A Few Questions for John Lurie


There is a caveman in my apartment examining the fur. I wish he would leave. by John Lurie


Painter, musician and all-around bohemian oddball, John Lurie will be speaking at Nitehawk Cinema tonight following a screening of several episodes of his deeply weird reality series, Fishing with John. We asked him a few questions about the series, the screening and what he’s been up to lately, over email.

You’ve been out of the public eye for awhile now due to illness. How is your health these days and what have you been working on?
My health is a good deal better. I am not rid of this, this being Advanced Lyme, but I am a lot better. There are still bad days and I suppose this will continue to be the case. I have been painting, mostly. But actually not a ton lately. I have several ideas and not sure which will take hold and then of course the outside world has something to do with this.

I would like to get back to painting in oils and I am not set up to do that at present. I should finish my memoirs, which as it stands now is 40 chapters, about 420 pages. I also am considering making a movie about or writing a book about what has happened the last few years. Entitled–THERE HAS TO BE A GOD OR IT COULDN’T GET THIS WEIRD.

I am thinking about making another Marvin Pontiac CD–where I would mostly play banjo and harmonica–called Marvin the Asylum Years. I can’t play the saxophone now but I can play these things. And I really do want to make a movie called John and Nesrin. I think that is what I want to do most, actually.

I don’t know–I think for a little while I am going to do absolutely nothing but try and get my health and soul back.

John and Nesrin? Is that a serious movie idea?
Yes, it really is a serious idea. It would be a little like a heavier version of Fishing with John, but the lives of two people forced into seclusion and how they conquer some very difficult times through love and irritating humor.

This is kind of how Fishing with John happened actually. I kept saying I was going to do it, more as a threat and then it fell into place.

Are you feeling drawn to working in film again?
To be honest I am not sure what to do next. I am not so much more drawn to film, but everyone else seems to be. The thing I am mostly concentrating on is my painting.

You’re such a prolific creator in so many mediums–are there any works by other artists you’ve liked or been inspired by recently?
I am drawing a bit of a blank. I saw Argo last night and have never been a Ben Afleck fan, but at the end of the movie I stood up and said–That was good!

I am looking forward to seeing Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln but am a little afraid because it is Spielberg. I think Daniel Day Lewis is amazing.

Oumu Sangare–I haven’t heard anything new in a while but I play her stuff all the time. That song Yala which is on YouTube just moves me, especially with the images and especially because of what is going on in Mali. Painting and music wise–it has been a long time since anything made me go–YES! This is right.

Isn’t that sad? I don’t know why that is, I suppose it is the business of these things that make the better stuff not be visible.

Does this showing of Fishing with John at the Nitehawk mark a return to a more public life, in terms of your artistic life, whether that’s music, painting or something else?
If this thing at Nitehawk doesn’t have a Malcolm X type ending.

Fishing with John was a reality show before that was something we recognized as genre. Do you, or have you in the past, watched other reality TV? Thoughts on the medium?
If I am the inventor of reality TV, my apologies to everyone.

Are there any scenes from Fishing with John that didn’t make it into the series that you wish had?
There were some scenes with Dennis Hopper where the sound was unusable. I wish they could have been in there. Also, there were things I wanted to shoot that didn’t get shot. But no there is nothing where I think–Oh I should have put that in.

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