David Gans (tnf) Fri 6 Dec 02 07:56
Paul Krassner calls himself "an investigative satirist." From 1958 to 2001, he published The Realist, with the slogan "Irreverence is our only sacred cow." He writes columns for High Times and for Adult Video News Online, and he is also a stand-up comedian . Paul's latest album is "Irony Lives!' At the taping, he was introduced by Dan Castellaneta, who does the voice of Homer on "The Simpsons." Although Fox TV attorneys refused to grant permission to include it, Homer's intro- duction may be found at paulkrassner.com. Last year, he was inducted into the Counterculture Hall of Fame -- "my ambition," he says, "since I was three years old." Krassner's new book, "Murder At the Conspiracy Convention and Other American Absurdities," includes profiles of Lenny Bruce, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Garcia, Jack Herer, Peter McWilliams, Ram Dass and Ken Kesey, with shorter pieces on his encounters with Terence McKenna, John Lilly, Timothy Leary, John Lennon, Hunter Thompson and Allen Ginsberg. He reports on events such as the Prophets Conference, the Neo-Pagan Festival, the Swingers Convention, the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, and a conspiracy convention that reeked of disin- formation. Also, the characters on "Seinfeld" get dosed with Viagra, Monica Lewinsky writes her memoirs, and neo-feminists demand that men urinate sit- ting down. Ultimately, he proves that when the FBI called him "a raving, unconfined nut," they were merely being accurate. Our interlocutor for this discussion is Michael Simmons, a contributor to the LA Weekly and High Times who has also written for Rolling Stone, Pent- house, Crawdaddy, LA Reader, Clamor, The Progressive and others. He won the Los Angeles Press Club Award in 1996 for Excellence in Journalism for his LA Weekly expose of the Hollywood Vice Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. Simmons is currently working on two books -- "Yippie! And The Politics Of Hip" for University of New Mexico Press and "The Future Is Now!: The MC 5 and White Panthers" for Creation Books - and he has optioned his cannabis journalism to HBO and Goldie Hawn's production company for a docudrama about the controversy over medical marijuana.
Paul Krassner (paulkrassner) Fri 6 Dec 02 10:20
Well, okay, it's Friday, I'm off to a matinee movie, and will be back about 3:30 California time, and will check in then.
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 6 Dec 02 10:33
Excellent. This should be fun! Meanwhile, can I ask about the title, "Irony Lives!"? Is that a reference to the traumatized post-9/11 nonsense from writers who expected the entire nation to be in both perma-war and perma-post-traumatic-stress-syndrome? Was the book written during that period, by the way? (You can tell I'm not one of the group of WELL members who got review copies, just part of the conversational crowd for this!)
David Gans (tnf) Fri 6 Dec 02 10:35
I think Irony is alive and well. What is dead, and is being kicked around mercilessly by the Bushians, is shame. The appointments of Poindexter and Kissinger are the most recent ex- amples.
Michael Simmons (michaelsimmons) Fri 6 Dec 02 11:43
One can argue that the Poindexter and Kissinger appointments are ironic as well. So, Paulie, Paulie, Paulie. You shamed the family and now I have to... Oops, wrong movie. OK. What occurred to me while re-reading "Murder At The Conspiracy Convention is: you've been at this "change the world for the better" racket now since the the 1950s and the world continues to get worse. Isn't it demoralizing? I mean, it's demoralizing for me and I haven't been at it as long as you have.
Infradibulated Gratility (ssol) Fri 6 Dec 02 11:45
Hmmmm... optimism against all odds... what an American/Age o' Enlightenment concept? Anyhow, have at it, Paul. What do make of Kissinger appointed to investigate (obfusicate?) the events and failures leading to 9.11? Any thoughts on dealing with Poindexter and his all-seeing secret eye? I'll be reading your response from a secure, undisclosed location via wireless channels buried in the noise floor of solar radiation burning thru the ozone hole. Gotta go before They get a lock on my signal...
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 6 Dec 02 14:15
(If you've stumbled onto this interview and you're not a member of the WELL, you can still join the party - just email your questions and rants to email@example.com and we'll see that they're posted.)
Paul Krassner (paulkrassner) Fri 6 Dec 02 16:29
To Gail: Irony Lives! is the name of my CD, and it was so named because of those media pundits who said that irony was dead after 9/11. Most of the book, Murder At the Conspiracy Convention was written before 9/11, and there is a foreword (also titled Irony Lives) bringing things up to date as much as possible.
Paul Krassner (paulkrassner) Fri 6 Dec 02 16:33
To Simmons: It's not personally demoralizing, it's just tremendously sad that so much human suffering has resulted and will continue to result because of the nation's karma. What has happened and is happening seems to have been inevitable, and I take no pride in having been called paranoid for what is now coming true.
Paul Krassner (paulkrassner) Fri 6 Dec 02 16:35
To Infabriludated: Kissinger and Poindexter are examples of the incredible arrogance of the coup masters. My hope is that as their backgrounds are more disclosed, the Bush administration's credibility will fall.
Michael Simmons (michaelsimmons) Fri 6 Dec 02 16:45
At the same time, you've been instrumental in dragging America into modernity. You describe in your book your abortion referral service when it was still illegal and women were dying on back alley kitchen tables. You were the first plaintiff to declare abortion laws unconstitutional in New York. Abortion is analogous to drug prohibition and yet it seems more difficult for commonsense to prevail concerning marijuana at the very least. The Dope Warriors are even intransigent when it comes to medical marijuana, as you know from the experience of your friend, the late Peter McWilliams. What gives with the resistance to any drug policy reform?
flying jenny (jenslobodin) Fri 6 Dec 02 16:55
How great to see you here, Paul Krassner! One would hope that as they are disrobed, the Emporer and his cronies would move closer to dethronement, but we saw with our own eyes and ears what they were way back during Iran-Contra, and still, here they are. We don't seem to be able to believe what evil lurks herein. But, you are great, for we must keep informed, and reminding ourselves and each other of what's what.
