Soft Skull Press
Street: 08.31.04

One of my favorite books that I was “forced” to read when I was a Freshman at the University was The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey. It was a thrilling ride with a group of Eco-terrorists who took aim at corporations who thrived on greed at the expense of the environment. I had enjoyed the book because it took a group of tree huggers and made them a threat to those who would rape the Earth for personal gain. I know many a person who’s read that classic by Abbey, whether they are/were hippies or punks, and took to heart the message that was put forth in that book. It obvious that Richard Emidio Melo was inspired and moved by it too. His novel, name lifted from Bob Dylan’s songbook, takes a much lighter approach to the subject of eco-saboteurs than Abbey’s cult-classic. It’s also, at times, harder to read. Melo flips through moments in time touching on different characters lives in just paragraphs. One paragraph could be about watching children playing in a park, the next paragraph is about a young father fleeing the draft in the ’60s. Melo also uses a weird symbol throughout the book that makes it confusing as to what it means in the context of the sentence. Patience in following through with the jumbled first part pays off as the book lays out the humorous and lively story. The reader becomes acquainted with the Jokerman, inspired by past memories of happy childhood’s in parks and forests, the group launches a wild campaign of pranks aimed at those institutions that are the Jokerman’s enemy. The narrative twists and turns with subplots that are interesting but also weird. For example; a young husband sets himself on fire in front of what he believes to be Robert MacNamara’s office during the ’60s. Another thread of weirdness in the plot is Yippies levitating the Pentagon, which moves the Jokerman into building a pyramid next to the Pentagon. If this is a bit peculiar but intriguing, then this might be worth checking out, just be prepared for some highly intellectual and challenging reading. For an apathetic America that is used to watching mind-numbing television, a stinging but entertaining novel is never a bad thing.



Bonus Books
Street: 01.13.04

I never knew that David Bowie was beaten to within an inch of his life on September 6, 1974 in a private bar above the Rainbow Bar and Grill by an obsessed fan, known simply as Karate Kurt; Or that on December 17, 1967, Jim Morrison tried to force Janis Joplin, whose “favorite pastimes are drinking Southern Comfort and eating pussy,” to give him head on the couch at an Elektra exec’s party; Or that John Lennon refused to remove a tampon from the top of his head (“It kept his hair from falling out”) while waiting for The Doors’ second set to begin at the Whisky A Go Go on October 2, 1966–which was also their last set ever at the Whisky due to Morrison’s infamous inflection of “Mother…I wanna fuck you, mama, all night long!” What makes these and other stories in Straight Whisky so great are that they are all from first-hand accounts by the rock stars and the manager/owner of the Whisky, Rainbow Bar and Grill and Roxy Theatre, Mario Maglieri. This guy has literally seen it all–the psychedelic ’60s, the British Invasion of the ’70s, the punk/glam of the ’80s, the early ’90s grunge movement and all the new shitty music of the 21st century. Straight Whisky chronicles each of these rock ‘n’ roll eras, concentrating on all of the decadent, behind-the-scenes dirt. It’s an easy and amusing read that any rock ‘n’ roll fan should enjoy. -Dick Rivers