A message from the editor of ‘Maggot Brain’:

What is this thing? It’s a free, PDF-only issue of MAGGOT BRAIN magazine. It will not “replace” #3 (which is in the works, and will definitely be in subscriber mailboxes and store shelves this Fall). We simply want to keep to our schedule, despite uprisings in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd and the global pandemic which has severely changed the systems of production and distribution of physical media. We recognize the responsibility of publishing a quarterly journal, and wanted to not simply whet your appetites, but deliver a full and complete issue, in a different format this time.

I keep rewriting this introduction, for two reasons. First, it really has to hit the right tone, and secondly, there’s the pace at which the news changes. Holy fuck, in regular Trumpian times the horrors come at us so quickly that if we reference say, the deliberate caging and murder of children at the border, you might have to think real hard to remember that ohhh right, we are still doing that shit -- and it’s happening now with Covid-19 and police in extra-militarized formations everywhere. 

I am sad to say that I did try to approach this with humor, and to ‘out’ myself, well have a look: “

Hello I was all ready to go with this issue when word came down the hopper to shut it down. Which means you will never see these words in print! Which is a darn shame. “Welcome to the first SUMMER ISSUE of MAGGOT BRAIN -- woo-hoo!,” it was to read. “Let’s all go to the beach and congregate. We have a pictorial pull-out spread with all members of the Raconteurs in fuzzy bikinis; in-depth interviews with the Beach Boys’ true genius, that patriot of the beach, Mike Love; and Detroit’s premier wordsmith Kid Rock shows us how to BBQ using only your SUV’s grille, the blood of stray cats, endangered rhino meat, whiskey!!!, cocaine, and gunpowder siphoned from shotgun shells.” Ummmm, shit, sorry that’s not that funny. Pretty easy targets there too -- plus we all know the Raconteurs would never wear fuzzy bikinis; sand and fur do not mix well, as anyone who has tried to have sex at the beach in real life will tell you. A single grain of sand can inflict misery, friends. 

My brain is like that; it is rarely very silent and goes all over the place, every direction at once. This is part of the reason I seek to compile and edit, to create one thing out of a lot of disparate things. I can lay in bed at night and on my phone re-order the contents of an issue, trying to provide this ideal combination from one work to another. It seems to give an order to my life, which otherwise slides pretty easily towards chaos.

The next impulse was naturally toward a sincere sincerity, with writing an introduction that went

“First off, I really hope you are doing as well as possible right now. I hope that your own health is at the least decent, as is that of your friends, family, and as much as possible, of your community at large. I hope that selfishness is not the norm where you are. And that if you have had to encounter any of those “all lives matter” type assholes, that they were not related to you by blood, because the first step in the Revolution has to be canceling Thanksgiving. To keep this rant in some sort of order, the second step has to be if not canceling the Fourth of Ju/ly then changing it up -- no?” Some of that just feels like stringing words together, though. I know that I mean those words but it looks a little bit hokey once they’re put down there, in black and white. The end bit I was obviously trying to make it seem contemporary, because this should be “printed” right before July 4, 2020. 

In assembling the issue, I really am thinking of three things:

A) None of this bullshit is “new,” and to blame Trump for overly much of it is to give him far too much credit. It’s at least a bit ahistorical, reactive, and lazy.

B) To quote the Minutemen song “Situations at Hand,” off their 3-Way Tie record, “There’s still lofty dreams, meager desires -- still silliness!” Even in the most fucked-up times, we need work that’s the equivalent of a chilled slice of icebox lemon meringue pie, or an orange picked off a tree. 

C) We do not do “theme” issues, but I’m constantly thinking of the idea of community, and just trying to serve maybe multiple communities, or to celebrate the work of multiple communities, here. I have tried to do that from the get-go. This is not a magazine that will ever punch down, or needlessly be snarky -- fun as it is to be snarky. And we all miss Gawker. But that’s a pulse that’s running through everything presented here, is the importance of community.

Maggot Brain Three will be printed in the Fall, and loosely stated it has to be our “FUCK TRUMP” issue. Every word will naturally be written, edited, and printed with the vision of a post-Trump world in our minds. It has to be that way. Let’s take a deep breath and think on those three words: Life after Trump. Maybe just for today, let’s not even look at the news, for an hour or two, and do something towards that goal. I myself am most interested in working to help register people, against rampant voter disenfranchisement. It’s not as easy in the age of social distancing, but there is a lot we can do, and I’ve written about that. Life after Trump! 

This pandemic/uprising issue (#∞) is a mix of the brand new and the archival. And because it’s not a printed piece, there’s even a little bit of multimedia flim-flam which we really hope works. The celebration of the Staple Singers’ 1965 Civil Rights masterpiece Freedom Highway is a thing I myself originally delivered as a presentation at Seattle’s MoPop Pop Studies Conference a decade or so ago. It was then printed as a pamphlet by some friends from that coterie.

Pop Con, by the way, is an exceptional yearly event which brings together academics, who have to speak in something closer to the vernacular, and music writers, who get to pretend to be eggheads. There is a theme each year, but it really encourages folks to flex, to have fun, to share obsessions with like-minded freaks in fabulous ways. thus far has yielded three articles in our pages (also from past years), and which I planned to attend this year, without presenting, to just hang out with my people and collect some more excellent work for

Maggot Brain.

And again, it all comes back to community, I myself always position myself as an outsider in any situation -- even at the 12-step meetings which have kept me alive for over 25 years now. It sucked a little bit in late April when I was denied the experience of seeing my peers kick ass at the Pop Studies Conference up in Seattle (as it was naturally postponed for a year). 

I’m also thinking of community as regards the work and livelihoods of thousands of friends and colleagues in the arts, entertainment, restaurant, and hospitality communities. It really feels like everyone is so fucked, whether they master records or do live sound or run a shop or help put on art shows or whatever. 

But we also have amazing opportunities, and the chance to create. This is why I’ve decided to reprint in its entirety here my unedited 1998 interview with visionary Octavia Butler. From the persistence and detailed nature of racism to attempts to look at diseases and viruses from a different perspective, it seemed remarkably prescient. And also, in parts, a bit silly.

Love and “life after Trump” vibes to you and yours--

Mike McGonigal



INTRODUCTION by Mike McGonigal 

HOROSCOPE new column by Michelle Mae Orr 

DETROIT QUARANTINE DRAWINGS, curated by Lucy Cahill, w/Mike McGonigal 

PANGOLIN RESCUE photos and facts by Mike McGonigal 

LUC SANTE '12 Sides'



OCTAVIA BUTLER by Mike McGonigal 

TARA JANE O’NEIL survival notes w/Orindal 

COCKETTES: Author Fayette Hauser interviewed about her excellent, lavishly-illustrated new book on the pioneering hippie prankster drag community.



LINGUA FRANQA southern hip-hop artist on her ‘reparations’ podcast w/Michael Turner

MICHAEL GALINSKY’s intimate 1990s b+w indie-rock photos with w/Mike McGonigal

PHILADELPHIA WIREMAN anonymous healing works intro by Mike McGonigal

CHEB — middle eastern musician by Marc Hivemind


EPHRAIM LEWIS by Michael Gonzalez

ALFRED JARRY interview with the woman from the morgan library show by McGonigal

MARLY BEYER: recent works -- w/Mike McGonigal text

MAIREAD CASE -- recent writing


FREEDOM HIGHWAY by the Staple Singers by Mike McGonigal

UNSTAPLED: Mike Topp’s ‘Stuyvesant Bee’ 

TAPE COLUMN debut appearance

OUTRODUCTION thoughts by Piotr Orlov


Maggot Brain summer issue out July 3rd as PDF.