Currents, an Interview Series with Brian Alan Ellis (Episode 31: Michael Seymour Blake)

Michael Seymour Blake

MICHAEL SEYMOUR BLAKE is a writer/illustrator living and working in New York City, where he can often be seen talking to stranger’s dogs, hanging out at cafes, and generally looking lost. He hosts the Tell Michael podcast.

My current favorite book is: Life Among the Piutes/Paiutes. Written in 1883 by the should-be-known-to-all-Americans Sarah Winnemucca, the book documents the first four decades of her tribe’s contact with settlers/European Americans. It’s a firsthand account of living in a time of unbelievably intense and rapid change on the land now known as America. You won’t find flowery prose here, or sentences so beautifully constructed you’ll be jealous, but this woman’s life is thrilling and heartbreaking to read about. She is a damn force, travelin’ around slingin’ words (she works as a translator), and savin’ people (she infiltrates a small settlement to liberate a bunch of her people there). Reading about her journey is very moving. For me, this one is more about the content than the prose. (Close second: Oscar Martinez’s The Beast.)

My current favorite film is: always Dawn of the Dead (1978), so I’ll give you some movies I watched and loved recently, like Honeyland. What a great documentary—gorgeous, minimalist, and extremely touching. It’s about this lone bee-hunter in Europe (I think Macedonia) who is trying to take care of her elderly, ill mother (who is also amazing) when this nomadic family basically invades and starts to slowly ruin her way of life. There are parallels to big, greedy corporations taking out small businesses if you want to see them, but it’s not essential. The movie stands on its own. One of my favorite documentaries… OK, I could talk about movies FOR-EV-ER so I’ll do just one more… a toss-up between A Face in the Crowd and Three Outlaw Samurai (1964), but I’m going with Three Outlaw Samurai because I’m a sucker for chanbara shit, which is swordplay/samurai shit basically. I think. Movie is about these three outlaw samurai. Yep. It’s actually a prequel to a popular television series in Japan. Artfully accomplished cinematography and direction. Some commentary on class and what it means to be loyal versus to be good. Cool action. 

My current favorite television show is: Future Boy Conan. Talk about charming. This post-apocalyptic cartoon is pure joy to watch. I’m semi-obsessed with it still. It’s got depth too. Does it have a character who may or may not be a pedo? Sure, but it’s still the best. Super re-watchable too. The post apocalypse has never been so damn loveable. 

My current favorite band is: …I have phases where I don’t listen to music for months and months, and then I’ll be super into it for months and months. Right now I’m in the former. I’ll toss out some random shit: The Budos Band, ESG, Latterman, You and I, Thelonious Monk. I mean damn, I have this huge playlist with corny stuff, great stuff, radio hits from way back, nostalgic shit, etc. that I put on often. I think Roky Erickson’s The Evil One is a super special album. When in the right mood I adore Jeffrey Lewis. I have a soft spot for Springsteen. I sing Eagle-Eye Cherry’s “Save Tonight” daily.

My current state of mind is: …my brain takes me on some wild emotional rides. I get locked into certain moods and then BOOM I’m either incredibly enthusiastic and energetic, or cynical and depressed as fuck. Very often these things happen situationally, so it’s not like out of nowhere. My brain pretty much runs HARD with whatever is happening in my life. Currently I’m down. Really low. I’m pushing 40, work a really shitty, passionless job and have no real savings and make under 40K in NYC. I’m not on the street, but I’m not what you’d call a successful adult either. 

My current chemical romance involves: …I guess I give in too much to being overwhelmed and kind of get into this weird avoidance zone when it comes to big life stuff… I have a lot of bad habits, but none are coming to me at the moment. I don’t know. I’m at a weird plateau. Never got into drugs. I drink once in a while, and when I’m in a really bad anxiety zone I’ll take a Xanax. But yeah, I never had a drug problem—I have enough problems. 

My current favorite quote is: “I’m making it dirtier!”—guy from Kitchen Nightmares 

My current mode of transportation is: feets. 

My current favorite fast food establishment is: …I haven’t had fast food in many, many years. I liked Taco Bell and Burger King. I’m a vegetarian, so my options were super limited anyway. I think the last thing I ate was, like, a Burger King veggie burger and fries. Not the best, but it did the job.

My current workout routine consists of: nope 5x a day, followed by 20 sets of shame.

My current regrettable decision involves: …haven’t made a lot of decisions lately. I have a ton of baggage and regrets, but nothing very recent. Been really stuck in life. Maybe that’s the regrettable decision: continuing to be stuck. Is that even a decision? Doesn’t really feel like one. I don’t know.

My current hopes and dreams are: to do something I can be really proud of one day before I get too old. A dream would be to discover some skill I have that I could utilize in life and maybe make some money or gain some love with it. This gets less and less likely as the years pass, but hey, that’s what dreams are for.

My current hobbies involve: reading, watching movies, eating stuff, hiking/backpacking, and being all clowny when the mood is right.

My current projects include: a miniseries called Tell Michael, where I ask people questions. Sometimes I know the people, sometimes I don’t. Could be anyone. There’s thirty episodes in total, and they come out every Wednesday on YouTube. Other than that I sometimes post art and comics on Instagram, but I am wildly inconsistent.


Michael Seymour Blake is online at

Brian Alan Ellis runs House of Vlad Press, and is the author of several books, including Sad Laughter (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2018). His writing has appeared at Juked, Hobart, Fanzine, Monkeybicycle, Electric Literature, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Funhouse, Heavy Feather Review, and Yes Poetry, among other places. He lives in Florida.

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