Geoffrey Simon Brown Interview (Transcript)

poetry, people, friends, dog, calgary, theater, person, poet, feel, written, called, shit, day, fuck, evan, conceptual, hear, friendship, friendless, company
Geoffrey Simon Brown, James Avramenko

James Avramenko 00:00
Friendless is a proud member of the Saskatchewan Podcast Network, which is sponsored in part by Conexus credit union and Directwest. Hello my sweeties welcome back to a brand new episode of friendless the show about reconnecting with long lost friends by disconnecting on Facebook. As always, I am your intrepid host, James Avramenko. This week I unfriend playwright and producer Geoffrey Simon Brown, Geoff and I go back to my Calgary days. And let me tell you, it was an absolute treat to catch up with him after so long. We discussed adopting dogs losing theater work, founding the major Matt Mason collective and the inevitable legal ramifications of the name, making friend lists and checking in on them twice, being hit on at poetry shows, and so much more. stick around to the end of the episode for some fun updates on the future of the show. But as always, that is then this is now. So for now, lay back and enjoy my interview with the incomparable Geoffrey Simon Brown. But, so this week, I have a dear friend from Calgary on the show and haven’t spoke to you since we since we packed up and ran away four years ago almost now. Which is crazy, right but my good friend Geoffrey Simon brown How the hell are you my guy?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 01:55
I’m pretty good. Yeah, yeah, I’m sorry. We’re off to a great start here. I just got a new puppy.

James Avramenko 02:06
So what kind of dog is it?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 02:09
It’s a golden doodle.

James Avramenko 02:11
Oh shit. Hair galore.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 02:12
He’s beautiful. But yeah, I’m I’m definitely I’ve never been someone to like, find scatological humor funny or like talk about poo or be obsessed with poo. But suddenly I’m like, in a moment where I’m like, all I want to talk about is whether my dog shit and piss outside. Like, I’m so excited. I wake up in the morning and I’m like, Elena, like, has Bodie shit outside yet? And it brings me so much joy.

James Avramenko 02:49
Um, you’re lucky to have gotten a dog I heard I heard that like, like shelters and adoptions and stuff like that, at some points in this quarantine have been like zero. Like absolutely no dogs whatsoever. So how did you how did you go about it? It was it rescue like How did you?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 03:05
No well it’s our first dog together. I’ve grown up with dogs. But Elaine has never had a dog so she was like, I know it feels selfish to go with a breeder dog. But I also just want some experience before we jump into a dog that you know has some some history behind behind.

James Avramenko 03:25
Yeah, totally.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 03:26
So we reached out to my to my parents dogs breeder as our first breeder and they were like, We don’t have any dogs until the fall, which felt really far away. We were hoping for one this spring and we’re like, Oh, that’s too bad, whatever. And then they then they reached out and said that they had dog available right now and apparently it’s because the family that was supposed to pick up this dog got COVID

James Avramenko 03:55
Oh man. That’s called a silver lining, right?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 03:58
I mean, yeah, I feel weird about it. But yeah, his name was gonna be latte. If he went with tha family.

James Avramenko 04:06
So you saved the dog. That’s a rescue in spirit.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 04:10
At least from the name. But yeah, we went down we went down expecting to just meet this dog. And they were like, here you go. Here’s your dog. And we had no we had no like we had like, three days previously we were like okay, I guess we’re getting a dog in the fall. So like yeah, it’s been like a lot of reading.

James Avramenko 04:31
Just to like get it all yeah, it’s funny. It’s very I mean, it’s very much like getting a kid right where you’re just like, Oh, now I have to like tend to this living being and and I can’t let it starve or be cold or

Geoffrey Simon Brown 04:45
and if I do this is gonna influence the rest of this creatures life.

James Avramenko 04:51
Totally. There’s that thing going around on I think it was on Tick Tock where it was like, I don’t know if this is a real thing or not. But it was like this challenge of like, Kinda like, fake punch at your dog. And if and if it flinches it’s because it’s been abused. And if it doesn’t flinch, it’ll just it’ll, it’s because you’ve been good to it. It’s like this really weird, like, tick tock challenge. I know it sounds really messed up, but then it was showing all these people and they’d sort of like, you know, they do like a bully, like you want to punch, you know, and the dogs are just like sit there and completely plasidly we can kind of stare at because they’d lived, you know, just like a life of comfort.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 05:27
Yeah, that’s good. I hope that those are the ones that are that are getting shared.

James Avramenko 05:32
I feel like the ones that are flinching don’t get shared because the parent the people are like, Oh, fuck my dogs all fucked up.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 05:39
My dogs exposing my abusive behavior.

