Subversive Book Club Review: Hell’s Angels

Author: Hunter S. Thompson
Full Title: Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs
Year: 1966
Grade: A/A-
Comments/ Why Subversive?: Thank God for Hunter S. Thompson. Being a major Thompson fan, I am of course massively biased in my opinion; in other words, whenever reading his works, I can never find anything bad to say about them, even if I know they exist, I feel like his writing is so superb and entertaining (the most entertaining perhaps) it eliminates any flaws. This was Thompson’s breakthrough hit and introduced the world to the off the walls, up and close, brazen and savagely honest, Gonzo “journalist.” Though, Gonzo guys and girls should know, that said style is not utilized in this work, but the sarcasm and brutality are all there. Clearly, Thompson is unique in that few other media players would sacrifice their souls by riding with the Hell’s Angels for over a year to attain a personal look at the Outlaw, Criminal Gang. And he does just that, we are taken on an unsettling trip into the seedy, scummy underbelly of the Angels’: Gang Rapes, Murder, Theft, Riots, and the whole nine. The violent gang in many ways are just as American as the Cunningham’s, just “more honest,” as Thompson would say. They are individualists (though Thompson disagrees with this), do as they feel and stand up for what they think is right; basically the flipside of the Lone Ranger, Old Western Cowboy type, who stands for justice. Without a doubt, the Angels are a fascinating crew, the Ugly, Low Life of America.

Chris

Subversive Book Club: Black Panthers Speak

Title: Black Panthers Speak
Author(s): Phillip S. Foner. Includes writings by all your favorite Panthers: Bobby Seale, Huey P. Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Fred Hampton, Angela Davis, and Stokely Carmichael, amongst others.
Year: 1995
Pages: 328
Good Guys: Black Panthers and some of their vanilla comrades who fought beside them in the black struggle
Bad Guys: Oppressive, White AmeriKKKA: Police, businesses, the entire U.S. Government (particularly the most rotten pigs, the FBI), and average, apathetic, ignorant citizens
My Rating: A-

Why Subversive?:
I suppose it is “strange” for a white, suburban kid to walk around, clutching a book of militant black politics demonizing the wahhitte man and all his evils. But, then again I am a “strange” guy. So, why did I read this gem of incendiary material? Well, two main reasons: 1) I’m chiefly a propagandist, if anything. Without a doubt the Panthers are accountable for some truly outstanding propaganda. They are completely biased, unabashedly, may I add and write for their side/interests. The point of their works is not to offer you a fair look at how our society works or how certain events went down. Ohh no, they share their perspective of what it is like to be a free-thinking black revolutinary in an extremely racist and violent country that does not value them as human beings. If one were to read “objective” newspapers of the day they would not have the same reaction. The media was never fair to the Panthers, because they served and still serve the government. So, the Panthers fought the mainstream propaganda with their own propaganda and successfully did so. Crucial events such as the Chicago Conspiracy trial, Huey P. Newton’s manslaughter charge, the brutal murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark at the hands of Chicago Police with connection to the FBI are discussed extensively. 2) This book has helped me better understand how fucked up our nation was and still is and how ignorant, we white Americans are. Of course, by reading this or anything else, it does not immediately make me an expert on race relations and I certainly can not say I understand what it was or still is like to be a minority in the US of A. But, it does offer me an awareness of the American Nightmare for blacks, minorities, revolutionaries, and especially black revolutionaries (longer sentences than white revolutionaries). If the Weathermen were black they would all have been imprisoned. For those that doubt the sinister nature of our government, please look through the lens of the black experience in America. If you are privileged and white, then you will not be able to relate to it, but you will have a better understanding of how our vicious, racist system works.
I’m not saying I agree with all the Panthers’ tactics, but this subversive book at least demonstrates how positive and successful the Panthers were in their individual communities. They were a national organization and in each of their many chapters, they had schools, free breakfast for children programs, free medical clinics, and drug rehabilitation for poverty-stricken blacks. Unfortunately, history textbooks and other media outlets place too much emphasis on the violent conflicts and militancy of the Party and not as much focus on their positive, survival programs. Don’t get me wrong, the militancy was an important factor, after all their name was the “Black Panther Party for Self-Defense” and these were clearly violent times with extreme Police Brutality. In the following video, Co-founder, Bobby Seale details the Party’s Ten Point Program/Platform:

If you like this subversive book and/or want to learn more about the Black Panthers, the Black Struggle, or racist white scumfucks, then I recommend the following:

Soul On Ice
By: Eldridge Cleaver
Seize the Time By: Bobby Seale
The Autobiography of Malcolm X As Told To Alex Healy
Malcolm X Speaks
Live From Death Row By: Mumia Abu-Jamal

Seen above are Co-Founders, Bobby Seale, Chairman (left) and Huey P. Newton, Minister of Defense (right). Very badass.

