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PREJUDICES: A VERY Incomplete List of Favorites

This list actually started as one of those short "favorite films, favorite bands..." kind of lists you see at MySpace-type pages. But it exploded from there.

These are “touchstone” artists and works for me, that I return to again and again. Many helped make me who I am today. Every one below I could turn to any time and enjoy.

This is a list of personal favorites, not an “objective” attempt to list the best in a particular field. These are works and creators and people that excite me personally, that I find inspiring and rewarding. I have tried hard to avoid listing anything that doesn’t fit that description. I am not a critic, I am an enthusiast.

This list, despite its size (I never meant it to be so large) is painfully incomplete. But it’s better than no list at all.

Later I may add links to make it easier to skim through this, as well as links to some of the works and artists discussed.



Modern (1900-today) “mainstream” novelists
Children’s Books
Noir and Crime
Horror and Science Fiction
Sleaze (1960s softcore porn novels)
Pulp magazine heroes (30s-40s pulp magazines)
1970s “men’s adventure” pulpish series novels
A Few Unjustly Neglected Books and Writers
Favorite Poems and Poets
Other Favorite Writers (who don’t fit easily into the above categories)

Superhero (and such) mainstream comics
Horror comics
Underground, “alternative” comics
Newspaper comic strips
Favorite one-panel gag cartoonists
Other comics-kinda stuff

A few favorite mainstream and/or independent films
Directors (or film creators)
Trash / Exploitation filmmakers and films
Underground / Experimental films and filmmakers
Classic American Popular Films
Kung Fu and Blaxploitation Favorites
Documentaries: Some I’ve really enjoyed
Animation (TV and film)
Favorite TV shows

Favorite Rock Bands (most of whom have heavily influenced my own music.)
Great rock (etc) rongs that actually got played on the radio
Favorite rock guitar solos of all time
The five greatest versions of “Louie Louie” (in order of greatness)
Greatest rock magazine
Greatest rock writer
Classical music

Favorite artists and genres

Brief thoughts on these heroes of mine:
H.L. Mencken
Albert Schweitzer
Harry Browne
Murray N. Rothbard
Robert E. Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Wayne Dyer
Thomas Edison
Ron Paul
Forrest J. Ackerman
Percy Wells Cerutty



Modern (1900-today) “mainstream” novelists

Charles Bukowski (all, but esp. Post Office)
Charles Portis (all, especially Dog of the South)
Phillip Roth (most)
Erskine Caldwell (some are really awful, several are sublime)
Daniel Pinkwater (all worthy, Lizard Music is my favorite)
Harry Crews (almost all)
Thomas Berger (I like the post-Little Big Man, “smaller” novels)
Thorne Smith (all but the Topper books, which I’ve amazingly yet to read)
Magnus Mills (all, but esp. The Restraint of Beasts)
Evelyn Waugh (pre-Brideshead Revisited novels)

Children’s Books

All books by Daniel Pinkwater
Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel
Alice In Wonderland / Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
Tom Swift (the original early 1900s series) by Victor Appleton.
Penrod by Booth Tarkington
Babar (esp. those by creator Jean de Brunhoff)
Dr. Doolittle, originals

Noir and Crime

Jim Thompson: The legend. His best stuff is just magnificent.
Dan J. Marlowe: (early books, especially his masterpiece The Name of the Game is Death, which introduced me to the world of noir novels)
Barry Gifford: Not only a great novelist (and poet and screenwriter and non-fiction writer), he created Black Lizard Books in the 1980s, one of the greatest imprints ever, that re-introduced the great but almost forgotten noir books of the 50s and 60s, including most of the writers on my favorites list here.
David Goodis
Donald Goines: He blasted out 16 angry, passionate, crude and violent blaxploitation novels in just five years (1971-1975) before being shot down at age 35 in Detroit in what could have been a scene from one of his books. Published by a cheap paperback company, his books sold millions; at one point he was the best-selling black writer in America.
Harry Whittington
Charles Williams
Ennis Willie
– especially his “Sand” series; see also Sleaze Novels
Charles Williford
Lawrence Block
(the 60s novels)

Michael Hemmingson: His Wild Turkey is one of the few books that, as soon as I opened to the first page, I was compelled to read straight thru non-stop til the end. That's his best, but he has lots of other good stuff. He has written a lot of adult erotic books, but I like his crime stuff and wish he'd write a few dozen more like Wild Turkey.

