Mingering Mike: The Amazing Career of an Imaginary Soul Superstar

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9781568985695: Mingering Mike: The Amazing Career of an Imaginary Soul Superstar

One cold December morning, Dori Hadar DJ by night, criminal investigator by day was digging through crates of records at a flea market in Washington, D.C. There he stumbled into the elaborate world of Mingering Mike a soul superstar of the 1960s and '70s who released an astonishing 50 albums and at least as many singles in just 10 years. But Hadar had never heard of him, and he realized why on closer inspection: every album in the crates was made of cardboard. Each package was intricately crafted, complete with gatefold interiors, extensive liner notes, and grooves drawn onto the "vinyl." Some albums were even covered in shrinkwrap, as if purchased at actual record stores. The crates contained nearly 200 LPs and 45s by Mingering Mike, as well as other artists like Joseph War, the Big "D," and Rambling Ralph, on labels such as Sex Records, Decision, and Ming/War. There were also soundtracks to imaginary films, a benefit album for sickle cell anemia, and a tribute to Bruce Lee.

Hadar put his detective skills to work and soon found himself at the door of the elusive man responsible for this alternate universe of funk. Their friendship blossomed and Mike revealed the story of his life and his many albums, hit singles, and movie soundtracks. A solitary boy raised by his brothers, sisters, and cousins, Mike lost himself in a world of his own imaginary superstardom, basing songs and albums on his and his family's experiences. Early teenage songs obsessed with love and heartache soon gave way to social themes surrounding the turbulent era of civil rights protests and political upheaval brought even closer to home when Mike himself went underground dodging the Vietnam War.

In Mingering Mike, Hadar tells the story of a man and his myth: the kid who dreamed of being a star and the fantastical "careers" of the artists he created. All of Mingering Mike's best albums and 45s are presented in full color, finally bringing to the star the adoring audience he always imagined he had.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Dori Hadar is an avid vinyl junkie and can be found scavenging the crates of flea markets in and around Washington, D.C. He is a DJ by night, specializing in funk, soul, and hip hop and a criminal investigator by day.

Jane Livingston is an independent curator specializing in outsider art. She has contributed to catalogs for exhibitions such as The Quilts of Gee's Bend, Joan Mitchell, and Richard Diebenkorn.

Neil Strauss is a former columnist for the New York Times and the author of The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists.

Review:

...done with infinite passion and imagination. Strauss compares Mike to Henry Darger, a janitor whose work was only discovered after his death. The difference is that this artist is still alive, and has met Hadar, but prefers his anonymity. Mingering Mike, however, has finally become a star. -- Under the Radar, July 2007

Hot Wax! In Mingering Mike, Hadar presents the life story and 50-plus "albums" of the pseudonymous star and the outsider artist who created him. -- Entertainmanet Weekly, March 30, 2007

It doesn't matter that none of these albums are real, by the end of the book you feel like you've heard every last song. -- The Fader, Feb. 2007

Mingering Mike is a fitting homage to its subject's ambition and creativity--he even gets a discography in the back--but there's a sadder power in the records' nonexistent existence. These images are bursting but fragile, full of meaning and utterly inconsequential, nothing but promise. -- PopMatters.com, September 25, 2007

One friend of ours explained his artwork as "the black Marcel Dzama or Jockum Nordstrom." We just call it the best music we'll never hear. -- Tokion, March 2007

Thanks to Hadar, almost 40 years later, the "patron saint of crate-digging" is finally able to celebrate his musical career, even if not a single note was ever played. -- Stop Smiling, October 23, 2007

Tracing his amazing journey and collecting together a wealth of Mike's art, Hadar's book is part monograph of an outsider artist and part detective story. It also charts a love affair with that area of graphic design that really reaches out to people: the humble record sleeve. -- Creative Review, June 2007

Ultimately, the man comes across as sweet creative, and goofy--he's no scary, Darger-like shut in. . . The book does an excellent job of highlighting what it is about Mingering Mike that elicits both pathos and wonderment: the fact that his creator's funny and bizarre hobby fantasty is as vivid and affective a document of black cultural experience as the soul music he obsessed over -- BOMB, Spring 2007

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