James Avramenko 05:44
So you’re, you’re still settled in Calgary these days? Right?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 05:47
No, right now. We’re living in Edmonton.

James Avramenko 05:49
Oh, no. Shit. Okay, that fuck shows what I know. Well, that’s it. I mean, I mean, everybody just bounces and, and it feels like so many. So many people sort of ended up in these like scattered spots. And then now they’re just like hunker down. Right?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 06:05
Yeah, I mean, for us, like, we were gonna do the majority of the Year in Calgary. And then and then the last part of are like, you know, of the season. That’s what I think of as a year from September to the spring. So we did like, we did like the fall and winter in Calgary, and then we’re going to do the spring in Edmonton. And then yeah, COVID happened, and we, we couldn’t stay at the place we’re gonna stay at we ended up getting stuck in this apartment for a while. And then we moved in with my parents for like, five months. And then we just, some friends of ours are out of our town and and let us use rented us their house. And so we’ve been there for the year.

James Avramenko 06:52
Oh, that’s fantastic.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 06:53
I mean, it doesn’t really matter where we are. Right. Right.

James Avramenko 06:58
Yeah, that’s the thing is that it’s like, it’s been this whole thing of like, Who gives a shit? were you living like you? You should just be inside. That’s what you should be doing right now.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 07:06
Yeah, totally. Exactly.

James Avramenko 07:08
But how are you holding up? Like, how are you? Cuz, you know, I know, you were like, you know, I know you predominantly as a playwright and as an as a sort of a theatre producer. And so I’m wondering sort of where where are you at? with everything going on with, you know, obviously, cancellations last year? And then, are you getting reprogrammed this year? Like what’s going on?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 07:28
Yeah, I mean, it’s like the constant thing of like, everybody being like, Oh, you had something going up in like, April of last year? We’ll do it in the fall. Just kidding. We’ll do it in the spring. I’m just kind of like, sure. So yeah, I mean, I I’m kind of I’m like incredibly lucky in some ways. And that like, last, the Christmas before this last one. I, I did an adaptation of A Christmas Carol for theater Calgary. Which was great. And that kind of was like, I put in all of this work for that. And then I didn’t like have a ton of stuff booked for 2020. I really, like had like some loose things planned. But I hadn’t really gotten my shit together to make any plans yet. So when most people’s work fell apart, I was kind of like, Oh, well, I didn’t really have anything planned anyway, so. But now my company is sort of trying to like pick up the pieces and be like, we’re trying to put together some kind of outdoor distance show in Edmonton in the spring, and then something online in fall, which is cool. I think like, if, if the the thing with theater for me is like, and I’m sure you know, you’ve had this conversation with Jennica and with other people like I don’t know, like, if something is like for me if something is the content of the show is saying this could be really cool to be online and engaging in a way that like, strikes the content of the show in a different way. I think that that’s really cool. But like, if you’re just putting what was supposed to be live online, like it just feels like having the Yeah, it feels like having like a taxidermy of your pet.

James Avramenko 09:31
It feels so hollow. And it really you know, I I’m actually I’ve been a big advocate for instead of putting theater on video and streaming stuff, I’ve been a big advocate for recording it for audio, because I find that the I find that the if you’re going to record it, if you’re going to try and put it on a different platform, I find that the theater experience is actually closer to an audio experience than it is to to a video experience. And and I don’t know maybe that’s just a personal thing, but like I know that the readings and the sort of odd stagings that I’ve watched, I’ve been like, well, this is really uncomfortable for everybody. And obviously, the actors are really nervous right now. And no matter how distance they are, they’re not really totally comfortable being there. And so like, why don’t we just like remove the cameras all together, let them come in one at a time, whatever it might be, or, you know, record like the way we’re recording whatever it might be. And, and present it that way. So that like you say, and I agree wholeheartedly. If you’re going to do something new on film, make it be served by that.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 10:35
Exactly. Like the Christmas carol that we did this year. I did like a condensed adaptation. And they actually got a whole film crew in and and filmed it on this stage ended up being pretty cool. Like, I thought that that looked cool. I mean, not everyone can do that. So if it’s just like about Yeah, putting people in front of music stands on zoom. It’s like, man, like, I you I usually don’t want to go to stage readings. In person.

James Avramenko 11:07
Exactly. That’s exactly. You know, like, I saw somebody somebody was, somebody was posting the other day. I missed theater so much that I’d stay for your talk back. And I’m like, No, no, nobody misses theater that much. You know, we’re having that golden veil thing, right? where it’s like, there’s still elements that suck. We just don’t have access to it.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 11:32
Feels like all that’s left now is the talkback. It’s like so many panels.

