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Interview: Re/Search Publications
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Interview: Re/Search Publications

Looking for the Surreal in Everything with Research Publications

V. Vale is the editor and founder of Search & Destroy and RE/Search, an influential figure in publishing who aims to produce enduring books that explore uncharted territories. His publications embody a blend of optimism, dark humor, and anthropological objectivity, all while maintaining a distinctiveness that appeals universally. Instead of relying on academic jargon or unnecessary shock value, Vale prioritizes conveying intricate details with clarity, without resorting to gratuitous sensationalism.

I’ve been a fan of Re/Search for many years and we connected over Zoom along with long term life and business partner Marian Wallace to discuss interviewing techniques, body language, agenda, publications, keeping inquisitive and open, the Financial Times, finding the surreal in everything and parenting tips.

Thanks for listening and reading.

Discover Re/Search Publications

Instagram: @Vale_Research

Opening Song “Let’s Go Walking” - V. Vale piano and vocals. Produced by Marian Wallace


V. Vale: 

Hi! You are back from taking your daughter to some destination?

Leafbox: 

Well, my mom's here and she's helping, so they're going to the pool and so I can do this call and focus on you guys.

V. Vale: 

Oh, it's a holiday. Yeah, it's certainly handy having your mom there. That's really, I'm better. She, that's cool. Yeah.

Leafbox: 

Yeah, so she's just, she's been here about a week and she flew all the way from Chile to Hawaii, which is exhausting, but she's, yeah, it's good. It's good. Back to full Spanish language at the house and it's good for my daughter to have that immersion. She's multilingual, so we're trying to keep it up for her.

V. Vale: 

Oh, that, that's amazing. That's a gift to be able to be raised. Multilingual

Leafbox: 

Vale. How's your daughter doing?

V. Vale: 

Oh, she's in the, I know we're a little bit ahead of you. She's, she's 27 years old and she's been in New York the last almost four years. And anyway, she seems to be working and all that, just making life happen.

Yeah. You should expect your maybe her daughter to be the same when she gets older. Oh, I'm going to go 3000 miles away from my parents.

Leafbox: 

Well, the same, I mean, right now I'm basically 6,000 miles from my mom, so both the benefits of air travel and the internet make it somehow connected still, which is nice. I guess, I don't know if you have Zoom calls with your daughter or FaceTime or how you connect still, but maybe at 27 she doesn't want to deal with you guys. I don't know. Who knows?

V. Vale: 

Well, she's definitely busy working. She's part of the generation that works from home, W F H, but we're kind of constantly in touch through Instagram. Nice. It's sending each other pictures and little texts and stuff like that.

Leafbox: 

You've always said that everyone's an artist and a scientist. Maybe we can just start there and what came where you got that conclusion from?

V. Vale: 

Well, I mean that's what having a creative life is about. You're actually trying to be an amateur artist and a amateur scientist. In other words, all of us want to know the real deal about how the world truly works in every aspect of our lives. And that's why I say scientists and I mean you want to know the real deal of, I don't know the best ways to you, you want to eat the best diet, let's start with that. And everyone's body is slightly different, but I think in general it's best to have a lot of fresh vegetables and some fresh fruit as well and try to go easy on the process. Pre-made corporate made foods, but yet there's obviously a lot of advertising telling us to buy this product and that product that's frankly corporately manufactured. And I don't know, I live near Chinatown, always have, and Fresh Produce is really cheap there, a lot cheaper than say it Safeway or other chain stores. And it, it's not that rocket sciencey to learn how to cook basic fresh vegetables in not too long of a time. And I think I of course tend to avoid meat if possible. I don't like the idea of killing animals per and fish that much, but I'm not a strict vegetarian, but I say what science in real life for most people involves diet, I suppose. Transportation. Oh, the media. Oh, forget it. You have to avoid the media.

I mean, I try not to watch any news on that's live on, I guess it would be the iPhone for me now or the computer. I think I'm not different from a lot of people and that I basically live off my iPhone. That's kind of crazy. And I switched my energy into in terms of posting images and continuing narrative of my so-called life, I only have so much time and energy. And so I've put it into Instagram and it goes automatically to Facebook and that's how I've simplified my life. But of course I've never been once been on TikTok, but now I see all kinds of TikTok posts on Instagram. So there you have it. I guess I'm modern without trying to be.

