Paul Krassner, RIP (1932 – 2019)

[Update: Check out Jesse Walker's Reason interview with Paul]

Author, activist, and self-described "investigative satirist" Paul Krassner died at the age of 87 today in Desert Hot Springs, California. He was a personal friend and an early supporter of Boing Boing when it was a zine. Here are a few highlights of his long, active life:

  • He wrote for MAD magazine in the 1950s.
  • He launched a political satire/non-fiction zine called The Realist in 1958, which ran some of Robert Anton Wilson's first published work, and which was a big inspiration for Boing Boing. Paul kindly swapped subscriptions once Carla and I got Boing Boing off the ground.
  • He edited Lenny Bruce's autobiography, How To Talk Dirty and Influence People.
  • In the early 1960s he started an abortion referral service when abortions were illegal.
  • When he moved to San Francisco, he became a roommate with Whole Earth Catalog editor Stewart Brand. Today, Brand tweeted "Farewell to my early role model and later roommate, Paul Krassner. 87. I remember that whenever he encountered a loose thumbtack, he reflexively turned it point-side-down."
  • In 1967 he memorialized Walt Disney's death by commissioning a Realist illustration by famous cartoonist Wally Wood called "Disneyland Memorial Orgy," which featured famous Disney characters having sex with each other and taking drugs.
  • He co-founded the Youth International Party (Yippies) in the 1960s with Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, and entered a pig as the Yippie Party presidential candidate in the 1968 election.
  • He was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Chicago Seven trial.
  • He, Rubin, and Hoffman caused pandemonium when they threw dollar bills on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
  • He realized that "Spiro Agnew" was an anagram for "Grow A Penis."
  • In 1979 he was covering the San Francisco protest about the lenient sentence given to Dan White for murdering San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. A cop beat Paul so badly that he lost the use of one of his legs.
  • He took LSD with Groucho Marx and wrote about it.
  • He continued to write prolifically for magazines, newspapers, and websites right up until his death.

Farewell to the OG Happy Mutant.

Image: Cover from Patty Hearst & The Twinkie Murders: A Tale of Two Trials, by Paul Krassner