James Avramenko 11:38
Yeah, yeah. Because everybody gets to declare what they’re going to be doing, but nobody can do anything. Um, you mentioned you mentioned your company that this is the major Matt Mason collective, right?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 11:50

James Avramenko 11:53
I would love to hear about this, this collective because it’s, it’s, it’s um, it’s a group of artists that I only ever sort of knew tangentially, and, you know, through third sort of interweaving. And I’d love to hear the sort of, I mean, I guess it might have to be sort of the condensed version. But I’d love to hear the sort of origin stories of this collective because they, you guys did really cool work. And and I just like, all the people that I met, I don’t know if I met the whole team. But I know all the ones I did meet, I just absolutely adored. And so I was always really impressed by you guys.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 12:25
Yeah, yeah. So I mean, that came out of like a bunch of us, mainly, who graduated from Mount Royal College now University, back in the day, just different graduating classes, and just the community that came out of that. And for a long time, it was sort of like, whoever wants to be a part of the company can be a part of the company. And then when we started, like, getting doing cool stuff, I think more people were like, Oh, we want to be part of it, and is like, Okay, well, we can’t let everybody in. So what are the circumstances and we found different levels of how to share responsibilities and power and decision making. And well, that kind of stuff. We’re about like a decade in and the big change that happened this year is is there, there were like a bunch of artists who are involved sort of on the periphery of the company, who still very much helped with organizing events and participating in shows when we did that. But in terms of the producing that was mainly myself and Evan Medd who you know, and and Zoe Glassman is the other is the other co producer of the company. And, you know, through the conversations that have been happening over the summer, as well as like just some stuff that was bubbling up, we were kind of feeling like, well, we have a bunch of artists, a bunch of white artists who are like part of the company who every time we do a show, we feel the need to like hire the same eight people before we hire everybody else. So we had a conversation with the company and those five artists decided to step down from the company. You know, formally and so now it’s me and Evan and Zoey running the show. And there’s still like a ton of people in sort of like the family who who we’re happy to bring on and work with but in terms of like, who who the company is it’s it’s it’s us three right now and it’s pretty cool.

James Avramenko 14:32
Am I correct me if I’m totally wrong, did you get the name from this is our youth?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 14:37
Yeah, yeah, we did

James Avramenko 14:38
okay, because I was you know, I had never I had never read that script before. And then what I ended up doing actually was I listened to a recording of it in like maybe April, when of all people Mark Ruffalo is the like the kind of loser guy in it.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 14:52

James Avramenko 14:53
And they keep on talking about management Mason, and I was like, That can’t be a coincidence. So okay, so the first show

Geoffrey Simon Brown 15:02
that was the first show we ever did. It was like a bunch of our friends we did it at the Regina fringe and the Calgary fringe two places. Not renowned for the fringe festivals. But But yeah, we did this weird thing where we were rehearsing for like, over the course of like eight months, we just like, Oh yeah, kept rehearsing this script. And at the time, I was smoking a lot of weed in my basement apartment. And so we made up this game called major Matt Mason from the script where, you know, we were blowing all the weed smoke into one of those bounty tubes. You know, like a toilet paper tube stuffed with bounty sheets. And so the game was that you would close your eyes and, and smoke weed and you couldn’t blow it out until you found the bounty tube, someone who hid the boundary tube and you had to find it. And then you could blow it out. And that was a game that we made called major Matt Mason. So when we put on the fringe form, what’s your company name? We put Oh, major Matt Mason and then we put like a let’s put collective because that sounds cool. And then for like, the last decade, we’ve been figuring out what it what does it mean to be a collective? Like, should we change the name of our company? Because it’s legally copyrighted by Mattel toys,

James Avramenko 16:22
Cause it’s a real toy?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 16:23
Yeah, it’s a real toy. And like, oh, there’s, there’s, there’s a there’s a Tom, like Tom Hanks keeps, like talking about how he’s gonna make a major Matt Mason movie. And we’re like, at that point that that gets greenlit, we’re like, that’s when we got to change the name. But at this point, like every year that goes by, we’re more and more known as as, basically. Yeah, these are the conversations that we have or that things that I wake up in the middle of the night thinking.

