Interview with Mykel Board

Mykel Board

What strikes anyone first is that Mykel Board is a nice person. And if you’ve been involve in punk, you know it suffers from ageism. Despite being almost twice my age, I never feel like Mykel is looking down on me. He’s a testament to sticking to something for a lifetime. Despite my lack of organizational skills, Mykel trusted me with the manuscript for his first book and I am forever great full to help in the little ways I did. I cannot write a complete sentence if my life depended on it. In some ways Mykel’s book accomplished something in my heart that I could never do-write a 100 plus page non-fiction book. -Robb Roemershauser

You were exposed to the yippie movement before punk rock came to exist in NYC. You knew Paul Krassner who coined the term. Paul also was made the first modern zine, The Realist? Do you regret getting involved in the yippie movement? Did any good ever come out of it for you?

I never regretted being a yippie. Krassner was a genius who knew exactly how to combine politics and playfulness. Much of my inspiration, style and ideas come from the yippies. Mixing play and politics is what too many groups today forget… though you can see a bit of it in John Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

How and why did you particulate in the yippie movement?

I went to the yippies first meeting in Union Square at Ed Sander’s [of The Fugs] bookstore in NYC in the late ’60s. There was a plan for Yippies to dress up as Santa Claus, go to Macy’s, give the toys to little kids, then see what happens when the store personnel try to grab them away. The perfect playful statement on consumer culture. I was hooked.


Punk rock started at CBGB’s in New York City and you were one of the lucky ones to be around at the time to witness what happened. Punk fanzines were starting but you recorded and documented what happen with photographs. Do you consider taking a chance to show these photographs to the public?

Many of those photos are in my albums on Facebook. If somebody makes me an offer I’ll gladly publish them. But I don’t have the time… or the money to do all the work myself.

John (Holmstrom) from Punk is putting out a book about his fanzine. He might be interested and you are acquainted. Ben Weasel asked you to ask John to draw a picture for an album of Ben’s.

John did the cover to my other book and I can get in touch with him, but he’s in rough financial shape. He’d need money up front for anything he did. I’d probably do something, but he’d need some front money.

What is one thing from the explosion of NYC punk rock that could have been better utilized as a social change vehicle in the way that punk rock always claims to want?

Part of the problem of NYC punk is that it took itself too seriously. When it started, The Ramones and The Dead Boys always had the spirit of playfulness. They were not overtly political. The NYC political bands were so serious they were boring. Right wing, left wing, skinhead-they couldn’t laugh at themselves. On the West Coast and in Texas they learned how to laugh: The Big Boys, The Dicks, MDC-that was a big improvement. But, any rock and roll-let alone punk rock-does not have the ability to create social change. It’s too bad, maybe, but music can only reflect society… not make it.

Mykel you’ve lived on the same street for 30 years where CBGB’s was and a yippie museum has opened. Do you think that’s a reflection of wanting to be closely attached to something that affected your life as it has?

Nope, it’s a reflection of paying $700/month for a NYC apartment when my neighbor pays $2000. I have a job that gives me the freedom to travel when I want. I have a cheap apartment. My dying father lives 45 minutes away. I can’t move.

You have done extensive traveling and one thing you did for many years before was called The World for Free. It had listings of people you met through connections from the popularity worldwide of punk. Can you tell me more about The World for Free and why you stopped doing it?

The World For Free was a group of people who paid $25 a year to list themselves in a book and then theoretically they could stay with anyone else in the book. It was a hard copy of what couch-surfing now does electronically. It took a lot of work, and rising postal rates made it a money-losing proposition. The final straw was when the PO returned a huge European mailing without explanation. The expense of re-mailing put me out of business.

Can you talk about your open invitation to your fish club, drink club, food club and explain what they are? What do you try to do? I remember going to a KGB bar once with you.

