This piece was originally published in Arthur No. 13 (Nov. 2004), with cover artwork by John Coulthart and design by William T. Nelson, pictured above (click image to view at larger size). A correction involving Cosmic Charlie published in a later issue has been embedded in the text here at the most natural point. I’m sorry that I’ve been unable to include the many fantastic photographs from the print article here. However, I have added a still from the film “Will the Real Norman Mailer Please Stand Up” by Dick Fontaine, which we did not have access to at the time of print publication into the text, and there are more stills from various films appended. —Jay Babcock
Clip from Arthur No. 13’s Table of Contents page, featuring photo by Robert A. Altman.
OUT, DEMONS, OUT!
On October 21, 1967, the Pentagon came under a most unconventional assault.
An oral history by Larry “Ratso” Sloman, Michael Simmons and Jay Babcock
* * *
INTRODUCTION BY MICHAEL SIMMONS By Autumn of 1967, the “police action” in Vietnam had escalated. The United States of America waged War—that hideous manifestation of the human race’s worst instincts—against the small, distant, sovereign land. 485,600 American troops were then stationed in Nam; 9,353 would die in ’67 alone. We were there under false pretenses (the “attack’ at the Gulf of Tonkin that never happened), operating under a paranoid doctrine (the Domino Theory, fretting that Vietnamese Communists fighting a civil war in their own country with popular support would envelop all of Southeast Asia and end up invading Dubuque, Iowa). Seven million tons of bombs would eventually be dropped, as opposed to two million during World War II. Indiscriminate use of gruesome weaponry was deployed, most infamously napalm, a jelly that sticks to—and burns through—human skin. Saturation bombings, free-fire zones, massive defoliation with the carcinogen Agent Orange. “Destroying the village to save it,” as one American military man put it.
For a generation that remembered the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals after WW II, something had to be done. Genocidal fugitive Adolf Eichmann’s “I was just following orders” excuse would not fly. The draft was sending 18-year-olds off to die. A domestic anti-war movement emerged, as had a counterculture of hairy young people who rejected the militarism, greed, sexual repression, and stunted consciousness of their parents and leaders to pursue Joy and Sharing as well as Dope, Rock and Roll, and Fucking in the Streets. Pundits spoke of The Generation Gap. A quaking chasm had split the nation.
San Francisco painter Michael Bowen had a dream of people coming together to celebrate his city’s burgeoning hippie subculture, and so he and his wife Martine initiated the Great Human Be-In on Sunday, January 14, 1967. Sub-billed as A Gathering of the Tribes, 10,000 hippies, radicals and free spirits convened in Golden Gate Park. Beat poets emceed (Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Lenore Kandel), rock bands rocked (Grateful Dead, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Charlatans), Hell’s Angels returned lost kids to their mommies – and the cops busted no one, despite rampant open marijuana use. For many, the realization that there were other Martians was transcendental. Berkeley anti-war activist Jerry Rubin gave a speech, but his narrow political rap was dubbed “too histrionic” by Ginsberg and many in the crowd. It fortuitously forked Rubin’s direction. “It was the first time I did see a new society,” he said later. “I saw there was no need for a political statement. I didn’t understand that until then, either.”
Events ending with the suffix “In” became the rage. Bob Fass hosted the hippest radio show in the country, “Radio Unnameable” on New York’s WBAI. The all-night gab-and-music fest was Freak Centra, functioning as a pre-internet audio website. Regular guests included Realist editor Paul Krassner (dubbed “Father of the Underground Press”), underground film director Robert Downey Sr. (father and namesake of…), actor/writer Marshall Efron (arguably the funniest man on the planet), and a manic activist-gone-psychedelic named Abbie Hoffman—all rapping madly, verbally riffing and improvising like musicians. One night after participating in a UsCo avant-garde multi-media show of projections, movies, music, etc., at an airplane hangar, Fass stopped by nearby JFK International Airport and noticed a group of three dozen young people—clearly ripped to the tits—communally entranced by a giant mobile centerpiecing a terminal. The vast open spaces of an airport, with jet planes and stars in the sky, were the stage for dreams to come to life. Fass flashed on the infinite possibilities.