James Avramenko 16:57
So for this, this latest project that you’re that you’re working on, is it Can you can you talk about? It is sort of it? Is it in the works, or do you want to

Geoffrey Simon Brown 17:04
they’re both. They’re both sort of dl right now, I wish that I had got my shit together. This would be some nice free advertising. But

James Avramenko 17:13
what Okay, well, then what I want to do then I want to I want to change gears a little bit. And I want to talk about because I was thinking about this ever since we kind of set up this this interview, I was trying to remember how we met and I was trying to I was hoping I was hoping we could hear your side of the story. And I’ll sort of color in as as I remember if I remember the right circumstances. But I was wondering if you remember how we met?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 17:39
I don’t remember meeting you. Like I feel like it was like very gradual because you were working at Alberta theatre projects while my play this circle was going on there. And and so you were like,

James Avramenko 17:58
just always around

Geoffrey Simon Brown 17:59
you were around. I feel like you were friends with Evan. Yeah, first. You tell your side.

James Avramenko 18:06
Well, no, I’ll add in. Cuz we I remember actually, because you you all knew Jennica first you like, what is it called the performance lab and those kinds of things? Right.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 18:20
Various things. Yeah, that’s a whole other rabbit hole.

James Avramenko 18:23
Yeah, exactly. And, and so when we moved to Calgary, we went to see your play about the about the key maker the the girls who break into the house with the the key cutting.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 18:35
Oh yeah alright

James Avramenko 18:36
And we, we went to see your show, and you were actually running the door at the time. And so we just like said like, Hi in passing, right, because you were busy. And you know, but that was like sort of like the fabled first meeting, you know? And then and then yeah, and then and then yeah, and then I got that job as the assistant front house manager. And funny. It’s funny that you should say I was friends with Evan first because like, you know, I basically met all of you, essentially, at your, like, opening night party where we all just got like, like, just dirty drunk.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 19:07

James Avramenko 19:08
And basically like, cuz I was just like, I’m here. I’m the front of house manager. I’m technically in charge of the building, right now. I was like, the most senior person at the time and, and I just sort of like, you know, wormed my way around the party right and Evan, and I just hit it off by we bonded over Stephen King books,

Geoffrey Simon Brown 19:27
Ah that makes sense he’s a he’s a big science fiction horror guy. Yeah.

James Avramenko 19:32
Yeah. And, and then yeah, and then I was just like, I remember just being so like, I was just so taken with you guys. I just thought you guys were all so cool. Right? You know what I mean? And so it was like, I hope they like me too.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 19:45
Oh, I do, man. No, I totally I’d like just from how you and Evan are chatting. I was like, Oh, wow. James is like really close. Like, must have known Evan from forever so

James Avramenko 19:57
we literally met that night. Just fast friends. Yeah, I love the guy. He’s great. But, but yeah, and then and then. And then I remember like, yeah, just through all of the circle, I just remember that being such a, because I was pretty new at that job at that time. I think that was only maybe my second or maybe my third show. I was like really new to that job. And so I just like loved having a team of like, people my age right, there all the time. And it was such an exciting, like, the audience was really excited. And it was a young audience and everybody loved being there, and everybody and it wasn’t, you know, you, you sometimes when you, you know, in theater and Canadian theatre, especially you, you get a lot of older, older cast and older audiences, and a lot of them are very, like, sort of locked into their habits and their, their, you know, whatever it might be their attitudes, you know, and so it’s a little less like, it’s a little more routine with them. Yeah, it’s a little less a little, there’s a little less like, you know, especially for somebody like a front of house manager, it’s very much like, yeah, cool. I’m the star, like, get out of my way, you know, whereas you guys were like, so like, you just you seem so happy to be there. Right? It was really refreshing.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 21:08
It really was this really unique circumstance where, like, for me, you know, the year before that, I was working at the mall, I was living with my parents, I was like, you know, like, out of out of theater school round to sort of like wondering how to get my shit together. And then yeah, ATP, like, tapped me to do my play. And I also got cast in it. And it was really important to the creative team that like, every person involved in the show, it was a big deal for them. Like, for the, for the director for all the cast for the designers. Like it was like, a big deal. It wasn’t like, Oh, I’m doing another ATP show. It was like, This is the show that’s either, like, defining my career or, like, that’s really important to me, like subject wise, or just for whatever reason, so it really was like, because you’re right, like, I, I find that the, the larger scale theater that I do, it feels like, the more that the people who I’m working with, and sometimes myself included, it feels more like, I’m checking in, I’m checking out, you know, like, here’s what it is for the day and that sort of like spiritual aspect or like communal aspect of, of, of what drew me to the art form originally, like gets gets lost. And so that was just like, yeah, such a magical time that we were all just like, I mean, we we hung out after every single show.

