The Realist
This web page is up with the permission of Paul Krassner but is not an "official" Realist web page. You cannot reach Paul Krassner (d. 2019) through this web page or its maintainer, Jim Lippard.

Ethan Persoff has put the entire archive of past issues past issues of The Realist online. You can find them at The Realist Archive Project.

Paul Krassner's web site is

Doug McCormick has copies of issues that he is willing to part with: 20, 23, 24-25(24-25 is just one issue), 27, 29, 30, 31, 32, 41, 42, 43, 48, 50, 53, 54, 55, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 63-A, 64, 65, 66, 67, 67-A, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, Dec 68, Feb 69, Mar 69, Apr 69, May 69, June 69, 86, 86-A, 86-B, 87, 93, an issue without a number or a date but with the headline "Mae Brussell's Conspiracy Newsletter" and a bit by Krassner dated 1974, 111 and 132. He also has a reprint of an interview with Albert Ellis which originally appeared in the May 1960 issue. All are "yellow headed for brown" and "a few issues are flaking at the edges." You can contact Doug at dougmccormick AT

Robert Norris has copies of issues 39, 41, 43, 47, 48, 50, 53, 54 (2), 55 (2), 58 (3), 59, 60 (2), 61, 63 (2), 64, 66, 67, 67A, 68, 69, 71, 72, 73 (2), 74, 75, 76, 81, 82, 83, 84, December 1968, February 1969, March 1969, April 1969, May 1969, 86 (2), 86A, 86B, 87, 88, 90, 91A, 91B, 91C, 92A, 92B, 92C, 93, 94 (2), 95, 98. Numbers in parentheses indicate more than one copy. Good condition but turning brown. If interested contact RNorris AT

Tad Richards is looking for copies of back issues that his work appeared in (1963-1968). Contact him at TadRichards AT

The following items are available directly from Paul Krassner, Dept. W., 9829 San Simeon Dr., Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240. All prices include postage.

Free with every order: a copy of the Spring 2001 issue--the final issue--of The Realist, which Krassner began publishing in 1958, with this mission statement: Irreverence is our only sacred cow. People magazine called him "the father of the underground press" and the FBI called him "a raving, unconfined nut."

In June 2002, Artemis Records released his comedy CD, Irony Lives!, and Barricade Books published Murder At the Conspiracy Convention and Other American Absurdities, with an introduction by George Carlin. Both of these can be obtained in stores and on the Internet.

Magic Mushrooms and Other Highs: From Toad Slime to Ecstasy, to be published in the summer, will be available directly from Krassner, and copies can be reserved for $15. This was previously planned to be called Magic Mushroom Stories for the Soul, but legal threats from the Chicken Soup for the Soul people required the name change, and Psychedelic Stories for the Soul became Psychedelic Trips for the Mind.

Paul Krassner's first comedy CD/cassette, We Have Ways of Making You Laugh, was released by Mercury Records in August 1996. His book, The Winner of the Slow Bicycle Race: The Satirical Writings of Paul Krassner, has been published by Seven Stories Press. The book is now available in paperback.

The final issue of The Realist was #146 (Spring, 2001).

The Realist #145 (Autumn, 2000).


Media Freak (excerpts)

Filler Items

The Realist #144 (Summer, 2000).


Romantic and Voluptuous
By Mark Miller

"Romantic, sensitive, sincere, caring, honest, affectionate 25-year-old non-smoking male, a Kevin Costner lookalike, with great sense of humor, Ph.D. in Business, runs own advertising agency, enjoys sports, nature, movies, theater, restaurants, dancing--seeks sincere woman for friendship and good conversation."

Dear Romantic: I nearly fainted when I read your personals ad, because it pretty much described my ideal man. So even though I'm sure you'll be overwhelmed with responses, here's mine: I'm a bright, honest, loving, considerate, vivacious, outgoing 23-year-old, blonde, voluptuous, non-smoking female, often described as a Darryl Hannah lookalike. I am independently wealthy, and love exotic travel, gourmet cooking, and passionate embraces in front of a roaring fire. I am yearning for your reply.

Dear Voluptuous: Thank you for your wonderful letter in response to my ad. Coincidentally, you described my ideal woman. Unfortunately, I wasn't exactly 100% honest about myself in my ad. But your letter touched me to such a degree that I've decided to stop deluding myself and others. So even though it may cost me the loss of meeting you, here's the truth: I'm a 46-year-old Abe Vigoda lookalike, who smokes like a chimney, dropped out of high school to steal cars, still lives with my parents, and haven't the slightest idea how to function in a social situation.

Dear Romantic: I can't tell you how relieved I was to receive your refreshingly honest letter. I, too, have had it with all the artifice, the game-playing, the misrepresentation. So please allow me to revise my initial ad, as well: I'm a 52-year-old, enormously overweight woman, interested solely in my next meal. I suffer from indescribable body odor, but it doesn't bother me too much, as I spend most of my days dealing with the voices that I hear, commanding me to do the bidding of Emperor Borgar, ruler of my home planet. I am currently working, gutting fish, at Harvey's Carp-O-Rama, but it's the evening shift, so I have my days free to tend to my open sores and seventeen cats. I also like looking in people's windows while drooling.

Dear Voluptuous: Your candor touched me to my soul, so please allow me to continue sharing myself with you in preparation for our eventual meeting. I have several rare skin diseases which have been written up in medical journals worldwide. I am allergic to almost all foods, with the exceptions of brussels sprouts, beans, and loose, runny cheeses. The high point of my day is putting on one of those orange school-crossing guard vests, and nothing else, and helping small children across the street. I also enjoy setting fires and weeping out of context.

