Wolfe chronicles the relationship between blacks and whites - specifically, empowered blacks and high-class or governmental "powerful" whites - duringWolfe chronicles the relationship between blacks and whites - specifically, empowered blacks and high-class or governmental "powerful" whites - during the period of the late 60s.
One essay chronicles the brief "radical chic" fad, in which New York intellectuals hosted meetings for groups like the Black Panthers and the Young Lords, all laced with Wolfe's typical acid wit and eye for absurdity.
The other essay covers the same period, roughly, in San Francisco, in which ghetto residents organised to "mau mau" the "flak catchers" - confront the white establishment to attain money from poverty programs in the San Francisco area. Less amusing, perhaps, but still an interesting look at a curious, now long forgotten period of history.
Both essays are highly recommended, and the book is compulsively readable....more
Peebles is an aviation historian. Because of this, is uniquely skilled at writing about the subject of UFOs, as the subject comes under the jurisdictiPeebles is an aviation historian. Because of this, is uniquely skilled at writing about the subject of UFOs, as the subject comes under the jurisdiction of the Air Force, the US space program, and commercial and private planes.
Taking a skeptical look at the world of UFOs, Peebles sees them not as alien aircraft, but as a mythology of paranoia and fear, born out of the Cold War and spurred on by social changes in America; the 60s revolutions, the failed war in Vietnam, the murder of President Kennedy, the crimes of President Nixon, etc.
It was a period of uncertainty that led to an upswing of interest in the subject of the paranormal, including "little green men."
While there were "UFO sightings" in the past, modern American ufology begins with Kenneth Arnold, a pilot who, on a summer day in 1947, saw nine "saucer-like" objects in the sky. The press coverage sparked interest in the public, and soon everyone was seeing unusual lights in the sky.
The US Air Force opened many investigations into the subject, and while a few sightings were unidentifiable, usually they tended to have an explanation that was simple and no-nonsense; weather balloons, mistaken aircraft, mistaken planets, etc.
However, while most Americans were fearful of aliens, the Air Force was fearful of both experimental Soviet aircraft and the risk that false saucer sightings could make if real Soviet airstrikes were imminent.
The book goes from those beginnings through the world of science fiction film and stories, governmental conspiracies, and more, showing how the UFO tales reflected American concerns and fears.
It's quite interesting, but Peebles makes it clear that he is skeptical. He does not believe in aliens, in ultra-left or ultra-right ideologies, or conspiracies. While his frankness lets you know where he stands on those subjects, it could alienate (no pun intended) readers who hold to views he dismisses, such as radical feminists, antisemites, JFK assassination buffs, and other conspiracy-minded citizens.
As someone who does not believe in the "lone nut" theories for the assassinations of JFK, RFK, MLK, etc. I sometimes had to chuckle at his attempts to disparage conspiracists. Of course, that's his view - I'm certainly not going to say he isn't allowed to have it!
The primary drawback of the book is that it ends in 1992. One wonders what Peebles, who is still alive, made of the massive popularity of the tv show The X-Files, which no doubt sparked a tremendous amount of interest in UFOs and other paranormal subjects. One can also imagine Peebles tearing apart the "alien autopsy" video!
It would have been interesting to see UFOlogy cease being a subject most Americans were interested in after 9/11 made close encounters of the terrestrial kind a much more likely possibility for Americans. Who needs evil, cattle-mutilating grays when you have radical Mahometans - or a false flag operation, depending on your 'conspiracy' theory choice?
UFOs have since fallen by the wayside. Now our conspiracies center around radical religious groups, the birth certificate of our first African-American president, the so-called "One Percent," and other more down-to-earth subjects. Aliens are no longer necessary, and have become almost kitsch and cute, with "gray alien" stuffed animals, stickers, skateboards, satire, South Park characters - they even have their own line of gaming PCs.
But perhaps they will return, in force, to frighten Americans again, when our terrestrial enemies no longer satisfy that need....more
Jim and Artie Mitchell were brothers from Oklaholma, just a few years apart. Jim was the older and more serious one, while Artie was the younger, clowJim and Artie Mitchell were brothers from Oklaholma, just a few years apart. Jim was the older and more serious one, while Artie was the younger, clownish one. Together, the brothers would become infamous from their forays into pornographic films, including one of the biggest 'porn chic' films of the 70s, Behind the Green Door.
This book not only chronicles their rise from being rather impoverished sons of a docile housewife and a father who both loved his boys and made his money on card sharking, through their pornographic careers, until the tragic end, when Jim shot Artie for reasons still murky.
The brothers started out with a counterculture ethos that their father had implanted on them - fight the establishment. For their father, it meant never having a steady job and taunting the police. For the brothers, what started out as a fun way to learn how to make films by videotaping attractive 'free love' hippie chicks soon escalated into pushing the envelope, showing hard-core sex, collapsing under the unlimited sexual and narcotic freedom offered to them, and finally ending in a murder trial.
The book is well written, but it at times meanders into questioning the validity of pornography itself. While these arguments, pro and against, have their place, it breaks into the narrative. If I wanted to read what feminists and religious people have to say about porn, I would read their books, after all.
