instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Flatbush Flashback

My Discomfort Zone

Some of the revelers at Bloomsday on Beaver Street I. It was kind of like a high school reunion, with a couple of celebrity interlopers from The Surreal World.
Putting together the second annual Bloomsday on Beaver Street: Father's Day Edition, is the equivalent of putting together a complex theatrical event, and it has taken me well outside my creative comfort zone, which generally involves sitting alone in a room and doing little more than putting words on a blank page.

I'm working with actors, musicians, other authors, and at least one porn star, several of whom live outside the New York area. There are auditions. There are technical issues involving sound systems and recording devices. There are invitations to deal with and press releases to write. Plus, I have to prepare my own performance, something that has never come naturally to me, and which will involve reading in public for the first time an excerpt from a novel that I've been working on for five years.

Bloomsday is keeping me awake at night.

But I keep reminding myself that the reason there is a Bloomsday on Beaver Street II is because last year’s event went so well, and was so much fun, people are still talking about it. It was a combination book party and reading, concert, open mike, high school and junior high school reunion, co-op meeting, family gathering, and drunken bacchanal.

So, as I work with my multitude of collaborators and potential collaborators to finalize this year’s festivities, I just want to say that the first round of invitations will soon be going out via Facebook, and everybody on my mailing list will be receiving a personal invitation via e-mail. And if you happen to be in New York on June 16, feel free to drop by the Killarney Rose. If it’s anything like last year, chances are good you’ll still be talking about Bloomsday II when Bloomsday III rolls around in 2014. Read More 
Be the first to comment

The Good Parts


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. Read More 
Be the first to comment

The Nazi Connection


Max Bialystock, Franz Liebkind, and Leo Bloom in a scene from The Producers.


Of all the Jews in all the books in all of literature, why did Mel Brooks steal the name Leo Bloom from the protagonist of James Joyce's Ulysses for his nervous and corruptible accountant in The Producers?

Played by Gene Wilder in the 1968 film, and Matthew Broderick in the original cast of the 2001 Broadway musical, Leo Bloom, in the course of auditing scam-artist producer Max Bialystock’s books, realizes that more money can be made from producing a flop than producing a hit. And the super-flop that Bloom and Bialystock scheme to produce is a musical titled Springtime for Hitler, written by a deranged former-Nazi playwright, Franz Liebkind (Kenneth Mars).

“I don’t know what it meant to James Joyce,” said Mel Brooks, “but to me Leo Bloom always meant a vulnerable Jew with curly hair. Enter Gene Wilder.”

There’s more: Before taking on the role of Max Bialystock in the film, Zero Mostel played Leopold Bloom in a Broadway production of Ulysses in Nighttown. And the film is full of Ulysses references. In one scene, Bloom asks Bialystock, “When will it be Bloom’s Day?” A calendar on the wall shows that it is Bloomsday—June 16.

I bring this up now because, though Ulysses seems to contain references to everything in the world, it contains no references to Nazis—the book predated Nazism. And since everything that will happen this June 16, at Bloomsday on Beaver Street II, at the Killarney Rose, will, in one way or another, be tied into the Ulysses theme, I thought that a direct connection to the title of my book, Bobby in Naziland, which I’ll read from for the first time in public that night, was lacking.

True, the subtitle, A Portrait of the Author as a Young Jew, is a direct reference to Joyce, and I figured that that was good enough. But now I know that, thanks to The Producers and Mel Brooks, which are both referenced in Bobby in Naziland, I do have the Ulysses-Nazi connection that I longed for. Read More 
Be the first to comment

Ulysses and Me

Yes, yes, yes, I really have read, from beginning to end, Ulysses, by James Joyce, the book we will be using as an excuse to have a party, on June 16, the day known as Bloomsday, at the Killarney Rose, on Beaver Street.