Dear Romantic: I am not allowed to leave my city, for reasons I cannot disclose until the year 2012. Most nights, I wrap myself in large Hefty bags and run up and down the stairs either yodeling or screaming at the various bacteria that invariably come to life and take on human form. I know they're conspiring against me, but I fixed them so that they won't be giving me too much trouble any more, if you catch my drift. Sometimes I feel restless and howl at the sun for hours, but that could just be the woman in me. I itch like the dickens in unspeakable places.

Dear Voluptuous: I am working on a plan to break Charles Manson out of jail. He's always been a close friend, and I know the three of us will make a great team. Slowing down the process is the fact that I have completely lost control of my bowels. Funny how you don't really appreciate something until it starts acting up. Say, what does it mean when your hair starts coming out in huge clumps? I've enclosed some for your inspection, along with some other assorted body fluids, etc. Can't wait to meet you this weekend.

Dear Romantic: It was really great meeting you for the first time last night. I can't believe we're actually going to elope at the end of the month! Emperor Borgar would just die if he found out! But you have proven to me that there's somebody out there for everyone, that my life means something to someone, and that, thank God, true, romantic love really does exist!

The Realist #143 (Spring, 2000).


Media Freak (excerpts)

Doing the Math

Jeff Gates, author of Democracy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street from Wall Street, sends this observation:

"Negotiations are ongoing with the German government and various German corporations seeking reparations for Nazi slave laborers. The payment under discussion is $7,500 per surviving slave. That got me wondering. If a former Nazi slave in 1945 invested his/her nest egg in an S&P index fund (which has had an average annual return of about 12% per year) and it grew to $7,500 in the year 2000, how much would need to have been invested (in 1999 dollars)? Answer: $14.73. Talk about slave wages. Penance for pennies."

Cancelling Itself Out

In a full-page ad in Time magazine for a prescription medication, BuSpar--headlined, "Is anxiety overwhelming you?"--absurdity reigns. "If you've had overwhelming, unfounded worry and several of these symptoms for six months or more-- * Restlessness * Muscle tension * Trouble concentrating * Sleep problems * Irritability * Feeling tired--your doctor may tell you that you have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). . . . Some people may experience side effects such as excitement, dizziness, nausea, headache, lightheadedness, and nervousness."

The Realist #142 (Autumn, 1999).


The Protagonists

by Lyle Stuart


What may be the most important 1st Amendment lawsuit in America today began innocently enough.

Barricade Books, my small book-publishing company, receives a constant flow of book proposals. Many are imitative of other books on the market or in development.

These we pass on.

A few years ago, a possibility caught me interest. An agent named Frank Weimann asked if we'd be interested in publishing a biography of Las Vegas casino owner Steve Wynn.

Yes, we'd be interested.

I once published a book about Donald Trump when he was largely unknown. I'd published a successful biography of Howard Hughes, Bashful Billionaire, when he was no longer in the public eye. That one, written by Philadelphia attorney Albert B. Gerber, brought an offer from the Hughes camp via his spokesman, Hollywood attorney Greg Bautzer. We could have $200,000 if we would "delay publication." Indefinitely.

I refused the offer.

Our title, Bashful Billionaire, became a national best-seller. When it appeared on the New York Times list, I kept my promise to our staff. We closed our doors and took 36 people on an all-expense-paid 22-day luxury tour of Europe.


Steve Wynn? I'd been hearing stories about him for years and they weren't all favorable. The author of the proposed book was John L. Smith. I believed Smith was well qualified. He's an award-winning journalist who writes four columns a week for the Las Vegas Review. I liken him to the late Drew Pearson for his courage and integrity.

I decided to publish the book, Running Scared.

Contracts were submitted and signed. An advance was paid against future royalties.

Everything to this point was routine.


Book publishers create catalog descriptions from the author's proposal or outline. A description of the book is written. Catalogs are produces months before an author completes his script so that sales reps can take orders from booksellers.

Such was the case now. Barricade is not unusual in this. Every major book publisher from Random House to Simon & Schuster produce catalogs describing their books six months to a year before the books are actually published.

I'd misplaced Smith's proposal. I had my personal knowledge of Wynn's reputation among the wiseguys. I also had in front of me a copy of the FBI's Agosoto 302, a thick Atlantic City investigation report and a thicker New Scotland Yard report.

The latter concluded by saying: "Steve Wynn is under the aegis of the Genovese crime family."

Was he? I didn't know. Almost all things are possible in Las Vegas.

Aegis. How many 23-year-old buyers for book shops would understand that word? I softened it by saying that the book would "detail why a confidential Scotland Yard report said that Wynn was a front man for the Genovese crime family."

One sentence in a catalog. An accurate sentence.

To defend it eventually cost me and my company several hundred thousand dollars and even now threatens to put us out of business.


Steve Wynn read the catalog copy for Running Scared and sued John L. Smith for libel.

I wrote to Barry Langberg, Wynn's slick Beverly Hills attorney, whom I later found to be a sleazeball. I pointed out to him that he'd sued the wrong person. I wrote the copy. Smith hadn't seen it until the catalog was published.

This led to a weird series of negotiations. Wynn agreed to drop the suit if I would do something I'd never done in 40 years of publishing.

I agreed to allow Wynn to read the manuscript. Then we would meet and Wynn could point out factual errors only. Changes would be subject to my approval.

I rationalized this by saying that we'd have a 100% accurate book.

My wife and I and my attorney, Albert B. Gerber, and his wife flew to Las Vegas. I was given my usual penthouse suite at Wynn's Mirage. As always, the suite and all food and beverage were complimentary. This is because I'm a "high roller"--the euphemism for "lollipop," "sucker," or "victim."


At the appointed time, we assembled in Wynn's conference room together with author John L. Smith. We were met not by Wynn and his list of factual errors, but by sleazy attorney Langberg, who told us that Steve Wynn was too busy to meet with us. Then he announced with arrogance: "You're not to publish this manuscript."

My wife, Carole, spoke up: "Steve Wynn is a public figure. All his wealth and power can't prevent an honest biography about him from being published."

