Matt “The Warlock” Battaglia is an artist among other things.
We have been friends for about 4 (‘ish) years and during the course of our friendship I’ve gotten to know a thoughtful, articulate, and self-reflective person with whom I enjoy talking about a variety of subjects.
In case you were wondering, the nickname “Warlock” is a reference to Matt’s ability to magically tap into a moment and say exactly what you were thinking.
An ability employed once during this interview.
His “superpowers” are further demonstrated when it comes to picking rocks, but that’s a topic for another time…
So without further adieu, here is a conversation that I had with Matt in early October about Marijuana Advocacy, Mental Health, Film, Music and Cooking.
It is a sampler promenade of things we might cover in a typical sitting.
TG: What are the differences between Indica and Sativa strains of weed?
MB: That’s a good question, and honestly I never personally remember. I know one is supposed to be more of a body high and you can feel a little bit more like a couch potato and less motivated. Then the other type, I think it’s the Sativa is a little bit more of a head high, but you might be able to keep your energy up and still stay productive.
TG: Which one is better for creativity?
MB: I personally I like a blend. People like it one way or the other. I kind of like a balance. Sometimes a balance can be the most beneficial. It usually covers all the bases. I mean if you have a balanced buzz then you get the benefits of everything. One stop shop.
TG: What do you say to studies that suggest that pot can cause psychosis?
MB: I can see the argument for that, but most of the time I see the benefits of the pot outweighing the negatives, and people can end up down a psychosis road even if pot wasn’t part of the picture, or part of the formula. So I don’t think you can blame it on the pot, I think you might have to look at the individual more. And if they take away pot and still end up on the road to psychosis then maybe it’s not the pots fault.
TG: How do you cope if you are experiencing a high that is less than positive?
MB: I will really distract myself. I will run after something familiar and comfortable to distract myself from the negative buzz. I would find a movie or something that would make me feel grounded or comfortable or music, or a game. Something that takes me to a happy place. To kind of physically intervene from that negative buzz, physically get away from it. I don’t want to sit and dwell in a negative buzz either. I don’t want to just sit there and wait it out, I try to actually intervene.
TG: We’ve talked about Mental Health before, what do you feel is required to be an effective Mental Health advocate? And do you feel like one?
MB: I think somebody who’s really sympathetic and really sensitive and empathetic, that’s a word right? I think a therapist or somebody who’s been, maybe has some personal experience, going through it is going to have that extra level of experience to help somebody. They’re going to know and understand first hand and I think it would be a little bit easier for them to help somebody through something. I don’t know if a therapist who’s never been depressed or hasn’t dealt with an issue is going to be able to master it. Is really going to be able to know what somebody is going through if they’ve never struggled themselves. So I think the community are people who’ve been through things, and hopefully therapists know what their patients are going through. Otherwise it’s like the blind leading the blind. That could be the dangerous part of a therapist who doesn’t know what it’s like to experience Mental Health issues.
TG: When you’ve experienced Mental Health issues what steps did you take to correct the imbalance?
MB: I waited a long time. I stayed, probably, in a dark spot and just waited for it just to go away and just accepted a lot of depression and mental issues as part of the norm. It really took years and years and years. I think it was really a lot of thoughts about death or just not caring about death or small thoughts of contemplating suicides that were just a wake up call. I was like “I really got to do something different the same old routine and the same old thing is not helping.” So, let’s try something different, let’s actually try and talk to somebody. That’s when I reached out. And I went straight towards a Gay and Lesbian, GLBT community help place, Howard Brown because that was the only place I felt like I wanted to start.
TG: GLBT or LGBT?
MB: LGBT! There was a therapist before that wasn’t gay that I just didn’t really connect with. So that was my first stab at therapy and then the 2nd time was like, okay I am going to go where somebody understands where I am coming from. That’s where I felt more comfortable and felt like I actually found help. I actually could talk about things. Then it was a snowball effect, as soon as you start making that first little movement in the right direction it gets easier and just self lubricating and it kept going in the right direction. Just taking that first step was what started it all.
TG: Very nice. Switching gears, who is your favorite film maker?
