Original Interview Date: 12/11/16
Brian Gochal: She said “You realize people don’t believe what you’re saying, right?”
Shaine Schroeder: Yeah, but then you prove it to them.
BG: I went and called my friend Doug and said, these things happened, right? And I told him a few things and he’s like, yeah, yeah. A couple changes to the periphery but the story was right. And I said, do you get people not believing you? And he goes- all the time. We just lived fantastical lives and that’s what it is.
SS: You lived the lives people write books about. Hunter Thompson’s got nothing on you. Maybe in the drug department...
BG: Nah… (Laughs)
BG: But Hunter doesn’t tell the twenty-five horrible stories for every great one. The horrible, by myself moments where the story didn’t go well.
SS: The botched suicide attempts.
BG: Well, yeah.
SS: Well maybe we won’t go that far.
BG: Yeah, we can. I don’t care. Ah… Yeah. The horrible, horrible angst-filled moments that people don’t hear about. That you don’t share. I got so sad and upset one time I had a fifty-five gallon fish tank and I tipped it over. And I realized what I did. And called my friend Dan, who was sick and tired of me calling him because I was so full of angst so much, right. I was coming off coke is what it was. Like that psychological drop…
SS: See I’ve never done coke. I’ve always been terrified of it.
BG: It’s really great. Until it’s not. Until you’re laying in a fish tank that you’ve knocked over with beautiful fish flopping on the ground. And that’s another thing- eventually your puffer fish does not puff.
BG: But anyway- you don’t hear those things.
SS: Yeah. I recently had a bout with, ah- this is weird for me to say, but I feel comfortable in your presence saying it. I’ve always thought depression, and anxiety and things of that nature were horse shit. And the reason I thought that, is because I’d never experienced it.
SS: But I recently did, and it was a two or three day stretch where my girlfriend was just like- what the fuck’s going on with you? You know, you’re being shitty to me, being shitty to everyone around you, you’re fucking mopey, and disconnected. And the thing that set it off for me was, I went downstairs to where my studio is- and I’m constantly painting, even when I’m painting terrible shit, I’m still painting. When I’m not working, I’m working. But I went downstairs and had nothing. And I was terrified. Usually I can pull from the recesses and find something.
SS: I got so fucking down on myself because I feel like if I waste a single minute, then what am I even doing here?
BG: For you it’s creative, if you can’t create, Jesus. So what got you out?
SS: Stepping away. I haven’t painted, I haven’t even set foot in the studio for at least four days now.
SS: Still. And I’ve been reading, and I’ve been watching funny movies and it’s slowly starting to feel normal again.
BG: Wow, do you get the yips?
SS: What do you mean by yips?
BG: Ah, the yips are the things that golfers get when they can’t put.
SS: Yeah, I suppose so.
BG: And it comes out of nowhere and there’s no reason for it, they don’t know why, and they have to psychologically push through to the other side of that.
SS: Yeah, it’s like a brick wall you have to smash through. It’s fucking bizarre. But that’s one of the things I wanted to delve into with you because I’ve seen some of your social media posts regarding that kind of thing. Has that been a big impediment for you?
BG: Yes and no. Um, the first thing to realize is that I’m always socially anxious. Always. But I, ah- social anxiety is my roller coaster ride. You might get on a roller coaster to feel something- my drug abuse, my alcohol abuse, my horrible relationships- all of that is my roller coaster, so I do that so I feel something. I had a counsellor a long time ago said I’m not a drug addict, I’m a not being myself addict. Drugs were just a way to not be me. So when I have that anxiety, it’s a way to not be me, so it’s almost more comfortable. Also, I had a sleep study, and the sleep study showed that I, like you dream sometimes, they were amazed at mine, (laughs) the head of the sleep study pulls me back in and tells me that I’m a insomnia-tic narcoleptic. And I said, so basically you don’t know what the fuck’s wrong with me. (Laughs). Through the door you made that shit up. So the deal is, I dream the entire time I’m asleep. And then when I get up, I’m exhausted, because I’m awake the entire time I’m asleep. There was a medication I got once, it was too expensive even with insurance for me to continue doing it and I woke up and I took it. And they give it to pilots that fly overseas. NuVigil. And what that does, is that lets me be awake.
