Follow Your Talent: An Interview With Thax Douglas

By Elia (Scotland Yard Gospel Choir)

Chicago music fans and touring bands all know the poetry of Thax Douglas, the ubiquitous, idiosyncratic Poet Laureate of the Chicago underground. What concertgoer hasn't seen him shuffle on stage in old clothes, stroke his flowing white beard, and share an abstract poem about the band standing behind him?

He's an odd presence that regularly shows up reading for an odd cast of acts; he takes for granted that one night he'll be reading for a noise-rock band, the next a folk-singer, and the third, say, Wilco... or The White Stripes... or any number of your favorite local and national bands.

Now 48, Douglas recently moved to NYC, telling me just before he left that he felt a deep dissatisfaction at his perceived lack of status in Chicago and felt bleak about his economic prospects here. While he was largely ignored by the press during his two decades in the city, since his move there have been a trove of articles lamenting Chicago's loss and New York's gain.

But none of the articles ask or answer the important questions:

Who is this character?
Where did he come from?
How did he come to be the way he is?

The following interview was my attempt, in 2003, to answer these questions once and for all. Over lunch at a North-side diner, Thax opened up to me about his abusive upbringing, his disgust of academic poets, his thoughts on the Chicago scene and why he'll probably never read for a certain massive band again. This is his story.

Elia: Why don't we begin with you telling us what you do.

Thax: Well I write poems for bands. And I introduce bands with those poems.

E: You've put out two or three books of poetry as well, correct?

T: Just one. I mean I have this scrapbook but, ya know, I only have like one real book or whatever.

E: What's the title?

T: That is The Tragic Faggot Syndrome.

E: That's the one they sell at Reckless Records.

T: The one with the pink cover, the woman on it.

E: Yeah, I've read through parts of that, it has band poems in it.

T: It's got a few, like the last third are band poems.

E: And is that book still in print? I read that it had gone out of print.

T: Yeah, well I don't have any left. I sold them all. There's just a few on the internet that you can get, basically. And whatever Reckless has left over. Yeah, but other than that it's basically gone, yeah it's basically out of print.

E: I'm going to address a few stereotypes right off the top. You were talking earlier about the 'intellectual, academic' types in Chicago thinking that you're a goof-ball. What do you think of those stereotypes? You know, 'he's a goof-ball,' 'he's a druggie,' he's a drifter'. How do you feel about these?

T: I don't know the stereotypes. Where are you getting the stereotypes?

E: I don't know, no single person.

T: See I don't know. Are you talking about, uh, have academics said this to you or is it just my idea of what academics are saying?

E: It's more your idea but also my guess. I don't think there's a 'Talk-About-Thax-Club' or anything.

T: Yeah, uh, I just think academics are very career-oriented, you know, all they're concerned about is their life, how they can get ahead, how they can get an award or teaching position and it doesn't go on beyond that. Kind of, love for poetry is secondary, so somebody like me just doesn't enter into their life, ya know, in any way, shape, or form. It's it's it's more like it's two different worlds, let's put it that way.

E: What is your world? Describe it to us. What do you do during the course of a typical day?

T: I was admiring your watch. It's nice.

E: Oh, thank you! It was a gift from my family, the British side of my family last Christmas. Thanks.

T: Yeah, I really like it. Um, my world would have to be, uh, well I'm a music lover obviously so that's my world, that's what I do. And my day, since I'm fairly lazy and have a limited amount of energy, my day usually, uh, is is is a lazy one. It's it's uh... I get up around noon or so and then I just sort of like do something around the house. I go to a blood bank twice a week and I do that. So I make like forty-two dollars a week doing that. And then I go to a show at nine, you know, usually, usually I'll take one night off a week and that's about it. But sometimes the the the days before I take a night off I stretch out to ten or something like that just 'cause there's too many good shows I want to see.

I went dancing a lot and hung out at gay bars a lot. I didn't really have a good time because I'm unattractive and it's not a good thing to be in that scene.

E: You were saying that as far as your method is concerned, you prefer to write poems spontaneously, right there at the show.

T: Oh yeah. Yeah, definitely.

E: How do you contrast that with writing them at home- with, say, the Hemingway approach of incessant revision- before bringing the poem to a show for performance?

T: Well it's definitely part of the Beat discipline of a spontaneous writing, and I mean part of that is the the atmosphere of the day and the place enters into it.

(The waitress brings our food)

T: (To the waitress) Thank you!

Waitress: You're welcome! Enjoy!

