I was lucky enough to get an interview with Justin, the mad genius behind such Tumblrs as ANIMALS TALKING IN ALL CAPS, one I can’t repeat the language on, so we’ll call it TFWISWF, One that is called smayartzayalwtigaiaik (that stands for “So me and you are reading this ‘zine and you’re all like, ‘whoa, this is great,’ and I’m all, ‘I know.’” and, one that is the online version of a printed ‘zine he did in Chicago. It’s called Rosario Dawson Loves Me (or I want to die right now, please). Everything he writes is good. Especially that last one I mentioned, but I first got
obsessed interested in Justin’s work via ATIAC. See why?
I want a t shirt of this. I have let Justin know.
Sorry about the toolbar, but know that I also had to google “fourloko” because I am old.
So I did this interview with Justin, and he was gracious and nice and his hair is always fabulous. Here is the interview, for your reading pleasure.
1. I started a Tumblr to see if I could get into the Tumblr community to see what it was all about. I have one follower, but I have absolutely no contact with that follower. How many fellow Tumblr-ers do you interact with? Is it a lot?
I’m not really sure if Tumblr has a proper ‘community’. If it does, I think I’m living in the forest somewhere outside of the town limits. I used to abandon a tumblr if it got more than 100 followers. I’ve left six or seven scattered over the internet. I didn’t like feeling pressured to create content to suit an audience. I’m selfish. I prefer to make myself laugh/cry/etc. Now, obviously, that’s not the case, so I tend to interact with people pretty regularly. I’d say I chitchat with about 15 to 20 fellow tumblr folks a day. Leave inane comments on their photos. Exchange messages. Ask gorgeous women to marry me. Things like that.
2. Your ATIAC Tumblr has 22,001 followers in just 3 months. How many followers do your other Tumblrs have? Am I even using the term Tumblr correctly? I mean, you hear someone say “I Facebooked you” do people say “I Tumblred you?”
I don’t know that I’ve ever used Tumblr as a verb. I know I hate the word ‘blog’ with every fiber of my being. “Blahg.” It’s horrid. So yeah, I guess I call my tumblr a tumblr, but I stick with the noun. My regular tumblr has a little over 600 followers. The one I made to collect my insipid ‘zine has 430. The vast majority of those came from the people who follow ATIAC. Before I started making alpacas talk about their panties nobody paid any attention to me at all.
3. How has the internet impacted your personal relationships?
I have a remarkably pretty, funny Glaswegian coming to Seattle next month to kiss me to death, so it’s doing wonders for my lifelong import-girlfriends-from-Scotland plan. In general the internet has been helpful in maintaining contact with all the friends I keep leaving scattered all over the country, since I tend to move far too often. I’ve lived on both coasts and in Chicago in a five year span. So basically without the internet I would have no idea what my friends’ hair is doing at any given time. I like to keep tabs on good haircuts.
4. Do you always Skype with your shirt off?
I actually just started using Skype last month. I don’t know the proper protocol. I thought we as a nation decided not to do the whole video phone thing in like … 1989. Now we’re all about it. I’m still learning, so sometimes I’ll be in a tuxedo with a nice martini and other times I’m just cooling in my curlers and my bathrobe, shooting the shit with weirdos from across the globe. It’s a crapshoot. Could be black tie or I could be in the bathtub.
5. On average, how many unsolicited nude photos do you receive per week? Do you plan to start a Tumblr of unsolicited nude photos? You could do it without showing their faces, so people would be like, “Is that me? OMG. Is that ME? I can’t tell!”
Per week? Maybe one or two. Per month, maybe ten, if I am exceedingly lucky. I would never post them to the internet, as I have a deep and heartfelt love and respect for the privacy of lady people’s lady parts. I also never received a nude photo until last month, so I am still getting used to that as well. Mostly I jump up and down and dance in a circle for five minutes going, “Oh! Oh wow! Wow holy shit wow!” until my heart rate settles down, then quietly touch myself.
6. SO, SMAYARTZAYALWTIGAIAIK. Is it older or younger than ATIAC, and how do you stay so consistently funny yet poignant? What do you smell like?