James Avramenko 22:41
Yeah, yeah, no, you really felt it, you could feel it right through the whole building, you can feel it, you know what I mean? Like it was and and it and then you also can really feel it when it was gone. And I think that was the worst part. You know, cuz then, like, the next show was some fun yet another like, you know, Susie q drives her car or whatever the fuck it is, like, Oh, my God, this fucking nightmare, right? So, this question is really like, the heart of the show. Very often, what I talk about is, the real root of sort of what I’m searching for in this show is the question of, like, have I been a good friend? And and if I, if I want to answer that, then what I’m trying to figure out is, what does it mean to be a good friend? And what does it even mean to be a friend? So I put this to every guest, and I’m curious to hear your thoughts on it. How would you personally define what friendship is?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 23:46
Yeah, I was thinking about that. I was like, that’s really hard to answer. I don’t know. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about, you know, in the pandemic, I think I’m gonna go on a little tangent, then I’ll come back to the question. But I think like something that that that’s really come up for me the last few years and then really came home during the pandemic is like, feel like as I started out, being like, Oh, I want to make art with all of my friends. Now that I’m in my 30s, and like, looking on who my friends are, it sort of is like, feels like I’m making art, to have friends sometimes like that, like all of my friends, and not all of them. I have plenty of friends outside of art, but like a lot of my like, closest friends have become so tied up with my career that it feels like I’ve turned them into colleagues, which I’m really trying to undo. I’m trying to like Yeah. Find out how those relationships can sort Without, with me now not having career.

James Avramenko 25:06
There is a thing though, right? I agree with you wholeheartedly. That whole thing about sort of like, like, are we? Are we friends? Or are we just making art together? Right? and if we remove the art, what is left of our relationship? You know?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 25:20
Well, and that’s the thing, like I was talking to you about some of the changes that happened with my, with my company and really, like, we are having all these discussions that we’re like, oh, man, if we aren’t making art together, are we still gonna be friends. And I was like, that’s a really fucked up thing to be considering. And if that’s the case, then maybe this is a good step, because I don’t want to just be like hiring you. Because that’s the only way I get to hang out with you. Like, that’s really dangerous. So I don’t know. Now I’m really like, I feel like a friend is like someone like I define a friendship with a person is like someone who I could like, if I reached out to them, either just like calling them randomly, or like sending a message being like, Hey, you want to chat? Normally, I would say hang out, but that’s not really a thing anymore. But like, do you want to like, chat on the phone while I go grocery shopping or whatever? Like, like, and that person wouldn’t be like, sure. What are you wanting to talk about? Like it If like, they’re, if they’re just like, yeah, great, sweet, and would be stoked on it, then I feel like then then that’s a person who I’ve maintained a friendship with, even if, like, in the case of like you, like we haven’t talked in years, but like, you know, and I’m glad that we’re doing it on a podcast. Like I’m happy to be like, also having some kind of like, creating a thing together. But had you just been like, Hey, man, I’m going to the grocery store. Do you want to like talk on the phone? I would be like sweet. Yes. Yeah, absolutely. Hopefully. So that’s, that’s the that’s the answer.

James Avramenko 27:25
What is your most vivid memory of our friendship?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 27:29
Oh, yes. Okay. I couldn’t remember what your questions were. And I was hoping that I got to tell it. My most vivid is, so I was I was tapped for No, I’ve never written poetry. I and I was but I was tapped by this really awesome dude who really liked my writing, who set up some poetry events. And he asked me to open for a poet, but he wanted me to do this monologue from my play the circle, which is like, honestly, like, everybody always asked me to read that monologue for things, or at least at that point. Now, no one remembers what that play is. But it’s

James Avramenko 28:07
Welcome to life in theater baby!

Geoffrey Simon Brown 28:09
it’s ephemeal baby. But yeah, so I was like, I was like, man, I don’t really want to do that, like whatever. Like I don’t really know about poetry. It’s like a conceptual poetry. And we just me and you just happened to be having a beer at the oak tree, I think.

James Avramenko 28:31
Yeah, well, ah, I think we know, we, Jennica and I went to that event not know you were opening for it.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 28:40
No, no, no, this is that is false. I remember I went to I went to the bar, and I was just casually saying to you, I got tapped. I won’t say the person’s name, because it’s also funny, but, but I was like, I got tapped to open for this conceptual poet. This is his name. And you were like, that guy is like a big deal. And I think you’re like, I’m going to that you should do it. And that’s, that’s the only reason that I did it was because you were like, this person is like, great. And what was so Okay, I’ll go so many tangents. Like, at the time, I was really in this thing in my theater career. Like I had written a lot of like, naturalistic stuff is like my jam most of the time and like narrative stuff, but I was really like, a lot of people who I looked up to as playwrights were writing this like really bizarre stuff. And I was like, I should write weirder stuff. And anyway, we went to this we went to this event, I sat with you guys. I didn’t know anybody else there.

