Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

One Hand Jerking

Reports From an Investigative Journalist

by Paul Krassner

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Foreword by Harry Shearer

Introduction by Lewis Black

Counterculture legend Paul Krassner gazes on the fires of pop culture, politics and celebrity and returns unscathed to help us make sense of our senseless world. From cults to pornography, from Charles Manson to Homer Simpson, from the war on drugs to the invasion of Iraq, from Dolly Parton to Lenny Bruce, from circumcision to propaganda, this collection One Hand Jerking epitomizes Krassner's credo: "Irreverence is our only sacred cow."

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“Intelligently irreverent, Krassner's writing crisply and crassly skewers the teeming absurdity in contemporary America.”

“Krassner hasn't sold out. In an era when surviving members of the Doors are fighting for the right to sell a song to a car company, this is worth noting—and celebrating. Krassner, the less-remembered cofounder of the Yippies (with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin), publisher of the defunct, defiantly free-speech The Realist, and a lifelong 'investigative satirist,' is still at it, spitting on sacred cows, rethinking conventional wisdom, and refusing to take the money. One Hand Jerking compiles his writings for a diverse array of publications—including the New York Press, High Times, and AVN (Adult Video News) Online—on an equally diverse array of topics. In 'Satirical Prophecy,' he notes that his joke about a fundamentalist Christian who tattoos 'What Would Jesus Do?' on his penis came true, more or less, thanks to a Sunday-school teacher in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 'The Transformation of Dennis Miller,' he learns that Hitler is responsible for the comedian's conservative rebirth. In 'Swimming in the Dead Pool,' he puzzles over people who find fulfillment predicting celebrity deaths. Sharp and surprising.”

“The FBI was right; this man is dangerous—and funny, and necessary.”

blog — July 22

Remembering Paul Krassner

[Note: You can make a donation in Paul Krassner's memory here.]

Back in 1996, Kurt Vonnegut wrote the foreword to a book by Paul Krassner with the beautiful title The Winner of the Slow Bicycle Race. Paul’s own introduction to his book also had a memorable title. It was called “The President’s Penis.” At the launch for it at the National Arts Club that autumn, Kurt rose to his full height at the podium, leaning into it, and said with emotion to the large audience, “Paul Krassner is a national treasure. Indeed, he is one of our most important national treasures.”

There were titters in the audience. Vonnegut glared at them. They had assumed he was being comical in his remarks, since after all Paul Krassner was as irreverent a satirist as has ever carried a US passport. But he wasn’t kidding. And now he raged at the audience, assuring them he was as serious as he had ever been, and that if anyone didn’t agree they were free to leave. No one left. There was a long pause in which Vonnegut cooled off, and people recovered from the shock of seeing him genuinely angry and intimidating in defense of his friend.

Then he continued with his remarks, mostly talking about how enamored he was of a poster Paul had created and put on sale, at the start of the ’60s, consisting of the words “Fuck Communism” against a background of red, white, and blue. Kurt considered this to be, he said, “a miracle of compressed intelligence nearly as admirable for potent simplicity…as Einstein’s e=mc2.” And at the end of his remarks, he invited Paul to the podium to continue the presentation.

Paul was co-founder with Abbie Hoffman of the Yippies and one of Abbie’s longest standing friends and collaborators. Paul founded and still edited, half a century and more later, the Realist, and authored many books, including three from Seven Stories, The Winner of the Slow Bicycle Race, One Hand Jerking, and Impolite Interviews. He co-wrote Lenny Bruce’s autobiography, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, and probably considered Lenny his bff. Paul wasn’t simply funny, he was kind of the original funny bone of America.

In the last couple of weeks Paul was writing a foreword for me to a biography of Abbie Hoffman by Abbie’s brother Jack and me that Seven Stories is reissuing in the fall. He needed my help to get it done, but he was still funny and warm and smart in all our emails back and forth. I had no idea this was so close to the end. Without knowing anything about it, I felt enormously grateful to him for his gesture of support and the absolute graciousness with which he made it. I’m guessing it was the last piece he wrote. His last words to me, written eleven days ago, conveying his agreement about a sentence in the foreword I suggested he keep ambiguous, were “Mushy lives.”

Paul knew a lot of the same people we did, and was an enormous influence on many of them. And maybe “influence” is too obvious-sounding a word. He was a counter-comfort, comforting because you knew you could go as far as you possibly could to test the limits, no holds barred, and still be comfortably inside the larger net he cast without even thinking too hard about it.

—Dan Simon, NYC 7-22-19

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Paul Krassner cut his teeth as a journalist at Mad magazine, worked with Lenny Bruce, and founded the Yippies with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. In 1958 he founded the satirical magazine the Realist and has published it discontinuously ever since. His autobiography, Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counter-Culture, was published by Simon & Schuster in 1994. The Winner of the Slow Bicycle Race, a collection of his best satire, followed in 1996. Krassner lives in Venice, California with his wife Nancy.