Hi. I’m Mark Maynard. Or, to be more precise, I’m one of many Mark Maynards. According to Google, there are quite a few of us out there. I’m just the first one egotistical enough to claim the domain. To all the other Mark Maynards, I apologize. This is especially true for the Mark Maynard who makes it his mission to feed the poor in Africa. It pains me to know that he has to get up each day, knowing that I’m out there, providing a forum for people who want to discuss the efficiency of their robotic butt-cleansing devices.
I haven’t studied the family tree in quite a while, but my hunch is that we’re all related to Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy – the man credited with bringing the pirate Blackbeard to justice in 1718. (Reproductively speaking, I’d have to think that killing Blackbeard would improve a man’s chances of attracting women of childbearing age considerably.) Anyway, as I run through my various accomplishments over the next few paragraphs, I’d like for you to keep that in mind. As impressive as it may be to be named the second best blogger in Washtenaw County by a publication that a dozen or so people read, it really doesn’t carry the same historical weight as dueling with the most feared pirate in the world. In my defense, though, I should add that, according to historical accounts of the battle, Blackbeard was about to finish the dashing young Maynard off, after a long grueling fight between the two that involved both pistols and swords, when another seaman stepped in to kill the notoriously bloodthirsty pirate. I don’t mention this to take anything away from my heroic ancestor, who was clearly one fierce son-of-a-bitch, but I do think it’s worth noting that I’ve never once had to call for anyone to come to my aid, even when crafting the most difficult of blog posts.
Anyway, if you’re here, you likely read my site, so I imagine you already know a lot about me, right? If you’ve been hanging around any length of time, you probably know that I live in the small rustbelt city of Ypsilanti, Michigan with my wife, Linette, our daughter, Clementine, and our son, Arlo. You might also know that I like to start a lot of things, many of which I can’t seem to finish, and that I have a mental illness/super power known as OCD. What you might not know, however, is that, when I’m not online, ranting about politics and the war being waged against the non-rich in America, I make my living in marketing and business development. I don’t usually write about my “real” life. I made that decision a long time ago. Here, with more on that, is a clip from my first post, in 2002:
I should mention before we set out that I have made a conscious decision to use my real name on this site. In doing so, my hope is that I have not set into motion a series of events that will end in horrific comic consequences. With a poorly-negotiated fifteen year mortgage hanging over my head and an insatiable appetite for both up-scale Indian dining and premium cable channels, I can hardly afford the interruption in income that would undoubtedly follow my hearing the phrase, “Maynard, what’s all this nonsense I hear about a website?” Pant-shitting and groveling to keep a job are not things I hope to do anytime soon.
So, I’ve chosen to try to walk a line – a line between honesty and self-preservation. I have chosen not to throw caution to the wind and share everything with you, but instead to offer you well-sanitized bites of my life that won’t get me into too much trouble. In proceeding this way, my hope is that I will continue to collect a paycheck, eat and have a wife. These, in my estimation, are all good things.
I will, no doubt, fail on occasion, but it’s my hope that I’ll never dig a hole too deep to climb out of… We’ll see…
There have certainly been tense situations over the past ten years, but, all things considered, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of navigating the perilous waters of eponymous small town blogging.
Those of you who don’t already know me, might be interested to know that, among other things, I help run Michigan’s indie art event The Shadow Art Fair, publish the award-winning magazine Crimewave USA, produce the talk show Dreamland Tonight, and record one-day-a-year with the band The Monkey Power Trio. (More details on each of these items can be found in the links below.)
So, with that, I’d just like to say, “Thanks.” Thanks for coming to my site, and listening to what I have to say. It means a lot to me.
Inspired in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on America, I started the blog in 2002. (And, by this, I do not mean that I hoped to wreck havoc and bring the nation to its knees.) My original intent was to help build local community, in hopes of affecting some degree of positive progressive change at the grassroots level. The initial vision, however, quickly devolved. To give you some idea, to date, my most popular posts have been about ball shaving. (MarkMaynard.com has ranked #1 for “ball shaving” for multiple years. The site has also been ranked the #1 blog in the Ypsilanti – Ann Arbor area on a number of occasions. I have likewise been named the 8th most influential political blogger in Michigan.) For a tiny, local blog, the site has had a surprising reach. The site has been quoted on CNN, and mentioned by Rachel Maddow, as well as noted in the Wall Street Journal and a number of other papers. The site has also become the de facto online meeting place for the local Ypsilanti community, often drawing comments from city leaders, members of City Council, and, on rare occasion, even Congressman John Dingell. (In addition to blogging for MarkMaynard.com, I also had the pleasure of serving as a journalism fellow at the Michigan Messenger a few years ago.)