It was 1977 when I took down the book from my shelf, where it had been gathering dust for many years. Having recently embarked on a writing career, I felt it was a novel that every "serious" writer should read, and I'd managed to avoid doing so throughout college and grad school.

Ulysses is the most difficult book I’ve ever read, and it took me the better part of a year to get through it. There were pages where I literally had to look up in the dictionary every other word. And there were huge swaths where I had no idea what was going on. But finish it I did, dipping into it every spare moment I could find, and reading it on the subway, where it served as a conversation piece. Late one night, as I was returning home to Washington Heights on the Broadway Local, the guy sitting across the aisle from me pointed to the book and said, “It’s a joke book. You’ve got to read it like a joke book.”

Maybe.

Taken more by the idea of Ulysses than the book itself, in 1986 I went to Dublin for Bloomsday, named for the book’s protagonist, Leopold Bloom. On the morning of June 16, I visited the Martello Tower, overlooking the Irish Sea, in Sandycove, outside Dublin. This is where the book opens with the words, “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”

In the afternoon, led by a local guide, I took a walking tour of Ulysses sites throughout the city. The guide, a knowledgeable fellow, probably in his late 60s, kept referring to the fact that Bloom was an Irish Jew. “You’ve got to pay your Jews if you want to sing the blues,” was the line that got the biggest laugh out of the tour group.

In the evening, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, I listened to a reading of the final part of the book, Molly Bloom’s soliloquy, the one that begins with “Yes” and ends with “yes I said yes I will Yes.” Then, in the finest tradition of Leopold Bloom and his good friend Stephen Dedalus, I went to the local pub and drank my fill of Guinness before stumbling back to my hotel for a good’s night’s sleep.

The next day, I embarked, via ferry, for Liverpool, where another pilgrimage awaited me. Read More 
1 Comments
Post a comment

Right Here on Our Stage…

…direct from Cleveland, Ohio, where he's just completed a critically acclaimed run as James "Jimmy Tomorrow" Cameron in The Iceman Cometh, let's give it up for Paul Slimak!

Actually, it's not a stage, just an area on the floor at the upstairs bar of the Killarney Rose, at 80 Beaver Street, that we like to call a stage. But it is where all the Bloomsday on Beaver Street performances will be taking place, on Sunday, June 16, beginning at 7 P.M. And we have just received word that Slimak, whom you may know as degenerate Nazi fugitive Erich von Pauli from the Beaver Street videos (and whom I call "Henry Dorfman" in Beaver Street, the book) will be one of the performers.

Slimak and his wife, Agnes Herrmann, who plays Diana Clerkenwell in the Beaver Street videos (and whom you may have last seen in The Road, as Archer’s Woman), will perform a reading from Mr. Sensitivity, a play by our MC, Byron Nilsson, about a man who gives his wife a porn stud for her birthday. (Mr. Sensitivity was performed at the Fringe Festival in 2009.)

As a special bonus, Slimak, in the character of von Pauli, will introduce my first public reading of my novel, Bobby in Naziland: A Portrait of the Author as a Young Jew.

He has ways of making you listen. Read More 
Be the first to comment

In Silence and Secrecy

My actual room is a little more cluttered, and I use a slightly more advanced writing machine.
This weekend, as I've been doing most weekends lately, I'm going to concentrate on fine-tuning Bobby in Naziland, the novel I began writing five years ago, and had not shown to anybody until last week. As I explained in an earlier post, I plan to read the opening pages at Bloomsday on Beaver Street next month, so it was time to show at least those pages to my editor (who happens to be my wife).

I suppose most writers (as well as most readers) find it peculiar that a writer would work in total silence and secrecy for five years, especially these days, when it's become increasingly common for writers to share works-in-progress online with readers who provide instant feedback.

This is the height of literary absurdity and the best of all possible ways for a writer to achieve a state of confusion. Book writing should be a solitary activity that takes place in a room of one’s own with a lock on the door (to paraphrase Virginia Woolf). And I’ve been doing this long enough that I trust my own editorial judgment.

