Scott Thomas Outlar: First off, Red, thanks for taking some of your time for an interview here at 17Numa. Your work does not exactly sugarcoat life, to say the least. What do you think the point of poetry and art is? Have you always been interested in exposing the underbelly of society?
Red Focks: In a world where the “sugar coated” alternative is what gets swallowed the most, I believe one purpose that art has is to be bitter, sour, or spicy. Another purpose that art and poetry have had for me is straight therapeutic value. Hitchhiking from coast to coast, meeting the biggest wingnuts walking the streets of America, getting arrested, thrown in the nut-house, getting stabbed, getting so high I forgot what up was; this has gotten me up to my neck in the underbelly of society. I enjoy exposing this walk of life, just as much as the higher-ups of society who engage in all the same activities, with their pinky fingers up.
STO: Your writing and paintings seem to be laced with signs, symbols, numbers, and allusions to seedy political realities. Are you drawn toward occult and conspiratorial knowledge? If so, where have those sorts of rabbit holes taken your consciousness?
RF: I am a self-proclaimed “conspiracy theorist”. I figure that most of these “theories” about the American government (9/11, The never-ending wars for profit, JFK, MLK, Cointelpro, Operation Mockingbird) are not theories at all in 2017. Facts have presented themselves- people feel more comfortable, not thinking too much about it. It’s brilliant, because the result is a bunch of tribes, divided by fears, location, and color, blaming each other over the pain and suffering caused by a handful of evil families.
The conspiracy theories which I have fun in the rabbit hole with, appeal to the absurdist in me. The Mandela Effect and the theories involving CERN and quantum physics, has had me convinced that life as we know it is a system of 1s and 0s in a computer. It’s also just funny to tell a group of strangers that Katy Perry is Jon Benet Ramsey, or HRC is a shapeshifting reptile. (and No, the earth is not flat)
The symbolism in the art (hidden or blatant) is also absurdism. Sometimes with an abstract piece, I will throw a bunch of 666’s or upside-down cross’ in, for shits-n-gigs. Then I’ll sell it to a nice, wholesome, Christian who doesn’t even see the blasphemy lost within the lines and splotches. Then I think about how crazy it would be, if this person was otherwise a perfect candidate to go to heaven; but because they idolized my sinful art, Jesus sends them to Hell.
STO: What’s your opinion on the current climate of society at this point? Where in the hell is all this modern madness leading humanity?
RF: War. New wars, with more exotic enemies with elaborate motives. A lot of citizens really are sick of it, and the effect it has on society; but blame either Trump or Obama for it, thus dividing us further.
I hope that one day (even if it’s thousands of years from now) all of civilization can coexist the way it should. We could achieve so much, and go so far if the divide wasn’t there.
STO: You, along with Jay Miner, recently started up your own publishing house, Alien Buddha Press. What made you decide to get involved with publishing books? What inspired the dope name for the press?
RF: The name came from Jay Miner, and a series of haikus and one liners that he would write, and post in online poetry groups. We are a part of a network of extremely talented artists and writers, who we felt were a relatively untapped honey hole of talent. Jay and I both had the idea for such an endeavor, and it’s gotten off to a great start.
STO: What is your overall vision for ABP?
RF: To produce quality content, which improves on the zeitgeist, and disregards the status quo.
I had a blast working on your book, “Poison in Paradise”. From an illustrator’s standpoint it was the perfect project to display some choice photog I’d been saving. It’s a wonderful collection of poems about adversity and the human spirit.
Then there’s “Surfing the Appellation Vortex” by Mark Hartenbach, “The Headpoke” by Paul Brookes, “Screamo Lullabies” by Robert J.W., “MY NAME IS GIORNA ALZAVOLA” (self-titled), “LOKO”motion of Life by Adam Levon Brown and “Irritable Brain Syndrome” by Willie Smith. These books are available on Amazon.com. Any of which is a real gem for anybody who likes to read poetry; and I am proud of every title.
STO: Can you talk a bit about some of your own books that have been published at this point? What type of material and themes do they delve into, and where can they be purchased by those who are interested in picking up copies?
RF: My first attempt was a short little poetry book called “Punk’s Not Nice”. It is a collection of 40 poems that I wrote in the winter of 2015-16. (Production wise, it reads like my first attempt). My second title is “Election Day” which was released at the end of the last election. It is 2 years’ worth of poetry, with little blurbs and jokes in-between to make it about the election. Aside from the page where I boldly claim that Hillary was going to win, I am happy with how it turned out. My most recent title is, and the first released through ABP is “Apophenia”. This is a poetry AND art book. It includes over 60 color prints. These are all available on Amazon as well.
STO: As 2017 continues rolling along, what are your expectations for the latter half of the year? Are there any new projects coming up that you’re particularly excited about?
RF: Two projects that I would like to note are “American Antihero”, a graphic novel we wish to continue expanding upon; and the first anthology book, which feature the work of ABP and its collaborators.
SO: Thanks again for your time, Red. If there’s anything else that you’d like to mention that my questions didn’t hit on, please feel free to share it here. The floor belongs to you.
RF: Alien Buddha is accepting submissions for publication at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you, Scott and 17Numa, for featuring me here. Peace. Pot. Microdot.