Julie Halpern has written books, is a librarian & has a child and a husband!
did you first find out that your recording had been released? Did you hear
it or hear about it first?
My friend called me late at night, and I was all mad because I go to sleep really early for my job.
But she was screaming and saying that I was on a CD that her boyfriend was playing for her. She played
some of it over the phone, and it slowly dawned on me where the recording came from. This was probably
almost ten years ago, which would be about nine years after I made the tape.
(You can hear said recording here)
What were your feelings about it? Were you mad?
I wasn’t mad at all. I’m sure at the time they were making fun of me, but I was in my twenties by the time I heard it and so far
removed from that point in my life. I was excited that I was on a CD.
Do you still have the original tape?
No. Back in those days, when you made a tape for someone, that was your only copy.
Did you ever get a response from the people that you originally sent the tape to? Or did you just find out about the track and that's it?
Did you ever try to contact them about it after you heard it was released?
I don’t really remember if I heard back from the original receivers of the tape, but I know they sent me the zine that I requested.
It was an issue called “I Hate Brenda.” I ordered it because I was a big 90210 fan. I don’t think there was too much in it about 90210,
though. But I can’t remember if they replied with a personal note about the tape or not.
Once I saw the CD, I contacted Mark Robinson at Teen Beat to tell him who I was. He was really nice and sincere. I eventually met him at a
show he did in Chicago. It was slightly anticlimactic. I think I set it up in my head to be a sort of destiny thing, which I often did.
Looking back, maybe it was a sort of destiny thing; not knowing it at the time, my future husband was also at that show.
It's my guess that this was made in September / October 1990, is that about right? I figured this by you explaining that Fantasia was being
released "next week" (it was released in October 1990).
That sounds about right. I was a junior in high school when I recorded it, and that was 90/91.
Do you still listen to U2? The New Bohemians? Faith No More? The Black Crowes? Descendents?
really listen to U2, New Bohemians, or the Black Crowes anymore. I found recently
that Faith No More’s “The Real Thing” makes my daughter
fall asleep when I’m driving,
so it has turned into a lullaby album. I still really love Descendents.
Where were you living when you made this tape?
With my parents in our house in Buffalo Grove, IL, where I grew up.
Are you still collecting horror comics? If not, did your collection get big?
I don’t really collect anything. I like reading them and still have them, but I am not a collector. In fact, I much prefer getting rid of things than collecting them.
Did you ever "get out of the country"? Did you travel the world? What happened with the boy in Austria that you were madly in love with?
That’s so funny. When I listened to this, I just kept thinking how cute and sad I sounded. Yes, I did get out of the country.
I moved to Australia for a while after I graduated from college, and I have been to several other countries to travel.
I didn’t go to Austria. I don’t think I was really in love with an Austrian. I think there was one I thought was cute. They left after a week or something,
and I never talked to any of them.
Where did you end up going to college?
University of Wisconsin, Madison. I was actually there at the same time as Milo from Descendents. I saw him at a bar, but I was too chicken to say anything.
Are your biggest fears still pain, long distance running & bugs?
I’m not really afraid of pain as much as I am of needles. And I think I have conquered both my running and bug fears. Unless we’re talking earwigs.
Did your friends hear this tape? If so, were they mad that you called them obnoxious?
They only heard the tape when we became adults. They didn’t care or didn’t know it was about them. High school is all about hating on your friends anyway.
Do you still talk to the person who was your best friend who moved to Connecticut?
No. I stayed with him for a summer during college in his apartment in New York City, but I think the last time we spoke was right after 9/11, checking in.
What is the Descendents song that you played at the end?
No clue. Something
off of “Enjoy!” or “All,” I’m sure.
Are you a fan of the Teenbeat band Unrest?
No. My husband was, but I never got into them.
How are a few ways your life has changed in the 20 years since this tape was made?
I’m married, have a baby, have a masters degree and a full time job as a middle school librarian.
I’m also a YA author, with three books in stores. I think I’ve gained a ton of confidence and matured quite a bit.
Which, one would only hope would happen in the twenty years after childhood.
You wrote a book called Into the Wild Nerd Yonder: My Life On The Dork Side.
In many ways it seems that you've embraced your "inner dork". Would you say
that if the recording was released to make fun of you for being a dork, would you not
even really care? Do you have an opinion on the intentions of the release of this tape?
People like to make fun of others because it makes them feel better about themselves. In the end, that was so
long ago, who cares? Nowadays, I’m sort of the queen of the dorks at the school where I work. I run the
Dungeons and Dragons Club. I make the library a place where everyone can feel comfortable,
whether they like to read or not. I’m all about acceptance. Not judging the kids. They need someone in their
lives like that.
You have a new Podcast called The Neverending Commute, what is your reason for making it? How long is your commute?
My commute is long and boring and sometimes so stressful. It’s minimum of 45 minutes. Drives me crazy, pun intended.
So I thought I could do a podcast and enjoy myself a little more, even if no one listens to it. Maybe it would be better if no one did, since I’m not saying all that
much. Just talking about food and TV and my thoughts. Sometimes it’s pretty funny. And sometimes it’s just someone stuck in traffic.
If you want to talk about the books you have written & provide links, feel free.
My first young adult novel, Get Well Soon, is a winner of the NAMI Ken Award, an ALA Quick Pick
for Reluctant Readers, and a Kirkus Best YA Book of 2007. It’s the fictionalized story of my hospitalization for depression in
high school (sort of where I went a year after I made the Tube Bar tape). My new novel, Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, is about a group of friends
and how they grow apart. One group heads toward the punks, while the main character, Jessie, questions whether or
not she’s ready to become a nerd. Both are funny, quick reads. You can read more about them on my website, www.juliehalpern.com.