The Amazing Career of An Imaginary Soul Superstar
Publication date 5/1/2007
9 x 9.5 inches (22.9 x 24.1 cm), Paperback
192 pages, 136 color illustrations, 20 b/w illustrations
Carton qty: 16;
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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.
Dori Hadar is an avid vinyl junkie and can be found scavenging the crates of flea markets as soon as the sun comes up in and around Washington, D.C. Hadar is a DJ by night, specializing in funk, soul, and hip hop, and a criminal investigator by day, investigating murders for a DC-area defense attorney's firm.
Neil Strauss is former columnist for the New York Times and most recently is the author of The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. He has also been the co-writer on memoirs by Marilyn Manson, Dave Navarro, Tommy Lee, and Jenna Jameson.
Jane Livingston is an independent curator specializing in outsider art. She has previously contributed to museum catalogues on the Quilts of Gee's Bend, Joan Mitchell, Richard Diebenkorn, and others.
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"This book is amazing... (It) shows and explains 'the amazing career of an imaginary soul superstar'. Fantastic!"
"Thanks to Hadar, almost 40 years later, the "patron saint fo crate-digging" is finally able to celebrate his musical career, even if not a single note was ever played."
"Though certainly 'fake,' the imagined world from which these records emerged seems so complete that it's hard to relegate them to pure fantasy... Mingering Mike represents an attempt to redeem the art, talent and life that slip through the cracks in our society. The tribute may be brief, but there's a tenacious and mysterious spirit that imbues each page of this book and makes Mike's world worth visiting. "
The Eye, UK:
"This is a wonderful book of creative work existing between design and drawing, just on the groove between reality and fantasy."
The New Yorker:
"Hadar has clearly discovered a true outsider artist, and the naive charm of the album covers is a reminder that the greatest pop musicians succeed at implying an entire world as dazzlingly seductive as their songs."
"Mingering Mike spent years creatiing fake albums, complete with hand-drawn covers and liner notes, which were only seen by his family and friends. The book features all of the outsider artist's fake 'records' in their full-color glory."
"Mingering Mike is a fitting homage to its subjects ambition and creativityhe even gets a discography in the backbut theres a sadder power in the records nonexistent existence. These images are bursting but fragile, full of meaning and utterly inconsequential, nothing but promise."
— Michael Buening
"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"
The Accident That Brought Fake Genius To The World, Anthem Magazine:
"An ode to Mikes genius that features full-color reproductions of his album covers, including his favorites like Hit Em Where It Hurts and A Tribute to Bruce [Lee]"
— Emily Savage
Time out Chicago:
"Washington, D. C., criminal investigator-cum-DJ Dori Hadar came across a treasure trove of hand-drawn album covers by unknown soul singer Mingering Mike at a flea market. Hadar posted some of the amazing covers including album tributes to Bruce Lee and soundtracks to fake films -- at SoulStrut.com... Hadar's book compiles the best designs from the outsider artist alongside commentary from pop critic Neil Strauss and art curator Jane Livingstone. "
"Thanks to Hadar, almost 40 years, the 'patron saint of crate-digging' is finally able to celebrate his musical career, even if not a single note was ever played."
The Advent and Unlikely Reemergence of Mingering Mike, Folk Art:
"Watever MIngering Mikes reasons for wanting to keep his identity under wraps, as his work becomes more widely known, there will probably be increasing pressure on him to reveal who he is."
— Tom Patterson
"The book, in stores this week, is an oddly touching meditation on D.I.Y. media and good old-fashioned fantasy as willful counterpoints to the dictates of the celebrity-industrial complex."
"While most of us let the dream of stardom fade, Mingering Mike fabricated his own cult of celebrity for almost a decade. Vinyl collector Dori Hadar stumbled upon over 50 cardboard albums by this imaginary superstar; here, he presents a catalog of Mike's faux career for the fans he always fantasized about having."
"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."
Oldie But a Goodie, LittleVerses blog:
"This is the sort of thing that Sunday morning dreams are made of. Rummaging through a flea market and finding an entire collection of surreal handmade album covers with fake cardboard records, all dating from the late 1960s and early 1970s and all by a mysterious funk/soul artist calling himself "Mingering Mike"."
A Legend In His Own Mind, The Guardian UK:
"Nobody ever had a non-career quite like Mingering Mike. Between 1968 and 1976, he didn't release 50 albums, among them Boogie Down at the White House and On the Beach with the Sexorcist, and even more singles. He didn't perform to adoring crowds across the world. He didn't write, direct and star in nine hit movies. He didn't do any of these things, except in his imagination."
Under the Radar:
"Mingering Mike is Americana. After all, what is more American than trying to achieve more--much more--than the American dream?...The art itself is simple--pen, marker--but 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."
"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 most unexpected and uplifting book this year"
"It's a beautifully designed volume that is far more than 'outsider art'; it's a celebration of one individual's heartfelt and intelligent response to the imaginative power of black popular music. "
Portland Mercury :
"Covers depict memorable images like a downtrodden GI reading the help wanted pages, and what appears to be a spontaneous concert breaking out in the middle of a laundromat. Song titles and lyrics channel a personality that was anti-war, anti-drugs, and in possession of an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music. "
— Justin W. Sanders
Time Out New York:
"For sheer DIY poignancy, Mike's curios outclass the efforts of many real singers."
"Instead of sweating over a bedroom four-track or rattling the garage walls, Mingering Mike found his musical outlet in imaginary cover art. Between 1968 and 1977, he handmade more than 100 albums out of cardboard, complete with packaging featuring track listings, credits, liner notes and even shrink wrap."
— Kenny Berkowitz
The Washington Post:
"Mike's naive, illustrational style mimics the conventions of black music from the '50s and '60s. He's copied the trappings of Motown stars packaged for mostly white audiences... Two hep-cats in color-coordinated outfits lean up against a gold LP. Several covers occupy plastic sleeves just like LPs once did. But what sets Mike apart from the real superstars is that he cared. Berry Gordy would have nixed the jauniced cover of "Sickle Cell Anemia," with its M. Mike-written track "Unfair Landlord"... With luck, Mike will know his own fame."
New York Times:
"One obsessive outsider artist's cracked reflection of a decade of soul, from love songs to consciousness-raising, from politics to kung fu tributes. Song titles like 'She's Not a One Guy Girl' and 'Let the Music Take Your Mind (the Brain Scramblers)' could have been the real thing."
"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."
"Mikes career was all in his head, but the obsessive-ness with which he crafted his faux superstardom is spellbinding."
"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."
A One-Man Band, DAMn:
"A chance discovery by a couple of dedicated crate-diggers in Washington D.C. is more than a fitting chapter in the self-styled career of imaginary soul legend Mingering Mike. Its a story made for the internet generation, but push any cynical notes aside, his observational limitations have gone from bubblegum to social commentary and bypassed that difficult second album a hundred times over."
— Jason Cherkis
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