Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How to Talk Dirty and Influence People by Lenny Bruce

I picked up this book about a month ago in a used bookstore in Kansas City and the pages were so brittle that it literally started to crumble in my hands as I read it (hence the scotch tape on the lower left).

Published originally by Playboy at the behest of Hugh Hefner himself, this is the autobiography of legendary comedian Lenny Bruce, written just a few years before he died at age 40. It starts off with a little bit about his youth and stint in the army, but mostly focuses on his obscenity trials, including a few maddening courtroom transcripts. Parts of the book feel slightly dated, which is inevitable, but it still made me laugh.

It also made me glad that I didn't live through that era. (Watching Mad Men has the same effect.) As much as I'd love to have been able to see the Velvet Underground play Max's Kansas City or buy property in Manhattan when it was cheap (or see Lenny Bruce perform stand-up, for that matter), it's also nice to live in a world where you can say "cocksucker" in a public forum without worrying about being arrested.

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