Interview with The Murky Fringe Editors [Part 1]

April 7, 2010

Oh to be these women.

Cassie Deever and Rachel Tate have been neck deep in The Murky Fringe for several years now, sending strange emails back and forth to one another since their early college years. They sent riffs and thoughts and small bits of fiction or poetry with the sole intention of making the other laugh.

Mostly they were successful.

After college and later graduate school, the two ended up in Portland, OR. Eventually some of their friends read the emails and encouraged them to start a website in the tradition of McSweeney’s and other literary journals they all admired. With help from Cassie’s next door neighbor, Jesse the computer wunderkind, the two started The Murky Fringe on September 11, 2009, and have posted a piece of writing each day since.

Jesse (the intern): I’ve always wondered where you come up with your material.

Cassie: I have no idea. I try to leave that question alone.

Rachel: I think it’s the product of all those years of David Lynch and Monty Python and Carol Burnett.

Cassie: We’re their weird little daughters.

Rachel: Step-daughters.

Cassie: We like silly, associative digressions.

Rachel: And straight-faced absurdity. None of this is new territory. It’s just our turn to make it up.

Cassie: We like to think that we’re keeping the plates spinning.

Jesse: So how do you choose your material?

Rachel: We’re swimming in the material. We’ve just refined the lens we use to see it.

Cassie: And express it.

Rachel: It’s funny. People are always pointing things out, saying, “That’s a total Murky Fringe.” But it doesn’t really work for me that way. I can’t take something that actually happened and try and make a Fringe post out of it.

Cassie: Me either. Part of the fun of the Fringe is that you get to experience it when you’re creating it. That’s the fun. For example, our friend Thomas is always talking about dogs that get stuck together after they have sex. He’s seen them in Mexico and Sri Lanka and El Salvador. It’s his thing. It’s really funny.

Rachel: Basically the male dog is mounting the female, but when it’s over he can’t get out. One of them is swollen, so they have to wait until the swelling goes down to get loose. And yes, for those few minutes it’s hilarious. Imagine if that were the case with humans.

Cassie: Maybe it is.

Rachel: Maybe it’s happened to your parents and they have to walk like that together to get ice cream from the kitchen?

Cassie: She always goes there. My parents’ sex life is her go-to analogy for everything. It’s white noise to me at this point.

Rachel: Always funny.

Cassie: Anyway…Thomas is always encouraging us to do a post on dogs getting stuck together or people getting stuck together or wildebeests getting stuck together. But it doesn’t work that way.

Rachel: When people give you their own ideas it’s like they’re inviting you to enter through the front door. But we’d rather enter through the side window or the chimney.

Cassie: Or just not enter at all. I really think of this as a kind of jazz. I’m not saying we’re good at it, but we like to play. So when someone offers up a suggestion, it often feels like Garth Brooks to our John Coltrane-not that we’re that good.

Rachel: She hates Garth Brooks.

Cassie: I don’t hate Garth Brooks.

Jesse: So if it really is like jazz, then what are your rules?

Rachel: Did you ever hear that story about Miles Davis where the guy asks him what jazz is all about and Miles Davis says, “If you have to ask, then you’ll never know”?

Cassie: No, he’s never heard that story because you just made it up.

Rachel: No I didn’t.

Jesse: Basically, he’s saying you can’t talk about art?

Rachel: Well, you can talk about it and study it, but you shouldn’t over-think. In other words, you’ll never understand if you’re listening to Miles Davis and you’re thinking “Why?” or “How is he doing that?” He’s saying that if the music is really working, if it’s penetrating you at all, then those questions would never come to mind.

Cassie: I don’t want Miles Davis penetrating me.

Rachel: Miles Davis wouldn’t want to penetrate you.

Cassie: I’m not sure if that’s an insult or a compliment.

Rachel: There are rules: grammar, spelling, syntax.

Cassie: It’s mostly a matter of tone.

Rachel: Tone and form.

Jesse: Didn’t Miles Davis do some crazy stuff toward the end of his career.

Cassie: You mean like fuck guys on stage?

Rachel: She likes to work an orgy into every conversation.

Cassie: It’s my power word.

Rachel: His music became really abstract. He went all Finnegan’s Wake.

Cassie: Ask her if she’s ever read that.

Rachel: No one’s read Finnegan’s Wake.

Cassie: That’s what everyone says, but they still allude to it like they read it.

Jesse: Is that where you guys are heading? The abstract Murky Fringe?

Rachel: I don’t think so.

Cassie: We’re not that smart, and we’re not that ambitious.

Rachel: It’s enough just to write something every day.

Cassie: Well, every other day. We alternate.

Rachel: It’s enough just to write something every other day.

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