The Spur Questionnaire: Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens

Here’s your chance to get to know the people behind the scenes of the Spur Festival!

Tell us about your role with Spur.
Like Halley’s Comet—drawn by Spur’s gravity, I swoop in periodically to foretell wastage and disease.

In the last year, what is the longest you have gone ‘unplugged’? No internet, no cell phone, etc.
I’ve had several two or three day stints without the warm embrace of the internet, some by design and some involuntary. Each accompanied with sweaty withdrawal.

Which book is currently on your nightstand?
I’ve a serious lack of shelfspace in my apartment, so my nightstand is actually a tower of books. The ones toward the top are Foul Balls: Five Years in The American League by Alison Gordon, Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan and Ill Seen Ill Said by Samuel Beckett.

What is the one item you never leave home without?
I twitch if I’ve left home without a magazine or a book as a contingency plan should I get trapped in the subway or an elevator. Which is moot since the lights generally go out with the rest of the power—I should add a penlight and make it a list, shouldn’t I?

Do you have any friends you have never met in person?
I’ve made a few through various modernist scholarship networks. James Joyce’s empire is vast, and thankfully twitter has helped us build our imagined community quicker than the James Joyce Quarterly—which, I think, is currently seven quarters behind schedule.

Do you have a favourite podcast?
I’ll wince and answer with David Plotz’ short-lived Working Podcast, which profiles people and their jobs. Guests have ranged from the mundane, like farmers to teachers, to the spectacular, like Stephen Colbert to pornography actors and producers. We tend to undervalue labour both financially and culturally, and certain types of labour in particular (like sex-work), so I find it refreshing to hear these curated accounts.

Who was the last person you texted?
It’s almost always my brother. Thankfully texting has allowed us to keep a gag-scroll running from our separate cities. Before I sat down to fill in this questionnaire we were joking that in the future when interplanetary travel is made mundane, the extra lines of our cosmic addresses—like Inner Solarsytem, Outer Orion Arm, Virgo Galactic Supercluster—will only add more opportunity for postal services to lose our packages. Jupiter’s an inconvenient place to travel if that’s the nearest postoffice servicing our solar system. And think of UPS’ interstellar brokerage fees—astronomical!

The animated show The Jetsons was set in 2062. Is there anything from their futuristic world that you wish were a current reality?
I have a soft spot for Wildean socialism, so I wish we’d have had that three-hour, three-day work week we were promised by the proliferation of computers! Actually, I think the three-day work week was even overtime for George. I distinctly remember him folding up his briefcase-car, being tugged along his conveyor belt with sloping shoulders grumbling about how “these three-day work weeks are killing” him.

How do you prefer to communicate with colleagues: by phone, email, text or in person?
I have no preference really; each mode serves different functions. In person and by phone are both quick but ephemeral; email hints toward permanence and retrieval; texts are convenient on the go. None offer total privacy if your bizness is shady.

How do you prefer to communicate with friends?
Who doesn’t pick face to face? I have, though, ranked all the other interfaces in descending order of intimacy: mail, skype, phone, snapchat, gchat, texts, email, instagram, twitter and, grudgingly, Facebook.

What do you love about the city in which you live?
There’s a lot to enjoy in Toronto, but it might honestly be the Blue Jays. Not for any nationalist sentiment around Canada’s only team yaddayadda, but playing baseball here connects Toronto with the major US cities in a very specific way—appropriating and negotiating all that americana represents, to me, a vernacular dialogue with cultural imperialism.


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