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A memoir of the founder of Neurotica, a comic journal for intellectuals in the Beat era, and a nightclub entrepreneur who dealt with talents like Nichols and May, Barbra Streisand, Lenny Bruce, Jack Kerouac, and others. Landesman offers a new joke in just about every line and he ends up seeming as a sort of Beat Henny Youngman. Some of the one-liners have more meaning and resonance than others. Whether they are true or not is another matter: he relates that when he asked Billie Holliday about her early influences, she retorted, ""What was the name of that bar we were just in? That's the kind of influence I like."" This does not ring true from the notoriously humorless Lady Day. There is something refreshing about hearing of the days before the Beat writers were canonized as great artists: Landesman tells of an editor confronted with a poem, ""Pull My Daisy,"" written by Jack Kerouac and Mien Ginsberg in collaboration. The journalist's reaction: ""Did it take two of them to write that piece of shit?"" When Landesman discards the literary scene for show biz, he does not always show the best judgment. He watches as Nichols and May are fired in Chicago for being ""too talented."" Then he pushes Barbra Streisand over ""a couple of chairs,"" and lives to tell the tale. One of the final vignettes offered here by this unconventional show-business mind is of a Lenny Bruce concert. When the audience was not responding, he urged the comedian, ""Piss on them, Lenny."" A lively, iconoclastic, if not strictly reliable-as-history, look at a different era of underground writing and show biz. Flavorful.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1987
Publisher: Permanent Press