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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

You’re Misinterpreting Debauchery as Fun

posted by on May 21 at 12:59 PM

So for the past week or so, I have been falling asleep every night reading Mike Edison’s memoir I Have Fun Everywhere I Go. He’s reading tonight at the Sunset.

Let me summarize and complain a bit for ya.

Here’s a brief rundown of his life: grew up smart and anti-establishment in Jersey, moved to NYC where he dropped out of Columbia got a job writing porno paperbacks instead, ran around the country pissing people off in a few different ways (a hardcore band, an anti-Reagan Merry Pranksters analogue), became the editor of a pro-wrestling magazine, moved to Spain, did a bunch of crank, joined another couple of bands no one’s ever heard of, came back to New York and became the publisher of High Times magazine. Other stuff might happen to him—I’m not done with the book yet.

Here are the problems I have with this book:

1) Edison seems pretty smart, but he is using the most annoying memoir format ever—starting off every chapter with a short paragraph of where we’re gonna be in his life by the end of the chapter. This really bugs me, especially because it seems like that’s the only trick up his sleeve. For a long-time journalist and writer, he should know better than to recycle so hard.

2) It kind of seems like, at this point in the book, like the pinnacle of his life was being the one to tell High Times to put Ozzy Osbourne on the cover, and then calling Page Six and making a big deal about how tons of pot was gone after the photoshoot, which in turn got him invited on a lot of radio shows. Edison loves attention, and he knows that debauchery is the way to do it, but beyond that, he doesn’t seem to have any philosophies, or life-goals, or any redeeming qualities.

3) He’s really proud of opening for the Ramones in ‘92. That’s not really cutting edge, dude.

4) There is a really long part, with illustrations, of how you should manage people like they are monkeys. Surprise, surprise, his employees at High Times grow to hate him.

5) The worst offense, really, is that this is a gonzo memoir re-packaged into a firm structure. He had a crazy life, yes, but he writes like a librarian. It’s like when bad bar-rock bands repackage awesome bands like Led Zeppelin and whatever into 3 minute, verse-chorus-verse, yarl songs. This is a bar-book.

However, if you are totally into stories about strippers in New Orleans getting it on in cheap hotel rooms, or cokehead buddies that fly everyone to Vegas to marry off two people that don’t know each other, or you want to find out this guy’s philosophy on women (they should be more than just hotties!), it will be an entertaining read.

An aside, sort of: Paul Constant also gave me the cd companion to the book. His new band is called Mike Edison and the Rocket Train Delta Science Arkestra.

Here’s the picture from the inside flap:
Photo%2078.jpg

Should I listen to it? I can’t decide.

RSS icon Comments

1

YES you should listen to it so I won't be the only person in this building who has listened to it. Please. It's not good at all.

Posted by Paul Constant | May 21, 2008 2:13 PM
2

I'm gonna say no, you shouldn't listen to it. Outside of a handful of respected jazz musicians, it's bad form to name your band after yourself. You can use names in your group's moniker, they just can't be the name of the group's leader. I am not aware of any good exceptions to this rule.

Posted by Dougsf | May 21, 2008 3:03 PM
3

Lemme guess -- Is the music Edison's gonzo reinvention of primitive blues forms?

Ari, you summed up the problems with this book perfectly. For a fella who claims to have forged his journalism skills in the furnaces of one-a-day/cash-per-word porn-novel factory, he overwrites all over the damned place.

Just drive by the Sunset tonight and lean against the window for a minute. That should be enough.

Posted by Kris Kendall | May 21, 2008 3:51 PM
4

@3: Wouldn't it then make sense that someone who cut their teeth in an industry that pays you by the word would write in a manner that is overly verbose?

Posted by Brian | May 21, 2008 4:00 PM
5

so, ill see you there tonight Ari?

Posted by kevin jones | May 21, 2008 5:14 PM
6

Touche. I should have chosen better compound modifiers. Or simply clarified that Edison does make the point in his book that he got the writing of his porn books -- which had a specific page count, I believe -- down to a machine-like efficiency.

And for a man with an extensive career writing for magazines, there's a lot of gristle in his text.

Posted by Kris Kendall | May 21, 2008 5:18 PM
7

This is a great book review. And it might be possible I would drunkenly pick this up someplace like Bailey Coy or University Bookstore awaiting a boring bus trip around the city or something. Thanks for saving me the money. Excellent criticism.

Posted by Chris Estey | May 21, 2008 8:20 PM
8

#2 - Siouxsie and the Banshees?

Posted by bunnypuncher | May 22, 2008 12:53 AM
9

#2 - The Jimi Hendrix Experience?

Posted by yep | May 22, 2008 10:20 AM
10

"He had a crazy life, yes, but he writes like a librarian."

Hey, it's not fair to drag librarians into this! Pick on historians, they are the boring writers.

Posted by dan10things | May 22, 2008 10:34 AM
11

#8 - Well, If they'd been called Siouxsie Sioux and the Banshees, it'd be unacceptable, but since it's just Siouxsie, which isn't really her name anyhow, it OK. Also, I don't like Siouxsie and the Banshees, so even I was wrong, I'd be right.

Same is OK for Alice Cooper, or Eddie and the Hot Rods. There was no Eddie or Alice, but sometimes a leader eventually adopts the persona.

There's also cases like Manfred Mann (keyboards) where the singer was rotating, so the moniker was never the namesake of the band's focus, so that's OK too.

#9 - Shit, I think you've got me on that one. Also, new amendment: nothing from the 50's or before counts.

Posted by Dougsf | May 22, 2008 3:38 PM

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