Have you seen the greatest artwork of the 21st century??
Action Bronson on a mysterious missing painting, iconic leather trenchcoats, how to rock flippers, going "death roll" mode on his new album & more
Welcome to Blackbird Spyplane. Our interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Tyler, The Creator, Emily Bode, Online Ceramics, Seth Rogen, André 3000, Nathan Fielder, Lorde, John Mayer, Danielle Haim, Daniel Arnold, Thomas Mars from Phoenix, Phoebe Bridgers, Michael Stipe, Héctor Bellerín, John Wilson, Rashida Jones, Hayley Williams, Ezra Koenig and more are HERE.
Our brilliant, provocative & delightful essays are HERE.
We remain YOUR 100% reader-supported newsletter masterpiece. Cop a SpyJawn above & know that our Cla$$ified Tier subscribers live happier-than-average lives.
Action Bronson — he’s a multi-headed maelstrom of unruly artistry, whether he’s rapping virtuosically about looking homeless while hopping out the Rover with a parrot on his shoulder; circumnavigating the globe like an ambassador for human warmth & graciousness on his highly blessed food-and-travel TV show F**k That’s Delicious; writing bestselling cookbooks and fitness memoirs; painting “art brut” Cybertrucks and Porsche 911s; or simply carving a beautiful yet ephemeral line through the waves on his bodyboard.
This Friday, Action will drop his latest album, Cocodrillo Turbo, so we were extremely psyched to hop on an Encrypted SpyVideoConferencing Line to chop it up with him about all of the above, plus a profoundly cherished belonging that has somehow gone missing — and which some people have tried to tell him never even existed ?? — but which he swears does exist and vows to find again, much the same way that Daniel Day-Lewis vowed to find Madeleine Stowe again before he jumped thru the waterfall in the 1993 Michael Mann classic Last of the Mohicans baby!!
Blackbird Spyplane: This newsletter is about many things, but perhaps more than anything it’s about how to live life blessedly. Something I admire about you is how, on F*ck, That’s Delicious, you stepped into all these unfamiliar kitchens in unfamiliar countries with unfamiliar cultures, but no matter where you were, and no matter how “strange” the food yr hosts cooked for you was, you always had a spirit of total warmth and gameness. Not judgmental, not fearful, somehow just mad comfortable and curious. Which is a beautiful way to move thru the world. Is that something you’ve always had or something you had to cultivate over time?
Action Bronson: “I appreciate that insight. That’s definitely how I feel, and I think it was made by growing up in Queens. I grew up around every type of ethnicity. I myself, I’m a first-generation, born here, on my father’s side, second on my mother’s side, so I understand. I come from that. You just have to be comfortable within your own skin and within your own mind and know that you’re only here for a moment so you should experience everything — and don’t be a b*tch.”
Blackbird Spyplane: One of yr all-time hardest fits was from the extremely delightful Funkmaster Flex freestyle you did a few years back (link below), wearing a black leather trenchcoat with a hoodie and a corduroy Jets cap. Are you gonna bring that coat back ever, or is it retired to the rafters?
Action Bronson: “It’s in the rafters. It’s way too big. I’m gonna have to get a new one or get it brought in by a tailor, because I’ve lost so much weight since then. The only leather jacket I have right now is an Avirex jacket from 1994. All grey. Original s**t that I’ve had since I was a child, with the logo with the eagle with the flag. Meyhem Lauren actually has a crazy Avirex collection, all different kinds of s**t.”
Blackbird Spyplane: In the past few years you’ve gotten big into painting and bodyboarding. Are they connected to rapping for you? One thing all 3 have in common is fluidity, whether you’re moving thru currents or pushing paint around a canvas or figuring out yr flow in a verse…
Action Bronson: “Absolutely. We are water. We move with current, we move with the moon. I move with a magnetic pull — every time the brush strokes, it’s because the moon did it. Every time a wave breaks on the shore it’s because of the magnetic pull of the moon. So I chalk it up to the moon.”
Blackbird Spyplane: D*mn, we give a lot of respect to the sun but shout out to the moon too.
Action Bronson: “Shout out the moon to the hills.”
Blackbird Spyplane: A huge part of yr style is that you have a lot of fun without ever getting goofy. In the new ‘Subzero’ video you re-create the surfing scene from Escape from L.A., an underrated John Carpenter classic, and you rock a Patrick Ewing jersey with some gym shorts and flippers. It made me wonder, is there any ill water sports apparel that ppl can rock in non-water-sports contexts?”
Action Bronson: “I think I broke a mold right there. A lot of people couldn’t pull that s**t off, but I’m me. I’m from Queens, you know, I’m wearing the Ewing jersey, I had on some Barbell shorts that I could squat in if I needed to, and I could do a performance in a club if I needed to — and the flippers, yeah, man, I love bodyboarding because of all the accessories. I could freak the Ewing jersey with the flippers and have, like, some crazy, vibrant, wrist-guard on.