MB: It has to be Tim Burton. Still is, there’s a lot of people that come close but his style, and it was more of his older films just had such a unique, stand alone, didn’t care what people thought, and was very confident with his style. There’s something I liked about that. I don’t know if the dark twisted part spoke to me, but I also just loved his individuality more than anything. Not only that but an amazing storyteller because he really got you to feel. He really went for these dark and twisted characters so I thought he was a very successful film maker. I don’t know if it’s the same now a days. But, there was The Life Aquatic and the director of…
TG: Wes Anderson.
MB: Wes Anderson has taken a nice smooth second position. He’s now right up there for me, because he’s kind of taking the role with the same kind of unique style and purity of storytelling when Tim Burton has kind of floundered a little bit recently.
TG: Super stylized, both of those are super stylized.
MB: Yes, very much. Yes. And I love the whole fantasy. You get to create a Universe from the ground up. So you can really get away from reality and get into escapism and that’s one of the parts of movies and the magic of movies that I love. Escapism, transportation to different realities.
TG: Do you remember the first time you saw a Tim Burton film?
MB: It was Beetlejuice. Batman and Beetlejuice. It was some of the earlier films I saw as a kid not really knowing, and Adams Family, not really knowing who Tim Burton was but just loved these movies and as a kid and watched them over and over and over. Then as I grew up and started learning how movies were made and that people actually made them and found out who Tim Burton was then I read some of his books and researched his work. But yeah it was his first few films that monopolized my mind as a kid and were the ones I just kept watching over and over again.
TG: You must be psychic “Warlock,” because that is actually a question that was coming up. When you were a kid what movie would you watch over and over again because you would get lost in its world, like Goonies?
MB: Yeah, Goonies was one of them, but then Tim Burton movies. Beetlejuice was the one that I just loved. Batman was cool because it reminds me of Chicago, Gotham City and so I just found that close to home. But Beetlejuice was a fantastical world I loved to get lost in in my imagination. Pre-dating that though honestly I have to sneak in there that Alice in Wonderland was one of my favorite fairy tales growing up, so any version of Alice in Wonderland I loved as a kid from the T.V. movie versions, and the British ones that were shown on Public Television, and then there’s the Disney cartoon ones. So I saw all these versions of Alice in Wonderland and that was naturally one of my favorite stories as a kid and I turned out to learn as an adult that it’s just a mind fuck of a fairy tale. So again there was just some natural connection there for some reason.
TG: If there was a film made about your life what type of film would it be and what would the title be?
MB: Honestly, I think it would have to be more of a cheesy action type movie.
TG: So maybe an action movie where you’re doing just normal shit.
MB: Well yeah, it’s a movie like regular life on an extreme level.
TG: Like “Extreme Dental Surgery!,” or “Extreme Coffee!”
MB: I kind of like the fact of making most normal everyday stuff that people are used to and showing it in an exciting and different perspective. Just to take the boring mundaneness out of it. We all have routines and stuff we have to do on a daily basis but why not bump up the adrenaline or bump up the interestingness of it. Whether it’s a really cool setting or pressure to make things happen by a certain time. Movies get to implement the medium and music and climaxes to get you excited and give you an experience life doesn’t really have that. So my life in a movie would be an action movie, keep you on the edge of your seat.
TG: And what would the title be? Would it be one of those really dramatic one word titles?
MB: I think it would have to be um…I wanna think about that for a second. I don’t want to think too much but…
TG: Do you want to get back to me on that?
MB: I just want a title that would encompasses everything. I just want something that encompasses the life struggle in general that most people experience. Like in “What the Bleep Do We Know?” talks about Quantum Mechanics so I think it would be like your everyday life meets mind altering quantum mechanical theories. And so if there was a title that just encompasses that it would be like, “Quantum Dilemma” that would be the name of the movie. “Quantum Dilemma,” that would be it. “The Quantum Dilemma.”
TG: It’s so bad and good. Like bad/good.
MB: That’s exactly the kind of action movie. It would be so bad but so good.
TG: A Bittersweet Symphony right?
MB: Yes, exactly.
TG: Now that it is fall, what can you calculate was your tune of the summer?