No factual corrections were offered, and the meeting was over.

That was on a Saturday. Monday morning a lawsuit based on the catalog was refiled. This time, in addition to Smith, Barricade Books and Lyle Stuart were named as defendants.


The casino industry in Nevada doesn't gamble in court.

In the past few years, the owners of Las Vegas casinos have contributed millions to politicians. They've given more than $550,000 to state judges for their election campaigns. Wynn and his casinos are the largest fundraisers and the largest contributors.

Twelve judges announced that because Wynn had contributed to their election campaigns, they were recusing themselves from the case.

The thirteenth judge, a woman named Sally Lohrer, also received money from Wynn but elected to take the case.

She was about to do Steve Wynn a big favor.


For months during pre-trial discovery, Wynn's attorney demanded to know the source of what they described as the "so-called" and "counterfeit" and "fraudulent" Scotland Yard report. They took the position that no such report existed and that we made the whole thing up.

On the eve of the trial, they suddenly reversed themselves and conceded the authenticity of the report.


There is an old saying: "Don't worry about the law; worry about the judge."

We had much to worry about. The judge allowed an 8-person jury that included a man who said his ambition was to get a job with Wynn; a woman who admitted she'd attended parties with Wynn's Las Vegas attorney; two people who said they hated the press, etc.

The jury trial, which lasted almost two weeks, was a charade. When one of Wynn's attorneys stood up, the judge smiled. When one of my attorneys stood up, the judge frowned. She admitted plaintiff material almost automatically. When we offered evidence, she consistently ruled it out.


We were being "home-towned." To guarantee this, the judge ruled that the Scotland Yard report couldn't be considered an "official document" because Scotland Yard is in a foreign country. Even if it wasn't, she said, we were not protected because it was a confidential report, and so the public shouldn't know about it.

Got the picture?

The jury did. Their mouths hung open when both the governor of Nevada and the mayor of Las Vegas interrupted their vacations to appear in court as Wynn's character witnesses.

We wanted to bring the interrupted-vacation fact to the attention of the jury, but the judge wouldn't allow us to.

The governor, whose father was a known mob associate, had himself been the subject of an intense FBI investigation. He was the man who appointed Judge Loehrer to her job.


At issue in this case is the "republication rule." It holds that when a journalist quotes from an official document, he is protected even if the facts he quotes are wrong.

The basic constitutional Fair Report privilege is the right to quote from official documents or comments. It's critical to every author, editor and publisher.

Almost every state except Nevada has agreed that a publisher or commentator could not be expected to shoulder the expenses of checking every fact in an official document before quoting from it.

Were the contrary the case, there would be a chilling lack of information available to the American people.


I suppose that even if we'd had a more intelligent and less biased judge than Sally Loehrer; we would have had a tough time winning a case in Las Vegas against Steve Wynn.

They name streets after him. He is one of the largest employers in the city, and often called "the most powerful man in the state."

The jury was not allowed to see or hear our evidence that linked Wynn with mob associates. Even a CBS documentary on the subject was barred from the court. Nor were the jurors allowed to see the book Running Scared, which did indeed detail why the New Scotland Yard report concluded that Wynn was "under the aegis of the Genovese crime family."

A few hours after they went out, they returned with a verdict of $2,100,000 for Wynn. The next day, the judge wouldn't allow me to tell the jurors that we didn't carry libel insurance, so they added $1,070,000 in punitive damages.


Wynn's attorneys served our Brooklyn warehouse with a restraining order that prohibited them from shipping any of our books. In effect, this would have destroyed Barricade Books.

"Yup, I want to put Lyle Stuart out of business," Wynn was quoted as saying by New York magazine.

Meanwhile, the prominent New York attorney, David Blasband, filed our appeal before the Nevada Supreme Court.

An amicus curiae was filed in our support by a group that included the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, Inc., Donrey Media Group, Reno Newspapers Inc., Rupert Murdoch's News America Corp., Playboy, the Carol Publishing Group, Globe Communications, the Nevada Press Association, Magazine Publishers of America, the Association of American Publishers, PEN, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and Bloomberg News Service.

With Nevada, one has to wait and wonder even though it is widely believed in legal circles that in any other state, the jury award would be overturned.

Even if the case has to go to the United States Supreme Court.

[The jury award in this case was overturned by the Nevada Supreme Court in 2001, on the grounds that improper jury instructions were given, and sent back to the trial court. The case was subsequently settled out of court with a written apology from Lyle Stuart. The Scotland Yard report is now available on the Internet. -jjl]

Saving Pseudo-Children From Virtual Abuse

by David Steinberg

Crusaders against child pornography have long claimed that the core issue was not people having sexual fantasies about young people but the emotional and sexual abuse inherent in the creation of erotic photos of children and adolescents. Thus, for example, in a precedent-setting 1982 Supreme Court ruling, the court held that a New York child pornography law did not violate the First Amendment because it banned not the expression of an idea but only the abuse of children that occurred in the process.

These arguments were relegated to history when Congress passed the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1995. For the first time, CPPA made it illegal to make, sell, or own pornographic pictures with models who appear to be underage, even if the person in the photo is, in fact, over 18. With CPPA, the crime has become enabling a reader or viewer to get excited because someone can be imagined to be under 18. The possible abuse of any honest-to-God child has become irrelevant.

As a result, the battleground in the great pornography debate has shifted from actual to virtual reality, from porn to pseudoporn, from what is in fact being shown to what can be imagined, morphed, or simulated. Possibilities for the future are limitless. We could easily, for example, expand the definition of Statutory Rape to include having sex with someone while imagining them to be younger than the age of consent, or having sex while they wear clothing or arrange their hair in ways make them look (or even feel) like they are underage.

