For Paul Krassner Zen Bastard 1932-2019

On hearing the sad news I have rushed this post. More memories will follow. I hope this goes some way to paying my respects. Much love, and my condolences to his closest family and friends.

Paul Krassner and Robert Anton Wilson. Palm Springs, December 2000.

Paul Krassner (11th April 1932–July 21st, 2019) passed the final acid test yesterday. After 87 years inside of his flesh puppet, the Zen Bastard has flown free into the infinite flux of non-beingness. Paul was one of my favourite American authors, activists and human beings, partly due to him publishing my first short story in 2003. I hung out with Paul and his wife Nancy, and Robert Anton Wilson in Palm Springs in 2000, and met him in San Francisco at the launch of “Murder At The Conspiracy Convention” and caught him in NYC at the Knitting Factory. 

Paul was a great American, to mean somebody who consistently challenged authority, and themselves in equal measure, and held a high spirited optimistic outlook on life, love, art, war, and peace. In the Realist, 1959, Paul published Robert Anton Wilson’s first piece: Joyce and Taoism. 

In December 2000 the DJ flew to Palm Springs to attend the Prophets Conference, and act as Robert Anton Wilson’s volunteer caretaker. Paul and Nancy showed up to see old Bob, who was in a wheelchair at that time. I was invited to join them and treated to an hour or so of a fly on the wall hallucination, it was pure comedy combined with some concerns about G.W Bush and the Butterly ballot. I bought a round of drinks and Bob had a Manhatten, which later, I regret may have led to a few more “fucks” in his presentation than usual. Paul and Nancy sat right at the front for his “Universe Contain’s A Maybe” performance, and I felt that Bob was really performing for Paul, who was roaring with laughter at Bob’s chorus of “Cocksucker” and “Motherfucker,” when describing fundamentalist faith-based organizations and individuals. You can watch the whole thing here:

An example of Paul’s kindness and attention to detail is reflected by his effort to find me the following day to give me an article he had read in the New York Times about the emergence of multi-linguistic hip hop, something I had rambled on about the previous day. Paul also handed me “The Final Issue” of the Realist“. Wow, I was cheesing hard, and full of gratitude for the guy.

Shortly after moving to San Francisco the writer got an email from Paul saying that he was collecting stories, or tales of altered states, for his book: Magic Mushrooms And Other Highs: From Toad Slime To Ecstacy. Later that year the writer recieved the delightful news that my story “As If True” would be published in 2003! What a beautiful cat. Man. He reminds me, great movements in art and literature are often self-fueled and stem from a voluntary will to push forward, regardless, not always driven by profit. Here’s paragraph from Paul introduction to Magic Mushrooms. Bless up.

“Meanwhile, psilocybin has made its way into mythology.  Dr. Ian Edwards, head of education at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, claims not only that the bright color of magic mushrooms may have inspired the traditional red coat worn by Santa Claus, but they may also help Santa Claus to fly.  He told the Daily Telegraph about a story originating in Lapland, where the people used to feed the hallucinogenic fungi to their herd of reindeer. They used to feed red and white fly-agaric mushrooms to their raindeer, then drink the animals¹ urine.  Drinking the urine would give them a high similar to taking LSD. One of the results was that they thought they and their reindeer were flying through space, looking down on the world. speaking of which, you might want to lick the bottom right-hand corner of page 23.  Go ahead, it¹s all right. No one will ever know. And you won¹t be indirectly providing any drug money for weapons to the terrorists, either. ” 

When interviewing Bob at his home, I asked him about the Zen Bastard dedication to Paul at the beginning of the book: TSOG The Thing That Ate The Constitution. Bob replied.

RAW:… Paul Krassner – he dedicated the book to me, he sent me an e-mail along with the dedication long before the book was published and asked me if I found it satisfactory and wanted to change anything to make sure I’d be pleased by it. I was so delighted I dedicated my next book to him which is due out any day now, it’s called TSOG: The thing that ate the constitution and its dedicated to Paul Krassner – Zen Bastard. I originally wrote “Paul Krassner – “Zen bastard and all-around good guy” or something like that, and sent it to Paul, and Paul said “Zen Bastard is just what I want,” so some people might think I’m insulting him but that’s what he wants that’s his sense of humour so I let it stand, the book says – “To Paul Krassner – Zen Bastard.”

Audio Interpretation:

Paul featured in the documentary Maybe Logic: The Lives And Ideas Of Robert Anton Wilson. With his full interview on Bob included in the DVD extras. I caught up with him in San Francisco, at the top of Haight street, at a bookshop I forget the name of, which hosted his book release performance and readings from “Murder At The Conspiracy Convention” the book dedicated to Bob. After the rather poorly attended show I stepped up for a book signing, and he signed it “To fly agaric 23, from Paul Krassner, whose body was found washed up on a beach”. Alas, I lost this book on my travels, somebody has it somewhere. I inspired a laugh from Paul with my signing request.

The last time I saw Paul Krassner was at the Knitting Factory in New York, where he was not promoting a book but doing a straight-up, or to the left, stand-up set, once again to a rather small crowd. I caught Paul on his way to the toilet to tell him about my world piss project, he laughed again but not so hard, probably as he really needed to go and this weird Brit was in his way. I was alone at the gig, and so I was bowled over when this dude in a hat came over and asked me how I was doing, made polite conversation as he saw that I was surely from out of town. This turned out to be the late great Steve Ben Israel, of the legendary Living Theater and hundreds of other art, poetry, activism and Krassner-like, and inspired activities. I mentioned I was a DJ and Steve told me about his son, beatboxer and lyricist Baba Ben Isreal, who I crisscrossed pathways with in Amsterdam, years later. 

I kept in touch with Paul by email on and off, and he always responded in the positive. He gave me permission to republish his interview with Terence McKenna, for example, in our Maybe Logic Quarterly Magazine. Cheers Paul.  

I cannot comment on his health condition, but I am sure he lost the ability to type at some point which he more recently gained back. 2 years ago he sent me a very moving article, that I think reflected his own situation, or feelings. “Bringing The Invisible To Life” May 3rd, 2017.

I wrote back:

“may the ink flow plenty and pages
scroll on… to infinity
and the pen swerve
as you tease it
keep up the good work’
love and love”

Another recent article sent from Paul, dated March 29th, was about Sara Silverman, and her “Last Laugh” podcast interview.  And here’s one of his last published pieces, from Variety, 2018:

“The current FBI has swung a pendulum from 50 years ago, when the FBI was an enemy of progressive activists. An agent’s poison-pen memo attempted to smear Tom Hayden with the worst possible label they could invoke with fliers: Yep, an FBI informer. Others distributed a caricature depicting Black Panther leader Huey Newton “as a homosexual,” and ran a fake “Pick the Fag” contest, referring to Dave McReynolds as “Chief White Fag of the lily-white War Resisters League” and “the usual Queer Cats — like Sweet Dave Dellinger and Fruity Rennie Davis.” I was described as “a raving, unconfined nut.” I thanked the FBI for that title of my autobiography.

I recall Paul once landing on Facebook briefly, and leaving again pretty quick, he posted the same sentence over and over again if I remember correctly. A genius, who will be missed. Read him.

Love, fly.

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