Posts Tagged ‘PAUL KRASSNER’

The Ten Best Bookstores in the World

November 17, 2010

Travel Publisher, Lonely Planet, has just issued its list of  the world’s best bookstores. The only American store on the list is City Lights of San Francisco, which also happens to be number 1 on the list. City Lights was started in 1953 and was touted as the world’s first paperback bookstore.It was founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.  In 1955 the store started a publishing company that still exists. It is most famous for its publication of the beat poets. Allen Ginsberg’s, Howl, is considered one of the  great poetic works of the western literary canon. It the 1950’s City lights was the intellectual center of the Beat Poets and the whole beat culture in San Francisco.

A little shameless self-promotion here. My last visit to City Lights was to attend  a publication party for my client, Paul Krassner, whose book, Who’s To Say What’s Obscene, was published by City Lights. (It was my first book that I represented as an agent.)

Congratulations, Lawrence and  City Lights. What an honor! You deserved it.


An Interview With Paul Krassner

July 2, 2009


                                                    Paul Krassner

Who's to Say What's Obscene? Order here from Book Passage

I’m especially happy to have this interview on Ask the Agent.  Who’s to Say What’s Obscene  is the first book that I have contracted as an agent that is being published. And by City Lights, the right publisher for this book. One of the things I like about my job is waking up in the morning to big surprises. So one morning I logged on to my computer. And here is an email from the guy who was one of my heroes 40 years ago. I’m not sure that I can say that the Disneyland Memorial Orgy had the same impact on my intellectual and moral development as Tolstoy or Camus, but I suppose it was right up there.

Paul is having a tour for his new book. He will be appearing at the following venues:

I hope you can be there to see him.

Andy: Well, since you have undoubtedly been asked about this in every interview for the last 40 years, could you tell us about the
Disneyland Memorial Orgy?
Paul: When Walt Disney died, it occurred to me that the characters created by their Intelligent Designer who were suddenly in a state of
suspended animation could be released from their decades-longinhibitions and participate in an old-fashioned Roman Orgy.

Disneyland Memorial Orgy

Disneyland Memorial Orgy


Andy: Looking at it now, it really doesn’t seem that shocking or obscene. Irreverent, yes. What would you do today if you were designing it that
would be different?
Paul: I assigned Mad magazine artist Wally Wood to draw the center spread for The Realist, my satirical magazine, and the ultimate design was
strictly his. If it were done today, I suppose that genitalia would be shown. More importantly, female characters would be more assertive.
Andy: Ok. So you have a new book out. It is a wonderful collection of your thoughts on humor and politics. Can you tell us some more about it?
Paul: “Who’s to Say What’s Obscene: Politics, Culture & Comedy in America Today” is a collection of my articles and columns over the last few
years. Things have been accelerating at such an increasing rate that I had to keep updating events until the very last minute.
Andy: You must have had a pretty good agent?
Paul: Yes, Andy had my interests at heart and consistently responded to my e-mails without delay.  The problem is, he answered questions that I never asked…and they were the wrong answers, too.

 Andy: Hey, you weren’t exactly a walk in the park, yourself, bub!

You have been involved with comedy since the Fifties. Isn’t that
right? You were a friend of Lenny Bruce. Can you say something about how humor has changed over the years?
Paul: Lenny was a pioneer in breaking the taboos not only in language but also comedic concepts and satirical targets, talking about teachers’
low salaries instead of spouting mother-in-law jokes. Now irreverence for its own sake tends to trivialize but that’s the risk of free speech.
Andy: Am I to understand that you were a classical violinist? A child prodigy even? Isn’t this a little strange.
Paul: It wasn’t strange to me because I wasn’t aware of any options. At the age of six I became the youngest concert artist in any field ever to
perform at Carnegie Hall. But, though I displayed an advanced technique for playing the violin, my true passion was to make people
Andy: Do you still play the violin with virtuosity? Who is your favorite classical composer?
Paul: I was relieved to quit playing the violin when my teacher died. My musical tastes are eclectic, and I like rock’n’roll better than
classical music, although when I accompanied Groucho Marx on his first and only LSD trip, I really appreciated the Bach Cantata #7.
Andy: How did you get Arianna Huffington to write an introduction to the book?
Paul: She’s a friend, and I’m a contributor to Huffington Post, so I simply asked her and she came through. You can google my home page on and click on her foreword.