Leafbox: 

So do you use that same discernment in your media diet as you do with the vegetables and the food? So what's your approach, I mean, to social media then? Just are you nervous about it or, I'm kind of curious what your overall take on social media is.

V. Vale: 

Well, for me, social media is mainly Instagram first. And I even email people on that. In fact, I owe someone an email from days ago, someone who wanted to order a book and I forgot to reply. That's bad because usually most of my ordering that I process, my mail orders are through the real email. And so that's a bit of a weakness there. I still need a notebook and paper to keep track of things. And that's a good example. I just had to write down on my paper to-do list today, write the guy on Instagram who wanted a certain book.

So I don't know if it's this, when you say discernment, well you're talking mainly about one ability we all have, which we don't use enough, which is the ability to say no. There's so much coming at you wanting you to say yes and to keep your head above water, you've got to say no to much of it or you're just, your mind just gets the trouble is the trouble with social media is that they pose all these, basically what you get bombarded with are actually questions that reach deep into your back brain that you can't answer. And so the four back brain of your biological computer known as your brain is processing like man, trying to fig answer these questions, which are mostly truly irrelevant to your real life in reality. I mean, if you didn't have a phone, I mean the best, I used to say first hour, don't go on your phone or computer or anything. Just try and process your dreams and let your subconscious feed you survival information and priorities and things and write 'em down. I mean, I'm still a fan of writing down with real ink on paper, a daily to-do list, which is on the table. And you of course you are on it. 2:00 PM Robert Andon, par Patterson on Zoom.

Leafbox: 

No, I, I'm very into the offline world. I think that's why our daughter goes to a certain type of school and I try to use the internet as consciously as possible as well. I'm curious how you see your editorial process traditionally with research publications and how you're intaking or discerning now, because maybe I'm curious how the difference was maybe 40 years ago and how information got to you and then what's happening now mean now the algorithm's kind of feeding. I'm curious what the algorithm was in the reality, what that was like 40 years ago when you first started.

V. Vale: 

Oh, of course I liked life before the internet in a way much, I liked it much more because it was more real. It was more real life. There was vir, there was almost no virtual life. And I remember the days when it cost me a dollar a minute to call somebody in England, which is pretty expensive for me. At least your time can go by really fast. But a lot of my interviews were done calling England, let's say, and taping. But still, somehow that seemed real than emailing back and forth more. And then of course it was most fun to travel. And since I don't have money, I'd usually stay in these people's living rooms, go there and interview 'em and take pictures. And I funneled all my energy into putting out books on paper that my argument was, well, if you do a book, it'll go all over the world.

And in theory, no one can change a word in it. And you have more longevity globally of reaching people who are sympathetic to what you're writing, of course, and the content you chose. And I, I'm still a fan of books on paper, but it, it's definitely harder to get that distribution. There's a lot fewer bookstores, for example. And before Covid there was a rise of all these international called them art book fairs or zine fairs or zine fests. And that helped me a lot. And there isn't anything to replace that currently that I know of at least. And I mean, I do my best on Instagram to drum up a little business for myself as it's sort of a narrative of my life though, who buys books from me and what they look like, how they dress. I mean, it's kind of partly, my Instagram account is partly a fashion site, I guess. Cause I always am curious as to how people dress who buy my books. And I try and take head to toe photos of them. And because I am supposedly producing alt culture anthologies all my life for people to read, they have words in them and they have images to process and they affect hopefully the way other people live too, or they can, I'm against slavish imitation, but still I am curious as to how people dress and what they eat.

Vale what? 

Leafbox: 

I was going to just say what brings you to that in interest in fashion? I'm just curious where that comes from.

V. Vale: 

Oh, I've always been interested in fashion. I mean, that's what you see when you first meet someone. You see how they're dressed and how they look. And then most importantly though is when they talk, because there's some old aphorism like speaks so that I may know you from thousands of years ago. And of course the words you speak are very important. And so it's probably a good idea to make them as succinct as possible and as funny as possible both. And try to deal with causes rather than, I don't know, external perceptions. You want to kind of go deeper in what you can't see what's invisible. And I'm always interested in the way people think and how they come to the conclusions. Well, why did you go to this concert and not that one? Or Why did you vacation at this place and not that one? Basic stuff like that. And it's always interesting to get other people's points of view. That's called learning, I guess.