Harry Keeler: He is insane and almost unreadable – one reviewer said he “writes in Choctaw” -- but still, you marvel as you grope through his demented plots. One of the strangest writers ever. Warning: he’s arguably much more fun to read about than to actually read. Find a good article on him on the web.

Richard Prather: Okay, I gotta pay my respects to this great man. I really haven’t enjoyed his books as much as the others above, but it’s a failing on my part, I’m sure. Prather created the wonderful smartass tough-guy detective Shell Scott, and millions of them were sold, and they are classics. They just don’t fully click with me, for some reason, though I damn well know that, when Shell Scott escapes a gang of hired killers in a nudist camp by grabbing a fistful of gas balloons from a vender and floating, utterly naked, over Los Angeles, to finally touch down at city hall… well, daddy-o, we are in the presence of true genius. And his books are filled with this kinda stuff. I know one day I’ll be in the mood to appreciate the gloriousness that is Prather, and so I have almost every Shell Scott book ever printed, and there are tons of them, on my shelves, in wait for that day. Meanwhile, I have enjoyed his earlier, non-Scott, non-humorous, more traditionally noirish novels.

Lots of 50s-60s Fawcett / Gold Medal noir paperbacks, and most any reprinted stuff from Black Lizard and Hard Case Crime books.

Horror and Science Fiction

Phillip K. Dick
Richard Matheson:
his short stories, especially the Shock! books
John Collier: short stories
Barry Malzberg
Road Dahl
(I’m putting him here, but he could go in several categories)
Robert Silverberg: (some of his novels)

Sleaze (1960s softcore porn novels)

(I’ve read hundreds of books in this obscure gutter genre, and found many worthwhile and amusing, and a few wonderful. Most sleaze books are worthless and dull, many are sub-literate, and they are mostly collected for their wondrously garish covers. But when I started reading them, I discovered some treasures. Sleaze novels were training grounds for some of today’s top writers, including the likes of Lawrence Block, Harlan Ellison, and Robert Silverberg, who wrote under fake names. There are many amazing individual books worthy of mention, but space doesn’t permit. Here are a few authors with a body of work I’ve found worthy of interest, for various reasons. I read everything I can find by them.)

Clyde Allison (William Knoles): (for more on him, see “Neglected Writers,” below)
Jerry M. Goff, Jr.
Tony Calvano
Ennis Willie
Fletcher Bennett

Pulp magazine heroes (30s-40s pulp magazines)

Doc Savage: I discovered Doc in the 4th grade, devoured his books, and he remains one of my very favorite heroes, one of the great fictional characters, heroic in every sense. A big influence on my life.

The Shadow: I actually don’t like the Shadow books that much, except when the Shadow is actually on the page, as they often seem like pedestrian crime novels otherwise. But when The Shadow appears, they are dynamite. The Shadow is a great, great character, and seminal. Batman comes mostly out of a fusion of the Shadow with Doc Savage.

Honorable mentions in pulps: The Spider, The Avenger.

1970s “men’s adventure” pulpish series novels

The Executioner by Don Pendleton: Earnest, utterly sincere, this series kicked off the whole 70s “one man against the Mafia” genre. I read the first books when they came out and I was astounded at the audacity of the concept and the sheer scale of the destruction hero Mack Bolan managed to wreak, book after book. Pendleton stopped writing after book 38 (he also didn’t write book 16). I stopped reading somewhere before #20, I think.

The Destroyer by Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy: Brilliant witty stuff, smart and well-written, full of satire and black humor as well as grand adventure, and the relationship between Remo and his ancient mentor Chiun is beautifully portrayed. Sapir and Murphy stopped writing the series in the late 80s (the full story is more complex than that, really) and I stopped reading well before them. Though the series appeared right after the Executioner books began to be hits – I think this was the first of the many Executioner-inspired series -- the first book was actually written years earlier, but no publisher wanted it. The best-written of all this genre by far.

Honorable mentions (category of 70s “men’s adventure” pulpish series novels):

The Death Merchant by Joseph Rosenberger: Crazily written, extremely violent series that incorporated occult and pseudoscience themes into the 70s men’s adventure genre, and were actually extensively footnoted! Rosenberger infused these books with his personality, and all I’ve seen are distinctly by him, as opposed to hack writers. There are over a hundred of them. I love them in concept, though I’ve only read a few.