Chris

Band Spotlight: Tom Jefferson

Top Album: The Declaration of Independence (1776) This is Tom at his finest; one incendiary motherfucker. Before he completely sold out with 1803’s corporate shilling Louisiana Purchase. No expansion my ass!

Top Lyrics: “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government.” and “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing… the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Chris

Book Club Review: Catcher

Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J.D. Salinger
Year: 1951
Pages: 214

Review:”If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” Arguably the greatest opening line to any novel. Well, Holden, if you do want to know the truth, we DO want to hear about it! In fact, for nearly 60 years our grandparents, parents, older siblings, and us have adored it. Why? What makes this novel so special? Well, Salinger masterfully captures an adolescent’s concern, fears, desires and instead of coming off as an adult attempting to represent this mentality of a teenager, he literally writes in the damn lingo of a buzzcock. Goddamit! As far as I’m concerned Salinger ain’t telling the story, it’s Holden who’s’ running the show. It’s his book entirely. Holden has become the Pied Piper for a whole slew of lonesome cowboys: Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle, The Perks of Being a Wallflower’s Charlie, and that cute radical nerd fellow from Kids Like You & Me. In short, he’s a middle finger to the establishment or a haphazard, misanthropic messiah, trying to save everyone only if he can save himself… and all.

Why Subversive?: Catcher has the unfortunate privilege (how’s that for an oxymoron?!) of already being subversive before you even read one word. It’s subversive simply for it’s reputation of consistently being a victim of Banned Books Lists and Censorship Nazis. Apparently heavy drinking and cussing some naughty words is worse than trying to commit suicide, murder your father, and fuck your mother as we witness with Shakespeare. Also, since some weirdos decide to assassinate (or attempt) public figures (John Lennon and Ronald Reagan) after or while reading the book, doesn’t mean shit! Look at the millions that didn’t grab their guns! Why focus on the select few? Not that Reagan would have been a great loss, but Hinckley’s motives were hardly in the vein of Leon Czolgosz: impressing Jodie Foster. Really?! haha. And you can calm down I’m not advocating political assassination, I just think Leon had much better, humane reasons. Anyway, I’ve digressed into this tornado of off topic subjects. Simply, Catcher challenges the reader to question authority and reject social norms.

Questions to Ponder (or leave a comment to!): What will become of Holden Caulfield? or What became of him?
What ever happened to Jane Gallagher? Is she in any way related to the awful comedian of the same name?
Why was Holden placed in a mental institution? How did this ALL transpire?
Any others?

Grade: A+ My all time favorite!

Chris

The Oprah Book Club Minus Oprah!

This is a new set of weekly posts inspired by some facebook chat with our very own Ben “The BBT” Tan. Every week we’ll discuss one subversive book, from the obvious to the obscure, doesn’t matter. Don’t panic there will be dick jokes!!! and Hicks jokes and Chomsky and all sorts of incendiary material just waiting to explode!!! This week we will begin with a book I have already reviewed from nearly two years ago on the Etudiant. Next week, it will be Catcher in the Rye or A People’s History, I haven’t decided yet. Enjoy!


Musicians, Read this Book!

