Perhaps you know him as the fez-wearing man on YouTube.com, smoking the ChronicCaster — a working bong-guitar lifted from the set of the film, “High Times Potluck.”
Or maybe his name is familiar because of his stint as publisher of “High Times” magazine.
Or, if you remember when punk music ruled Manhattan’s darker corners — when Manhattan had dark corners! — you may know him as a member of numerous bands: Sharky’s Machine, Raunch Hands, Reagan Youth, Lunachicks, GG Allin.
Really, Mike Edison is a legend — if you’re to believe his spectacularly gripping 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.”
While Edison has recorded lots of albums, and played hundreds of performances around the world in various bands — and most recently with his Rocket Train Delta Science Arkestra, which features Jon Spencer (of Blues Explosion fame) — what he wants desperately is to be embraced as a serious writer. Edison said he turned down an offer of more dough at a more commercial publisher to go with Faber and Faber, an affiliate of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, because he wanted to publish a quality book.
And this from an author who referred to the readers of his former employer, “Main Event” magazine, as “marks”!
Despite his lofty goals, it isn’t beneath him to do anything to get his book into the hands of readers — or better yet, buyers. This includes transforming the typical author reading from a snoozefest into a spoken-word performance with his band, with whom he recorded a CD of the same name. (Even the CD is another avenue he invented to raise awareness of the book.)
“At Pete’s [Candy Store in Williamsburg], I will do a set with my band — it’s very Beatnik, pop, psychedelic,” Edison told GO Brooklyn over sushi. “I do very funny, very X-rated material about drugs, pornography and Jews for Jesus, and after everyone calms down, we’ll blast blues and punk rock with my other band, the Edison Rocket Train.”
And at Freebird Books & Goods in the Columbia Street Waterfront District, Edison said he’ll most likely be accompanied by his “interstellar groove machine, a Casio, spray painted gold with a theremin Velcroed to it.”
Edison’s earnest literary aspirations are as much of a surprise as his editorial resume, which is so riddled with filth one feels the need to don a full-body prophylactic just to handle it. It describes — to great comic effect — the office culture at “Hustler,” “Screw,” “Cheri,” “Soft Drinks & Beer” and more.
“It’s pre-Internet sleaze culture,” confirmed Edison.
While the subject matter might be lowbrow at best (covering pro wrestling) and downright sleazy at worst (reminiscing at length about penning 28 pornographic novels), “I Have Fun” is a rollicking joyride peppered with rip-roaring anecdotes that will end up eliciting unseemly guffaws on the subway.
Edison’s stories are so outlandish, they tempt readers to compare them with other recent memoirs that turned out to be less than accurate. But Edison insists his stories — wrestling his boss for the top job at “Main Event,” sleeping just once a week for months on end while on drug-fueled benders, etc. — are all true.
“I Have Fun” is remarkably lucid and well researched — with pop culture riffs on the wrestling scene — before and after the advent of the World Wrestling Foundation (WWF) — and nostalgia for the once prevalent “buzzbee,” a marijuana-filled frisbee. But that makes it even more suspect. It invites the question, “Can a musician pen such a well-written story?” It’s even more incredible that he survived his drug-saturated years between 14 and 30.
He claims that he never went to rehab! Not once.
“This book is a celebration,” said Edison. “I don’t dabble in dark drugs. I don’t do smack or serious downers, but drugs that make you go zoom or psychedelics that expand your mind. And the drug is never the activity itself. Drugs aren’t the problem; daytime TV is the problem. If you’re tweaking and watching TV, of course your teeth are going to fall out. But if you’re at a Motorhead concert — or better yet, in Motorhead, then you got no problem.”
This writer wouldn’t have been so skeptical if Edison wasn’t so coherent, hilarious, and articulate during our interview. No signs of brain damage — or fatigue — were evident in this 43-year-old author editor at Backbeat Books.
Now that his tell-all is published, the sky’s the limit.
“My next move is to run for president,” said Edison. “I’ve got nothing left to hide.”
Mike Edison will perform excerpts from his memoir, “I Have Fun Everywhere I Go” (Faber and Faber, Inc., $25) at Freebird Books [123 Columbia St. between Kane and DeGraw streets in the Columbia Street Waterfront District, (718) 643-8484] on June 12 at 7:30 pm. He will also read at Pete’s Candy Store [709 Lorimer St. at Richardson Street in Williamsburg, (718) 302-3770] on June 19 at 7:30 pm, followed by a 9 pm performance with his band the Rocket Train Delta Science Arkestra.
©2008 Community News Group
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