Which is not to say I wouldn’t prefer to be working with an editor at an actual book publishing company who’s given me an advance so substantial, I could concentrate, to the exclusion of all else, on finishing Bobby in Naziland. But I’m not the kind of writer who gets advances, substantial or otherwise, on unfinished books. On the contrary, when I finish the book and begin submitting it, I think publishers will tell me, “Great read, but there’s not enough interest in Jews, goyim, Nazis, the Holocaust, UFOs, the Rosenbergs, or Brooklyn to justify publishing this.”

This is the kind of thing that publishers say reflexively to most writers about most books. It can’t be taken seriously. When I was struggling to publish Nowhere Man—a book that would be translated into a half-dozen languages and become a bestseller in five countries—I was told time and again, for 18 years, “There’s not enough interest in John Lennon.”

Which is one reason I waited five years before showing Bobby in Naziland to anybody, especially publishers. There’s nothing more demoralizing for a writer than to hear from a so-called voice of authority that your work-in-progress is unpublishable.

I also trust the judgment of my editor, and when she reads Bobby in Naziland in its entirety, I want her to read it with a fresh eye. So, I will continue to work in secrecy and silence. Read More 
5 Comments
Post a comment

Spring Siege

Somebody sent me this "lol" image yesterday, but I didn't get it. "Why is the beaver a liar?" I asked. "A beaver wouldn't lie."

"It's not a beaver," the sender explained. "It's a groundhog. It's a joke about the weather."

Though it has been winter-like here in New York City, spring did begin today at 7:02 A.M--which means that the Beaver Street Winter Assault, as I've insisted on calling the latest phase of my ongoing media campaign, has officially concluded.

Regular readers of The Daily Beaver are aware of the three successes that have continued to fuel Beaver Street’s quest to reach a more substantial audience. Allow me to recap:

· A major interview in the December 2012 issue of StorErotica, a trade magazine that goes out to every book-ordering sex shop owner in the U.S.
· A rave review in the February 2013 issue of AVN (page 53), which is the first time that Beaver Street has come to the direct attention of its core audience—people who work in the adult industry.
· An extensive photo feature posted March 6, in LA Weekly, which trended #1, and brought Beaver Street to the attention of that much sought-after mainstream audience.

So, it’s time to declare victory and move on to Spring Siege ’13, which will climax on June 16, at the Killarney Rose, with the second annual Bloomsday on Beaver Street: Father’s Day Edition.

See you there! Read More 
Be the first to comment

Bloomsday on Beaver Street II: Father's Day Edition

MC Supreme Byron Nilsson introduces the first Bloomsday on Beaver Street.

It's only February, but already plans are being made for the second annual Bloomsday on Beaver Street, which will take place at the Killarney Rose, on Beaver Street, in downtown Manhattan, on Sunday, June 16, 2013. The event is a celebration of the day that James Joyce's Ulysses takes place, and of all literature that was once banned as "pornographic." Joyce, incidentally, chose to set Ulysses on this day, because on June 16, 1904, he had his first date with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle, and she gave him an epic handjob.

It's never too early to mark your calendars.

June 16 is also Father’s Day, which seems appropriate, as Beaver Street, the book, which I will again be reading from, is dedicated to my father. It’s also a prime example of what I like to call “Daddy Porn,” a counterpoint to the “Mommy Porn” of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Daddy Porn is sophisticated pornographic literature of the type my father used to sell in his Brooklyn candy store, like Tropic of Cancer and Last Exit to Brooklyn. Mommy Porn, a label that’s an insult to any mother who appreciates quality literature, is a Harlequin Romance with hardcore sex.

At this time, the lineup for Bloomsday on Beaver Street II is a work in progress, but MC Supreme Byron Nilsson will be returning. Other readers include Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace, and Lainie Speiser, author of Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars.

