[A bright sunny humid morning, the kind of morning where the air tastes a hint of impending drama, the sun shining down onto a large manicured mall of a large urban university campus in a middle sized midwestern city in the summertime. Few people walk the wide sidewalks leading past the imposing pillar'd buildings.
MICHAEL GOULD, a shirtless man stands on a chair in bright white pants. The bright sun glints off the pants, and shines brightly off his dyed blonde hair as he stands on a metal chair holding a bible and reading loudly, directing his high-pitched voice at the large set of empty stairs before him. Behind him is a guitar case and a message board covered in fliers for events and music shows.
Gingerly placing aside his blue bicycle, TWIN CITY SIDEWALKS (TCS) approaches and asks for an interview. MICHAEL GOULD quickly agrees and TCS turns on the tape recorder, holding it up to the man perched on the chair.]
Michael Gould: [Leaning way in close to the microphone, speaking with an intentionally creepy almost ironic voice] My name is Michael Gould. I’m the mayor of Minneapolis!
[grin followed by a dramatic pause] I’m not a “street person.” I was raised in Edina, Minnesota. I graduated from the same high school that Al Franken, Senator Al Franken, graduated from, Blake School. He graduated a little bit ahead of me. I graduated in 1976. One of my classmates name is “Chandler Polling.” He’s the keyboard player and vocalist for The Suburbs, a very popular punk rock band.
[Turning from the microphone and looking up] But what’s your name, who’s interviewing me?
Twin City Sidewalks: Bill Lindeke.
MG: Bill, alright. Nice to meet you Bill.
TCS: I’m a sidewalk blogger, a sidewalk philosopher is what I call myself.
MG: [with cheer] Allright, Bill. My brother is named Bill.
TCS: So I’m just curious about what brings you out here. Why are you here?
MG: [grinning] I’m here for the illicit sex…. [laughs] No I’m just kidding. [Adopting a tone eerily similar to Jack Nicholson playing the Joker in the first Batman movie.] I’m a family man. I’m a one woman man. I have three lovely daughters.
One of the reasons I’m running for mayor is because I’d like more access to more money. I feel that I’m ready to have a job with a salary, as opposed to working for $10 an hour.
TCS: [agreeably] OK, OK. So, is this part of your campaign, being out here on the mall today?
MG: Uh, usually I work my way through the book of Luke every day.
TCS: You come here every day then?
MG: Monday through Friday you can find me out here Bill. [sweeping his arm against the sky] Uh, let’s make a movie!
TCS: What hours? What hours are you out here?
MG: Usually between ten AM and four PM.
TCS: That’s a long shift!
MG: [laughs dramatically] Hahaha. It’s a gas! [laughs again]
TCS: [curiously] What do you mean by “it’s a gas”?
MG: Let me get my guitar. [gets guitar, plays] Is the microphone picking this up?
TCS: Yeah sure.
MG: [plays.] I’m not sure if Jim Morrison is still in style.
TCS: Man I remember that stuff. Well I wasn’t alive, but I listened to it growing up. I like the keyboard player, man.
MG: Ray Mansurak, yeah. One of the reasons The Doors are called The Doors is that it’s not only about the doors of perception, but there’s a term in music theory called the Dorian mode.
TCS: [knowingly] Yeah yeah.
MG: Ray Mansurak liked to use that mode a lot.
TCS: Sure he did. Kind of a minor key feeling.
MG: Come on baby light my fire. [pause] … Can I ask you Bill, are you a student?
TCS: Yeah, I’m a graduate student.
MG: All right, and what is your field of expertise?
TCS: [Not unpompously] Geography and urban space, public space in cities… My question for you man, is the tradition of speaking out on a public place. Are you aware about that and the history and speaker’s corner in London?
MG: Oh, Hubert Humphrey blah blah blah.
TCS: Oh I don’t know about him, I’m not talking about politicians, man, I’m talking about everyday people.
MG: Everyday People! By the band Sly and Family Stone!
OK, um, Bill, I want to say you know one of the things about this environment thing, I have four platforms for my campaign. Education! Environment! … I wanna make sure we save all the parkland of Minneapolis and we’re not giving any of the parkland away to any corporations. We need these parks to protect our sanity, you know.
TCS: How do they protect sanity?
MG: The green leaves of the tress! And the recreation that goes on, uh, um… See, I’m trying to remember the four ‘E’s. Um… equality! Equality is a myth in American society. Um, but since the advent of Barack Obama we’ve got chocolate in the white house. Um. I’m … I’m a supporter of Barak Hussein Obama, I’m gonna vote for him again in two thousand and fourteen or whenever it is.