Another flaw is that the book was published in 1993 and has not been updated, as far as I can tell, despite the fact that Jim Mitchell served three years in San Quentin, established a fund in Artie's name, and died in 2007. This book does not explore Jim Mitchell's life post-sentencing, so one has to turn to the Internet to get the 'full story.'
In the end, neither brother is likable, and the entire story is basically sad and sick, but it is well told and worth reading. The people who hold men like these up as heroes are deluded.
The brothers were abusive towards women in general, their actors and actresses (these people were referred to as "meat",) their 'inner circle,' and ultimately towards one another. While they may have helped establish some landmark anti-censorship court rulings, they did so out of their own self-interest. Much like another pornographer held up as a hero, Larry Flynt, they are still scummy 'bottom-feeders' in the end....more
Perhaps it's being in a post-9/11 world, but much of what Selzer describes as "terrorist chic" has nothing to do with terrorism. Maybe in the late 70sPerhaps it's being in a post-9/11 world, but much of what Selzer describes as "terrorist chic" has nothing to do with terrorism. Maybe in the late 70s it was different - Weathermen, SLA, etc. But today, kids fighting in CBGB's or a rock show with violent imagery is nothing special.
While the subtitle is slightly more accurate, the book isn't about violent crime or violent acts - instead it is about psuedo-S&M and rape themed advertising campaigns for clothes, S&M clubs, the "decadence" of Studio 54, CBGB's and similar locales. Basically, Selzer does investigations into what he classifies as "violent" subcultures (how psuedo S&M and disco dancing are "violent" is beyond me) and describes it all with a haughty "I'm above all of this" sneer.
He's determined to find punk, S&M, disco and other "vices" of the 70s pretentious and ridiculous, and his descriptions of the clubs, the people and the events follow suit. While it's interesting as an exploration into these subject from an 'on-the-scene' perspective, the author seems far less interested in reporting and far more interested in puffing himself up. Good for some names and the interviews (including one with resident CBGBs punk Helen Wheels) but not a very good read in general, unless you consider disco dancing and S&M to be horrible blights on society.
One might say that about disco dancing, sure, but S&M? Good clean fun....more
In many ways, Rebel Visions could almost be considered a "sequel" of sorts to The Ten Cent Plague. While Plague dealt with the furor over the comic boIn many ways, Rebel Visions could almost be considered a "sequel" of sorts to The Ten Cent Plague. While Plague dealt with the furor over the comic books of the 50s - the classic EC horror comics, the crime comics, the detective comics, etc. - and the establishment of the Comic Code Authority, Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution 1963-1975 deals with what happened when the kids who read comics in the 50s did when they grew up - and decided that censorship and appeasing authority was neither in their best interest nor capable of holding up their own creative visions.
Comix were, simply put, underground comic strips that were printed in underground, radical 60s magazines (such as The East Village Other, the Berkeley Barb and Good Times) and collected in cheap but accessible comic-books that were likewise underground and sold on the street corners by the creators, publishers, etc. or otherwise in "Head Shops," the sorts of stores that carried underground papers as well as drug paraphernalia.
Rosenkranz covers a lot of ground in this book, from the early 1960s to the mid 1970s. The book is ultimately a narrative driven oral-history. Oral history books (such as Please Kill Me and The Other Hollywood by Legs McNeil) never contain narrative - this book does, but it does so pretty sparsely. Rosenkranz sets the scene and describes some of the action, but interviews with the comix creators themselves generally gives the reader a sense of "how it was" through the eyes of the artists and publishers themselves.
Like much of hippie culture in the 60s, Rebel Visions centers primarily around San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district and the Greenwich Village of New York City (although it is based more upon SF than NYC) and gathers a large number of artists in its pages, from the obvious (R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Vaughn Bode) to artists who found their way to comix from other forms of art - the most interesting being Rick Griffin, who started doing psychedelic posters and for the rock bands of the late 60s Haight scene comic cover art for a surfer magazine, made his way to comix, then converted to Christianity and used his artistic talent to make comix about his newfound faith.
The tale itself is compelling, and it is interesting to see how all of these mad geniuses conspired together to create a new world of comix, and charts the rise and fall, as well as the maturing, of the genre. Early comix were largely written by men and naturally covered things men liked - sex, beautiful women, violence and drugs, often in the same strip. The flaws of the comix scene - such as giving very little respect to women - are also made clear.
The book also reproduces frames from a variety of comix sources on almost every page, from covers of underground magazines to clippings from some of the more controversial - and misogynistic - comix like Wonder Wart-Hog and Crumb's infamous Joe Blow (as well as other, less controversial ones, of course). The inevitable fallouts from these comix, such as womens'-only comix, formed by ladies like the talented Trina Robbins who were tired of being dealt such a bad hand by the male comic artists, and the eternal threat of the police and morality squad harassment, are also covered.
The only thing that keeps it from getting 5 stars is that the book is somewhat strangely put together - many artists are introduced in sidebars that do not connect to the main text - and so it can be somewhat confusing. Fortunately, there is a list in the back of the book containing the names of all authors covered with their most important works listed and, of course, an index.