One of the difficult things in New York is meeting people. People don’t talk to their neighbors. They live isolated lives in a too-crowded city. Being a social guy, I hate that. So around 1996, after I got back from Mongolia, I started to go out with a few students on Monday nights. We went to the same bar every week and talked about our lives, made jokes, and got drunk. Other people started to join us. We moved to other bars. Then I saw the movie, Fight Club and thought, “We’re Drink Club” and Drink Club ( was born. We go to a different bar every week. Sometimes there’s a huge turnout. The biggest group was 35 people. Sometimes it’s only me, crying into my beer. But still, people can talk, joke, get drunk. That’s the way I like it. Eat Club ( came from Drink Club. A way to explore the myriad restaurants in New York… with others who like to explore. We go to a different restaurant every month, in alphabetical order by cuisine-“A” for Afghanistan food, “B” for Belgian food, “C” for Chinese food, etc. O, Q, X present a challenge, but we’re on our 4th time around the alphabet. Fish Club is just a once-a-year project. I love deep sea fishing, but like to go with friends. We go out on the open boats from Brooklyn.

How long did Artless play? Did the band disband around 1997? Where did the tours go?

The last show we played was with Boris The Sprinkler and George Tabb at Coney Island High. That was in 1997. But like other old farts, I’m doing a reunion tour in November. Not really a reunion-I’m playing Mexico with a band of Mexican fans of Artless who put together a band, SIN ARTE. I’ll be singing with them… but not in Spanish. We toured Europe-Germany, Holland, Denmark, Spain, France, England, Belgium, Friesland, three times. We did one cross country tour in the US with an Elvis impersonator.

Can you tell me more about the reunion tour in Mexico and how it came about?

Some Mexican fans asked to do cover versions of ARTLESS songs, and said if I sang with them, they’d book a tour. Of course I said yes.


Did Artless do a split release with GG Allin?

Yes, a split single and split LP on Starving Missile Records in Germany. The record was our first LP and GG’s EAT MY FUCK… back to back

I remember you saying that you never let GG Allin into your apartment but you consider GG to be one of the freest people ever? Can you talk about the details of what you mean and tell us about his last show at the gas station?

Unfortunately, GG will be remembered for throwing shit into the audience and not much more. That’s too bad…Theoretically, anyone anywhere can do whatever they want, unless they’re physically restrained. The theory fails because of fear-afraid of the cops, of pain, of other people’s opinion, of loss of image, of death. People don’t do what they want because they are restrained by fear. It’s a good thing too. Otherwise there would probably be a lot of dead and maimed people lying around. But GG was fearless. He could piss on the president of his record company, throw a garbage can through a car window, or be nice to some geek too uncool for any self-respecting punk. Without fear, he could do anything. He did.

How did you start helping with the oldest anarchist publication still printed today, Freedom, from London? How did you get involved?

I didn’t know Freedom was still being published. It’s probably the longest-running anarchist publication in the world-started in the 1800s. I found a copy at the same record shop where I found the yippies announcement. I subscribed. When I went to college, I had to do one term of “work” to graduate. I wrote to the guys at Freedom asking if I would “work” for them. No money, but I could write for them. It was a precursor to today’s internships. That was my “work experience” for Beloit College.

Freedom still comes out bi-weekly. How did you get involve with Maximumrocknroll and meet Tim Yo, while he was doing pioneer punk fanzines? He did he go about doing things? Tim’s vision is still around after his death. You both had similar political backgrounds politically and could relate from being active participants in the radicalism of the the 1960s.

I saw an interview with Tim in the fanzine Ripper, and remember thinking “What a jerk!” I wrote a long letter to the mag, calling Tim “a fascist” for his refusal to play stuff on his radio show if he didn’t like the politics. On a trip to SF I met Tim and liked him. He asked me to write for MRR. And I said I would if he’d print anything I wrote. He agreed and while he was alive he only censored me twice…both time for mentioning his enemy, John Crawford. I respect Tim for the incredible work, effort, and knowledge he had. I disagreed with him a lot, but that didn’t stop our friendship.