MB: I think it’s gotta be that Sia song, til I hit the dance floor. It was just a fun summer song, it was there through the summer. During happier moments and times I want to remember so it was very selective just to this summer in general.
TG: What was the title again?
MB: It’s Sia, um I don’t know the name of the song “til I hit the dance floor” is some of the lyrics but I can’t remember the title.
TG: What is the last full album you bought and enjoyed from beginning to end?
MB: That I actually purchased? The last full album that I went out of my way to get and listen to was The Arctic Monkeys, just because I’ve been on a big kick with that recently. So that was one I sought out. I had a couple songs I loved but wanted to get really their whole anthology. So I sought those out got those and actually listened to all their music finally, the catalogue.
TG: Nice, is there a favorite album?
MB: My favorite was, Fluorescent Adolescent, or I need to look up the title…
TG: (At this point I interrupt the interview to look up the album title.) Favourite Worst Nightmare!
MB: There you go!
TG: That would have bugged the shit out of me until I looked it up. Have you listened to Radiohead’s “A Moon Shaped Pool?” That’s good from beginning to end.
MB: Got ya! I have to do that.
TG: It is good from start to finish.
MB: That will give me something to do during the fall transition.
TG: How would you like to be a music supervisor for a film? Would that be a dream job?
MB: Yes. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I loved soundtracks more in particularly my whole life than anything else. I loved a collection of music that was selected to help tell a story. And then you get the chance to listen to those songs again and kind of…again it was a way of escaping into the movie. Listening to the album made it feel like you’re living in the movie. So it was that escapism part that attracted me to movie soundtracks.
TG: Would you ever be a chef and make your pastime into a career?
MB: I honestly probably would say no. Because I just felt like a made a mistake with my artwork and animation, my first degree took a passion of mine and kind of snuffed it out and killed it. When you had to try and struggle and work so hard to make it happen, it took the fun out of it when it was a hobby and enjoyable. It really lost that essence, when I had to really flesh that out. I’m scared of losing my attraction to cooking if I had to do it on a daily basis. I don’t know somethings I do as jobs or work I end up resenting so I don’t want to do that to cooking.
TG: For money…
TG: What is one piece of great cooking advice you’ve gotten?
MB: I think the best piece of cooking advice I got. I’m trying to think of the chef. I think it was Jacque Pepin on PBS and he taught me really the essence of searing, pan frying, sauteing, the difference between it. The temperatures and how to heat the pan properly and how to always do it successfully to get the same result. If you don’t really know how to preheat a pan, when to add the oil, not to add the oil before you heat it up, all these little tricks.You can end up with a really sticky mess. So, he taught me the master tips to really have my food coming out like it was from a restaurant.
TG: That’s where your presentation comes from too, huh?
MB: It’s a lot of French and Julia Child and Jacque Pepin, I never knew that they snuck in a lot of French cooking technique into me. Just by watching it it stayed in my head.
TG: Have you ever seen “Julia Child Makes Primordial Soup?”
MB: I don’t think so.
TG: We’re going to have to watch that. It’s so good.
MB: It’s really Julia Child?
MB: Okay, that sounds great!
TG: Have you ever tried to make baked goods with pot? Like brownies or cookies?
MB: Very rarely. I think there was just one time I had made a pot butter that you could use in any kind of recipe and ended up making some kind of sweet baked good with it. But I’m just personally not the biggest fan of edibles.
MB: Again, you get more of the high that I’m not looking for. The more body high. You just want to sit on the couch and you don’t feel really motivated. It’s just a different experience and I get down on myself when I just sit there and am a slug. I want a buzz when I can still feel productive and just have that nice effect as I go about my life.
TG: A nice cloudy…
MB: Yeah, keep a smile on my face as I go about my daily life. That’s what I’m looking for and edibles don’t really help that out.
TG: We’ve already covered this, but what is your favorite thing to do after you’ve smoked?
MB: Either go on a bike ride, because I like to be in motion, or get into a show or movie. Because then my mind is open and I am primed for the story and the experience to wash over me. I really can get intertwined with the story when I get high.
TG: How do you feel this interview went?
MB: Pretty good. I answered honestly and again I don’t want to overthink it or over analyse because that’s when I run into trouble.