by Jim Hogshire
(Feral House Press) $16.95
So you think you're a smooth operator because you went up to Canada and came back with an over-the-counter bottle of aspirin that's got codeine in it. But do you know how to "hack" these pills and extract the codeine? No? Well, Jim Hogshire does, and he's the kind of guy that likes to spread the gospel.
Mr. Hogshire came under some heavy police scrutiny for publishing a recipe for opium tea in his last book, Opium for the Masses. Nevertheless, operating under that luxurious umbrella called the First Amendment, Hogshire and Feral House Press have given us Pills A Go Go.
As the subtitle implies, PAGG covers all types and aspects of pills, a mixed blessing when trying to organize all of the wide-ranging information. Composed of roughly 80 sections (256 pages), PAGG is not organized thematically, but you will excuse the mess to get to the book's mind-addling contents. From the marketing and manufacture of pills to how to forge your own pharmaceutical script to choosing the most efficient pills for committing suicide to providing the slippery truth about Spanish Fly, Hogshire's book covers bases you didn't know were there.
Hogshire makes no attempt to hide his disdain for certain people (pharmacists) and government institutions (FDA, DEA), and this possibly weakens his arguments regarding drug policy. His usual angle is that anything good for the pillhead is good for the populace. However, he does a detailed job of exposing past and present drug hypocrisy, and his writing remains entertaining, thanks to his irreverent treatment of a fairly clinical topic. A great bibliography, a glossary, and a listing of drug-related websites round out the book almost perfectly. What's missing? A fuckin' index, Jim!
Oh well, must've been high. PETER BUCHBERGER
EMINENT MARICONES: ARENAS, LORCA, PUIG AND ME
by Jaime Manrique
(University of Wisconsin Press) $19.95
By calling his eighth book Eminent Maricones, Manrique, a Columbian-born, New York-based poet, novelist, and essayist, pays playful homage to Lytton Strachey's Bloomsbury biography, Eminent Victorians (1918). But whereas Strachey ruthlessly exposed duplicitous Victorians, Manrique lovingly examines the kinds of double lives led by maricones -- a Spanish word used, Manrique writes, "to connote something pejorative... a person not to be taken seriously, an object of derision." Along with loca, pato, and joto, it is a term for a gay man. Manrique recasts these Latino fags as innovators "who achieved true eminence by the courageous audacity of their examples."
The first essay, "Legs," describes a little maricon in the making. The women who raised Manrique knew the value of a good set of legs, and compared little Jaime's to the great-looking gams of female movie stars. As soon as he was introduced to movies, he became a life-long fan of grand stories of tragedy, drama, fantasy, and camp. In school he became a voracious reader and hung out with other odd, sensitive boys. When an uncle asked him to give him a blow job, young Jaime was "revolted and horrified," and wondered, "Is it obvious that I am a maricon?"
Manrique moved to New York, where he navigated the gay scene as a cloney young butch. In 1977, Manuel Puig, whose novel Betrayed by Rita Hayworth Manrique admired, offered a writing class in the city. Puig referred to himself as "mother" to his "daughters," the few young gay men he mentored. Through meeting Puig, Manrique was forced to confront his own internalized homophobia. Manrique became one of Puig's beloved "daughters," and stayed in touch with the older writer until he died. "Manuel Puig: The Writer as Diva" ends with some wonderful insights about what parts of Puig went into the characters he created in Kiss of the Spider Woman.
The last essay, "The Other Jaime Manrique: A Dead Soul" tells an amazing story of meeting someone with his same name. For years the author had received phone calls from people looking for a different Jaime Manrique. Eventually the author got in touch with his namesake. The two men discovered they were both gay, and arranged to meet. Before the meeting, the author fantasized about this other version of himself -- that he was handsome, rich, and completely comfortable with being gay. It didn't turn out that way, of course. The other Jaime was petty, needy, and fearful of his identity as a gay man. After being initially disappointed, the author becomes compassionate and sympathetic toward this other possible version of himself. He realizes that his health as a maricon has been made possible by the guidance he was given by other flawed, but eventually redeemed men before him. REBECCA BROWN
LOST AND FOUND
HO CHI MINH ON REVOLUTION -- SELECTED WRITINGS, 1920-66
edited by Bernard B. Fall
(Praeger 1967) $12 Used
Don't self-respecting commies have anything better to do these days than hand out flyers about Mumia Abu-Jamal, a dubious poster child who may or may not have killed a cop in 1981? Seems like time to reevaluate.
There's no better revolutionary reality check than the writings of Vietnam's out-of-print Marxist-Leninist elder, Ho Chi Minh. Essays like "The Imperialist Aggressors Can Never Enslave the Heroic Vietnamese People, 1952" and "Appeal for General Insurrection, 1945" do wonders in reminding subversives to think big.
Ho gets to the point right away. Early in the book, there's a stunning 1924 vivisection of U.S. racism (complete with state-by-state statistics on KKK lynchings). In 1948 we get his straightforward list of revolutionary Do's and Dont's ("Do buy salt, needles, thread, pen, paper etc. for those who live far from markets.... Don't bring living hens into the mountain people's houses"). And he wraps it up in the mid-'60s with bold taunts directed at President Lyndon Johnson ("U.S. President Johnson has loudly threatened to resort to violence to subdue our people. This is a mere foolish illusion").
Ultimately, the beauty of HCM's writing -- as opposed to other 20th-century Marxist eggheads -- is its practical and colloquial tone. What other insurgent would include a rebus in his revolutionary prison diary, or pause during an essay about "the colonial aggressors" to send "warmest greetings" for the Tet "spring festival?" Instead of working through brainy gymnastics to convince the masses that armed struggle is the way to go, Ho Chi Minh offers homespun advice -- and like some radicalized Ann Landers, inspires readers to topple the Man.
For reading that will make all your existential moments happy ones, march to the nearest bookstore and demand a copy of this long-lost time bomb! JOSH FEIT