Title
: Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991
Author: Michael Azerrad
Year: 2001
Pages: 522

Review: OBCBYL is a study of 13 independent, underground rock bands that stampeded the music industry during the Reagan Conservative decade we call the 80’s. These are the bands that grew right under the nose of mainstream America; these self- made musicians took the musical influence of their punk predecessors and said “Fuck It! I’m not playing New Wave, Who cares if we never make any money or appear on MTV, let’s just Jam!” And so they hopped in the van with their companions and toured the nation non stop, founded their own independent labels, and began issuing fanzines. This was music run by kids (teens- early twenties), played by kids, and for kids; existing entirely outside the music industry. DIY (Do It Yourself) at its finest!
First off, this book details some of the greatest artists in the history of music. Despite the fact that few of these bands broke into the mainstream, their influence is immense. Without Sonic Youth there’s no Nirvana, without Black Flag there’s no hardcore, and so on. Okay, here’s the bands:

Black Flag
Minutemen
Mission of Burma
Minor Threat
Husker DU
The Replacements
Sonic Youth
Butthole Surfers
Big Black
Dinosaur Jr
Fugazi
Mudhoney
Beat Happening

Of these bands, Sonic Youth is definitely my favorite, with Fugazi being a close second. If I were you I would go out and buy a SY album immediately! I highly recommend Goo (1990). If you don’t feel like spending dough, then download their shit, they have a huge, plethora of works. For those of you Étudiant Radio listeners, which should be all of you! you will hear at some point or another all of these artists, in fact Glen and I already played Fugazi and Beat Happening.

Warning!
: If you plan to read this book (Do It Now, it’s at Newbury Comics, Barnes and Noble, hell you can order it online, you won’t even have to get off your ass!) please do not read this criticism section and rather go into the novel with an open mind, you will discover an insightful analysis of underground culture and possibly the greatest chronicle of music in history.

Though this book is amazing, it is not 100% free of foibles. My main criticism is its lack of numerous, other, troubadours from that era, chief amongst these artists are: The Pixies, Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys, Misfits, Daniel Johnston, Descendants, Melvins, Meat Puppets, Bad Religion, Social Distortion, and who could forget The Smiths? Now of course the biggest flaw in my complaint is the fact that if Azerrad had included all these artists it would have been over a thousand pages (I would read em’!) and also it’s most likely he tried to contact these artists, but they wanted nothing to do with the novel. Who Knows? Maybe we’ll see a Volume 2, hopefully! Another criticism is the author’s gratuitous use of the word “indie.” I showed one chapter to Glen and he pointed this out, without even my mention of it. A final criticism is the way the author leaves out certain info or uses his opinion as if it is fact to build a story, for example in the Mudhoney chapter, he makes it sound like “Touch Me I’m Sick” was the only great song the band recorded… my favorite album of theirs is My Brother The Cow (1995) , where the song does not appear, and in fact there is no mention of this album or any other album by them on Reprise (major label) records. Sorry Azerrad.
My Rating: 4 and a half out of 5 stars. A must for those who think punk stopped in 1978 and then resurfaced with Nirvana in 1991.

Here are some (but certainly not all) other works I recommend you check out if you like this novel:

American Hardcore: A Tribal History by Steven Blush
Get In The Van by Henry Rollins
American Hardcore
(film, 2006)
We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen (film, 2005)

P.S. that was not a knock at Nirvana above.

Comment it up and let’s start the discussion now!

Chris

My Favorite Writers

1) Noam Chomsky- Manufacturing Consent:The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988) with Edward S. Herman, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (2006), Chomsky On Anarchism (2005), Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda (2002)

2) Howard Zinn- A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present (1980)

3) Hunter S. Thompson- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (1971), Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century (2003)

4) J.D. Salinger- The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

5) Michael Azerrad- Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991 (2001)

6) Lester Bangs- “Let Us Now Praise Famous Death Dwarves,” (1975) “The Greatest Album Ever Made,” (1975)

7) Chuck Klosterman- Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (2003)

8) Charles R. Cross- Heavier Than Heaven (2002)

9) Chuck Palahniuk- Fight Club (1996)

10) Abbie Hoffman- Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture (1979), Steal This Book (1972)

11) Jerry Rubin- Do iT!: Scenarios of the Revolution (1970)

12) David Dellinger- From Yale to Jail: The Autobiography of a Moral Dissenter (1993)

13) Mumia Abu-Jamal- Live From Death Row (1995)

14) James W. Lowren- Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (1995)

15) Gary Webb- Dark Alliance: The CIA, The Contras, and The Crack Cocaine Explosion (1996)

16) Stephen King- The Shining (1977), Carrie (1974), The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (1999)

17) Roald Dahl- Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (1964), The Twits (1980) The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More (1977)

18) George Orwell- 1984 (1949), Animal Farm (1945)

19) Jack Kerouac- On The Road (1957)

20) Ken Kesey- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962)