SS: Wait, ProVigil, or NuVigil? Because I’ve heard of ProVigil.
BG: NuVigil. So they take ProVigil and that worked for some people, and there’s some, say- you’ve got the chemical makeup and these are the atoms, right? They take it and they flip it, and then what didn’t work for the first group, now works for the second. Two different drugs, same effect based on the individual. A mirror compound. And for the first time in my life I was really awake- ever, I think, possibly, and it was like- THIS is how you guys live?! Holy shit. Holy shit!
SS: So expand on that feeling, was it a good thing or a bad thing?
BG: It was scary. It was kind of scary. It was too much sensory overload. I am like- right now, I’m sitting here having a beer with you so I feel a little different because I’m very anxious doing this. VERY anxious doing this. I am. It seems crazy, right? But I love this anxious feeling. I want this anxious feeling.
SS: It’s fun, right?
BG: For me it is. In a terrifying way. Again- some people like roller coasters, I throw myself into situations with people that are smarter than me, more creative than me- think about who I surround myself with, creative people. And I’m not, I can’t draw a straight fucking line. I am not a creative person.
SS: Yeah, but that’s not just the one outlet for creativity, there are many channels for it.
BG: Right, and I don’t have any of them.
BG: I can’t sing, I can’t dance, I can’t draw...
SS: I’ve seen you sing, and I’ve seen you dance, and I’m here to tell you mister, you can do both.
BG: Oh my god. Oh god.
SS: I remember the first time I met you, actually we didn’t meet, I just saw you…
BG: So, this is my anxiety. Go ahead, tell me.
SS: No, no- it’s not a bad story.
BG: Tell me.
SS: We were outside a bar downtown, and I’d seen you around from time to time, but I remember one of our mutual friends hired me for some work and when I finished I’d said, do you need me to promote that on social media? He says, no- my social media manager is right over here, and I turned around and he pointed at you as you were doing a “Singin’ In The Rain” style twirl on a fucking stop sign, drunk as a skunk, and I said “That’s your fuckin’ social media manager, huh? Alright, good luck to you.”
BG: (Laughs hysterically) That’s another thing, I have faked my way into more things, I got hired a while back for a financial service group as a computer guy who did the data processing and the money for a big bank in Jersey. Huge operation. I literally conned my way into getting the job and I’d never done it before. Nothing like that ever before. So the first night, there’s this old cowboy-type guy from Delaware that would come in and he worked eight at night til eight in the morning Thursday, Friday, Saturday. And I was taking his shift. Two week training period. And I walked up to him at the big computer terminal and said to him “Okay, here’s the deal- I have absolutely no idea what this is or how to do it, I completely conned my way into this job and I’m at the moment of truth. But if you’ll give me the two weeks that you were gonna give me anyway, to learn it- at the end of that tell them I’m a schmuck, or just give me the job.” And he turns and he’s just like “Are you fucking kidding me?” And I go “No, really this sin’t a joke, I have no idea what we’re doing here.” He’s like “Okay…” (Laughs) And I got the job. So I just took copious notes. Um, I had no idea how to do social media, NO idea. Same with sales, and I just read a book. I don’t think I got to be great at sales from the book, I’m just full of shit and willing to share that shit with people. If we put all the cards on the table, technically I have a tenth grade education. I went to school and quit twice. I have a GED, but no degree, and I surround myself with smarter and more creative people than myself.
SS: Right. Don’t ever be the smartest one in the room. And If you think you are, you’re fucked. Because you’ve gotten comfortable and you’re now just stroking your ego.
