Tag Archives: WABE

Best Thing I’ve Heard This Week – Trains, Brains & Auto-Erotica: An Oral History of the Dingbats

23 Sep

The Dingbats may not be a real band, but Myke Johns really brings their history to full life – with  and with these readings from Nicholas Teckosy, Bobbin Wages, Adam Lowe, Myke Johns himself and Jeremy Maxwell they really come to life. The whole thing can be read in the latest issue of Deer Bear Wolf, but this performance is completely charming to the ear.

And if that tickles your fancy: in addition to his own written achievements and efforts with Write Club Atlanta, Myke Johns puts a lot of effort showcasing and championing the efforts of Atlanta’s literary scene through his podcast, LitCast, at WABE 90.1. There’s a bevy of goodness to be heard. (We Atlantans really owe Myke a lot – so much heartfelt effort goes into these recordings.)

Awful Interview: Myke Johns

15 Jan

Myke Johns is a truly impressive and overall swell fellow. He’s one third of the brains behind Write Club Atlanta (the organization’s self-appointed Consigliere), a voice on WABE, and a new dad. That is a lot of things. To pile on one more thing, he’ll be reading at the next Vouched Presents here in Atlanta on Thursday, February 7th. We decided to talk about some things before the reading and this interview was the result. *SPOILER* Myke Johns may actually be a hologram.

Myke & friend

Myke & friend

So Myke. Why Y? Why not Mike?

I credit my parents with good taste if not originality when they named me Michael. It’s a good name, a strong name, which is why it was one of the most popular name for boys for several hundred thousand years running. Everyone is named Michael. Even you, though you’ve probably already changed your name to something else by now to avoid confusion.

So when I was an idiotic high schooler, I adopted the Y to be more of an Individual and Special and Crap Like That. “Myke” just looks better on the page than it does spelled with an i and now I feel embarrassed and self-conscious about every decision I’ve ever made.

At least you’re not one of those people who tries to give himself a nickname. You remember those people? They were most abundant in High School and College. Self-appointed nicknames never stick.

It depends on how you go about it. You can’t go around telling everyone you know to start calling you “Spuds” or “Krokus” or whatever (quick aside: I just pulled up Krokus’ “Screaming in the Night” video on YouTube just now. I recommend everyone to do the same, as long as we’re talking about high school. Man, what the hell is even going on in that video?). But I had a friend in college–one of the first people I met there, before you start getting to know your classmates or doing extracurricular stuff; when you’re just adrift and trying to find your people so you just see people who look interesting and you go up and talk to them. Like what crazy people do. He was this slight, quiet goth dude. I introduced myself and he told me to call him Jorge. It took me the better part of a year to figure out that wasn’t his real name at all.

So basically, if you want to give yourself a nickname, you have to move to a different town and assume a new identity. Live in secret. Tell no one of your past. Listen to lots of Bauhaus. This is all good advice, I think.

Recently I got into a really confusing conversation. It went like this:

Me: I’m not sure I would be a good spy.
Friend: You would be a great spy. Are you a spy?
Me: You would be a great spy. Are you a spy?
Friend: NoooOOoo. I’d be a terrible spy. If I were a spy and someone asked me if I were a spy I would be all like, “NoooOOoo. I’d be a terrible spy.”
Me: Wait…so are you spy?
Friend: Wait…are you?

So, Myke. Are you a spy?

Writers kind of are in general, aren’t they? Always paying attention to our friend’s stories and watching new acquaintances for quirks–mining every interaction for material. It’s kind of despicable, really. What was the last thing you stole from someone’s real life to inhabit a story of yours?

My friend saw John Goodman eating a donut. You?

Oh man, that is good. My friend has a celebrity food story that I tell a lot: she was at Hartsfield, waiting in the terminal, in line for frozen yogurt. She gets to the counter and the woman working there has that combination of bored and pissed off that working in food service will put you in. As she’s ringing her up, she sighs and grumbles “that Rod Stewart’s singin’ again.”

My friend perks her ears up and yeah, there’s music wafting from the bar next door. She peeks around the wall and sure enough, Rod Stewart is sitting there at the piano with the same hair do he’s had since 1972, singing to a group of people gathered there. “Huh!” my friend thinks, takes her frozen yogurt, and takes a seat.

