Silver Jews Saturday – David Berman on LOMLOC, Obama, and Squirrels – Part III

This is the final piece of the series. Part I is here and Part II is here.

David and Doris

Raford: In past interviews I’ve read, you emphasized your adolescence in Texas, but rarely have I have read you reference another part of your upbringing, which was in Wooster, Ohio. I hear a lot of Wooster influences in your lyrics. How has Wooster influenced your art?

DCB: It’s true that Wooster is something I keep to myself. It’s a secret wellspring of inspiration for me and always has. It is also a place of serious social awkwardness for me. My sense of myself as an artist and as a social human being starts at about age 15. I developed a public persona very late in life. I don’t talk about Wooster because I didn’t talk while I was in Wooster. Does that make sense?

Raford: Yeah, I didn’t realize you were shy like that early on.  I don’t think I said one word to any of my peers outside of the family until I was 16, so that makes a lot of sense.

DCB: Of course I “talked” to you and a few people but mostly I was zipperlipped.

Raford: A question about your Jewish faith. As kids, we were raised in very secular environments. Beyond trips to church and temple (for you) on holidays, I don’t see religion as a great part of our upbringing. As an adult, what drew you to Judaism?

DCB: Well Christianity is just out of the question for me. None of it makes sense when you get down to it. Just the little stuff like the trinity is complete bullshit. Judaism is massive and it all correlates and makes sense to me.

Judaism is what helped this small group of people survive for over 3000 years, without a common language, as empire after empire that tried to wipe them out crumbled to nothing. And they are still here. And until 50 years ago they had never even fought back.

The continued existence of the Jewish people is the only supernatural fact of history I can be sure of. A couple of years ago I realized that if  I wanted to survive the next forty years I was going to need whatever the Jews had that made them last. Judaism is that thing.

Raford: Wow.

Raford: This is a mostly political blog, so I’d like to hear your thoughts on the current political situation in the US and the world.

DCB: I think we are waiting for the crisis that will make the Republican way of living and legislating a complete anachronism. It will probably be a major disaster brought on by Republican policy, that in the struggle to repair will have the country finally waking up from a dream where we are all assholes and loving it!

David and Cassie

Raford: Obama? McCain? Barr? Nader? Pinny Doo?

DCB: It’s pretty clear that Obama has a date with destiny.

Raford: As kids, why didn’t we go outside more often?

DCB: I think if the squirrels and birds and fish had been more friendly we would have.

Raford: What was the story w/the window and the BB gun? Are you still being judged too harshly because of that incident that few living people understand?

DCB: Well you have never had a problem with it. I took out grandfathers bbgun pistol which was  for shooting squirrels! Anyway I walked out the street and turned around and faced the house. It was night so there was only one window glowing and it was right at eye lever. Behind the window you were drawing a picture on papa’s desk. Yes I pulled the trigger that night, but I swear that bb  wasn’t’ meant for you. I think it did make a crack in the storm window though.

Raford: I appreciate that the BB wasn’t aimed at my head. But all things seem to go back to the squirrels.

Raford: Have you been able to find any creme sticks that can compete with those from Buehler’s?

DCB: Every couple years Ill see one but it’s no good.  I only liked vanilla. The Maple ones were weird. I never liked that old fashioned flavor. Maple I associated with Wooster.

Raford: You didn’t like the maple ones? How is that possible?

DCB: Did you know they opened a Buehler’s in Louisville a couple of years ago where a Winn-Dixie was. I couldn’t make anyone understand who weird it was that there was a Buehler’s there. Subsequently they left.

Raford: Damn! People don’t understand that magic that is Buehler’s if we’re lucky, there might be at least a couple of readers who understand that grocery store’s beauty.

Raford: Any pizza like Coccia’s?

DCB: That pizza is weird. I  believe they were actually Albanian shepherds who presented themselves as an Italian pizza family when they arrived in Wooster..

Raford: Man, I love that pizza! I think the secret is in the provolone cheese and the garlicky red sauce.

David, thanks so much for taking some time to chat with me. Good luck w/LOMLOC! It will do well.

3 responses to “Silver Jews Saturday – David Berman on LOMLOC, Obama, and Squirrels – Part III

  1. I grew up down the street from David. Brick tudor house on the corner of Cleveland Road. I was a couple of years younger, but I distinctly remember David teaching me how to start a fire using a magnifying glass and the sun. I also remember him saying, “you didn’t learn this from me.” Because he’s been so zipperlipped about Wooster, I didn’t realize until a couple of years ago that the Silver Jews had a Wooster connection. Even then, it was mere speculation among the many Silver Jews fans from Wooster (many of whom live in San Francisco and Seattle now). I’m so glad to hear David acknowledge the Woo, because I too hear it’s influence in his music and lyrics. I recently moved back to Ohio (Cleveland) and just bought tickets for the Cleveland show. Can’t wait. Also, I too associate maple flavor with Wooster, but mostly in Buehler’s doughnuts with maple icing.

  2. Matt-

    Thanks so much for posting. I was afraid that the Wooster connection would be appreciated by no one outside of our family. I had wondered about SJ fans in Wooster and if they know what a close connection David has to Wooster.

    I may be the Cleveland show. I won’t be able to go to the one in Indy (where I live) as I’ll be on vacation, so I’m trying to arrange things to see the SJs in Cleveland and spend a little time in Wooster.

    And that maple frosting on Buehler’s doughnuts was the best, no matter what David might think.

    Thanks again for your post!

  3. Matt, also, thanks for the laugh about the ant thing!

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