December 10, 2004

Powerful Mean.


Sydney Bechet; John Mayer; perverse stress in the supermarket lot.


Sydney Bechet on his drinking, gambling self: "It's like there's somebody else inside a man, somebody that's not really that man. It takes a lot. But when I do get mean, I can be powerful mean."

Minnesota Nice is pervasive, of course. But there's weird tension on the streets of Minneapolis--the traffic. It's as if the city's been flooded with more cars than it can handle. I come home from a trip to the grocery store stressed out, because the tiny parking lot was crammed with nine cars snarling up and down searching for a spot--one opens up and another driver, headed the wrong way in a one-way lot, slams in there, cutting me off. It's just baffling.

I drive around town a lot. When I'm hesitant behind the wheel--the street pattern in downtown Minneapolis is laid out in a way which is slightly confusing--I get honked at furiously. A woman in another car once yelled at me, "You're supposed to be in the other lane!"

I remark about car woes to Dan when I get back from an errand; he's told me that he keeps hearing about traffic meanness from other people that come to Minnesota to work with him. Weird.

John Mayer has a TV show called John Mayer Has a TV Show. I haven't seen it. I read a review in the Times. I was surprised, because when I was opening for him on a midwest string of dates--two years ago? Something like that--he was obsessively shooting video, and told me that he wanted a TV show on VH1, and he wanted to call it John Mayer Has a TV Show. Remarkable drive that John's got.

The review says the show is, for the most part, John making fun of people. Which is precisely what the video he showed me way back then was--making fun of his crew dudes, of fans, of Columbia Records' field employees. He struck me as a guy who invests a lot in that manly-joshing vibe. It made me queasy. None of the people he made fun of on camera were in a position to bash back. He wasn't picking on people his own size.

There were a couple weird moments with him. When I came on the tour, and I first met him, he thanked me profusely, and expressed a lot of admiration, which I expressed in return, and thanked him for the opportunity. But he made fun of me, too. Later in the tour, I was sitting on his bus, and he professed a desire to cover "Circles." Then he started talking about, Oh, maybe if that song's good enough, maybe it's just an unshitty enough song to cover. It was weird. I got where he was coming from--lightening a slightly awkward moment with joking--but it was pretty hurtful. I don't do well with manly joshing.

Once, hearing that I briefly dated a mildly famous person, he laid into me, some mean joke about, Ooh, has Mike Doughty ever seen somebody from ______ naked? I didn't answer. He said, Ooh, you're not answering, that means you have! You have!

I called him a tool. I wish I hadn't called him a tool. Wish I'd been a bigger guy. I have a lot of sympathy for him.

When I first started making records, I got successful, got a bunch of fans who adored me, and still was unhappy--my dream came true and it didn't cure my essential dissatisfaction. It seemed like a gyp. Eventually I found happiness--and found satisfaction in my work--but it wasn't through the modicum of fame I experienced. It took work, and big personal changes. Maybe John's feeling the same way--and, given the magnitude of his success, a hundredfold of what I got, maybe it feels even more like a gyp.

Anyway. John's fundamentally a good dude. I wish him happiness, especially in the face of a difficult position that would seem difficult to very few people. He's a formidable talent--I think that "Daughters" song is phenomenal.

Unlike Sydney Bechet--at least when I was hanging out with him--John Mayer doesn't touch a drop of the sauce.

Posted by Mike at December 10, 2004 08:59 AM

"Unlike Sydney Bechet--at least when I was hanging out with him--John Mayer doesn't touch a drop of the sauce".

Atleast when you wake up hungover and feeling like Sh!t, you know that you will feel better later. When you wake up feeling like shit and your sober, your screwed!

Posted by: bee at December 10, 2004 09:08 AM

I know from living here for 23 years that "Minnesota nice" is a crock of shit. It is not just in Minneapolis either. I live in a small town (about 3,500) just west of the cities and the billies there are just as rude as they are narrow-minded. The only place I have enjoyed living in this state is Uptown Mpls. High rent and too much time (and therefore $) spent at Liquor Lyle's on Hennepin sent me packing elsewhere. If you want "nice", try "Nebraska nice". In Omaha, it really exists. Great city. Calling it home 05/01/05.

Posted by: Kacie at December 10, 2004 09:44 AM

'Manly joshing'...I like to witness it when it's done cleanly and evenly, not lopsided and mean. Girls do something like that but only with their very VERY best friends. Men are genuinely freaked out when they see girls doing that.

Mikey, I really love your jazz sensibilities. I was humming 'East St. Louis Toodle-OO' on the way home yesterday after seeing the heading on your December 9th entry. If no one gets you that Ken Burns jazz collection, you should whip out your credit card and charge that puppy, seriously!

