Vegan Mofo Legal Affairs Correspondent
As Matisse and Picasso looked back on Cezanne as a paternal figure, so shall the best painter in the mid-21st century call A. Mitchell Long his pappy. An occasional vegan, Long is that rarest of artists – a painter’s painter’s painter.
MoFo visited him recently at his imposing studio in Mid City New Orleans. Strauss’ Blue Danube waltz played softly in the background as he “rapped” thoughtfully about two of the greatest "movements" of humankind, veganism and painting, as well as about falling off the macrobiotic wagon. As is his wont, Long pulled no punches and had particularly strong words for vegans who don’t know how to cook.
Q. A. Mitchell Long, do you think vegans are unhealthy?
A. I think some of them are. They look unhealthy to me. Look at the bags under their eyes. Plus they all hang out together. It’s real incestuous. They have sex with their cousins. You seem like you’re pretty healthy. But then Kittee cooks all the time. [Full disclosure: I am caveman. Kittee is cavewoman. Rarrrrrr!] I don’t think people who don’t know how to cook should be vegans.
Q. Do you ever cook vegan?
A. Yeah. I like vegan. If I eat just brown rice, that’s vegan. I like macrobiotic, too. Is raw food vegan? Macrobiotics, you have to cook everything. I think you at least have to blanch it. Or Stella it. Or Stanley Kowalski it.
Q. How do you make rice?
A. Boil it with water and then I do it by eye and pour it in – put it halfway, and then I’ll throw a bunch of stuff on top, you know, to weight it down so it steams and then bring it down to low. Forty-five minutes if it’s brown rice. If there’s still water in it, you keep it going. Then you just turn it off. It’ll soak up the water. My rice is OK.
Q. Is painting vegan?
The old oil paintings aren’t vegan because there’s rabbit-skin glue in them. The new ones are vegetable oil and pigment. But I do use rabbit’s skin glue every once in a while. Now [prominent Young British Artist] Damien Hirst, he took a big shark and stuffed it; that’s not vegan. He took a skull and put diamonds all over it – that’s not vegan. There are also people who put blood all over themselves. That’s not vegan.
Q. Do you ever eat when you’re painting.
A. No. I drink water, smoke a cigarette, maybe. Don’t tell my parents that. Don’t tell my boss that, my boss – God.. . . Dog.
Q. You eat oatmeal, right?
A. Yeah, steel cut oats. That’s another part of that macrobiotic fasting. Boil it. Then stir it. Then it’s creamy. Then bring it down to 1 degree or low or something. Then 30 minutes, and it should be pretty good to go. I throw it in the fridge, then nuke it in a plastic bag, then eat it with my hands.
Q. The New York Times recently reported that you had fallen off the macrobiotic wagon. It caused quite a sensation. We’d like to ask you to set the record straight.
When I ate rice, then broke the macrobiotic fast, I had red beans: it was so tasty. My roommate’s not that good of a cook, and it was so good. There was meat in that. sausage. A big old sausage. I believe in eating every type of diet – macrobiotic, meatatarian, humanitarian. But I don’t believe in cannibalism. So that’s where I draw the line. But who knows? It might be good.
Q. When you were eating rice, what kinds of paintings were you doing?
A. Doing panorama paintings with gesso. I was painting panorama paintings of plein air, directly from vegan.
Q. What was the subject matter of the paintings?
A. I’ve been painting on this spot on the cusp of the French Quarter, these two buildings, one’s called Buffa’s, and the other is Melrose, a B&B. That corner is on Esplanade. Sometimes I’ll have a Red Bull, and I drink a lot of water. Drunk people will come up and comment on my painting. I get some pretty good comments, some good feedback, which is pretty cool. It’s a new thing for me to talk to people. Maybe the brown rice started getting me talking more, like a Socialist.
Q. But back to the painting.
A. I take in a 180-degree composition from life, just like Monet and Cezanne, the Impressionists, squeezing it into panorama format, 4 inches by 20 inches. My friends call it “skinny Long.” My last name is Long. I’m getting skinnier, putting more holes in my belt loop every day. Do you have a drill so I can put more holes in my belt loop? Luckily I’m on the outside of Barnes & Noble, so nobody’s hearing this brilliance.
Q. Speaking of brilliance, tell us a little about your website.
My website, mitchell-long.com, is vegan. I quit putting meat in my website last year. I went completely vegan on my website.
I’ve never painted meat. I had a friend who painted a very beautiful painting of an egg. I’ve painted some stoves. I have a painting of your and kittee’s kitchen. I painted a vegan kitchen. I don’t think it’s on my website. Maybe I’ll put it on there. Maybe I’ll call it “Vegan Kitchen” or “Vegan Kitchen That’s Dazee and Kittee’s” or “Dazee’s Vegan Kitchen and Kittee’s Vegan Kitchen” or “Late Afternoon with Dazee and Kittee’s Kitchen with a Little bit of Syrup on the Table, a Little Molasses, with Rosy Colored Dawn, Pink-fingered Dawn of Kittee and Dazee’s Kitchen.”
The paintings of A. Mitchell Long may be seen at mitchell-long.com.