The Sporadic Beaver

The Dark Side of John Lennon

November 25, 2013

Tags: Tal Cual, Nowhere Man, John Lennon, Bendito Lennon, Octavio Cavalli

More than 13 years after Nowhere Man was published in English, I continue to unearth major articles about the book that ran in the print editions of various newspapers in the early 21st century, and are just finding their way online. The latest one that's come to my attention was the cover story in the entertainment section of the June 22, 2001 issue of the irreverent Venezuelan daily Tal Cual (Just As It Is).

Hyped on page one as El lado oscuro de John Lennon (The Dark Side of John Lennon), and given the provocatively misleading cover line, La segunda muerte de John Lennon (The Second Death of John Lennon), in the entertainment section, the actual article was called Viaje al fondo del submarinista amarillo (Voyage to the bottom of the yellow submariner). It’s a semi-accurate summary of Nowhere Man, broken up by semi-sarcastic subheads like Sexo, no paz (Sex, no peace) and Nostradamus en ácido (Nostradamus on acid).

Meanwhile, as I await the impending publication of a revised edition of Bendido Lennon, by Octavio Cavalli, which will draw heavily from interviews Cavalli has conducted with me, and will be met by yet another surge of Latin American media attention, set to begin around the anniversary of Lennon’s murder, on December 8, I continue to grapple with an ongoing milagro that I became aware of three years before Nowhere Man was published in Spanish, in what may as well have been an alternate universe where people spoke a language I didn’t understand.

Penetrating Academia

November 23, 2013

Tags: The Ethics and Politics of Pornography, David Edward Rose, H-Net, Beaver Street, Whitney Strub, Perversion for Profit, Patrick Glen, Peter Kenneth Alilunas, The Pornologist

I've always felt confident that sooner or later academia would embrace Beaver Street and the book would find its way onto required reading lists for any number of sociology, history, and gender studies courses. My confidence was not misplaced.

Soon after its publication in the U.K., in 2011, a glowing review of Beaver Street, titled "Free Speech and Competitively Priced Smut: Pornography in the United States," appeared on H-Net, a site devoted to the humanities and social sciences. Written by Patrick Glen, a PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield, it compared Beaver Street to Perversion for Profit, by Rutgers professor Whitney Strub, who essentially covered the same material I did, though from an academic perspective.

“Shocking… evocative… entertaining… A rich account that adds considerable depth and texture to any understanding of how the pornography industry worked,” was the blurb I took from Glen’s critique.

Then, a few months ago, I became aware of The Pornologist, the website of Peter Kenneth Alilunas, a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan. On his “Essential Reading” list, Alilunas had placed Beaver Street #1, and as it turned out, his PhD dissertation, Smutty Little Movies: The Creation and Regulation of Adult Video, 1976-1986, contained numerous references to the book.

Now, to complete the academic hat trick, a book recently published by Palgrave Macmillan, The Ethics and Politics of Pornography, by David Edward Rose, references Beaver Street in chapter six, “‘I Can’t Do It by Myself!’: Social Ethics and Pornography.”

I don’t know what it says, exactly, as I’m not about to buy a textbook that lists for $105, even if I am in it. But Rose, a lecturer in philosophy at Newcastle University, in the U.K., who, according to his bio, specializes in “Hegelian ethics and counter-enlightenment thought and their application to contemporary moral and political issues,” sounds like a serious fellow. And like The Ethics and Politics of Pornography, Beaver Street also raises “a host of moral and political concerns” about “coercion, exploitation, harm, freedom of expression and the promulgation of sexist attitudes.” Which, apparently, is why it continues to make academic inroads.

And it’s always nice to see my name in an index, atop French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. I’m sure he, too, had a few things to say about smut.

Latin America Calling

November 13, 2013

Tags: John Lennon, Bendito Lennon, Octavio Cavalli, Nowhere Man, Los últimos días de John Lennon, diaries, Proceso

My ongoing dialogue with Octavio Cavalli, author of Bendito Lennon, a comprehensive Spanish-language John Lennon biography, is unlike any interview I've ever done.

For one thing, our conversation began October 31 and may very well continue through February, when Cavilli comes to New York. For another, Cavalli, in Buenos Aires, records his questions and sends them to me as MP3s. I listen, make notes, and then record my own MP3s, which I send to him, sometimes twice a day.

Virtually every question Cavalli asks is about Lennon’s diaries, which I transcribed and edited in 1981, and which I discuss in detail in my own Lennon bio, published in Latin America and Spain as Nowhere Man: Los Últimos Días De John Lennon.

Cavalli’s book and our interview have come to the attention of Proceso, the Mexican newsweekly.

Ten years ago, Proceso ran a series of articles that helped put Nowhere Man on bestseller lists in multiple countries.

I think the revised edition of Bendito Lennon, which Prosa Amerian Editores is bringing out next year, is headed for bestseller lists, too. In the meantime, it’s breathing new life into Los Últimos Días.

Bendito Lennon

November 7, 2013

Tags: Bendito Lennon, Octavio Cavalli, Nowhere Man, Los últimos días de John Lennon, diaries


Bendito Lennon, or Blessed Lennon, by Octavio Cavalli, is a 728-page John Lennon biography that you'll soon be hearing about if you live in Latin America. I've been grappling with the book for the past week, with a lot of help from Google translate, and it appears to be the definitive Spanish-language take on the ex-Beatle.

Cavalli, a Buenos Aires attorney, has obsessively researched every aspect of Lennon's life and death, and is currently revising the book for a new edition that Prosa Amerian Editores will publish in 2014.

I’ve been conducting an in-depth dialogue with Cavalli about my own Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, and John Lennon’s personal diaries, which I transcribed and edited in 1981. My knowledge of the diaries is among the new information that Cavalli will include in the revised edition of Bendito Lennon.

Since Nowhere Man: Los Últimos Días De John Lennon was published in Mexico, in 2003, Latin America has embraced the book in a way that I consider miraculous. Ten years later, in Bendito Lennon, the miracle continues in Argentina.