Leafbox: 

When you first started, what prompted you to have that interest in? Was that a journalistic interest or just where did that interest in learning about other people come from?

V. Vale: 

I think I've always been curious about what makes other people tick. And it's always been slightly a mystery, but then you know, learn from everyone when you grow up. And I guess I learned the most from Andy Warhol because especially when he started doing interview magazines because I said I could do that. And so I did that. I mean, my search and Destroy my first publication, chronicling the very beginning of punk rock was heavily influenced by Warhol's early interview before it got slick because when it first started out it was full of typos and it had had a kind of rawness to it and which makes you go, oh, I could do this. And so it was Warhol's instead of being a writer, which I always found really hard, I could just be an interviewer and do really accurate transcriptions, edited of course, of the conversations and then read them.

And then people seem to like them. And so that encourages you to do more. And you get feedback when you start publishing and the feedback is what, you might not make money because I didn't really, but the feedback encourages you to do more and more and more. And then you're naturally curious. I think everyone's naturally curious. And I'd like to think that all the interviews I do, it's not just me, anyone would've asked those questions. So in a way, not everyone can interview this person or that, but if you read an interview with them and it's done well, it's almost like you did the interview. You are there, you're just asking questions anyone would ask. And I try and ask as few questions as possible when I do an interview.

Leafbox: 

So how do you approach interviews then? What's your technique for, cause one of the things I love

V. Vale: 

About Excited Yeah, your

Leafbox: 

Publication is that your voice, I agree, seems neutral. You don't have a bias. It seems very neutral. You was reading an interview with an old search and destroy issue and you're just kind of neutral. It almost seems like as you disappear, which I think is an excellent trade, and you really get a sense of who the interviewee is. So how do you approach interviews that it's a skill actually I think quite hard to develop

V. Vale: 

That. That's music to my ears what you just said, because I actually, that's exactly the way I want to be almost invisible and to disappear and to, here's a holy grail of the interviews. If even people who've been interviewed a fair amount, if you can get them to talk about something they've never talked and thought about before, that's the holy grail. And yes, I mean, well, we're all animals too. And when people come over mean, your goal is to try and make the person as absolutely relaxed as possible. And as defense put their guard down a little bit, I suppose. But especially just to be relaxed and know that whatever they say is going to be accurately put into print. And so to that end, my favorite way to interview someone in person is around a table, like the table you sat at here. And ideally I'm at, I'm 45 degrees to your left hand is 45 degrees from me, and I'm not staring at you, which would make you uptight. And of course I take notes, but for some reason, if you're in this position physically, it just helps. I don't know why the left near facing their left arm closest to you is better than, but it makes them the more dominant person, I guess. Body language studies might verify this and every little bit you can do to help relax people. I don't know. That's definitely a goal.

Leafbox: 

Who has been the hardest person to interview in your past?

V. Vale: 

Well, there was a famous film director named Larry Cohen, and from, I went to LA to interview him, which cost me a lot of money by my standards. And I flew in to LA and then spent all day with him and flew back that night. And Larry Cohen had quite a career as a filmmaker already when I came to interview him. And so I did months of, or I did a lot of research on him. I made up a list of every film and almost the list of every actor and person he'd worked with that I could find out about. And then I just started going through the list and he of course had forgotten a bunch of films he'd made and forgotten he worked with this person. And so I think it was fun for him to go down memory lane of his own life that he lived and tell anecdotes or just recollections that occurred to him naturally, spontaneously. And oh yeah, I had this problem making that film. No, we used this huge parade in New York City. No, we did not get permits, stuff like that. And so that's the one I prepared for the most historically that I remember

Leafbox: 

Regarding, I mean, that I think might bring a difference to. What do you see the difference between underground publications and the kind of mainstream corporate press?

V. Vale: 

Well, I mean, I've always kind of been in underground for some reason, and I haven't been around super famous mainstream, so I don't interview them because I don't have access to them. And it didn't even occur to me. I mean, my thinking is why should I interview someone who's been interviewed to death already? Why not pick people that haven't been interviewed before? Or you could be the first interview or something. And so that's partly just practical access, you know, don't have to go through agents and managers of all that. I don't know, it just seems kind of organic.

