Behind The Twinkie Defense

The apparent demise of the Twinkie brings back memories for me. A dozen police cars had been set on fire, which in turn set off their alarms, underscoring the angry shouts from 5,000 understandably angry gays. This was in 1979. I had been covering the trial of Dan White for the San Francisco Bay Guardian. […]

Sex, Corruption & The Kool-Aid Massacre

November 18th marked the 33rd anniversary of the Jonestown massacre. Jim Jones, founder of the 8,000-member People’s Temple in San Francisco, once asked Margo St. James, founder of the prostitutes’ rights group, COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics), how he could obtain political power. She answered, sardonically, “Arrange for some of your women to […]

My Encounter With Augustus Owsley Stanley

In 1967, there was a concert in Pittsburgh, with the Grateful Dead, the Velvet Underground, the Fugs and me, playing the part of a stand-up satirist. There were two shows, both completely sold out, and this was the first time anybody had realized how many hippies actually lived in Pittsburgh. Backstage between shows, a man […]

Why I Fled Facebook

I had no friends in high school and college, and now I have 5000+ Facebook friends. Maybe 25 of them are actual friends, so I assume that the rest of you like my work. And the irony is that I’m quitting Facebook because it’s become a distraction from my work — what Ken Kesey would’ve […]

An Open Letter to President Obama: Eat, Pray, Be Disappointed

Dear President Obama, It seems that the theme emanating from the White House is “Eat, Pray, Be Disappointed.” And yet, when­ever I do feel disappointed, I always realize that the alternative was John McCain, with Sarah Palin just one Halloween “Boo!” away from the presidency, and then I always feel a sense of relief. Actually, […]

A Couple of Truths: Tuli Is Better Off Dead

Tuli Kupferberg is better off dead. My friend and countercultural icon had been suffer­ing from a couple of strokes, hospitals, breathing tubes, feeding tubes, anemia, infections, blindness, catheter, hearing aids, wheelchairs, psychosis, memory loss, dia­pers, constipation, anti-depressants, sleeping pills, fatigue and a chronically bed-ridden life that seemed to be no life worth living. Tuli was […]

Woodstock At 40

Along with 499,999 others on a countercultural pilgrimage 40 years ago, I was heading for the Woodstock Festival of Music & Love. I was wearing my yellow leather fringe jacket for the first time. In one of the pockets there was a nice little stash of LSD. If you happen to be brand-name conscious, then […]