T: Do you have any jelly? Or is that jelly?

(Brief pause to butter toast, cream and sugar coffee, etc.)

E: So you said earlier that you've lived in Humbolt Park for ten years.

T: TWO years.

E: Oh, two, I thought you said ten years.

T: Well I um I lived I lived in one house for 27 years but I didn't have a very good time living there so I I moved around quite a bit after I moved into the city.

E: Now this was your parent's house?

T: Yeah.

E: You've said that there was abuse there.

T: Um hum.

E: What made you stay so long if it was such a harmful environment?

T: Well I was really sick so I didn't have a choice.

E: Sick with what?

T: They were food allergies, like very severe food allergies.

E: You don't have them anymore?

T: Well like twenty years ago the only thing I could eat out of all this was the coffee and the eggs, I couldn't eat anything else. I used to be really allergic to a lot of foods.

E: Was it like wheat gluten in the bread, things like that?

T: Yeast. Yeah. And my reactions were so severe that it sort of incapacitated me. So. So you know, otherwise I would have left a lot earlier. So I was kind of a prisoner.

E: Really?

T: Yeah.

E: Where was the house?

T: It was in Woodridge, which is a suburb about 30 miles South/West of Chicago, Near Downers Grove, Naperville.

E: Were you coming into Chicago for shows at that point?

T: No.

E: You didn't leave the house much?

T: I did start going in to the city. I remember the first time I was in the city alone in '78 how freaked out I was. Just being on a corner in the loop. But you know I was 21 already. But when I finally did start going into the city I wasn't very happy. But I went dancing a lot and hung out at gay bars a lot. I didn't really have a good time because I'm unattractive and it's not a good thing to be in that scene. But there were also good things. 'Cause at the time in the early '80s for some reason I stayed away from the music scene. I'm not sure why.

E: Had you been into it before that?

T: Well I was always into music but-

E: Going down to dances and stuff?

T: I think the reason I stayed away from live music then was because I has so many emotional problems and punk was about negativity that I think for my own self-protection I stayed away. Or I might have fulfilled G.G. Allin's fantasy of like suicide on stage or something like that. So I just went dancing to places where ya know where they would - The Smartbar would be playing New Order and stuff like that. And the gay bars at the time were actually really cool places 'cause they were huge, they were, they were uh, like the prototypes of rave later on. Huge huge cavernous places with a lot of light shows and really good music. I enjoyed that aspect of it, ya know. So. And then I didn't start going to shows until '89.

E: And you didn't start writing poetry until '94? '96?

T: '87

E: Oh, '87, so you did start early on.

T: I wrote a lot of stuff in the '70s but to me I thought it was just insane writing so I didn't take it seriously.

E: Well I want to ask you, if you feel comfortable about this stuff-

T: Yeah, please.

E: What kind of emotional problems were you having? And what kind of abuse had you seen? How did you get away form it?

T: I just had, I just had like an abusive, bitchy mom. She was uh, she was German, she's sort of like the opposite of your mom in some ways I'm guessing ya know. She was a German and her background was abusive too. And she grew up half Jewish in Nazi Germany.

E: Oh no.

T: (Laughs) And I guess the story she told me was she fell in love with an American soldier who abused her, got out of that, and so she married my dad just to get out of Germany basically. So, ya know, she was kind of unhappy and and uh kind of like took it out on me a lot. So, ya know, just this sort of abuse where there was some physical, quasi-sexual abuse but mostly just psychological, the psychological environment where you're constantly like in a state of uncertainty and fear.

E: How did that carry on after you moved out? You say that you doubted your mental state, that you considered your writing insane ramblings.

T: In the '70s I started writing in high school. It's the way I write now, it's basically the same thing. But I just didn't appreciate it. You know I wasn't to have any appreciation of that stuff-

Waitress: You guys done with this jelly?

T: Yeah.

W: I'm gonna steal it.

T: Yeah, go ahead.

(She leaves)

E: She's a new waitress.

T: (Laughs)

E: We're going through waitresses.

T: Um... what was I talking, oh yeah so I just thought, I know, it was just I had this very... I was raised with low self-esteem. Naturally I thought "well this doesn't read like John Steinbeck,'" ya know? "it must be total shit, total failure."

E: You hadn't read the Beats back then?

