I Have Fun Everywhere I Go

BOOK REVIEW by Willard Manus

If you love porn, pro wrestling, dirty blues (with a tinge of punk), booze and unregulated drugs, you will surely love I HAVE FUN EVERYWHERE I GO by Mike Edison (Faber & Faber). Edison, who is to trash culture what Einstein was to physics, has written a memoir about his bizarre and colorful life as a hot-book writer, B-movie producer, Raunch Hands drummer, High Times and Screw editor and Hunk Hogan foe.

Edison grew up in a New Jersey suburb and dropped acid at fifteen, fell in love with the Grateful Dead and bluesmen like John Lee Hooker and Big Joe Turner. Booted out of high school for smoking grass, he took a brief shot at NYU Film School, then decided to become a permanent member of the American underclass, an irreverent, rebellious free spirit who fought like hell for "the fundamental American birthrights of protected free speech and unfettered hedonism."

Along the way he wrote for Main Event, a renegade wrestling rag, toured Europe with Sharkey's Machine, joined the staff of the skin magazine Cheri; then tried living in Spain for a few years, where "the parties got better...the food was spectacular...drugs seemed to fall from the sky and the women were drop-dead gorgeous." On his return to the States, he started writing for Hustler (and snorting coke), only to return to Malaga where an article he wrote for Ruta 66, a Spanish music magazine, tearing into the Beatles ("they ruined rock 'n roll..the day Bob Dylan got them stoned for the first time was one of the blackest days in history") caused a sensation.

Edison stirs things up wherever he goes and has often paid the price for his ballsiness and outspokeness. He's been fired from countless jobs and looked failure in the face more than once. The drugs, booze and career disappointments have taken their toll--he suffers from "frequent borderline-psychotic episodes" and was dumped by the love of his life--but still he carries on, sticking to his outlaw, politically-incorrect code: "I embrace certain hippie values. I believe that psychedelic drugs are not only a hoot, but can be a legitimate ticket to mystical experience." At the same time, he doesn't believe in "copycatting counterculture tactics from the past...The original hippies blossomed because the times demanded it. You can't re-create those conditions, and why would anyone want to? More important, you can't react the same way to different sets of circumstances."

Edison's vision of life is essentially comic--black comic. This is, after all, a plump, balding little Jewish guy who recently acted as ring announcer (and referee) for a European wrestling match wearing "full Rocket Train regalia--silver cape, matching boots, leopard-skin fez and wraparound shades." And when the timekeeper tried to fix the match, Edison went to slug him, only to get bopped in the head with the guy's brass bell. A brawl followed in which all the tag-team wrestlers, plus some cheerleaders and spectators, got into it. Edison ended up in hospital, but after being stitched up, he hitched a ride back to the arena "and joined the party already in progress. There were some cheerleaders there who were concerned about me. I felt like a champion, just waiting for my belt."

Edison is indeed a champion--a writer who can't be beat for his unique outlook on life and his vibrant prose style. The man is incapable of writing a dull sentence or paragraph.