I played in the Ann Arbor noise band Prehensile Monkeytailed Skink in the early 90’s. Skink, among other things, had the distinction of being one of the first bands to release vinyl on the now-defunct, but hugely influential, no-wave pioneer Bulb Records. (Click here to hear our single, Anarchy is Stupid.) I also played with the “acoustic noise band from the future,” Ski Troop Attack. Sadly, however, no recorded history of our gargling and asphyxiating while beating on broken guitars and whaling on saxophones exists. (There may be a photo of a cop escorting us out of Ann Arbor’s Nickels Arcade, though.) Most recently, I’ve been recording with the Monkey Power Trio, a band that has met one day a year for the past 16 years to write, record and release songs on vinyl. In addition to being liked by the illustrious British radio host John Peel, the band has also found some mainstream success doing ads for the likes of the FOX Sports Network. Speaking of the late, great Mr. Peel, here’s a little audio of him discussing the band and our song, Butt Science. For those of you who are compelled to know more, records can be found, listened to, and purchased online. Furthermore, a four-hour audio documentary on the band produced by Silicon Valley’s KFJC radio can be found here. My favorite Monkey Power Trio song, in case anyone is interested, is Someday We’ll Reach the Moon. And, despite what you might have heard, the band was never officially taken to court by the estate of Fatty Arbuckle.
Along with my friends Matt Krizowsky and Dan Richardson, I published a magazine called “Infantazine” in the early 1990’s. As I recall, the content was both shockingly offensive and aggressively paranoid. Fortunately, no one paid much attention. Upon moving to Atlanta Georgia in 1993, I followed up with the autobiographical zine “It Takes Balls to be Mark Maynard,” which I wrote one afternoon while eating fried fish. (Among other things, I’m a lapsed vegan.) This one-off zine then led to the creation of “Crimewave USA,” which I wrote and published with my then girlfriend, now wife, Linette Lao. We published 15 issues, spanning nearly as many years. The subsequent website has been reclaimed by the forces of nature, but the magazine is still not officially dead, regardless of what Eric Utne and his minions may tell you. It is true, however, that after many of our favorite book stores closed, and our distributor went out of business, owing us thousands of dollars, we slowed production considerably. There will, however, be another issue. “Crimewave” has been incredible for us, and we wouldn’t think of killing it. Most of our friends were found through the magazine, and most of the interesting experiences we’ve had as adults were made possible by it. The zine, over the years, has included interviews with the likes of Peter Falk, Chan Marshall, Moe Tucker, Jad Fair, Daniel Johnston, Neil Hamburger, and any number of other famous, influential or otherwise interesting people. At some point we plan to reissue all the old issues in book form. My writing for “Crimewave” has also appeared in “The Book of Zines” (the story about Gerlado Rivera shoving me), as well as “Flagpole” magazine (my interview with the band Pylon). “Crimewave” has also received the prestigious Factsheet Five Editor’s Choice Award. As to why I publishes, here’s what I had to say in the forward for the “Book of Zines.”
…I publish in order to preserve my thoughts. I’m obsessed with the thought that what I do must be preserved. As a result of that, I do mass copying, laminating, audio and video recording, etc. It’s not that I’m an egomaniac, or even because I think what I have to say is all that important. It’s because I’m scared to die without having anything to show for myself. Where will the proof be that I was ever here once I am gone? That thought is a big motivator…
Fun fact… I almost got on This American Life to talk about a tour of famous death sites that I’d covered for “Crimewave,” but I was ultimately bumped for a story on elderly shoplifters. For what it’s worth, I maintain that my dislike for Ira Glass has nothing to do with this.
