Table of Contents
“Thanks to Paul Krassner for continuing to be the lobster claw in the tuna casserole of modern America.”
“The FBI was right; this man is dangerousâand funny, and necessary.”
“Krassner has the uncanny ability to alter your perceptions permanently.”
âLos Angeles Times
“He is an expert at ferreting out hypocrisy and absurdism from the more solemn crannies of American culture.”
âThe New York Times
“I told Krassner one time that his writings made me hopeful. He found this an odd compliment to offer a satirist. I explained that he made supposedly serious matters seem ridiculous, and that this inspired many of his readers to decide for themselves what was ridiculous and what was not. Knowing that there were people doing that, better late than never, made me optimistic.”
“It behooves every cow to be mad.”
THIS ONE IS FOR KEN KESEY, who once told me, “I wasn't trying to write a novel, I was trying to go all the way.” Which is how he lived his life.
When Stewart Brand invited Kesey and me to co-edit
The Last Supplement to the Whole Earth Catalog
, I moved from New York to San Francisco. Near the end of production, Kesey asked me to reviewâin one sentence, because we were so short of spaceâa beautiful book of offbeat ink drawings,
by Ed Badajos.
“It made me say âfar out' for the first time,” I suggested.
“You Zen bastard,” was his response.
When I began writing a column for the
New York Press
, I decided to call it “Zen Bastard.” And my latest satirical CD is
The Zen Bastard Rides Again
Kesey was also instrumental in naming my column for
. I was originally planning to call it “Damage Control,” but he said, “Why don't you call it âBrain Damage Control'?” And that's what it became, immediately.
Kesey didn't help me with the title of my column for
, though. AVN stands for Adult Video News, and
is a print magazine for the Internet porn industry. The editor, Eric, former editor at the
Los Angeles Reader
, invited me to write a column for
. Eric was using a pseudonymous last name.
“Half the editors here don't use their own names,” he said.
“Well, if I do a column, I would use my own name. And I'd want to call the column âOne Hand Jerking.'”
Eric liked it. So did Kesey. So does Seven Stories Press.
One Hand Jerking: Reports From an Investigative Satirist
is a collection of my columns from those three periodicals over the last few years, plus several free-lance articles for various publications.
And, of course, I've tried to go all the way.
BY HARRY SHEARER
I've been a reader of Paul Krassner's since before the day, when I sat in the office of the humor magazine I edited at UCLA, and swore up and down to all who would listen that Paul's scabrous
essay, “The Parts Left Out of the Kennedy Book,” was for real. It was a teaching moment: Paul had taught me that extreme stylistic accuracy could make even the most bizarre comedic concept credible.
In the years since then, Paul and I have become friends and colleagues. We even shared a stage at LA's Museum of Contemporary Art as part of a theatrical threesome, “Peter, Paul and Harry,” also featuring Peter Bergman of the Fire-sign Theatre. Obviously, I was included for rhyming purposes. But Paul and I got to watch each other work for several nights, and I hope I taught him something, at least about good grooming.
Paul is a unique character on the American cultural landscape. A self-described “investigative satirist,” he straddles the lines between politics, culture, pornography and drugsâin other words, the land where all of us, were we really honest with ourselves, would choose to dwell.
A serious crafter of jokes, Paul also lets his curiosity take him where more careful practitioners, such as myself, would not tread: conspiracy theories, spiritualist theories, working for porn kings, acid trips in federal court. He always returns from the journeys wiser if not sadder, his sense of humor intact if not inflamed.
On the trip of life, Paul Krassner has been a very good guide. Now, in this gumbo of a book, he offers insight on his background and outrage on the state of what only an optimist would call American culture. But, crucially, he never lets go of his sense of fun, and, in this book as in his life, that makes all the difference.
BY LEWIS BLACK
I consider it to be quite a privilege and an absolute pleasure to be writing the introduction to Paul Krassner's wondrous book of essays. I have been a fan of his since I was a snot-nosed kid, and his words have been a driving force and influence on my life. I can remember how it happened. I was extremely lucky to have stumbled onto a copy of his magazine
in my youth. There was neither glitz nor glamour to it. You actually had to read it for the articles. It was filled with words, and more than any drugs, words can alter perceptions, and mine were altered forever. He made me realize the importance of funny, but more than any writer I know, Paul always has a mission behind his wicked mirth.