The Sporadic Beaver

The Good Parts

May 10, 2013

Tags: Ulysses, James Joyce, Bloomsday on Beaver Street, banned books, Firesign Theatre


Go to the 27:00 minute mark to hear Philip Proctor as Molly Bloom

One of the things we will be celebrating on Bloomsday on Beaver Street II: Father’s Day Edition, on June 16, at the Killarney Rose, is the concept of Ulysses as a pornographic book that was banned, in 1920, by The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice.

Last year, Byron Nilsson, our MC, read the passage that was directly responsible for that banning: Leopold Bloom masturbates at the beach as he watches a young girl reveal her "beautifully shaped legs." James Joyce's description of Bloom's orgasm--"O! in raptures and it gushed out of it a stream of rain gold hair threads and they shed and ah! they were all greeny dewy stars falling with golden, O so lovely! O so soft, sweet, soft!"--may be the most poetic description of masturbation in the English language.

This year, we’ve selected a 300-word erotic passage from the adulteress Molly Bloom’s soliloquy. It begins, “I had to get him to suck them they were so hard he said it was sweeter and thicker than cows then he wanted to milk me into the tea…”

We’ve been looking for the right actress to read this passage.

But it has come to my attention that we don’t necessarily need to limit our auditions to actresses. The Firesign Theatre’s comedy album, from 1969, How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You’re Not Anywhere at All, contains a surreal bit at the end of side one where Philip Proctor, playing car salesman Ralph Spoilsport, reads a close approximation of the final part of Molly’s soliloquy. You can hear it in the above video beginning around the 27:00-minute mark. This is the kind of thing that just might work on Beaver Street.

So, actors and actresses, if you’re in the New York area and you think you can do justice to the passage we’ve selected, as either comedy or erotica, please get in touch. We’d love to hear you read.

A Gallery of Banned Books Week Performers

December 4, 2012

Tags: banned books, Adult Video News, Beaver Street, Google, Pam Katz, Joyce Snyder

Though I do my best to keep tabs on anything that pops up in the media having to do with Beaver Street or Nowhere Man, occasionally something slips by me. The photo to the right is one such example. Taken two months ago at the Banned Books Week event at the 2A Bar, in New York City, this shot of me sitting next to the Beaver Street character I call Pam Katz (real name Joyce Snyder), was posted on the Adult Video News website. But Google, apparently, finds the AVN site objectionable, and has deemed this major media organ unworthy of searching.

The photo, along with a gallery of the people who read from forbidden books having to do with sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, was finally brought to my attention. So, if you click here, you can see such performers as porn star Lisa Ann, Penthouse editor Lainie Speiser, Linda Lovelace expert Eric Danville, and Lez Zeppelin vocalist Shannon Conley reading from books that you might not necessarily find in a routine Google search.

I, incidentally, read from J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.

Autumn Offensive: A Look Back

October 15, 2012

Tags: Bloodsprayer, Shu-Izmz, Rew & Who?, banned books, Bookgasm, Marv Montag, Book House, Louie Free, Indies Unlimited

As the summer was winding down, I announced the launch of a Beaver Street Autumn Offensive—a rebooting of my publicity campaign following an absurd and exhausting (though ultimately successful) struggle with a certain mega-corporation that had refused to make available to the reading public the print edition of Beaver Street. With mid-October upon us, and the Autumn Offensive in full swing, I’m going to take a moment to recap the blizzard of rave reviews, interviews, blog postings, and assorted articles, that have recently sprung up on the Internet, not only about Beaver Street, but also my John Lennon biography Nowhere Man, which has been reaping the whirlwind of the Autumn Offensive, as well.

The Bloodsprayer: This webmag, which covers horror films and all kinds of pulp media, took a liking to Beaver Street and posted a review and a two-part interview. Here’s Part 1 and here’s Part 2.

Shu-Izmz: Like The Bloodsprayer, this webmag also revels in gore and pulp and they loved Beaver Street. Here’s Bryan “Shu” Schuessler’s rave review, and here’s his interview with me on Core of Destruction Radio.

ReW & WhO?: My return appearance to this TV show, broadcast live on the Internet, was a blast. I talked about Beaver Street as much as I talked about Nowhere Man. You can watch the “15 minutes of fame” interview here.

Banned Books Week: I was delighted to participate in this event and read from one of my favorite banned books, The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger. You can read all about it here.

Bookgasm: This Oklahoma City-based website, dedicated to “reading material to get excited about,” shows that Middle America has a passion for Beaver second to none.

Marv Montag’s Magnificent Echo Chamber: A review site dedicated to the adult industry discovers Beaver Street and pronounces it “excellent.”

Louie b. Free Radio Show: Louie Free has not yet archived my October 9 appearance on his show, celebrating the life of John Lennon, but you can listen to Louie live here.

Metroland: The local alt-weekly in the Albany, NY, area provided some nice coverage of my appearance at the Book House.

Indies Unlimited: They’ve posted an essay I wrote titled “How Nowhere Man Became a Bestseller,” and a Book Brief about the book.

Miscellaneous: Finally, here are five more assorted links from a variety of book-oriented sites: Pulp Informer; Celebrating Authors; Pat Bertram Introduces; Benjamin Wallace Books; and Talk Story TV.