James Avramenko 29:44
Yeah. Neither did we, it was our little safety corner, it was good. Yeah.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 29:49
And then I remember the main poet guy it’s why I’m not saying his name. Just like was aggressively hitting on Jennica like so hard and was like being so nice to our table and as soon as she either showed her ring or like mentioned that she was like involved with you, it was like, gone. Like peaced out.

James Avramenko 30:14
he took his tiny little scarf. And he was out.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 30:21
But But yeah, so then so then this conceptual poetry thing started. I read like a really weird, visceral thing that I’ve written. I don’t

James Avramenko 30:30
I remember it. I still remember it. I don’t remember the details. I remember the the sticky carpet to you kind of like pulling your skin off.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 30:38
Yeah, yeah. I don’t know if it was a poem, but I read a thing. And then like, the person right after me was like, said something about like, how, I probably wasn’t targeted to me at all, but said something about like, how conceptual poetry is the best poetry and anything narrative, like, is bullshit. And I was like, fuck. And then I proceeded to, like have this night where I was like, I have no fucking idea what’s going on. Like, I was like, being, you know, like, I, you know, I read Anne Carson. I read Louis Block, but like, I’m not like, I’m not like a poetry guy. Like my partner. Like, is is far more into poetry is into conceptual poetry and stuff like that. It’s just not my it’s not my thing. And I was sitting there, I was like, I have no way into this. And I kind of had this realization in that night that I was like, Okay, I don’t want to go so far into like, making my theater weird for the sake of making it weird. Or all I’m doing is making theater for other people who make weird theater. Like I want it exactly. I want to be making theater for like, someone could have never seen a play and be like, Oh, that was that was pretty cool.

James Avramenko 31:53
There was a I don’t know if it’s, I don’t know if it’s a genuine Rimbaud. I’m probably saying, I’m almost certainly saying his name wrong. Rimbaud. I don’t know if it’s a genuine quote of his or if it’s somebody like in a character as him but I remember from somewhere in the past hearing about, like, one of his rules was never do anything. The person in front of you can’t understand. Yeah, cuz that’s like, like, what? Otherwise what’s the objective tone of art? Like, it’s okay to be confusing. It’s okay to be mysterious. It’s okay to be challenging. But at the end of the day, it can’t just be nonsense, just to look like you’re being cool, right? That’s what that’s what that night felt like it was because because that poet does some really cool conceptual stuff. He does things like he tries to write poetry on, like amoebas and stuff and like microscope, it gets cool stuff he’s trying to write like, he’s trying to write like an organic poem. And that’s cool. At least in in, but but his his disciples are the ones who have kind of taken the message and ruined it, you know,

Geoffrey Simon Brown 33:02
but here’s the thing is like, I read his stuff after and I still was like, this is fine. The thing about conceptual poetry for me and sorry, to any of your listeners who are like, fuckin conceptual poets. But, but, but like, I’m like, that’s something where the concept is so much cooler than the poem and I’m like, why don’t you just come up with the concepts? Yeah, and write a bunch of content.

James Avramenko 33:31
You’re so spot on. And that’s, that’s it right there. where it’s like, oh, yeah, that sounds really cool. In in, in on paper, and then you see it in practice, and you’re like, Oh, that’s dumb. You know? Like it’s still just some asshole.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 33:44
Someone reading the phone book can be poetry. I don’t, I’m gonna leave immediately. I don’t want it.

James Avramenko 33:50
Well, that guy. Yeah, that guy, that poet. It’s probably good that we’re not calling him out. But he’s friends with the guy who literally, like you may be even be referencing this guy. He’s friends with this poet who will literally be like, he’ll share all these dumb things. And he’ll be like, this is the greatest poem ever written. And it’ll be like, the, the, the list of 911 deaths. He’ll be like, this is the most powerful poem ever written. And he he calls everything the most powerful poem ever written. And it’ll be like these, like just blocks of text, because it’ll be like the speech of this or the list of names or the phone book or whatever the fuck and it’s just like, buddy, eat shit.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 34:33
Yeah, I feel bad now that we’re shitting on.

James Avramenko 34:36
Ah, these are the people who make this is the thing. These are the kind of people who make the lives of other artists harder, because they are really loud and abrasive and public. And they ruin the public concept of what an artist does, you know, and so it actually makes other artists lives harder, because now we have to be like, yeah, I’m a conceptual poet, but I’m not an asshole.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 35:01

James Avramenko 35:03
I mean, I’m not a conceptual poet, my poetry fucking blows, it’s just about sadboy being pathetic and mediocre, but

Geoffrey Simon Brown 35:09
see I can I feel like I have a way into that. I will say there’s a lot of people in my life who would hear this and be like, shut the fuck up, Geoff, you’re just too dumb to understand this. They wouldn’t say it like that. But, you know, it’s just not my jam. And I think that I think that’s something that I’ve found over the years is like being more honest about like, what my jam is, like. I remember like, back when I was like, 18, I was like, carrying around a Norton Anthology of English literature, like, on my breaks, like, frantically reading like, like 18th century poets trying to find like, a poem that I liked, because I was confused that I didn’t, like poetry.