BG: Right. It’s true! And who’s the smartest person in any room you ever go into?…
BG: Kelly Nelson is the smartest person in every room. By far. She’s a geneticist, who’s published. She came up with the thing, very “Gattica”-like, DNA markers for PTSD and violence.
SS: That is “Gattica”-like. “Save NOTHING for the swim back home!”
BG: (Laughs) Exactly!
SS: Terrible movie but some great one-liners in that movie.
BG: I like that movie!
SS: Ok, it’s a great movie.
BG: I like that movie. What do you want to eat?
SS: I don’t know, man.
BG: I could eat beer to be quite honest. I’ll have the miso soba.
Waitress: And you?
SS: I’m gonna have the cubano.
BG: So a thing that really helped me with anxiety is pot. But I don’t smoke pot now.
SS: See I like it if it’s the right strain, I’m very picky about that since I got a taste of the medical grade shit in Los Angeles. That was amazing. I was more productive in three days than in three months with the right shit.
BG: I just have my daughter now, and South Dakota is the most Draconian state in the union for pot. It’s just not worth it. I’d rather be depressed than in jail without my daughter.
SS: Good point. Time comes when you have to weigh your options.
BG: Exactly. Every single thing I’ve ever liked has been taken away from me as “bad”. Every single thing.
SS: Yeah, first Giulliani with cleaning up the goddamned shit on the east coast. What’s wrong with a porno theater here and there or a needle if no one gets hurt?
BG: Nothing bad ever happened even when I was ten and would tell the adults my school bus was delayed and I’d go down there and walk around after school. At ten. I was more comfortable with that than these townhouses in Summer’s Point, New Jersey that just had fresh sod laid. It was at the shore, there was a huge dune field, blue sky, and I was like what the hell is going on here? It’s too clean. Within hours I’d found the only black family and made good with them, and gained a lifelong friend. There was too many white people. Too nice. Way too nice.
SS: That’s scary. It’s frightening. It really is. You recently had a trip to North Dakota. Do you want to talk about that? How was it?
BG: Sure! Cold. It was great. So I am the curmudgeon humanitarian. I bitch about it a lot. I bitch about the people I’m helping a lot. And it’s all just for gallows humor, for fun, sarcastic, I’m really into it, you know what I mean? Went up there. Martin Dill had quietly organized the trip. Ace Hardware has refused to provide sales to anyone going there. It’s sad because I liked Ace Hardware, now they can suck my dick.
SS: Rightly so.
BG: So we brought seven tons of wood, milk of magnesia- they use it for the pepper spray, and it diffuses the feeling. Cool! Bunch of Carhartts, things like that. And went up through Mobridge. It’s on the river right across from the reservation. Jeff Mann, lovely human being, covered my trip. Salt of the earth. So we’re driving to the camps in the dark and there are no lights whatsoever. You can see every star. It’s amazing. We go up there, we arrive, pull into the northernmost camp, some really angry guy starts yelling about has our load been checked? Why are you filming, delete that! Blah, blah, blah. Camp security guy. And he was on the good side. The liberal side. It’s packed, it’s frozen, drop off everything. Go back to Mobridge, head back the next morning. Dropped everything off. It was amazingly organized by 24-26 year old white liberal girls, who apparently had some time off from Vasser. They were so good. They had the intelligence and skill set for planning and organizing. It was all youth. And this is sick about me- I wanted to be pepper-sprayed, I don’t know why.
SS: Boy I sure would too.
BG: I was cheated out of it because the two sides agreed to stop. Our side, the “water protectors”… Ugh. See that name, that name…
SS: They’re trying to marginalize normal human beings.
SS: They have pickles on the cubano now.
BG: There’s no pickles in Cuba.
SS: We could go back and forth about that til the cows come home but I refuse to get roped into such an argument. Tell us about Pez dispensers.