Great Moments in Literature

October 5, 2012

Tags: banned books, The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger, Linda Lovelace, Eric Danville

Last night, when I read from The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger, at 2A, in New York City, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Banned Book Week, I learned that it's easier to read from something you didn't write and feel detached from, than to read--as I've been doing for the past six months--an intimate passage from my own book Beaver Street, about how, as an experiment in participatory journalism, I got a blowjob for a photo shoot in a sleazy porn mag.

And speaking of blowjobs, last night may have been the first time in the history of Western Literature that a reading from the works of Linda Lovelace, author, was followed by a reading from the works of Salinger. And though few would argue that Lovelace is a better writer than Salinger, she is, arguably, a more prolific writer, and it's beyond question who's more skilled at the art of swallowing nine throbbing inches--a disciplined act of athleticism that Lovelace describes well in her banned book, Inside Linda Lovelace, read by event co-host Eric Danville to the appreciative audience.

I could go on talking about all the outstanding performances by a motley collection of writers, porn stars, and rockers, who included Lainie Speiser, Zoe Hansen & Raffaele, Shannon Conley, Rev Jen, Lisa Ann, and especially Puma Perl, who delivered an extraordinary reading of “To Fuck with Love,” by Lenore Kandel. But it’s all been documented on videotape, so you’ll soon be able to see it for yourself. I’ll post the video here as soon as I get my hands on it.

Banned Books and Bloodsprayer

October 4, 2012

Tags: banned books, Bloodsprayer, Adult Video News, Beaver Street, The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger, Fifty Shades of Grey

October has always been a good month for me, publicity-wise. It was in October, 13 years ago, that the first item about my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, appeared in Entertainment Weekly magazine, and ignited a firestorm of publicity that put the book on best-seller lists in five countries.

Judging by what happened yesterday, this October appears to be keeping true to form. The day began with an excellent piece in Adult Video News about banned books in general and the Banned Book Week event I'll be participating in tonight, at 8:00, in New York City, at 2A in the East Village. I've never before taken part in a group reading with a porn star, so this should be both interesting and raucous. The porn star, Lisa Ann, best known for playing "Serra Paylin" in the Hustler video series, will be reading from Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James. I'll be reading from The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger. And it's FREE. See the full lineup here.

Then the day ended with The Bloodsprayer posting part 2 of my epic Beaver Street interview. If you’re undecided about whether or not to come tonight, allow me, as I did with part 1, to boil down part 2 to the top 5 pull quotes.

“In the 60-odd pages Traci Lords devotes to porn in her book, in virtually every case she leaves out the Five Ws—who, what, where, when, and why—saying she was drunk and stoned the whole time and forgot everything that happened.”

“A normal company would have put Mario Puzo’s and Stan Lee’s typewriters in a glass case and employees would have been required to genuflect every time they walked by. But at Swank, it appeared as if the Goodman family didn’t want Martin Goodman’s sacred name sullied by the stench of his son’s smut.”

“The amateur exhibitionists are putting the professional studs and starlets out of business.”

“I say in the Beaver Street prologue that I wrote the book ‘to understand the cumulative psychic effect of having spent 192 months immersed in XXX and wondering if I’d ever get out alive.’ So, yes, writing it was cathartic.”

With any luck at all, I’ll be equally provocative tonight. Hope to see you at 2A.

Why "The Catcher in the Rye"?

October 3, 2012

Tags: The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger, Chapter 27, banned books, Nowhere Man, John Lennon, Mark David Chapman

Of all the banned books in the world to read from, and there are thousands, why am I reading from J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye at the Banned Book Week event at 2A tomorrow night? Because of the connection between that book and Nowhere Man, my John Lennon bio. As I will explain at the reading, The Catcher in the Rye is a book that drives people crazy. And it has 26 chapters. Mark David Chapman read it and decided to kill John Lennon--to save the world from Lennon's phoniness. He believed that by killing Lennon he'd write Chapter 27 in Lennon's blood and then he'd literally disappear into the book to become the Catcher in the Rye for his generation.

I wrote about all this in Nowhere Man. In the last section of the book, “The Coda,” I detail Chapman’s descent into madness as he travels from Hawaii to New York to carry out his mission. In the book’s final chapter, “Chapter 27,” I describe Chapman’s 1981 court hearing, which I attended as a journalist. Rather than stand trail, Chapman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years to life. In the courtroom, as his statement to the world, he read from chapter 22 of The Catcher in the Rye, the part where Holden Caulfield tells his sister that he wants to be the catcher in the rye.

None of this has anything to do with why the book was banned. It was banned because Holden talks too much about sex. And Salinger captures his voice perfectly, which is the real magic of The Catcher in the Rye.

Hope you can stop by and listen to all the readings. And please check out this excellent article in Adult Video News about the event, and banned books in general.

A Really Big Show

October 1, 2012

Tags: banned books, The Catcher in the Rye, Vicious Circus, Bloodsprayer

Just a reminder that in celebration of Banned Book Week, I, along with eight other authors and one porn star (you can see the full lineup here) will be reading from banned books on Thursday, October 4, at 8 P.M. in the upstairs lounge at 2A (25 Avenue A on the corner of Avenue A and East Second Street, phone 212-505-2466). And it's free!

