Books

The Joys of Danger

John G. Nettles

One of the most heartbreaking moments of my life in the last few years was the day that I discovered I was no longer in love with Angelina Jolie. This may not seem like much to most people, but I was a full-on altar boy in the Church of Angie, back when she was disastrously married to Billy Bob Thornton, carrying his blood around with her and sharing her love of knife-play and backseat coitus with a tongue-clucking world, the very soul of dangerously hot. Then she had to go and trade up, and her tabloid life became all about baby bumps and real estate and imaginary feuds with Jennifer Aniston while making three lousy movies for every one good one. The dangerously hot Angie is now guarded and conservative and, well, ordinary. She’s become Julia Roberts with better lips and the occasional ability to act.

The point is that while we may crave security, home and hearth, such things carry with them a life sentence in Dullsville. Some of us are fine with that tradeoff, some of us chafe at it, and some of us reject it altogether. The last group are the ones we want to read about: the people who wade into the situations the rest of us only wish we had the balls to face, and then come back with the scars and prizes that make us green with envy. Because of this, Mike Edison is my new hero. Punk drummer, amateur wrestler, pothead and smut peddler, Edison is a wiseassed and wickedly funny road warrior whose memoir I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, and the Most Notorious Magazines in the World (Faber & Faber, 2008) is some of the most fun reading I’ve had since Hunter Thompson capped himself.

Beginning with the moment in his dysfunctional teens when he scored his first joint and never looked back, Edison drags us along on the demented hayride of his life. While dropping out of NYU film school because they looked askance at his proposed zombie epic, Edison began to make his bones as a writer for third-tier pro wrestling magazines and hardcore porn publishers, learning his craft (and yes, good porn takes craft) and eking out a living while pursuing his other passion, very loud drumming. Over the years Edison pounded cans for his band Sharky’s Machine, the Lunachicks, the semi-legendary Raunch Hands, and the hardest-working punk band in Spain, the Pleasure Fuckers, all the while getting into all the alcohol- and drug-fueled hijinks a single boy with a screw-you attitude and a high tolerance for pain can encounter. Edison describes going on a Vegas drunk with Evel Knievel, opening for the Ramones, and barbecuing (!) with the late great GG Allin.

Upon his return to America, burnt out and without a future, Edison discovered that he had somehow become an in-demand journalist on the below-the-radar magazine circuit, and after learning the business side of the publishing industry and renewing his ties with old connections, was hired as the publisher of High Times. Long a bastion of the ’60s counterculture and staffed by inveterate hippie holdovers, the place saw Edison bring a unique combination of business savvy and punk recalcitrance to the job, turning a perpetual punchline of a publication into a real magazine with edge and funk (and profit) by doing daily pitched battle with his employees. As Edison describes the Sisyphean task of trying to motivate a motley crew of pot casualties into doing their damn jobs, even Deadheads will feel the urge to kick the patchouli out of some of these people.

Edison’s book is brash, irreverent, funny as hell and beautifully written, proof positive that one can be both edgy and erudite, lowbrow and literate, and take joy in the unbridled pleasures of the id without sacrificing the higher mind. Mike Edison is my hero, and I’d love to send his book to Angelina. Maybe it’ll inspire her to scrub off the Brad Pitt stink and go back to being dangerously hot. She’s so much more interesting that way.

This article was originally published at Flagpole.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.