Leafbox: 

No, it's interesting because you've obviously interviewed very influential people. I mean, one of the interviews I was just reading was with Cortas, the Argentine writer. Yeah. And I went, yeah, and there's an interview with him at Berkeley and I mean, I didn't know, I knew he was a communist, but the love he fairy had with Castro, I mean, it's kind of just shocking how much of a hardcore, militant communist this writer is. And that was just intriguing to me. And you were so unbiased in the interview and maybe during that period of time. Yeah, again, it is just a compliment to your style. The interview is just neutral. It's just letting him go and riff. And it's an interesting technique because I think most people today, if you read a corporate interview, they have an agenda and they try to either get to a point in the interview or try to channel that interview. So it's something that's interesting that you do.

V. Vale: 

Yeah, well, I, no, I don't have agendas or I'm against agendas or something. The only agenda is to get the person to talk as much as possible. And again, interviewing has to be very minimal. You do have to kind of disappear. And when you are in person interviewing someone, you have to be very careful of your body language or not careful, just for example, you don't cross your arms in front of your chest when you're interviewing someone because that's a very defensive body language pose that other people can sense. No, you have to have your arms opened to receive their conversation, stuff like that. I mean, you look at yourself as an animal doing the interview and you want to be a very receptive that you want, that's what your stance is. I'm open to whatever you have to say and say whatever you want to say

Leafbox: 

On that riff. I'm curious how your personal role as a father was with your daughter. How did that affect, I'm just curious, your skill as a publisher and your skill as an interviewer. And I'm just curious how you educated your daughter, you,

V. Vale: 

Oh, that had some, I definitely didn't want her to grow up. I, let's put it this way. I think we gave her access to a cell phone as late as possible. And we spent the maximum time with, see, I work out of my home. I always have computers everywhere and desks. And so we got to, both Marion and I run our little publish home publishing business, and we run it out of our living room. And if you're raising a child and that's how you make a living, then you can have your child with you all the time. Although, of course, a little bit later she would go over to someone else's house, her best friends, and that's when she learned about television and watching certain, actually pretty good programs we discovered because we wanted to raise her without television because we didn't have one.

But when she found out about television and watching these certain two hours of programs that were actually good every week, five days a week, then we were forced to get a TV and cable and have AC give her access to those too. But that was a bit reluctant on my end because what I like to do is read to her and Marion reads to her just one on one-on-one as much time as possible, reading to her, always read her to sleep. And at night, it was so funny, she'd read her, we'd be reading one of us, and we thought she was asleep, and then we prepared to leave and suddenly she'd wake up and said, read. It was really funny.

And it turns out that she was kind of memorizing these books we were reading because a friend of mine came over and started reading her part of one of these books and he deliberately skipped a sentence or two and she caught 'em on it, said, no, you left out a, and then she recited the sentence he'd left about. I just thought that was funny too. And we do a lot of course, try and encourage her to talk and express herself. And we tried to give her as much freedom as possible, but still lay down boundaries because if you don't lay down bond boundaries, they don't think you love them. You have to refuse this bad or the other. And it's all kind of case by case as you're raising a child to give them the maximum freedom. And yet, you know, don't want, we, of course, we're trying to keep her not to take drugs and drinking and all that stuff.

And oh, as you know, your parents are examples to you. And if they don't and she never saw us drinking or taking drugs, well I guess that would mean something. We didn't even mention it. We didn't even want her to know these things exist. Cause those are the worst things for children, I think. And what else? Of course, we encourage her to exercise a little. I mean, gave her swimming lessons early and if she's on a swim team at school, I mean, totally support her that way. I mean, drive her there and do that, even though I guess working from home, we had more freedom to just up and do things like that to cater to her.

Leafbox: 

I'm curious, Vale, what was your interaction with other parents? I'm with more normy or more not conservative, but

V. Vale: 

More well, traditional

Leafbox: 

Parents,

V. Vale: 

I guess. Her best friend Catrina was friends with mainly it is mainly the daughter that the father I interacted with Carlo, and he worked at nights. He had a job at some expensive restaurant, and I think one night he told me I made $700 last night in tips. And I, to me, so in other words, his daytime were free too to raise his daughter as were mine. And so we did a lot of joining up at playgrounds. So that was, because there's a number of small playgrounds walking distance between where we both lived. And so we'd go to those playgrounds. And so it'd be fun for me, I'd talk to Carlo and then the kids would talk to each other and I don't know, they were outdoors. We try to be outdoors as much as possible in playgrounds. I hope you've got them any place you live, look for 'em.