As far as literary events go, I suspect this Vicious Circus production is going to be unusually interesting. Never before have I received pre-show instructions telling me that because performances are going to be projected, 30-feet high, on the building across the street, I am not permitted to take off my clothes (not that I was planning on doing that) or wear a T-shirt with an obscenity on it (not that I was planning on doing that, either).

The 90-minute show will be videotaped, and if there’s time, we will take questions at the end. I’m on fourth and will be reading from J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Please arrive early. It’s going to be packed.

In the meantime you can read Part 1 of my interview with The Bloodsprayer. I’ll have more to say about this tomorrow.

Join Us to Celebrate Banned Book Week

September 25, 2012

Tags: banned books

Here's the complete lineup in order of appearance for the Banned Book Week group reading in the upstairs lounge at the 2A bar in New York City on Thursday, October 4, at 8 P.M. The event is FREE and the address is 25 Avenue A, on the corner of East 2nd Street.

Zoe Hansen: Contributor to The Heroin Chronicles reads from Go Ask Alice by Anonymous. Special guest Raffaele (The Ho and the Mo).

Lainie Speiser: Author of Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars reads from Tales of Ordinary Madness by Charles Bukowski.

Eric Danville: Author of The Complete Linda Lovelace reads from Inside Linda Lovelace by Linda Lovelace.

Robert Rosen: Author of Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography and Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon reads from The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.

Shannon Conley: Lead vocalist Lez Zeppelin reads from Kurt Cobain by Michael Martin.

Puma Perl: Author of Ruby True reads from The Love Book by Lenone Kandel.

Rev Jen: Author of Elf Girl reads from Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller.

Lisa Ann: Adult film star who impersonates Sarah Palin in Nailin’ Palin reads from Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James.

Kristin Davis: Author of The Manhattan Madam’s Secrets to Great Sex reads from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

This is a great group of people, it’s going to be a wild night and it’s going to be packed, so please arrive before 8. We hope to see you there!

Media Events Past and Future

September 17, 2012

Tags: Book House, Julia Widdop, Talk Story TV, Shu-Izmz, Rew & Who?, banned books

Metroland acknowledges a literary event in the Albany area.
Back in New York City after a four-day stay in the Albany area, which included a lot of excellent food, an enlightening visit to a dairy farm, and a Friday-night reading at the Book House that I shall always remember for a clerk's intimation that my responsibilities included store security. I'm pleased to report, however, that nobody stole a copy of Beaver Street, and even if somebody had, busting shoplifters is not my job, man.

I have a busy couple of weeks in front of me, so let me take this opportunity to run down some upcoming media events, which I'll elaborate upon in future postings.

Last week’s live Internet chat with Julia Widdop of Talk Story TV, postponed due to technical problems, has been rescheduled for Wednesday, September 19, 9 P.M. Eastern Time.

On Tuesday, I’m recording an interview with Bryan Schuessler of Shu-Izmz, which will be broadcast on his Internet radio show. As soon as I have a date for that, I’ll post it here.

On Thursday, October 4, at 8 P.M., in celebration of Banned Book Week, I’ll be reading from The Catcher in the Rye at 2A Bar, 25 Avenue A, in New York City. Other authors will be there, as well, reading from a wide assortment of banned book.

On Wednesday, October 10, from 4-6 P.M. Eastern Time, in celebration of John Lennon’s birthday, I’ll be making an encore appearance on ReW & WhO?, which is streamed live on the Internet. If you’re in New York, you’re welcome to join the studio audience at Otto’s Shrunken Head, 538 East 14th Street.

In the meantime, happy New Year to those of you acknowledging the year 5773.

Autumn Offensive

August 31, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, Nowhere Man, John Lennon, Talk Story TV, Julia Widdop, Book House, banned books, Rew & Who?, Otto’s Shrunken Head


My first appearance on ReW & WhO?

As the Labor Day weekend and the official beginning of the Beaver Street Autumn Offensive approaches, I'm posting a schedule of all the upcoming events that I'll be participating in over the next several weeks. This is as much for my own reference as for everybody who'd like to meet me, either virtually or in person.

Wednesday, September 12, 9 P.M. Eastern Time: Join me online for a live chat with Talk Story TV host Julia Widdop. I’ll be answering questions about Beaver Street, Nowhere Man, and pretty much anything else you want to ask me about.

Friday, September 14, 7 P.M.: I’ll be reading from and signing Beaver Street at the Book House, 1475 Western Avenue, in Albany, New York.

Thursday, October 4, 8:00 P.M.: In celebration of Banned Book Week, I, along with several other authors, will be reading passages from banned books at the 2A Bar, 25 Avenue A, in New York City. My passage, which I’ve not yet chosen, is from The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, a book I discuss in detail in Nowhere Man. I’ll post a link to this event as soon as one is available.

Wednesday, October 10, 4:00-6:00 P.M. Eastern Time: Rew Starr has invited me to join her again on ReW & WhO?, her long-running Internet TV show broadcast in front of a live studio audience at Otto’s Shrunken Head, 538 East 14th Street in New York City. I’ll be talking about John Lennon (October 9 is his birthday), Nowhere Man, Beaver Street, and possibly even my work in progress, Bobby in Naziland.