“I love accessorizing, so you might not want to wear the flippers on the street but you could hold them. If you just hold the flippers, it looks cool. People will be, like, ‘Where are you f**king going?’”
Blackbird Spyplane: You’ve eaten around the world. If you could have lunch anywhere on earth right now, where would it be?
Action Bronson: “Lahore Kebab House in London. That’s the first place I touch down. Lamb chops all day long, oh my god, it’s the best thing you’ve ever tasted in your entire f*cking life — hold up, sorry I’m holding the phone low. The cops are behind me to my left… I’m on the BQE in Queens. They’re sneaky over here… Okay, they passed.”
Blackbird Spyplane: For the last album cover you painted dolphins leaping over the Grim Reaper (above left). For Cocodrillo Turbo you painted a crocodile looking hella faded with the MET-Rx logo (above right). Tell me what it means to go from death-defying dolphin energy to weightlifting crocodile energy, musically speaking…
Action Bronson: “They’re all a part of my being. This is just another chapter. The next one might be a jackrabbit. Or a godd*mn 🦅 águila 🦅. You never know — I have all these different predators within me.”
Blackbird Spyplane: You might see a dolphin and think s**t is sweet, but you don’t really ever get that impression with crocodiles...
Action Bronson: “That’s right, there’s nothing sweet here. I came to really demolish. That’s the whole point. Just f*cking straight-up death. I did a crocodile death-roll for 10 songs.”
Blackbird Spyplane: I asked you to tell me about a cherished rare possession and you sent me a note about “my missing hand-painted Sister Act movie poster from an Ghanaian artist named Mr. Brew.” I touched on the phenomenon of hand-painted African movie posters in the newsletter last year — they’re a form of bootlegging at its most creative and idiosyncratic. These artists in Ghana engaging with Hollywood culture from their own “outsider” perspective, coming at it from a loving, oblique, self-taught angle.
Action Bronson: “That’s why school sucks. You send someone to school, it takes all their instincts away and forces them to use ‘proper technique’ — f**k that sh*t, I’ll never take a class. I don’t want to know how to do it right. I wanna figure it out myself, and if it looks sh*tty then it still has charm because you could tell what I was trying to do and that I don’t know exactly what I’m doing. The things I paint are childish shit — cars, animals — but it all has meaning to me in life, because these are things I drew as a kid. My mother saved all my old drawings and paintings: It’s flowers, cars, these weird characters, like, big-a** dudes with muscles wearing Timberlands and full Columbia suits.”
Blackbird Spyplane: So what’s the story with yr missing Sister Act poster?
Action Bronson: “Man, the story keeps unwinding and getting crazier and crazier. Years ago, my man Bert Krak put me on: He’s one of the greatest tattoo artists, and he has a hand-painted Ghanaian Escape from New York poster in his studio, on Smith Street. I was like, What the f**k is that, so he put me in contact with Deadly Prey gallery in Chicago, who represents a bunch of these artists. I looked through everything and got some classics. Hard Target, Commando, Only the Strong.
“But then I see this blue Sister Act poster. That’s one of my favorite movies, I’ve watched it with my mother a million times, Whoopi Goldberg is low-key one of the best to ever do it, it just means something to me. And now I can’t find the tube it’s in, and I don’t know if it’s lost or what.”
Blackbird Spyplane: There’s a photo of a great green Mr. Brew Sister Act poster floating around online…
Action Bronson: “But that’s not the one. The one I’m talking about was even crazier, more simple, with a blue background — it’s Whoopi in a much more obscure-looking manner, no beads, no sunglasses, humble, almost like Indiana Jones when he chose God’s goblet. No doodads, no burner. This one was classy, trust me!
“I just asked the homie to send me a picture of the blue one and he said it never existed. That it’s just in my mind. But that’s not true. It 100% existed. There’s no way I thought this up. It’s missing and I’ve set a reward for anybody with information that leads to the capture of this poster. Who the f**k has it?? It’s the most important piece of art the 21st Century has ever seen.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Wow, there’s something poignant and painful but also kind of beautiful about loving something so deeply and then the person who sold it to you telling you you’re imagining it ever existed…
Action Bronson: “It is beautiful, but I get pissed. It’s not a constant upsetness, but it lingers and hits me like a ton of bricks when I think about it. I’m f**king devastated as I speak about it right now. I don’t collect a lot of things, but I wanted to have this poster and cherish it my entire life. It connects to memories of happiness for me.
“I need you to get the f**king word out. Serious business. Big reward. I’m gonna find it and we’re gonna have another conversation because I will not stop. You’re gonna have to f**king kill me!”
Have fun with a Blackbird Spyplane “Cla$$ified Tier” Subscription to IMPROVE yr quality of life and support this rare & miraculous newsletter.
Our “Master Jawn Index” — a running guide to earth’s greatest under-the-radar pieces and designers — is here.