T: No, no. It was actually when I read the Beats in the '80s and I I I realized, I went through a shitty period in the early '80s of trying to write like the normal academic stuff and was not doing it and then I realized that I could write the way that I wrote back in the '70s and... see, also back in the '70s I didn't read, I wasn't a big reader, so. But starting in '79 I started reading a lot. So that reading was almost like training that helped me with my writing ability. So I just started writing the way I would in the '70s but with the discipline I'd absorbed just from a lot of reading.

I was obviously really aware of punk because it really intersected the scene that I was involved with, and one of the places I went dancing was the original Exit.

E: I'm kind of curious. You're about the same age as Morrissey.

T: Um hmm.

E: Now Morrissey was hugely affected by punk, ya know, the whole punk movement. I'm wondering how that movement affected your writing. It was such an extreme rejection on the academic approach, a real back-to-the-people aesthetic. How did that affect your writing during the '70s and early '80s? If it did at all that is.

T: Well I mean, I'm working class so I mean the whole back-to-the-people thing is nonsense to me of course. 'Cause you know, being working class, ya know, you are the people, ya know.

E: That's what I mean, though, taking it back from the academics.

T: Right, right.

E: It seems like punk was taking music back from this kind of weird rock star class.

T: Any system like that though just struggles among, like, the bourgeoisie. I mean the working classes were listening to the rich rock stars still. Ya know. So I don't even think in those terms. But I mean I was obviously really aware of punk because it really intersected the scene that I was involved with, and one of the places I went dancing was the original Exit. Which was a much cooler place than the Exit today. It had like a concrete pit with mosh dancing in it and they played like punk music. And of course I liked it, of course it spoke to me and stuff like that. 'Course I loved The Sex Pistols when they came out too. But to me it was music of something like that ya know. And of course what people always forget is how small that punk stuff was, how, ya know, it was, the actual people doing stuff was a pretty small community. Anyhow I think what it did was liberate me. You have my book, right? You read it, right?

E: I've read parts of it.

T: Yeah. You've read the early stuff in it, right?

E: Yeah.

T: So like that's obviously influenced by punk and how it shaded into the alternative scene. Like ya know facing ya know the ugly side of the world as much as possible.

E: Facing it, ya said?

T: Facing it, dealing with the ugliness in the world and in yourself and stuff like that. See like that piece called Masturbation Video is like a good example of that. Ya know it's totally, ya know, I wouldn't enjoy, I'm looking forward to getting a new book out there ya know I really don't like those early pieces too much, they seem a little dated to me.

E: Really?

T: Yeah 'cause they were written in like '89.

E: I guess, yeah, it has been over a decade then since those pieces were written.

T: Right. So they're pretty much of their time. Go on, you have another question?

E: What are your views on drinking and drugs? I see you at shows all the time and you're never drinking and you never seem to be on drugs, you always seem to be quite sober.

T: Well that's 'cause of the allergies. I already had enough fucking health problems. Ya know, I didn't want to add to them. I was smart that way, I never considered taking drugs.

E: Tell us some of the bands you've read for that you really appreciate. What are some of the bigger bands that you've read for? I know you've read for Wilco, shit, tons of bands.

T: I know!

E: You mentioned Wesley Willis- did you read with him?

T: No, never, I wouldn't do a poem with Wesley.

E: You wouldn't?

T: No. Well no, he's been, ya know, he's been inspirational, but ya know, and he's a much better businessman than I am. So, ya know. 'Course then you're goin' into racial politics when you deal with Wesley, ya know.

E: (laughs)

T: You definitely, ya know. That's something that doesn't affect me. But the fact is he managed to be a success, ya know. And, ya know, when I started doing my poems for bands it seemed like a crazy thing to do but I had the example of Wesley before me doing his stupid songs about bands and stuff. And so I thought, well, if he can do it, I can do it.

E: Tell us about some of the other bands you've read for.

T: You want the most famous?

E: Ones that people would know who aren't a part of the Chicago scene, for people who are reading this in other cities.

T: Well I've done I've read a poem for The White Stripes. Um. But I don't think I will again. I've read for Zwan, I'll probably read for them again.

E: Why wouldn't you read for The White Stripes again?

T: I just um, I discovered, unfortunately I didn't discover them early on because I didn't pay attention and then somebody played me their record, I really liked it. So I saw them at The Empty Bottle two years ago and uh I asked if I could read. And I read for them and the two opening bands as well. And uh I just got the impre- 'cause it was a two night thing- and the second night [I said] to them do you want me to read the poem again? And he said- which was the nicest, uh- I just remember it 'cause it was like the nicest like no I've ever gotten from anyone, he said, 'no, I wanna keep it special'. Which I really appreciated. I, I just assume I wouldn't really read for them again because he is a very, he has a very strong sense of himself as a star and he doesn't want anyone to take away from that. 'Cause I'd sometimes go really, I'd go on stage and get a huge response and then they're like already applauded out and a lot of times then the star'll come on and they don't applaud right away, ya know, 'cause it sort of like, so I think that's all, I might read for them again I don't know. And uh, who else? Well I'm reading for Blur tomorrow.