The Sharpshooter by Bruno Rossi: Several writers churned out the Sharpshooter books, but the best of these are hard-hitting, savage, violent, nasty and quite well written blood and guts revenge dramas. With titles like Head Crusher, Blood Bath and Savage Slaughter, you can’t say you didn’t know what you were in for. It’s one of my favorites in this misbegotten genre, though I’ve read only a few.

More: If you love this stuff, there is a huge amount of it. I’m in the midst of trying to complete a collection of every book of this type written. Some examples: The Butcher, The Penetrator, The Satan Sleuth, The Marksman, Soldatto…. You can often find them very cheaply, because no one wants to read this stuff. Well, almost no one.

A Few Unjustly Neglected Books and Writers

Penrod by Booth Tarkington: Simply wonderful and absolutely hilarious 1914 novel of boyhood. Should be an American classic. The sequels are also very worthy. The way some black characters are portrayed has probably doomed this book from ever receiving the appreciation and audience it deserves, since most Americans, though drowning in racist and misogynistic cultural noise, lack the simple ability to contextualize such material as Penrod. (Or, sometimes, even Huckleberry Finn!) But it is surely one of the best American novels of the early (or entire) twentieth century, as well as one of the funniest and most delightful.

Thomas Berger’s later, smaller novels: There are nearly a couple dozen of these, and they are marvels of wit and language, oddly neglected, since Berger is considered a top American writer for his Little Big Man novel and a few others.

Clyde Allison (William Knoles): The master of 60s softcore smut novels. Wonderfully smooth and funny writing. His books were so good that editors would actually fight, sometimes physically, over who would edit and proof his manuscripts when they arrived. Some of his sleaze books sell for $200 or more today. He should have graduated from writing under-the-counter sleaze books to become one of America’s best novelists. Instead, a manic-depressive, he slit his throat open with a razor blade in December 1972, age 46. “The greatest unknown writer of our time,” says paperback historian Lynn Munroe.

The Crazy Fool by Donald Ogden Stewart: Absurd, satirical 1925 screwball comedy. Stewart later ended up writing for Hollywood; among his films, The Philadelphia Story.

Thorne Smith: One of the great humorists, a wonderful stylist, never has received the appreciation due him. I predict future critics will discover him to be one of the twentieth century’s greatest novelists.

H. Allen Smith: A great humorist and raconteur, always worth dipping into. Some of his pieces are among the best humor I’ve ever read. Oddly, the book The Best of H. Allen Smith is not a particularly good introduction. I prefer his short essays to his novels. Not only have I gotten enormous pleasure from Smith over the years, it was through his writing that I discovered both Thorne Smith and H.L. Mencken.

The Ecstasy of Owen Muir by Ring Lardner, Jr. Great satirical Candide-like novel that takes on a slew of targets, including corporatism, capitalism, pacifism, organized religion, repressive government (pardon the redundancy), prison, and more. Lardner, an Oscar-winning screenwriter, was one of the blacklisted Hollywood 10, a group of Hollywood figures suspected of Communist Party membership. (Lardner was, in fact, a card-carrying Commie.) When, at the infamous House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) witch hunt hearings, Lardner was asked by the jackboot jackass Congressman J. Parnell Thomas: "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?" Lardner’s gloriously insolent reply was for the ages: "I could answer the way you want, Mr. Chairman, but I'd hate myself in the morning." As a result he spent ten months in prison for contempt of Congress (and what American institution is more deserving of contempt?), and while behind bars he began work on this novel. Because of his notoriety and the book’s satirical content, no American publisher had the guts to touch it, though editors immediately realized its brilliance. A British publisher finally brought it out, and, though it initially vanished into obscurity, slowly it has become recognized by some readers as the great book it is. Comparisons may be made to Catch-22, but upon re-reading that book I vastly prefer this one. Lardner won Oscars for two screenplays: Woman of the Year and, years later, M*A*S*H.

The Great American Hoax by Alan Abel: Completely true, and one of the funniest and most profound books I’ve ever read. In 1959, notorious prankster Abel created a phony organization to clothe all naked animals, in the name of, what else, decency. His campaign to do so actually won many supporters and outraged many more, and made national news until – five years later – Time magazine finally exposed it as a hoax. Damn, think about it: if the media couldn’t figure this one out, what do you think our rulers are pulling on us that never gets exposed? Read this and understand much about politics, religion, and the eternal gullibility of the human race.

