#164: Brad Phillips
Brad Phillips drops in to tell us about House of Games (1987), Smiling For 60 Seconds Every Morning, SLOWLY Stop Taking Benzos, and much more.
Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked Brad Phillips to share some recommendations on Perfectly Imperfect.
Brad Phillips is a Canadian artist known for his writing and photorealistic painting style that tackles subjects such as vice, pop culture, sex, ego, addiction, and mental illness. His first book of short stories, Essays and Fictions, was published a few years ago and he’s now finishing up his second book and first novel, Death Of A Dipshit. He has an exhibition of works on paper at James Fuentes Gallery in New York in June of 2022 and an exhibition of regular paintings at Deboer Gallery in Los Angeles in November of 2022. Lucky for us, Brad is here to tell us what he’s been into.
Without further ado
📽️ House of Games, 1987, directed by David Mamet
In an earlier draft I sent Tyler 87 different movies so this is my favourite of those 87 movies. House of Games is a perfect movie about confidence art, which really is the same as visual art. My dad was a con artist, so I like this nonviolent way to revisit my childhood. Joe Mantegna (I smoked a joint with Mantegna in 1994 on the set of a film I was working on) and Lindsay Crouse are perfect, the writing is perfect, tight as a fucking trampoline like all Mamet stuff but not as sweary and unnecessarily verbose as his other stuff.I like seeing anything where smart people get played by people they think they’re smarter than. I like confidence art (The Grifters also v good) because (at least ideally), the victims are just idiots who want an easy buck, not fundamentally vulnerable, although that clearly happens also, and really this likely isn’t an accurate take on con-art but just some romantic reimagining on my part. Also Ricky Jay was one of the greatest character actors of all time.
📚 Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (and It’s All Small Stuff): simple ways to keep the little things from taking over your life, self-help book, Richard Carlson, 1997
I’m 48. When you’re young you can think things are corny. I don’t have that luxury anymore.
Some chapter titles:
7. Don’t Interrupt Others or Finish Their Sentences
12. Let Others be “Right” Most of The Time
15. Be The First One to Act Loving or Reach Out
25. Smile at Strangers, Look Into their Eyes and Say Hello
27. Imagine The People in Your Life as Tiny Infants and as One-Hundred-Year-Old-Adults
49. Resist the Urge to Criticize
60. Turn Your Melodrama into a Mellow-Drama
I have never been a fan of irony and never use it
🧘🚰 Meditation, Exercise, Drinking Water, Don’t Judge anyone or anything, no matter what
Super helpful, Buddha did it, I try to do it, Buddha seemed happy, seems clearly helpful
📚 Bouvard & Pécuchet, Gustave Flaubert
Super underrated book, and Madame Bovary is clearly great, but this is also great, and sort of outlandishly, almost tauntingly ahead of its time
😄 When you wake up in the morning, force yourself to smile for 60 seconds
This is one of many helpful tricks I have learned studying neurophysics and neuroplasticity over the last two years. Your brain cannot tell the difference between a real and fake smile, and a fake smile will produce endorphins and help you have a better day. Also when you wake up, if like me you feel immediately terrified, say out loud “You are safe Brad” but use your name. This also helps a lot. Say how you feel out loud, affect labeling, it helps you not get sucked into your emotions. Emotions are not (exactly) real. You can stop having a bad day anytime during the day. Do jumping jacks. Have a cold shower. Hack your sympathetic and autonomic nervous systems
People and researchers to read related to these and many other ideas about trauma and mental illness, PTSD as brain injury not pathology etc are:
That being said while I practice all these things with increasing vigor I still suffer with mental illness
🍺 🚫 Sobriety
Think we’ve all experimented with drugs, maybe super extensively. Try experimenting with being sober for a long time and see what happens. Chances are you were sober from like ages 0 to 9, and unless something bad happened to you, and I’m sorry if it did, probably you laughed a lot more and were more carefree than you are now
🛑 ⏱️ SLOWLY Stop Taking Benzos
Editor: His original set of recs are too good to leave out, so here they are~
My favourite thing in the world is motion pictures. These are some movies I recommend, a fraction really. I also want to say I really dislike irony so hope no one thinks i’m kidding about what I recommend. Fractions also of television art and writing . Not qualified to recommend anything else
House of Games (1987), The King of Marvin Gardens (1972), California Split (1974), Beau Travail (1999), The Juror (1996), The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), The Bourne Identity (2002), The Long Goodbye (1973), At Close Range (1986), Hardcore (1979), Where’s Poppa? (1965), Face/Off (1997), King of New York (1990), The Deer Hunter (1979), The Piano Teacher (2001), Born to Win (1971), The Limey (1999), The Town (2010), Glass Chin (2014), Climax (2018), Midnight Special (2016), Three Days of the Condor (1975), Downhill Racer (1969), The Conversation (1974), Arrival (2016), Body Heat (1981), Romancing the Stone (1984), Inherent Vice (2014), Body Double (1984), Barry Lyndon (1975), Touch of Evil (1958), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), The Game (1997), Sisters (1972), Half Moon Street (1986), Masquerade (1988), Hi, Mom! (1970), Symbiopsychotaxiplasm (1968), Bitter Lake (2015), La Soufriere (1977), Rififi (1955)
Cheers, Chappelle’s Show, Northern Exposure, Prison Break, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent (only the seasons with Vincent D’Onofrio, who is Sean Penn’s father-in-law in real life), Homicide: Life on the Streets, Twin Peaks Reloaded (which I really disliked when it came out but watched again recently and now like), Frasier, Martin, Unsolved Mysteries (Robert Stack seasons), Missing 411: The Hunted, Hunting for Hitler, Unacknowledged, America’s Most Wanted, COPS, World’s Wildest Police Chases (1993-5), The X-Files (seasons 1-4), Murder She Wrote, McMillan & Wife, Magnum P.I., Banacek, Columbo, The Young & The Restless, Forensic Files, Homeland, Designing Women, Roseanne
Leon Spilliaert, Edouard Vuillard, Henri Matisse, Rachel Harrison, Cristine Brache, Lois Dodd, Edwin Dicksinson, Albert York, Dorothea Tanning, Miriam Cahn, Kevin Tobin, Shelly Uckotter, Alex Katz, Jeff Koons Paul McCarthy Mike Kelley, John Currin, Felix LaBisse, Leonor Finis, Karen Kilimnik, John Wesley, Trish Donnelly, Richard Bosman, Pierre Bonnard Harold Gilman Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (late work) Francis Picabia (late work), PIerre Klossowski, Bruce Nauman, Otto Muehl, Otto Mueller, Allen Jones, Ken Lum, Ed Ruscha, Aisling Hamrogue, Victor Brauner, Moses, Ralph and Isaac Soyer, Verne Dawson, Jay Isaac, Thomas Schutte, Henri Toulouse Lautrec, Judy Chicago (paintings), Georges Kars, Ferdinand Hodler, George Grosz (erotica especially), R.B. Kitaj (late work), Milton Avery, Henri Fantin-Latour, Andre Ethier, Frantisek Kupka, Josh Smith, William Eggleson, Lee Friedlander, Albert Marquet, Fernando Botero (El Chapo paintings), Alan Michael, Dora Carrington, Hans-Peter Feldmann, James Ensor, Judy Glantzman, Elmer Batters, Cunio Amiet, Mary Pratt, Annie Pootoogook
Gustave Flaubert (Bouvard & Pecuchet), Dashiel Hammet, Seung Sahn
Check out his website
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