Paul Krassner (paulkrassner) Fri 6 Dec 02 20:17
Well, Mikey, drug policy reform, or as it is known among inner circles DPR, (a wonderful hallucinogen, by the way), would put a lot of people out of jobs. Politicians admit in private the injustice of the laws, but they eat chickenshit sandwiches for brunch. I've been reading a book, The Tipping Point, which tells how things reach a sort of critical mass--from the sale of Hush Puppy shoes to the spread of syphillis--and that is what I'm hoping will happen with the drug policy reform movement, as more and more people become aware of the contradictions, the futility, the lack of compassion by the war on some people who use some drugs some times.
Paul Krassner (paulkrassner) Fri 6 Dec 02 20:20
hi, Jenny--yeah, the devil never sleeps, no good deed goes unpunished...pick your metaphor...though for some perverse reason, I have certain sense of ultimate optimism. but maybe it's just the result of damaged chromosomes from taking too many acid trips.
Michael Simmons (michaelsimmons) Fri 6 Dec 02 21:37
Plugging yer book "Murder At The Conspiracy Convention" -- available at yer bookswipe or cyberstall now -- your riffs remind me of yer pal Lenny Bruce -- riffing on topical tissues -- I mean issues. By and by, I'm stoned outta my skull at this moment, having smoked what the connoisseurs call "kush" (c'mon 'n' get me, coppers). Does Lenny live in your conciousnessness at all? You co-wrote his bio "How To Talk Dirty And Influence People". Is he alive in your cranium, dispensing opinions?
Paul Krassner (paulkrassner) Fri 6 Dec 02 22:47
Postscript to my observation about the drug war: it's also about the competition between legal and illegal drugs, between corporate and non-corporate drugs. The Partnership For a Drug-Free America was founded and funded by the alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical companies.
Paul Krassner (paulkrassner) Fri 6 Dec 02 22:52
About Lenny Bruce. First, we didn't co-write his autobiography. Lenny wrote it. I was his editor. And yes, Kush-monger, he is still in my consciousness. He was the biggest influence on me as a performer, and I'm currently working on a novel about a contemporary controversial comedian, obviously inspired by Bruce. After he died, I kept wondering, what would Lenny be saying about this? about that? about his own evolution? And he remains as a touchstone, to appreciate something I say or to remind me that, for example, it's a cheap shot.
Paul Krassner (paulkrassner) Fri 6 Dec 02 22:53
One other thing about Lenny B. There were times I thought I was channeling him, but I don't believe in that stuff, and it was really just a case of wishful thinking.
Michael Simmons (michaelsimmons) Fri 6 Dec 02 23:55
How would Lenny react to the current state of disarray? What would he be saying? What's Lenny's take on Osama? Dubya? Eddie Murphy? Can you conjecture a riff or three? Also, are you in touch with Honey (wife) or Kitty Bruce (daughter). If so, how are they?
BJ Castleman (bluecat-sings) Sat 7 Dec 02 00:15
Hi Paul, A few months ago I heard an interview with you on KBOO in Portland, OR. You gave a wonderful quote from the Bush administration that you said was now your mantra: "Hypocrisy is better than no values at all." Who exactly said it? You mentioned the name but I forget. I heard the interview as I was driving to visit my 92 year old father, who is one of your original subscribers to The Realist. I went in and told him Paul Krassner was in town and was being interviewed on the radio right now. He said, "Really? You mean it?OUR Paul Krassner?" We've got you now! bj
the newly locked-down Table Talk (silly) Sat 7 Dec 02 06:52
Harlan Ellison wrote the forward to Pot Stories for the Soul?! <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1893010023> How did _that_ come about?
Paul Krassner (paulkrassner) Sat 7 Dec 02 07:17
Lenny's most audacious material was Hitler's orchestrator of the Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann; Lenny spoke from Eichmann's point of view, justifying the job he had done so efficiently; I suspect Lenny would have more recently spoken from Osam bin Laden's point of view. His humor was based on empathy.
Paul Krassner (paulkrassner) Sat 7 Dec 02 07:18
I haven't been in touch with Honey Bruce or Kitty Bruce for a while.
Paul Krassner (paulkrassner) Sat 7 Dec 02 07:21
Hey, Barry Castleman--glad to hear from you. Gary Condit was one of the leading critics of Clinton's activities with Monica Lewinsky, calling for his impeachment. Then, when Condit's affair with Chandra Levy became public, a reporter asked William Bennett if he thought Condit was hypocritical. Bennett replied, "Hypocrisy is better than no values at all." Ah, yes, words to live by.
Paul Krassner (paulkrassner) Sat 7 Dec 02 07:24
Harlan Ellison was among the hundreds of friends and acquaintances I asked for pot stories. It turned out he was anti-drugs and he wrote a stylistic, scathing anti-drug response to my request. We agreed that it would be an appropriate introduction because it was so incongruous that it was funny.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 7 Dec 02 08:01
I sometimes think the cultural memory of Lenny is slipping away, but I wrote a piece about him years ago ( http://gopher.well.sf.ca.us:70/0/Publications/authors/jonl/lenny.up ), and I still occasionally get an email from somebody who found that piece and connected. There's a recent book called _The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall and Rise of An American Icon_, have you read it? Saw it in the book store the other day; looks good. Wish somebody would do another film to make up for the Bob Fosse thing.
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