A while later, she’s walking back to her gate with her cone and here comes Rod Stewart, walking straight at her, not watching where he’s going and just clocks into her, spinning her around and nearly making her drop her froyo. She watches him walk away and as he does he glances back over his shoulder with this look like “why weren’t you watching where I was going?”

My friend was stunned. She says she regrets to this day that she missed her one opportunity to shout at Rod Stewart to go fuck himself.

Why so smug, Rod?

Why so smug, Rod?

So many things to ask Rod Stewart! Like: why did he have to leave Faces? Why such tight pants for so many years?
If you could ask Rod Stewart one thing, what would it be? Would it be, “Have I told you lately that I love you, Rod?”

I would excitedly ask him what it was like working with Brian Adams on that song from the Three Musketeers soundtrack. Then I would ask him why he nearly made my friend drop her frozen yogurt at the Atlanta airport. Then I would ask what Sting was like. Understand that I would leave very little time for him to actually respond.

Well, naturally. Celebrities are real weirdos. If you became a celebrity, how would you go about being weird?

Oh man, if I had the money and resources to just follow my natural impulses and bring them to fruition, I think that would take care of it. WRITE CLUB bouts between senators and reality television stars? Done. That solo album of acoustic Anaal Nathrakh covers? Released on iTunes. That magazine where it’s basically just me insulting guitarists? Published and on the racks of every grocery store coast to coast. I’d basically just tumble down the rabbit hole of self-indulgence and see where it leads. Probably to collaborations with holograms.

All roads lead to collaborations with holograms. Of the readers you will be reading with on February 7th at the Goatfarm- who do you think is most likely a hologram: Jamie Allen, Rachael Maddux, or Jared Yates-Sexton? Why?

I’d go with Jamie Allen due to his involvement in the Inman Park Squirrel Census–one of the most genuinely bizarre things I’ve encountered in Atlanta. I’m kind of envious that it’s already been done or I would totally have done that when I went hypothetically celebrity cray cray. Anyway, I figure being a hologram would be helpful in doing that work. If it’s not Jamie, it really could be anyone, though you know the saying: if you look to your left and to your right and can’t figure out who is actually a hologram, it’s probably you.

Awful Interview: Kate Sweeney

30 Oct

I learned a lot about my good friend Kate Sweeney whilst awfully interviewing her. Unfortunately   for Kate, she also learned a lot about me.  Here are some things I already knew about Kate: 1. She is splendid. 2. You can sometimes hear her voice on Atlanta’s local NPR affiliate WABE. 3. She is the host of Atlanta’s True Story Reading Series. 4. She’s a damn fine writer. 5. She will be reading with the likes of Michael Nye, Amber Sparks, Caroline Murphy, and Jamie Iredell at the Goat Farm on November 9th.

Kate, you seem like the kind of lady who would have sat at the ‘Cool Kids’ table at lunch in high-school. What was that like? Did you have a totally rad lunchbox?

Nah. My friend had a lunch box with X-Men characters on it before there was an X-Men movie, when it was just…a cartoon, I think? No, wait. A comic. I actually knew that. Sheesh. Anyway,  I think my secret strength has always been the people I know and love because they take me by the hand and lead me into this great wide world, the one with the X-Men and the “Gam Gam Style” dance–the latter of which I just found out about two days ago. We introverts need the extraverts of this world. Otherwise, I know I’d do nothing but wander around thinking about the creepier segments of Free to Be…You and Me, Victorian death customs and the latest episode of The Wire.  (The Wire ended in 2008. But for me, it only just ended a month ago. See?)

I totally understand. Who are your top five extroverts?

Lord. Okay. Completely off the top of my head: Sharon Jones, for sure. Boots Riley from the Coup. My friend Amanda, who’s always introducing people who needed to meet to one another and throwing creative get-togethers–like potlucks where every guest gets a different 1950s cookbook and then has to prepare something from that cookbook. I love her sense of creativity and joie d’vivre. My grandmother was similar. She was a force–all Paris perfume and loud laughter. She had an address book three inches thick. When she was a teenager, she cut her hair short and her father about killed her. Meanwhile, she was sneaking off to NYC to see Count Basie play. That’s four; I’ll leave the fifth open because really, there are too many. Do you consider yourself to be an introvert or an extravert?