For those interested in a chunk of history from the 1960s that is often ignored, this is a great book, as it is for those interested in the counterculture, the history of comic books from the early strips to modern-day graphic novels. I highly recommend it. ...more
Generally, the people who discuss this book are either conspiracy nuts who believe the government is spying on them through their cereal or somethingGenerally, the people who discuss this book are either conspiracy nuts who believe the government is spying on them through their cereal or something equally crazy, fundamentalist Christians who are eager to prove that Satan is out to get everyone or professional skeptics who have an axe to grind against the former two and a desire to look very smart and very clever on top of it.
I had read this book back in my high school days, but only remembered some bits and pieces from it (crazy death cults and serial killers are two subjects I'm very interested in).
What surprised me is that, despite the ensuing years of seeing the above three groups fighting over this book, Terry's book is actually very lucid and down-to-earth for the most part.
While his knowledge of 'the occult' is lacking (he's one of those people who doesn't really grok that there are plenty of benign groups out there that use Tarot cards and like Crowley and the OTO, despite the fact that there are also a bunch of weirdos and cranks) his study of the Son of Sam case is, in my opinion, a perfect example of the ineptness of the police department at digging deeper than just surface level (something that has happened time and again, including within this book, repeatedly). The public was terrorized by the ".44 Caliber Killer," and once they caught Berkowitz (who admitted to being the ".44 Caliber Killer"/"Son of Sam," that was enough for them. As long as they had someone to blame it on - and as long as the streets were quiet again - they didn't really care if it went any deeper (although to be fair, many cops DID... but the brass tended to squelch them).
Admittedly, Berkowitz was behind the at least a couple of the killings. Neither Berkowitz nor Terry try to deny that - it would be foolish. However, the fact remains that the various composite images made by witnesses and surviving victims are radically different was ignored. The reports of weird cars in neighbourhoods shortly before the murders was ignored. The witness of a woman who saw Berkwotiz wandering around and driving around shortly before another shooting - thereby requiring that Berkowitz be "The Flash" in order to wander around, drive around AND get back in time to fire shots at the victim was ignored. Even the fact that the various letters from "The Son of Sam" obviously didn't come from the same person was ignored.
Terry draws a line from Berkowitz to alleged friends of his named the Carrs who were involved in some sort of cult (and were murdered shortly after the Son of Sam murders) all the way to places as far-flung as North Dakota, Los Angeles and Houston - as well as Long Island, New York.
While ordinarily, people react negatively to so-called "conspiracy theories," the men who flew the planes into the WTC were part of both a "cult" and members of a "conspiracy." "Conspiracy theory" has been degraded to simply being a buzzword, associated with people who believe that UFOs killed JFK and similar stuff, despite the fact that any theory that links three or more people together, is quite frankly, a "conspiracy theory."
Despite the bad rap the book gets from the skeptics - and the embracing of it by crazy fundies and crazy tin-foil hatters alike - Terry doesn't really focus hugely on so-called cults. While he refers to some (such as the notorious Process, the so-called Chingons, a cult centered around Yonkers, etc.) the book is more about dope than the Devil and if any cult is truly involved, it would appear to involve Scientology moreso than Satan.
Drug deals gone bad, kinky homosexual murders, crazy cults, porn-and-dope addicted vaudeville producers, music celebrities and low-level pushers are all caught up in the net that Terry uncovers.
While it's tempting to write this off as, yes, a conspiracy theory, the fact remains that it is entirely possible that groups with stations across the country are involved in drug-smuggling and dealing and Terry suggests motives behind the Tate-Labianca murders that make far more sense than the "Beatles told me to do it" theory of Vincent Bugliosi (to be fair, Bugliosi was stressed for time and had to get a conviction on Manson - he had plenty of other theories, some of which support Terry's, but the police's refusal to look beneath the surface of a crazy story - like Burkowitz's dog - hindered much of it).
If nothing else, it's an intriguing thought. I, for one, based on personal research I've done on cults in So Cal, tend to think Terry is on to something - whether his entire hypothesis is true or false - but even if just some of it is true, a whole lot of sickos need to be headed to jail... although most of them are probably long since murdered anyway.
A lot of the book is speculative - while Terry is right to protect his sources, often his 'sources' are the only ones with any worthwhile info. It is entirely possible that they were mistaken, or lying, or any number of things, although Terry does regularly verify their claims against information that he, as an investigator, tracks down.
My biggest qualm with this book is that it was written in the mid 80s and some of the figures - such as "Manson II," aka Willie Metzner - are now safely behind bars. Unfortunately, I don't know if there is a newly updated version of this book or not. Considering everything involved, I think there should either be a sequel or a very updated version to trace what's been going on since the book finished. Internet research has shown that some people, such as John Kogut, were exonerated through DNA evidence, although of course the book, written at the time he was confessing to a rape and murder of a teenage girl, doesn't talk about this at all....more
This so far is an excellent book on freedom verses government and military intervention upon that freedom. While the subject at hand is the 68 ChicagoThis so far is an excellent book on freedom verses government and military intervention upon that freedom. While the subject at hand is the 68 Chicago Democratic National Convention, the messages and political truths illustrated by the story are timeless....more