Dysphonia: year one
1. What was your first column?
My first column was not as much a column as a diatribe against the writer Neal Pollack. I’m not sure that my style has mellowed, but I think the first column stinks: clunky, short, and sort of pointless really. I don’t know if it is the best first thing I could have written. Granted I’m my own worst critic but I don’t think much of many of my early graphs. They seem tossed off, too short, dependent on cliché and lazy insight. It almost seems like the early columns were ones where I spent my time debunking or raging against something or for something that I liked. That is fine enough, I guess, but it isn’t very thoughtful. I would rather read something I disagree with that is intelligent as opposed to a Captain Caveman style holler from the hills. Now I do remember that my column was initially supposed to be an every other week deal, but by way of having sent the editor FOURTEEN columns I ended up running every week ever since. I think that where I’ve gotten the column now is much more reflective and insightful into my own psyche as opposed to being about music per se. I’ve enjoyed stretching out, enjoyed getting stuck on a genre and writing about that genre for for a month or more. Doing so has allowed me to revisit items I haven’t heard in some time. I think my favorite column is probably “Girls talk.” There is something in there, something I think I could expand outwards, something about that topic that really sticks with me. I don’t think I’m a strong writer; I feel too conversational, too television, less literature. I can’t explain it other than to say that I try and sometimes I hit (an infield single) and sometimes I miss. But I keep trying, which is important. I gave the column the name Dysphonia and if you haven’t looked up the word, it is a medical term for disorders of the voice: an impairment in the ability to produce voice sounds using the vocal chords Really what it means is the inability to speak. Speech is communication and sometimes I feel like I am trying to overcome my own issues with communication, and I think that is why I so love the “Girls talk” article.
2. What is your favorite Idler column that you didn’t write?
I enjoy “The F Word;” there is something urban and young about the column that I get a kick out of. I like reading “Flipside” by my dear pal Rosemary as it opens doors, in a way, into her line of thinking about certain things. I’ve known her for some time and always read the posts. I dug the obit for Randy Savage in “PopHeart.” When I read it the first time I managed to read it like I tend to read things, like a hummingbird flitting around the page. When I re-read the article it was fucking devastating. I really admire the ability to be so frank and raw when revisiting the horrors in our pasts. Her amazing article made me think about my own history watching wrestling (still do — shut up) but it made me think about it as an escape as opposed to a story. Honestly I had never thought of the genre as an escape until re-reading that story. I admire the honesty, and I admire the clarity with which the piece was written. Something about being able to stand back and assess and discuss with such clarity and ability to be in touch with the emotions is very powerful. I would say envious too, of the ability to write so clearly.
3. What sort of things do you want to write about in the next year?
Honestly, I’d like to just go balls to the wall and write all the bits I have on this list on my old laptop. I just got a new MacBook Air with actual battery power so I’d love to just finish up so many of the ideas I have in my head before they float away like a fart in the wind. I hope to keep writing about music in a way that accentuates the positives without getting too morose about things out of my control. I do feel like I turned a corner in regards to music this summer, read my column about selling LPs for background, and I hope to see where this new direction takes me. For the first time in a long time I am okay with the fact that I am not really the insane music guy that I have been for the past 17 years. I am no longer jealous of the free time other people have to devote to music, the time that I once had but wish I hadn’t had. I hope to continue to write about what I like and what I don’t like, and I hope that when I am writing about something I don’t like I am clear, and honest, and funny without being reactionary or brusque or dismissive. Frankly I would be happy writing about stuff that people felt compelled to COMMENT ON! C’mon folks, challenge my points, I want the discussion! I got NINE comments on my Springsteen article! NINE! I know you are out there, it can’t just by my Mom reading this thing!
Mike Vincent lives in Northern Michigan. He likes to claim that he is oldest member of the Idler gang but still has to suppress laughs when his kids fart.