Over the holidays I got a chance to give a deep read to On the Ground, the illustrated history of the 1960s-early 70s underground press, edited by Sean Stewart of the Babylon Falling Tumblr site. It’s a rich oral history, with interviews with editors, artists, and cartoonists, and is packed with underground newspaper covers, ads, cartoons, posters, photographs, and more. The visuals explode off the page, and the whole book feels like a big, thick underground paper. This is essential reading (and looking) for anyone interested in 1960s politics, the underground press, alternative publishing, and graphics and comix. On the Ground is available at Amazon.com, and Babylon Falling has daily graphic updates.
I had a shit load of stuff relating to the JFK assassination (11/22/63) scanned and ready to post, but rather than bombarding you with conspiracy minutiae, I thought I’d share this Paul Krassner excerpt from my book instead. In it he discusses his now infamous satirical piece from The Realist, “The Parts That Were Left Out of the Kennedy Book.” Purporting to present cutting room floor content from William Manchester’s bestselling book, The Death of a President (1967), Krassner brilliantly adopts Manchester’s writing style to spin a hilarious, and (almost) believable, tale of ritualistic necrophilia aboard Air Force One shortly after the assassination.
The most notorious thing I published was “The Parts That Were Left Out of the Kennedy Book” in 1967. Now that’s the thing that people remember most, and that remains my own favorite because it was an exercise in nurturing the incredible in the credible context leading up to the climactic scene which was an act of presidential necrophilia between Lyndon Johnson and the corpse of John F. Kennedy on Air Force One after the assassination. There were people who believed that. They had been seduced by the verisimilitude of the context, if only for a moment. They believed that the president, the leader of the Western world, the one who was escalating the Viet Nam War, was what the FBI called me, a raving, unconfined nut. And people complained to me afterwards that I should have labeled it as satire. And it was intriguing to me because Jonathan Swift didn’t say anything about his “Modest Proposal,” he didn’t say, “Folks, before you read this I just want to let you know that the British didn’t actually try to stem the population and the hunger in Ireland by eating Irish babies.” I didn’t want to deprive the readers of deciding for themselves whether something was factual or a projection of the implications of what you’re writing about.
Shouts to Ryan from Revolt of the Apes for the interview.
Amongst all kinds of other great shit on the site, he also recently put up his interview with Pat Thomas about the book, Listen Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power, 1965-1975 (Fantagraphics, 2012). Check it out.
For Stewart, who first got introduced to radical literature through hip-hop—via references by Tupac, BDP, and the Beastie Boys, among others—documenting American counterculture has become a natural extension of his prior work as a bookseller and curator. Babylon Falling, his shuttered bookstore and gallery space in San Francisco, is now a blog dedicated to cataloging the revolutionary publications and ephemera from the Sixties and Seventies, with a running thread on hip-hop culture. Over the last several months, I’ve corresponded with Stewart by email, discussing his book, the historical significance of the underground press, and what modern-day protest looks like. It turns out that the names may be different, but the struggles remain eerily familiar.
Read it HERE
PORK #7 HITS THE STREETS TODAY!!!
I have a one-page article/interview with Al Goldstein in this issue.
Last year I visited the King of Porn way the fuck out in Far Rockaway to interview him for my book about the sixties underground press, On the Ground. He was living in squalor, but was in good spirits, and though we ended up talking for a few hours, only a small amount of the interview made it into the book. I knew that it would be criminal to keep the rest of the content to myself, and thankfully the good people at Pork were of the same mind.
Pork has been killing shit consistently and this issue is no exception. Cop it where you live (it’s free!) or check it out online. Mad original, so refreshing. Much love to Sean Aaberg and the Pork crew.
I recently ran out of stickers, and so in their place basketball cards will now go out with every book order from my webstore. I try to match the teams with the state I’m shipping to, and I have a strict rule of dumping the most obscure cards on every international customer as a tax for making me fill out customs forms.
You only get a chance to own one of these (mostly) worthless (but still cool) cards if you order directly from me, but the book is also available at: amazon, b&n, your local indie bookstore, pm press, and powell’s.
In these trying times it is only because of your generous support that I am able to maintain my daily Red Bull habit. So love to everybody who has been buying books.