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ercise in self-aggrandizement? Rather than “a life played for keeps,” the book’s subtitle should be “the imaginary memoirs of a con man.” Grogan claims to have been \(as Wiscat burglar, art thief and smuggler, awardwinning filmmaker and writer and cocksman, and by the way the best “ringolevio” player in New York. \(For the innocent, this is a team version of “catch-one-catch-all”; as Grogan would have it, it is the “ultimate” game, of “life and death.” Like the rest of his book, checkered career \(of which he proudly “confesses,” unconvincingly but again who knows, to numerous burglaries and at least ing for his life as a Digger, during which he was thief, actor and organizer, artist and bunco-artist, rebel and hustler and speechifier and, oh yes, drug addict and cocksman and murderer and then finally, done. Peter Coyote: “Emmett’s road petered out ‘at the end of the line’ of the Coney Island subway April Fools Day 1978 … where his body was found, dead of an overdose.” There is more than a small clue in that lamentable climax; this massive book is leadheavy and dismal with the maniacal self-delusions and arrogance of the junkie or alcoholic. Grogan claims to have been clean since his youth, but it’s apparent, between the lines and from Coyote’s comments, that he was often off the wagon. Clean or dirty, his memories are an endless, reader-flagellating diatribe of his personal prowess as a thief, a revolutionary, a cocksman, a writer, an organizer . . . and on and on and on. All, he says, in the service of an anonymous revolution to which he makes no personal claim of glory. His own capsule version of himself is exemplified in a speech he claims he made in breaking up a political meeting which he ficiently revolutionary. In words no one ever spoke, he describes himself \(he writes only in the third person, of his heroes “Wisdom” aquiline-featured, rough n’ ready, romantically hip, heavyweight, handsome cat .. . who’s got more style in the heel of his motherfuckin’ foot than any of you’ll have forever . . . ” The rest is too gratuitously sexist to quote. This brief passage is, unfortunately, anentirely representative self-portrait, uttered just before he racially abuses a black man for being at an all-white meeting he’s not black enough for Grogan’s taste. It is impossible to convey in this small space what a thoroughly rotten, dishonest, and bullshit book this is. To hear Grogan tell it, he was singularly the unacknowledged genius of his generation, who only refused to take credit for everything the Diggers \(that is, book is his revenge, in which he assumes credit for virtually everything that happened in the ’60s, from San Francisco to Berlin. The book garners jacket endorsements from Dennis Hopper, Jerry Garcia, even Abbie depressing instances of the inability of the counter-culture to criticize its own. \(Grogan himself writes with approval of virtually no one but himself, with the revealing exception of New York gangsters, to whom he gives the groveling honorific, “the gentlemen of Because it contains so much apparent raw history, I can’t quite blame Citadel for bringing the book back into print; but since one can’t believe or respect a word of Grogan’s version, it’s hard to know what to think or say about it. I cannot in good conscience recommend to anyone that they spend a week swimming in Grogan’s lies and selfdeceptions, as I have perhaps as an object lesson in a man of extraordinary talents and energies gone horribly sour, Ringolevio has some usefulness. \(It was this mindless arrogance that spawned as well the idiotic adventurism of the Weatherman faction of in his wasted possibilities and in his willful excesses, the self-defeating and dangerous aspects of a sizable element of his pseudo-rebellious comrades. HE STORIES collected in Red Dirt Marijuana range, in time of composition, from the mid ’50s to the early ’60s, and in context from down-home, country Texas left-bank Paris, to gritty, street-simple New York. Southern makes little distinction between fiction and fact; a weirdly symbolist vision of the Gulf Coast \(“The Sun and the a pop-erotic journalist’s piece on an actual training institute for baton twirlers \(“Twirling the purer flavor of Southern’s sardonic, precise voice: In an age gone stale through the complex of bureaucratic interdependencies, with its tedious labyrinth of technical specializations, each contingent upon the next, and all aimed to converge into a single totality of meaning, it is a refreshing moment indeed when one comes across an area of human endeavor absolutely sufficient unto itself, pure and free, no strings attached the cherished and almost forgotten l’art pour l’art. George Plimpton’s introduction describes the diffident, mock-English manner’ of Southern’s speech, sprinkled with jazz-based hipsterisms. It is evident in the journalistic pieces; it disappears into the psychic undergrowth of the fiction, which ranges widely in detail, but inevitably works the margins of the culture, digging for signs of exotic energy. In particular, Southern’s is the only one of the four books under review which has much useful or important to say about the central sub-text of American life: the uneasy, enmeshed and awe-full interior relations between blacks and whites. \(I hope the series does not otherwise continue to pursue the bicoastal provincialism of most American “Redquent on a young boy’s memories of what used to be called darktown. The Parisian stories trace the curious relations between black jazz musicians and their white hangerson; one of these may in fact be the ur-source for a new word which would have its own strange history. A black pianist confronts his feckless white shadow: “You’re too hip, baby. That’s right. You’re a hippy. . . . In fact, you’re what we might call a professional remarkable collection also contains crucial buried tales of the background of the Bay of Pigs fiasco, a straightforward approach to the fiction and persona of Mike Hammer, and Southern’s most notoriously scandalous tale, the hilariously outrageous “The Blood of a I’m told that this book appears in something called the Catalog of Cool it certainly belongs there, and in the library of anybody at all interested in contemporary American literature. With this book and Dr. Strang clove, as well as his screenplays, Terry Southern claimed as his own a blue-note, pophysterical corner of our culture. This is Citadel’s best early choice; you need to buy it; may they keep it in print forever. D SANDERS has neither the precision nor sardonic distance of Southern, but he too is working a unique territory, and in a voice that he has been perfecting now for a generation. One almost suspects from these tales “It’s free because it’s yours!” It is depressing to discover, or re-discover, that a movement apparently founded in such recklessly optimistic joy and energy would be represented by such a vain, mean-spirited, and badlywritten book. Grogan is excessively coy about his real name, although the book was originally copyrighted by “Eugene Leo Michael Emmett Grogan.” The first half of this painfully overlong and sloppy memoir is Grogan’s early autobiography under the arrogant pseudonym of “Kenny Wisdom”; “Emmett” he took later from Robert Emmett, the Irish Nationalist, and he says “Grogan” was borrowed from his maternal grandfather. Who knows. The conviction dawns early and often that, especially concerning himself, Grogan is incapable of recognizing or transmitting the book with a heavily building uneasiness that next to nothing in it can be relied upon as a record of the time or of Grogan’s place in it. How to summarize such a colossal ex THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19