He conceived a Fly-In at JFK and announced it on Radio Unnameable. Though Saturday night, February 11, was freezing cold, 3,000 of the underground’s finest came to sing Beatles songs, torch reefers, dance the body electric, and groove with their sisters and brothers. “One of the things that happened,” Fass observed, “was that there was such a colossal amount of human connection that there was something akin to feedback that happened, and people really began to experience not ‘happiness,’ but Ecstasy and Joy. We’re planning another one at your house.”
New York responded to San Francisco’s Be-In with its own. Key to its success was Jim Fouratt, a young actor who’d become one of the most effective hippie organizers on the Lower East Side. Promotion for the event cost $250, which paid for posters and leaflets. On Easter Sunday, March 27, 10,000 full and part-time hippies came together—some in the carnal definition—at Central Park’s Sheep Meadow. It was a glistening, no bad vibes, lysergic day. Fouratt was central to virtually every NYC hip community event, including the infamous Soot-In at Consolidated Edison, where he, Abbie Hoffman, and others dumped bags of nasty black soot at the coal burning, energy company’s offices, in a protest that prefigured and influenced the birth of the environmental movement.
Emmett Grogan was a brilliant and enigmatic prankster/con man at the heart of San Francisco’s do-goodnik anarcho-rogues the Diggers. He suggested to his friend Bob Fass that a Sweep-In would strengthen the momentum the Fly-In had sparked. The idea was to “clean up the Lower East Side” area of NYC where the hippies dwelled. Fass conspired with Krassner and Abbie and listeners on his radio show, and they chose Seventh Street, where Krassner lived. The buzz grew louder and one day an inquiring bureaucrat from the Sanitation Department called Radio Unnameable. The potentates of garbage at City Hall were nervous about these beatniks with brooms taking their gig. While appearing cooperative on the phone and in a later meeting, the city pranked the pranksters on the day of the Sweep-In, April 8. When thousands of mop-wielding longhairs appeared at 11 a.m., they beheld a garbage-free, sparkling fresh, squeaky clean street of slums—courtesy of the Sanitation Department. Fass and Krassner were amused that they’d actually forced the city to do its job. Unfazed, they moved the Sweep-In to Third Street. When a city garbage truck turned the corner, the street peeps leaped on it and cleaned it as well.
No single human—other than Tribal Elder Allen Ginsberg—was as influential on this emerging culture than Ed Sanders. He led the satirical-protest-smut-folk-rock band The Fugs with East Village legend Tuli Kupferberg, ran the Peace Eye Bookstore (and community center) on 10th Street, published Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts, made films like Mongolian Clusterfuck, wrote poetry, rabble roused for myriad peacenik causes and cannabis legalization. Sanders—one of the first public figures to live seamlessly within realms of Politics, Art, and Fun—was a first cousin to Che Guevara’s paradigmatic New Man—albeit thoroughly American and anti-authoritarian.
But the Life Actor who embodies the Revolutionary Prankster in 20th-century history books is Abbie Hoffman. And he is where our story begins…
I first met Tuli Kupferberg in the early ’60s at the Paperback Gallery in Greenwich Village. I was delivering my magazine, The Realist, and he was delivering his booklet, Birth. Sharing a concept that tragedy and absurdity were two sides of the same coin, we bonded immediately.
In 1966, I published an article by John Wilcock, “Who the Fugs Think They Are.” Tuli talked about the importance of sexual liberation. “Americans like to kill or be killed,” he said. “Aggression is reaction to frustration. Sexual frustration is still the major problem to be solved and in my opinion the appearance of sexual humor is a healthy sign. And if we can put some joy, some real sexy warmth into the revolution, we’ll have really achieved something.”
When Norman Mailer wrote his first novel, The Naked and the Dead, he used the euphemism “fug” for “fuck,” which was then a literary taboo. At our first encounter, I asked him if it was true that when he met actress Tallulah Bankhead she said, “So you’re the young man who doesn’t know how to spell fuck.” With a twinkle in his eye, he told me that he replied, “Yes, and you’re the young woman who doesn’t know how to.” Anyway, that’s where the Fugs got their name. In “Doin’ All Right,” they sang, “I’m not ever goin’ to Vietnam/ I’d rather stay right here and screw your mom.” Tuli told me, “That was enough to get us beaten up if we did it in the right place.”