E: I wanted to check out that show but I don't have enough money.

T: Yeah I know, ya know obviously I don't have money either so like yeah. And, uh, Clinic, I guess that's another British band. What big, ya know, who do you consider big? Uh, Flaming Lips.

E: I was at that show at The Riv[iera Theater], that was fun.

T: Yeah, and so that was good.

E: You read for Vortis, didn't you? Not that they're massive, but-

T: Yeah, I wrote a poem for them. I don't like their band but I like Jim, so. You've gotta admire a band that can like drive everyone out of a room, it doesn't happen very often.

E: What about Ian MacKaye?

T: No, I don't like Fugazi. There's certain bands I just don't like and Fugazi's one of them. So I couldn't care less.

E: I would have guessed that you'd like them!

T: Really?

I think Chicago's the music capitol of the country.

E: What bands do you like?

T: I really like the band called Shiner that is no more. And I lucked out and got to Kansas City for their last show. They were around for ten years. They influenced a lot of bands, a lot of so-called emo bands over the years. They're really great. Um... I'm trying to think. It was great to read for Mudhoney. To read for bands that have meant a lot to me over the years. There are other bands that I just discovered or something like that. And sometimes ya know a lot of times like I'll read for a band that I only know like casually, then like the audience is singing along to all they're songs and stuff. I know that doesn't really bother me that much.

E: So how often do bands ask you to read? Or do you ask them?

T: I ask them, yeah, I mean it's been rare when someone's like, you asked, but I think it's pretty unusual. Ya know, I just go up to them. I'm sort of like, really like it's sort of like, ya know, if I stopped doing this tomorrow no one would come up and say 'why aren't you reading anymore?' I really think I'm just sort of tolerated. But. I mean bands are really nice, ya know, a lot of bands are really nice about it. And there are a lot of bands that come into town and look forward to me reading for them. So, ya know, that's pretty cool.

E: Yeah. Have you ever read for Blur before?

T: No, never.

E: Have you met those guys?

T: No, but my friend Mike who's in the Watchers is friends with them. So I asked him to be a go-between.

E: I consider you a fixture in the Chicago scene. How do you feel about the Chicago scene and the other people in that community?

T: Well, it's huge, ya know. Oh by the way there's a band playing this week that interests me. See, I'm enough of an egomaniac to think you're, there's a band called The Douglas Factor (laughs). I would love to think, oh, that's about me!

E: You should ask 'em!

T: I should, I will. I'll look 'em up. I mean just really it's just a whole bunch of scenes ya know. And I I I have to remember that people that not everybody knows each other ya know.

E: But it seems that a lot of people do. You know a lot of people.

T: Um... that's true.

E: But you say that Chicago's a multitude of scenes?

T: Well Chicago's really a big city, yeah, there's gonna be more than one scene, definitely. So I'm not a big, I'm not into the idea of 'the scene' in particular. I think people just do what they do and that's about it.

E: You're at every show I go to. How do you pick 'em? Do you sit down when The Reader comes out every Thursday?

T: Oh definitely! See who's gonna come. And I have to band juggle a lot too, like, a lot of times there'll be four or five bands I wanna see play on the same night and I have to pick who I wanna see. And then miss a certain band a couple of times and then see them finally the third time but miss another band, I constantly have to do that. There's a lot going on, yeah, definitely. So. But I mean I think Chicago's the music capitol of the country.

E: Really? Is that just 'cause you live here or do you really think it?

T: No, I really think it.

E: Why is that?

T: There's just a lot of good bands here, that's all. That's what it is.

E: You're not so big on the New York stuff that's become so popular like The Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs?

T: No. New York's a media center, it's not a musical center, those are two different things. Definitely. Detroit too you know, to get your band going it's kind of like cheesy. Like The Waxwings, they're like from Detroit, do not like that at all. They don't say 'oh, we're part of the Detroit Renaissance' or whatever. The, uh, the old fashioned Chicago scene is like, ya know, not where it once was.

E: How has it changed do you think?

