Paul Krassner and Charlie Hebdo

The iconic photo above is copyrighted by Summer of Love photographer Gene Anthony and for sale as a print for $200 at Wolfgang’s Vault here.

Culture Counter Magazine has a new article called

Charlie Hebdo and the Limits of Satire:
Realist editor Paul Krassner Rethinks the Art of Irreverence

Here are the opening paragraphs. Paul Krassner sent me the link and a Happy New Year, 2015, which I pass on:

Was there ever an American version of Charlie Hebdo? Americans are asking themselves these days. Yes, there was. It published on and off from 1958 to 2001. It was called The Realist, though it often ignored the real and ventured into the twilight zone. Its editor was Paul Krassner, who learned a lot from Groucho Marx and Lenny Bruce and who created his own dark sense of humor.

Perhaps America’s oldest living satirist, Krassner never read or even heard of the feisty French publication, Charlie Hebdo, until terrorists attacked its Paris office and killed eleven staff members at the start of January 2015 in retaliation, they claimed, for a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed. If he could have, Krassner would have joined the staff and egged it on in a nanosecond.

As the founder of The Realist, which lampooned presidents, popes, and pop culture icons for decades, Krassner acted as an irritant and a provocateur. Later this year he turns 83, but he hasn’t lost his sense of subversive humor and a certain innocence that enables him see the absurdity of the human condition.

“At its best, satire has a truth embedded in the laughter and it can serve to wake people up from their cultural brainwashing,” he told me. “I think satire comes from the heart — it reacts to hypocrisy, contradictions, cruelty, injustice — and then it goes to the head.”

Born in New York in 1932 and a resident now of Desert Hot Springs in Southern California, Krassner has long enjoyed a countercultural connection to the San Francisco Bay Area and to Napa County, where his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter lived and where he has performed his own provocative brand of stand-up comedy. His Bay Area connections come across loudly and clearly in his most recent book, Patty Hearst & The Twinkle Murders: A Tale of Two Trials (2014) in which he revisits the courtroom dramas that featured Hearst and Dan White and that invited the nation to wonder who and what was real and who and what was unreal and even surreal. For Krassner the dividing line wasn’t obvious.

Continue reading. Click to go to the actual article – with cartoon.

Dec. 26, 2015. Two updates from Krassner:

1. At this point “Patty Hearst & the Twinkie Murders”is now not available from me, but rather from PM Press.

2. The piece excerpted from Abakus was actually excerpted from the 2012 edition of Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut, included in a new chapter “Bloopers and Outtakes: The Parts Left Out of This Book,” available at

He is working on a novel and it’s moving along. Should be funny.



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