In 1968, at the counter-convention in Chicago, hash oil in honey was the drug of choice. The Fugs co-founders, Ed Sanders and Tuli, sampled it. This was strong stuff, and they got completely fugged up. Sanders described the grass he was walking on as “a giant frothing trough of mutant spinach egg noodles.” Tuli’s friends had to carry him by the armpits back to the apartment where he was staying. “They’re delivering me,” he explained.
There was a rumor that Philip Roth had lifted the masturbatory obsessed theme of his novel, Portnoy’s Complaint, from a Fugs song, but that notion was disavowed by Sanders, who assured me, “Philip Roth did not plagiarize a Fugs song. He came to a Fugs show in 1966, and I think he was inspired by Tuli, in top hat and cane, singing ‘Jack-Off Blues.’ Many times in reunion concerts, introducing Tuli singing that song, I have suggested that Roth got some of the impetus for Portnoy’s Complaint from that time he was inspired by the Tuli tune.”
Another rumor was triggered by Allen Ginsberg’s famous poem, Howl. Tuli acknowledged that he had been the inspiration for this passage: “…jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer…” Actually, it was the Manhattan Bridge. Tuli was just out of college and in the throes of the break-up of his first major love relationship, which contributed to a nervous breakdown that precipitated his suicide attempt. He was rescued by a passing tugboat and taken to Governor’s Island Hospital with a broken transverse process that put him in a body cast.
“Throughout the years,” Tuli complained, “I have been annoyed many times by, ‘Oh, did you really jump off the Brooklyn Bridge?’—as if it was a great accomplishment.” At first he had refused to talk about it, but as Ginsberg’s myth spread that he had simply “walked away” after jumping off a bridge, Tuli became concerned about wrongly influencing young people. He didn’t want anyone else to take a similar chance of being severely injured if they survived.
Tuli was the first Poet-in-Residence at the Bowery Poetry Club. Proprietor Bob Holman sent an e-mail two days before Tuli’s death on a gloomy Sunday: “I am in Medellin at the amazing International Poets Festival here—100 poets! Ten days of it!—and Tuli’s spirit is everywhere. Tell that bum to get up and out and over here.” Norman Savitt, producer of Tuli’s TV show, Revolting News, reported from the hospital bedside that Tuli reminded him “what a shame it was that I had my son circumcised, how I should be putting lyrics to all my instrumental music, and the importance of raw garlic in my diet.” And Larkworthy Antfarm adapted a Fugs song, applying the original lyrics to the BP catastrophe, singing about “a river of shit.”
Epilogue: Ah, the condolences: “Tuli, may you see Boobs a Lot in Heaven” . . . “This Monday will be just a little more Nothing” . . . “Mourning, Mourning” . . .
Check out paulkrassner.com to see the digitally colored edition of the infamous Disneyland Memorial Orgy poster.
The following is a brief excerpt from “Out! Demons Out!: An Oral History of the 1967 Exorcism of the Pentagon and the Birth of Yippie!,” a 16,500-word piece in Arthur No. 13 (cover by John Coulthart above—that’s Ken’s face in red), available for $6 postpaid from the Arthur Store…
PAUL KRASSNER: There were a lot of young people and old protesting vets. Viet Nam was much more in people’s minds by then. It was also at the end of the Summer of Love. So, the march was part of an intensification and expansion of what was already going on. It was one of the first, biggest, non-linear, non-traditional, non-Old Left demonstrations. I think in that sense it was seminal.
ROZ PAYNE: After all the speeches that went on in front of the Lincoln Memorial and the music, then the people went to march on the Pentagon. The kids were at the demonstration anyway and anything that looks more interesting than listening to speakers is gonna attract people, and so a large group of people followed the march. On one of the overpasses there was this young Black guy who has a sign that said No Vietcong Ever Called Me a Nigger. There was a river there, and there were people on boats there who had signs. It was almost like a new type of thing we had never encountered. Usually you went to a demonstration, you heard speeches and you left; this time, you followed the group. People went through this break through bushes, climbed up some rocks, cleared a pathway and you ended up at the Pentagon, which is really exciting. And here are all these…there were just thousands and thousands of people there, soldiers surrounding the Pentagon, people sitting on the ground OMMMing. The exorcism of the Pentagon was a sideshow. It was brought up that they were going to be doing this but that wasn’t the main thing.
