First of all, I had the pleasure of driving down to Mt. Holly, Minnesota to interview Mr. Mike. Mt. Holly is a small town nestled into Shokopee MN. That is, Mr. Mike actually started a town. There are currently four residents -- Mr. Mike, his very friendly wife Tammy, and two children. Also two cats, Simon & Simon. I asked, and yes, they're named after the 80's brothers-as-private-eyes-and-womanizer TV show. Hot Damn!
I was nervous to do this interview, and literally had no idea what to expect. In my head, for some reason, I pictured a lumber-jack looking guy. Six or so feet tall, huge beard, wild mannerisms, crazy eyes, etc. When I came in I discovered a pleasant man eating cereal, Nikki McClure prints on the wall, and the most tastefully decorated, 1950/60's vintage house I've seen since Leave it to Beaver. I relaxed, and had a great ninety-some minute conversation with Mr. Mike about many things under the sun, with a heavy focus on John P.
One part I found really interesting was how Mr. Mike seemed to find it a little strange to be talking ABOUT John. A few times he would describe John's work/lifestyle in perfectly succinct ways, only to stop himself and remark, 'yeah, but we're old friends, I'm not an expert or anything'. Think about doing an interview about one of your 20-year friendships -- it'd be a little strange, right?
The stuff I loved about Mr. Mike was when I asked what he did. He went on to explain that he tried to simply incorporate the values he, John, Zak, and hundreds of others internalized as youth -- do right by yourself, do right by others, don't fuck anybody over. So his house (Mt. Holly) was a work of art. The icehouse in his driveway was a work of art. The Mt. Holly paper (put out by La Mano) is a work of art.
The thing I love about this whole damn generation of guys is the belief that your life and work and your beliefs are all intertwined.
After chatting with Mr. Mike -- who filled me up with my first pot of delicious french press coffee since leaving Denver in January -- I headed back up to Minneapolis, picked up Crystal, then on to the La Mano HQ on the north side of town to meet up with Zak.
I was pretty nervous about hooking up with Zak. This guy runs his own press. He puts out amazingly beautiful and fucked up comics. He's played in multiple amazing bands. The talent and creative energy in this guy, well, let's just say I was a little fumbly at first. Zak put me right at ease as soon as he demonstrated his respect and love for John P. I quickly realized, 'hey wait, this guy's just like me! we're both fanboys!'
The Le Mano HQ was like a weirdo's fantasy world. Printing press (Maisie), stacks of comics and books all over the place, the aforementioned bass guitar, a work table, and a back room where two whole walls were filled, top to bottom, with the original artwork for Sammy the Mouse 3, which Zak had finished the night before. There were weird lights, empty boxes, Kim Deitch artwork, just anything you could want.
I can't describe how beautiful it was.
Again I spent a good ninety minutes talking with Zak about John P., zine and music culture, Mr. Mike, and most things under the sun. It was really great, and in the end I realized how lucky these three guys were to have not just found each other, but stayed in touch through the years, and how in may ways they're living out three different versions of the same life, which is truly interesting.
As I drove away from the cities, I kept saying to Crystal, 'we've got to come back and do a documentary on THEM!'. Which, kidding aside, would be pretty interesting.
I need to get to (other) work right now, so I'll post my little Mr. Mike clip (with one of Zak coming tomorrow) and try to write up more later on the actual 'log' aspect of filming. Really fun techie stuff.
Oh, and in two hours I'm interviewing Ivan, so I'll try to get some stuff up on that soon too. Also, my thoughts from the Joe Chippetta interview last week. Busy busy busy.
PS -- If I haven't mentioned this, you should go to www.lamano21.com and buy a bunch of stuff. Zak's press really puts out amazingly beautiful books -- at the most ridiculously fair prices you can imagine -- really, great stuff, and supporting a wonderful guy.