Here’s wishing everybody a great holiday weekend! I hope to see you somewhere soon!

That Was the Month that Was

July 2, 2012

Tags: Bloomsday, Beaver Street, banned books, Amazon


The first video to surface from Bloomsday on Beaver Street: 31 seconds of the author greeting the crowd.

Before I switch to summer hours and cut back on my daily posting frenzy so I can concentrate more on the book I’m working on, Bobby in Naziland, and rethink exactly how I’m going to reboot my Beaver Street promotional campaign after the Amazon book-banning fiasco, I’d like to take a few moments to reflect on the past month, which was exhausting, traumatic, and rewarding.

Yes, June did, indeed, mark the end of an absurd three-month battle with Amazon to make the paperback edition of Beaver Street available. The company added a “buy box” on June 5, and three weeks later they finally had the book in stock. By the end of the month, Beaver Street appeared to be selling at least a little. But there’s no getting around the fact that three months of lost Amazon sales was damaging. The question I now face is how to repair the damage, and I’m certainly open to suggestions.

The highpoint of the month, of course, was Bloomsday on Beaver Street, the New York launch event, on June 16, at the Killarney Rose. This celebration of banned books and literature that had been branded pornographic made for a great party, with surrealistic touches and an electric atmosphere. You can read about it here, here, here, here, and here.

For the time being, the above video is the only video I have from the event. It’s the first 30 seconds of my reading, as I introduce myself to the crowd, and then stop to adjust the microphone. What I was about to say before the video cut off is, “Beaver Street is what happens when a writer can’t decide it he wants to be a humorist, an investigative journalist, a novelist, or a memoirist.”

I will post more videos as they become available.

My Father’s Special Rack

June 29, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, banned books

How ironic is it that Beaver Street opens on a riff about banned books and then was, itself, “banned” for a period of time by a monolithic corporation for reasons both mysterious and nonsensical? Oh, I’d say it’s ironic in that heavy-handed sort of way that if I were to tell such a story in a work of fiction, it would be considered unbelievable and too heavy-handed.

But that is, indeed, the case. In the first paragraph of Beaver Street, I talk about some of the books my father displayed on a “special rack” in the back of his Brooklyn candy store in the early 1960s. “They included,” I write, “My Secret Life, by Anonymous; My Life and Loves, by Frank Harris; The Autobiography of a Flea, also by the ever prolific Anonymous; Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller; and Last Exit to Brooklyn, by Hubert Selby.” Then, on page two, I say, “Though I was far too young to fully grasp what these books were about or to realize that many of them had made it to the rack only after having survived a protracted censorship battle, the pleasure they gave my father and his friends was unmistakable. It was clear to me even in 1961 that these books mattered—a lot—and that if I were going to write books, which I thought even then I’d like to do, then these were the kinds of books I wanted to someday write.”

It so happens that every one of the above titles was banned, at one time or another, in either the U.S. or the U.K. (As far as I remember, my father did not carry two of the most famous banned titles: Ulysses, by James Joyce—which I’ve been going on about here for weeks—and Lady Chatterly’s Lover, by D. H. Lawrence. These books were simply not the sort of literature that guys who hung around Brooklyn candy stores were interested in reading. Ulysses is impenetrable to the casual reader and Lady Chatterly’s Lover is closer to a romance novel than a work of pornography.)

Overlooking my despair at the sales I lost while the paperback edition of Beaver Street remained unavailable to the majority of the American reading public, I can now take some pride in the fact that I’ve achieved my childhood ambition—I’ve written a book that, had it been published in the early 1960s, would have earned a well-deserved slot in my father’s special rack.

And with those hard-won credentials, I will begin, come July, the Beaver Street reboot, and somehow find a way to promote a book that, for reasons known only to them, a corporation tried to kill.

A Holiday that Celebrates a Handjob

June 28, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Bloomsday, banned books, Ulysses, James Joyce, Nora Barnacle

The New York launch event for my book Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, which I called Bloomsday on Beaver Street, and which was held on June 16 at the Killarney Rose, on Beaver Street, was a celebration of numerous things. We celebrated banned books, like Ulysses, by James Joyce, and Beaver Street, that some people had branded “smut” and “filth” and that others, correctly, had recognized as literature. And we celebrated the 40th anniversaries of Deep Throat, the movie, and Watergate, the political scandal, both of which are connected to Beaver Street.

June 16, of course, is the day that Ulysses takes place—in Dublin, in 1904. It documents approximately 24 hours in the life of the book’s protagonist, Leopold Bloom, which is why the celebration is called Bloomsday. Traditionally, people read from Ulysses, as MC Supreme Byron Nilsson did, eloquently reciting the passage that got Ulysses banned in America for 13 years—Joyce’s description of Bloom masturbating.

There was, however, one thing that should have been explained but was not explained at Bloomsday on Beaver Street: Why, exactly, did Joyce set Ulysses on June 16, 1904?

The answer to that question can be found in the July 2 issue of The New Yorker, in an essay about Joyce titled “Silence, Exile, Punning,” by Louis Menand.

That was the day that Joyce had his first date with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle. Menand explains what happened on that date: “They walked to Ringsend, on the south bank of the Liffey, where… she put her hand inside his trousers and masturbated him.”