BTW, my new "Mike Doughty" t-shirt felt wonderful last night! (Insert wry comment about me sleeping with Mike D. here.) And my new copies of Skittish and Rockity Roll are awesome, totally awesome! But, I have to say, as far as cd packaging is concerned, I do miss the days of vinyl, the huge inserts of liner notes and lyrics, posters of the bands, the secret writing around the middle hole, the sound of the album sliding...whoosh...out of the paper sleeve. Ach, the days of analog....

Posted by: Deb at December 10, 2004 09:48 AM

you should have made fun of him because he pronounces his name wrong.

Posted by: mike at December 10, 2004 10:21 AM

John Mayer always struck me as someone who cares way too much what people think, and is always trying to fit in. I get the impression that he wasn’t the coolest kid in high school, and he has yet to let go of that, and wants to prove to everybody that he is, in fact, cool. When he sings, “I just can’t wait ‘til my 10 year reunion.” I really believe that. I think he wants to go back and be the star, something he probably was not during his time there. Anyway, I agree that he is a tool (I am also not a bigger man).

Mike, you should have told him that you wanted to cover “Your Body is a Wonderland.”, then just laughed hysterically

Posted by: B.O.B. at December 10, 2004 10:32 AM

I knew John Mayer when he was growing up in Fairfield. He was a tool then and a tool now.

Posted by: Doofy Malone at December 10, 2004 10:52 AM

Dude, I feel ya, Kacie! MN nice IS kind of a bunch of shit--I live in Uptown (well, more like by eat street where you don't have to pay $700 for 500 sq. ft!) and I love it there (particularly Lyle's). There's still enough lingering punk mentality to keep it real. But, I grew up in B'ville and work in Eden Prairie, and let me tell you, the people are not so nicey-nice! Try having a conversation with a stranger in the MN burbs...or working retail for awhile. Ugh. It's this kind of false, tense, waiting to explode politeness...I would rather that people were just rude, it would be more honest! Also, about the traffic...I think that's part of what has happened to "MN Nice"...our public transportation here sucks, and the pop. is growing so fast that the roads have to be in a constant state of construction to accomodate everyone...and they still won't when they're done (if that ever happens!). I'm a very nice person, but sitting in traffic for 2 hours a day to travel less than 20 miles really gets me kind of tweaked out!

Posted by: dharma at December 10, 2004 11:10 AM

I've been lurking around this site ever since I happened upon it a few weeks ago and now I'm really excited to hear the new album.

My take on Mayer - from afar - is that he's a very talented guy who comes across as intelligent and articulate in most of the interviews I've seen/read. However, he also seems fairly insincere and arrogant. It's just this vibe he gives off. I know it shouldn't matter if a musician is a jerk as long as their music is good, but I have a difficult time reconciling his insincere vibe with the lyrics in some of his songs.

I'm still going to Mayer's blues show in NYC at the end of December though. What can I say; the guy knows his way around a guitar.

Posted by: erin at December 10, 2004 11:19 AM

Minnesota nice, that really is a good one. I've lived here almost all of my 34 years, everyday is a new day and the folks around here are not getting any nicer! Maybe fatter, but NOT nicer.

Posted by: bee at December 10, 2004 11:33 AM

I hate those shows that focus on making fun of people. All the Jamie Kennedys and Punk'ds. All the hidden camera shows of the world. It's so unfair. They sit there and lie to these people then laugh when the victim does what comes natural and believes what is happening to them is real. Then we wonder why no one trusts anyone else and we're all so shitty to each other. The whole thing just turns my stomach.

Posted by: liz at December 10, 2004 11:37 AM

if someone came in the wrong direction and took a spot which i was next in line for--i'd get out of the car and i would have a conversation with the person.

okay, i've vented now. but the thought of asswipes like that really really piss me off.

Posted by: marie at December 10, 2004 11:45 AM

It seems the holiday quest for cheer
& frenetic consumption
begets a multitude of SUV driving
middle finger flipping
parking space stealing

And some people are just mean
hardened cynical
& obnoxiously trying
to squash any glimmer of genuine light
others might have to share
-in desperation-
as if they might
lose more of their lost selves
to be caught in the presence
of authenticity

"we attract that which we divest"
I remember a friend saying
with the kind intent
of explaing WHY
I am so affected
by the predictable
from those who normally give me the creeps anyway

A good comment to keep in mind
this holiday season &
while on the road in general

Posted by: saki at December 10, 2004 12:17 PM

Mayer is a patsy for the man. Here's a small dialog of a regular day for John:

Sony: "Jump John"
John: "How High???"

