Acid Heroes

January 12, 2010

More Beatles Angles

Filling today’s guest chairs are two appreciators of the Beatles, Mike Webber and David Sims, with observations that fit right in with our themes.

Webber:
What Beatle George lacked in quantity, he more than made up for in quality. The 4 principal sides of All Things Must Pass comprise the best solo work of any ex-Beatle. This song was a masterpiece – nicely delivered here by Slowhand.  (Eric Clapton – “Isn’t It A Pity?”)

Sims:
Exactly — and I’d rate All Things Must Pass over not a few Beatles albums, truth be known.  I did read a rather perceptive review, however, stating that George might have been better-served tucking a few of those songs away for later albums.

You can’t blame the guy, though, seeing Lennon and McCartney get away with recording such sub-par material as “Glass Onion” and “Honey Pie” while his own material was left off.  In his shoes I’d probably have gone for the A-bomb statement too.

Webber:
When you think of John and Paul’s somewhat dismissive treatment of “Isn’t It A Pity” and “All Things Must Pass” when offered during the Get Back sessions, one could easily understand his feeling quite all right about the demise of his former band.  Listening to the 100+ hours of Get Back sessions, the much-maligned McCartney at least continued to engage Harrison’s songs while Lennon just couldn’t have been bothered.  It’s not surprising that George and Paul had their falling out, given the contrast in personalities, but I’ve always thought Lennon’s contribution to the toxicity of those sessions has been swept under the carpet to the detriment of McCartney.  Paul would work tirelessly on his own songs – more than anyone else wanted – but then was equally ready to work on George’s and Ringo’s (Octopus’s Garden) songs.

Sims:
It jibes with what I’ve heard about Lennon and McCartney’s personalities. John was described to me by the most devoted Beatle fan I’ve ever met as “a thoroughly nasty person.”   I don’t know nearly as much about them as he or you do, but that thumbnail impression seems about right to me. You don’t have to be a good person to produce great art.

Webber:
I think of him as anything but a nasty person, but he was very human and the truth is probably ill-served by the lionization that has been done to him.  In those last 18 or so months of the Beatles, he was a bit of an anvil – drug-addled and self-absorbed. To his credit, marginally engaged he was still contributing songs like “Come Together” to the band he’d started.  But once Plastic Ono Band was heard, it was easy to understand why the Beatles were no longer the right vehicle for his vision.

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December 22, 2009

Guest Commentator: Phil Polizatto

Filed under: Conversations — Ace Backwords @ 11:26 pm
Tags: , , ,

Finished Acid Heroes while in Mexico. Ace is a wonderful writer. Distinctive style. But the content still bothered me. I thought it was very biased. He did seem to redeem and even retract some of what he said, but only at the end and then only in his epilogues. I fear some people who read the book will never get that far, because I think most of the “good” hippies had a more pleasurable and enlightening experience with psychedelics than he did, and they did not go on to get into alcohol or other nasty drugs, and today, many are very wonderful contributors to our society. Acid did play an important role in accelerating consciousness at a time when the collective consciousness needed a boost. No matter. As I said, I did not like the content, but thought his writing style was great.

Phil Polizatto is the author of Hunga Dunga: A True Novel

June 19, 2009

Conversation: Ace Backwords and Juan Leggit

Filed under: Conversations — Ace Backwords @ 3:40 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Go straight to the buy-it page

front cover

Juan:
Great book. But I would take the C-word out. That one is gonna cost you.

Ace:
Yeah, I kinda’ regret the c-word thing. It’s not like I’m making a grand point or anything. It was just an offhand remark.
That last epilogue was something I just threw in there at the last minute the day before the book went to the presses. I just figured that the book started when I was born, so it should end right now in the present moment where I ended up. So I threw in a journal entry from a couple days earlier that I hadn’t even intended to publish when I wrote it. So a lot of this stuff, you really don’t think through all the reactions people will have to what you say. When you’re writing for thousands of people its impossible to figure out how people will react. You can play it really safe, but there’s a danger to that too. I guess I’d rather be offensive than bland.

Juan:
I wonder if your assessment of R. Crumb would have been different if he never answered your letters.

Ace:
No of course not. If Crumb hadn’t answered my letters and been an appreciator of my artwork, I would have considered him a no-talent bum with no proper discernment of artistic talent. ‘Course the fact that he would even listen to my ravings shows he suffers from deep mental illness.

Juan:
Why is it that you completely leave out friends that have loved you over a long stretch of the time you talk about?

Ace:
I’ve known Duncan for over 30 years, and he don’t get a mention in Acid Heroes either. This was, technically, one of the most difficult projects I ever attempted. It was like amassing thousands of hours of footage for a documentary film and then having to edit it down to an hour movie. It rushes through 50 years of my life in 300 pages. Along with all the bios of the acid heroes. And deals with 50 years of America’s cultural history: the ’50s, the ’60s, the ’70s, the ’80s, the ’90s, and even the ’00s. So I had to fly through the material and cut out 95% of it. It was a VERY demanding edit job. Course Nikki, Katie and English Tracey might be pissed at how I caricatured them. I just show one side of their character, like a cartoon character almost, because I don’t have time to go into depth about anything. But who knows. Do you think the portrayal did them justice? Was it accurate? Could you recognize them in how I described them?

Juan:
It was very easy to pick out your barely disguised characters. I too had a crush on our little Katie (WHO DIDN’T !) and secretly hated ol’ Daveyboy for the ease he had with women. But I couldn’t help but love the guy as a fun and happy-go-lucky friend. I wasn’t commenting on not, somehow, being included, but on your portrayal as being unloved. More people love you than the average “putz” and I remember a few chicks throwing themselves at you and only now have come to understand that you were Too Fried On Acid To Realize It. I was happy to see that one thing I said to you did make it in your book. I was beginning to think you haven’t ever heard a word I said in all these years.

Ace:
Yeah, I know what you’re saying. But you know how it is. “Nobody loves you when you’re down and out.” I was reading an account about John Lennon during his Lost Weekend period. He went completely berserk in a drug-and-alcohol fueled rage, smashed and tore apart everything he could get his hands on, all the while screaming over and over: “NOBODY LOVES ME! EVERYBODY JUST USES ME!” And this was a guy who was beloved my millions. So I think everyone feels that way to some degree. Some nights when I was crawling up to my lonely crash-spot in the hills, my face covered with Shingles sores, my head and my body aching, its easy to feel that you’re all alone with your pain, you live and die alone, and nobody REALLY cares. Even as people do care. I certainly appreciate all you’ve done for me over the years, buddy.
Nikki really hit the nail on the head. You gotta love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, then all the love you get from other people just sort of bounces off your forehead. Doesn’t really penetrate.

Juan:
R. Crumb’s assertion that there was somehow this race of the worthies (Pioneers) at the start and all others had bad dope and dubious qualifications, is a little elitist, if you ask me.

Ace:
I don’t remember Crumb’s comment. You think I waste much time listening to his babble? He’s worse than Duncan, ya know? You get Duncan on a spanking jag and he’ll talk your ear off for HOURS about “blistering red buttocks.” Crumb’s even worse, he’ll go on forever about “rock hard Jewish buttocks, like two firm basketballs that you can really pound… “

Juan:
But who’s asking?

Ace:
Who’s answering? It’s a mystery, always. Who the hell are we anyways?

Juan:
All in all a very good and entertaining read, a few irritating typos, and like I said that C-word is always trouble. But anyone that makes their bread in the media and picks a fight with the Jews should have no problem handling that.

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