Quoting from a letter Joyce sent to Barnacle several years later, Menand provides more detail: “It was not I who first touched you long ago down at Ringsend. It was you who slid your hand down down inside my trousers… and frigged me slowly until I came off through your fingers, all the time bending over me and gazing at me out of your quiet saintlike eyes.” Joyce later notes, in another letter, that on that night Barnacle “made me a man.”

So, Bloomsday, then is a literary holiday that celebrates a handjob. And Bloomsday on Beaver Street was such a success, I’m considering making it an annual event. You can rest assured that next year, the MC Supreme will take pains to explain the sticky origins of the celebration.

Ladies and gentlemen, mark your calendars.

Amazon Lifts Beaver Street “Ban”

June 27, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Amazon, banned books

As of this morning, Amazon has in stock multiple copies of my investigative memoir, Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography. And there are, says the Amazon web page, more copies “on the way.” I think it’s safe to say that a ridiculous battle that began more than three months ago to make the paperback edition of Beaver Street available directly through Amazon, like any other book, is finally over.

Let me state again that, according to Amazon, Beaver Street was never a banned book, and that Amazon would never ban a book due to explicit sexual and volatile political content. The reason for its unavailability, an Amazon spokesman said, was a combination of bureaucratic snafus and computer glitches.

Whatever the reason for Beaver Street’s unavailability or “passive-aggressive banning” (as some in the media were calling it), I have expended an enormous amount of time and energy to achieve what should have been routine. But that’s the nature of the book business. Nothing is easy; nothing is routine; any kind of success is the exception to the rule. For every dollar I’ve earned writing books, it often feels as if I’ve expended a hundred dollars of time and energy. Going back to 1977, when I first sat down to write a book, I doubt I’ve earned minimum wage by the standards of a Third-World country.

No writer in his right mind would want to go to war with Amazon, and this battle to make Beaver Street available is, indeed, the last thing I wanted. But Amazon controls 75 percent of the online trade-paperback market, and if you want to reach potential readers, it’s virtually impossible to do it without them. So, I had no choice. Unlike, say, James Patterson and his band of elves, I don’t pop out a book every month. It took me seven years to write Beaver Street and two more years to find a publisher. My career was on the line, and I had nothing to lose. I was either going to find a way to get Amazon to sell the book. Or I was going to promote Beaver Street as the book Amazon banned.

Of course, nothing will make up for the sales I lost when Beaver Street was unavailable on Amazon and I was on the road and on the radio promoting it. All I can do is reboot, so to speak, and start promoting anew. I’ll take a day to celebrate the lifting of the “ban.” And I’ll hope that like my previous book, Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon, Beaver Street will endure in the marketplace, and people will still be talking about it ten years from now.

Will It Ever End?

June 26, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, Amazon, banned books, Bloomsday, Byron Nilsson

Twelve years ago, when my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, was published, Amazon was a company I loved. After having had the book rejected by every publisher in creation for 18 years, it was thrilling to watch Nowhere Man shoot up the sales rankings to heights that I’d never imagined possible. Not only was Amazon instrumental in turning the book into a bestseller in multiple countries and multiple languages, but anytime there was a problem with the book’s page, I was able to call my Amazon contact and she’d fix it immediately while I was holding on the phone. It all seemed miraculous.

I’m not going to go into any detail here about what’s going on with Amazon now. (If you’re interested, there’s an excellent article in the June 25 issue of The New Yorker that spells it all out; you can read the abstract here.) But if you’ve been following this blog, then you know that I’ve been having my problems with Amazon. It took three months before they gave the paperback edition of Beaver Street a buy box, meaning that it was impossible to order the book directly through Amazon. Though the company attributed the absence of a buy box to a variety of ongoing bureaucratic and computer problems, and told me that they’d never ban a book due to its content, most journalists and readers I spoke to about the book’s unavailability perceived the matter as a case of Amazon banning Beaver Street because of its explicit sexual and volatile political content.

It was only after I told Amazon’s PR department that the New York launch event, Bloomsday on Beaver Street, was turning into a public protest against the banning of Beaver Street that a buy box appeared on the Beaver Street page. But that wasn’t the end of it—the book still remained unavailable close to 100% of the time. Amazon would order one copy of Beaver Street. It would sell within a couple of hours. And it would again be out of stock for the next 9-11 days. This was the situation as Bloomsday on Beaver Street rolled around.

The Bloomsday MC Supreme, Byron Nilsson, is, among many things, a professional journalist, and he intimated on his blog, on March 28, the day the book was published, that there appeared to be something unusual happening with Beaver Street on Amazon. At the Bloomsday event, which was, indeed, a celebration of literature that some had branded as “smut” and “filth” (like James Joyce’s Ulysses and Beaver Street), Nilsson spoke eloquently about my Amazon problem, and described what was happening as “passive-aggressive book banning.”

So, where does this issue stand now, ten days after the event? Yesterday, Amazon appeared to have more than one copy of Beaver Street in stock. As of this morning, there’s one left. Will it ever end?

A Librarian Brands Ulysses "Filth"

June 16, 2012

Tags: Bloomsday on Beaver Street, Ulysses, banned books

In honor of Bloomsday on Beaver Street, my New York City book launch party tonight at the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street, I'm posting this letter from a librarian, circa 1930, who considered Ulysses obscene and banned it from his library. Though Beaver Street has not been officially banned, a certain major corporation seems to have had ongoing "technical problems" making it available. And at least one critic has branded the book "smut," and refused to review it.

