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.

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Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

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