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Flatbush Flashback

Top 5 Blurbs of the Beaver Street Autumn Offensive


Just in case the world ends today, on this first day of winter in the northern hemisphere, I'm going out with the "Top 5 Blurbs of the Beaver Street Autumn Offensive."

In the event that the world doesn't end today, the Autumn Offensive will be followed by the Winter Assault and Spring Siege, the latter climaxing, of course, with the Second Annual Bloomsday on Beaver Street. (Make your plans today!)

Optimist that I am, I'm planning on taking off for St. Louis for the holidays, which is where the Beaver Street Spring Offensive of 2012 began in April. So, this will probably be my last posting of the year (if not forever). Here's wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Hope to see you in 2013!

And here are my fave blurbs and the reasons I chose them:

5. “Rosen excluded female pornographers entirely from his history. I suspect he was too caught up in his own juvenile dabbling to notice their existence.” —Kate Gould, Review 31
What does a review look like when it’s written by a reviewer who’s made up her mind that she’s going to trash a book before reading the first word? It looks like this. I include this classic hatchet job because of the backlash it inspired, which ended up bringing more attention to Beaver Street than if the reviewer had read the entire book and written an honest critique.

4. “Tender and tawdry all at once.” —Neil A. Chesanow, Review 31
This eloquent point-by-point takedown of the above hatchet job does what Gould’s review should have done in the first place: It provides an accurate and insightful picture of what Beaver Street is about.

3. “A fascinating peek inside a world of sex, indulgence, and exhibitionism.” —Shu-Izmz
Horror mags love Beaver Street, and Shu-Izmz, a site overseen by Bryan Schuessler, is one of three such sites that gave the book a rave review. Schuessler writes from the perspective of a regular guy whose mind is in the gutter; he loves porn, death metal, and gore. Also, this review led to a very cool interview on Core of Destruction Radio.

2. “Incredibly thoughtful, engaging and entertaining.” —The Bloodsprayer
Written by a chubby chaser who also happens to be a trained historian, the critic “J. D. Malinger” (as he calls himself) offers an intellectual lowbrow take on Beaver Street. The review resulted in an epic two-part interview, which allowed me to elaborate on a number of themes I touched upon in the book, such as the contempt with which many porn publishers treat their employees.

1. “A gem of a read… You will find yourself fascinated by the cast of characters.” — Richard Klemensen, Little Shoppe of Horrors
Even if LSoH editor and publisher Richard Klemensen hadn’t said in a comment on this blog that Beaver Street was one of his “favorite reads,” I’d still have chosen the above blurb as my favorite of the Autumn Offensive. Klemensen, who’s celebrating the 40th anniversary of his venerable publication, gets to the heart of the matter in his critique, which serves as yet another direct repudiation of the Review 31 hatchet job. Beaver Street is indeed a character-driven page-turner, whose vibrant cast will defy your expectations of what kind of people work behind the scenes in pornography. Since LSoH is only available in a print edition, if you’d like to read the entire review (and a whole bunch of stories about Dr. Phibes), you’ll have to buy a copy. Happy anniversary, Richard, and here’s to many more! Read More 

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Opera on Beaver Street

Bloomsday on Beaver Street was a celebration of both high and low culture, and nothing was more representative of the high-culture portion of the evening then the performance of my friend and neighbor Marty Linz. Linz, a cabaret and opera singer, opened with an attention-grabbing bit of Wagner, from Ride of the Valkyries (I think). She then segued into a bawdy and operatic rendition of Gershwin's Embraceable You—a stunning serenade to a dirty book that brought down the house. Read More 
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The Dirty Part

This is my complete Bloomsday on Beaver Street reading of the so-called "dirty part" from the chapter titled "The Accidental Porn Star," pages 110-114. If you think it's easy to read this kind of stuff in front of your family, neighbors, and classmates from high school and junior high school, I suggest you try it sometime. I've posted a couple of more videos from the memorable night of June 16, 2012 here. You can find even more videos on YoutubeRead More 
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American Riflemen

Yesterday, a reader, Debra Wheels, mentioned in her comment about my blog post, "America the Deranged," that maybe the best thing I can do about the insanity of as many as 300-million guns circulating in this country, and the National Rifle Association's advocacy of putting even more guns into circulation as a solution to the problem, is to continue writing about it.

