Saturday, September 15, 2012


When I was a young lad I hitchhiked. A lot. And I’m old enough to remember Anthony Eden (the noted speedfreak), the Suez crisis – that last Imperial flourish before Thatcher’s gruesome little war – and the resulting oil shortage. The UK populace was encouraged to give rides to strangers to save gas. School hours were cut and The Daily Mirror supplied cutout stickers to put on your windshield the read “Free Lifts At Your Own Risk.” Later I’d hitch around the country – London, Brighton, Devon, Cornwall, even Scotland. Of course, there were problems with cruising pervs but nothing that couldn’t be handled by a teen pretending he was Woody Guthrie. Today, alas, it seems to have all gone. Hitchhiking is too reckless, too socialist, too dangerous for the 21st century, but when our palls at Delancey Place sent me the following I felt I should pass it along. 

“In the early 1970s, the conservative, older residents of the quiet coastal California town of Santa Cruz began to be overrun by hippies. To control them, they tried to crack down on their uncomfortable and often dangerous practice of hitchhiking: To the older, long-term residents, Santa Cruz's new hippies were an 'undesirable transient element.' In the sum­mer of 1970, the city attempted to reduce their numbers by limiting their transience: prompted by several conservative council members, town legislators considered enacting an antihitchhiking ordinance. Noisy young longhairs stormed a city council meeting, chanting 'Sieg heil!' and 'Power to the people!' The hippies saw the proposed ban as an outright attack on their way of life. Hitching was not only central to their low-budget, freewheeling lifestyle, it was the perfect expression of countercultural ideals. It was a way of expressing trust in one's fellow man. It was living in the moment instead of obeying a rigid schedule. And it was ecological and antimaterialist, because hitchers didn't need to buy cars. In short, it was 'a beautiful, groovy way to travel,' as one nineteen-year-old girl told Newsweek in 1969. Frequent news articles on the burgeoning phenomenon all cited the hippie commitment to using highways for impromptu human connection. As one hitcher put it to the Santa Cruz Sentinel in 1971, 'Mostly you just feel how much people need each other and how much they take care of each other.' ...
Hitchhiking was not invented by the counterculture. For many decades after the introduction of the automobile, hitching rides was perfectly mainstream. In the days when few people owned cars, giving a ride to someone who needed one was simply the decent thing to do. During the Depression, a lift was a means of helping out the less fortunate. And once the war broke out, picking up hitchhikers became nothing less than patriotic duty, since soldiers often thumbed their way to or from their bases. Emily Post even sanctioned the practice for young women who had jobs in the defense industry--though she suggested drivers and hitchers restrict their conversations to impersonal topics, like the weather. ...
Antihitchhiking campaigns began around the time the inter­state highway system did. In the late fifties, the Automobile Association of America launched a campaign called 'Thumbs Down on Thumbers.' It aimed at dissuading drivers from pick­ing up hitchers by suggesting they might be dangerous felons or con artists. The FBI--impelled in part by J. Edgar Hoover's hatred for student activists who were hitching to civil rights and antiwar demonstrations--joined the campaign, issuing scary statistics and creating a poster titled 'Death in Disguise' that featured an ominous hitchhiker. 'Is he a happy vacationer or an escaping criminal,' the poster asked, 'a pleasant compan­ion or a sex maniac--a friendly traveler or a vicious murderer?' The Saturday Evening Posthad the answer in 1957: 'The Hitch­hiker You Pick Up May Be a Dangerous Criminal!' The maga­zine reported that 'Drivers have had their heads bashed in with stones, have been dismembered and have been disemboweled by strangers they picked up on the highways.' ...
In spite of early scare campaigns, hitchhiking continued to grow in popularity. In the sixties, articles published in maga­zines as varied as Life, Harper's, the National Review, News­week, and Scholastic all viewed thumbing in a positive light. A 1966 Sports Illustrated feature was typical: it recounted fun stories about hitching, described as 'a valid ticket to adven­ture for uncountable thousands every year.' Author Janet Gra­ham--a practiced hitcher--even included a perky list of 'Tips to Girl Hikers.' They included 'Take a companion-or a hat­pin'; 'Be neat but not gaudy -- no low-cut blouses'; 'If he's tipsy or wolfish, say you are heading elsewhere'; and 'Learn in five languages: 'I'm going to throw up.' ' 
Part of why the practice persisted was that early campaigns against hitching presented the hitchhiker as the threat. Early hitch-horror films like Felix Feist's The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947) and Ida Lupino's The Hitch-Hiker (1953) cast the hitch­hiker as villain, a story line that continued even in later films like Roger Corman's The Hitcher, made in 1986 and remade in 2007. In these films, the hitchhiker never has a backstory; he simply looms into sight by the side of the road and opens his campaign of torment. "The Hitcher was partly inspired by Jim Morrison's song 'Riders on the Storm,' from the 1971 Doors album L.A. Woman. Morrison's lyrics -- whispered and sung at the same time for added effect -- describe a hitchhiking murderer and warn the driver not to give him a ride, but here, too, the image feels like a metaphor. Morrison was not writing a public service message about picking up hitchers: to be a rider on the storm is sim­ply to be a person on the turbulent journey through life, with the hitchhiker standing in for any bogeymen who can ruin the trip. ... The hitcher-killer felt no more real than the zombies, werewolves, or aliens who stalked the nation's dreams. And in fact, the real danger of hitchhiking was almost never to the driver; it was to the hitcher. By 1973, Santa Cruz was subject to a series of grisly murders committed by Ed Kemper, who cruised area highways giving rides to unsuspecting hitchhikers.” Ginger Strand – Killer on the Road: Violence and the American Interstate (University of Texas Press)

