13 Questions with Willis Gordon

by HST UK on October 27, 2011

Willis Gordon is Lost Highwayman, an Outlaw Patriot, a true Hellraiser, and a writer with no permanent location, drifting from town to town. Born and raised in Canton, Ohio. Gordon captures the essence of the great American writers while maintaining a timelessly fresh quality in his work. He writes a brilliant and scorching political column online at drunkenabsurdity.com, The Long Road Home, his first book, is available for purchase online at Amazon.com and through order in your local bookstores. His unique style has been described as…

“Gritty realism; the true feelings of the jaded youth of this generation”

Willis is a “Politico.semiautobiographical.degenerate”

“postmodern drifter westerns being skullfucked by a bottle of tequila”

“Where Hunter S. Thompson meets George Carlin”

Gordon graciously answered our 13 Questions….

HST: ‘The Long Road Home’ features many lost men. Why is it that most of us have forgotten the simple essence of mature masculinity? Confused by the drudgery of modern life, most men seem split by an identity crisis that leaves many resembling a cluster of blind men attempting to solve the same giant Rubik’s cube.

You know, it’s funny. After about four years, this is the topic I get the most questions about. The current state of masculinity. I wrote a speech on it in High School and somehow ended up winning a State Championship in my altered state.

I think the main challenge we have with masculinity is balance. After the 80s and 90s wave of feminism, we as a society decided to embrace our feminine side. Which is fine, but we soon forgot what it meant to be men. The fact that everyone has to tiptoe through the tulips like a bunch of sissies in order not to appear sexist is proof enough that the war on masculinity is over. Steve McQueen is dead. Now, instead of an intelligent, well rounded, mentally and physically tough man, we have a new vision of what “manliness” is intended to be. Violent. Homophobic. Misogynistic. The meathead jock from every 80s movie you’ve ever seen. There is no complexity to masculinity, it must be generalized to be vilified, and it must be vilified to be destroyed. So now you see we have these spineless Beta Male characters in our entertainment, which of course seeps into our culture. The only way we can even sneak them on television is to look into the archaic past of the 50s and 60s… Snooze.

HST: Who is Charles Robinson from your story ‘Eggnog’, why is he so jaded, and detached from life?

I can only tell you that there’s no such thing as pure fiction. Take from that what you will.

HST: Talking politics, is Barack Obama, a Dorothy? A man looking to find the heart of the American Dream, find the brains to fix the broken economy and the courage to continue a war in the hope of achieving something precious to the West… Democracy?

Obama needs to find his backbone. I think he’s starting to realize this now. The republican party is brilliant in its organization and its one size fits all policies. You will never see a Democrat lose a seat in Congress because he wasn’t “Liberal Enough”. But look across the aisle…perfect unison. They’re like fucking Stormtroopers.

I’m pining for the Democrats of the 1950s and early 60s. Jack and Bobby Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson. Guys who weren’t afraid to get dirty and play hardball when the time called for it. None of this pussyfooting we have today. Politics is a blood sport baby, and the stakes are way higher than some football game. Your team loses the Super Bowl, oh well. But the wrong guy wins and election…Jobs are lost and people die. Hell, I’m excited just talkin about it!

HST: You hail from the D.C. area, is it a place of contradiction, where political fervour and political apathy swill in the same bubbling shot glass?

I’m actually from Canton, Ohio originally; though I have spent a lot of time in the DC area. I can honestly tell you it’s no more or less political than anywhere other major city in America once you get away from the Hill. The people around there usually all have a hand in the pot. Which can be good or bad depending on what your motives are. I like to have a few friends on the inside; they can let me know when it’s time to skip town. haha

HST: In England we are enduring a rough ride, you’ve probably read about the civil unrest, and heard about our dire economic position, and high unemployment rates. However, and it somewhat pains me to say this as a liberal, there are signs of hope coming from a Conservative government. In America, your right-wingers seem, well, to put this in the bluntest terms – stupendously mentally unstable. Does it worry you that the voices of people like Michele Bachman are growing louder?

I have no problems with their voices getting louder. I’m worried about people listening.

But that’s the beauty of this country. Welcome to America! Where you’re entitled to shout out your opinions, and I’m entitled to tell you how fucking stupid they are. I took an oath to defend this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. When I’m not forward deployed, taking care of foreign enemies, I’m right here defending the homeland against those that would do her harm. Michelle Bachman is a loudmouthed distraction to the things that are really wrong in this country. Take a closer look at the other candidates. Did you know Herman Cain was President of a Federal Bank? Hmmm

HST: Hunter S. Thompson searched for the mythical ‘American Dream’ back in the sixties and seventies. From my reading as an Englishman, I think the Dream has never existed; it was a manufactured idea, like the magic of Disneyland. What is the ‘American Dream’ to you?

See, I hate it when people rag on the American Dream. People don’t get it, man. It’s not the perfect smiling housewife, the big backyard, white picket fence, 2.5 kids and dog… It’s about having a goal, it’s about tomorrow. Setting that goal and fighting like Hell to reach it. You can do anything you damn well please in America if you work hard enough. A man can make himself by the sweat of his brow and the strength of his will. The problem is, people don’t want to work. We’re lazy. We don’t want to work for our riches, so we play the lottery. We don’t want to work for a better body, so we take diet pills and shakes and supplements. We don’t want to work for fame, so we covet Reality Television. The American Dream is alive and well, and fuck anybody who says otherwise. I’m on my way. Fight harder.