We could then make it illegal to have sex with someone while imagining what they were like when they were underage, or to have sex while imagining or remembering what we were like when we were underage. From there we could go to prohibiting cocktail waitresses to serve drinks while they look under 18, not serving liquor to anyone whose date could imagine her/him being under 18 while watching him/her get plastered, and even to not letting anyone drive a car when they felt like they were, say, 15.

But all that is in the future. For the present we have the following:

* * * * *

Last January, a man in Olathe, Kansas, was prosecuted for possession of child pornography. He had cleverly (but illegally, it seems) pasted a photo of a young person's face onto a larger, presumably more sexual, nude picture of an adult woman "with the intent to satisfy his sexual desires." The man was acquitted, but only because the judge could not determine beyond a reasonable doubt that the face in the picture was of a child under 18. Despite his acquittal, the court would not release the man's book of pictures of girls taken from legal catalogs and magazines, nor his diary which chronicled his dreams, including some of young girls.

* * * * *

David Hilton, 48, who characterizes himself as an anti-pornography crusader, was convicted in Portland, Maine, of possessing a computer image in which an innocent image of a child had been technically altered to make it "indecent." Hilton was initially acquitted on the grounds that the Federal law was unconstitutionally vague, but his acquittal was overturned on appeal. The issue, according to First Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Hugh Brownes, was "whether a reasonable unsuspecting viewer would consider the depiction to be of an actual individual less than 18."

* * * * *

The Galveston, Texas City Council has asked its city attorney to draft an ordinance that would prohibit the baring of women's breasts, real or phony (no, they're not talking about silicone implants). The law would make it illegal to wear novelty vests embossed with bare breasts and butts, or tee shirts with photos or drawings of bare breasts or buttocks. City Attorney Barbara Roberts assured the City Council that a similar Fort Worth law had been constitutionally tested and upheld.

* * * * *

Three boys and a girl in suburban Cleveland, aged 14 to 17, made a videotape of themselves having sex. When the girl's mother heard about the tape, she got police to investigate. The girl initially claimed she had been coerced but, after watching the tape with a child psychologist, Juvenile Judge William Chinnock ruled that she was clearly "enjoying her 15 minutes of fame." Nevertheless, he chided the teenagers for using their bodies as "garbage cans" rather than as "sacred vessels." According to investigators, copies of the tape are now in the hands of hundreds of high school students across the nation.

* * * * *

The Northeast Regional Child Exploitation Task Force has brought charges against a 14-year-old boy in Tenafly, New Jersey for e-mailing child pornography to an undercover detective. It is not clear whether the detective was pretending to be a teenager as well. A spokesman for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says there are more and more reports of children sharing child pornography on the Net. This raises the question of whether it's healthier for teenagers searching for pornography on the Net to direct their sexual attention to images of adults, or to images of kids their own age. If we criminalize sexy pictures of kids under 18, are we encouraging teenagers to fantasize having sex with adults? Is the Child Exploitation Task Force really a front for pedophiles?

* * * * *

Meanwhile, notoriously uncredentialled antiporn crusader Judith Reisman (who was given millions of dollars in Federal grants under the Reagan administration to count references to children in the cartoons of Playboy, Hustler, and the like) is busy conflating pedophiles and pornographers into a single concept.

A report by Reisman on the recent World Pornography Conference at Northridge University (see Nancy Cain's report in Realist #141) makes six separate references to "pedophiles and pornographers" as if they were one and the same. According to Reisman, "a cadre of admitted pedophiles and pederasts control[s] the field of sexology" through the nation's academic human sexuality programs, including the Kinsey Institute, the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, and the Northridge Center for Sex Research.

Claiming a "Mafioso-like relationship" between these institutions and "the underworld of pedophiles and pornographers," Reisman describes the Northridge conference as a summit meeting to "share and shape future national pornography and pedophile strategies." She concludes that, in a world where "an academic institution [is] in bed with pedophiles and pornographers," it's no wonder that judges accept the idea of "adults having legal access to our children for sexual purposes" by "routinely giv[ing] custody of children to known sexual abusing parents."

[If you would like to receive Comes Naturally columns, and other writing by David Steinberg, regularly via email, send your name and email address to David at [email protected]. Columns are sent as blind carbon copies, meaning that no one will have access to your name or email address. Past columns are available and indexed at the Society for Human Sexuality's "David Steinberg Archives":]

Media Freak (excerpts)

Filler Items (excerpts)

The Realist #141 (Spring, 1999).


Last Meals

Jaturun Siripongs was executed in February. For his last meal, he was served two 40-cent cups of Mission Pride canned peaches and two 45-cent cans of Lucky Arctic Iced tea. Other last meals of executed prisoners:

Robert Alton Harris--Kentucky Fried Chicken (extra crispy), Domino's Pizza (no anchovies), jelly beans and Pepsi.

Keith Williams--fried pork chops, a baked potato with butter, asparagus, salad with blue cheese dressing, apple pie a la mode and milk.

William Bonin--two large pepperoni and sausage pizzas, three pints of coffee ice cream and three six-packs of Coca-Cola.

Thomas Thompson--Alaskan king crab legs with melted butter, spinach salad, pork fried rice, Mandarin-style spare ribs, a hot fudge sundae and a six-pack of Coke.

David Mason--ice water.

Larry Flynt's Wedding Gift

By Lee Quarnstrom

The first objet d'art one noticed upon entering Larry Flynt's "mansion," as he insisted we call the Bel Air home that had previously belonged to Tony Curtis, was a statue of a young fellow having sexual intercourse with a chicken. This piece of sculpture stood in the foyer of the house, which was guarded in those days by two ferocious attack dogs and several ferocious, and heavily armed, attack men.

There was, of course, a story behind the statuary: Larry's first sexual experience, he proudly boasted, was indeed with a chicken. Now that fateful encounter was memorialized for the ages in this nice piece of bronze.