Sony: "wear these trendy clothes"
John: "Abercrombie isn't trendy, it's fresh, and new, it's my style"

John is about himself. John is an obvious example of what is wrong with our music industry. He's music is written around what the radio stations and MTV(the worst channel there is) want to hear.

I bet his show will be petty popular with the 13-18 year old girls!!! WOOO HOOO!! WAY TO GO JOHN. sell out.

Posted by: yeay bee's #1. she's the biggest fan at December 10, 2004 01:00 PM

Not to mention John Mayer is about impossible to watch when he takes a guitar solo.

I saw him on the Guitar special on PBS and it looked like he was taking a crap - but romancing his crap at the same time. Mildly disturbing.

Everyone usually makes faces when taking a guitar solo. But his are positively creepy.


Posted by: Don M at December 10, 2004 02:35 PM

//I hate those shows that focus on making fun of people.// I totally agree. And reality shows are pretty shitty as well. It makes me think of the Romans torturing and slaughtering people in colossal stadiums to the cheers and delight of thousands of bloodthirsty people. What the hell is wrong with our society? It is so disconnected, and showing all the tell tale signs of total disintegration. A friend of mine told me that he was talking to an East Indian spiritual leader/teacher, who came to this country to spread his teachings and honor his followers here, and he was amazed at how The United States was so disconnected from heart centered energy, like it isn't there at all. We have no heart. I think John Mayer is totally consumed with his ego, which can never be satisfied, can never be cool enough, can never be talented enough, etc..., and proving his superiority to other people in order for him just to be okay momentarily is probably the only respite he has.

Posted by: Lauren at December 10, 2004 02:55 PM

i like john mayer!

Posted by: meekly at December 10, 2004 03:20 PM

ha. i was sitting in my sisters car yesterday saying just that thing. not that john mayer is a tool, but that there doesn't seem to be enough room for the traffic up north.

i mean c'mon people, these are supposed to be the great plains, why is everything so crammed together?

i sat in a Hardee's parking lot for an hour on the phone with my friend Crystal from SD talking about how insane it is, especially in the grocery store parking lots. Everyone honking at each other, all in the most insane hurry, and you better know where you're going because god forbid you rip someone out of their motorist-dreamlike-state by slowing down too much to turn or coming up the wrong way in the parking lot scheme. it's not like you could see the arrows anyway with all the snow on the ground. and it was slick slick too.

all in all, a very stressful driving experience.

Posted by: rob from grand forks at December 10, 2004 03:34 PM

yeah, i sometimes i think people need to not be driving at all!

Posted by: james the s at December 10, 2004 03:57 PM

I think that John Mayer has split personalities, one second he's this wonderful guitar player who only cares about music, then the next second he does stuff just to try to fit in at radio shows, talk shows, etc... it kind of gets on my nerves.

Posted by: Lila at December 10, 2004 04:20 PM

I love the topics, they seem to fit together(traffic & John Mayer). The only thing the two of them have in common is, if there is none, I'm happy.

Posted by: bee at December 10, 2004 04:26 PM

Got "Mike Doughty: Two Records" at Newbury Comics on Newbury Street at lunch today. Got the last copy they had out. And almost didn't get it because they had you filed under "Misc. D". What's up with that shit?

Posted by: wymer at December 10, 2004 04:33 PM

hmm mayber may have the overall "larger" success, but in years to come and we look back at the music, i think your work will have held up and found to be more profound than mayers ever could be.

Posted by: Kerri at December 10, 2004 05:33 PM

It feels good to escape the influence of a tool, cheers to anybody cool enough to stand their ground in the face of charismatic teen squeal mongering.

Remember, he doesn't really write his own songs does he? Sounds like a great reason to be an arrogant bastard doesn't it? "I'm part of the problem! Get to know me!"

Posted by: dave at December 10, 2004 06:54 PM

four words (not mine) some beach some where

Posted by: joe at December 10, 2004 06:55 PM

I just wanted to say that this is the kind of ntry that makes me keep coming back to any journal--insightful, ancecdotal, and just written really fucking well.

So thanks.

Posted by: jim at December 10, 2004 08:27 PM

hey, whoever wrote that comment yesterday about people posting as though they're talking to mike and trying to relate their lives to his - right on, that was pretty funny. i especially like how james the s has to repeatedly point out that he's also a musician - not nearly on mike's level, i assume, or he wouldn't be hanging around commenting on his blog all the time.

Posted by: DJ Minnesota Mean at December 10, 2004 10:24 PM

I actually met that kid Mayer after his show with Buddy Guy last December, he was actually a real good guy. Bottom line, damn he can play guitar.