KENNETH ANGER: There were a bunch of idiots there. I didn’t consider myself an idiot, but maybe other people would. [laughs] There were these hothead lefties, who, their idea was they would take over and kill the capitalists. Well, that’s not very practical. Then there were Hare Krishnas, peacenik idiots, saying peace peace, or something like that. I didn’t go for anything like that. It was so annoying.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Ed Sanders carried the levitation out. But not in a Buddhist way but in a Western magical way which was maybe not such a good idea. While Ed was trying to un-hex the Pentagon, Kenneth Anger was underneath his wagon trying to hex him.
ED SANDERS: Kenneth Anger was burning something down there and making snake sounds at whomever should try to come near. He told me that he had been inside the Pentagon weeks ago to bury something.
KENNETH ANGER: I just walked right in. I had studied how the Pentagon staff were dressed, and I was just like them. I wore a dark blue conservative suit. I even had a small American flag on my lapel.
I was attacking Mars, the god of War. He’s still our ruling god. If you think Mars is an extinct thing from the antique past that we can just laugh at now, forget it. Mars is still here. That is not my opinion, but my knowledge. Mars is a terrifying but sobering vision. I have had this vision of Mars—you have to do all the things at certain times of the year, and then he does come through. And he’s about 500 feet tall, he’s not very handsome, he’s very strong, he’s armored, he’s bearded in a scraggly way, he’s got the fiercest eyes of any of the gods. He makes Jupiter—Jove—look benign and effete in comparison. But Mars is kind of childish—that’s why it’s so hard to get to him. He just loves bloodbaths. This is his thing. He does it very well. And he’s always thinking up new ways to do hideous things to the human race. This is his FUN. He’s the god of War. And he’s been alive since there were humans in tribes. War is the most consistent activity of the human animal. For whatever reason, some good, and a lot bad, we’ve been doing it as a race since the cave days. Of course, some wars are justified, like World War II, fighting the Nazis, I can’t think of a better cause. But Mars has nothing to do with being fair. Mars loves bloodshed, and he is a force that’s still operating in the world—it’s a force that according to modern thinking is irrational, but nevertheless there. Freud would have called it the unconscious or something but I believe that these are actual living entities. Not ‘living’ in the way like humans living and breathing, [but] living in a way that are much beyond our capacity, because they’ll never die.
In a personal sense, men more than women have a big problem with Mars. Most soldiers from the beginning of time have been men, and still are. And the Pentagon is controlled by men. The Pentagon itself is sort of an occult shape—like a five-sided collapsed star. [In the Crowley tradition, Mars’ number is five and its color is red.—Ed.] I’m a pagan. Mars doesn’t terrify me because I’ve come to understand him as a living entity. But just because Mars is so powerful doesn’t mean you always have to give in to him. You have to [put him in his place]: ‘Alright buster, calm down. You’re not the only star in the firmament. Enough already.’ That sort of thing. And [so I attacked Mars] in an abstract way.
I had a map of the Pentagon. I went into every single men’s room and left—in a place where it was bound to be discovered, usually on the seat where anyone using that stall would have to see it, not on the floor, of course! —a talisman which was written on parchment paper, drawn in india ink. Each one was drawn individually using one of Crowley’s talismans as my guide. I’m sure no one in the Pentagon could figure out what this thing meant. There was nothing like “War is bad” on it. There weren’t even English words. They probably could figure out it was something occult. They know about those things, and they have a reference library.
I went from one men’s room to the next. I didn’t stop until I had scattered all 93 of my talismans—because 93 is a sacred number for Crowley. Then I walked out, it was all very inconspicuous. The security guard looked at me and gave me a nice look, like we’re all looking after each other. If I’d been stopped and put in handcuffs that would’ve been unpleasant. That isn’t the way I want to spend my time in Washington—I had a ticket to the opera for later that week.