Many years earlier, when Hustler editors in Columbus learned that the boss was going to make an honest woman, or as honest a woman as was possible, our of his companion and Hustler Club hoochy-coochy dancer Althea Leasure, top editor Bruce David came up with the perfect wedding gift for Larry: a live chicken in a box with a note reading, "In case things don't work out."

David ordered one of the Hustler editors to go buy a live chicken. David, whose volatile temper evoked both fear and loathing among some of his underlings in those earlier Hustler days in the Ohio capital the boys referred to as "the City of Seven Flat Places," told the editor not to show his face in the office again until he'd rounded up the bird.

The editor, who related the story of his chicken-hunting adventure to me after the magazine and staff had moved west to Los Angeles, decided the easiest way to come up with a living hen was to go directly to the source, a chicken farm not too far outside the city limits. He got in his car and drove out to the Ohio countryside.

When he got to the farm, he told me, he parked and walked over to an elderly man, the owner of the establishment, who was sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of his rustic home.

"I'd like to purchase a chicken," he told the farmer.

"Well, sonny," the man wondered, "what do you want it for? Roasting? Frying? Laying?"

"For fucking," Michael replied in all honesty.

The farmer shrank back into his rocker in disgust.

"Well," he told Michael, "I ain't gonna help you pick out a chicken to fuck. You go get one on your own."

He handed Michael a wooden crate, the kind with thin slats that lettuce and other produce used to come in. And Michael headed out into the huge flock of chickens that lived just beyond a fence made, appropriately enough, out of chicken wire.

Now he didn't know exactly what kind of chicken Bruce David might have in mind as a potential sexual partner for Larry in case things didn't work out. But he finally picked one bird and, with some deft coaxing and grabbing, stuffed the bird into the crate, paid the farmer a couple of bucks, and tossed the box and bird into the back seat of his car.

As he headed back toward Columbus, disaster struck. The chicken, which had been screeching and batting its wings against the side of the crate, suddenly cracked one of the slats and broke out of the box. As Michael tried to keep his car on the road the hen began flying around the inside of his sedan.

"It was making a hell of a noise," Michael reported, "and it was shitting everywhere. It was like there was a shit-and-feather storm inside the car."

Keeping one hand on the steering wheel, Michael tried to grab the bird with the other. He was on a busy highway and didn't want to risk pulling off the road with an enraged chicken winging its way around his head.

It took a few miles and a lot of chickenshit but finally he got a hand around the bird's neck. The chicken crapped on his lap. Enraged himself, Michael rolled down his window and tossed out the screeching chicken.

Unfortunately for all involved, the bird smacked the windshield of an oncoming truck, a big truck. It smattered across that windshield in such a frightening and disgusting manner that the trucker, too, became enraged. He turned his 16-wheeler around and began to follow Michael. And Michael, fearing mayhem, led the trucker on a high-speed chase along that highway, then on less-traveled roads, then on municipal streets, and finally down alleyways and across front lawns and parking strips.

Finally, Michael realized he'd ditched the trucker. He heaved a sigh of relief but immediately realized that while he had avoided one disaster he faced another unless he brought a chicken back to Bruce David.

Reluctantly, he turned his car around and headed back to the chicken ranch.

The farmer was still sitting in his rocking chair. He looked at the forlorn young man standing in front of him, coated with chicken manure.

"I need another chicken," Michael told the farmer.

"Another?" the farmer asked with the sort of abhorrence that only a chicken man could have for a city slicker who'd purchase a bird for his own sexual gratification. "What happened to the one you already bought?"

"Well," Michael replied timidly, "unfortunately, I killed it."

Media Freak (excerpts)

Hearing Test

A videotape recently revealed that, at a secret meeting in 1993 where four executives, two each from Archer Daniels Midland and the Ajinimoto Company of Japan, discussed price-fixing. James Randall, then president of Archer Daniels, stated, "We have a saying at this company. Our competitors are our friends and our customers are our enemies."

Sam Leff wrote to PBS' Jim Lehrer: "I'd like to see that videotape on the NewsHour followed by a panel discussion on the ethics of commercial sponsorship of public television news which would address the dilemma of the NewsHour's discovery that its long-time thinly disguised commercial sponsor is a price-fixing monopolizer, who sees the public as 'the enemy.' Surely a program that is comfortable with daily discussions of the president's sexual habits should not shrink from discussing the monopolistic practices and gross hypocrisy of its alleged 'public spirited' benefactors."

Lehrer responded: "Thank you for your letter. I hear you on Archer Daniels Midland."

Filler Items (excerpts)

The Realist #140 (Autumn, 1998).


Media Freak (excerpts)

Dispatches From the War on Drugs (excerpts)

The Realist #139 (Summer, 1998).


The Realist #138 (Spring, 1998).


Court Jester (excerpts)

How to Reform Campaign Financing

The collective unconscious has been busy working its way across America. On the west coast, I suggested during a stand-up performance that campaign finance reform could be brought about by requiring all donations to be anonymous. In the midwest, Nicole Hollander created a variation on that theme in her syndicated comic strip, Sylvia. And on the east coast, Jim Atwood wrote an op-ed piece for Legal Times, a Washington weekly for lawyers and lobbyists:

"All political contributions must be paid to a governmental intermediary--a blind trust--that would collect contributions earmarked for each candidate and political party, and then pay them out to the designated recipient on a periodic basis. When making these payments, the government intermediary would not reveal the soruce of the funds. The identity of the contributors would be anonymous. "It would be entirely lawful to lie (or to tell the truth) about whether you made a contribution through this system. That is, if the ACLU gave a large contribution to Rep. Barney Frank through the system, it would be free to tell him in order to gain his appreciation. But it could also tell the same thing to Sen. Jesse Helms, even if it were an outright lie...

"We should be able to support candidates that we like, but we shouldn't expect political payoffs in return. And we should deny politicians the leverage to shake down constituents who fear political retribution if they fail to pay up. To achieve this result, we must break the link between contributions and access. We must be able to lie about whether we gave at the office."