Jim Goad mentioned to me once that he was surprised you were able to continue writing a column for Maximrocknroll because your column is quite reactionary and is titled “You’re Wrong”. How have you continued to be in Maximrocknroll for over 25 years?

My position changed. I’m still a contrarian to much of the knee-jerk liberalism of the magazine, but in some ways, the world caught up with me. I was anti-vegetarian during the vegan reich and now I can’t find a vegetarian in a cornfield. I was pro-sex and anti-anti-porn feminists. The anti-porn feminists are now as active as Dodoes. Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to fight Jello-the food, not the person-nothing solid to stick a fist into. I hate not getting hatemail anymore. Jello Biafra said that he thinks that Tim kept me on to prove that he was “open-minded.” When anyone criticized him for intolerance, he could say, “How can I be intolerant? I let Mykel Board write for us.”

Do you still think that Maximrocknroll still fills a void with music from the limitations that exist? Another problem the editor mentioned a years ago is lack of readership…

That’s a good question. Things must be tough because the editors change every other month. I don’t think it’s the topic or the mag. I think it’s the medium. The NY Times is having problems. People don’t read paper any more. What can MRR do-put out a Kindle version? That gives Amazon a lot of control. I hate e-books, but I’ve been Kindled myself. I have no good answers on that one.

You never did a zine besides a record review zine. Have you been happy doing the monthly column even when you do not know what to write every month?

Oh yeah, I’d never want to do a zine. It’s too much work. I admire those who do. I haven’t seen a Quickdummies in awhile. But I wouldn’t want it to be me. I love the column. It makes deadlines, so I write, and I hear from readers… even if they don’t write to MRR.

I do not care what somebody writes about me in print but a week ago I saw somebody I hadn’t talked to in 7 years after I referred to their band mate as a bigot. The person was happy to speak to me. Have you ever been able to repair any of your friendships later on? I know that is a touchy subject.

The column was responsible for the 5-year loss of a best friend. He’s my friend again, but not a best friend. I lost a girlfriend because I wrote about my sex adventures. A lesbian bass player poured a drink over my head because I wrote complimenting her girlfriend’s tits. Plenty of other people got mad at what I wrote about them. Most of the time it was unintentional on my part. Over the years I’ve learned an important lesson. If you write: And then Clara Jones walked in the room. Everyone stopped what they were doing. The air was electric with her presence. Her sculpted face could have been a painting. Only a tiny mole on her chin proved she was human. For us she was a Goddess. Clara Jones, next time she sees you will be pissed as hell. “What the fuck did you write about my mole for?” she’ll ask.

Even A Daughter Is Better Than Nothing

A book collecting most of your columns in Maximrocknroll was published by Ben and John of Screeching Weasel. Your book Even A Daughter is Better Than Nothing was where I was assigned to be your agent. I love the book and I wanted to say that when I last saw you, but could not. I am proud of the places you went and read your book and did a month tour in Australia and went to Venezuela. Do you want to promote the book years later or is it just an excuse to go somewhere and celebrate your accomplishment to strangers?

I love performing, being on stage. I feed off the energy of the audience. I had to leave Artless because my doctor said my hearing was going. So I do readings to keep performing. I love the books too, and the feedback.

What do you do during your book reading performance, to keep the audience awake and paying attention?

I look at them, try to be expressive; use my hands. Sometimes it works.

What are some people that inspired your writing?

Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Celine, Bob Black, J.G Ballard, William Burroughs, Franz Kafka, off the top of my balding head.

Is there one thing in life you want to do but have not being unable to? I know you paid back your student loans.

There’s always something else. I’ve never been to Africa. I’ve never learned Wolof. I’ve never had sex with an American Indian. I’ve never written a novel. Those are all things I’d like to do.

Anything you want to add or give advice telling people what to do or what you might be doing next that your looking forward to?

Buy my books. Facebook me. Check out my website (, or the drink or eat club sites. Fuck me. Write hatemail to MRR. Don’t forget to play every day.

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