And of course, later on we'd take them to bookstores and read to them and buy them books that let them pick out books almost partly. And Oh yeah, yeah, I'd take everybody to Costco and we'd hang out there for hours reading books or they used to have a few chairs I don't think do anymore, where parents can sit and read to their kids. But there's big bookstores that have chairs where you can do this. And so yeah, that became a lot of the play dates also moved to bookstores downtown, kind of big chain ones that aren't there anymore. And of course when they got into Harry Potter, I think they released a book at midnight or something at this big bookstore downtown, and we were there and a million other parents. It was either midnight or 10:00 PM I remember it was really late, much later than we'd ever let the kids go be out in the world. That was kind of funny. Oh boy. Harry Potter had such a huge influence for a while. Massive.

Leafbox: 

Vale. How do you navigate the balance between being unique and universal in your publications?

V. Vale: 

Well, I think if you're truly unique, you are a universal, in a weird way. Of course, we value individuality and we don't expect everyone to the same. Anything, books, food, clothes, whatever. But don't certain, there's principles behind everything. You try and should I say causative principles behind everything in life? And you try and figure out what they are and sort of live your life accordingly to that knowledge. I mean, getting books, I wouldn't necessarily say, oh, I'm going to avoid all corporate books and only read books by indie people. You can't, I I'm against that too. I mean, you have to be open to whatever attracts you. Your intuition is your B best guide through life. Like, oh, I like this, you like something. You don't even know why. It's just instantaneously. But listen to your inner voice telling you that, telling you what I mean.

You should go live as much as possible by being attract according to what attracts you. And I suppose for me, the hidden philosophy behind everything is surrealism. Am I looking for what? What's surreal i e weird out there in the world in any area, whether it's books or films or food or clothes or what not. Clothes, my philosophy towards clothes is super utilitarian. I'm, I'm a huge fan of pockets. Everything has got to have really great pockets or I won't wear it. And there, I'm surprised how many other people don't choose their clothing that way. And for me, since I have black hair, I am an animal. I like to wear black clothes because as an animal it FIPs. And then I don't have to think to ask, does this color go with that? Every morning when you're putting your clothes on, I just wear a uniform. I don't recommend that for everyone. I don't recommend that for everyone though, especially women. Women, I love it when they're not women. Wear a clothes, that's a whole different topic of conversation. If a woman is young and sort of courting or being looking for a maid or whatever the hell you call it, because I'm always amused by, I love to look at fashion bec, and women are generally more imaginative than men in the way they look. And that can be a source of much smiling to me.

Leafbox: 

Bill, what are you currently interested right now? What's surreal to you right now?

V. Vale: 

Well, that's a really good question. I mean, because I have so many books in my library, I still haven't read. I'm trying to just eventually read those. And let's see. I still think that if you look for surrealist anything, you'll have plenty to of reason to live. And especially in the book world, surrealist books and magazines are rare. And so you have to look for 'em to find them. They just won't be handed to you. Life won't hand you surrealist books. You have to search for them. And I, I'll spend, still spend a lot of time reading. I like that. Going to laugh. My daughter gave me a subscription to Financial Times newspaper from England. And most of the articles I don't care about, but I like to get a British point of view on the so-called news rather than American one. And they have a lot of international news news that I don't really care about in front of me. Yes, today's paper says Norway pushes on with vast deep sea mining plan. Well, I kind of want to know about that, but in a way it's not super relevant to my personal existence. But I like the idea of maintaining a very rough international viewpoint if you can. And I'm sure I could find a lot of stuff online, but I find that's more confusing to me, print is more neutral somehow, and I can ski an article real fast and find what I want.

Leafbox: 

Are you a fan of the, and the FT has those wonderful Sunday interviews where they do all Oh

V. Vale: 

Yes, the meal.

Leafbox: 

Those are very excellent.