A reporter from NPR asked Atwood, "Are you serious, or is this a joke?" He replied, "Yes." He told me, "It is a serious topic and, I think, a serious proposal, but it also has a whimsical element to it, and also it's designed in part to bug the politicians. It's sad (funny?) that our political system has gotten to the point that a proposal like ours is so close to the line."

Mother Teresa Goes to Hell

The following was discovered in cyberspace by web-surfer Jed Mattes:

In what is widely believed to be the result of clerical error on the part of Heaven's massive soul-evaluation and punishment bureaucracy, the Calcutta Daily Telegram reported that beloved missionary caregiver Mother Teresa was condemned to agonizing, eternal torment in Hell following her death at the age of 87. Widely expected to ascend into Paradise and take her rightful place among the saints to the glorious fanfare of horns and choruses upon her passing, she was instead hurled from the firmament into the bowels of the Lake of Fire.

"We can only assume that some sort of mix-up occurred in the processing phase," said Saint Peter, the heavenly official in charge of the Book of Life, in which the names of those chosen to ascend to the gates of Heaven are written. "Unfortunately, when you deal with over 70 million souls a day, these kinds of mistakes happen. What can I say? I don't know what else to tell you."

Mother Teresa, who for decades inspired the world with her selfless devotion to the starving, disease-ridden masses of Calcutta, was unavailable for comment, as she was being lowered upside-down into a vat of boiling human excrement by a trio of pitchfork-wielding demons. Similar punishment reportedly awaits her for the rest of eternity.

Heavenly angels, cherubim, seraphim and other secondary celestial entities have been working around the clock to keep up with the enormous volume of intercessionary prayers arriving daily on Mother Teresa's behalf. Despite the tremendous number of pleas, however, Heaven essentially has its hands tied.

"It's sad that this happened," the archangel Gabriel, a spokesperson for Heaven, told reporters. "But we really can't do anything about it. The whole point of eternal damnation is that it is inescapable, absolute, and irrevocable. If the Lord were to turn around and pull her out of Hell now, he'd be turning his back on millennia of Catholic doctrine, on everything Mother Teresa stood for."

Her arthritic limbs snapping like twigs as her frail, 4'11" frame was rent asunder by the claws of grotesque, multi-limbed demons, Mother Teresa reportedly screamed in indescribable agony as the superheated gases of Hell's unholy furnace blackened and charred her hair and face.

According to a New York Times report, her skull has already been used as a drinking goblet by Satan, the Great Deceiver himself, and the esteemed nun's rape at the hands of insatiable, barbed-penis-wielding hellhounds in the near future is considered "highly likely."

"I can't believe this happened," said stunned Catholic Cristina Fontancez, 38, of Petaluma, California. "She must have been so shocked when, after a lifetime of good works, she found herself face-to-face with Satan. Instead of being thrust into the living and redemptive light of Jesus' love for all time upon her death, she instead found herself being slit from crotch to sternum and suffering the pain of red-hot instruments of torture repeatedly being plunged into her writhing entrails." Speculation varies as to what could have caused such a miscarriage of heavenly justice.

While some contend that Mother Teresa's policy of not administering medication to the sick and dying in her clinics may have caused some in Heaven to doubt her true compassion, others believe that her constant speeches against birth control--a contributing factor to mass overpopulation, poverty and starvation throughout the Third World--may be to blame. Still others posit that Teresa may have sinned in her heart at some point during her long life, qualifying her for eternal damnation despite a history of good works. "According to Catholic doctrine, even one moment of lust would be enough to justify Mother Teresa's banishment to the flame," said Archbishop Janiusz Wolsczya of Krakow. "It is possible that after years of celibacy and self-denial, her natural desires for sexual release may have built to a breaking point. I imagine that sleeping alone on that hard cot all those years and donating every ounce of her strength to the care of the poor, she must have been very lonely. The compulsion to masturbate must have been enormous." Most observers, however, reject these explanations, firm in the belief that the eternal punishment is undeserved, the result of simply bureaucratic error on the part of Heavenly officials.

"I promise a full investigation into this matter," the Apostle John, seated at the right of Christ Almighty, told reporters. "If any evidence of incompetence or error on the part of the officials who conducted Mother Teresa's afterlife evaluation is found, I assure you there will be serious repercussions."

Despite such strongly worded statements from Heaven, a majority of followers on Earth are calling the promise of a full investigation a case of "too little, too late."

"I feel like this has forever weakened the foundation of my faith," said 73-year-old Giancarlo Rossetti of Milan, one of over 300,000 protesters who crowded Vatican Square to call for an immediate reversal of the condemnation of Mother Teresa to Hell. "She was a good woman, and she does not deserve to have her eyes torn out of their sockets by flaming packs of ravenous demon-dogs." Satan, speaking from deep within his fortress in the Hell City of Dis, described the late Mother Teresa's soul as "succulent and tasty."

Media Freak (excerpts)

Filler Items

The Realist #137 (Autumn, 1997).


Case History of a Cyberhoax

Not by Kurt Vonnegut

I confess. Although I didn't handle the technological end of the Kurt Vonnegut hoax--I've never driven a car, I don't know how to program a VCR, and I use my computer only for word-processing--the idea was mine. A friend I'll call Hacker took care of the cyberspace aspects.

I've always loved pranks. In my high school yearbook, under Hobbies, I put "Eating new recipes and playing practical jokes"--not realizing that I had unintentionally described the best way for somebody to play a nasty trick on me.

When I started publishing The Realist in 1958, I printed a rumor that IBM, whose employees sometimes seemed as standardized as the machines they sold, required all personnel to have their teeth capped by a company dentist. IBM's Medical Director wrote in response: "We do not maintain dental services nor do we provide remedial dental care." Of all the hoaxes since then, my most infamous one was "The Parts Left Out of the Kennedy Book" in 1967.

