Subversive Book Club Review: Agent of Evolution

Full Title: Bill Hicks: Agent of Evolution
Author: Kevin Booth with Michael Bertin (Ghost Writer)
Year: 2005
Comments:

I pride myself on the many subversive books I read and let me say, I tend to find the best of these bunch to be those of the autobiography, biography, memoir, etc. variety. It’s really neat to see how someone became the subversive, influential character they are/were. This book in particular is special for two reasons: 1) The subject is my hero and main influence, stand up comedian/social critic, Bill Hicks. 2) This work is written by his best friend and collaborator, Kevin Booth (Sacred Cow Productions) and contains various passages by close friends and several other vital figures in Hicks’ life/career. So, with those credentials, this read is easily one of the most personal and intimate experiences one can find from a book. We see how Hicks was raised in a Southern Baptist Prison and how he escaped through his window, out into the Comedy World via the Comedy Workshop in Houston, Texas. As he hits the stage life, he transforms from excessive teetotaler to excessive drinker with cocaine and various other substances serving as side dishes. After years of constant partying, Bill realizes his life and career needs a 180 turn and he snaps into sobriety. Instantly (it seems), he takes his comedy to new levels, the humor itself is the same, but with a sober mind he can perform more and execute his revolutionary message stronger than ever. Sadly, he never hits it big in his homeland, though his career did grow and he became quite popular in the UK. Even more depressing, in 1993, Hicks was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died shortly after. As readers we realize, yes it was a tragedy that he died soooo young, but what would have been more tragic was if he did nothing with his life and kept his thoughts to himself and went about his day. Instead, Hicks was outspoken and stopped at nothing to change as many minds as he could; forcing people to think for themselves, as stated in the Outlaw Comic documentary. Bill may not have waken everyone up, but for those who did hear his call, he changed everything. It wasn’t just “is what the govermnent doing bad?” It was, “the government is a bunch of lying, stealing, murderous cocksuckers- here’s why- now show me how I’m wrong.” To which a neanderthal redneck would respond, “You’re UNAMERICAN!” End of argument. Overall, I can’t say anything negative here, except maybe the fact that many of the guest writers, friends and such, drag on a little bit and repeat what others said, but other than that, this is a fantastic and informative read. We see an up close look at one of the greatest minds in all of art and entertainment through the eyes of his loved ones. What more can you ask for?

P.S. the tales of Acid/Mushrooms tripping are mind blowing and fascinating, to say the very least.

Grade: A, KLYAM RECOMMENDED

Film Review: How Weed Won the West

Full Title: How Weed Won the West
Director: Kevin Booth
Year: 2010
Comments:

Kevin Booth and Sacred Cow strike back with another subversive, anti-government/anti-tyranny documentary, following up on their last, eye opening feature, American Drug War. This “No More Drug War” flick is basically in the same vain as its predescessor, but this time Booth focuses solely on Marijuana (as the title indicates), whereas before he discussed the entire Drug War and most of the various substances involved. He takes us on a journey into the lives of those who are victims of the Drug War and in many instances Political Prisoners. We see how the Federal Government uses unconstitutional (violating states’ rights, warrantless raids on Medical Marijuana Clinics) and highly unethical… Ok flat out evil, means to prevent sick and dying Americans from obtaining a natural substance, weed, to medicate themselves and ease the pain, whilst highly addictive, dangerous, and unatural pharmeceuticals are rigorously pushed on the public by savage, Big Business. Booth truly garners an up close and personal look at how the War affects these people’s lives. I like this doc very much, but it is not flawless and does not share the same appeal as the first film. Don’t get me wrong, you will hear/see some shocking and/or revealing information and images, but not nearly as astonishing as the first film. But, then again that goes with the subject matter: before it was the entire War on Drugs and therefore there was more facts and history to be displayed that most folks, like myself, were unaware of. With this topic of Medicinal Marijuana, there is far less material that makes you see just how sick and disgusting our government is; not to say there isn’t any here, there’s plenty, just not as much and not as mind blowing. Secondly, the arguments are not as concrete as they were in the previous doc; I felt like the film could use slightly more screentime for the definitive reasons why Marijuana needs to be legalized. Also, I don’t know if it is because Kevin could not find as many informative people as before or what, but the film could definitely use more sage voices like Judge Jim Gray. Perhaps he was all booked. Lastly, for me, I hate saying this, but it was too “Pro Pot.” Now, I know that sounds stupid, considering the nature of the topic, but at the same time if you look at ADW ( I know I’m comparing the two way too much!) it was far from Pro-Drug and in fact some felt like it made drugs look bad. I felt like it was a great piece to show naysayers why the Drug War was and is so horribly wrong. I feel like for a film arguing so vehemently for legalization and an end to prohibition, it should not be nearly as enthusiastic about recreational drug use as it was. Clearly, most of the film focused on medicinal use and to keep with the consistent aim of showing how important and necessary it is for Marijuana Prohibition to be curtailed, Pro Pot sentimnents should be kept for another flick. All in all, this is a solid and highly informative work from the gifted, Kevin Booth. He is the man and so is his best friend ;) So, if you liked ADW, you will probably dig this as well and if you haven’t seen it, watch it, watch this, and inform yourself. WAKE UP!

Grade: B

How Weed Won the West…


This is a trailer for the new Kevin Booth documentary. This time he focues specifcally on Marijuana (as the title clearly indicates) as opposed to his last film, American Drug War, which evaluated all or most drugs related to the drug war. I hope he include the reality of Obama’s (at least so far) abandoment of his campaign promises concerning law enforcement’s handling of drugs. Anyway, I’ll be seeing this soon.

Chris