New World Digital Publishing (2010) / ISBN-13: 978-0982531433
Having racked my brains in search of the perfect opening, I’ll just wing it by saying that “reading Paul Krasner’s Expanded Edition of his 1993 Confessions of a Raving Unconfined Nut (Misadventures in the Counter-Culture) will cure cancer!”
Paul was a child violin prodigy and the youngest person ever to play Carnegie Hall, in 1939. Who in this audience could know that he would go on to publish a Disneyland Memorial Orgy poster in The Realist, the young violinist’s future magazine of “social-political-religious criticism and satire.” Paul began his career as an investigative satirist by seeking out Woolsley Teller, editor of The Truthseeker, planting his roots in an alternative journalism that can be traced back the work of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine during revolutionary times. When Krassner launched The Realist, comedian Steve Allen was his first subscriber.
One of Krassner’s most outlandish editorial pranks was his article “The Parts That Were Left Out of the Kennedy Book”. A rather repulsive, yet intellectually fascinating short-story that ends with then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson on Air Force One penetrating the neck wound in JFK’s corpse with his very own ‘Johnson’! Krassner later commented: “People across the country believed – if only for a moment – that an act of presidential necrophilia had taken place. It worked because Jackie Kennedy had created so much curiosity by censoring the book she authorized – William Manchester’s, The Death Of A President – because what I wrote was a metaphorical truth about LBJ’s personality presented in a literary context, and because the imagery was so shocking, it broke through the notion that the war in Vietnam was being conducted by sane men.”
Looking for fresh material Krassner then aimed his investigative eyes upon L. Ron Hubbard’s book on Dianetics and a potential relationship between Scientology and Sirhan Sirhan in the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. Only to find that this imaginary plot “ The Rise of Sirhan Sirhan in the Scientology Hierarchy” would lead him to Charlie Manson and what might have been a government plot to let Charlie enrage the Black Panthers! Wild and wooly stuff culminating with Paul dropping acid with Squeeky Fromme. Talk about investigative courage!
Krassner was a close confidant and protégé of comedian Lenny Bruce, and the editor of Bruce’s autobiography, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People. With the encouragement of Bruce, Krassner started to perform standup comedy in 1961 at the Village Gate in New York, and Paul’s book is filled with anecdotal gems and off the cuff one-liners from Lenny. Some of the funniest moments arrive when Paul drops acid prior to being interviewed by commentator Joe Pyne on national television, and, again, just as he entered the courtroom to testify during the Chicago Seven trial.
Paul’s exceptionally well written “confession” is jam packed with socio-politial pundits and Pranksters, anecdotal truths, and priceless humor. Much like a good hit of LSD, Paul’s story is something permanent that will last somewhere between eight hours and a lifetime. Groucho Marx said it best five years after Lenny’s death in 1971, by commenting, “I predict that in time Paul Krassner will wind up as the only live Lenny Bruce,” and according to the FBI files on the author, Paul was described as “a raving, unconfined nut.” ~ READ (T)HIS BOOK!
© Hammond Guthrie 2011