Ms. Wheels may be pleased to hear that I am writing about it in the book I'm currently working on, Bobby in Naziland. Unbeknownst to me, as the slaughter was occurring in Newtown on Friday morning, I was editing a chapter that is, in part, about the NRA. That was what drew me to the organization's website and the website for its magazine, American Rifleman.

The Naziland chapter concerns two characters, military veterans trained in the use of firearms, who, in the aftermath of the Harlem and Watts riots of 1965, join the NRA. These characters believe that more rioting is imminent, and that the police aren’t up to the task of protecting them. So, they intend to take matters into their own hands, get some guns, and shoot anybody who attempts to loot and burn their homes or businesses. The likeminded NRA, through their magazine, encourages them to do so.

The chapter is primarily about fear and racism, two emotions that the NRA expertly exploits. But I was having a hard time coming up with a title for the chapter. Various plays on “The Right to Bear Arms” and “The Second Amendment” just weren’t working. That was when I took a look at the two NRA sites, and the title of their magazine jumped out at me. All I had to do was make it plural and I had the perfect chapter title: “American Riflemen.”

It was soon afterwards that I made myself a cup of coffee and turned on the news. Read More 
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America the Deranged

Have you seen the National Rifle Association's website lately? How about the website for American Rifleman, the NRA's official magazine (so to speak)? They both have the look of deranged parodies, offering such fare as a video about the "Gun of the Week," the Glock 17, similar to one of the guns used in Newtown, CT; an advertisement for a discount online gun dealer,; and an article about the ever-popular Charter Arms revolver, which was the gun Mark David Chapman used to murder John Lennon, and which he was easily able to purchase in Hawaii.

Having written about Chapman in my book Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon, I've had plenty of opportunity to think about how easy it is for crazy people in America to get their hands on guns. And after listening to three days of TV blather from such luminaries as Joe Scarborough, who said it's not only the availability of guns that's the problem, it's also violent Hollywood movies and violent video games, I'd like to say: What the fuck are you talking about?

The problem is the availability of guns. The problem is that in America, there are between 200 and 300-million guns floating around. And if you think movies and video games are part of the problem, then you also need to blame books and record albums.

Chapman killed Lennon because, he said, The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger, and a photograph on the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper inspired him to do so. Chapman, who had attempted suicide and had once been confined to a psychiatric institution, believed that by murdering Lennon, he’d write chapter 27 of The Catcher in the Rye (the book has 26 chapters) in Lennon’s blood and literally vanish into the book’s pages to become The Catcher in the Rye for his generation. And when he walked into a gun shop in Honolulu to buy his Charter Arms revolver, all he had to do was fill out an application. One of the questions on the application was: Have you ever been hospitalized for mental illness? Chapman lied, but nobody bothered to do a background check, and he got his gun—for $169, cash on the barrel (so to speak).

In the past 32 years, it’s become easier to get guns, there are more of them, they are deadlier, they are in the possession of more mentally unstable people, and horrific shootings have become more routine.

No, I have no idea what to do about any of this. Even if the obvious solutions are employed—stricter gun laws, banning assault weapons, mandatory background checks, extensive waiting periods, easier access to psychiatric care, etc., etc.—and even if these “solutions” get 100-million guns off the street, that still leaves between 100 and 200-million guns.

America is a deranged and violent country, built on a foundation of genocide, slavery, and Puritanism. Gun violence is a symptom of that derangement and the NRA is a well-financed promoter of it. The only difference I can see between Osama bin Laden and Wayne LaPierre is that one of them was shot dead by an assault rifle. Read More 
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I'm Ready for My Close-Up, Mr. Paul

When Paul Slimak, whom you may know as the Singing Nazi from the Beaver Street promotional videos, insists, in-character as Erich von Pauli, that you publish a close-up of yourself from your most recent photo session, you have no choice but to publish a close-up.