Ah, I usually I tend to vote for Democratic presidents starting with Jimmy Carter in 1976. Jimmy Carter was a born again Christian! People sometimes forget that Martin Luther King he was not a Muslim he was a Christian.
Um, Bill Clinton, “slick willie!” God bless Monica Lewinski!
TCS: She needs all the blessings she can get now. I don’t know what she’s doing.
MG: [laughs suggestively] She can come be a part of my campaign any day of the week.
TCS: OK. You had three ‘E’s right. You have environment…
MG: The fourth ‘E’ is Eckankar…
TCS: Eckankar? “Sing hu”?!
MG: [jubliantly] Sing hu!
TCS: But how does that fit with the book of Luke, man?
MG: The book of Luke is … music! Music is magic. [strums guitar] I’m gonna tell you who my favorite guitarist is. I dig Prince a lot.
MG: But Prince is still alive so you can kinda compare your career to Prince and you can go, oh shit! I’ve never done anything, you know. But uh…
TCS: He’s… yeah man, that’s easy to do. There’s a lot of people you can compare yourself to like that, man.
TCS: What about students? What do you think students think? Do they like you?
MG: [confidently] They love me! Yeah! … I don’t know if some of you remember some of the traveling preachers… the barnstorming preachers like Brother Chad. Uh… Have you met Brother Chad?
TCS: No, I don’t … I know Reverend Billy in New York. I’ve heard about him.
MG: OK. Well he seems, a big part of his thing is preaching against homosexuality. Which probably means he’s a latent homosexual himself! Uh…. [laughs]
TCS: It tends to be that… Isn’t that the case?
MG: [laughs] I’m all for love, ya know? And uh, God is love. So the whole fear of hell thing is, uh, um… I don’t really believe in an eternal Hell because how could a merciful God be torturing souls for such a long time?
TCS: Yeah yeah yeah [nodding]
MG: Hm, so um... [strums] I wrote this song, its called The Mountains of Minnesota. And I wanted to find a really dissonant chord to start off with so, um… I discovered this chord here, and I’ll give it to you full blast. [holds guitar to microphone]
TCS: [apologetically] I’m a terrible guitar player…
MG: It's gonna hurt your ears man! [strums a terribly dissonant chord four times]
TCS: That’s not uh, that’s…
MG: [keeps strumming, not badly either] The rest of the chords are pretty standard. It’s a G# something weird to an E to a D and to a B and, um, I, uh, let me tell you about a… I want to be the first mentally ill mayor of Minneapolis!
TCS: Its too late, man.
TCS: Good luck with that one.
MG: RT, is he… ?
TCS: You have to be mentally ill to want to run for higher office.
MG: Jesse Ventura! … There was a mayor of Saint Paul back in the day, maybe the 70s, Oh darn I can’t remember his name, but uh, he wrestled a bear, for one thing.
MG: I think his name was McCarty, or something. He had a little button in his car that could turn the lights from red to green.
TCS: Oh yeah? Hey, I got two more questions for you man. One of them is, what’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you out here in the public space? That you had an encounter?
MG: Well, it was being arrested for spray-painting my name on the sidewalk.
TCS: Oh yeah?
MG: And I got a little free tour of Hennepin County jail for that.
TCS: Do cops ever give you crap in other ways?
MG: Actually, I have sort of a high respect for police officers, so usually I get off pretty easy. Uh uh uh… some call him “pig” [really drawn out] … but I’m not one of those people… uh… what would we do without… I joined the good side, you know, I joined the good side.
TCS: Hey the other question is why do you pick here, and why not somewhere else in Minneapolis?
MG: OK, uh, well I do kinda rotate between here and the Nicollet Mall. but I see a lot of my friends out here and I make new friends, man… [pause] Let’s make a movie!
TCS: OK, well, hm, I’m not really ready to do that.
MG: Think of a title!
TCS: What would the title of the movie be? Actually, good question!
MG: Let me see, say uh… [dramatic pause] “Jesus Returns!” [triumphantly]
TCS: [laughs] That’ll be very much controversial, I believe... All right man, well, take care.
MG: Thank you, Bill. You brightened up my day. [shouts to me] You can use that in any way you want to…
TCS: I’ll put it on the web, put it on the web.
MG: …I’m just a fictional character!
[And TWIN CITY SIDEWALKS walks away, heading for his office in an anonymous modernist office tower, leaving MICHAEL GOULD on his chair playing the guitar and preaching to nobody and everybody.]