A conversation with Patrick Kindlon


    We spoke with Patrick Kindlon about humans versus dogs, going blind from stress, living off day-old bagels and the advice he would give to a young person beginning to play music.

    The women in my life could tell you I’m incapable of strategy or deception.


    Morgan Enos

    Here’s a question about your experiences with dog-walking in New York City. Dogs are amazingly intuitive creatures – totally upbeat and eager to add to the greater good of your life. I think human society has generally become disloyal and self-centered as the 20th century has bled into the 21st. How would you compare the two creatures?

    Patrick Kindlon

    I would need some citations on it becoming disloyal, as I imagine it always was. But, as far as people and dogs go: I don’t meet any suicidal dogs. It seems not having that higher brain function is really helpful in the ability to process trauma or loss. Forgiveness, or whatever self-interested version pack hunters are capable of, also seems optimized when you’ve got the IQ of a schnauzer. I value good conversation, but having had a lot of it, I may take dogs over people at this point.


    I’m fascinated by chess, although I’m only a passable player. Have you ever played a game of strategy or deception like chess, poker or three-card Monte? Do you excel at it?

    No. The women in my life could tell you I’m incapable of strategy or deception. Which isn’t to say I haven’t tried. I’m just really not built for it. This quality of mine is sometimes seen as a virtue, but it’s pure clockwork orange. I’d probably lie if I could. I’m just really transparent.


    I don’t think the average young person living in a developed nation can tell where performance begins or ends.


    What do you think about the concept of performance – not like performing live, but from the perspective of someone in a social circle, or online? Has it crept into our daily lives to need to perform socially? To be “this thing” to “these people?

    All day, every day. I don’t think the average young person living in a developed nation can tell where performance begins or ends. We’re being watched all day, and we act accordingly. We’re our own police. Which sounds great, until you realize everyone acts like a cop when they have the opportunity.


    What is the greatest regret of your entire life?

    One time I sat a few feet from Dave Navarro and didn’t rip his stupid little vest off.


    Back to dogs, briefly. Can you show us the last one you walked, along with a quick map of the exact route you took with that dog?


    I feel that decades ago, songs were valued by their lyrical and melodic content rather than “vibes.” Do you ever foresee a popular return to the building blocks of music – singing something worth singing, with instruments behind it?

    Lowest common denominator has that word “common” in it for a reason. I don’t think there’s ever been a time when the majority of music listeners had a clue. But, you’re right, there’s been times that looking at music through the lens of an admirer rather than a consumer has been en vogue. I imagine we’ll get back to it soon enough. Guitar music is painfully boring and rap is in a anti-virtuosity space right now, so something’s gotta give. Next wave of kids will demand something different, which in this case is to say “demand something more.”


    Please give us a few points of advice you would suggest to a young person who is just beginning to write and perform music.

    Depends entirely on their aim. If they wanna be rich and famous, I’d tell them to drop the music thing and just trip strangers on YouTube or some shit. If they really wanna be a musician, I’d urge them to only play with people better than they are. That way you’ll always pick something up. Only do that which you’re capable when the tape is running.

    Meaning, you become a better player by stretching yourself, but the songs you record are no better for you playing above your ability. Good songs are the product of clever people with limitations. Pretending the limitations don’t exist catches you playing above what you’re capable and the song suffers. There’s ways to suck and be fulfilled creatively. Do that until you don’t suck.

    Unless you can do what I do, I can’t see what your opinion would do for me. I don’t see how a layman’s advice is instructive to a craftsman.


    Imagine a world where nobody could criticize your artistic choices unless they contributed art to the world themselves. Would this eliminate daily problems – inane reviews, internet trolls – or is it wrongheaded to try to extract the proverbial Christians from the coliseum?

    That’s already the place I live, insofar as what I allow real estate in my brain. Unless you can do what I do, and have, I can’t see what your opinion would do for me. Which isn’t to say you don’t have a right to it. Just, being rationale, I don’t see how a layman’s advice is instructive to a craftsman.


    Do you feel there’s been a recent societal shift toward kids idolizing their parents rather than rebelling against them? Or has it been the other way around?

    Wait long enough and all these fools become their parents.


    Lastly, please elaborate on your personal interpretations of three crucial things – life, work and death.

    Weirdly, not things I think about a great deal. Those might be too broad and I’m only capable of minutia. Not angry at the first two. Not looking forward to that last one.


    We asked Patrick to tell us about ten pivotal moments from his birth to present.


    My grandma gave me a bath and she was a farm person and tough and washed me too hard and I cried. I have this as a memory, but almost certainly I’m not actually capable of remembering events from infancy. So, I have to imagine I shaped a memory from other people’s accounts. I reflect on that idea often.


    My ex-brother-in-law accidentally ran over my Ree-Yees action figure and I cried.


    I had a crush on the sorta sexually precocious girl all throughout grade school. I’d get so excited when she’d tease me. She’s a teacher now. Beat cancer too.


    She touched my penis.


    Left home. Reflecting on this period of my young adulthood, I’m struck by how crazy it is parents let their kids leave home at all. I was 120lbs at this time and moved to a neighborhood where everybody was offering to injure me.


    Moved deeper into Brooklyn. Rode a BMX eight miles to work each day and lived off day-old bagels. Our power was off for two months because we fought about who was to blame for it.


    Got a job which has led to about fifteen other jobs, so I guess we gotta give it the esteem it’s earned.


    Started dating a woman who really shaped my life.


    Few years later, she left me. I went blind for a couple days. Which is funny because in high school there was a teacher who had a relationship with a student. A few years later, she got married to someone else. He was blind for a few days. I always thought that was so odd. But later, I learned. Your body can get so stressed it just starts shutting shit off.


    Started my current relationship. Looking at this list, it seems my time with women has been the most impactful element of my life. I feel okay about that.

    Thank you.


    Conversation: 27
    Curated by: Morgan Enos
    Conducted by: Email
    Published: August 30, 2017
    Total questions: 10 + 10
    Word count: 1217
    Reading time: Five minutes
    Hyperlinks: 8


    Day-old bagels: Lived on
    Musician alternative: Trip strangers
    Worst Dave Navarro clothing: Vest
    Performance: Always
    Breakup impact: Blindness


    About the subject

    Patrick Kindlon sings in Self Defense Family and writes comics.

    About the curator

    Morgan Enos is a songwriter and journalist originally from California. His curatorial work for North of the Internet aims to strike a deeper place in his conversation subjects — the dreamy subtext to the linear everyday. Morgan also frequently writes power pop records as Other Houses about joy, outer space, frustration, chess and spiritual light. He resides in New York, where he continues to creatively fire on all cylinders.

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