V. Vale: 

Oh, I love that. Of course. I love those interviews. And there's certain writers in FT that I really like. Oh, I don't know. Now actually I won't name them. There's like four writers I really like and I read anything they write. But then there, there's actually more that are probably equally deserving of reading. But I'm glad you are aware of the weekend ones. I mean, if you can only subscribe to one thing, let it be the weekend and the Monday. The Monday one's really good because there's a lot of articles in there in the Monday, one for some reason, that I find are interested in problems of women in the world working and all kinds of advice. And really, there's one really good writer who's Al, who's always on Monday or almost always. And she's always funny and oh yeah, wit is very important. Did I say that? Try and laugh as much as you can. Try and have as much humor in life as is possible, please. And there's so much to make fun of in this world too, but I generally don't even go there. It's just I, I'd rather deal with more universals than particulars

Leafbox: 

Vale. Do you have any concerns about information warfare? I mean, talking about the financial times, I mean, they definitely have an agenda and connections to MI six and the British Foreign Office. I'm just curious how you view media and kind of an information propaganda kind of lens, if that.

V. Vale: 

Well, I always say that in terms of the world of politics, which actually rules us all, we are never going to know at all. There's always going to be super important stuff that will remain hidden from us. So you have to know that. So you have to think that any so-called knowledge you have is probably missing some super important information or data. And so you just do the best you can going through life. But I never want to argue with anyone I meet about politics or religion, let's put it that way. You could say I'm against both of them, but you can't change the world. There was a time when I thought that because of science, I thought, oh, maybe religions will disappear or killed by science, but boy, if anything, it's gotten way worse. So that idea, that hope was definitely,

Leafbox: 

How do you think it's gotten way worse in terms of religious thinking?

V. Vale: 

Well, geez, I mean, I don't know. I don't even want to go there. But the word terrorist and terrorism comes to mind linked with religion and also, I mean, religion, feel sorry for a lot of women under certain religions where they can't just wear any clothing. They want to maybe leave it at that. To me, that's a huge infringement on your freedom, the religion telling you what you cannot wear and how you've must wear or you'll be killed.

V. Vale: 

Feelings, sex, women exploitation, religions have a huge handle on that. And then politics too. I mean women and how many women CEOs are there? How many women politicians are there? I mean, just not enough, let's put it that way.

Leafbox: 

Do you ever have feelings in the past as a publisher of self censorship, or did you not?

V. Vale: 

Not? Oh yeah, no, no. I do would like everything I publish, I would like to be able to be accessible to a fifth grader because that's when I started reading more or less adult books or books aimed at adults and not just at teenagers or little kids or whatever. I thought if those adults can read 'em, I can read it. And so I try not to include any swear words if I can, even if people say them. And if you know the F word, if I have to, I'll print it with F asterisks, asterisks. K, if you follow me. I mean, I don't want it offend, affect my readership who might be young, you know, can't use a lot of swear, those major swear words and I don't. Or if I have to, I do the asterisks thing.

Leafbox: 

Are there any topics that you wanted to publish but didn't because of concern or?

V. Vale: 

Oh, a lot. I mean, don't really want to, yeah, there probably lots. And they would involve politics and religion. And I, I prefer to just do interviews with individuals versus both three things. Smart, funny, and rebellious. All three. And I just prefer to have them talk about their lives and how they maintain their sense of freedom and how they get stuff done, even though it might not be as easy as as you might think, or it might be a lot harder than you think, rather, I don't know. Of course everyone has, A lot of these people I interview have little tiny tales of how they were oppressed or repressed. And I guess if I think people can be inspired by it, I include those stories.

Leafbox: 

Are you working on any new books right now, Phil, or any new collections? Other than, no,

V. Vale: 

No, no, I'm not. Although I should be writing my own autobiography, but that's the hardest thing in the world. I now know why everybody in the world has their autobiography say as written with blank. That written with is so important. It's like indispensable.

Leafbox: 

So I'm just curious, going back to Questions Vale and Marion, do you think the underground is actually more accessible now than ever, or not?

V. Vale: 

Well, first Stocker team said, if you want to converse with me, we must define our terms. And what's the hell does underground mean anymore? I think there's millions of underground now made up of just two or three people, and somehow they're isolated enough, they've spent enough time together that they're trying to live their own version of a alt culture life or counterculture life. And a lot of these people form bands too. I mean, I met some really nice people, young people, very young people who were in a band and I was envious. They're like, they're going to tour Australia for two weeks very soon and come back and play the Bay Area again. But they don't live here. They live way far away. I guess two members live in Nashville and one person lives in Jesus, where, was it Minneapolis or someplace very far. Oh yeah. We learn our songs through the internet, and then when we get together and practice for real rehearse, we already know the songs. So it's very fast. And then we can play, just play a show. I just thought that's great. And so, you know, can learn songs over the internet, I guess, for free, and that, that's kind of great to me. I mean, that's a great use of the internet, but I forgot the original question you asked.

