Sam Pink - Mixture of anger and dead babies and umbilical cords. It alternates swiftly from humor and playfulness to isolation and sadness

Sam Pink, Frowns Need Friends Too! (Afterbirth Books, 2010)

"A unique perspective on urban life, presented as short snapshots of prose, this book by outsider author Sam Pink defies traditional categories or conventions. Including such subjects as "I Heart Unending Paranoia," "Because You Know You're Avoiding Going Somewhere But Don't Even Know Where Yet," and "I'm Not Going To Change My Clothes Today," Pink's collection is bizarre, funny, and original."

"One of my favorite new writers is a crazy guy named Sam Pink. He’s brilliant and funny, sometimes sad, always genius. His new book is called Frowns Need Friends Too and I’m going to plug the crap out of this book every day for the rest of my life because I think everyone who checks it out will agree with me: Pink is definitely going places. I can’t wait until the day I can say I knew him when he was a wiseass little shit only a handful of people had read. So, check it out." - Gina Ranalli

"Sam Pink told me before he wrote Frowns need Friends Too he traveled to the Upper Peninsular of Michigan in the middle of winter. He bought a snowmobile and traveled deep in the American forest. Sam Pink sat under a tall coniferous tree in the zazen and meditated for 40 days and 40 nights. During those forty nights the devil made him work each new day at a different occupation. One day he was a marketing agent making a commercial for Nike, one day he was a stock broker on Wall Street. One day he was he was a politician for a congressional restrict in Nebraska, and on other days he was a poor white factory worker in the Rust Belt making small plastic parts, a Mexican picking fruit in California, a black person that had made and became a nurse with a good 401K plan, then he became a billionaire with tax shelters in the Caribbean, he was a poor black crack head walking down the street with nowhere to go and nothing to do, a soldier hunting down terrorists in Afghanistan and finally one of those people that shop at Wal-Mart that scare normal people with their obesity, bad outfits, and mid 80s hair style. The devil made him try all these jobs and said, “Which job do you want Sam Pink? And Sam Pink replied, “You will never recover from how you treat yourself?” Sam Pink stood up, stretched, yawned, and walked out of the forest to a local bar in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He found several men and women sitting in a bar drinking draft beer. He sat at the bar and said, “I forcefed you smegma with my fingernail and we sat naked on the tile floor- carefully avoiding every emotion. We became normal again.”
A middle-aged woman at the bar with stretch marks on her belly from having three kids said to Sam Pink, “I don’t want many friends because I am too weak for that kind of work. I am too weak to have friends.”
Sam Pink Replied, “It is okay to hurt someone’s feelings. It is ok.”
The woman smiled and lit a cigarette.
The oldest man in the bar who didn’t know the difference between the Twin Towers and the World Trade Center said, “I don’t know what I am doing.”
Sam Pink smiled and said, “But sometimes I accidentally tell the truth. One day I will fulfill my greatest aspiration when I walk down the sidewalk and take off my pants and beneath the pants there’s another pair of pants and then I keep walking, never returning to retrieve the previous pair of pants.”
The people in the bar felt his words and knew this was bad. They could not allow such words and contamination of the youth to take place. Sam Pink saw there faces and said, “I’ve felt stupid and fake every time I’ve apologized.” Sam Pink laughed.
One of the men at the bar pulled out a hand gun and shot Sam Pink several times. Sam Pink laid on the floor of the bar and thought that the floor was dirty and said, “It will never be over.” - Noah Cicero
Sam Pink, I am Going to Clone Myself then Kill the Clone and Eat It (Paper Hero Press, 2008)