The Long Road Back

June 12, 2012

Tags: Bloomsday on Beaver Street, Ulysses, XBIZ, XFANZ, Amazon, banned books

There's no question that Amazon's computer glitch/bureaucratic snafu, which virtually everybody perceived as an overt attempt to ban Beaver Street because of its explicit content, did tremendous damage to the book's sales. Amazon is the primary way that people in America buy books. And for the three months that the Beaver Street print edition was unavailable directly from Amazon, I was on the road and on the radio promoting the book and trying to explain to people why it wasn't available from Amazon.

Those months are lost, and I’ll never get them back. But that’s the book biz, where it often seems miraculous if anything goes right. And there’s nothing I can do but keep promoting and keep believing that over the long run, readers will recognize Beaver Street as the serious and “enormously entertaining” (as one critic said) work of literature that it is, and it will endure in the marketplace as has my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man.

I feel like a sports team that’s come off a rough road trip, where I played well but got some bad calls. And now I’m about to play a crucial game on my home court. That “game” is Bloomsday on Beaver Street, which takes place this Saturday, June 16, at the Killarney Rose at 80 Beaver Street in New York City. It’s going to be a wild launch party, a celebration of literature that was branded pornographic, like Ulysses and Beaver Street. Some very special guests will be reading from Beaver Street and there will be live music provided by HooP, an extraordinary guitarist, and singer-songwriter Mary Lyn Maiscott, my wife. (You can listen to clips from some of her songs on CD Baby.)

Bloomsday on Beaver Street will be the first step in a long road back to attempt to make up for what was lost. As of last night, the event got its first bit of ink… in two “adult” trade mags, XBIZ and XFANZ. Let’s call it an auspicious start.

Amazon Blinks: Beaver Street Gets Buy Box

June 5, 2012

Tags: Amazon, banned books, BEA, Bloomsday on Beaver Street

Score one for The Daily Beaver: Just as Bookexpo America opens in New York, Amazon has added a "buy box" to the print edition of Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, thus ending a three-month battle to achieve what should have been routine. It's now possible to buy Beaver Street directly from Amazon and take advantage of free shipping with Amazon Prime. If I sound like an advertisement, please forgive me. This has been a long time coming.

An Amazon rep called yesterday to break the news. He sounded genuinely upset that anybody could think that Amazon had banned Beaver Street due to its content, as I’d been reporting here. He assured me that that wasn’t the case.

I told the rep that I believed him. But I also said that every time I tried to explain to a reader or an interviewer that, according to Amazon, the reason the book wasn’t available was because of computer glitches and weird bureaucratic snafus having to do with licensing, nobody believed me. “Dude,” everybody would tell me, “Amazon banned your book.” After hearing this for three months, and getting nowhere with Amazon, I started to believe it, too.

Amazon, however, is sensitive to the idea that they’d ever ban a book due to explicit sexual content. And what finally got through to them, what finally motivated somebody within their bureaucracy to wake up and add a buy box, was a letter I wrote to the Amazon public relations department, telling them about the Bloomsday on Beaver Street event scheduled for June 16, in New York. I said that one of the reasons for the event was to publicly protest Amazon’s banning of Beaver Street. This was clearly something that Amazon did not want to see happen.

I also talked to the rep about the issue of fairness, pointing out that because of what amounts to a clerical error, I’d lost three months of sales. “How is Amazon going to make that up to me?” I asked him.

Let’s just that that, as of today, this remains an open question, though I fully expect Amazon to do the right thing and use their vast resources to give Beaver Street a well deserved promotional boost.

In the meantime, I’ll return to organizing Bloomsday on Beaver Street as the celebration of literature, in the spirit of James Joyce, that I’d originally intended.

Some Thoughts on Book Banning on the Eve of the BEA

June 4, 2012

Tags: Amazon, banned books, BEA, Bloomsday on Beaver Street

I've been writing a lot about Amazon lately because of the absurd and destructive problems they've created for Beaver Street. If you've been reading this blog, then you know that despite my own efforts, and the efforts of the publisher and the distributor, Amazon has been unwilling or unable to make the print edition of Beaver Street available in the U.S. Concerned readers and members of the media who've asked me about this perceive the problem as a conscious effort on Amazon's part to ban Beaver Street because of its explicit sexual content. (This so-called book banning will be one of the themes of the New York launch event on June 16, Bloomsday on Beaver Street.)

I bring it up yet again because Book Expo America (BEA) begins tomorrow in New York, and one of the reasons I’m going there is the possibility (as slim as it may be) that somebody from Amazon will meet with me and be willing to work to resolve the problem. Treating the banning of Beaver Street as an aggrieved author has thus far gotten me nowhere. It occurs to me that it’s now time to put on my investigative journalist hat and demand answers from a stonewalling corporation.

If I seem obsessive about this Amazon issue, it’s because I am. And the longer it drags on with no resolution in sight, the more obsessive I become. Is it really necessary to point out that I spent seven years writing Beaver Street, another two years looking for a publisher, and the past 14 months running around Europe and the U.S. promoting it? One of the few things I expected in return for this decade-long ordeal was for the largest distributor of books in America to make my work available in all formats. Amazon has not done so, and that is unacceptable.