Click here for Jim

Click here for Marvin

The secret word is Thumb 


HuffPo? Roseanne Barr attacking the War On Drugs? Actually it very lucid and made some good points including this one…

 Americans are roughly five percent of the world's people, but they consume two thirds of the world's anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication. We don't really have a war on drugs; we have a war on drugs that don't make money for big pharmaceutical companies. Or, as I've been putting it, for years, "The War on Drugs is a war on poor people on street drugs waged by rich people on prescription drugs." Seriously, who are we kidding?” Click here to read more.



Thursday, September 13, 2012


In April 1989 I was living in New York and never felt the full impact of the deaths at  Hillsborough stadium, but I seem to be catching up with a vengeance 23 years too late. While lawyers for the families talk about South Yorkshire police, Sheffield city council and Sheffield Wednesday FC perhaps facing charges of corporate manslaughter, I have to wonder if will all stop with just the coppers' cover-up, or will investigations ever extend as far as the Thatcher government and the Murdoch press, and also Thatcher’s well-known loathing for Merseyside, football fans, and her massive, almost satanic, debt of gratitude to the police for allowing her to use them as her very own personal storm troopers while crushing the miners. Or am I just dreaming and, when she dies, they’ll canonize the witch.

The secret word is Retribution   


This psychotic bigot is the pastor of the Dove Outreach Center, a cracker box church in Gainsville, FLA and he also seems determined to use social networks put a match to the Middle East. In 2010 he wanted to stir up Islamic mayhem and grab himself national and international attention by burning copies of the Koran. Now, in addition to running for President, he’s the producer/promoter of the film "Innocence of Muslims" or "Muhammad, Prophet of the Muslims," that depicts Muhammad as “a thuggish womanizer, and Muslims as homosexuals, child molesters and madmen and has half the world” and has been described as “film is an obscenely inept vanity project called “The Innocence of Muslims” adds to it. A work of ignorance, hatred and utter incompetence, it shouldn’t deserve mention, let alone inspire so much tragedy.” Someyears ago I wrote a poem that started…

“Have you noticed how many times it all basically comes down to a bunch of men sitting in a gasoline soaked room, wondering which among them is sufficiently psychotic to strike a match?”

It seems to fit. But what do you do with a psychotic like Terry Jones?. I’ve defended freedom of speech since I was a teenager, if not with my life certainly with my liberty. This might, however, be a time when the only answer is for a couple of burly CIA guys take the mad pastor out back of the shed and blow his fundamentalist brains out.


Our pal Brad Dourif is known as an actor specializing in the dangerous and demented, and for films like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Wise Blood, Ragtime, Dune, Blue Velvet, voice of Chucky in the Child's Play series, and Grima Wormtongue in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Back in the mid-1990s he played didgeridoo and did vocals in a decidedly weird musical/spoken word floating crap game that also included Jack Lancaster, Andy Colquhoun, Wayne Kramer, and Doug Lunn. The fruits of this endeavor are preserved on the CD The Deathray Tapes (if you can find one) but I was delight when, a few days ago, I discovered a YouTube tribute to Brad that uses a vocal duet by him and me as the sound track.

Click here to check it out.   


Arden Frozdick and her friend Jessica founded the Lesbian Space Deputies and had many adventures. 


Sunday, September 09, 2012


I suspect I have been immersed in the popular culture for much too long. My imagination has become the functional equivalent of prune-wrinkled hands after staying in the bath longer than one intended. One symptom of this is that I no longer seem to be able to regard a harmless orange without being reminded how the orange is Francis Ford Coppola’s symbol of death or impending doom in the Godfather saga. I mean, check it out for yourself. Each time a character is snuffed, there are the bloody oranges. Here’s just a partial list – Don Vito is gunned down while buying oranges. At the commission meeting of the Five Families, bowls of oranges are in front of Tattaglia and Barzini. There's a bowl of oranges in front of Woltz before the horse loses its head. Vito has orange peel in his mouth moments before he dies. Fanucci picks up an orange from a fruit cart before he’s shot dead by De Niro. Johnny Ola gives Michael an orange as a gift from Roth, and oranges are in front of the guests at the crucial Havana meeting. Finally, at the very end of the trilogy, an orange drops from Michael's hand as he dies. And why all the contemplation of symbolism and mortality on this particular Sunday? I guess it’s because I had a birthday a few days ago and, at my current age, one starts to wonder how many more might be lined up. But don’t worry. I quickly turned away from such morbidity. I have too much to do and too much that needs to see the light of day to be mulling over the prospect of my demise. 

Click here for Love

The secret word is Florida


“Death? Tried it. Didn’t like it.”


(Image from Elf Hellion)