Please stay tuned for more updates about some very special guests. Read More 
Be the first to comment

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 
Be the first to comment

A Librarian Brands Ulysses "Filth"

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. Read More 
Be the first to comment

A Cosmic Confluence of Coincidence

That day ten years ago that I was wandering around downtown Manhattan, near Wall Street, thinking that I needed a catchier title than A History of Modern Pornography for the book I'd begun writing, was miraculous on various levels. First of all, when I looked up at the street sign and saw that I was on the corner of Beaver and Broad, it was as if I'd received a message from on high. I knew instantly that this was the perfect title, and I laughed out loud. Never before had a title come to me quite this way. And I also knew instantly that I had to have the publication party somewhere on Beaver Street, though I had no idea where.

I walked the length of Beaver Street, from Broadway to Pearl, and the Killarney Rose seemed the only possible choice. So I went inside. It was an unusual bar in the sense that it went straight through the block, with another entrance on Pearl Street. But it wasn’t until I discovered the upstairs bar that I knew it was tailor made to host a Beaver Street publication party.

The upstairs bar had the intimate feel of a private club, or speakeasy. And there was a backroom that seemed more like a living room—perfect for music (yes, I knew that day there had to be music) and readings.

Now all I had to do was finish writing Beaver Street and find a publisher. Nothing to it, right? Who knew ten years would pass? And how often in my life have I made a plan that I was able to see to fruition a decade later?

Tomorrow it happens—Bloomsday on Beaver Street, a cosmic confluence of coincidence and celebration, and who can resist that? Read More 
Be the first to comment

A Certain Type of Father

Bloomsday on Beaver Street is a celebration of many things in the spirit of James Joyce: the U.S. publication of Beaver Street; other works of literature, like Ulysses, that the more close-minded among us have deemed pornographic; the 40th anniversary of the premiere of Deep Throat; and the 40th anniversary of Watergate, which gave rise to that other Deep Throat. (I write about all this in Beaver Street.)

As if that’s not enough to celebrate, this Saturday, June 16, is also the eve of Father’s Day, and Beaver Street is dedicated to my father, Irwin Rosen, who passed away in 2005. I dedicated it to him because I think he would have enjoyed the book, and I explain why in the Prologue, titled “A Kid in a Candy Store.”

My father used to own a candy store on Church Avenue, in Brooklyn, around the corner from where we lived. I spent a lot of time there, working and hanging out, and one of the things I witnessed was the passion that my father and his pals expressed for books like Tropic of Cancer and Last Exit to Brooklyn—so called “dirty books,” many originally banned in the U.S., that he displayed on a special rack in the back of the store. Beaver Street, I think, would have earned a coveted slot in that special rack.

In honor of Father’s Day, the Prologue is one of the two passages I’m going to read Saturday night. And I’d like to suggest that if you have a certain type of father, Beaver Street, now available in paperback and all e-book formats, just might make the ideal Father’s Day gift. If you buy the book at the event, as a bonus you’ll receive absolutely free a copy of Blue Lights, Mary Lyn Maiscott’s CD, which is dedicated to her parents; the title song is about their wartime romance.

So please join us on Beaver Street to celebrate more things than we can keep track of. It’s going to be fun. Read More 
Be the first to comment

The Musicians

Bloomsday on Beaver Street, which takes place this Saturday at the Killarney Rose, at 80 Beaver Street in Manhattan, is my first New York book event in 12 years, since the publication party at Don Hill's for my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man. Music was a big part of that event. The publisher had invited a dozen musicians to perform Lennon songs, and one of those performers was Mary Lyn Maiscott, who sang "You Can’t Do That," which you can hear on her CD, Blue Lights.

Music, performed by Mary Lyn and the gifted guitarist HooP, is going to be a big part of Bloomsday on Beaver Street, as well. The duo are slated to perform two sets of originals and covers to open and close a show that will also feature readings from Beaver Street and guest singers performing cabaret-style songs.