ED SANDERS: I remember after we’d done “Out, Demons, Out,” I went down under the truck and there was this guy from Newsweek trying to hold a microphone close to Anger. It looked like Anger was burning a pentagon with a Tarot card or a picture of the devil or something in the middle of it. In other words the thing we were doing above him, he viewed that as the exoteric thing and he was doing the esoteric, serious, zero-bullshit exorcism. So I went along with that.
KENNETH ANGER: I don’t burn Tarot cards, I respect them too much. [What I was doing] was saying Ed Sanders and the Fugs are a bunch of crap, this isn’t the way to fight a war. After all, I was there to protest the war. I knew what I was doing. It was a Crowley-type ritual. They’d brought in a truck, decorated in flowers, making it like a float in the Rose Parade. They were just showoffs, they were putting their own agenda on this other thing. I found that offensive too because it wasn’t the point. Naturally flowers are nice and peace is nice and all that, but that’s not quite the point of what’s happening. And they were doing their omni hare krishna chant chant, peace peace, whatever, the kind of crap that Lennon and Yoko used to chant. People could say they were harmless and meant well. Well I’m sorry, they may have meant well [but] it didn’t do any good. In my view, there’s ways to [demonstrate] that are correct and there are ways to do it that are not correct. All the singing and flowers and chanting and all that crap was not the right way. The focus should on the objective of the march, not on Hey! Me! I’m here! Since it was close to Halloween, some people came dressed in costume, or carrying inappropriate signs, and I found that totally inappropriate, because it’s saying Look at me, don’t think about what we’re here for. The kind of energy that can be generated by a march can be dissipated by just turning it into a sideshow. And I see this happen over and over with American marches. Like people who try to protest in the nude: this is not appropriate for anything. Because public nudity happens to be against the law—and it probably should be, because most people are ugly! [laughs] The few Adonises and Venuses around, I’d love if they would parade in the nude. But most people could use a little concealment.
“The Denver Police Department is facing several lawsuits over confrontations with protesters at the Democratic National Convention. The officers had conducted mass arrests and detentions of 154 individuals before and during the convention. One cop, for example, was videotaped pushing a woman to the ground with his baton as he yelled, “Back up, bitch!” The police are being charged with systematically condoning violence against antiwar demonstrators, and now, a commemorative T-shirt (pictured above) created and distributed by their union, the Denver Police Protective Association, could be offered as evidence of the cops’ state of mind.” CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING
Baptism in Maverick Juice! A special sneak preview of this fall’s Palin-McCain reality sitcom by Paul Krassner
Referring to the Ronald Reagan presidency, Neal Gabler has written about “the triumph of entertainment over political ideology of any sort.” And Kurt Andersen labeled Bill Clinton the “Entertainer-in-Chief.” The voters are the audience, conditioned to fear and superficiality in commercials for erectile dysfunction and political campaigns alike, both having scary side effects. And now the injection of Sarah Palin and her family into the McCain campaign makes one wonder whether the winner of this race will ultimately depend on which candidate presents the better sitcom. It already isa reality show. Do you know what the difference is between a sitcom and a reality show? The laugh track. Otherwise, how would the masses be able to tell whether something is funny or not? Hmmmmm… In any case, we’re pleased to present several scenes from the pilot episode of…
BRIDGES TO NOWHERE
[The theme song by Britney Spears, “Oops! I Did It Again,” is accompanied by a montage of Sarah in different contexts, as the opening credits are superimposed on those images: In a helicopter, using a machine-gun to shoot a wolf running away in the snow. As a contestant in the Miss Alaska competition. A wedding photo. Burning a pile of books. Jumping high to block a shot in a basketball game. Seated at her desk in the governor’s office. At a barbecue with her children. Giving a speech to a large crowd. At the bank, exchanging a wolf’s left foreleg for a $150 bounty.]
* * *
[Sarah and Todd Palin are slumped down on the living-room sofa.]
SARAH: I’m exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. I was at the Learning Annex all day, taking that course in “How to Be a Vice President.”
TODD: And I was interviewing potential nannies all day. No one fits the bill yet. But I just keep calling the agency. Maybe I’ll try Craigslist.
[The telephone rings. Todd picks it up.]
