I was already sitting at my computer on Monday when I “sat down” with Tao Lin (blog, twitter), author of the recently released Shoplifting From American Apparel, to have a little gchat about being fucked, Dan Brown’s new book, and his new life as an internet t-shirt model.
I volunteered that we’d keep this interview embargoed until next week sometime, but am posting it now so the New York Times will see they’re not the only ones breaking those things these days.
Here, have a look at what we talked about!
An Interview with Tao Lin, author of Shoplifting From American Apparel
me: shall we chat?
(No, that’s not it! There’s more! After the jump…)
me: these questions are random and may resemble ink thrown at a wall, but ok!
tao: sounds good
me: the book, shoplifting from american apparel, obviously has a title that has people going ‘hmmmmm.’ how would you say “shoplifting” differs from straight-up theft? does it? is there a sense of reclaiming what’s rightfully yours in the former?
tao: To me “straight-up theft” and “shoplifting” mean the same thing, to “gain[ing] ownership of something for free that the previous owner was selling.”
me: ah. but in the book, the item in question was reclaimed, yea? so the title really only applies to the few seconds that you walked out before the big man took you inside. which is cool. i have nothing wrong with that.
me: i’ve actually used the bathroom there, inside, at the american apparel on north 6th street. my girlfriend used to work there. how would you, or, sam, interpret that? is that fucked? or, poetic?
tao: “Seems good.”
me: sam, whom some would call the “protagonist,” is kinda “fucked,” as you note, and it appears he may have put himself in that position, what with bailing on sheila and all. does he represent anything? you see the fucked generation as at fault or victims of a larger ploy?
me: do u want to “pass”?
tao: (what do you mean, i responded)
tao: To me Sam is representative of a very small minority of “[whatever generation he is literally in].” I feel that Sam is not a victim, and that he is able to move through the world freely and in a manner that is satisfying to himself artistically and physically. Sam seems able to work to put himself into positions where he feels satisfied. I would say that Sam, when he says he is “fucked,” is doing what he wants to do. Saying “I’m fucked” in a certain tone, with a certain amount of self-awareness, is satisfying in some ways to some people.
me: oh! didn’t get that.
tao: (think one of our gchats might be broken)
me: weird. google. ok.
me: so, are you sam? or is sam someone you strive to be? or just straight-up fiction…
tao: Sam is a character I created using myself as a model. But it seems like ‚”me” is also a character I am constantly ‚”creating” using ‚”myself” as a model.
me: the book is for sale, today of course, which is why we are talking. i’ll be linking to amazing for peeps to buy it. how important is an amazon sales rank these days?
me: (amazing = amazon…freudian slip?)
tao: (hehe, damn)
tao: Seems important, to some degree. If any book sells an amount of copies, “thus” influencing the economy a certain amount, mainstream publications will “cover it” no matter what the book is about. The New York Times reviewed Dan Brown’s new book yesterday I think.
me: yes they broke an embargo, which is apparently a big deal.
me: can we say this interview is embargoed until next week or something and then i can break it and you can tweet about how angry you are?
tao: Sounds good.
me: ok, i won’t post this until next week due to our embargo.
me: it says “Gift-wrap available,” but i imagine it’s boring jeff bezos type shit. do you get to pick the gift wrap? if u could, what would you wrap it in?
tao: I would wrap Shoplifting from American Apparel in Bookforum pages maybe.
me: and if you had $100,000 to run a “viral campaign,” what would you do?
for the book…
tao: Buy as many 2″ x 2″ ads in the next “the New Yorker” as $100,000 can get it.
me: There “might be an additional 15% charge for all bleed advertisements,” says the New Yorker’s media kit. That’s frightening.
tao: Sounds “harsh.”
me: you’ve recently entered the apparel business as an esteemed model for the iamcarles line of clothes. what is iamcarles aiming to do? and how’s life as an internet model?
tao: Carles is pretty secretive about his plans for I Am Carles. But I think he wants to start his own airline company. Life as an internet model seems okay. I seem to have no opinion about it. I don’t know what the other model, Bebe, thinks about me. I’ve been in group chats with her and Carles and she seems to ignore me.
me: thats a shame. bebe might be self-conscious about the other apparel line bebe.
me: the media was going crazy for a while there when everyone was scooping each other on the “are you carles?” beat. did you ever feel the the journalists/bloggers trying to get that scoop had shark eyes for the “crazy links” that the blog with the exclusive would get?
tao: Sort of, I think.
me: why are we all obsessed with crazy links? besides traffic, what does a link mean, and why are morning or afternoon link dumps so damn common?
tao: Are you talking about “hits?” If you’re talking about “mad hits” it just seems better to have them than to not have them. I’ve never heard the term “crazy links.”
me: when is your album dropping?
And that’s that. I hope you find yourselves more worldly, a tad bit more compassionate to animals, and confused. Perhaps to fix that, considering buying Tao’s new book, Shoplifting from American Apparel, today.