Legal Affairs Correspondent
I was looking at youtube today and came across this October 26, 1966 Dick Cavett interview with New Orleans painter and vegan dabbler A. Mitchell Long. This was in the early days of Vegan Mofo. I know it’s not Vegan Mofo 2009 anymore, but at least the interview was done during a Vegan Mofo. But no more rationalizations. I liked the back and forth between these two so much, I reprint the transcript of selected portions of the program:
Cavett: A. Mitchell Long, goddamn fucking fantastic to see you again. Fucking fantastic, man. What did you paint today?
Long: I didn’t paint today.
Cavett: What did you wear today?
Cavett: Do you ever wear camouflage when you paint?
Long: While painting? No.
Cavett: Do you ever do preparatory paintings?
Long: Doing something like a sketch or something? I paint directly from life, and then I go back to the same spot over and over so it’s like a constant preparatory of the motif. That’s sort of like how Monet and Claude Lorraine say to get to know a motif: you have to go and just study it.
Claude Lorraine was before Monet, so Monet definitely looked at Turner and Lorraine. Claude Lorraine goes by Claude. But he did drawings. Everyting Claude Lorraine painted was in the studio. Back then, people didn’t use oil paints. They just mixed it in the studio with the power pigments.
* * *
Cavett: Did you eat any vegan food today?
Long: Today I had oats for breakfast, and then I had spaghetti with tomato sauce. The tomato sauce had tomato sauce, garlic, cilantro and olive oil and little wok oil in it. The pasta wasn’t vegan.
I started off vegan, and then I became spaghetti legs. But I was a vegetarian today, so that was good.
Cavett: Let’s talk about a rather troubling incident you recently underwent that has affected you very profoundly.
Long: My dog ran after another dog, and then the master of the other dog hit him on the head. That wasn’t vegan of him or me, letting the dog get after the other dog.
Cavett: Getting back to the spaghetti, are you sure it wasn’t vegan?
Long: I don’t know. It has a little sodium, 100% semolina. Minus 1% satisfaction guaranteed. It contains wheat ingredients and folic acid. Frolicking in the acid, I mean folic acid. It’s like the ’60s, frolicking in the acid
So the spaghetti was vegan. You should have a vegan rabbi for veganism and vegan circumcision, except women would be circumcised. Don’t tell my parents I said that, or I’ll have cancer.
Cavett: How big have your latest paintings been?
Long: I’ve been doing these paintings that are fairly big, 10" by 40". I painted in the Lower 9th Ward. I’m figuring out the difference between the 9th Ward and the lower 9th Ward. The lower 9th Ward is going back in time, farmland, trees and crows, and you can paint in the middle of the street. It’s so vegan. I don’t even feel like eating meat out there.
Cavett: You say there’s farmland, trees and crows, and you can paint in the middle of the street. That’s all very nice, Mitch. But all kidding aside, how is the Lower 9th Ward really? Have any of the hospitals returned since the levee failures?
Long: I wish they had because I stepped in an ant pile. Wow, I said, I stepped in an antpile; this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me in that second. I said, Golly gee willickers. I put neosporin on it. Is neosporin vegan? I said, I’m one bad ass m.f. I’m not gonna say that word or my mom will really kick my butt. So the next day, I was, like, Gee wiz, these bumps are coming back. Then the next day, the ants popped out. How do you get rid of them?
Put oatmeal on them? When I’m chain smoking, put the cigarettes on them? Don’t tell my parents I said that.
Cavett: You’ve eaten at some pretty great restaurants in your life. Haven’t you? Haven’t you?
Long: I wish I could give you a restaurant review, but I haven’t been to any restaurants lately. Oh, I did have some sliced pizza. It was all right.
Cavett: From a restaurant?
Long: Yeah, it was from Slice. Nothing special, but not terrible. Most pizza in New Orleans is terrible. They should brick-oven fried chicken and deep-fry pizza. But don’t tell my parents I said that.
Cavett: Did you feel zen when you were eating pizza?
Long: Zen is there. There is no feeling zen, whether you look at it or not. One foot in the cradle, one foot in the casket, that’s what I always say. Breathe in, breathe out. Pull out the pacifier, put in the breathing tube, that’s what I always say.
Hey, are pacifiers vegan?
Long: How about 100% meat pacifiers?
Long: How about a hot dog pacifier?
Cavett: If it’s a vegan hot dog.
Long: I bought a can opener today for a dollar-sixty. Is that vegan?
Cavett: Yeah. Where did you put it?
Long: Just in the drawer. I bought it down at Canseco’s, a little grocery store in New Orleans, La.
Cavett: Have you put it on any cans?
Long: No. That’s why I had spaghetti today, because the can opener was a piece of crap. It’s called Good Cook, so all you vegans, if you buy Good Cook, you’re buying a piece of shit.
Cavett: Is your art commercial?
Long: My art? I want people to like it. I just read an article in the New York Times about how Thelonious Monk really wanted him to have a hit, and everyone thinks of him as being a spiritual type musician. In actuality, he really wanted to make money off his stuff. There’s integrity in my work, but I also want people to like it. I’d like to make some money off it, and I also want people to like it and buy it for big dollars, big pesos and dollars and deutschemarks. I want to rake those things into the wheelbarrow.
Long: When a dog barks, is that vegan?
Long: How about when a dog bites your leg?
Long: How about when the dog eats the master?
Long: How about when you write about a vegan interview?
Cavett: Yeah. Did you eat commercial today?
Long: No, not at all. No, wait a second. I would say eating commercial would be eating anything out. I had 3 shots of espresso in Fair Grinds. That’s not really eating commercial. Sometimes I eat a commercial on TV. I just eat it. That’s the most zen thing I’ve ever done. Then you get fat, and you go to Eating Anonymous, and you eat all the McDonald’s commercials. Warhol used to eat commercials too much. Then he got shot by Valerie Solanis. Poor Valerie. She wasn’t vegan at all.