Of course, I have had pranks pulled on me in return, from an announcement of my demise in the short-lived Cheetah magazine--they rationalized that I had published a fake obituary of Lenny Bruce two years before his death (in order to call attention to his plight while he was still alive)--to an interview that I had supposedly done with Bob Dylan, which was actually made up by Marvin Garson and published in the San Francisco Express-Times. It was circulated throughout the underground press and critiqued in Rolling Stone.

When I stopped publishing in 1974, many readers thought that was a hoax. Others didn't realize publication had been suspended until it was resumed in 1985. The Los Angeles Times published a series on plagiarism by their media critic, David Shaw, and I reprinted an excerpt from it, using Pete Hamill's byline. The Realist was back in business.

Then along came the World Wide Web. A prank could now be communicated with greater speed and reach more people than ever before. For example, the following "Virus Alert" has been spread with altruistic intent and Malthusian multiplicity:

"Warning--If anyone received mail entitled Pen Pal Greetings, please delete it without reading it. This is a warning for all Internet users. There is a dangerous virus propagating across the Internet through an e-mail message entitled Pen Pal Greetings. Do not download any message entitled Pen Pal Greetings.

"This message appears to be a friendly letter asking if you are interested in a pen pal, but by the time you read this letter, it is too late. The Trojan horse virus will have already infected the boot sector of your hard drive, destroying all of the data present. It is a self-replicating virus, and once the message is read, it will automatically forward itself to anyone whose e-mail address is present in your mailbox.

"This virus will destroy your hard drive, and holds the potential to destroy the hard drive of anyone whose mail is in your In box, and whose mail is in their In box and so on. If this virus keeps getting passed, it has the potential to do a great deal of damage to computer networks worldwide...."

However, the Virus Alert was itself a hoax. As Hacker explains, "E-mail can't contain a virus. E-mail is pure data. A virus has to be an executable code. No e-mail can contain a virus except for e-mail with executable attachments. This includes Microsoft Word, which has a macro language that can execute immediately when you open a document. So it's possible to do great harm by opening an attachment to your e-mail, but not by reading it."

* * *

In June, a subscriber sent me several clippings, including this column by Mary Schmich in the Chicago Tribune:

Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out, some world-weary pundit eager to pontificate on life to young people who'd rather be rollerblading. Most of us, alas, will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns, but there's no reason we can't entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates. I encourage anyone over 26 to try this and thank you for indulging my attempt.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Class of '97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You're not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in hte future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support ou. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85. Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

* * *

At a recent memorial for Allen Ginsberg in Los Angeles, Bob Weide read a statement from Kurt Vonnegut which began, "Please, stop dying." Somehow, "Wear sunscreen" reminded me of that. When I chatted with Vonnegut in New York a few years ago, I got the impression that he was saddened that young people might not be familiar with his work. The perverse motivation of my prank was to help remedy that situation.

Replacing Mary Schmich's byline and opening paragraph with "This speech was given by Kurt Vonnegut at MIT's commencement this year," Hacker proceeded to transmit the text of her column over the Internet in such a way that it could not be traced to him.

The non-commencement speech traveled fast and furiously. It was even posted to the Vonnegut Newsgroup. Many of his fans thought it was valid, including Vonnegut's wife, photographer Jill Krementz, who e-mailed it to several friends (her husband was out of town at the time). Mademoiselle magazine asked Vonnegut for permission to reprint his speech. Peter Lasally, who used to be a producer for Johnny Carson, tried to book Vonnegut on the Tom Snyder show.

Actually, the commencement speaker at MIT--five days after Mary Schmich's column had been published--was Kofi Annan, secretary general of the UN, who didn't mention sunscreen or flossing. Schmich, who had written the piece "while high on coffee and M&Ms," called Vonnegut to let him know that she wasn't behind the hoax. He said that it revealed the gullibility of people on the Internet.

Schmich traced one e-mail backward from its last recipient, a professor at Malcolm X College in Chicago. He had received it from a relative in New York, who received it from a film producer in New York, who received it from a TV producer in Denver, who received it from his sister, who received it from.... At this point, Schmich gave up her quest for the culprit.

I apologize to Vonnegut and Schmich, but I'm happy to say that the revelation that the commencement speech was a hoax reached more people than the hoax did, not only on the Internet, but also in print and electronic media. The truth had triumphed in a truly free marketplace of ideas.

Court Jester (excerpts)

Perceptions of the People's Princess (excerpt)

Everybody perceived the death of Diana Spencer through their own subjective filters. For example, those folks in Minneapolis who, since 1968, have been holding a weekly vigil at the Honeywell plant--protesting the manufacture of land mines and cluster bombs, handing out leaflets to workers, several of whom have quit as a matter of conscience--those demonstrators were extremely grateful that Princess Diana had helped increase global attention to the continuing tragedy of land mines.

On the other hand, Weight Watchers International had to halt a new ad campaign, in which the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, sits cross-legged, smiling at the camera and talking about the difficulty of losing weight. "It's harder than outrunning the paparazzi," she says. Tens of thousands of brochures were already mailed to homes, and issues of Glamour and Self with the ad had already gone to press. The TV commercial was pulled from the networks, even though it didn't contain the paparazzi line. [...]

A Bill Hicks Sampler (excerpts)

Media Freak (excerpts)

Filler Items

The Realist #136 (Summer, 1997).


Media Freak

Marijuana Muddle

Filler Items

The Realist #135 (Spring, 1997).


The Realist #134 (Autumn, 1996).


Media Freak

Scatalogical Paranoia

Paula Poundstone in Mother Jones: "I learned that each time a toilet flushes without the lid down, a fine mist of fecal matter lands on everything in the bathroom. I try not to use the bathroom anymore, and I certainly don't brush my teeth. I don't know how well-informed people sleep at night."

