whole thing down and deal with it. It’s weird when you recognize that you are the lowest position in a system…but it also makes it clear that people really need to be kind to janitors and anyone else in the cleaning industry (because people were real jerks to me when I worked that job). They see terrible things on a daily basis and there is no one else they can call to clean it up.
- What inspired your story for ProleSCARYet? (Spoiler free).
Poison Ivy plays a very big role in Salen’s Found. I’ve landscaped on Cape Cod for about seventeen years and poison ivy loves sandy soil…so for a number of years, during summer, I’d just be covered in it (or poison sumac…which is so much worse) all the time. The specific time this story draws from was when I’d just moved back to Cape Cod from Western Massachusetts and was working four jobs. I was installing gas fireplaces fulltime, landscaping for two companies, and snagging circ shifts at Brooks Free Library when I could. At Brooks, there were so many times when I had crazy poison ivy rashes all over my face or arms and would be handing people books and dvds at the front desk. I just couldn’t imagine what patrons thought was going on with me…and whether I was contagious. That’s where a lot of this story stemmed from…and the fact I was searching for another job with decent Health Care…there’s that too…the eternal search for good/affordable health care…