• Beth Kaufmann

Airborne Toxic Event (Rounder)

Airborne Toxic Event founder Mikel Jollett was born in Santa Monica, CA in 1974. His parents lived in the “utopian drug-rehab cult”, Synanon, where he witnessed acts of violence and threats of kidnapping. In 1978, his mother fled the cult, taking him and his brother to live Oregon, though in 1985 Jollett moved to Los Angeles to live with his ex-con, ex-heroin addict father and a step-mother who was also a Synanon survivor. He became a superior athlete and honor student, eventually enrolling in Stanford University, where he graduated with honors in 1996. It was these experiences that not only led Jollett to become an accomplished writer (NPR’s All Things Considered, Men’s Health Magazine, Filter Magazine), but also to both Hollywood Park –the new Airborne Toxic Event album and Jollett’s accompanying book.


Hollywood Park: A Memoir chronicles Jollett’s journey through early childhood, living in poverty and emotional abuse before finding his voice as an artist, making his way through feelings of abandonment among the confusion of an adult life spent healing from the wounds of childhood, and the redemption that comes from looking inward, accepting one’s own self, and the fierce love of family. The book, combined with the album Hollywood Park is the soundtrack for the life lived before Jollett’s escape from a harrowing childhood to his emergence as a talented writer and musician who turned his pain into music.


“I mostly grew up in the wreckage of the cult where I was born, since we left when I was so young. It came to me like a puzzle I had to put together, almost like separate realities with different rules. So I wrote the songs on the record (and the book) from that perspective: that of a child trying to piece together the reality of the changing world around him; because that’s how I experienced it: like a mystery I couldn’t quite fathom that I had to piece together over a lifetime,” Jollett says.


Hollywood Park’s songs tell of one man’s poignant memoir filled with sadness, but ultimately love and redemption. “Come On Out” is the first single, WXRT, 885FM, Colorado Sound, WCNR and WFPK are just a few spinning what looks to be Airborne Toxic Event’s Triple A breakout. And if one is looking for summer reading, read the story for yourself.



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