So, here's a close-up that in-house photographer Michael Paul shot the other day. I'm standing on the corner of West Street and Houston, in downtown Manhattan, waiting for the light to change and looking as if I'm about to tell you something--you've probably just asked me for directions.

As for the title of this post, it’s a reference to the famous line from the last few minutes of Sunset Boulevard, spoken by Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson): “Alright Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.” And by the time Michael Paul (not to be confused with Paul Slimak, whom I call “Henry Dorfman” in Beaver Street) shot this, I was, after a hard afternoon of posing, more than ready for my close-up. Read More 
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Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Yesterday, after appearing on the Louie Free Radio Show and singing a capella a few verses of her Christmas song, Blue Lights, my wife, Mary Lyn Maiscott (aka the Mistress of Syntax) made her annual appearance on Rew & Who? With Gary Hoopengarden (aka HooP) accompanying her on guitar, she performed a Blue Lights encore and sang an especially touching rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, by Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin. (Both songs are on her CD, Blue Lights, available for download on CD Baby.)

Michael Paul shot the above video of Mary Lyn and HooP’s performance. You can watch the entire Rew & Who? segment hereRead More 
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Word and Image 3

This being 12/12/12 (12 + 12 + 12 = 36 = 9) and only 9 days before the end of the world (according to the Mayan Long Count calendar), one would think that an amateur numerologist such as myself would devote today's blog to numerology. But no, I'll save that for December 21, and instead return to the subject of word and image--because yesterday I did another photo shoot with Michael Paul, who last took my picture in October, in the East Village.

Because a writer's image can be more important that his words, posing for photographs is something I take seriously. The ideal, as I've said before, is the Harold Halma photo of Truman Capote that appeared on the dust jacket of Other Voices, Other Rooms--an image that made the young author a star and that people talked about more than Capote's prose.

Well, I don’t think I’ve yet achieved that ideal, and perhaps I’ll need to attend an elite modeling academy before I do, but yesterday’s session by the Hudson River did produce a number of promising images, including the one above. Taken at 4 P.M., on the walkway to the Holland Tunnel ventilation tower, with Jersey City in the background, this scenic bit of real estate, about ten bocks from where I live, was completely flooded during Hurricane Sandy.

What I like about the picture is the perspective, the dramatic sky, the curve of the walkway, and my thoughtful expression as I look south, towards the so-called “Freedom Tower” and the downtown Manhattan skyline. It’s a natural shot, in my natural environment, looking very much as I would on any other day.

Ah, but will it sell books? Read More 
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Madame Olenska

Bloomsday on Beaver Street was a celebration of literature of all kinds. Here is Mary Lyn Maiscott and HooP celebrating Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence with Mary Lyn's song about one of the novel's main characters, Madame Olenska.

Mary Lyn will be performing her Christmas song, Blue Lights, tomorrow on ReW & WhO?. You can watch the show live on the Internet, beginning at 4:00 P.M. Eastern Time. (Mary Lyn is scheduled to come on at 4:45.)

You can also listen to her songs on the Louie Free Radio Show: Brainfood from the Heartland, streamed live on the Internet from 8 A.M. to noon, Eastern Time, Monday-Friday. All her songs are available for download on CD BabyRead More 
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A Blast from the Past

It's been almost six months since Bloomsday on Beaver Street, and even now when I run into people who were there, they still want to tell me stories about one particular guest at the event: Subway Vigilante Bernhard Goetz. It was only recently that I heard that "Bernie" was hanging out at the bar at the Killarney Rose, describing in detail to an enraptured audience how, on December 22, 1984, he'd shot four teenagers who'd accosted him on the subway. And it wasn't until long after the party that I heard about a lot of other things Goetz did that night, most of which are best not repeated here.

Goetz had come to the Killarney Rose because he's a porno fan and he's good friends with one of the main characters in Beaver Street, Pam Katz, whose real name is Joyce Snyder. Goetz had asked Snyder if he could read from the book at the launch event, and when Snyder passed along his request to me, I said, "Sounds crazy. Why not?"