Posted by: Jim at December 10, 2004 10:27 PM

-When he sings, “I just can’t wait ‘til my 10 year reunion.” I really believe that. I think he wants to go back and be the star, something he probably was not during his time there.-
-Mike, you should have told him that you wanted to cover “Your Body is a Wonderland.”, then just laughed hysterically.-

lol let me just say if you knew anything about JM you would know that he would probably be the first person NOT to show up to his class reunion. Second, Yeah maybe he should have covered YBIAW and he might have been the one ending up winning the Grammy because last time I checked, a Grammy is still a Grammy. Lastly, wow people it's called a sense of humor, you should go and get one :-)

Posted by: Dima at December 10, 2004 10:34 PM

M. Doughty, my man! It's Todd Chaponot from Oregon. You remember me, your favorite infatuated thirty-something commercial radio production intern flunkee from Portland's Entercom station! Yah! Whatup brother? Love the "Superior Light + Fan" photo for this blog entry. Please tell me that the name of this new album you're mixing is "Superior Light + Fan," and this photo is the album cover. The photo is very 'Robyn Hitchcock in NYC'. I tried e-mailing your site feedback address on Election Day to pass along some positive energy - obviously you didn't receive it, in return I just got a bunch of spam about your album sales (it's cool, making a living off your killer talent and all...)
Was just listening to "Incumbent" for what felt like for the first time EVER, and thought you should meet up with my bud Karl from Sacramento - he's the front man for a Star Trek tribute band called Warp 11 (you've seen him if you've watched Trekkies 2). Anywho, from what I've heard from others, his tradeshow experiences in New York sound like he could have easily written "Incumbent" himself. He's an awesome showman and a thoughtful songwriter. He and I have Amsterdam in common, but we've never been there together (that we can refutabley prove).
Best of luck with the new album. Look us up the next time you're in Sacto, Eugene, or Portland.
You have been, and continue to be, a positive influence on me.

Posted by: Izzy Izzy Izzy Izard at December 11, 2004 12:12 AM

what Daughters song are we talking about?

Posted by: Brian Van Buren at December 11, 2004 03:46 AM


the person i previously thought to be mike doughty is not the same as this journal's author. translation: i judged a rock star by its cover.

i really had your square hole pegged out to be round.

keep up the good fight

Posted by: 30th jennifer at December 11, 2004 03:46 AM

//DJ Minnesota Mean//

Hey homey, please don't use the DJ name to be mean to anyone, aight?

I mean, we can gasp in shock and surprise when Deb mentions her boobies to Mike, but she knows and I know: it's all in good fun. Chill, my brothers! :-)

Posted by: DJ I Imagined a Squid to be a Flounder at December 11, 2004 11:13 AM

dude, i'm sorry, but if you take a look at the other comments on this post, mine is actually kind of in the spirit of things. Mayer bags on Doughty, Doughty bags on Mayer, fans bag on Mayer, everyone bags on Minnesota, I bag on a few fans, you bag on me. The whole post is about being mean, if you ask me. If the real issue here is the DJ name, then i apologize.

Posted by: MC Mizzenmast at December 11, 2004 01:36 PM

>>Yeah maybe he should have covered YBIAW and he might have been the one ending up winning the Grammy because last time I checked, a Grammy is still a Grammy.<<

Not since Steely Dan beat Beck for Album of the Year...

Posted by: Timmy at December 11, 2004 03:05 PM

...and now for first person...


Today I was at the stop light here in wisconsin wating for the light to turn green. I was enjoying my newest issue of JAMACIA TODAY when I realized the car infront of me was a Silver Monte Carlo. I said out loud, "God Damn that's an Ugly Ass Car!" I then put down my JAMAICA magazine and gave him a little tap and the middle finger. Just to let him know we don't like his ass. I due hope he got the piont!

...and now for comments not trying to relate myself to m. doughty...

DJ Minnesota Mean, keep the DJ. Why change after one complaint? You've got a job to do.

Posted by: C.leaving D.irty J.ane at December 11, 2004 04:55 PM

ah... finally the self-righteous opninionated bastards who like to direct everyone elses posting habits have surfaced. 'bout time... slackers. i knew it was too good to last.

hmm. might be time to either move on from this board, which would suck, or i guess get into territorial pissings here: on a board that belongs to no one but mr. doughty, and is supposed to be fun. ugh. please do your own thing for once and get off other peoples backs. thanks. : )

and so in the vein of one of these mouthy party crashers, i'll speak as you AND for you:

dude, why are you posting as anonymous, that sucks...

or, everyone has an opinion, man, get used to it...

or *insert jerky comment here*

personally, i think the point of this board and communication in general is relating experiences, but then again, i'm a reader ;)

Posted by: anonymous at December 11, 2004 10:56 PM

what the hell daughters song are we talking about?

Posted by: Brian Van Buren at December 12, 2004 03:55 AM