No Wonder You Were Afraid to Ask #21 – Jesse Michaels – Punk Rock Renaissance Man


I’ve known Jesse Michaels for almost six years. I reconnected with Jesse recently when I attended a book signing for his first novel, “Whispering Bodies.” Jesse has created all types of art for a long time but said he is most proud of this book. I bought a copy at the reading and once I started it, I couldn’t put it down. It was a great tale that tip-toed the line between noir and comedy as the dysfunctional main character tried to solve the mystery of an arson and suspected murder in his apartment building. The explanation of the book shown here will sure to have you ordering a copy right away. It’s a quick, entertaining, and interesting take on the modern crime novel.

Whispering Bodies

Jesse was born in San Francisco, CA and grew up in Berkeley. Jesse is most well known for being the lead singer for the seminal ska-punk band Operation Ivy. These days he is cutting his teeth as a director. He has completed a video for the band Leftover Crack (Watch Below), is currently in production with the band So So Glos and is in post-production for his first short film, “5,4,3,2,1. To learn about the film, click here.

Jesse added, “I wasted most of my life drinking, but I got it together in my 40s and went to college at UCLA.”

Jesse has always been vocal about his societal and political views. When I asked him what he was passionate about he said, “I am filled with hate about many things – corporate branding and culture, the reign of complete assholes, right-wing scum, left-wing thought police idiots and Twitter goons.”

There are many reasons why people should know Jesse, besides his intelligent view on corporate greed and disdain for the establishment, but when I asked him why people should know him, he said, “I have a bristly exterior in online activities but it is all talk, I am actually a big conflict avoider.”

When I asked him to share a unique story that described his life, Jesse said, “About a year ago, somebody asked me to take care of a cat. The cat ended up sticking around for various reasons. Now I am obsessed with the cat. I love the goddamn cat. If you want to know about my life, I am a full grown man who is married to this cat.”


Check out Jesse on the Internet here:

jesse9michaels = Twitter
@jesse9michaels = Instagram

Be on the lookout for his upcoming short film. If it’s anything like his other projects, it will be damn good and thought-provoking.

Jesse’s answers to the “Bonus” questions are as raw and uncut as they get. Enjoy!

If you were the opposite gender for a day what would you do?

Wouldn’t everybody start by masturbating?

Is there anyone out there you would like to apologize to, which you haven’t been able to?

If I could, I would apologize to everybody I have ever been rude to on the internet. There is something about the web that turns me into a dick at times and I regret it.

If you could cure one disease in the world what would it be? Why?

Desire / Greed. Because this illness is going to destroy the entire human race.

What advice would you give the teenage you?

Get sober and stay sober at all costs.

How important is music in your life?

Not very – I enjoy it but don’t really care anymore, it is an occasional and very casual interest.

One person living or dead you would love to hang out with for a day? What would you do?

Jesus if Jesus is real. If not, any of the great saints or mystics. When you are hanging out with people like that there is no plan.

What is one meal or food you could eat every day and not get tired of?


What is your favorite novel and what does it say about your mind?

My favorite novel changes constantly. This tells you a lot about my mind – multiple perspectives in conflict. Some of my favorites have been: For Whom the Bell tolls, You too could have a body like mine, breakfast of champions, white noise, pulp, hitchhikers guide to the galaxy and pet cemetery.

Who is your favorite artist and what does their work say about the way you think?

I don’t have a favorite but I love Philip Guston. I don’t know what it says. I think it truly represents the sublime in the old Romantic sense of the word as characterized by Shelly in Mont Blanc – beautiful and terrifying. Guston’s shit is raw. It is both nice to look at and hideous. But the whole transcends the aspects. The fact that I can’t say exactly what is so great about it is exactly what is so great about it.

If you were president and could enact any law outright, what would it be?

Food and medicine for the poor.

Do you think World Peace is possible? What one thing do you think might be the first step in the direction of it?

The only possibility for world peace is a massive change in human consciousness. Everybody has to get enlightened like the mystics. Otherwise, we are all fucked, forever.

Do you think war is necessary?

No, it is complete bullshit.

What is your favorite City?