T: Uh, well there there used to there used to be like a Chicago sound [indiscernible word] by the people who did that sound. So it's like the Albini, Jesus Lizard thing. But ya know that was just like indie rock marketed ya know, just like a different kind of marketing. But now that scene is like, ya know, it's just old fashioned ya know, when it comes back it'll be retro. But as a scene it doesn't have a lot of vitality or anything like that. So yeah. So that's like a really boring question, like what do you think about the scene. (Laughs) There's a lot going on, our garage scene is nice and healthy now.

E: I just read that Dave Chamberlain article on it [in Newcity].

T: I don't like Dave Chamberlain very much. He just ya know, he makes these pronouncements I don't think he believes in but he's tryin to make an effect. Like speaking of that, I like 90 Day Men but he said (assumes a haughty voice) '90 Day Men has received the mantle of post rock from tortoise'. It's totally nonsensical.

(We turn the tape recorder off to eat, then resume the interview)

T: For myself, on the one hand I feel like I'm somewhat of a success. Um. I do feel like I'm a celebrity in the city. But on the other hand like I'm really poor, I make absolutely no money, ya know. I figure I can't call myself a success.

E: It depends how you define success.

T: Money's important. I don't know how you grew up, like ya know, I , ya know, my parents don't have any money, I don't, I don't have any money, I don't have any resources ya know. Having just the modicum, just enough money to live comfortably. It's ya know, it's important. And if I can't get that doing what I do then as far as I'm concerned I'm not a success.

(Long pause in which we laugh at other tables loud conversations)

There's some poets I respect like not a lot, I don't like academic stuff at all, I don't like slam stuff at all. But there's a lot of poetry... poetry's all around us...

E: You said that you made money back on the printing of your book.

T: Yeah.

E: Could you do that again and have a bit of money trickling in?

T: Yeah but I have to have the money to print the book.

E: Is it pretty expensive?

T: Yeah, it'd be like three or four thousand dollars, yeah.

E: Who are some of the poets you respect?

T: I respect different poets for different reasons. I'm really into Russian stuff a lot. I'd like to learn Russian someday. So that's mostly the stuff I read is from Russia. 'Cause there's so many great poets from there even with the Soviet disaster it was like still a lot of good stuff. And um, some, ya know the Beats and stuff like that. And so I'm always reading something. And uh there's some poets I respect like not a lot, I don't like academic stuff at all, I don't like slam stuff at all. But there's a lot of poetry, just, ya know, poetry's all around us, it's in advertising, it's in lyrics, ya know. I mean you see those posters over there, it says 'Behave or you'll go to bed without supper,' ya know. I mean that's basically poetry because it's it's there, it doesn't make, ya know, it doesn't say 'Don't smoke' or something like that, so, yeah, of course that's poetry. So I mean there's poetry all around, ya know. So, it's like the poetry of everyday life, uh, I like more than actual poets. I think that may change in the future, if I can change that I will. Create a context, ya know, where poetry is like the ideal art form like for reading like on the el or something like that. I think everybody should be reading poetry but there's not a context of people writing for those people. So that's what has to change.
E: Which brings me to one of my final questions. Your book is sold out; how can people get a hold of your poems? I found a few on the internet.

T: There are a few on the internet, or catch me live I guess.

(The tape runs out. We continue talking. I decide that, although that would be a perfect place to end the interview, Thax has more to say that I want to catch on tape. A quick trip across the street to Osco and I'm back with a fresh cassette.)

E: Thax, you were in the middle of saying, let me think.

T: I remember because it's a point that I've been thinking myself for quite a while about the context of, ya know, poetry's an ideal modern literary form for a -

(Sees my notebook)

I love that, I had a Lisa Frank notebook once.

E: They're my favorites.

T: Well what I do is uh, I do kind of a girlish thing. I just put stickers on mine. Um, what I was gonna say is that, uh, the context of uh, you need, I've come to believe that context is very important to create art in. There could be plenty of really good poetry that's written that people could read on a bus ya know just like they listen to hip hop. But there has to be a context. There has to be a social context where people feel comfortable buying books of poetry and bringing them with them and reading on a bus. I mean people, people would wanna do it but there has to be stuff available to them to read, ya know, they're not interested in reading the academic stuff but that's all, that'd be a minority taste. Just like the average person on the bus doesn't listen to, uh-

E: Stravinsky.