My good friends would probably punch or pinch me if I confessed to being anything but extravert. Family moved around often when I was young, so it was a necessity to be able to talk to strangers with relative ease. Honestly, sometimes I’m amazed that I was never kidnapped. Did you ever read the book about the girl on the side of the milk carton? I think it was called “The Face on the Milk Carton.”

Nope. You’ll have to tell me about that one.
That reminds me of book fairs that would come to my elementary school. Did you have those? They’d set up tables in the gym; so I swear, the smell of gym sweat mixed with that of paper and glue still evokes this singular thrill deep in my hindbrain. At that time, these girl-with-a-terminal-illness books were really popular. There was Six Months to Live, Too Young to Die, and I swear, one that was called I Don’t Wanna Die.  God, did we ten-year-olds eat that stuff UP. Passed ‘em around. Rumors of new terminal-illness books flashed through girls in homeroom like wildfire. A year or two later, it was VC Andrews. As we aged and grew more mature,  we were ready to move on: from cancer to incest.

I recall those books clearly, they were the precursor to WebMD. Lurlene McDaniel? I think that was one of the authors. My mom had to take them away from me- I started to become convinced every time a headache came on it was a brain tumor. Did that happen to you?

Wow, no! I was never hypochondriacal, although I got really sick in the sixth grade. It turned out it was mono and I had to stay home from school for weeks. This was fine; as that other wise kid-book of yesteryear said, Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You. True enough for me. While sick, I read two entire cardboard boxes of Archie comics collected by my older sister’s friend over the course of her lifetime. I mean, feverish dozens upon dozens upon dozens. I didn’t even enjoy them by the end. That Veronica.

Have you ever gotten over the brain tumor fear? I don’t even want to think about it. It’s possible I could become a hypochondriac still. It’ s never too late for that kind of thing.

I was over it… then WebMD happened. It took me about a year to ban myself from WebMD- for self-preservation’s sake. I think I’m over it again.
Man, what was Veronica’s DEAL anyway? ugh.

Veronica was mean.  There I was, safely away from the mean gang of girls who’d ruined that school year, and I was reading these little tales about another such girl who keeps getting her way. She was this sort of archetype of the lady who doesn’t like other ladies–which has  always made my internal sensors scream, “Run!”  You know, the one who says, “I don’t have female friends. Other women don’t like me.” First of all, ruling out more than half of humanity–No good. But hating on other women for no reason; that just ain’t the place to be.  We need to avoid flinging one another into the mud when we can–not because we have some a priori thing in common as women, but because, well, that whole history of oppression: that means something, and it’s not over.  Sigh. Why do you hate yourself, Veronica? Of course, milquetoast Betty wasn’t much better.  At any rate, I’ll bet you a lady didn’t write those Archies.

Okay, but what about The Face on the Milk Carton? You cannot just leave your audience hanging.

 I think we should have a two person book club. Our first book should be The Face on the Milk Carton. Then you can experience it, and I can face my childhood fears. What do you think?

Kate: I’m down. I’m not even gonna go online to see what The Face is about. (That translates, in this day and age, as “I am game and open to mystery.”)  I’ll just take you at your word and read it. Our second book will be The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger.

Deal! I hope, for the cat’s sake, that the gymsuit was washed prior to consumption, but I guess I’ll have to just read and see. Want to do an ad-lib? Give me: 2 adjectives, 2 verbs, and one feeling.

Egregious. Eclectic. Ran Ran Ecstatic.
Oh, and Vouched? I have a final favorite extrovert. It’s you.

Holy cow! I am so honored! Also, I am blushing!
Here are the results of our mad-lib exercise, Kate:

I am so _ecstatic_ for the Vouched & New South Reading on November 9th. So excited, infact,  that I _ran_ for _eclectic_. Michael Nye, Amber Sparks, Caroline Murphy, and Jamie Iredell are all _egregious_. I want to _run_ against them all.