For those of you not "in-the-know" Astro Al is the star of a continuing scfi/comedy series in Instant Magazine (P.O. Box 2224, Woburn, Ma. 01888, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.instantmag.com). The series was/is created and written by Paul Angelosanto.
This interview was either conducted in a bar in deep space in the far future, or it was conducted in someone's mind in the present. You be the judge.
Astro Al: Hello Earth Man of the past! It's a pleasure to have you here.
Paul Angelosanto: Yeah, whatever.
Astro Al: Do you like your drink?
Paul: What is it called? And what is that glowing thing floating in it?
Astro Al: The drink is called "A Decaying Orbit Fizz" and that glowing thing in it is a radioactive chunk of a satellite.
Paul: Is it dangerous?
Astro Al: I don't think so, its supposed to be a flavor enhancer. You know like nicotine.
Paul: Oh. Can we get on with this interview, I have to go home and water my pet fish.
Astro Al: Sure. So tell me about the book, Drowning Kittens and Road Gods.
Paul: Its a collection of poetry, photography, and artwork that I put together with three artists. It has many different styles of poetry in it, ranging from beat to gothic to comic to the romantic. There's rhyme and no rhyme and some things that are blatant and others sublime. There's an epic poem in there as well. The epic poem is, Road Gods and it tells the story of three 20 something's and a killing spree.
Astro Al: What's the low down gravity on the artists and their artwork?
Paul: Well my good friend T.G. Yearwood is back on board. He only had the time to create four images for the book but as always, T.G.'s stuff packs quite a punch. He created four pictures using photo shop that really compliment the poems. Two of the poems that he made the images for are his favorites of mine so he really threw as much as he could into them. Plus they're so damn sexy! The one he made for the poem, the Undead Lover sizzles. Then there's Greg Grinnell, he creates these truly deviant images with his computer. My descriptions of them would hardly do them justice. The one with Elvis in it is funny and oddly creepy at the same time.
Astro Al: Elvis? I met him once. Funny you should be writing about Elvis and I met him and all...
Paul: Yes, six degrees of separation and all that. But the poem isn't really about Elvis. Its about paranoia. I only use the King as a launching point for this paranoid rant. The poem is really about seeing things that aren't there. But as I was saying Greg's image for that poem is pretty impressive. Some of the ones he designed for Road Gods really stand-out as well. They mostly seem to involve overlays of insects onto desert roads.
Astro Al: There's one other artist isn't there? By the way, how's the fizz?
Paul: This drink is smashing, literally. I think that radioactive thingie in there broke one of me teeth and melted one of my fillings.
Astro Al: They've been known to do worse. I told you to order a "Hal 2000 Highball" they're much smoother. So back to the third artist.
Paul: Yes. His name is David Stickney. He's quite a guy. He contributed some really sharp black and white photography. He helped give the book a more organic feel because he has lots of people in his shots. David really knows how to use shadow and light. He did a great job posing the cover model.
Astro Al: And just who is the lovely female on the cover? Paul: Laura Clifford.
Astro Al: Single?
Paul: Married. Why?
Astro Al: Oh just asking. I have a girlfriend, now anyways. Her name's Hilda Freesprout.
Paul: Yes, I'm sure you do. You know a different version of "Al's Adventures in Space" appears in the book as well. That's your first recorded adventure isn't it?
Astro Al: It sure is. I'm glad to see I made it in there. So what else can you tell us about the book?
Paul: Its a perfect bound glossy book. Its as slick and professional looking as anything on the market, thanks in large part to the graphic designer, Steve Norton. He really did some great work with the typefaces, and layout. We used some fonts that were made by the guy who created the symbol that Prince uses instead of his name. There's a poem in the book called, "Jack's Highways and By-ways" in it I "sample" Edgar Allan Poe's the Raven. Its my tribute to some of my influences, Keurac, Poe, and Jim Morrison.
Astro Al: What do you mean by "sample"?
Paul: I quote parts of the Raven and weave it into the poem. I figured if bands can do it with music, why not poetry? It gives the poem flavor but in no way takes it over. Its my tip of the hat to the "man".
Astro Al: Give me some more details about the epic poem.
Paul: Well it basically follows three travelers. A guy and two girls. They're on the road searching for themselves, their own religions. They're being hunted by someone who believes that he's already found what they seek. Its kind of like "On the Road" with a body count. Does that sound silly? I don't care if it does. Its about the loss of ourselves in a junk culture and there's bullets and smut stuffed in between. Its a story in poetic form. Its very linear and fast.
Astro Al: Did you say "smut"?
Paul: Yeah there's some sex scenes in there but they're all very poetic.
Astro Al: I like smut. But only if its spacey.
Paul: No space smut in the book. However there is as I said a new version of your first story.
Astro Al: What's different about it?
Paul: The ending. After reading your first story about a billion times I felt as though the ending needed to be changed some what. So I expanded the ending. More stuff with you and the Martian.
Astro Al: Good. More me, that's always nice. Unless its at the waistline. Could make it tough to get into my space zoot suit. What other poems does the book contain?
Paul: Anyone who showed up to any of my readings in the last couple of years will see a lot of familiar stuff in it. I've been "road testing" a lot of the poems in there in front of audiences for some time. One of the ones that people seem to really love, "Varney the Vampire and I" is in it, that's a spoofy one about vampires. "Blade of Grass" which is a real trippy piece is in it. There's also one called, "Out in the Open" which I wrote based on one of Greg Grinnell's pieces of art. Greg was showing me some samples of his work when we first began discussing this project and one piece in particular really hit me and I wrote a poem based around it. Actually I really wrote two versions of the same poem and put the best one in the book. The picture is one of those cut and paste sort of things. It really has this sort of world within worlds feel to it. Another crowd favorite, "The Zen of Pez" is in there too.
Astro Al: Feeling any fallout from that drink yet? I understand why you have Road Gods in the title but why Drowning Kittens? You have a sick fetish or something?
Paul: I feel nothing but maybe that's an effect of the drink. The reason I wrote the poem Drowning Kittens is because of a story my mother told me when I was little. She told me about how when she was a young girl a man in her neighborhood used to have a female cat which he was too cheap to get neutered. Whenever it got pregnant and had a litter of kittens he would take them, stuff them in a sack, and throw them in a pond. I could never forget that story because so many kids skate on that pond (and so did I once or twice) and I just can't help but think about what we were skating above. More so I couldn't get over how empty that guy had to be to do such a thing. The poem changed however when a few years ago a young au pair in Boston (they don't have much luck around here) got murdered. She thought she was going to love it here and that it was going to be a land of magic. Instead she got cut in half. Somehow I felt that there was a correlation and I re-wrote the poem. Born into a new world we all hope for something better only to find out how desolate our would be masters are.
Astro Al: That's deep space man.
Paul: Hey, can we wrap this up? My chia pets getting lonely.
Astro Al: I've been to your swinging bachelor pad, I know you don't have a chia pet.
Paul: Well then my Pez dispenser is getting lonely.
Astro Al: That I believe. Well until next time Earth boy!
Paul: Yeah, go utilize your spine.
Drowning Kittens and Road Gods will soon be available in many bookstores. If you wish you can order it by mail. Send a check or money order for $12.00 (that includes postage and handling) to: Paul Angelosanto, 3 Walsh Ave., Stoneham, Ma. 02180