Interview with David Giffels

This morning I interviewed David Giffels, author of The Hard Way On Purpose, which is a wonderful book about Akron, Ohio as well as about life in general. The New York Times loved it and so did I.

David and I first met when he was in a band called The Difficult who used to play with Zero Defex sometimes at The Dale in Akron. He’s also written a book about Devo and a book about how he pretty much rebuilt a crumbling mansion in Akron all by himself.

This is my first foray into doing a video-based vaguely Podcast-like object. I think it came out pretty OK. If you’d like to see more of this sort of thing, let me know!

SATURDAY JUNE 7, 2014 10:30 AM

I WILL AGAIN BE AT MONKEY MIND ZENDO (operating out of Studio 34) 4522 Baltimore Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19143.

The program will begin with 20-25 minutes of chanting in Korean (Monkey Mind is part of Seung Sahn’s Korean Kwan Um Zen lineage), followed by 30 minutes of zazen, a short break and then a talk by me. Be there!

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Until my books get into the NY Times it’s your generous donations enable me to continue writing. I’m in the middle of a new book now, which makes it hard to do work that actually makes me any money. I thank you for your support!

21 Responses

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  1. Fred
    Fred June 5, 2014 at 5:17 pm |

    I’m from the blue collar mid west.

    That was entertaining.

  2. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote June 5, 2014 at 8:17 pm |

    Brad and David not only were born in the same month in the same year within miles of each other and grew up in the same Akron environment, but they wear identical frames and have almost identical hair!

    The Posers, in concert:

  3. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote June 5, 2014 at 8:56 pm |

    29:30 “It’s easier to be a bored teenager, I think, in a place like Akron, Ohio… I think a lot of that spawned that music and art…” — David Giffels

    Actually, listening to two guys born in 1964 attempt to define the mystic of Akron could have a sort of Akron-like effect on people of all ages and from many walks of life– but without some kind of forced confinement or a misplaced trust in the videographer’s taste, would it produce the same result? We’ve got questions!

  4. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote June 5, 2014 at 8:57 pm |


  5. Fred
    Fred June 6, 2014 at 12:44 pm |

    He was on Detroit TV. I thought he was saying “over-day”


  6. Harlan
    Harlan June 7, 2014 at 9:35 am |
  7. Mumbles
    Mumbles June 7, 2014 at 5:24 pm |

    Sorry, guys, but no one from the rest of the country gives much of a shit about Akron. Props for the Chuck Taylor’s connection, tho. -John the Crank

    Here’s a shorter, and far more entertaining vid:

    1. KarimOfTheCrop
      KarimOfTheCrop June 8, 2014 at 9:18 am |

      Not true, John!

      Everett Washington here (or Ever-rot — did Akronites come up with a similar nickname?). There is one tall building. We had paper mills and Boeing, which made the air within a mile of the waterfront stink. The real estate agent who sold my parents the house said, “we like to call that the smell of men working.”

      I’ve only escaped 30 miles north to Seattle, so far. But it’s true that our provincial hometowns define our trajectory. I went to college in Portland, and the students from NYC would complain there was nothing to do. That cracked me up — in
      Everett on Friday nights, we had a great time driving over The Bump. It was a bump in the road.

      But Everett’s got 100,000 people, lots of immigrants, and it’s too diverse to sum up neatly. Does that make it different from Akron? Ohio was settle by European immigrants, the Pacific Northwest by American and Asian immigrants. I noticed how similar you two looked. Is that common to the area?

      Also my mom’s from Dayton. Go Ohio!

    2. mb
      mb June 8, 2014 at 7:14 pm |

      an equally entertaining vid

      1. mb
        mb June 8, 2014 at 7:14 pm |
        1. Mark Foote
          Mark Foote June 8, 2014 at 9:22 pm |

          mb, do you have a link that doesn’t involve a download?…

          1. mb
            mb June 9, 2014 at 8:34 am |

            If your browser has an installed plug-in to display MPG files, then it doesn’t have to download. So it’s not the link itself that determines this. On my Windows box, I get a choice to Run with an external app (like Windows Media Player) or to Save (download). On my Mac laptop, it just plays through the browser when the link is clicked on. So…how it may behave on anyone’s computer is beyond my control…

  8. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote June 8, 2014 at 6:15 pm |

    Harlan, thanks for the vid on Giffels, I think I appreciate where he’s coming from a little more (that would be Akron, yes).

    Yesterday I was at a friend’s house, and the video “It Might Get Loud” was on the T.V. Here’s Edge talking about how most times he has a sense of place when he writes (not generally Akron, I’m guessing).

    Great documentary:

  9. Fred
    Fred June 9, 2014 at 4:37 am |

    Good morning humanoid lifeforms.

    I hear that hipster Akronites are getting into this:

  10. Mumbles
    Mumbles June 9, 2014 at 4:46 am |

    (Still cranky…)

    Guess I’m anti-regionalist. I bristle when I hear folk rhapsodize their immediate environs like its the first and last place to be/to have been…

    It ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.

  11. The Idiot
    The Idiot June 9, 2014 at 6:01 am |
  12. Harlan
    Harlan June 9, 2014 at 9:18 am |

    John was killed by a drunk driver in December 1964, Toad was reported missing in action near An Lá»™c in December 1965, Steve is an insurance agent, Brad is a Zen Master and David is a writer living in Akron, Ohio.

  13. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote June 9, 2014 at 9:44 am |

    Hardest little region to button-hole:

  14. Harlan
    Harlan June 10, 2014 at 8:24 am |

    Mumbles, I got the feeling that Brad while talking about Akron was exploring another idea.. That is what came to my mind anyway. Brad and David are very similar guys with similar backgrounds which is why I posted the I Vitelloni and American Graffiti stuff after watching the interview. The two films dealt with the theme of provincial life and leaving home, leaving home being an important Buddhist metaphor. David stayed and Brad left. Would either life have been different had they had taken different routes? It’s impossible to say but it is hard to imagine Brad at least being much like he is now if he would have stayed home literally or metaphorically.

    1. Mumbles
      Mumbles June 10, 2014 at 10:16 am |

      That was an appropriate video, Harlan, because I got the feeling that Brad was trying not to fall asleep in that vid int…

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