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Who's to Say What's Obscene?: Politics, Culture, and Comedy in America Todayby Paul Krassner
Synopses & Reviews
“Krassner is absolutely compelling. He has lived on the edge so long he gets his mail delivered there.”—San Francisco Chronicle
In this collection of irreverent and satirical essays, counterculture icon Paul Krassner explores the moral obscenity of contemporary politics and culture—from censorship of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed to lessons learned from his mentor, Lenny Bruce.
Paul Krassner is the founding editor of The Realist. He currently writes for High Times, Adult Video News, The Huffington Post, and CounterPunch.
"Krassner (Confessions of a Raving Unconfined Nut), publisher of the Realist magazine, ruminates on American social and political hypocrisy in these essays that drift between current events and the heyday of the 1960s counterculture when the author dropped acid with the Merry Pranksters and palled around with Abbie Hoffman. Krassner weighs in on the last election cycle, the decriminalization of marijuana, and racism, with a stated (and largely achieved) goal of illuminating the gulf between what society says and what it does. The essays focus mostly on other humorists, and while he points out that today 'sarcasm passes for irony,' he's far from a curmudgeon and praises such current comics as Sacha Baron Cohen and Sarah Silverman. Krassner says, 'It doesn't have to get a belly laugh, it just has to be valid criticism, which is the classic definition of satire,' and while this book lingers too long on nostalgic remembrances and tackles serious issues too directly to get constant laughs, it makes a convincing case for the importance--and political necessity--of irreverence." - Publisher's Weekly
"All of the essays in Krassner's new book have been published before--in High Times, The Huffington Post, The Nation and The L.A. Weekly--but they all read as though they were written yesterday. That's because Krassner is always shocking, always provocative and for all his shenanigans, amazingly serious about the pornography of power and the obscenity of war (as well as Somali pirates and piracy on the web)." - Jonah Raskin, The Bohemian
"Krassner writes on anything that catches his eye: the war on drugs, stand-up comedy, Don Imus, to mention just three topics. . . . The collection also includes a number of touching memorials to cultural icons Krassner has known, including Allen Ginsberg, George Carlin, Kurt Vonnegut, and Robert Anton Wilson." - Jack Helbig, Booklist
"For readers unfamiliar with Krassner, his credentials—author, journalist, editor, talk show guest—seem fairly safe. But combine those with his role as a co-founder of the Yippie movement, his membership in Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, and his X-rated standup comedy routine and those initial credentials sound downright dangerous. Krassner is a satirist and he uses that skill here with his irreverent takes on the hypocrisies and absurdities in politics, comedy, and other aspects of American life. Offensive or funny? It's a matter of taste." Book News
"[Krassner] uses the concept of 'obscenity' as a moral framing device to drive a series of free-form observations on war, drugs, sex, entertainment culture and connections between the past and the present. Krassner is not only concerned with identifying what is not obscene (in his view, pretty much anything to do with sex); he crafts a definition that instead encompasses greed, dishonesty, cruelty and murder. . . . Throughout the book Krassner retains the affect of a hip elder statesman with a perpetual twinkle in his eye, reminding his readers that politics without humor is boring and that laughter without a moral compass is lame." — Danny Goldberg, The Nation
“Krassner very blatantly points out how, through a carefully staged smoke and mirror routine, our priorities are being manipulated by politicians, media, and the filthy rich. . . . Ignore anything that is actually newsworthy and focus on Bono dropping the F bomb on TV or Janet Jackson’s nip slip during the super bowl. What is truly obscene: all content that we enjoy as entertainment being controlled by a very small group of wealthy businessmen, or Tommy Chong selling a few bongs over state lines?” — Ben Trentelman, Salt Lake Underground Magazine
Book News Annotation:
For readers unfamiliar with Krassner, his credentials--author, journalist, editor, talk show guest--seem fairly safe. But combine those with his role as a co-founder of the Yippie movement, his membership in Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, and his X-rated standup comedy routine and those initial credentials sound downright dangerous. Krassner is a satirist and he uses that skill here with his irreverent takes on the hypocrisies and absurdities in politics, comedy, and other aspects of American life. Offensive or funny? It's a matter of taste. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Satirical essays by a countercultural icon about the moral obscenity of contemporary politics, culture, and comedy.
Nonfiction. Politics. Humor. In this collection of irreverent and satirical essays, counterculture icon Paul Krassner explores the moral obscenity of contemporary politics and culture--from censorship of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed to lessons learned from his mentor, Lenny Bruce. "Krassner is absolutely compelling. He has lived on the edge so long he gets his mail delivered there"--San Francisco Chronicle.
About the Author
Krassner published The Realist from 1958-2001, but when People magazine called him "Father of the underground press," he immediately demanded a paternity test. His style of personal journalism constantly blurs the line between observer and participant. Krassner currently writes for High Times, the porn industry's Adult Video News, and blogs for Huffington Post. Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, a nationally syndicated columnist, and author of twelve books. The Huffington Post is one of the most widely-read, linked to, and frequently-cited media brands on the Internet. In 2006, she was named to the Time 100, Time Magazine's list of the world's 100 most influential people.
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