Top 10 Events of May 2012

June 1, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, Nowhere Man, Gli ultimi giorni di John Lennon, Tiffany Granath, Christy Canyon, Ginger Lynn, Book Soup, Amazon, banned books, Erich von Pauli

Christy Canyon and Ginger Lynn, hosts of the Sirius XM Playboy radio show You Porn.
It's been a helluva month. Allow me to share some of the highlights and lowlights:

10. A blogger in England puts my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, on his list of "Top 10 Books," among the works of such commercial powerhouses as Dan Brown, Stephanie Meyer, and C.J. Sanson. This has happened dozens of times before, and each time it does, it reminds me anew that 12 years after publication, Nowhere Man has achieved "cult classic" status.

9. A rave review of Nowhere Man: Gli ultimi giorni di John Lennon, in an Italian magazine, calls the book “daring,” “an unforgiving but truthful portrait,” and a “must for… Beatles fans.”

8. The Italian edition of Nowhere Man sells out its first printing, but Italy, like the publishing industry itself, is in such a state of economic and political chaos, nobody seems to know if there will be a second printing.

7. My wife and I spend a blissful week in Santa Barbara, at our friends’ house, “Casa de los patios,” as it’s called. We begin each day sipping coffee on one of five patios, gazing at the mountains in the distance. “Another goddamn beautiful day,” says the mistress of the house each morning, as she comes trotting onto the patio with her four dogs.

6. For the fourth consecutive month, this website hits a new high in traffic.

5. I read and sign Beaver Street at Book Soup, the legendary independent bookstore on Sunset Strip in L.A.

4. I’m interviewed about Beaver Street on The Tiffany Granath Show on Sirius XM Playboy radio.

3. After a year of hustling and promotion, the first printing of Beaver Street sells out in the U.K. There will be a second printing… sooner or later.

2. Christy Canyon and Ginger Lynn interview me about Beaver Street on their Sirius XM Playboy radio show, You Porn. Christy shows me her extraordinary (and ageless) breasts. Paul Slimak (Henry Dorfman in Beaver Street) calls in as Erich von Pauli, the character he plays in the Beaver Street promotional videos, and has everybody in the studio cracking up as he threatens to launch his V-2 missiles. It’s one of the best hours of radio I’ve ever participated in.

1. Claiming at various times “technical problems,” that they don’t have the right to sell the book, or that the book is “unavailable,” Amazon effectively bans the print edition of Beaver Street in the U.S. and there appears to be nothing anybody can do about it.

Epiphany on Beaver Street

May 31, 2012

Tags: Bloomsday on Beaver Street, James Joyce, Ulysses, banned books, Killarney Rose

In addition to the invitation to Bloomsday on Beaver Street, there's also a press release. This is what it says:

What: New York launch party for Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, by Robert Rosen
When: Bloomsday, Saturday, June 16, 2012, 7 P.M.
Where: Killarney Rose (upstairs bar), 80 Beaver Street

Ten years ago, Robert Rosen, author of the international bestseller Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon, was searching for a title for the new book he’d begun writing, about the history of modern pornography. He found it while wandering around downtown Manhattan, not far from Wall Street. Looking up at a street sign, he saw that he was on the corner of Beaver and Broad, and realized he’d found not only his title, but nearby, at 80 Beaver Street, an ideal venue for a publication party—the Killarney Rose.

Now, after a series of sometimes raucous events in the Midwest and California, Rosen has come home to celebrate the New York launch of Beaver Street, and he’s doing so on Bloomsday, a day named for Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of the groundbreaking James Joyce novel Ulysses, which takes place in Dublin on June 16, 1904. Why did Rosen choose this particular day? Because Ulysses, like Beaver Street, was considered a “dirty book” in its time, a work of smut rather than literature.

When an excerpt of Ulysses, about Bloom masturbating, was published in the U.S. in 1920, the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice succeeded in having the book declared obscene and banned in the U.S.—until 1933, when the courts, in an epic decision that marked the beginning of modern literature, declared the novel non-pornographic, and Ulysses was officially recognized as a work of art.

Though some critics have branded Rosen’s book “smut”—and Amazon, claiming “technical difficulties,” has not made the print edition available in the U.S.—when Beaver Street, a Vanity Fair “Hot Type” pick, was published in the U.K. last year by London indie Headpress, other critics across the cultural spectrum and on both sides of the Atlantic recognized the investigative memoir for what it was.

“Robert Rosen’s history of modern porn is entertaining, insightful, and hot,” said Michael Musto, of The Village Voice.

Beaver Street captures the aroma of pornography, bottles it, and gives it so much class you could put it up there with Dior or Chanel,” said Jamie Maclean, editor of the legendary British sex journal Erotic Review.

Beaver Street… adds considerable depth and texture to any understanding of how the pornography industry worked…. The book is as much a literary as it is a conventional historical account,” said Patrick Glen, of the academic site H-Net.

So, in a spirit of new and vital literature that James Joyce himself might appreciate, Rosen is celebrating the U.S. publication of Beaver Street at the Killarney Rose, an Irish bar on Beaver Street, on Bloomsday.