"There may be something dreadfully wrong with Sam Pink. His brain clearly isn’t wired right. It seems at least slightly possible that he is the illegitimate offspring of Andy Kaufman and Jean Paul Sartre. His new book, I am Going to Clone Myself then Kill the Clone and Eat It, is composed of pieces that you want to call poems, but that aren’t quite. Sometimes he approaches prose, but never quite makes it there. These pieces are each a mixture of something like poetry, prose, epigrams, non-sequiters, lists, instructions, weird jokes and absurdist musings.
If I were to attempt the impossible task of comparing Pink’s work to something that came before, I would say that he is a much smarter Jack Handy, but even that doesn’t quite explain it. Reading the book I tried to draw comparisons to Steve Martin’s Cruel Shoes and some of Woody Allen’s writing (both are much tamer than what Pink offers). At his best, Pink is insane. Consider the following from his Poem(?) ‘I Will Produce a Meaningful Moment in Your Life then Stop Communicating With You So You Feel Hurt’:
“Your breath smells like gumballs.
That makes me horny.
I will pull your skin over a streetlight and inspect it for flaws.
Don’t look at me.
I will donate my organs provided that my large intestine (undamaged) will be used as a snorkel.
My friend died in the toilet.”
The absurdity is almost unbearable, but then later in the same poem he moves toward beauty:
“When the moon spills, sleep in its belly.
In a womb finely-threaded.
In a pink hued swamp kept body-temperature.”
Nearly every piece in the book is like this. Pink constantly juxtaposes the painfully strange with the painfully beautiful. He has drawn several perfect renditions of the existentialist view, that life is absurdly tragic. In one of the best pieces he insists that:
“If I ever decide to shoot myself in the head I will make sure to stuff my mouth with confetti so that it looks pretty for no one.”
That sentence alone would have given Camus a chuckle, I am sure. Maybe the best thing about this book is that while you are reading it you are never quite certain if you should laugh or scream at what is on the page; the same reaction we have toward life.
Any Cop?: Pink is brilliantly weird, but certainly not for everyone." - Nathan Tyree

"If I hadn’t gone to AWP, I might never have read anything by Sam Pink. Someone had told me he wasn’t a real person, that he was a pseudonym for someone else. I guess that turned me off from reading his stuff. I don’t know. I don’t really remember. But then one day at AWP I got bored and walked over to the Dogzplot table where Barry Graham shoved Sam’s book into my hand and told me to buy it. “Sam’s right there,” he said, pointing at this dude who looked like a cross between Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver and my college boyfriend, Evan. He had a hood up over his head and was gnawing on his fingers. “You should have him sign it,” Barry said. It was kind of a dirty trick. What else could I do? I didn’t want to hurt the guy’s feelings. So I bought the book and had him sign it and the next morning, alone in my hotel room with a pot of shitty hotel room coffee and nothing good on TV, I flipped the book open and started reading.
Maybe if I’d been familiar with Sam’s writing all along, if I’d read the pieces that constitute the book here and there on various internet sites over the past year or two, I wouldn’t have felt so knocked out by them. It’s impossible to tell. Reading any writer’s work as a whole is an entirely different experience than reading one or two pieces by them at random, and, in Sam’s case, it has the potential to kick the shit out of you. Which is exactly what happened to me. I read the first and last (it’s called “Dead Horse.” It’s not online. Suckas. But I’ll give you the first line, “If I ever find a dead horse, I am going to beat the fucking shit out of it.” Nice, huh?) pieces in the book and after that I knew I was going to read everything he wrote from now on.
Not that Sam Pink is for everyone. The lazy man’s comparison I guess would be to Bukowski but only because in both cases, their writing is completely raw and stripped down and honest to the point of being potentially offensive to the easily (or not-so-easily) offended. More than Bukowski, however, Sam’s writing reminds me of Kurt Cobain’s or Eminem’s, with a mixture of anger and dead babies and umbilical cords. It alternates swiftly from humor and playfulness to isolation and sadness. You might read a piece through the first time laughing your ass off, but if you stay on the page long enough, let the words really sink in, you soon realize, hey, this isn’t funny at all, actually, this is really fucked up and sick and heartbreaking as hell. I guess reading Sam Pink is sort of like watching a scene in A Clockwork Orange or Reservoir Dogs. One second you’re yucking it up, not a care in the world, and the next your mouth’s hanging wide open, no sound is coming out, and you can’t believe what the hell just happened.
I wish Barry could personally force this book into each one of your hands, with Sam lurking in the corner, looking equal parts scary and vulnerable. In lieu of that, I offer you this excerpt from a piece in the book called “I Am the Dictator”:
We decided that freedom could be a dangerous thing in our fort utopia so some form of political structure was needed. I said plutocracy but you countered with dictatorship and I quickly said, “I call dictator.”
You shrugged and allowed it because I was the dictator and if you fucked with me, that’d be it. Our first task was to enact the systematic exclusion of all unwanted elements. We created death camps. One for everyone. We killed everyone.
After the exterminations, you said you felt sleepy and you lay down on the fort floor and fell asleep. I put my hand on your stomach and it was warm. Inside was something. To that something went the blood of your body.
I ate another handful of cereal and pulled out a bunch of plastic bags from my pocket.
I laid the bags out on the floor and straddled you.
I slid my forefinger and middle finger into your mouth along the crease of your tongue. My fingers felt warm inside. My stomach and groin tightened.
You continued to breathe and I put my mouth by yours.
I said, “I am the dictator.”
Then I put my whole hand in your mouth and began pushing it down your throat. Your throat was tight and smooth. I got an erection. I kept my hand narrow. The mechanical hand searching for a stuffed animal.
And Now Sam Pink Answers Some Questions:

