Thursday, September 22, 2005
Memoirs of a Drugged-Up, Sex-Crazed Yippie
Memoirs Of A Drugged-up, Sex-crazed Yippie ---Tales from the 70's Counterculture: Drugs, Sex, Politics and Rock and Roll.
Book review by John J. Mesh, aka, Ohnjaye
First of all as a small-town, semi-poor journalist, I have no shame. If there’s free stuff — food, beer, books, CDs, etc. — I’m there without batting an eyelash. I have few ethics in this regard.
I am also a big suck-up. So when my friend Steve Otto sent me a copy of his book for free — which I will refer to by its first name Memoirs — in the mail, I was euphoric. Then I started to read the book and realized what a deprived, sheltered upbringing I had. So my review — like Steve’s book — should have a sub-title:“I was born a poor, deprived, sheltered, small town, middle-class Catholic white boy.” I had a sister who ran away from home when she was 15 to become a hippie — she’s now the yuppiest of yuppies who owns two homes. But that’s the closest this sheltered child of Hutchinson, Kansas got to the counterculture other than listening to his sister’s Beatles records. However, I am trying to make up for lost time and I am living vicariously in the 60s and 70s, and this book is helping me do that. What’s bizarre is Steve Otto is one of my best friends and I knew nothing of this life in the 1970s and early 1980s which is the backbone of the book, which is a realistic but fictional account of Steve through the experiences of Mark Spies — his alter-ego.
The book details the fact that — much to the surprise of many — there was a thriving counterculture in the late 60s to mid 70s in Kansas. Mark Spies was there.Spies started as a casual pot smoker as a 14-year-old high school student to being a habitual user of pharmaceutical narcotics and cocaine. He also becomes a dealer. The book also goes into full-blown detail on all the things associated with drug use such as the “rigs” used and violent confrontations and guns.
Sex also plays a big part in Memoirs — Mark gets laid a lot. The sex and the drugs are interwoven throughout Mark’s experiences. Then we have the rock and roll part. Mark goes from grooving on the best music of the 60’s and early 70’s — John Lennon and Frank Zappa among others are a big part of the soundtrack of Mark’s life — and hooks on to the punk music scene in the late 70’s — bands like the Sex Pistols and Blondie and icons like Patti Smith.
Disco music in the late 70’s and the drug use associated with it — namely cocaine — is also examined. Politics is also front and center in Memoirs — from Nixon, Cambodia and Vietnam to various revolutions that occurred in 1979.
The best thing about Memoirs is that it takes me to places I never really got to experience — that’s what happens when like me, you are born in a vacuum 10 years too late and you miss all the good stuff. Steve Otto is a free-lance writer living in Maize, Kansas. He is the author of War on Drugs/War on People, published by Ide House in 1995. He has also owned and worked for several newspapers and written numerous articles in magazines, journals and newspapers.
He currently runs a political blog: Otto 子's War Room.
The following book stores also have Memoirs:
Dungeons & Dragons Books,
Books A Million,
Country Book Shop,UK,
Barnes & Noble.com,
Direct from the publisher.