DIRTY! DIRTY! DIRTY! A High Speed Book Tour (part V)
Edison the Drop Out punks it up at ye olde college event board
Editor’s Note: Mike Edison has been out on the road promoting his new book, Dirty! Dirty! Dirty! — Of Playboys, Pigs, and Penthouse Paupers, an American Tale of Sex and Wonder, on what has been a book tour like no other, perpetrating a mix of literary mayhem and music in bookstores, pizza parlors, dive bars, and art museums, and will be sharing his tour diary and road tales here in this exclusive blog. For more info on DDD and all things Edison, please visit www.mikeedison.com. Click here for the full tour diary.
Nov 6, University of Chicago
“Like Pouring Chocolate Sauce on Cocaine”
I love doing gigs at colleges. It makes me feel somewhat legit — after all, I dropped out of a couple of very good ones and despite writing a few books and working as a journalist I am still outside looking in, especially when it comes to my family. I broke my mother’s heart twice, the first time when I dropped out of NYU film school, and then after I traded up to Columbia, I went off the reservation after just a semester.
At least at Columbia I was there for the right reasons — I already had friends, and access to beer, drugs, and sex, and actually went there to do the work. I got straight As and realized I hated it, and pulled the plug to pursue my dual career as writer and musician without the benefit of the Ivy League.
Twenty years later my family is still pissed off at me, and this is no exaggeration. Somehow they all took it personally that I was smart enough to get in and then shrugged it off, they seem to take this as some sort of repudiation of my birthright as bourgeois Jew, and by extension, a big FUCK YOU to them. Nothing, of course, could be farther than the truth. Well, maybe there are a few things farther… but I dropped out the first time because flush with freedom after living in a dysfunctional household, all I wanted to do was drink beer and drop acid (which I excelled at) and frankly I had lost sight of why I was there in the first place. I probably could have been talked off the ledge if anyone had bothered to try, but that’s not how my family operates. They make faces. They yell. Mom cries. Dad says good luck and hangs up the phone.
1. Edison gives the not-so vaguely fascist salute of academia, living large in the hallowed groves. 2. World’s Greatest Piano Player Mickey Finn… gets a real piano! After the pizza place, a university lecture hall is like Broadway. Upright, theremin, and mic — the tools of our trade.
And so I was off on a career of punk rock and pornography, which apparently has worked out pretty well, with one pit stop at Columbia with the idea to finish the degree I started. By then, though, three more years working on an undergrad degree and the ridiculous amount of money it cost to read books that I had already read (I was an English major for the ten minutes I was there) made about as much sense as pouring chocolate sauce on cocaine, and so I bailed. Mom cried some more, Dad didn’t want to discuss it, although he saved up his anger for twenty years like some sort of psychotic camel, and literally, on his death bed, told me I was a complete disappointment and a failure and he never understood why I dropped out of an Ivy League school, though at that point, what with him dying in front of me an’ all, I didn’t really feel like discussing it either. Anytime in the previous twenty years would have been alright, tho. Really it would have.
So getting invites to fancy learning mills like the University of Chicago always makes me especially happy, since even though I don’t have the parchment, I like to consider myself an educated fellow, and what the fuck, after Dirty! Dirty! Dirty! came out some very smart people who reviewed the book started calling me a social historian, and so I feel like I am bonafide. And, when I get there (to the fancy learning mills, that is) I always tell the kids that they should drop out and become pornographers and punk rockers just like Uncle Edison, and they laugh, and I can see that they consider it for a nanosecond, they actually live the dream for a blink of an eye, before retiring back to the four-year plan. Oh well. Not everyone is so easily liberated.
RE the above, today is special because both of my brothers will be in attendance. They are nice Jewish boys, a stock trader and a lawyer, and one of them even has a piece of paper that says University of Chicago with his name on it, and it is important to me to put the whammy on them and show them that their reprobate older brother is the one speaking in the fancy U of C lecture hall for a reason, and that even though I am not what anyone could possibly consider Big Time, I have a few fans out there and I give a good show. I am not exactly sure why I care what they think, but I do.
1. Mickey Finn, in a more serious moment, explains the secrets of playing the Dirty Blues. 2. Edison telling the kids how it is: Drop out and be someone!
One perk of the hall we are speaking in is that there is a real piano, which kind of kicks ass, although between The Car (see yesterday’s entry) and now a real piano I am afraid that Mickey Finn is getting just a bit too spoiled, like he was on tour with Liza or Barbra and not with the author of a book about pro-wrestling and LSD (I Have Fun Everywhere I Go) and a people’s history of porn (Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!).
Also the people at the U of C are very nice and — even though it is a Sunday afternoon lecture — have a bottle of bourbon for me. Very considerate. And, they are actually wearing tweed jackets with patches on the elbows which makes me feel very smart indeed.
We’re going to perpetrate the same show we’ve been doing all week for the college crowd, with a bit more lecturing and emphasis on the history of free speech and the First Amendment to go along with what we call the “literary mayhem:” the Cocksucking routine, a bit about how technology has robbed the wonder from pornography, and the centerpiece of the show, a thing called HUGH HEFNER HATES GIRLS.
Afterwards there is a longish Q&A, which I always enjoy doing, except that there is always the idiot I want to kill, one who doesn’t ask a question but insists on making some long-winded statement (“I just want to say that I think pornography is a very complex issue and that it would be healthy for people to be more open about blah blah blah…”) that ultimately adds nothing, annoys everyone, and kind of takes the air out of the room. Nonetheless, it goes well, brothers are v impressed, University peeps happy, Mickey and I delighted that we got thru six gigs in five days in three states, and made all of our connections and tons of new friends, not to mention got to eat the world’s dirtiest pizza, a gumbo pie with my name on it (ditto, see prev entry). Now all that remains is the small bizniss of getting back to the airport and returning The Car, which I know is going to kill Mickey, but he has a girl in New York waiting for him, and he’ll get over it. I am pretty sure of it, anyway.
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NEXT WEEK: DIRTY! DIRTY! DIRTY! RETURNS TO NEW YORK.. and then THE DIRTY! DIRTY! DIRTY! WEST COAST TOUR BEGINS!!!! San Francisco, Hollywood, and points in between! More literary mayhem, psychedelic comedy, theremin explorations, and plenty of surprises!!! TUNE IN AND TURN ON!!!!!!!!!! And if you haven’t got a copy of DIRTY! DIRTY! DIRTY! What are you waiting for??? Join the DIRTY revolution, NOW!!!!!
Click here for the rest of Mike’s high speed book tour entries, or, for more mayhem, buy his book: Dirty! Dirty! Dirty! — Of Playboys, Pigs, and Penthouse Paupers, an American Tale of Sex and Wonder
— Mike Edison is the former publisher of marijuana magazine High Times, and was the editor-in-chief of the irresponsibly outrageous Screw. Edison has worked as a correspondent for Hustler and a high-paid gun-for hire of the legendary Penthouse letters. In addition he is an internationally known musician and professional wrestler of no small repute. He is the author of 28 pornographic novels and the cult classic memoir I Have Fun Everywhere I Go (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). He speaks frequently on free speech, sex, drugs, and the American counterculture, and is “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.”
by Mike Edison