BG: (Laughs) Alright. There are these little candy things, probably one of the world’s first quit smoking devices. They didn’t have fancy heads on them. 1940s, US-zoned bases in Germany. They brought them to America and nobody wanted to stop smoking. Lucky Strike and Chesterfield had just made every soldier smoke instead of eat. So this guy put a head on em, and they sold and here we are. I went to an antique show in Atlantic city and met these people and bought ten dispensers. Filled up my credit card and my first wife said “What the fuck are you doing?”
SS: I mean, I don’t wanna side with your first wife but, I’m gonna side with your first wife.
BG: You’re not the first, nor the last I’m sure. I went out to the brand new internet and found a news group and put them all up for sale for ten percent more than I bought them for, and by morning they were all sold.
SS: I take it all back.
BG: I met these Pez dealers, dealers in Pez. Called three dealers, with three credit cards and bought $15,000 in Pez and started a news letter on this collecting site and wrote witty stories about the dispensers and people started to buy them. A guy told me he wanted to make me a website, so I actually have a distinction of having one of the earliest e-commerce sites on the internet called the Pez Coop. It was going to be co-op but I fucked up on the hyphen. (Laughs) So I sold Pez. went to a lot of conventions. Ran around the country. But the industry crashed, eBay ruined it. Do you know what the first thing sold on eBay was?
BG: That’s right.
SS: Do you feel like a pioneer?
BG: I kinda did.
SS: Do you have arrows in your back?
SS: Nevermind. So was it money or nostalgia that piqued your interest?
BG: Nostalgia. I like collectibles. As a kid I had a beer can collection. I would write to the breweries and they’d send unused labels. I had big books full of them. Ever hear of Iron City? Tastes like dog shit. The labels are amazing.
SS: Once they hired the graphic designer they couldn’t afford hops. It’s just city water and a dash of Coors.
Waiter: Is this interview for “Rust On The Lemon?”
SS: That’s none of your goddamn business.
Waiter: I just wanted to interview bomb it if it is.
SS: Mm hmm. Go ahead. We’re thirty-four minutes in and it feels like days. I’m sure the audience will agree.
BG: (Laughs) So I don’t do Pez anymore. And I’m getting the tattoo of Pez I got at the same time my ex got it covered as a fitting tribute to what once was and what can be. And I got my daughter out of it. Seriously. I’ve got a fantastic daughter, that was the best thing that ever happened to me. I have bit the inside of my lip right here like six times today. It’s like hamburger, just hanging there.
SS: Ok, so I know we’re eating and this is gonna be incredibly gross, but I was laying in bed one night watching a film, no not that kind of film, and I’m sitting there in my v-neck t-shirt and we had tacos for dinner, and my girlfriend looks down at my chest and says, “Oh, you have a little hamburger on your chest.” And she touched it, but it was stationary. And we both discovered what skin tags were that evening. And now you want to vomit.
BG: (Laughs) You can have them removed.
SS: You can but I named it Fred after my favorite Flinstone. You should see him drive a car.
BG: (Laughs) This has been fantastic, thank you.
SS: I mean where do we go from skin tags? So… what now? I mean in general, not just for this interview.
BG: It’s funny you say that. I don’t know. I didn’t think I was gonna live to fifteen, and then I didn’t think I was gonna make eighteen, not to be dramatic, just because of the way my lifestyle was. Then around twenty-five I realized, okay- probably not gonna die anytime soon. Fuck. I really did piss away those last ten years and it might not have been smart. So then I take a look at my recent failed marriage, completed marriage, whatever. I think for the first time ever I’m not leaving, not going somewhere. It’s strange for me, I bounce. I lived in New York, Jersey, Catskills, Albany, Vermillion, San Francisco, Mobridge, Sioux Falls. And I’ve decided to stay.
SS: I’m glad. Aside from the emergency condition cold three months of the year, it ain’t bad.
