Mike Miele, beloved local purveyor of hot dogs and cigars, is about to become a publisher.

A Fool’s Errand: Labor of Love: Mike Miele is looking for contributors who want to have fun writing for his humor rag. Photo by Jane Morba.

Recycled ideas: that is how Mike Miele, a man who moved from White Plains, NY, to California in 1980, and on to Monterey in 1999, describes his career choices and life’s work.

“I found Monterey and fell in love with it and said, ‘someday I am going to live there,’” he says. “The opportunity came up and here I am.”

Before coming to Monterey Bay, Miele fleshed out and owned many of his dreams—from his own cab company in New York to a cigar-making business in the Dominican Republic. Since coming here, he has become fairly well-known for his hot dog stand—a staple of the Farmer’s Market and at many local events. You have probably seen him. He is a large, almost ominous man, with a biting wit, and an unexpected smile. When not at his cart, he is omnipresent on Alvarado Street behind the counter at Hellam’s Tobacco Shop.

While owning a hot dog stand might not seem the most common of ambitions, Miele explains it as if it is one of the more regular job aspirations. His father owned a hot dog stand in New York, and he enjoyed working it so much, he knew he had to own one himself someday. Just another one of his recycled ideas he eventually got around to.

“I love the people it allows me to meet,” he says.

Sitting in the upstairs room of Hellam’s, speaking over the sound of a large fan that he had turned on to keep away the smoke from a large, pungent cigar, Miele is talking about another idea: a free monthly humor and satire newspaper titled the Monterey County Fool, which he promises will not be your ordinary run-of-the-mill publication.

Miele is firm on not including any local news, unless in satirical form, or any type of events calendar in the paper, as it would take away from the overall mood.

“I have never really enjoyed the news because it seems like they have to have sensationalism to make you watch or listen,” he says. “I am tired of wars, and what’s happening in the wars, or the crime level in Salinas. Let’s just have a magazine written so people can have fun with it.”

Miele says the paper will be distributed on the first Tuesday of the month at the Farmers Market and will be aimed at all demographics—it’ll be “something everyone can enjoy, even tourists.”

The idea for the Fool has been festering since Miele was approached with the opportunity to purchase a monthly newspaper years back, but passed on the idea because the asking price was too high. Finally, the idea cycle came around, and now it’s time for the newspaper to be resurrected.

“I had wanted to do it for the last six or seven years and I went ahead and did it,” he says. Part of the inspiration for the paper comes from the popular online satirical magazine, The Onion that he says he has read pretty regularly.

Miele says the Fool will be about 30 pages. Sections readers are used to seeing in everyday publications, like news, sports, business, horoscope, and classifieds, will be replaced by a different line-up: limericks, readers’ polls, “fooloscopes.”

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He has an idea about reader-driven stories, where the paper’s staff would start a story and it would be continued by submissions written by readers. It will even have its own advice columnist in the style of “Dear Abby,” except the advice will be aimed at being more funny than helpful.  

With a colorful sign made with a variety of magic markers hanging up in the Hellam’s window asking for writers, Miele says he has assembled a crack team of “well versed” individuals hailing from everywhere in the United States. He says these aren’t just amateur writers and college students; he claims to be bringing together a mix of professional contributors.

“The staff and I realize it will be a labor of love,” Miele says. “It’s a coming together of a bunch of creative people who want to have fun and put something different out there.”

Miele is the picture of confidence. He has entered this venture entirely sure of his success.

“There are naysayers of course, saying it’s been tried or it’s been done,” he says. “But it hasn’t been tried by me, and that is when we find out.”

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