21) William Shakespeare- Macbeth (1611), Hamlet (1601), Romeo and Juliet (?), Julius Caesar (1599)

22) Richard Wright- Black Boy (1945)

23) Bill Hicks- Love All the People: The Essential Bill Hicks (2004)

24) Judge James P. Gray- Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It (2001)

25) John Steinbeck- Of Mice and Men (1937), The Grapes of Wrath (1939), The Pearl (1947)

26) F. Scott Fitzgerald- The Great Gatsby (1925)

27) Ernesto “Che” Guevara- The Motorcycle Diaries (1993 published, written in 1952), Guerrilla Warfare (1961)

28) Ralph Nader- Crashing the Party (2002), Cutting Corporate Welfare (2000)

29) Susanna Kaysen- Girl, Interrupted (1993)

30) Michael Cart- My Father’s Scar (1998)

31) Walter Dean Meyers- Monster (2001)

32) Markus Zusak- I Am the Messenger (2002)

33) Robert Cormier- The Chocolate War (1974)

34) Stephen Chobosky- The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999)

35) Harper Lee- To Kill A Mockingbird (1960)

36) William Golding- Lord of the Flies (1954)

37) John Knowles- A Separate Peace (1959)

38) S.E. Hinton- The Outsiders (1967)

39) Emma Goldman- Anarchism and Other Essays (1910), My Disillusionment in Russia (1923)

40) Alexander Berkman- Now and After: The ABC of Communist Anarchism aka What Is Anarchism? (1929)

41) Bill Ayers- Fugitive Days (2001)

42) Anthony Burgess- A Clockwork Orange (1962)

43) Henry Rollins- Get In the Van: On the Road With Black Flag (1994)

44) Timothy Leary- Flashbacks (1983)

45) Carl Jung- Two Essays on Analytical Psychology (1966)

46) Sigmund Freud- The Ego and the Id (1923)

47) Friedrich Nietzsche- The Antichrist (1888)

48) Bobby Seale- Black Panthers Speak (1971)

49) Huey P. Newton- Black Panthers Speak (1971)

50) Eldridge Cleaver- Black Panthers Speak (1971)

51) Martin Luther King Jr- “Letter From Birmingham Jail” (1963)

52) Malcolm X- The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965),
Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements (1965)

53) Alex Haley- The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965),
(1965)

54) Thomas Jefferson- “The Declaration of Independence” (1776)

Chris

Book Review: DO iT!

Book: DO iT! Scenarios of the Revolution
Author: Jerry Rubin
Year: 1970

This is easily the greatest and most inspiring manifesto ever written. Even before you begin this delicious work of incendiary material, just gazing at the back cover clues you in that your in for one hell of a ride! It reads in giant letters: “DANGER! This book will become a Molotov Cocktail in your very hands.” To the left of this summary is a photo of author Jerry Rubin being escorted out of the halls of Congress by the “pigs,” while dressed up like an American Revolutionary soldier: bare chested (with lots of hair!), covered in war paint, reeking of stench from weeks of not bathing, a head full of acid, and well armed ( a toy gun! albeit very real looking!).
As we open up the subversive memoir we are commanded to “READ THIS BOOK STONED,” a theme that is prevalent throughout the book.
Next, we experience one of the finest introductions by Eldridge Cleaver, the Minister of Information of the Black Panther Party For Self-Defense. Cleaver explains how “if everybody carried out Jerry’s program- there would be immediate peace in the world. Amerika, in particular would cease to bleed.” So, what exactly was Jerry’s programs? Well, his program is very simple: Go out in the streets and be a revolutionary, your own legislator. He shouts, “All you have to do to be a yippie is be a yippie.” Transform your ideas into actions. Fuck Ideologies. Fuck Rules. Fuck Religion. Fuck Everything…in the streets and bring some dope and dynamite with you! Destroy the Schools. Burn the Prisons down. Kill Your Parents. Drop out of society. Burn Money. Actions speak louder than words, so cut out long boring speeches on what your goals or demands are. Instead, use Yippie (Youth International Party) tactics to highlight your agenda. The Yippies nominated an actual pig named Pigasus as their presidential candidate, illustrating the point that all the other candidates were equally filthy pigs. And after all, don’t most politicians like to roll around in their own shit anyway?! If all of this sounds irrational to you, then it should. Our menacing Yippie informs us, “Yippies know we’re sane and everyone else is crazy, so we call ourselves “the crazies.” Jerry Rubin was indeed “crazy,” he was a dedicated revolutionary and a relentless outlaw in the true sense of the word. You know you often hear badass musicians, actors, or comedians like Bill Hicks, referred to as “outlaws.” But, they weren’t constantly in trouble with the law. Jerry, on the other hand was. In fact, at the time of this book’s publication, he and seven other defendants (Abbie Hoffman, Dave Dellinger, Bobby Seale, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, Lee Weiner, and John Froines) were on trial for conspiracy to incite a riot while crossing state lines at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Grade
: A 9.5/10- One of the most subversive books I’ve ever read!