Right now, Los Angeles. New York is historically the greatest in the world but the wealthy have ruined it, just like they did to SF. The wealthy are going to turn all the great cities into VIP zones.

Name a place you would like to visit?

I don’t really care.

What is the number one thing on your bucket list?

To have regular sex with the ideal partner for several years.

How do you think we can fix the racial divide in the United States?
We can’t.

What is your favorite Inspirational Quote?

“The work is in the work” – meaning, if you are an artist trying to figure out where the idea or innovation is coming from, you have to start pedaling before you steer. Put in the hours and don’t overthink it, it comes from the work, not from your brain.

Do you have a favorite animal?

Cats of all sizes and shapes

Have you ever been told you look like a celebrity and did you ever use that to your advantage?

My celebrity look-alikes started out good and have been in decline because I used to be better looking. I used to get Matt Dillon, then got downgraded to Jim Carrey. I don’t even want to know who I would pull now. Advice: avoid mortality, it’s a drag.

What is your favorite physical feature on your own body?

My hair, I know I am lucky to have it

What do you think is the most important invention ever?


If you could afford any type of clothing, which fashion designer would you wear?

I would wear stuff from Uniqlo, Banana Republic, Urban Outfitters and maybe some up brand stuff. The thing is, I have never had enough money to even think about spending it on threads so I don’t know anything about designers. I will never be a clothes hound, it is boring to me. Everybody likes to look good but I don’t have time for preening and shopping.

Do you think humans should be concerned about the planet?

I guess. The planet is over. We fucked it. The best thing that could happen is that the entire human race would die. That is the truth. The experiment has failed. The suffering is not worth whatever beauty there is. The human race is an absolute abomination. Anybody who feels otherwise should not be so sure unless they have spent a night in a war zone hospital or one of Reagan’s Guatemalan dungeons.

Do you have a nickname? How’d you get it?

Zud. I used to walk around saying nonsense things like “Zud!” I still do actually. One of my girlfriends started calling me “Zud.”

What is one attribute you got from your Mom? How has it been a benefit to your life?

Reasonableness. Obviously, it is hugely useful in all relationships.

What is one attribute you got from your Dad? How has it been a benefit to your life?

Art. It is the center of my existence.

What is one law you would do away with?

Civil forfeiture. That’s when police can simply take your possessions without charging you with any crime. It is a travesty and it is epidemic.

What is the most adventurous thing you ever did?

Traveled alone through Mexico with very little Spanish.

Do you have any addictions or obsessions?

Yes: sex, drugs, food, worry, sleep, gambling, and bullshit social media.

What is a question you would ask the next interviewee?

Too self-centered to go there

What was your favorite meal growing up?

Chicken pot pie and spaghetti with pesto.

What is your passion?

Art and fucking

Do you believe in God?

100 %

Do you believe in Aliens?

I believe the world is a projection of the psyche, thus, aliens represent the border of the psyche between the known and the unknown. If we incorporated them, then there would be a new blurry phenomena at the fringes of understanding.

If you could give any gift to anyone person who and what would it be?

Relief from suffering for somebody undergoing torture

What has the greatest loss in your life been?

Self-esteem and the incalculable damage it did to me until I was 40.

What makes you laugh?

Larry David, my dumb friends, angry meltdowns. Meltdowns. Winnebago Man (Youtube video).

What makes you cry?

Very little. It is very difficult for me to cry. How to Tame Your Dragon (movie) did it for some reason, I have no idea why.

What is the most curious thing about the President’s job?

To become a ghost in one’s own body

Three songs on your funeral playlist?

Zero songs – no music

Celebrity crush?

The singer from Churches

What is the coolest thing you ever won?

500 dollar scratcher

What is your favorite accent?


Have you ever cried when a celebrity died?

Joe Strummer

Which teacher had the biggest impact on you? Why?

My Father. He didn’t teach me anything, I picked it all up by osmosis. He was a tortured artist. I really got it.

would be your secret power or super talent?

It is secret. I know what it would be, though. That sounds scummy. Nothing that would harm anybody.

What is one thing you would like to learn before you die?

To be enlightened, to be able to see what the mystics call God / Atman etc., face to face and to dissolve into it.

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