What brought you to writing?
- the bad people made me do it. they are mean. the bad people make me sleep too long or they don't let me sleep. the bad people look like air.
the other answer is, no one would play pogs with me anymore.
What if I want to be the dictator? Will that be a problem?
- maybe there is an infinite amount of dictators and they state themselves into power in every conversation. elizabeth ellen, you can become the dictator. you have to dislike yourself so much that you're distracted into being mean to someone else. then you have to actually like it.
That sounds like a lot of work. I changed my mind. I don’t want to be the dictator anymore. When did you first start publishing online and how did you come to find the places where your work is published?
-the first thing was published maybe a year and some months ago. the places either asked for work or i sent it to places i liked because of steady value, like LAMINATION COLONY,NO POSIT, ROBOT MELON, COCONUT POETRY and DOGMATIKA.
Would you really beat a dead horse if you came across one? Or is that just a figure of speech?
- i found a deer skeleton on the side of a lake two summers ago and i showed it to someone, and the someone kicked the spine and some bones fell off and we walked away. that is a true story elizabeth ellen. you know, elizabeth ellen, i think we're going to make it, you and me kid.
What do the people in your "real life" think of your writing?
-from the way i am thinking about how i remember these people thinking out loud about the writing, it seems they don't care at all and they seem to know that that would be how i would write something. i only ask someone what s/he thinks by getting really close to his/her face and pressing my forehead into his/her forehead unblinking, and repeating the word "huh" over and over.
You know how in "Painful Gender Reassignment Staple Gun Steroid Injection Maternal Crucifixion" you say, "I will claim you as my own when everyone else disclaims you"? Is that true? Do you really mean that? Or are you just bullshitting me?
- elizabeth ellen, you know it is true. elizabeth ellen, i will claim you as my own when everyone else disclaims you. why would i bullshit you elizabeth ellen. you know it is true. the writing you are referring to is an autobiographical account of my twenty second birthday which i spent in a garage alone, trying to reassign my own gender with tools and hormones. the hormones didn't work because they were just empty tylenol capsules filled with gasoline.
A lot of your pieces, though unquestionably comedic, also have a romantic feel to them. Do you consider yourself a romantic?
- i am going to use an answer countdown for this question for no reason other than possible entertainment: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1--
i think everything that is said in the book is paralleled by something that says the opposite. so it says nothing. but it makes sense to me because i can't figure anything out. it makes sense to me to feel one way, then immediately feel the opposite.
Well, I think this is what’s so compelling about your writing. And why it’s both laugh-out-loud funny and extremely powerful and honest. It’s also what sets it apart from everything else. I feel like you’re incapable of writing bullshit. Or untruths. Everything you write feels very stripped down and immediate and raw. Do you edit your pieces after you write them? How long do you typically spend working on a piece before sending it out?
- if i read something i wrote and get the sudden urge to breakdance, then i know it is ready to be sent out. i haven’t sent anything out in a hot minute though. i think i want to. i like journals. cool journals make my life less poopy.
Did you have a particular person in mind when writing these pieces?
- i thought this question three times in a row and i kept answering it the same way so here it is: yes. yes, elizabeth ellen (special note for elizabeth ellen: this is going well, i think people who read it are going to like it, i really do. will you play mariokart with me, i can beat you don't yell at me when i pinch your knee)
(special note to sam pink: I don’t know. I get the feeling people online are all too ready to hate. and argue. And be assholes. So I assume many people will be making mean comments before they’ve read half the interview. (Oh man, I sound really cynical here. Why am I so cynical, Sam? Actually, there are just as many nice, supportive people online as mean, argumentative, asshole ones. So to answer your question again, I’d have to say, I think some people will like it and some people won’t. Also, I just realized I put all my questions/comments in bold so that I seem more important than you. Think it’s working?) I do not know what mariokart is. Therefore, no promises, re: yelling. I guess you just have to take your chances.)
elizabeth, you have become the frosting on the generic poptart i eat with a burning stomach in the morning when i don’t know what i am going to do with the day.
What's with your obsession with dust/hair/dirt/fingers/bones/intestines/insects/dead leaves/eyelashes? Are you really Kurt Cobain? Did you fake your own death like Elvis?
- i don't know what's going on. i only remember feeling one intense moment of need for my mom and that was when i was seven and i started at a new school and i didn't want to do it and i cried walking in and i held her arm tightly. i felt stupid and weak. sometimes i believe that saying, 'i hate myself' is the only thing that can be said truthfully.
