Saturday, June 28, 2008

Loaded and Goaded

I recently was looking through old photos of mine that have languished in a plastic bin in my room for years. In it I found an old black and white picture (of course it was in black and white, it seemed so much more indie in those days) taken one evening in front of my friend Molly's house. Russ, Jenny, Molly and I had spent that summer evening lounging in the circle drive of her trailer park smoking cigarettes and talking shit. I had brought my version of the bible with me, Jim Goad's Answer Me!: The First Three . In the photo my friend Jenny is sitting next to Molly and they are reading the article, I Hate Women. The group of us, in our post-grunge glory in the trailer park lapping up hate, Molly, our hostess chain-smoking packs of $2 generic cigarettes from Kabredlo's. That volume of hate lived in my backpack that summer. I picked it up at the book distro table at a punk show at the Haymarket community arts center, a spot where we had Food Not Bombs meetings and punk shows. The community center was housed in the same building as a treatment center and there were many a time a teen punk got off on the wrong floor and came face to face with a detoxing lunatic.

I was immediately drawn to the cover art (which unfortunately I can't find a decent pic of because I have the first edition) and to the cute boy behind the distro table selling it. I had no idea what I was buying. I flipped through the pages, saw the interview with David Duke and the article on the top 100 mass murderers and serial killers and dove in. The three issue volume followed me everywhere, it lived in my backpack, the cover slowly disintegrating. I credit Jim Goad with successfully chipping away at my already deficient offense reflex. I think poring over his venom repeatedly in the back of the family minivan during roadtrips muted my ability to be upset by just about anything. I have Jim Goad to thank for introducing me to Mexican murder magazines (way before Neckface brought them back into NY's art consciousness), Anton LaVey, Crispin Glover as more than the dad from Back to the Future, NAMBLA, Adam Parfrey, and Russ Meyer, and of course El Duce.

A related anecode, many years later in college in an ethnographic studies course, we were assigned to read Donna Gaines' book Teenage Wasteland about the Bergenfeld Four suicides. Gaines wrote an article entitled Chicks and Cars is the first issue of Answer Me! and the book was mentioned in the Suicide issue. Upon reading I noticed a namedrop to the Goads (at the time, Jim Goad also credited his now deceased wife Debbie Goad as a co-writer of the zine. That has since changed.) in a scene where Gaines is hanging out with a group of Jersey deadbeat teens in an abandoned factory. A few days later, Gaines herself came to speak to our class about the book and I mentioned catching the Goad reference and she was shocked. Apparently I was the only student in the history of her career (she was a professor of sociology I believe in the CUNY system at the time) who had picked up on the Goad shout-out. She proceeded to gossip about the Goads a bit with me and we exchanged emails, she thinking of taking me under her wing as a sort of mentorship. Unfortunately later that night a series of events began that resulted in my moving away from New York for nine months and I never did get in touch with her. Dang.

Answer Me! was so much more than a zine, the content better than most legitimate magazines, with some mindblowing interviews (The Geto Boys! Al Sharpton! David Duke!) and consistently hilarious content. Some of the writing doesn't hold up to my older eyes, a lot of the I Hate... articles are boring to read now and don't seem nearly as badass as they once did (I was about 14 or 15 when I first picked it up.) Still some of the explorations about the hellhole of New Jersey and the article about 24 Hours on Sunset Blvd are infinitely readable and I will always be indebted to Goad for teaching me all the hilarious ways to kill oneself and tapping into my childhood fascination with serial killers (sidenote, my grandpa looked a hell of a lot like the pic of Henry Lee Lucas in the Murder issue.)

The Rape issue not included in the anthology is also worth a read. It is what sparked the obscenity trial that landed demon Goad in jail. I didn't get my hands on that until many years later, and what a story that is. When I moved to Missouri at age 18 the now tattered volume came with me. Once there I did the unthinkable and lent it to an acquaintance, some rockabilly-ish chick who worked at a vintage store. A few days after lending it to her her 19-year-old sister suddenly passed away from a brain aneurysm. She found her dead in the hallway of the apartment they shared after coming home from a night out at Eastside Tavern, the biker bar we all frequented. I remember her worried that her sister had flaked on her plans to meet up and my agreeing, as I had expected to see her at the bar that as well. The sister of the dead girl was understandably distraught and went to stay with her parents for about a month in the smaller Missouri town they were from, with my book! My out of print book. When she came back into town I visited her back at the vintage store she was again working at and she mentioned how much the volume had helped her through her tough time and hinted that she wanted to keep it. I told her it had major sentimental value and I needed it back regardless of the circumstances and she promised to return it. She never fucking did and I had to spend a mint getting another copy on EBay, but thankfully the shipper threw in a copy of the Rape issue so it wasn't a total waste. I still am pissed that I never got my book back. Just because your sister dies doesn't give you license to steal from me, however, it does make it a little easier to forgive so I stopped pursuing it.

So no, you can't borrow my copy. But you can buy the reissue which is apparently expanded. And check out these links for more info:
Jim Goad's site has some great links to more info about the story of Answer Me!
Goad writes for Street Carnage
Order Answer Me! here

I posted this today and then found out a few hours later that Goad was hospitalized earlier this month with a brain tumor

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