Andy's favorite interview quotes of 2021

A few highlights from a year packed with interviews

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Paisha Thomas works on a sculpture of Aminah Robinson at the Fort

“That sculpture you see today, it was busted, like someone had smashed it with a hammer. And now she’s standing there strong and rebuilt, and uncolonized.” -artist and musician Paisha Thomas

“I imagine some people answer the question of how they spent the time [in isolation] by saying, ‘Oh, it was actually great. With all of my time alone I got to finish my symphony, and I wrote three novels, and I practiced all day and now I’m a better guitarist than I ever was,’ and I decided pretty early on in this thing that when I met people like that I was going to stab them instantly in the eye, and I suggest everybody else do the same." -musician Marc Ribot

“I think people are realizing over the course of the pandemic that restaurants aren’t the most healthy environments. There’s a lot of drinking, a lot of partying, and we kind of got beat up over quarantine by society. ... I think people are migrating away from the business a little bit, and that’s why we’re seeing a huge issue in staffing everywhere from Jimmy John’s to fine dining restaurants.” -restaurant industry veteran Andy Smith

“The last two years, I think I’ve been able to leap, in a way. And I’m thankful that I’m not done growing, and that I’m not comfortable. I’m now officially in my late 30s. … And I get that that’s not old, in any sense. But in my teens and 20s, I grew up feeling like I knew everything, and to know everything was to get to a sort of freedom or salvation. But it is getting older that brings me happily to a place of realizing I don’t really know anything, or that the things I do know are not always useful. … I could ramble forever about what I do know, but eventually we’re going to get tired of talking about concerts from the 1980s or vintage magazine covers.” -writer Hanif Abdurraqib

“I post [a picture or video of] Casey every day, and some days I don’t want to. And not because I don’t love him, but because I don’t want to look at his picture. I don’t want to see his face. It hurts. It hurts to think of a caption or to write something about him, so some days I’ll just write something short because my brain is on overload and I can’t do it. But I’m not going to miss that post." -Tamala Payne, mother of the late Casey Goodson

“When I read [the New York Times piece], it felt good to be able to put a label on some of my experiences, because I think it was often like, well, you’re not being sexually harassed, and they’re not being openly discriminatory, so it can’t be that bad, right? But there’s also, I think, an imperative to treat people with respect. And I think that idea of ‘Mean-Too’ speaks to the fact that [aspect] is equally as vital to a thriving and healthy work environment.” -former WOSU reporter Paige Pfleger

"There are a few songs that cover a lot of good intervals and ranges, so I’ll almost always sit down and play ‘November Rain’ because it’s in F-major and touches a lot of the intervals and goes through a lot of the standard chords. That’s a good way to see where your middle section is, just hit it with a little Axl Rose." -musician and piano tuner Kenny Stiegele

“Black girls and women are constructed in our society as violent, aggressive and more masculine than girls and women of other races. Additionally, research shows that Black children are viewed as adults earlier in life than white children, and this is reflected in a belief that they should be held accountable and responsible in the same way that adults are. We have seen this reflected not only in Mayor Ginther’s comment, but also in school punishments and court sentencing for Black children where they are treated more harshly than white children. … Bryant’s actions are being viewed by some as not of a young girl who is scared and potentially making poor decisions as a result, but as a violent adult who was being held accountable by police for her actions.” -Dr. Marya T. Mtshali, Lecturer in Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality at Harvard University and postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Kennedy School

“Loudmouth millionaire Neil Young, did you see what he said? He said, ‘You can’t do any concerts. They’re irresponsible freedom fests.’ Meanwhile, he’s hiding out in his sprawling compound, clacking away, little keyboard tough guy. He has no right to tell me what to do. This is how I put food on the table. He can go hide in his bunker for the rest of his life if he wants to. He doesn’t need the money. I do.” -Titus Andronicus singer Patrick Stickles

“There has been this odd juxtaposition over the years, and let’s say over the decades at this point, of people feeling less and less safe, with an assumption that crime is going up across the board, but the data doesn’t back that up. I’m talking about government data, FBI data, Department of Justice data. We continue as a society to get safer, but that’s not the public perception.” -Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for the ACLU of Ohio

"My dad had [‘Good Vibrations’] on 45, and I had a little Fisher Price record player, and I put that thing on over and over. I didn’t even know what I was feeling, but I loved how it felt. ... And I think I needed to feel that again during the pandemic. During all of this darkness, I wanted to find a place where you could be somewhere else for a moment, or it could transport you away.” -musician Bill Patterson

“They were really treating what I did as an art form and asking probing and interesting questions. … They were sharing this sense of wonder that is really unique to the human species, and it was this grounding moment that, yes, we were there for a competition, and, yes, we were there to test our mettle. But at the end of the day, the reason we do magic is to be able to share this moment of mystery and wonder with other humans. And it kind of brought me back to the real world, and I was like, OK, let’s go do this again. Let’s share this moment and experience with others.” -magician Erik Tait