So you are Kurt Cobain then.
- i am tupac.
Do your genitals really stay up after drinking whiskey as you claim in "I Am the Dictator"?
- the only thing that softens my genitals is the kind of sadness you get where you keep thinking, 'i am an ugly idiot.'
Man, now I feel like an asshole for asking. Your answer made me sad. You were supposed to say something funny there, Sam. Are you trying to break my heart or what?
- i just imagined your heart broken and it looked like when a nerf football gets ripped in half and doesn’t really fit back together.
What sort of email do you get in response to your pieces? Do you get an equal amount of love and hate? Do chicks seem to dig you more or less than dudes?
- i don't get a lot of emails but the people who email me are always nice. people are very polite. it would feel strange to open an email that took time to express a dislike for me. i would be confused. i vaguely think that i have received more attention from chicks than dudes, but maybe dudes are being all quiet and shit when the chicks are just like, 'fuck the dudes i'm finna say something' but then dudes overhear and are all, 'hell nah chicks' and then the dudes make mean faces and get more quiet, but the whole time, chicks continues to email, and you know, really present a case for their superiority, casting dudes to a role of insignificance compared to chicks. though i think what i really happening is that dudes are presenting themselves as chicks to fool me into thinking more chicks like me so if I brag then dudes'll be like 'no you're wrong because we are the chicks you idiot' and then dudes will laugh while chicks remain an inconstant part of my life.
Or maybe you’re actually a chick like J.T. Leroy and the jokes on us.
- i am actually an improv group from chicago. we take turns. that’s why the material is always different.
What inspires your writing?
- feeling like a small rock in a Home Depot bucket hidden in someone's garage.
So if one day you woke up and suddenly felt like a big rock, do you think you’d no longer feel compelled to write?
- i think if i woke up a big rock i would think negative thoughts about myself until i was a small rock again. then i would maybe be interested in being a big rock again.
Why Slayer? Why not Metallica or Anthrax? Also, are you a Satanist? And/or my college boyfriend, Evan?
- this is sincere: it isn't 'why not _____?' it is 'yes slayer.' i have never been listening to slayer and thought, 'this is stupid i don't like it.' i think there's a point during the anthemic 'altar of sacrifice'during which tom arraya says, 'enter to the realm of satan' and is then followed by one of the song's eight whammybar solos. need i say more. I don't ironically like slayer. i genuinely like slayer. to answer you last two questions: i, as satan's spirit, inhabited the body of your college boyfriend [experiencing first feelings of the interview not going well]
Do you write every day?
- Yes
You've published a couple plays. notably, one in mlp press. Why plays? Who do you think you are, Eugene O'Neill?
- i think i actually remember the reason. the reason was that i wanted to write longer things that were like fiction but i didn't like to write paragraphs and have to write out full ideas. it is easier. if i were eugene o neill i would buy a coat with huge pockets, or like i would sew giant purses into the coat and then fill the pockets or purses with copies of 'the iceman cometh' and i would let them drop out around people and be like, 'oh, huh, what's this shit?' while holding my driver's license next to the book.
elizabeth ellen, eugene o neill accomplished more than i ever will by blinking once and then thinking about it.
The thing I find maybe most interesting about your writing is your ability to make the reader feel they know you intimately, without ever revealing anything personal about yourself. Do you know what I mean? Does that make sense? There are no specific details about your mom or dad or ex girlfriends or childhood or sex life. And yet, by the end of the book, I totally felt like you were one of my best friends and I’d known you a very long time. So either I’m a total sucker (and, believe me, there’s plenty of evidence to support this theory), or you’ve pulled off something almost impossible to do when it comes to writing (or both. Why can’t there be both?). Are you conscious while writing of retaining your personal privacy? Or are you just uninterested in revealing personal details about your life history and those who play(ed) a role in it? Do you think you will ever write something that includes those sorts of details?
- i am glad you feel like you are my best friend. my goal is to make that happen with everyone then use everyone for like, free rides and places to sleep and food. i consider the work to be all about my personal life, just not in a direct way. i am proud of my ability to be mean to myself, so i feel like i am not interested in protecting myself and maybe that’s a friendly quality because i don’t want to be a liar to people. i think the phrase “i am not important, so be nice” all the time." - Interview with Elizabeth Ellen
Sam Pink, The Self-Esteem Holocaust Comes Home (Six Gallery Press, 2009)


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