TODD: Hello…thanks, I will. [Hangs up the phone and clicks on the TV That was McCain. [Looks at TV Guide for the channel number and clicks the TV on.]Keith Olbermann is doing a Special Comment about you on MSNBC.
PAUL KRASSNER is the founding publisher and editor of The Realist (1958-2001) and a founding member of the Yippies. He blogs regularly at Arthur’s mainstream outreach project on yahoo!music. Find out more about this Great American Freethinker at paulkrassner.com
Here’s Paul’s latest…
“The Sphinx’s Jaw Just Dropped!” Posted Mon Sep 8, 2008 6:04pm PDT Thirty years ago, the Grateful Dead played the pyramids during a solar eclipse. Paul Krassner was there. READ ON…
Zen Bastard in Denver Posted Wed Sep 3, 2008 5:10pm PDT “Playboy magazine had assigned me to cover the Democrats’ convention in Denver. A few days later, my assignment was withdrawn. I was able to put that disappointment in perspective by meditating until my head was about to explode.” READ ON…
The Power of Aspirin Posted Fri Aug 29, 2008 11:41am PDT On the 40th anniversary of the antiwar demonstrations at the Democrats’ convention in Chicago, Yippie Paul Krassner remembers how it all got started. READ ON…
How Magic Are Your Mushrooms? Posted Fri Aug 15, 2008 10:59am PDT “When he saw the contents of the baggie he removed from my pocket, he asked a rhetorical question–‘So you like mushrooms, huh?’–with such hostility that it kept reverberating inside my head. I hadn’t done anything that would harm somebody else.” READ ON…
*The parents of Jerry Yang and the parents of the late Tammy Faye Messner, for their strictness that went awry. Jerry, who won $8.25 million at the World Series of Poker, was forbidden to gamble as a child, and Tammy Faye, known for her trademark false eyelashes and overbearing facial cosmetics, grew up in a rigid home where she was forbidden to wear makeup.
*National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, for defending newly approved CIA torture boundaries–“If I announce what the specific [permissible] measures are,” he said, “it would aid those who want to resist those measures”–and an anonymous administration official, who parroted the party line that, if such tactics were not kept secret, it would “only enable Al Qaeda to train against those [methods] they know are on or off.” Sample training moment: “All right, gentlemen, when you are given the water-boarding treatment, keep saying to yourself, ‘I’m not drowning, I’m not drowning….”
*Dick Cheney, for pretending that it was a sudden change for him to be in charge of the White House only during the 2-1/2 hours that the so-called president was under sedation for a colonoscopy. Also, E-bay has confirmed that Cheney attempted to auction off the five polyps which were removed from Bush’s colon and diagnosed as benign despite their malignant host.
*Senators John D. Rockefeller IV and Daniel K. InInouye (both Democrats) for respectively sponsoring and fast-tracking a bill directing the FCC to maintain a policy that a single word or image can be enough to trigger indecency fines. Bush reacted, “This shit has got to stop,” and Cheney said, “Go fuck yourself.”
*NBC producers for bribing police across the country, and those same police for accepting the bribes, to let “Dateline” film confrontations with suspects who were lured to homes with hidden cameras, including a suspected predator who was arrested and filmed at his own home after failing to show up at a rigged house 35 miles away, and killed himself as the cameras closed in on him. A spokesperson for NBC had no comment except to announce the network’s upcoming new series, “Entrapped.”
*Dr. David Matlock, a pioneer in “boutique cosmetic gynecologic laser surgery,” for marketing the procedure–costing $6,000-$8,000–as enhancing a woman’s sexual experience. What’s next: iphone-2 will include a vibrating dildo.
*Purdue Pharmacy and three of its executives, for claiming to doctors that the prescription painkiller OxyContin was less addictive and less subject to abuse than other such medications, while the drug has resulted in hundreds of deaths each year. True, their pain disappeared in the process. However, prosecutors have dropped the charge that physicians were urged to suggest that patients pop the perilous pills with a Pez dispenser.
*The DEA, for sending threatening letters to landlords who rent space to medical marijuana dispensaries, causing many unnecessary and illegal evictions. Although the 5,000-year-old weed has not caused any deaths, there have been fears that users would raid their neighbors’ refrigerators.