Leafbox: 

Well, I think you connects back to what you said about and Oh,

V. Vale: 

Undergrounds.

Leafbox: 

Yeah. Well, I agree with you because I think there's that quote, you're going to be what Famous for 15 Minutes by Andy Warhol. Yeah. Wow. I think it's expanded to, I think Mom, the singer said, you'll be famous for 15 followers

V. Vale: 

And 15 seconds probably out of TikTok that what a TikTok video is, 15 seconds or something. Yeah, I mean, it's a combination of all that. And

Leafbox: 

No, I think you're right. I what is the underground is the biggest question now, is that someone just off the internet or I'm just curious what you define that as. We could start there.

V. Vale: 

Well, wait, I, I'd say it should be at least two people can be an underground. If they're in some terrible death lit place and all they have is each other to make an underground with, then they'll try and live an underground kind of life, which I guess you could describe an underground kind of life as it's, it's not so mainstream consumerist. It generally tends to avoid most mainstream media consumption. And actually, I meet a lot of people who are vegetarian or are mostly vegetarian that are young, and that didn't used to happen a million years ago. Take my word for it. So there's like characteristics, and I don't think there are any fashions anymore that are so dogmatic. I just, fashions are all over the map now that people dress. So you can't necessarily look at someone, but you can look at people and know that they're something underground about 'em. Can't quite put your finger on it, but some are more flamboyant than others. But I think the main thing is humor, a great sense of humor, just very critical of, I don't know, everything that deserves you to be critical of, and people survive you. I guess I can meet some people and right away know if I 'em a lot or not, just by talking to 'em.

I guess it's a design. You have a, you're building, you have a built in desire for a different way to live. Alternative culture, alternative music making, alternative media creation, all of the above. And alternative child raising. I mean, yeah, you don't want to be authoritarian with your child or I try to avoid that, but yet you must have boundaries, like I said, or they really don't think you love them. You got to say to them after they turn the early teenage, or Listen, I want you home tonight by eight 30. It's a school night or something like that. You don't just let them come home at midnight or something. Does that make any sense?

Leafbox: 

No, no, it's amazing. I think talking about the role of freedom and that aspect of authoritarianism, it's interesting because every night I tend to draw with my daughter maybe 30 minutes, 45 minutes. Oh, great. We always have drawing time, and every time we put all our art supplies, anyone, we share everything. And she always gets mad at me though, because she's like, dad, papa ba, stop tracing or stop looking at something at what you draw. I'm always trying to, I look at a house and I try to draw that house off a picture or something, but she draws in such a free way. She doesn't look at anything. She just looks at the paper and then starts going and wow, I think we're born just such free creatures. But then as we either develop and grow up, we start either mimicking or limiting what our innate natural desires are. So going back to that concept of group or the underground, she's underground in the sense that she's just doing what she wants to do. So I wanted to, the question getting to Vale is, in your music, it seems like you're very free. I was listening to some of your music. So how do you keep that freedom or that desire to not be constrained as you go on the life journey?

V. Vale: 

Well, first of all, again, your unconscious and your intuition has to be pushed to the foreground always. And a lot of times if I sit down to play the piano, I turn the recorder on it and hope something will come out that I didn't know I was going to play. And it's all simple. It's not doing super complex stuff, but if a melody or a song happens to show up, then I will do my best to turn it into a song with rhyming lyrics and all that. But a lot of my improvs are just improvs that I could never play again unless I sat down and memorized the darn things, then I can play it again. And I'm envious that I never thought of doing a drawing time every night with my daughter. It was just reading. I didn't think of trying to draw together. That's a brilliant idea.

Leafbox: 

Well, this, it's her idea. I like it. She's the one, she's the, oh good. She's the dictator. And we have story time after that, so don't worry, Val, she's getting her reading time as well. So it's a full two hour wind down every night with her. It's

V. Vale: 

So great

Leafbox: 

Drawing time, her little bit of homework she has and then right bath time or whatever it is. And then story time and very demanding. We always negotiating with her on how many few books, because as you know, it becomes exhausting to keep reading. Maybe I don't want to take too much of your time, but what are you guys most excited about right now? What are you looking forward to the future, or what are you most optimistic about?

