Mikel Jollett broke my heart. And I encourage you to let him break yours, too.
Sadness, loneliness, grief, despair and rage; understanding, gratitude, love, passion, joy and hope — Jollett brings all of this and more to his forthcoming memoir, Hollywood Park.
Full disclosure, this book is not the first time that I have been left heartbroken by Jollett — his words, anyway. I have been a fan of The Airborne Toxic Event, the indie band that he fronts, from the first time I heard “Sometime Around Midnight” on the radio. He has a way of telling a story — raw, unflinching, truthful, beautiful. His ability to share his experiences, which are at once singular and yet universally relatable, entangles readers (and listeners), and they feel it: Every. Single. Exquisite. Emotion.
Hollywood Park begins with Jollett’s early memories of growing up in the cult Synanon as his mother engineers their escape. “We were never young,” he begins, and the reader recognizes that truth throughout the book. Once beyond the walls of the only home he has known, Mikel navigates the challenges of adapting to a world that is completely foreign to him.
Jollett lays bare the toll that family members can exact upon one another. He struggles to understand (and survive) the realities of physical, emotional and substance abuse, poverty, and mental illness, as he seeks to find his place in the world. Along the way, he discovers the true meaning of “F-A-M-I-L-Y,” connection and belonging. And when he finally finds his voice, he discovers his purpose: “Take your pain and make it useful,” he writes. “That’s what it means to be an artist.”
At the end of Jollett’s harrowing journey in Hollywood Park, readers will come away with a sense of hope and perhaps feel just a little less alone in their own struggles. In these unsettling and turbulent times, that is monumentally useful.
Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett, published by Celadon Books, will be available May 26. The Airborne Toxic Event’s album of the same title will be released to coincide with the book release, and, as of print date, a tour is scheduled to kick off in May, including a stop in Phoenix at The Van Buren, May 27 (www.thevanburenphx.com).
Kathryn M. Miller is editor-in chief at CITYSunTimes.
UPDATE: The Airborne Toxic Event announced May 15 that its 2020 tour has been rescheduled to 2021. The group will visit the Valley Feb. 16 at The Van Buren.