A talk with local personality Mike Gould

Most students do not pay any regard to him or his open guitar case.

Maggie Habashy

Musician Mike Gould can often be found standing on a desk or kneeling in front of Smith Hall.

Most students do not pay any regard to him or his open guitar case on the ground. He is friendly and willing to talk to anyone giving him the time. His small frame and humble clothes made him easy for me to approach as we walked from Smith Hall to the Regis Center for Art where he gets his coffee.

He was born in Minnesota in 1958. He lives in southeast Minneapolis with his wife of 15 years and his youngest of three daughters, Xonica. He graduated from the University in 2000 .

Aside from his day job in front of Smith Hall, he makes album covers, as well as being a part of his current band, Burn the House. He has been in many bands since the 1980s when he lived in New Mexico.

He explained that the band was doing well, but one of his brothers moved to Puerto Rico and split up the band. He is happy with Burn the House because it is “the most happenin’ band.” He also enjoys it because his wife plays the rhythm guitar and does vocals as well.

His wife plays a big role in the reason he plays in front of Smith Hall. When I asked him why he plays in front of the chemistry building, he said, “You see, my wife and I, we have chemistry.” He nodded his head and said, “That’s why.”

It still was not clear to me why he stands in front of Smith Hall. The fact that he and his wife had chemistry did not really seem like a valid reason. I asked if there was any other reason. He had tried Nicollet Mall, but then pulled out a bundle of ones from his pocket and shook it in his hand with a smile on his face and said, “Smith is where the money is, man.”

Besides, he loves the University campus and the students on it. “They think I’m strange,” he laughs, and said, “Which I am.”

Everything seemed normal, then he explained to me that he was diagnosed as schizoaffective a few years ago. He laughed about it and told me he agreed with the diagnosis. He didn’t tell me anymore about his illness.

As we were sitting in Java City, he showed me the album covers he makes, and gave them to me. The covers seemed to be the original, so I did not feel comfortable taking them, but he told me to show them to someone. He said, “As Bob Dylan said, “Any publicity is good publicity.’ ” He must have mistaken Bob Dylan for P.T. Barnum, who is the correct source of that quote.

He went on to show me his journal, which was a sketch book of pictures, entries and random notes.

He flipped through the book and read me different entries, all with the same date at the top, April 7, 2003, and all crossed out with a light marker or pen. The pages stuck together as though they had dried up in the rain.

He pointed out his clippings of models, mainly from Victoria’s Secret catalogs. He paused and said, “You know, some people find porn offensive, but I like it; it turns me on.”

When I told him that his clippings did not really constitute porn, he said, “Yeah, but it’s the same thing.” He then showed me a picture of his youngest daughter, who looked an awful lot like Mandy Moore.

I went in wanting to know more about who Mike Gould really is, but I’m not sure I did. It was hard to decipher fact from fiction. I am sure his life is more complicated, even he cannot explain it.

He still is a kind guy who laughs at his own jokes and is eager to talk. Maybe that’s all anyone really needs to know.

Maggie Habashy welcomes comments at [email protected]