V. Vale: 

Well, we were under lockdown so long that, and just a month or two ago, we made suddenly two airplane trips, one to Los Angeles where someone put on an event interviewing me that was super nice of them. And then in New York City where someone else just invited me there just to have a book table. And that was super fun. So I kind of wish we could do a little more traveling because you know what Burroughs said? He said it is necessary to travel. It is not necessary to live. And I think traveling is, but now I'm also meeting people who traveled to San Francisco and they come by yourself. So I seems like we went a long time with hardly having anybody over, and I didn't like that at all because of Covid. And so now I'm hoping we can just have more time with real people in rooms or homes or at restaurants, whatever the pretext are sitting in a park. And I'm looking forward to more social life. That sounds pathetic. Yeah,

Leafbox: 

No, I think, well, that's a whole crime that we can explore in another podcast, I guess the whole last three years or whatnot. But where, where's your next travel to? Do you have plans or you're still thinking about it?

V. Vale: 

I don't don't know. My daughter lives in New York, so I wouldn't mind going to New York again. I had so much fun in the week I was there. There's so much to do there. And I mean, I didn't like New York necessarily so much before, but this trip was really fun, total fun. And there's a million people out in the street. I don't know if you know this, but San Francisco is, it's super le, a lot less people everywhere. It's weird.

Leafbox: 

No, it's going

V. Vale: 

Through a rough, I mean, I wouldn't

Leafbox: 

Say rough patch. Yeah,

V. Vale: 

Yeah, I'll say. And I live in North Beach, which is the best tourist area probably in the city. And still it's way down. So many stores have gone under, it's really that I liked. So it makes me sad, but there's nothing I can do about it.

Leafbox: 

Do you guys ever wonder moving or

V. Vale: 

No, no, no. I will never move. But I noticed that since Covid, I've been going out and hanging out at Washington Square four blocks away, way more than I ever did before. And I think my mind needs to see all that huge expansive green grass and those real tall green trees and here are the birds. I never did that once, ever before Covid. And I've only finally got wise to doing this in the last few months, very recently. And so that's a big thrill to me. I'm going to go to the post office after we're done talking and then I'm going to hang out in the park for a little bit. Like I said, just drinking in the sight of all this green grass.

Leafbox: 

Great. Well Vale, I really appreciate your time. I love how you guys are still free and pushing for an interest in just the surreal or the weird or the unusual. And here in Hawaii where I live, I've become a huge fan of Costco. And I always think about, oh, me

V. Vale: 

Too. I love Costco. I wrote a song about it. I loved it so much.

Leafbox: 

So I think

V. Vale: 

That I, sorry, I interrupted you.

Leafbox: 

No, no, no. I was going to just agree with you. I think that the first time I ever heard of someone loving Costco was from you. And then I come to Hawaii and Costco's a different thing than the mainland. And no, just because food is so expensive here that you just have to rely on Costco a lot and it just becomes a great institution. And it's strange that it's just like you're reading the financial times. These kind of mainstream normal things actually become quite surreal and weird and there's a treasure in them, which I appreciate.

V. Vale: 

Oh, I'm glad you're a Costco fan. Go there a lot. Because people don't understand a simple principle that I try to do all my shopping at Costco because everything there is wholesale or just a cut above wholesale. And so why shop anywhere else? You didn't get this huge bunch of bananas for $2 and something. I don't know. I buy essentials there. I got addicted to blueberries. And you can get 'em cheaper there than any other store. Take my word for it. So I buy lots of blueberry packs that blueberries last at least a week or more. And I think they're really good for you. So I never was a blueberry addict until just a few months ago. I realized things like that. But everything that, just remember everything there is wholesale. So why shop anywhere else?

Leafbox: 

Well, I think that connects back to your kind of do it yourself kind of punk attitude, which I just looking for treasures and looking for solutions. So if that's how you make it work in San Francisco, I think that's great, right?

V. Vale: 

Yeah. Yeah. I'm glad you have a Costco in Hawaii. You're lucky. That's so great.

Leafbox: 

Anyway, Vale, I really appreciate your time, Marian as well. Anything else you want to share with people or

V. Vale: 

Well just read every book you can and find on surrealism and there's not that many of them, maybe 10,000, but it'll take a little work to find them. And I'd say if you ever find a book on surrealism cheap at a garage sale, buy it!

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