HST: I read that you are currently on leave from the Navy. It appears a lot of people are using the Armed Forces as a passport to a better life, using the skills they learn to set up careers and a foundation for their adult lives. Are people going this route, in hope of bettering themselves because they realize that the college/university system is failing a whole generation in a time of global recession, with practical skills proving more vital than academic ones?

Ah, that’s an old interview. I was on leave back in April and doing some promotion for The Long Road Home in Ohio. But as far as capitalizing on the military for my own personal gain, that’s not the case at all. My father is an immigrant. Came to this country in the late 70s to join his family and gain new opportunities, and he realized that dream. He worked damn hard, breaking his back every day, and he was able to provide for us when we were in need. THAT is a man. I grew up with a keen insight to the immigrant’s view of this country, and I was able to see the opportunities laid before me for two decades that weren’t available to me anywhere else. My story is only possible in America, so I decided if she gave me 20 good years the least I can do is give her four.

HST: I was watching a documentary programme last week about armoured vehicle drivers from a Scottish cavalry regiment that was out in Afghanistan. This wiry kid was shown in Helmand Province as a cocksure and happy-go-lucky soldier; back home when interviewed, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, he looked like he had aged a decade in less than a year and seen horrors that would forever change him. You cover the adjustment struggles in several of your stories. Are you concerned about how servicemen and women are not adequately prepared to be reintegrated into civilian life?

I know some guys who have pretty nasty cases of PTSD. I know others who have done multiple tours in country and are more together than I am. There are very few absolutes in this life, man. I’m concerned about my brothers and sisters transitioning, but what I’m most worried about is how their homeland treats them once their home. In America, we talk a good game. Pat our Servicemen on the back and say “thanks for your service” and slap ‘Support the Troops’ stickers on their mini-vans, but any further than that? Forget it, brother. You’re on your own. I’d like to see some light shone on that situation, which means I have to dive into the fight myself.

HST: Who is ‘The Taliban’? Are they the enemy, or patriots defending their country from military occupation?

Oooh, here’s the ‘Tough Question’ I hear them talk about.

War is only a matter of perspective if you’re not in the fight. As far as I’m concerned, when I put on the uniform, (and frankly as long as I’m defending this country) they are the enemy. It’s Us vs. Them over there and none of us are going to die because we admire their spunk or “nationalism”. There may have been a time when they were scrappy freedom fighters who drove the Russians out with our help, but let’s not give them too much credit. Look at their track record.

HST: Your story ‘The Fifth Round’ is about a journeyman boxer. Let’s talk a little about boxing. I’d be interested to hear your take on the Floyd Mayweather Jr. controversy in his recent fight with Victor Ortiz, the punches that finished the fight and the bizarre post-fight interview with Larry Merchant. What do you think Mayweather Jr’s legacy will be when he retires (for good)?

If you head butt me, you had better believe I will knock you the fuck out as soon as humanly possible. I have no qualms with what he did.

His legacy? A spoilsport prick. A second-rate shit talker(no one can top Ali) The man who was too afraid to fight Pacquiao.

HST: Is boxing really dying as a sport? It appears the razzmatazz, the charisma and the money is beginning flow in the octagonal circus of Mixed Martial Arts. Do you have faith another boxing saviour will pique the interest of a worldwide audience?

Just like the story says, man. It’s fading away. MMA is the new kid on the block and Boxing is on its way out. It’s damn sad too, because I love the sport. It’s beautiful, elegant, and deadly. No other athletes put so much ferocity behind so much grace. I don’t see a savior on the horizon, but I could be wrong. Hell, I’m still looking for somebody to come save Rock n Roll.

HST: I’d like to go back to the past for a moment; I read that you went off the rails after the death of a family member. Talk to us about this time, just how far down the hole did you go?

Name your poison, I did it. Drugs, booze, girls. I was trying to go completely and totally numb. That doesn’t mix well with a sense of all or nothing grandeur and morbid curiosity. “Oh what’s that? Give it.” I was in a bad way. Got down to 159 pounds. Keep in mind I’m 6’4.

I can now proudly say I am in a period of relative sobriety. Just hanging with the booze now; although that whole period of time has given me a superhuman tolerance for alcohol. And I’ve actually slowed the pace (which isn’t saying much) and I’m now able to truly enjoy the company of a beautiful woman. My senses have been restored, though I’m still a bit of a madman.

HST: How important are periods of debauchery in the life of a writer?

Sex Drugs and Rock n Roll don’t work for everybody. It all depends on the person. If it causes you to fizzle out and hinders your work, stay off of it. If it helps you thrive and continue writing, consume everything in the area. I can only speak for myself. I don’t consider it debaucherous per say, it’s just a little fun. All I know is that if my life were boring, I’d make a lousy writer. Everything in life has its place. For me, about 90% of them end up on the page.

For goodness sake folks, buy ‘The Long Road Home’

Befriend Willis on Facebook

If you want to answer HST’s 13 Questions then email: aprilmaymarch777@yahoo.co.uk

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