“I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to live now as the kind of person I am, who has all of these feelings and curiosities at a time when everything feels tremulous. It’s an odd thing to be the curious cat crossing the minefield. But that’s where I am right now, and it is a joy, because that’s the only way to manage all of this.” -writer Saeed Jones

“But, at the end of the day, what that [thin blue line] image means to me or my department, that’s not what matters most, because we’re public servants. Anything that creates a barrier between us and our community, that may deter members of our community from turning to us for assistance, or from providing us with information that could help keep the community safer, that’s really what is behind a decision like this. When a symbol like this can and does evoke fear and mistrust from members of our community, we need to respond to that.” -University of Madison-Wisconsin police chief Kristen Roman

"I thought I was going to see all of the regular comedians, but instead I didn’t see any of them. … Since we reopened, I would say 90 percent of those people don’t come around. They weren’t really saying anything directly to me, but I see [negative] comments on Facebook. There’s been a lot of pushback, and I feel like it makes me look like the bad guy, even though we’re following the rules put out by the state. It’s a strange time feeling like I’m the enemy." -comedian Lukas Mateus

“The idea of home is a really complicated question for me. Obviously I can never go back to the place my parents came from … so [archiving these materials] gives it some shape and form for me. It gives it some sense of reality. I can never feel that soil under my feet. I can’t physically touch anything there. This is my only real connection.” -artist Mona Gazala

“You get comfortable with the idea that you’re not going to become famous, and you’re not going to get a million dollars from rap. I mean, you might, but I’m not going to bank on it. When you think of typical rapper ambitions you think of cars, you think of girls, you think of jewelry, you think of money, you think of attention and all of that. I’ve had all of those things and they don’t add up to happiness. But I still have goals, and I still have ambitions. I’m just trying to show my genuine side now outside of that chase.” -rapper Wise

“I needed to stop the depression, or I just needed to stop. I didn’t want to be that anymore. I didn’t want to be someone who places such a small value on his own life because of a chemical imbalance. I understand why people get suicidal. I’ve been there. I just don’t want to be there anymore. I want to be a good husband to my wife. I want to paint. I want to enjoy what I’m doing. … My whole life has been about self-amusement, really. It wasn’t about wanting to be famous or anything like that. It was just a big, fun, crazy thing to do. And I wanted it to be like that again. I wanted to feel like that again.” -artist Ralph Walters

“My mother came to me and gave me a notebook because I was being bullied at certain points in my life and feeling certain inadequacies in myself that I couldn’t define as a child. And she gave me a composition notebook and said, ‘Write down whatever hurts you, whatever makes you angry. Put it in paper, put it in writing.’ And I’ve always held onto that in life.” -rapper Jon Spreez

“Instead of being angry, just look at the possibilities. It’s like a meteor hitting earth and hitting reset. Once you get through the shock and awe, if you will, everything is new, and the possibilities are endless.” -artist Davey Highben

“I constantly tell people the worst thing that can happen to you on this side of heaven is to lose a child. Regardless of the circumstances, it’s painful, but I feel like it’s even more painful when you have to fight for accountability. I don’t like to use the term ‘justice’ for my son, because justice would be him being here. … But the love and support he has surrounded me with has given me the strength and ability to continue on in this. It reminds me that I have to keep fighting.” -Adrienne Hood, mother of the late Henry Green

“If you really think the Columbus police department needs to be investigated, then why are you putting so much money into it? Take that funding and apply it toward things that are actually going to help the Black communities. … Move money from the Columbus police department and put it toward community development, community projects and to create resources for communities that are suffering from police brutality, who are suffering from violent crime. It’s not rocket science. When you put resources into communities, crime goes down.” -artist and rapper Vada Azeem

“I look in the mirror now and it’s like, ‘There’s the Old Man right there,’ which is crazy in both good ways and bad. And that’s when the picture becomes clearer, like, that’s how this ball keeps rolling, and that’s how the world keeps going. Oh, I’m where he was, and now my daughter is where I was, and it all just comes together. … No one lives forever, but this is how we live on. His blood is in my veins, and my mom, as well. One day it just happens, and you look up and it’s like, ‘Shit, there they are.’” -musician William Elliott Whitmore

“If we want to get into the underbelly of the real issue, it’s whiteness. The issue is white people not wanting to come to the grips with the fact that — whether you’re rich or poor, well-to-do or rural Appalachian, or you just got here from Europe or Canada — because of the color of your skin, you have benefited from the system that has been created. And if you buy into that on any level, it becomes a problem for people who look like me.” -artist David Butler