*The Chinese government, for not making use of its oil-buying leverage with Sudan to end the strife in Darfur. Activists have threatened to brand the Olympic games in Beiing as the “Genocide Olympics” if China does not apply pressure on Sudan to stop the conflict. Meanwhile, China insists that it is becoming more humane every day, and now allows slave laborers to listen to pirated CDs while they work.
*Former Hollywood madam Jody “Babydol” Gibson, for planning to testify in the Phil Spector trial that Lana Clarkson worked for her as a prostitute, even though Gibson’s “trick book,” which was seized as evidence in her own trial, had been doctored to include a fake Clarkson entry. Concomitantly, People magazine has selected Spector as “the sexiest man alive.”
*Anti-Asshole of the Week: Rev. Reggie Longcrier, who YouTubed this question to John Edwards in the course of the, er um, debate on CNN: “Politicians have used religion to justify slavery, segregation and men-only voting. So why is it still acceptable to use religion to deny gay Americans their full and equal rights?” Edwards justified his own religious beliefs to explain his opposition to gay marriage, and Ann Coulter commented, “Okay, maybe he isn’t a faggot then.”
———- Paul Krassner is the author of “One Hand Jerking: Reports From an Investigative Satirist,” and publisher of the Disneyland Memorial Orgy poster, both available at paulkrassner.com
In the ’60s, “Assholes of the Month” was a feature in my satirical magazine, The Realist. In the ’70s, “Asshole of the Month” was a feature in Larry Flynt’s Hustler. Currently, on MSNBC’s Countdown, Keith Olbermann has a feature, “Worst Person in the World,” which is usually Bill O’Reilly. And now I’m posting “Assholes of the Week” in this cyberspace. I avoid targets like President Bush and Cardinal Mahony, because they’re such ongoing, obvious choices. The beauty of Comments is that readers can post their own asshole selections that I neglect to include. Here are mine for this week:
*Scholastic, publisher of the Harry Potter series, for setting midnight Friday as the opening salvo for sales of the latest book, thereby forcing countless children to stay up way past their bedtime. Just for that I’m going to reveal how it ends. Harry and his friends and enemies are all having dinner at the same restaurant, but when you turn over the final page, it’s totally blank.
*Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, for telling reporters, “We say in full confidence that we are able, God willing, to take the responsibility completely in running the security file if the international forces withdraw at any time they want,” but the next day his advisor announced that Maliki meant that efforts to bolster Iraq’s security forces would continue “side by side with the withdrawal.” Dick Cheney had called to remind Malaki that those videos of him humping a camel during Ramadan were hidden away in a safe place.
*The unknown White House official who ordered Dr. Richard Carmona–George Bush’s Surgeon General for four years–to mention Bush’s name three times on each page of every speech he gave. He was fired for writing this sentence: “When it comes to abstinence, you can be sure that George Bush practices what he preaches.”
*Lousiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux, for signing legislation that penalizes doctors who perform a late-term abortion–they would face fines up to $10,000 and prison up to ten years–making her state the first to restrict such surgery since the federal ban in 2003. The new law allows the procedure only when a woman’s life would otherwise be endangered. However, it will be considered a crime if the pregnancy is expected merely to cause health problems. That’s not a joke.
*The owners of several medical marijuana dispensaries in California, for–if it’s true, as alleged by the Drug Enforcement Adminstration–profiteering from the illegal distribution of pot by charging patients two or three times the street value. Presumably, other government agencies will follow the lead of the DEA and coerce other businesses to stick to free-market protocols.
*Nebraska Judge Jeffre Cheuvront, for ordering a college student who was raped not to use the words “rape,” “victim,” “assailant” or “sexual assault” on the witness stand for fear of prejudicing the jury. Perhaps she can testify that “He stuck his thing in my thing against my will.” George Carlin is expected to introduce a bit in his next HBO performance about “The five words you can’t say in court.”
*Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, for insisting that the FDA’s decision to close seven of its 13 laboratories would enhance the agency’s ability to target unsafe food–this in the face of severe criticism from Congress–but he is as determined as salmonella swimming upstream. ——- Paul Krassner is the author of One Hand Jerking: Reports From an Investigative Satirist, and publisher of the Disneyland Memorial Orgy poster, both available from paulkrassner.com.