T: You name it, Stravinsky, or whatever, or Bauhaus or whatever. So there just has to be a context for it. There's a guy I like named Rod McKuen who was a songwriter from forty years ago, forty, thirty years ago, and he published books of poetry that were huge bestsellers. If you go to church stores you'll find his books 'cause they sold millions of copies in the late '60s and early '70s. His poetry, there's some ridiculous things about it but there are a lotta things that were really good about it.

Waitress: I know that you guys are sitting and having an interview, um but whenever you have a chance could you cash out? I have to go to my other job.

E: You got it.

T: Yeah.

(We calculate the bill plus a 20% tip.)

T: But so Rod McKuen, he's like a huge laughing stock for whatever reason. And I can't, I just think he's a laughing stock 'cause he was a poet who dared to be popular (laughs). And ya know, there've been very popular poets in the past, ya know, of various sorts, but, it's uh, but unfortunately ya know in rock music and hip hop there's plenty of good, sophisticated stuff out there that's very popular. I don't see why that can't translate into printed form. Of course that's why I rage against academics so much, 'cause I just think they're sort of like in the way a little bit. They're just sort of fat in the arteries that keep blood from going through. And I wish I had the power to like be somebody to flush away all this fat.

Waitress: You guys have a good night!

T and E: You too.

T: So, um, maybe it'll happen, ya know, maybe, but like I said a context needs to be created. I think if I say this and you print it it'll be like at least a step in the right direction, ya know, and then maybe someday it'll happen. And I'm also reading a book, which is as, it's not too well written but it's (laughs), it's by an academic, but like the point of that book is that art flourishes best an' it's just saying that many of the great artists of the past such as like Michealangelo, Beethoven or whatever, were like businessmen, they were artists, but their idea was to be popular and make money and be popular just like anybody else and ya know, that's, they're saying that that encourages creativity, not the other way around. I mean certainly in the case of something like hip hop that's the case, ya know.
E: It seems that you'd very much like to live off your poetry.

T: Oh, yeah!

E: What would the steps be to make that happen?

T: I don't know, I keep running I keep running into all these walls or something like that. I'd love to, I like commer- I like advertising a lot. I'd like to put my talents toward advertising, but, ya know. A lot of that is ya know just sort of like you know just sort of like ya know just like scenes or networks, they're good-old-boy networks. I didn't really go to college so I can't call up my friend from college that's head of an advertising agency or something like that. Ya know I mean that's definitely a class issue ya know. Ya know, being working class is different from being a more privileged class. And of course a lot of people in the scene, and in the arts in general come from that class where like their parents are professionals or ya know business owners or something. And then some of us aren't. And I mean like Kurt Cobain was ya know working class like I am. Jack Karouac was working class like I am. It's nice to see people like that make it, but they were both self-destructive as well.

E: But there's plenty who weren't self-destructive.

T: Oh yeah. I don't think about it too seriously but sometimes I get a little annoyed when like you know like the people with plenty of money. And just the class thing where like you kind of feel the contempt people feel who have money for you when you don't have money. Who are, if you mention the fact you don't have money they sort of like laugh, they think it's funny somehow. And I mean you don't expect them to like just give you money but on the other hand that is there, ya know. So. Like ya know, I'm just trying a way, I'm doing what any artist would do is like I wanna make money and be successful on my own terms. Ya know. Some people would say I already am. But I don't, like I said, I disagree ya know.

E: It seems like Drag City Records would be a good place for your books, they print books.

T: Ya know people have told me that but they're just, ya know, I don't like them ya know. They're just ya know, I especially hate that Dan Koretsky guy ya know. He's always so unfriendly to me it's incredible. They're just people, ya know, there are a lot of people in Chicago, like, talking about a scene, there's some people who think of themselves as like 'the Chicago scene' and that's it and they don't really care about anyone else, sorta. And I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say, like, 'Oh well Cleveland's going to be the next scene,' ya know, 'it's all happening in Cleveland'. 'You and me and Joe Blow over there and we're all gonna change the world!' And then there's somebody in San Diego saying the same stupid thing. It's stupid, ya know. I just believe in like the individual artist. Any other questions?

E: I can't think of any. Why don't you leave us with some words of wisdom.

T: Words of wisdom, eh? Uuuuummmmmm... uh... I actually do have one word of wisdom, I guess, and I said that in like one of my interviews. No one's ever asked me like 'How should I write?' or something like that, but what I would say is to follow your talent, to follow what your talent tells you to do. Instead of what you think you should do. That's all.


This interview is the property of Choirgirl/Choirboy Zine and is reprinted here with permission. Feel free to contact Elia with questions or comments at

Follow Your Talent: An Interview With Thax Douglas