Some of the songs are favorites that HooP and Mary Lyn have performed in clubs like The National Underground and Ella Lounge. And most of them are, in one way or another, related to the theme of books—writing books, publishing books, promoting books, and reading books. I’m not going to give away the set list here, but will simply say that if you’ve heard HooP and Mary Lyn live, then you know how good they are. And in an intimate, living-room-like setting like the back room at the Killarney Rose, it promises to be very special night.

Hope to see you there at 7:00 PM on Saturday. Read More 
Be the first to comment

The Long Road Back

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. Read More 
Be the first to comment

Throat

It's impossible to write about the history of pornography, or even the history of 20th century America, without talking about Deep Throat, the movie. In the world of XXX, Deep Throat was the atomic bomb, the event that changed everything and whose impact continues to be felt today.

In the Beaver Street Prologue, I describe how Ronald Reagan’s attorney general Edwin Meese used underage porn star Traci Lords “as a weapon to attempt to destroy the porn industry as revenge for every legal humiliation pornographers had inflicted on the government since Linda Lovelace and Deep Throat shattered box office records in 1973.”

Later in the book, I explain how Richard Nixon, in an attempt to distract the country from the emerging Watergate scandal, ordered the FBI to shut down every theatre showing Deep Throat, confiscate every print, and to arrest the actors and filmmakers responsible for it. The result: Lovelace became the world’s first porno superstar, buying a ticket to a dirty movie became an act of revolution and protest, and Deep Throat became the eleventh-highest-grossing film of 1973.

As if Bloomsday on Beaver Street, the New York launch event on June 16, didn’t have enough cosmic significance swirling around it, it also happens to be taking place four days after the 40th anniversary of Deep Throat’s New York premiere and three days before the 40th anniversary of a story that ran on the front page of The Washington Post, about the arrest of five men with ties to the Republican party caught burglarizing the Watergate Hotel, thus giving rise to that other Deep Throat, the one of Woodward and Bernstein fame.

All of which is to say, last night, in celebration of this 40th anniversary, I went to 2A, a bar in the East Village, to hear Eric Danville read from his book, The Complete Linda Lovelace. The book will be reissued in September, and the reissue will coincide with the release of Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried, which is based on the book.

Danville is somebody I’ve been aware of for years but had never actually met until last night. We were in the same New York Times article, published ten years ago, “A Demimonde in Twilight.”

Danville was dressed motorcycle-style for the event, “Live to Write/Write to Live” inscribed across the back of his denim vest. As his image was projected larger than life on the wall of a building across the street, he read from his Lovelace book for a full hour, to an appreciative crowd that include the son of Deep Throat director Gerard Damiano.

When it was over, I congratulated Danville on his performance and his stamina.

“One hour is a long time to read,” I told him.

“My throat,” he said, “was dry.”

This is, I imagine, a problem that never troubled the late Linda Lovelace. Read More 
Be the first to comment

My Encounter with a Girlfag

For the past four days I've been wandering the aisles of Bookexpo America, and the experience has often left me feeling as if I were an invisible man exploring an exotic city in a forbidden country. With rare exceptions, I felt no connection to anything. I saw nobody I knew. Sometimes I wondered what I was doing there.

Happily, those feelings were alleviated when I strolled over to booth 4214—SCB Distributors. SCB is the company that gets Beaver Street into bookstores in the U.S. And there was Beaver Street, prominently displayed on their rack, nestled between a Gram Parsons bio, God’s Own Singer, by Jason Walker, and book called Girlfag, by Janet W. Hardy.

I was standing outside the booth, trying to draw some psychic energy from the sight of the Beaver Street cover, when a woman with a punky blonde haircut asked if she could be of any assistance.

“No,” I said, pointing to Beaver Street, “I just stopped by to take another look at my book. I wanted to make sure I still existed.”

The woman was Janet W. Hardy, author of Girlfag.

