Out of this World

 

Out of this World

 

Date: September 11, 2013
by: Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor

 
 

 

 

Marty Fugate lives in his own universe.

At any given time, the native Floridian could switch into a Russian accent or an impersonation of a persnickety old man unadjusted to the modern ways of the world; or a page from a large Rolodex of pop culture could be pulled, including everything from Garrison Keillor to “The Jetsons” and every dusty, little-known corner in between. One either has to stay on his toes or think in a similar, associational pattern to follow him from one thought to the other without getting lost.

In this universe, one thought might conjure another completely obscure thought.

“It’s hard for everyone to carve out that side (of their brain) and go where the sidewalk ends,” Fugate says. “That’s a reference to Shel Silverstein, by the way.”

Fugate’s universe is built right on the edge of the sidewalk, where it merges with the futuristic worlds of science fiction.

In fact, Fugate has the perfect thought pattern for writing sci-fi short fiction — and any highly creative output for that matter — which is why it makes sense that he’s a writer-comedian-cartoonist.

Normally, Fugate likes to do the interviewing because he doesn’t like to talk about his creativity; he just likes to use it. He freelances art-related articles for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and a monthly home feature for Scene magazine. Most recently, he’s used his creativity to publish a sci-fi book of short fiction, called “Cosmic Debris.”

The first story, “New Yorkers in Space,” begins with one character being jettisoned through a wall-less, bright universe via an alien slave ship, where two New Yorkers just won’t shut up, for infinity, about where the best bagel can be found in New York. The “mother-jumping, nasal-talking, remember-when, do-you-know, have-you-seen, yeah-I-did, fuhgetaboutit” New Yorkers are completely unaware of what’s going on around them.

The idea was sparked from an overheard conversation: “I thought, ‘You could take these two, put them on a flyiang-saucer-alien-spaceship and they wouldn’t notice it (was taking place).”

Other seeds for these stories were planted by a television special on steroid abuse; the Olympics, the Clinton administration; and even a fever dream he had in college.

“I have ideas that are basically comic; I have some ideas that are awe-inspiring; and some ideas that are terrifying; and sometimes they’ll jive together,” he says. ”It’s not always the same color.”

But, with Fugate, it’s always colorful.

He has also written three long-form novels: “ImagN,” “As a Matter of Fact, the Past is Dead” and “God Sell.” The first two are long-form sci-fi, and and the latter is a satire of televangelists of the 1980s.

He’s working on a new novel, involving a character he compares to fictional Italian mob-boss Tony Soprano, set in the future. He does his best impression to demonstrate and turns a few heads at a quiet downtown coffee shop.

The book centers on the end of privacy in a ubiquitous world of information technology — his biggest fear for the future. Specifically, the fact that someone can see, as he says, that he bought ice cream three times more in a week and that he has been to the gym two times less than normal, so he must be depressed; that means someone will send him an ad for depression meds.

If you ask him where he comes up with this kind of stuff, he’ll tell you there’s a service out of Missouri that you can sign up for, and every week a truck with a light on the top comes to your door and gives you this idea box, which he thinks they possibly outsource to China. And, then, he’ll pause for a length of time and laugh, and it isn’t until then that you realize Fugate has duped you with his extraordinary gift of imagination.

“I don’t think I’m predictably weird,” he says. “I think everybody is weird. Everybody is a dreamer, and everybody likes to see the humorous or weird side of life.”

 

FIVE THINGS THAT INSPIRE MARTY FUGATE

My friend Su Byron — She inspires me because she is always in touch with her imagination and gets more done by breakfast than I do at the end of the day.

Harlan Ellison — He inspires me because he is fearless in his writing, and it shows me that it can be done. He really stands for Bill Hicks, George Carlin and all the fearless writers and comedians who have their say and don’t compromise their values.

Dreams — As long as I keep dreaming, I know I’ll never run out of stuff to write about.

My father — Because he published his great novel, “Drum and Bugle.” It was kind of a comedic exposé of the military academy he went to as a young guy. He showed me it could be done.

The whole crew — Specifically my mother, my sons, my aunt and everyone else in my family, because they are constantly encouraging me to get off of my ass and keep writing.

THINGS YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT MARTY FUGATE

Fugate’s father, Terence Fugate, was the theater and film critic for The Sarasota Scene, and Marty Fugate would often accompany his father to the theaters. “It began with my father,” he says.

Starting in 2000, Fugate did everything from ads to business feature writing to A&E writing at the Observer Group. He’s remembered for putting on one-man plays in the office.

Fugate practices yoga four or five times a week, and he also practices karate weekly.

Fugate will occasionally perform at stand-up-comedy and open-mic nights around town.

Fugate is working on an animated cartoon called “Hotel Strange,” featuring a cast of characters living in a hotel in South Florida. Some of the characters are normal kids and some are aliens, of course.

His grandfather gave him his first anthology of science fiction stories by Cyril M. Kornbluth, “The Marching Morons and Other Stories,” at age 12. He’s been consuming science fiction since.

IF YOU GO
Reading and Author Talk
When: 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1
Where: Fogartyville Cafe, 525 Kumquat Ct.
Cost: $3
Info: Call 894-6494

 

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