Tom Miller Interview in The Free Zine
A Cyber Interview with Tom Miller The Free Zine wishes to thank Tom Miller for agreeing to this short notice interview as the first featured Gainesville artist for our July 2006 debut issue. When the idea was suggested for a centerpiece segment focused on one specific Gainesvillean for each issue, Tom Miller was the first and last consideration to premier as he embodies the living spirit which The Free Zine aspires to represent aesthetically in print. Namely, Tom Miller is as multidimensional an artist as we’ve ever had the privilege to observe and, in some sense, actually know.
He is a writer, a poet, a musician, a puppeteer, a songwriter, a comedian, an emcee, a barker, a painter, a cartoonist, a graphic artist, an actor, an independent film maker, a playwright, and a music video producer, and probably more. These are just the artistic hats we’ve known him to wear at one point or another in the ten years we’ve known him. If this list is not exhaustive, it is suggestive that as an artist he is a jack-of-all-arts. Currently, he headlines a weekly self-titled show of eclectic performance entertainment Monday nights at The Shamrock Pub on University Avenue at 9 pm. The following interview was conducted via email two days after deadline for this month’s publication (we stopped the presses to ensure its inclusion).
Free Zine (FZ): Thanks again, Tom, for taking time to answer some questions.
Tom Miller (TM): No problem.
FZ: So, let’s begin by finding out if our list is accurate in representing your various artistic endeavors. Did we cover it, or are there more categories we should mention?
TM: You left out UFO expert.
FZ: What projects are you currently working on?
TM: This year, I intend to direct my first play. It's a one act by Israel Horovitz called, Line. It's a pipe dream, but I hope to pull it off on the Hippodrome second stage by the end of the year.
FZ: How would you describe your artistic aspirations?
TM: Like slapping lazy Zen students with a keisaku.
FZ: How about your aesthetic sensibility, inclinations and inspirations?
TM: My aesthetic sensibility is that the audience is the show. I'm inspired by atmosphere-based performance artists like Andy Kaufman, Andy Warhol, Frank Zappa, and by film artists like Kubrick, Lynch, Herzog; people who can see one art-form for another.
FZ: How long have you been involved in the Gainesville art world and what directions have you seen our town take during that time?
TM: I think the attention span for Gainesville and westerners at large is reducing, and that placation is spreading to other cultures by way of the west. I see the arts morphing into the same flavor of gruel. I'd rather be a piece of meat floating around in there.
FZ: What direction would you like to see it take in the future and how can that be accomplished?
TM: I think we need people who will question rules, push boundaries, and challenge convention, fearlessly. Art isn't the answer, it is the question. It's the journey, not the end. We need questioners and journeymen to take us on some rides.
FZ: We saw you a couple weeks ago at the Downtown Plaza Bo Diddley show when Mayor Peggy Hanrahan dedicated Bo Diddley Day in Gainesville officially and gave Bo the key to the city. What did you think of that gesture on the mayor’s part?
TM: I'm sure it was done in earnest and with great respect. But God, was it tacky. Bo Diddley practically invented rock-n-roll and that key doesn't open anything.
FZ: Many cities around the country have been honoring local poets with a Poet Laureate position. Do you think Gainesville could use such a functionary and who do you feel would make a suitable candidate for that role?
TM: Artists in the process of city government paint pictures to hang in the Holiday Inn. A great artist of modern times should be repelled by awards. Awards and honors are answers that artists should avoid at all costs. We need more independent benefactors-- types with the balls to give of their funds because they HATE what you do.
FZ: We heard you’re working on a book these days. Could you tell us a little bit about it?
TM: It's horrific. I'm embarrassed to read it. I hope to have it completed by the end of the year. Poems and short stories. It's my 41st chapbook.
FZ: Is there any advice for other Gainesville artists of all stripes you would care to share with our readers?
TM: Yes, make things which didn't exist before, and do so for no good reason.
FZ: Could you tell us about your website, www.geocities.com/fredink/?
TM: It's very disorganized and subject to change, but generally contains all things Miller. It's a one stop shop for my works, with a tasting menu of various genres. Much of what is on that site is hidden and/or unavailable. That may soon change.
FZ: How are your current shows going at The Shamrock? What are you planning in the foreseeable future which might interest our readers to come out and see for themselves?
TM: I've been very pleased with the show, and kudos to my friend Frog, the performance artist and musician, for working with me. The Shamrock has been very courageous to allow some of the maniac shit I've pulled off in there. I hope to feature many more artists and plan at least another year of work. I need to push just a few more buttons to make this thing take off.
FZ: Thanks again for helping launch our ‘zine. The last word is yours if you care to add anything we may have not thought to ask.
TM: I wish you great success with the 'zine and thank you for letting me share some of my thoughts.