BG: Actually it is, it’s an absolutely horrible place, we have the most Draconian rules, we have- at least the last time I looked, we have the highest rape rate, we’re the fourth most corrupt state in the nation and they don’t even need to dig deep. We have a department that records it but doesn’t do anything about it. Douchebag Daschle just met with Ben Carson- literally. They all voted for Trump. So I think of myself as severely behind enemy lines. And I have to stay. People say it’s time to leave, I say stay. Stay and raise more people with a proper mindset.
SS: Were you surprised by his victory? Because I was not.
BG: Not at all.
SS: I think a lot of our friends were just devastated. Because, and I’m going to go ahead and speak plainly here- they live in a bubble. They really do, they don’t leave downtown, a lot of them don’t even have vehicles to do so. They’re very insulated, so it’s understandable why they feel this way, but if you even venture, ehh, six or seven blocks out of downtown you will know immediately the state of things. Because our state in my opinion is very representative of I’d say 70-80% of the rest of the nation.
BG: Teachers when I was growing up would use South Dakota as the litmus test for the rest of the nation. That’s why they tried to overturn R. v Wade here every two years, because if they can do it here they can do it anywhere.
SS: This is where we decided to stamp the faces of presidents into the side of a fucking mountain on land that used to belong to who?…
BG: Exactly. People that live here get mad when I say things like this about here, but I love here. I’ve chosen to be here. But I can have both. You can talk about the elephant in the room and still love where you are.
SS: Right. If you can’t at least have a conversation about something, if you can’t see both sides, or at least shut your mouth long enough to hear both sides, then what the fuck’s the point?
BG: Right, I think the right is wrong. I don’t agree with what they’re saying, but I also, throughout the entire election was anti-Hillary. She’s the exact same thing as what we’ve had all along. I do not believe for what it’s worth- that social security will be gone, transgender rights will be gone. That’s not going to happen.
SS: I believe on the platform he was appealing to the lowest common denominator and he did it beautifully.
BG: Absolutely. We survived the former head of the CIA. If we can survive two Bushes, we can survive a business man. And I am now trolling Trump on Twitter on a regular basis. He’s batshit. I think the swing back left will be abrupt and amazing. I do. I could be completely wrong. But regardless it won’t be like “V For Vendetta.” We will not be having tribunals and pulling homosexuals into the street and beating them. I also have the opinion that the bridges and buildings that have been painted with racist remarks concerning the new president’s win could just as easily have been put out there by the left-leaning media, as the right.
SS: What about the “Alt-Right?” What is that bullshit? Just call ‘em what they are. Nazi pieces of shit. Nazi fuckfaces.
BG: The Nazi’s are boycotting Star Wars. How will we sleep tonight? So, you ask where this is gonna go, what’s gonna happen? Going forward, I mean I’ve been an alcoholic, a drug addict, a high school dropout, a successful businessman, a mooch, a criminal, a nomad, a couch surfer, and I think what I’m gonna be now is just a fully-entrenched middle class citizen with a split-level house on the southeast side of town. We’re crazy because ours is blue and everyone else’s is brown.
SS: The HOA must’ve had a ball with you.
BG: And everyday is Pride Day, I’ve got a flag out every day. I am gonna stay here now that I made it back to the middle class of life. But it’s time to become an active activist. Twenty year olds shouldn’t be activists. They should be learning how to change the system. Fifty year olds should be protesting and getting pepper-sprayed for the system we allowed to happen.
SS: So having lived the life that you’ve lived, what are your parting words of wisdom for the young ones out there?
BG: Do it. Experience it all, do it. But remember that there’s twenty bad stories for every good one you tell. There is. If you’re willing to have those for every good one you tell, it’s a lot of fun.
SS: Something tells me that you’re going to be the first, and probably only recurring guest that I speak with.
BG: (Uncontrollable laughter)
SS: Because try as they might, no one is quite as interesting as you.
BG: Awwww, well thank you! This has been fun.
SS: Mr. Gochal. Thank you.