ATEC - Episode 40: Hollywood Park ft. Mikel Jollett

Episode 40: Hollywood Park featuring Mikel Jollett

Mikel Jollett, frontman of the indie band The Airborne Toxic Event and author of the new memoir, Hollywood Park, spent his early years with his brother in an orphanage at the Synanon cult not knowing he had a mother and father of his own.

Then, one day his birth mother returned to take them away from Synanon and give them a home. Unfortunately, this new arrangement created a further level of harm for the brothers and they suffered emotional abuse and deprivation at her hands. Over the next few years they would endure poverty, isolation, and constant uncertainty about their future and safety. The only bright spot was their father, a recovering heroin addict who became part of their life when he got out of prison and whose new wife Bonnie became the mother they had always needed. 

In this episode, Mikel joins Ronit to talk about early trauma and it’s lasting legacy, the search for family, and who we invent to survive; how for years though he tried to undo the abuse and absence of his childhood he wasn’t able to make lasting changes until he faced his fears head-on. Hollywood Park is his memoir and also The Airborne Toxic Event’s new album, the story of how Mikel not only survived but became the person he was meant to be.

Mikel Jollett is the frontman of the indie band The Airborne Toxic Event. Prior to forming the band, Jollett graduated with honors from Stanford University. He was an on-air columnist for NPR’s All Things Considered, an editor-at-large for Men’s Health and an editor at Filter magazine. His fiction has been published in McSweeney’s. 



I’m a writer, a teacher, a native New Yorker, and I love hearing about people’s lives. When I think back to my elementary school days at PS 20 in Flushing, Queens whenever we began social studies or a history lesson I wasn’t that interested in learning about battles, topography, or politics. What I wanted to know was how people lived: What their families were like, how they adapted to their circumstances, what they ate, how they celebrated, how they felt.
Sociology became my major at Binghamton University and in my life so far I’ve been an actress, a salesperson, a Zoo Keeper’s Aid, a volunteer animal trainer, an ELL teacher, a mother, and a wife. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had, all of which led me to create this podcast which is one of the most rewarding projects I’ve undertaken. I couldn’t ask for a better job than having in-depth conversations with survivors, thought leaders, authors, social justice warriors, and people who believe that we are all connected and then getting to share their stories, insight, and vulnerability with listeners.
I’m so glad you’ve landed on this page. I hope you find stories here which resonate with you and that you’ll tune in every week. 
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ATEC (Episode 10) (ATEC Pin 3)