H.L. Mencken: Lots of people talk about him, and generally he is (utterly erroneously) denounced as a racist and anti-Semite, which is one of the great slanders in literary history. He is probably the most quoted American writer, outside of maybe Twain and Emerson. But how many people today actually read him, especially now that our cultural elites have tarred and feathered him as some kind of Nazi? He is arguably the greatest stylist in American literature (his only possible competition being Twain), one of the world’s great writers, a satirist on the level of Twain, Voltaire and Swift, a champion of freedom, and a complete and utter joy to read and reread.

John Collier: Master of witty, literary, smart and extremely readable macabre and darkly humorous tales. Once published in the New Yorker and other such tony places. Where would they be published today?

Chris Miller’s vulgar, hilarious National Lampoon short stories from the 1970s. Amazingly, they’ve never been collected in book from. For more on Miller see “Other Favorite Writers” below.

No Treason by Lysander Spooner: The most radical political tract ever written in America. Spooner shocks readers by simply telling the truth about politics, taxes, voting and government. His logic is undeniable and, I think, irrefutable. You either agree with him, and acknowledge the State as a vast illegitimate criminal gang, or you ignore his arguments and remain asleep.

War Is A Racket by Major General Smedley D. Butler, USMC: Impassioned anti-war, non-interventionist tract by one of the greatest military heroes in U.S. history, the only officer in the Corps to win two Medals of Honor. Although almost no one knows this, Butler also exposed and halted a plot by U.S. business leaders to overthrow President Franklin Roosevelt and establish a fascist military dictatorship in America. (Or, more precisely, even more of a fascist regime than FDR ended up creating.)

The War Prayer by Mark Twain: Excerpt: “O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with hurricanes of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it – for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord…” As Twain makes clear, this is essentially what vast numbers of churches all across America pray every Sunday, they just don’t realize it. At least, some don’t realize it. Many do.

Mason Williams: Remarkable, funny poems and other expressions from a vigorous, unique, eccentric mind. Williams created a new poetic form (“Them Poems”) and wrote great stuff in that and other forms. His books are a little hard to find, but when you do find them, they’re usually cheap because most people just don’t know how great they are. Gems of laughter and genius abound in them. He has an amazing resume – songwriter, award-winning composer (“Classical Gas”), TV writer (“The Smothers Brothers comedy show), artist, poet, and much more. His real career, though, is just being Mason Williams, truly one of a kind.

Our lost heritage of popular poetry: There is a whole lost world of pre-1960 popular poetry, poems that were widely read, printed in newspapers and magazines, that mostly used rhyme and meter, and that inspired and charmed and moved millions of people. These were the kinds of poems that “ordinary” people clipped out of newspapers and tucked into their wallets and memory books, for times when they needed inspiration and courage. This body of work, and those who wrote it, is now despised by virtually everyone in academia, who have declared it kitschy or mawkish or amateurish, and is thus officially dead. Yet many people still find it worthy. And of course reading poetry in America today is about as popular as deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics, and often about as easy and pleasurable. Any connection? Good starting sources for such material is Best Loved Poems of the American People (1936) edited by Hazel Felleman, and It Can Be Done: Poems of Inspiration (1921). Both are still in print, testifying that there is still an audience for this. There is plenty of subpar stuff in both, but also some real gems. I wonder if this style of poetry will ever be revived and appreciated.

Favorite Poems and Poets

I read hundreds of poems a year. In fact, I try to read at least one new poem a day, as well as returning to old favorites. Here are poems and poets I read again and again. First, my favorite poems, then, my favorite poets:

Favorite poems:

The Jumblies by Edward Lear (this may be my favorite single poem)
Richard Corey by Edwin Arlington Robinson
The Tyger by William Blake
The Garden of Love by William Blake
Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley
The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll
Buffalo Bill’s by e.e. cummings
i sing of Olaf glad and big by e.e. cummings
America by Allen Ginsberg
Howl by Allen Ginsberg
V. B. Nimble, V. B. Quick by John Updike
The Church of A Dream by Lionel Johnson
The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats
To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell
Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold
The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
Invictus by William Ernest Henley
If by Rudyard Kipling
The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner by Randall Jarrell
Bluebird by Charles Bukowski (to pick one of many; see below)
There was a man with tongue of wood by Stephen Crane (to pick one of many; see below)
Them Toad Suckers by Mason Williams (to pick one of many; see below)