James Avramenko 35:55
Did you not find one?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 35:56
I found one. I found a poem that I Oh, yeah. Okay. Yeah, this is good. Yeah. But but it’s, you know, once I found like, Richard psych, and, and you know, some other people, I was like, Oh, this is what I like this you can get into and some other people like, Oh, that’s cheaper poetry. And I’m like, then I like cheaper poetry. Jerk. Fuck you. Yeah. Anyway, so that’s my memory of you. And it was really fun at the table, we just were like getting drunk, and like quietly roasting people. And I felt like we’re the outsiders and had I just gone to that event by myself, it would have been so, so much of a nightmare. And I was not ever invited back to do another poetry reading, but I had a very fun time with you.

James Avramenko 36:49
This kind of comes into you know, this comes called full circle of what we’ve been talking about, about, like, you know, all the things we used to be able to do and how we used to be able to call each other up and hang out and how that was such an integral part of our, you know, our friendship, and, and now, you can’t do any of that. Right? You can’t you can’t, you know, you can’t go for a beer unless you’re a real asshole. And, you know, and so I guess, I don’t know, if we see an end. I know, I don’t see an end to this anytime soon. The amount of people I see being assholes about, you know, wearing masks and all those kinds of things. So who knows? When we’ll be out of this? Yeah, but what do you think it’s going to take as an individual as a person to be, you know, a good friend to people in 2021, and then into the future?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 37:55
I think just reaching out to people, I think, I think that that’s what I’m realizing is like, you choose to be in people’s lives. And even though we’re, we’re limited in being able to see people, you know, like, you choose to be in people’s lives. And, and there’s only a limited amount of time, you can’t you can’t spend quality time with everybody, but like, you know, if neither person makes an effort, then there’s no way you’re gonna continue to have a friendship. And if I don’t know, there’s people for me who have continued to reach out to me in times when I felt like I couldn’t reach out to other people and and people who were just showing up in ways that isn’t like, literally showing up. Because I would be like, you need to go home. We can’t have it in person gatherings. But yeah, you know,

James Avramenko 39:00
yeah, yeah, I do. I do find it so tough, right? Because I’m somebody who’s really struggled with, I struggled with a lot of social anxieties, and a lot of in a lot of degrees about like, a lot of, you know, I’ll often sort of tell myself, like, I’d like to reach out to somebody, and I’ll sort of tell myself any number of excuses as to sort of why, like, why I shouldn’t right? and why. Why there’ll be a waste of time and why they XYZ, right? You know, why they hate me, right? You know, it’s just that sort of like internalized little Gremlin head, right? And that’s something that I’m really trying to fight and it’s something that I’m trying to use the show as a platform to amplify is is exactly what you’re saying, which is like, it doesn’t have to be this big thing. It can just be really simple and it can just be being nice, but but I guess what is the like? Because I you know, like, do you do you would you recommend like do you just like stiff upper lip it and do it? Is it like, you know what I mean? Like is it like just grab the handles and rip or like what is something You can recommend somebody to like, sort of, like, work through that anxiety.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 40:05
Yeah, I don’t know, I got, like, my partner’s really good at being like, these are all the people that I’m seeing this week, like, you know, my, my evenings are filled up with like social engagements and so I would be seeing a lot of like our friends or for her friends and but I wasn’t reaching out to a lot of people in my life and I was feeling really lonely. And so what I did was I just like wrote a list of like, people in the city that I’m in, who I could reach out to, and maybe go for a walk with. And then I wrote people who are like, normally in my life, who maybe aren’t in the same city as me. And then like another list of like, people who I haven’t talked to, in a really long time that I should just do it. And then and then I’ll usually have like, one day where I just reach out to like, 30 people and then suddenly, I’m, like, overwhelmingly busy for a while, and it kind of goes in waves like that. But now I just have this list, and then that I’m adding to where I can, anytime I’m like, fuck I’m feeling like really, like lonely or like I’m putting a lot on my partner is like the only person who I’m spending time with. Then I just go through that and go like, oh, man, I really miss James, I’m gonna I’m gonna reach out to him. You know?

