Recently I was watching a documentary about David Bowie on TV, and that reminded me that Mikel had once interviewed Bowie. I had a quick Google and found the article, and thought what a great subject matter for This Is Nowhere’s ‘5s’ Mikel’s written work would be. I’m not a critic of written work, so don’t expect anything deep and meaningful – just a fan’s comments.
1. The Crack
This is an obvious first choice: Mikel’s short story, which was published in McSweeney #27. The story concerns an unnamed central character and his friends’ preoccupation with both their terminal illnesses and an ever-widening crack in the pavement.
The story reads similar to many of Mikel’s lyrics – with the themes of relationships, morbidity and mortality, parts of Los Angeles, etc. When I read it, I could imagine Mikel singing parts of it – particularly when he uses the phrases “like a child” and the longer sentence, “You sit around with these thoughts and you cry so hard, you wrench and shake and sputter and lie awake trying to think of romantic things for someone to read over your grave—but it’s all so awful and selfish.”
Is the crack a metaphor for both our hopes and fears regarding our mortality? That’s how I interpreted it.
Not a cheerful read, but well worth spending some time on.
2. Brad Pitt Whipped Me into Shape
This piece was published in Men’s Health in 2006. It recounts how “I was a big fat slob. Then I went to the movies.”
Being bored with an office-based job and sporting an ever-increasing waistband, the film Fight Club inspires Mikel to make changes in his life, to regain the fitness levels of his college days.
He sums up the ease of making the decision to change with the paragraph:
That whatever prisons we construct in our lives – whether it’s an awful job, a gut, an unhappy marriage, an addiction, the things in life that hem us in, that make us wake up in the morning in a cold sweat and think, How did I get like this? and How can I escape? – all these things are transient. For me, and maybe for anyone, the answer was, just leave. Tear the entire thing down.
3. Me Versus the Bully
In which Mikel recounts the tale of how his bond with his father grew following some advice on how to fight a bully. The piece concludes with a heartfelt summary of his father’s contribution to his life: “All that mattered was the attention, the advice, the jokes, the fact that he selflessly gave everything he had to help me solve whatever problem came up in my life.”
4. David Bowie Interview
I love this piece. In fact, there’s loads of things I love about it: I love the way Mikel feels like a dorky fan reassuring Bowie – not least because that’s how I feel around Mikel – reassuring him that the sound was great, that he looks great, that I really don’t mind that he’s sweaty when he gives me a hug. I love the way that Bowie changes direction when Mikel asks a question. I love the way that Bowie has that paternal connection with Mikel.
Most of all, I love the fact Bowie says:
Oh man, I’ve been pushing them for two or three years solidly. Because I’m so tired of them not being recognized by anybody. A discovery like that – like a Grandaddy or a Pavement – there are certain bands that you think, ‘Oh, that’s exactly what I want to say.’ Or rather, ‘That’s how I want to say things.’ You know, you feel a kindred spirit with these people.
Because that’s exactly how I feel about The Airborne Toxic Event. I lose sight of the fact musicians are real people, and to me it’s strange to think that David Bowie feels the same things as many of us do when we hear music we relate to. All in all, a cracking interview.
5. The Miracle on Ice
Another piece for Men’s Health in which Mikel, once again, tackles the subject of morbidity. Here, a neurosurgeon operates by inducing mild hypothermia to starve the brain of oxygen – a relatively new technique at the time the piece was written (2007). Mikel puts his own take on it with the phrase, “The implications are huge: Imagine a future in which you’re not dead. You’re just waiting for repair.”
Stephanie is Nottingham, England based. Her day job is an Information Lead in the National Health Service. She fills her spare time photographing concerts, supporting her football club, studying languages and teaching English to speakers of other languages as well partaking in many creative hobbies: knitting, bead jewellery making, dabbling in writing and painting. http://www.facebook.com/stephaniewebbphotography