Chris

50 Ways to Fight Censorship!

This is from David Marsh’s incendiary work, 50 Ways to Fight Censorshoip. It’s  a bit out of date, but nonetheless important to those who love and want to preserve one of our greatest rights: free speech. This is merely an outline of Marsh’s book courtesy of semantikon.com:

1. SPEAK OUT!
2. Register and Vote!
3. Send Your Senators and Congressperson Letters or Mailgrams.
4. Teach Your Children How to Know When Censorship Appears in the Classroom, or Elsewhere.
5. Oppose De Facto Censorship of the News Media by the Wealthy and Powerful.
6. Get Involved With Your Library.
7. Make Art That Fights Censorship.
8. Speak Out About Freedom of Speech at Schools, Churches, and to Youth Groups in Your Town.
9. Write a Letter to Your Local Paper in Defense of Free Speech.
10. Call Your Radio Station Talk Show.
11. Support Those Retailers Who Fight Against Censorship.
12. Read Banned Books. Read Everything About Censorship and First Amendment Issues.
13. Gather Information and News Clippings on Censorship and Send it to a Central Clearinghouse.
14. Buy Banned Records.
15. Write and Perform Songs About Free Speech and the Perils of Censorship.
16. Write Movie Moguls and Tell Them to Eliminate the MPAA Ratings Code.
17. Watch “The Simpsons” and Other Controversial TV Programs.
18. Contact Your Local Cable Outlet to Find Out if It’s Being Pressured to Censor Its Programming.
19. Join the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
20. Join the Freedom to Read Foundation.
21. Stop the Attack on the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
22. Join Article 19.
23. Support the American Booksellers Association Foundation for Free Expression.
24. Get to Know the Censorship Groups. Study Their Literature, and Expose Them to Public Scrutiny.
25. Investigate the Tax-Exempt Status of Pro-Censorship Lobbying Groups.
26. Find Out Your State’s Requirements for Purchasing Textbooks.
27. Run for Public Office On a Platform Supporting Freedom of Expression.
28. Write to Your Favorite Artists; Find Out What They’re Doing to Help Preserve Freedom of
Expression.
29. Make an Anti-Censorship Home Video Showing the Various Benefits of Free Speech in Your
Community
30. Write About Your Positive Experiences with Art.
31. Become a Voter Registrar. Organize a Voter Registration Drive.
32. Form a Group That Establishes a First Amendment Litmus Test for Politicians.
33. Start an Anti-Censorship Petition Campaign.
34. Boycott Products Made and Marketed by Companies That Fund the Censors.
35. Start a Grassroots Anti-Censorship Organization.
36. Start an Anti-Censorship Newsletter.
37. Contact Local Arts and Educational Organizations; Persuade Them to Stage a Free Speech
Events.
38. Set a Good Example by Starting a Parents Group to Combat Censorship.
39. Contact Local TV Stations and Propose a “Censored Films Festival.             
40. Use Community Access Cable or Community Radio to Raise Awareness of Free Speech Issues.
41. Stage a Mock Trial on Censorship.
42. Sue the Bastards!
43. Create a Public Service Announcement to Be Aired Over the Radio.
44. Make Sure Local Schools Have a Course on Freedom of Speech.
45. Contact Others Concerned About Censorship–Use the Classifieds!
46. Talk to Teachers About What They’re Doing to Ens ure Free Speech.
47. Picket the Censors.
48. Have a Moment of Silence to Keep Speech Free.
49. Have a Speak Out Day.
50. Make the Real Obscenities the Real Issues.

Chris DeCarlo