SHADOW ART FAIR
In 2006, I, along with my friends Jennifer Albaum, Melissa Dettloff, Tim Furstnau and Molly Mast, who together referred to ourselves as the Michigan Design Militia, launched the Shadow Art Fair at Ypsilanti’s Corner Brewery. Our original thought was just to bring together as many creative types as we could find, who were working on interesting, inspiring projects across a broad range of areas, including publishing, photography, fashion, arts and crafts, film making, etc, and then put them in a room together for 12 hours with thousands of gallons of beer. Even if no one showed up, we figured, the assembled participants would have an opportunity to meet one another, and perhaps hatch ideas for future collaborative projects. As it turned out, however, thousands descended on Ypsilanti, desperate to talk about the arts, and show their support for people who were actually creating things, and not just passively consuming. There have now been about 10 Shadow Art Fairs. While the event continues to evolve, the group behind it remains united in their vision, which is to bring together not necessarily those with the most marketable merchandise, but those who have the most interesting, engaging projects to discuss… especially those that are somewhat experiential in nature. Since the second Shadow Art Fair, the money collected at the door (entry is a suggested two-cents) is distributed via a Shadow Grant program, which seeks to make strategic investments in worthwhile local arts-related projects. Video of the Shadow Art Fair can be found here. In 2011, the group branched out to also host a space-age monster dance party known as the Krampus Ball.
For a period of two years, I contributed comics anonymously to the monthly entertainment magazine, The Ann Arbor Paper. I can’t remember why it did it anonymously, but I think it might have had to do with the fact that a lot of it was about my OCD, which I wasn’t completely out of the closet about at the time. The full-page comic was called My Life In Ypsi. At some point, I’d like to convert them to the web, if possible. Several of my one-panel comics have run on MarkMaynard.com since the closing of The Ann Arbor Paper, one of which received quite a bit of attention, having been written up on the Maxim website. It involved a letter I’d written to Robert DeNiro, who was living across the street from my house at the time, in a trailer.
Linette and I, upon moving back to Ypsilanti from Los Angeles in 1999, decided to launch an Ypsi-positive line of clothing. At the start, the line consisted of two pieces – a t-shirt announcing the fact that Iggy Pop was from Ypsilanti, and a women’s undergarment called the Ypsipanty. (Ypsilanti used to be home to a famous underwear factory, and we thought that this deserved to be recognized and celebrated.) An article about our endeavor led to an article in the local paper, which, due to the fact that it included an adorable photo of our daughter, peeking out between Ypsipanty-wearing mannequin legs, hit the wire services, and got reprinted in papers all across the world. And, somehow, years later, a pair of Ypsipanties made their way into the hands of Elvis Costello, who was videotaped pulling them from his pocket while performing in California. In 2005, my friend Melissa Dettloff and I, launched the online clothing retailer The Severed Unicorn Head Superstore. I don’t know where this information came from, but here’s how I’m described on the site.
What can one say about Mark Maynard? Where does one start? He is, by most accounts, a man. I suppose that’s as good a place to start as any. And, at the age of 23, he still has all of his own original teeth. In other words, his baby teeth have never fallen out. Most of them dangle from his mouth by bloody roots, but he’s yet to lose a single one. He feeds through a straw in his neck. Dental records are available upon request, as are movies of him feeding. He also has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He wields it like a dagger. He is an entrepreneur. He is both a lover and a fighter. He is a doting father and a cruel taskmaster. He has been steeped in the traditions of ancient masters and blown dry by the winds of modernity. He is known to quote himself at length. He has three sworn enemies who do not know how close they are to death. He loves gardening and taking long walks in the woods alone. He is a lapsed vegan who loathes himself for other reasons. He is credited with repopularizing facial hair.
I got off to a pretty good start. My first art show was with Daniel Johnston, Jon Langford, Jad Fair, and Bill Callahan in Cincinnati. My work, which is greatly influenced by my OCD, is most commonly referred to as folk or visionary art, which basically means that I didn’t study art, and don’t worry too much about pleasing folks with it. For the most part, my work consists of images drawn or painted over collages assembled from scraps of maps, bits of paper covered in notes to myself, and other things that have caught my attention. (I collect things like a magpie. It comes with the OCD.) My most productive period was in the late 90’s, before my obsession turned to blogging, when I worked for a technology start-up, traveling between Los Angeles and Washington, DC. I would do business stuff by day, and, sitting alone in my hotel room, create art by night. Through my work, I became friends with well known folk artists such as Howard Finster, Leroy Almon, Frank Pickle, Ned Cartlidge, and Archie Byron. That, by far, has been the highlight for me, although working with Atlanta’s High Museum of Art on their folk art-related programming was nice. I’m not any longer, but I used to be represented by galleries in Baltimore and Wisconsin, both of whom ripped me off.