In retrospect, I can think of a lot of good reasons why not. But Goetz showed up, took to the stage, and delivered a surreal non-reading. Here, at last, is the long-awaited video clip of his “performance.” That’s Byron Nilsson introducing Goetz and that’s Joyce Snyder calling out from the audience, “Read the book! Just read the book!” Read More 

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I'm Losing You

Mary Lyn Maiscott and HooP's Blue Lights Christmas show, tonight at Ella Lounge, is dedicated to the memory of John Lennon. Tomorrow, December 8, marks the 32nd anniversary of his murder, an event that I explore in my book Nowhere Man. To commemorate Lennon, here's a clip of Mary Lyn and HooP performing I'm Losing You at Bloomsday on Beaver Street.

Also tomorrow, December 8, at 11 AM Eastern Time, this link from Indies Unlimited will go live and take you to an excerpt from Nowhere ManRead More 
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Blue Lights Show

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

I heard it on the radio yesterday for the first time this year. Louie Free, host of the Louie Free Radio Show: Brainfood from the Heartland, closed out his broadcast with Mary Lyn Maiscott's Blue Lights, my wife’s Christmas song from her album of the same name. Louie, determined to make the song a holiday tradition, has been playing it every year at Christmas since 2007, when she released the CD, which you can download at CD Baby.

This year, in New York City, Mary Lyn, along with ace guitarist HooP, will be performing in the first annual Blue Lights Christmas Show, on Friday, Dec. 7, 8:30, at Ella Lounge, 9 Avenue A. This intimate holiday concert, dedicated to the memory of John Lennon, will feature such Maiscott originals as Crucified, Things I Lost, and Blue Lights (of course), as well as covers, including a mashup of the Beatles’ You Never Give Me Your Money and You Can't Do That, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, which she's never before performed in public.

Tickets are $10 at the door or $5 online (listed under HooP). Hope to see you at Ella Lounge. If you can’t make it, please listen to Mary Lyn on the Louie Free Show, streaming live on your computer or on WYCL, 1540 AM, in Youngstown, Ohio, weekdays 8 AM-Noon. Read More 
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Amazon Absurd

Though I've had my issues with Amazon in the past, I want to make it clear that what I'm about to say has not affected me personally. Amazon has not deleted any reviews of my books and they have not deleted any reviews that I've written about other people's books. However, an article, "Amazon Tackles Review Problem, Deletes Wrong Reviews," by Suw Charman-Anderson, that ran last month on, is both disturbing and sounds typical of the way that Amazon does business.

Here are the main points of the piece:

· Amazon has changed its customer reviews guidelines.

· According to customers who posted reviews for a book by Michelle Gagnon, either the reviews never appeared or they were deleted.

· When these customers complained, Amazon told them that they “do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product. This includes authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product,” and they “will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on this matter.”

· When one of the customers told Amazon that they had no “relationship or financial interest in the book,” Amazon then told Gagnon, the author of the book in question, that they’d remove her book from the site if the customer complained again.

· Another author, Steve Weddle, received a similar e-mail from Amazon when he attempted to post a review for a book by Chad Rohrbacher, whom he knows personally.

· This is apparently happening on a wide scale.

· Bottom line: Amazon now appears to be forbidding authors from posting reviews because it sees all authors as direct competitors with other authors. In the meantime, Amazon has done nothing about fake reviews, written by reviewers for hire, that have flooded the site.

One can only hope that Amazon recognizes the absurdity of their review policy and corrects it promptly. Read More 
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A Gallery of Banned Books Week Performers

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 RyeRead More 
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The Official Bloomsday on Beaver Street Video: Part 1

It has been almost six months since the Bloomsday on Beaver Street launch party at the Killarney Rose for my investigative memoir, Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography. This celebration of banned books, James Joyce, Ulysses, and all literature that has been branded pornographic, featured readings, rock 'n' roll, opera, and a surreal non-performance by a man who once ran for mayor of New York City.

Though I've posted a few truncated video clips of some of the performances, it's only recently that I've come into possession of the official Bloomsday on Beaver Street video--a complete documentation of every moment of the event. Here's the first excerpt: MC Byron Nilsson's masterful introductory monologue.

Stay tuned to relive the entire night, clip by clip. Read More 
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