McKINNELL grew up in Massachusetts but has
lived peacefully in Maine for many years. On July
4, 2015, he had a dream about a dentist with a passion
for writing sitcoms. Somehow, DEAD CATS and
Other Reflections on Parenthood was the result.
It is his first novel.
Lowe: In 2020, who in the world would you
most like to become POTUS, and why?
McKinnell: Oh man, I’ll settle for
anyone reasonable. I can’t wait for the day
when my phone isn’t blaring constant updates
at me about whatever vaguely racist, misspelled tweets
were unleashed on the world at 2 in the morning. I
think I may have reached outrage saturation. I’m
really quite concerned about the toll that humanity
is taking on the environment, so I hope the next President
will understand that there are a number of steps the
government needs to take in order to reverse the path
that we have set ourselves on But as to an actual
name that’s tough. I think it’s probably
time we gave a woman a try, men don’t seem to
be especially good at the job. But not Oprah. I’ve
become so disillusioned and cynical about people in
positions of power that it’s hard for me to
pine for someone.
Kittens are cute, but become sociopaths.
Some babies do too. What is your thought on the fact
that most pets in American eat healthier than kids?
My dog does not eat healthier than my kid. First my
dog eats poop: her own, squirrels, other dogs, whatever.
And second even the grain free, organic feed I buy
her costs $10 and lasts over a month. There’s
no way something so cheap can be very good for her.
I just want to be clear on that in case you were trying
to impugn my parenting skills. I have never let my
kid eat poop. She got into the dog food once, but
whatever. I was raised on complete garbage as a kid
– Oreos, Hot Pockets. Side note: have you ever
had a cheeseburger Hot Pocket, the ketchup and mustard
was inside, oh man. So under appreciated! Lipton Noodle
Packs, Frozen Pizza, etc. Now that I’m in charge,
my family eats mostly vegetarian, mostly organic,
mostly bought from our local co-op (yeah, I’m
that guy). I’ve seen a shift in consciousness
with friends in my generation where they are much
more aware of what they put on their plates and their
kids’ plates. Places like McDonalds are a testament
to some of the socio-economic issues we have in this
country that drive people to the lowest cost option,
but I do feel like there is a greater emphasis on
good food now than when I was a kid. It just needs
to be prioritized and made accessible to everybody.
Couple of the cool quotes by Kurt Cobain
were “I’d rather be hated for who I am
than loved for who I am not,” and “the
duty of youth is to challenge corruption.” What
about him is so compelling to you?
Jesse: Cobain is fascinating to me
for a number of reasons. I still remember where I
was when I found out he had died. I was in a school
cafeteria, and a whole section of the room just deflated
It wasn’t just boys. I think there are certain
celebrities in our culture who people decide embody
their belief system and they wear their fandom of
that person as a character trait of themselves. It
can be shorthand for filling out a personality. When
one of these cultural touchstones kills himself, people
are set adrift for a time. I’m certainly as
guilty of this as anyone. I’m a grown man who
still wears band t-shirts, as some sort of subconscious
advance to people I meet about who I am and what they
should expect from me if they choose to engage me
in conversation. I’m not sure how much the angst
that Cobain represented has festered. I wish it had
festered but I fear that it has either metastasized
into an angry tumor or been placated by the endless
distractions that bombard us every day. I don’t
know. The older I get the more confused I become by