Favorite poets and their works:

Siegfried Sasoon: World War I poems, like “Lamentations” and “Does It Matter?”
e.e. cummings: lots besides those listed above
Charles Bukowski: complete works
Stephen Crane: complete works
Rudyard Kipling: several
Edward Lear: several (esp. The Owl and The Pussycat, So Pleasant to Know Mr. Lear, and as listed above, The Jumblies)
Edgar Lee Masters: Spoon River Anthology and more
Gerard Manley Hopkins: several (including “No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief”)
Edgar Guest (once America’s most popular poet, now despised): many
(Also, re the reviled Edgar Guest and others of his type, see my note “Our lost heritage of popular poetry” under “Neglected Books and Writers,” above)
Mason Williams: Lots of his stuff, especially the “Them Poems”; more on him under “Neglected Writers.”

Other Favorite Writers
(who don’t fit easily into the above categories)

H.L. Mencken (see my remarks under “Neglected Books and Writers,” above)

Murray N. Rothbard: Arguably he greatest libertarian writer and thinker of our age. A brilliant mind, of course, but also a marvelous writer, with a Menckenish wit and vigorous style, and a wonderful ability to communicate complex ideas clearly and understandably. My Chic interview with him is at this web site, and my review of his wonderful For A New Liberty at Amazon books is also linked at this page.

Robert Anton Wilson: Mind-opening novels, essays, and more.

H. Allen Smith: As mentioned above, a wonderful humorist, always a pleasure to dip into his work.

Mark Twain: A lifetime companion. I love the “Damned Human Race” later essays as well as the classic earlier stuff.

Voltaire: I especially like Candide. How marvelous, how modern and crisp to read, and how true.

Chris Miller: He’s best known as a screenwriter, especially for Animal House and Multiplicity, no special favorites of mine. But Miller wrote some absolutely hilarious and extremely vulgar stories in the National Lampoon in the 1970s that, for some insane reason, have not been collected in book form. In the mid-70s he spoke at Columbus College, where I was a student, and in his speech said that much of the material for his stories came from his true experiences. So, during the Q&A, I asked him if his penis was polka-dotted (a reference to one of his tales). The audience was stunned, but he got the reference immediately, laughed and said it was true, and offered to show me the proof in the men’s room after his talk. Then he quickly added he was just joking about the men’s room offer. So I still don’t know – is it, or isn’t it? But the stories are hilarious.

Lysander Spooner: (No Treason, Vices Are Not Crimes -- see my remarks under “Neglected Works,” above).

Anthony de Mello: An Indian Jesuit who wrote many books of marvelous short spiritual tales and parables, many funny, all enlightening. His work is a joy, whether read in short bites or longer reads.

Frederic Bastiat: Lots of people hail The Law, his impassioned defense of limited government, but I love his witty and devastating little essays on economic idiocies. He wrote in the 19th century, but all the fallacies he explodes in his essays are still all around us and still plague us daily.

Fred Reed: An ornery old guy who writes about the decline of America in a Menckenish way, with a writing style that seems off-the-cuff casual but is actually very elegant indeed. He properly despises and regularly lambastes the U.S. welfare-warfare state and the effete cowardliness and whininess of American society. He knows what was once great about America, and how it is being destroyed. He is one of the best current writers I’ve encountered on or off the Web.

Lester Bangs: The greatest rock writer ever, and arguably one of the best writers of any kind of the seventies. There are a couple of collections of his work well worth checking out. His writing played a major role in fomenting the punk rock revolution. He also helped shaped my musical tastes. I actually met him on the streets of New York City by utter accident, and was able to tell him how much I loved his stuff. He died in 1982.


Superhero (and such) mainstream comics:

Tons of DC superhero comics from mid-fifties to mid-60s. (Far too many to name. These are the comics I grew up reading, and so I am prejudiced, but I believe collectively they constitute one of the richest children’s literature anywhere, and, like the best children’s writings, the best of this can be enjoyed equally by adults.)

The Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: Arguably the greatest “graphic novel” of all time; the book edition was the only graphic novel to appear on Time Magazine's 2005 list of "the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present."

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller: Stunning graphic novel re-invention of Batman, taking him back to his 1930s dark roots.

