Portrait Of The Artist As A Consumer: Michael A. Gonzales

Books

Since last year I’ve lived in Baltimore, or as I like to call it, the City of Poe. While this creepy metropolis has gotten quite a reputation for being crime ridden, drugged-out landscape where dudes name Omar walk down the streets with a big ass gun, my life is luckily quite different that the characters on The Wire. Indeed, a small list of my favorite places in the city include Normal’s Books & Records, the coolest used shop in the hood, where I go at least twice a month in search of something by Georges Simenon, Harlan Ellison, Rosa Guy and other favorite writers.

I’m working on a new short story called “Frankie Five Hundred,” about a Black woman model in 1959 living in Harlem. While researching the period, I found two books at Normal’s that were quite helpful. How I Became Hettie Jones, by writer, journalist and ex-wife of LeRoi, Hettie Jones and Minor Characters by Joyce Johnson, novelist and former girlfriend of Jack Kerouac. In addition, last year I found paperback editions of Pinktoes and The Primitive, both by my hero Chester Himes. I bought them, but the type is much too small for me to read.

Music

I’ve always enjoyed having eclectic taste in music which can switch from Mozart to Wu-Tang without warning. Truthfully, I don’t listen much new music, though a few years ago I found myself spinning the Weeknd’s singles “Wicked Games” and “The Hills” a lot, because I just loved his drugged-out coke king angst. Of course, that was before he got all Michael Jackson and started dancing while trying to feel his face.

Albums

Fresh/Sly Stone

1999/Prince

Walking Wound/Everything But the Girl

Super Fly/Curtis Mayfield

Pre-Millennium Tension/Tricky

Betty Davis/Betty Davis

Brown Sugar/D’Angelo

Mezzanine/Massive Attack

“Take a Bow (single)/Madonna/Babyface

Bitter/Meshell Ndegeocello

Movies

The French Connection

Annie Hall

Shadows

Super Fly

Uptight

The Anderson Tapes

Out of Sight

Light Sleeper

Being There

Taxi Driver

Comic Book Artists

Jack Kirby

Steve Ditko

Howard Chaykin

Alex Nino

Bernie Wrightson

Michael Wm. Kaluta

Jim Steranko

Kyle Baker

Los Bros Hernandez

Bill Sienkiewicz

Television

The Odd Couple

Homicide

The Twilight Zone

Sanford & Son

Barney Miller

X-Files

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Atlanta

Law & Order

A whole bunch of cartoons

Comedians (my other favorite storytellers)

Richard Pryor

George Carlin

Jack Benny

Robin Harris

Steve Martin

Mike Nichols

Eddie Murphy

Chris Rock

Lily Tomlin

Redd Foxx

Filmmakers

Sidney Lumet

Shirley Clarke

Wong Kar-wai

Malcolm Lee

Jules Dassin

Francis Ford Coppola

Charles Burnett

Peter Bogdanovich

Lynne Ramsay

Spike Lee

Spiritual Godparents

Malcolm X

Bob Fosse

Chuck Jones

Miles Davis

Chester Himes

Billie Holiday

Zora Neale Hurston

Vincent Van Gogh

Francis Bacon (painter)

Marvin Gaye

Bio: Essayist/short story writer Michael A. Gonzales has written about books for CrimeReads, Longreads, Catapult and The Paris Review. His fiction has appeared in various magazines, journals and websites including Brown Sugar edited by Carol Taylor, The Root, Art Decades, Bronx Biannual edited by Miles Marshall Lewis, The Darker Mask and Black Pulp, both edited by Gary Phillips. In addition, Gonzales has written about pop culture, visual art and film for The Village Voice, New York, Wax Poetics, HYCIDE, Pitchfork and Newark Bound. Upcoming short stories will be published in the photo book It’s After The End Of The World by Gerald Jenkins and SOLEDAD #2 edited by Jeremy R Richey.

Photo by Paul Price

Gonzalez