“Well, aren’t you smart,” I said. “You write the book and you work for the company that distributes it.”

“I’ve only been doing this for 18 years,” she replied, pointing out that Girlfag’s publisher, Beyond Binary Books, was her company as well.

I was impressed. Here was a woman who’d totally embraced the demands of modern-day book publishing—she was doing everything herself, leaving nothing to chance.

I told Hardy that I’d never heard the expression “girlfag.”

She explained that girlfags are not fag hags. They are, rather, women, like herself, who love, are attracted to, and identify with gay men. “But the title seems to make a lot of people angry.”

I liked Hardy’s vibe and invited her to Bloomsday on Beaver Street, on June 16. “I think it’s your kind of event,” I said, explaining that it was a celebration of literature, like Ulysses and Beaver Street, that had been branded pornographic.

I told her the story of how, when excerpts of Ulysses were published in the U.S. in 1920, the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice went to court, had the book declared obscene, and managed to have it banned it for 13 years.

“There’s one paragraph where Joyce describes Bloom masturbating. It’s probably the most poetic description of jerking off in the English language. But that’s the paragraph that did it.”

Laughing, Hardy said she that had to go home, to Eugene, Oregon, and would, regrettably, be unable to attend Bloomsday on Beaver Street. But she did give me a copy of Girlfag, which I plan to discuss in more detail in some future posting.

She also left me wondering if I should go to Eugene and do an event there. Oregon, after all, is the Beaver State. Read More 

2 Comments
Post a comment

Amazon Blinks: Beaver Street Gets Buy Box

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. Read More 

1 Comments
Post a comment

Some Thoughts on Book Banning on the Eve of the BEA

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. Read More 

Be the first to comment

Epiphany on Beaver Street

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. Read More 
Be the first to comment

Download Invite to Bloomsday on Beaver Street

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. Read More 
Be the first to comment

The Banning of Beaver Street

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. Read More 
Be the first to comment

Loose Ends

If you're one of those people with Sirius-XM radio, perhaps you heard me yesterday on The Tiffany Granath Show. I know somebody was listening because my 20-minute chat with the enthusiastic host, who was excited to get her hands on the paperback edition of Beaver Street, resulted in a modest surge in sales. I'd also like to thank Tiffany for assiduously plugging the New York launch event on June 16, Bloomsday on Beaver Street, which is free and open to the public.

Though my Book Soup event seems like ancient history at this point, I haven’t written about it yet, and I’ve been meaning to say that I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made in reading the so-called “dirty part” from “The Accidental Porn Star” chapter, which I’ll be reprising at the New York event. My performance, I dare say, is beginning to feel like a cross between a Lenny Bruce stand-up routine and a recitation of a Shakespearian soliloquy. What stands out in my mind about the reading was a man who was browsing through some art books off to the side, paying no attention to me—until I began reading. Then he looked at me with a huge smile, mesmerized, as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The Accidental Porn Star had connected with The Accidental Listener.

Just before I left for L.A., my old pal in St. Louis, Kendra Holliday, posted a video of her interview with me, conducted moments before the event at Shameless Grounds coffee house. It’s an interesting document of a very nervous writer, with a lot on his mind, about to embark on a U.S. promotional tour. I have mixed feeling about this video. Some of it, I think, is outrageous and hilarious. In other parts, however, my nervousness is obvious, and I find it difficult to watch as I struggle for words. But this is the book biz in the 21st century, where every writer, no matter how reluctant, is forced to become a performer.

Finally, here’s a link to a Google-translated review, posted yesterday, of the Italian edition of Nowhere Man: Gli ultimi giorni di John Lennon, which has sold out its first printing. (Here’s the review in the original Italian.) The critic calls the book “daring,” “an unforgiving but truthful portrait,” a “must for… Beatles fans,” and praises the “excellent translation” of Paolo Palmieri. Made my day. Read More 
2 Comments
Post a comment