James Avramenko 41:26
That’s such a great idea. I love the idea of like, make a list and sort of work your way down it right.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 41:32
Yeah. And you can even put a mark next to it being like I actually contacted and how to hang out with this person, and you can keep putting marks next to it. It’s not like a check mark. It’s done, but then be like, right, I still haven’t connected with Dylan. I’m gonna keep going back.

James Avramenko 41:48
Yeah. Oh, that’s beautiful. I love that. I that’s something. You know, I asked that. Because it’s like, it’s one thing to sort of say like, yeah, just call your friends. And then it’s another thing to be like, here’s like, an actionable step that you can use to put towards it. Right. Yeah. And, and because I’m both of those things, right? I’m, you know, I’m somebody who who struggles and then I’m also somebody who’s like, you should do it for me as well. Right?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 42:10
I love to give advice that I do not take for myself.

James Avramenko 42:15
Bingo. Listen, Geoff, man, you know, fuck, we could talk for ages. It’s so nice to see you and talk to you. And I’m just like, I’m, I’m, you know, it always comes to the point of the interview where I have to pull up the Facebook and i and i and it hurts, you know, but, but I mean, Facebook is bullshit, anyway.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 42:33
Yeah. I mean, the benefit here is that I really don’t like Facebook, and I don’t go on it really at all anymore. So

James Avramenko 42:41
Exactly. It’s becoming easier and easier these days with this show to be like, yeah, we don’t talk on Facebook anyways, who gives a fuck?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 42:49
Yeah, In the beginning of the pandemic, I made an Instagram, like, right when I quitting Facebook. So anyway, I’m still I’m still a slave to Zuckerberg. So, as long as I’m as long as I’m giving him money, then

James Avramenko 43:04
that’s the key. I need to make sure that big daddy Zuck is, you know, that the blood gods are fed, right, you know, and yeah, but, but you know, man, like before, before I do, unfriend, I just want to say like, you know, like, I’m really I’m really grateful that you’re my friends, Geoff, and I, I’m really glad to know you, you know, and, and, like it, you know, it sucks that it’s been three years since we’ve seen each other but like, it’s really reassuring to know that we can just pick up the phone and it can be this easy in this nice, you know?

Geoffrey Simon Brown 43:34
Yes, please do, right?

James Avramenko 43:36
Yeah, yeah. And I just miss the shit outta you man. I just hope you’re doing well. And I’m really glad you know, I’m really glad you’re doing good wherever you are. And, and, you know, I hope I hope your dog has a really good shit later today.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 43:49
I feel the same way. you’re you’re you’re you’re awesome. And I look forward to catching up more when we’re not creating a podcast.

James Avramenko 43:58
Bingo. Yeah, exactly. But we do to finish off the podcast. We have to do one last thing so I’m gonna pull up your Facebook here. And, and here we go. Geoffrey Simon Brown. We’re no longer Facebook friends.

Geoffrey Simon Brown 44:14
brutal. Okay.

James Avramenko 44:37
That’s it. Thanks once more to Geoff for coming on the show. I just love that man. And I hope he never tired of his dogs poops. If you like the show, be sure to let your friends know. A really crazy update. Something happened last week that kind of blew my mind friendless charted on the apple relationship podcasts in Canada. For the first time we peaked at 146, which is fucking crazy 146 out of literally all the podcasts and relationships, I just I think that’s absolutely amazing. And I literally could not have done it with all your listeners. So I just want to say thank you so much. And now I’m greedy. So now we want to see if we can break into the top 100 I think we can, but I can’t do it without you. So just be sure to give all the episodes five star reviews, share the links, tell your friends, check out the show. Follow me for all updates on social media @friendspod and be sure to send me some love and thoughts, my email,, the new site and Patreon is launching very soon, maybe even sooner if I can get my head out of my ass. But the site is mostly just a refresh. I think it’s gonna be a ton of fun, and I really can’t wait to launch it. But wait, I shall to be sure that it is worth your visit. Speaking of launches, though, raised by the movies, the podcast about me and my sweet wife Jennica rewatching movies from our childhood and talking about how they mess up our adulthood is launching tomorrow. If you are listening to this in real time, that is March 3, it’s gonna be an absolute best don’t sleep on this one. It’s a ton of fun. first season is all about the Disney Renaissance and it is an absolute hoot. Jennica is the absolute funniest person I know. And you need to check this show out. But that’s it for me. So I will just say I love you. And I hope you all have a great week. And I hope you get out in the sun if you can. And I hope you call up a friend and you tell them that you missed them. And I will catch you next time. But as always, that is then. This is now. So for now. I’ll just say be gentle with yourself and I’ll catch you soon. Fun and safety y’all

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