Rosen and special guests will read provocative passages from Beaver Street. “Characters” from the book will be present. Recording artists HooP and Mary Lyn Maiscott will provide live music.

Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography is now available in New York City at Shakespeare’s, McNally Jackson, St. Mark’s Books, and Barnes and Noble, and in all e-book formats at all online booksellers.

Download Invite to Bloomsday on Beaver Street

May 30, 2012

Tags: Bloomsday on Beaver Street, Killarney Rose, banned books

Bloomsday on Beaver Street, the New York launch event for my investigative memoir, Beaver Street, is going to take place Saturday, June 16, 7 P.M., at the upstairs bar of the Killarney Rose at 80 Beaver Street. The event is free, open to the public, and will feature provocative readings from the book by me as well as special guests, and live music by HooP and Mary Lyn Maiscott.

To learn more about the event, you can download the invitation by clicking on the image to the left.

Hope you can join me on Beaver Street to celebrate literature and banned books that refuse to die.

The Banning of Beaver Street

May 29, 2012

Tags: Meese Commission, banned books, Amazon, Bloomsday on Beaver Street, Ulysses

Beaver Street is a book that deals with explicit sexual themes while launching a full-frontal assault on the outrageous hypocrisy of Republican anti-porn warriors who were either convicted of multiple felonies and sent to jail or were forced to resign from office in disgrace to avoid criminal prosecution--notably Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Edwin Meese, Charles Keating, and Alberto Gonzales.

Because of this, I thought that there was a decent chance that somebody might try to ban the book, leading to controversy, a flurry of media attention, and a few more sales. What I had in mind was a group like Focus on Family, a fundamentalist Christian organization that I cited in Beaver Street because their founder, James Dobson, an “evangelical pediatrician,” had served on the Meese Commission on Pornography, which, in 1986, attempted to outlaw pornography in America.

Well, it’s time to file my little fantasy under: “Be careful what you wish for.”

Though Amazon U.S. has not exactly banned Beaver Street—they are selling the Kindle edition and allowing outside vendors to sell the paperback edition—they are not selling the paperback edition themselves, which means that they’ve made it extremely difficult for anybody who doesn’t want to read Beaver Street on a plastic machine to get their hands on it.

Amazon claims they’re doing this because they haven’t been given the right to sell Beaver Street in the U.S., which is simply not true. The distributor and the publisher have repeatedly reaffirmed Amazon’s right to sell the book in the U.S., but Amazon has repeatedly ignored them and continues to insist that they don’t have the right to sell the book in the U.S.

None of the readers, potential readers, and journalists whom I’ve spoken to about this believe that Amazon is so inept they’re unable to correct what amounts to a minor clerical error. They think that Amazon has banned the book due to its explicit sexual content, and nothing I say can convince them otherwise.

So, if perception is reality, then I’ve gotten what I wished for: Beaver Street, like James Joyce’s Ulysses, is a banned book.

Which is one more good reason to join me June 16 at the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street to celebrate Bloomsday on Beaver Street and express your distaste for any organization that, intentionally or by benign neglect, bans books.

And, if you’ve got a little free time, do me a favor: Write to Amazon. Let them know that you don’t appreciate them banning books of any kind, even if they swear on a stack of Kindles that they haven’t banned it, that they simply don’t have the right to sell it.

Why Bloomsday?

May 25, 2012

Tags: Bloomsday, Beaver Street, James Joyce, Ulysses, banned books, Killarney Rose

Funny thing, the unconscious. Somehow you know things, but you don't know how you know them, or even that you do know them. That's what happened when I was looking at the calendar, trying to select a day for the New York Beaver Street launch. I knew I was going to have it in on a Saturday in June and I knew I was going to have it at the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street.

June 16 jumped out at me.

Yes, I knew it was Bloomsday, named for Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of the James Joyce novel Ulysses, which takes place in Dublin on June 16, 1904. I was in Dublin once on Bloomsday, and participated in the daylong festivities, which included readings from the book. So, I figured: Bloomsday, Irish bar on Beaver Street, people will read from the book—perfect.

But I didn’t realize until yesterday how perfect it was. That’s when I remembered something I’d known all along: In 1920, a literary magazine published an excerpt from Ulysses that contained a description of Bloom masturbating. He’s at the beach, pleasuring himself as he watches a young girl, leaning back and revealing her “beautifully shaped legs.”

Joyce describes Bloom’s orgasm: “And then a rocket sprang and bang shot blind blank and O! then the Roman candle burst and it was like a sigh of O! and everyone cried O! O! in raptures and it gushed out of it a stream of rain gold hair threads and they shed and ah! they were all greeny dewy stars falling with golden, O so lovely! O so soft, sweet, soft!”

The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice considered this passage pornographic, took the matter to court, and succeeded in having Ulysses declared obscene and banned in the U.S. for 13 years.

Beaver Street has not actually been banned—though in the eyes of many attentive readers, Amazon’s failure to make the paperback edition available comes pretty close. And some critics have, indeed, branded the book “smut.” (Happily, most recognize it as literature.)

Bottom line: Celebrating the publication of a “dirty book” in an Irish bar on Beaver Street on Bloomsday is the way to go. And I hope to see you all there for Bloomsday on Beaver Street. It’s free and it could be fun.