Madalyn, We Hardly Knew Ye

September marks one year that Madalyn Murray O'Hair, her son and granddaughter have been missing. According to American Atheist Newsletter, a few days after their disappearance, her son, Jon, promised on their car phone, "It's too complicated to explain now, but we'll have a conference call with the board members when we get back and explain everything." The call has never come. Only God knows what really happened.

Filler Items

The Realist #133 (Summer, 1996).


Mad Cow Disease--The Final Solution

The following is a Reuters dispatch datelines March 30 from Phnom Penh:

While much of the world shuns British cows, a Cambodian newspaper suggested yesterday that the animals be shipped to Cambodia and allowed to roam free and detonate the millions of land mines littering the country.

"The English have 11 million mad cows, and Cambodia has roughly the same number of equally mad land mines. Surely the solution to Cambodia's mine problem is here before our very eyes in black and white," the Cambodia Daily said.

"The plan is simple, practical, and will make mince-meat of the problem overnight," the paper said.

Media Freak (excerpts)

The Realist #132 (Spring, 1996).


An Interview with Terry Southern (excerpt)

We were living in Geneva once, on the 3rd floor--in one of those very modern apartments, and they had a garbage-disposal chute, and at the bottom was this fantastic Swiss mechanism...thousands of diamond-edged blades, I always imagined it...moving at the speed of light. Anyway, you could put your head in this chute and hear it down there--a soft whirring sound, and it would take anything, man--bottles, tin cans, knives, forks, spoons. I was always testing it. Nothing fazed it. Once I took a coffee-pot, put a lot of forks and spoons n it, put the pot in a paper bag so it wouldn't make too much racket when it hit, and dropped it in--you know, like "What do you make of this, Mister Swiss Machine?" Then I listened. Nothing, man. Just a slight smooth crunch and back to old soft whir.

So! Well, as it happened, I had just bought a new typewriter, and I still had the old one--Royal Portable, pre-war, sturdy stuff. So I rushed right out, bought 50 feet of clothesline, came back, tied one end to the carriage of the typewriter, and lowered it down very gently, taking care, dig, not to bump the walls on the way. That was supposed to be so the concierge or somebody wouldn't hear it, you know, something strange going down the chute--but I think it was also the idea of surprising the machine at the last minute...I must have been about half off my nut.

Anyway, when I figured it was just about right, I said, "Okay, you smug son-of-a-bitch! Dig this!" And I let the clothesline out very quickly. Well, man! I mean, I just wish I'd had a tape recorder. Christ, what sounds! Fantastic! And then it stopped--of course I immediately felt very bad. It was like I had killed it. "What a silly, kid thing to do. And bla, bla, bla." Big remorse, and then, of course, great apprehension--like: An American typewriter! They'll trace it to you! Damages! Fantastic damages--five thousand dollars! Can't pay! Prison!

But it all had a happy ending. The machine was running again the next day, and there was a little note in the lobby that read something like "Residents are requested not to overload the disposal unit."

Overload! And they say the Swiss don't have a sense of humor. Anyway, it was the smugness of the machine, Paul...I mean you can understand how a thing like that could, well, be disturbing?

Media Freak (excerpts)

True or False?

Comic-impressionist Jim Morris was a guest on CNN's Crossfire--appearing in the role of President Clinton, being asked and answering serious questions about domestic issues and foreign policy--and the next day the real Bill Clinton's approval rating went up three points.

Filler Items

The Realist #131 (Autumn, 1995).


Excerpt from Great Moments in Counter-Cultural History

In the course of attempting to get a marijuana-legalization initiative on the ballot, six times since 1972, Jack Herer and other activists have lived on the front lawn of the Federal Building in Westwood for a hundred days at a time. They would feed, clothe, and provide portable bathrooms for petitioners. On the flagpole, the pot-people's flag flew proudly underneath the American flag.

One morning in January 1981, President-elect Ronald Reagan came to Westwood. It was five days before his inauguration, and he needed a haircut from his favorite barber. With his entourage of Secret Service agents, Reagan visited the Federal Building.

"You're doing a fine job," he told the manager, "and I want you to know that you can bring any of your problems to us. Incidentally, why are those Canadians down on the lawn?"

"They're not Canadians. Those are marijuana protesters, and they live down there 24 hours a day."

Reagan had mistaken the five-pointed hemp leaf for the maple leaf that is featured on the Canadian flag.

Capital Punishment in the News

  • When guards at Oklahoma State Penitentiary found Robert Brecheen groggy from a drug overdose in his cell, they rushed him to a hospital and had his stomach pumped. Then they brought him back to prison, strapped him on a gurney and, two hours after he was scheduled for execution, his condition now stabilized, they gave him a lethal injection.
  • The Missoulian, reporting on the first capital punishment in Montana in 52 years: "In the hours before midnight, McKenzie dined on a last meal of tenderloin steak, french fries, tossed salad, whole milk and a half-gallon of orange sherbet. McKenzie hadn't requested the tossed salad, but prison officials thought he should have a vegetable."
    The Realist #130 (Summer, 1995).


    Obscure Reference

    At one point in the O.J. Simpson trial, media-savvy Judge Lance Ito, exasperated with squabbling attorneys, muttered, "I'm beginning to feel like Mr. Kimball." The reference was not to Dr. Richard Kimball in the movie The Fugitive. Nor was Ito referring to Mr. Kimball in the TV series Green Acres. He was referring to the teacher played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Kindergarten Cop.
    The Realist #129 (Winter, 1995).



    From Isadora Altman's syndicated sexual advice column:

    Q. Instead of trying to frame the question more delicately, I'll just come right out and ask: Do vegans [vegetarians] swallow semen? Inquiring minds have to know!

    P.S. Does it make any difference if the fellatio subject is also a vegan?

    A. Since the substance under discussion is an animal protein, the matter would have to be left up to the individual vegan's conscience.

    Media Freak (excerpts)

    Political Incorrectness

    Filler Items