Don Goede is one of my all-time favorite people that I have interviewed. We filled almost two hours of tape, talking and talking about publishing, music, art, and the perils of loving all of them. Two hours of rambling and rambling, and to spare you the chore of following along, I will just tell you all about it in my own words.
I first met him almost a year ago at a screening of Horns and Halos [selected as "Best Documentary" of 2002 at both the New York Underground Film Festival and the Chicago Underground Film Festival, and is an Official Selection at the 2002 Toronto and Rotterdam International Film Festivals]*, a documentary that chronicles the controversy surrounding the publication of J.H. Hatfield's book, Fortunate Son and how Soft Skull Press saved his book from the burning piles of popular press. Don did a Q & A after the show which to me, was almost painful to watch as he struggled with tough questions about a very delicate topic.
By far, Soft Skull Press is one of the most truly independent publishers I have ever run across. Don has been part owner since its inception, and until recently ran its storefront in Manhattan. He also runs its art inprint, Shortwave, which has published books by/about Ron English, Daniel Johnston, Genesis P'Orridge, and Peops by Fly [see my review of Peops]. Most recently, he re-published, the haiku year [2nd ed., April, 2004] , a book of Haiku written by friends and aquaintances including our once beloved Michael Stipe (admit it you hardass, you used to like R.E.M!).
One of the biggest eyebrow raisers is his relations with cult hero, Daniel Johnston. Not only did he publish the Definitive Daniel Johnston Handbook , but he's his best friend, manager, band mate, and has a fabulous collection of his artwork (and his artwork is astounding..ohmygod...). Don plays this down a lot and is in fact, very humble about it, so I didn't press him for too many details. He seems almost in a state of disbelief that the people he's been friends with and have worked with wound up being so wildly popular and deeply respected.
A new husband and father, Don recently moved to Colorado to get away from the constant drive of Manhattan. We talked for a while about cities and how great it is to live in them, but how much energy it takes just to survive, let alone thrive and create. He did it for years working at Kinkos while he scrimped and networked. Now that he's in Colorado, it's obvious that though the pace around him has slowed, he certainly hasn't.
Don is among other countless projects neck-deep in starting a national magazine called, Toilet Paper. We talked minimally about content, but from what I can tell, and from what I know about Don, it will be filled with thought provoking material about all the things he loves: music, art, film, writing, and politics.
To sum it up, Don is just a GOOD PERSON. Genuine, kind, sincere, and deeply driven. Back in Manhattan they called him, "Don, always on." He never EVER stops. He is always thinking; always working. Now he's spending just a little more time playing and loving (you know, as a father and husband and all), but he's still the closest thing I have found to a perpetual motion machine. Thanks to Don there is that much more of the"good shit" in the world.