SMAYARTZAYALWTIGAIAIK was a ‘zine I published when I lived in Chicago, which I will someday finish here in Seattle. It’s exactly one year old today. It was more of a self-imposed writing exercise, to see if I could fit anything of substance into a further truncated Twitter character limit. And I guess to let me ramble on about celebrities and American taste in general at the endcaps. It works a lot better as something you can read on the bus than as a tumblr. Plus I don’t actually think I’m funny. I think I might be an idiot, but that idiocy seems to appeal to a certain demographic, and those are the people that follow me/buy my ‘zines. Them’s my peoples, if you will. To answer your second question, I smell vaguely of cinnamon, Aqua Velva, despair and whiskey. Kind of like I imagine Tom Waits smells, but without the well-worn leather notes and sharp tang of fresh ginger.
7. You give a pretty succinct explanation of how Rosario Dawson Loves Me (or: I want to die right now, please) came to be. Are you going to write any more of them? Has Rosario Dawson ever contacted you? I wish she would.
Rosario Dawson Loves Me is the best thing I’ve ever written, stupid as the entire premise is. Everything I write tends to start as a very small bad joke that spirals into at least 40,000 words. I have been trying to figure out how to end RDLM for a year now. I actually started SMAYARTZAYALWTIGAIAIK to kind of jumpstart my brain or break through my writer’s block. I have the last issue fairly well finished, but I’m no longer a heartbroken mess so it’s hard to get back into the proper mindset. I promise I’ll work on it next month. Ms. Dawson has never called me, nor told me I’m handsome, which is something I cry myself to sleep about fairly regularly (I’m kidding. I am not obsessed with Rosario Dawson. I just wanted to pick a celebrity that was non-divisive and fairly universally liked, and you can’t do much better in that department than everyone’s favorite Latina activist/actress and all-around total babe, Rosario.)
8. Back to ATIAC – which was the thing that made me discover you and your awesomeness. Is it always fun? Does it ever get tedious? When is somebody going to give you a book deal on it for Pete’s sake?
ATIAC is literally what I do when I am either unable to sleep, three sheets to the wind or utterly hungover. It’s like clearing cobwebs out of my brain. In that regard it is rarely if ever tedious, although I do get bummed out because people always like the ones I think are toss-offs and nobody likes the ones that actually make me giggle out loud while I’m typing them. STEVE THE TUBE, man. That little thingamajig is just a tube! A tube with eyes! I loved that guy. Fission bears! Bears talking about fission! The list is endless, and endlessly depressing for me. In general, though, people’s near-universally positive response, and the sheer number of “this is my favorite blog” or “I snorted in class and everyone looked at me funny” responses absolutely and without question make my day. Every day. I don’t think I’m very funny, but anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love making people half-laugh/half-groan with questionable humor. If people are smiling at all I’m totally happy. The day they stop I will stop making lions talk about college or seahorses get drunk. As for book deals, nobody has ever read anything substantial I’ve written, so if it happens it will likely be to MAKE THINGS TALK IN CAPSLOCK, which is apparently the calling I totally missed all those years I thought I should be an actual writer. Who knew?
And back to the pictures:
Like the man said – they are bears and they are talking about fission.
One of the author’s favorites.
It’s a hipster reference, in case you’re too much of a hipster to get it.
Because all dogs think about the economy.
Pie is MY friend.
Just so you see that there was some reason why I asked Justin what he smelled like. See? There was a frame of reference. I am not creepy. Not at all.
Words fail. I mean, that pug is totally thinking that, right?
Hilarious. Tumblr apparently doesn’t like Fireshot. What can you do?
And I had nightmares for a week.
It’s funny because it’s true.
Eagles are, like, whoa smart.
Depends on which taste, I suppose.
If Mary is in a goth phase, would she even own a flip flop? What would goth flip flops look like?
My usual too.
This too, I would like on a t-shirt.
I strongly suggest you read everything Justin has written and posted on the internet. Just be warned that he does, from time to time, use the “eff” word, so if that offends you greatly stick to the Rosario Dawson material.
Thank you, Justin, for a great interview, and for making these things that we love so much. I hope you make a bazillion dollars.