Sunday, May 31, 2009

Logan Ryan Smith Interviews Mike Young

1) Mike Young, you're from California. Perhaps you can explain to the rest of the country why California is full of shit. There may not be enough space within this tiny format, but please do the best you can.

I'm from Northern California, which is not the Bay Area. Northern California starts in Sacramento and hikes up from there. Sac is a city best imagined by thinking of an old library almost turned into a Panera Bread but given up on halfway, so no air conditioning, and it's clean like a soap dispenser but lacking for people. Camouflage overcoats sometimes melt in the doorway, and every Monday three starch sticks with faces stand outside and don't realize they're not actually eating anything when they put their hands in their mouths like that.

California is full of shit because we elected one dancing cowboy and one pregnant, Christmas-shopping, metal-eyed twin brother of Danny DeVito to positions of significance. California invented the avocado, the tangerine, and hair gel. Jean shorts and dreadlocks and sushi pizza. Ranchers and hippies in Nor Cal want to secede and start their own state called Jefferson. California wants to sleep with its own Wikipedia page. Mt. Shasta is a mountain in the middle of what the fuck, a recliner in an abandoned bomb shelter. It's like surrounded by volcanic tumbleweed and forced to be the mother. No one wears socks in California; they just wake up from their nap and walk around, confused about gender performance. Redwoods never visit Joshua trees and vice-versa, but they send each other animated birthday cake messages on Facebook. Napa is like the peacemaker. It's always afternoon in the hills of Napa and they're not really hills, they're somebody's massage oil that they were keeping in a bottle of Fanta and accidentally keep spilling forever. I always get Death Valley and Hollywood mixed up. I would eat fog flavored gelato. The town I am from is called Oroville and I get a sunburn just thinking about it.

2) If you could have one wish granted, what would you wish for?

A universal agreement on maybe sixteen or eighteen colors that everything could be. Tamale vendors on the bus. Somebody who, whenever it came time to worry about them, ended up making me feel like swimming. One knife trick I could perform in lieu of paying for shit. A melody I could hum whenever people thought I was lying, and we would all know it, and if I got it right they'd know I wasn't lying, and if I got it wrong, they'd know a secret about me as a penalty. Not sure how this would work with the various degrees of lying, of sincerity, but I'm not prepared to wish for an abundance of faith or anything that pours itself into me and collapses once it lands.

3) Why won't Jessica Alba return my phone calls?

She just had a baby.

4) You write music, fiction, and poetry. What's your favorite and do you have any other mediums? See, you didn't think I was going to ask a "serious" question, but I did.

I feel like when I walk around and my head is on, what it's doing most often is making a song, or petting an old song, somebody else's song maybe. Like maybe 73% of the time. And then 16% of the time it's poem raking, and then 11% of the time "once upon a time," except when I'm really into a story that's all I think about, which is not true for poems or songs. Feel like I'm most "autobiographical" in songs. Feel like songs involve the most touching of objects in the world--coiled strings, black and white keys, xylophone mallets, etc.--poems involve the most moving your mouth toward extravagant shapes, and stories involve the most trying to maintain eye contact with everybody in the room. My other mediums are probably omelets and tennis.

5) Who do you see going to the World Series this year?

Not sure. Seems like a weird year. I think it would be funny if baseball had a moment this year where someone definitively changed the aesthetic, like they started plugging their bats in and playing "electric baseball" and doing it in such a way as to juke all of baseball's abundant rules. Dontrelle Willis's windup was the last best hope for this shit, so maybe it's not happening. What I'm saying is that what if Torii Hunter were Torii Hunter, except he could wear a jetpack?

6) What is it you LOVE most about poetry? Is it the gossip? The scene? The girls? The fame? The booze? The three-ways (or does that just happen in the Bay Area?)?

Poetry's like a leak that's supposed to be there, it's like somebody who won't shut up but you're okay with that, maybe, for a spell, some, against your better judgment, sure, for a spell. Poetry is a good excuse for life. I like dancing better than booze. I like vistas better than scenes. I like other girls better than girls, which is usually the problem. I like cartoons better than Third Way poetics. My favorite poetry is like the poem sent you an invitation to a party in your own heart. Like a nice bed: you feel endless and envious that the bed isn't yours, you start thinking about how much you'll miss it as soon as you lay down, you are grateful to the person who owns the bed but you know that it doesn't really belong to that person, it belongs to whoever's allowed to lay there for a while, which you think is fine while you think anything, because one thing you're hoping from the bed is that you won't have to think for a little while, which is a garish hope: you always have to think. Whatever it is, it's always a trick; what it is is that some tricks are kind.

Logan Ryan Smith: Pretend ex-patriot. Future ex-patriot. Favorite poet. Baseball fanatic. Doctor Who wannabe. Social Democrat. Lonely. Bored. Broke. Disallusioned. Over-it. Owner of all four seaons of The O.C.

Mike Young is the author of two forthcoming chapbooks: MC Oroville's Answering Machine (Transmission Press) and Real Sturdy Thing (Stormy Petrel Press). He co-edits NOÖ Journal and Magic Helicopter Press. He is from Oroville, CA and lives in Northampton, MA. Visit him online at


meg.hurtado7 said...

pretty sure this is a lyric poem right here.

LSF said...

A palpable articulation of the wool pulled over the hills and valleys of California.

Nevertheless, I loved the place last winter.