Carl Barks (Donald Duck)
Basil Wolvington, both his humorous and his horror/sf stuff. One of my very favorites.
Steve Ditko
Jack Kirby
Wallace Wood
Wayne Boring
– my favorite Superman artist, a grand, heroic, dramatic style
Alan Moore: Maybe the best writer in comics, ever?
Jimmy Olsen comics, 50s and 60s – one of the great surreal extended comic masterpieces in any medium. Absolutely astonishing.

Herbie: One of the strangest and most unique comics ever produced, and somehow it came from the tiny ACG (American Comics Group) company. Impossible to describe, it must be experienced. Herbie Popnecker is rotund, bespectacled, terse, completely imperturbable, and possessed of endless superpowers derived from… magical lollipops. Gorgeous women swoon over him, animals talk to him and know him by name, he can fly, travel through time, become invisible, and much more. His father, Pincus Popnecker, a complete dolt, is perpetually disappointed in his son and completely unaware of his enormous powers, calling him a "fat little nothing" and never realizing that Herbie is constantly rescuing him from his endless business failures. Sold in the mid-1960s right alongside Superman and Spiderman and such, yet weirder than the underground comics of the late 60s and 70s. Drawn by the wonderful, under-appreciated Ogden Whitney. When oh when will the Herbie stories be collected in book form?

My favorite superhero: Batman, especially the very first 1930s-era comics, and then mid-50s through mid-60s (my favorite era, the ones I grew up reading) -- specifically until the “new look” period that started May 1964. To a lesser degree I also appreciate the periodic attempts to revive the darker, noirish Batman).

A few favorite obscure superheroes: Werewolf (Dell, 1960s); The Black Dwarf (super-obscure, 1940s); The Question (Ditko, Charlton 1960s); the 1960s Archie/MLJ heroes (The Fly, The Shield, The Black Hood, etc.). Also I like most all of the 1960s Charlton heroes (Blue Beetle, Judo Master, Captain Atom, Thunderbolt, etc.), the 1960s ACG (American Comics Group) heroes (though these aren’t my favorites of the lesser-known mid-60s heroes), and the 1960s Tower Comics heroes, epitomized by T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. I also have a fondness for the whole run of the briefly-lived Super Comics (ICC) reprint company. The common ground in almost all the characters in this paragraph is that they appeared during the explosion in superhero comics set off by the success of the awful 1960s Batman show. As a comics-mad kid in the 1960s, it was extremely exciting, after years of seeing only DC and Marvel comics heroes, to see these new colorful comics suddenly appear. However, it’s more than that, as I still enjoy rereading the above comics today.

Today: I don’t regularly read any current superhero comics, though I’ll pick up the odd one every now and then, especially discounted copies. Perhaps I od’d in college, when I was literally reading every comic of that type published. I don’t like most of today’s art or writing styles, and I don’t like the prices of comics. I’m also ignorant of what’s out, though I do check comic stores from time to time. Most of my comics reading today is “underground” and zine type comics, and older horror and superhero comics like the above.

Horror Comics:

All late-60s and 70s-era black and white horror comic magazines from Eerie Publications. (Note, this is NOT the comic magazine Eerie, published by Warren, who also published Creepy. Totally different.) Most of the stories -- told in "chilling PICTO-FICTION" -- are awful but sometimes oddly interesting, many reprinted from 1950s horror comics. The incredibly garish, violent and lurid covers – showing heads and limbs being ripped off, blood-drinking monsters, gore-bespattered corpses, hideous tortures, and so on -- are the greatest features of these things, and have propelled them, in recent years, from worthless to outrageously expensive. Ghastly glorious gutter trash. Also the similar, if not quite so outrageous, magazines by Stanley publications.

Tales Too Terrible To Tell: one of greatest reprint anthologies of all time, this series gathered the wildest, weirdest, and most wonderfully worst horror tales from the 40s and 50s. How I lament its passing!

EC Comics in general, of course.

The horror and sf tales of the great Basil Wolvington. Mindboggling genius! What a tragedy he didn’t link up with EC comics, and produce a far larger volume of work of this type.

In general, I like 40s and 50s horror and monster comics, good and bad. Lots of good stuff is in the old Marvel reprints from the 70s of their older horror stuff.

Underground, “alternative” comics:

John Porcillino (King Cat Comics)
Robert Crumb
Aline Kominsky Crumb
Mike Diana
(first American comic book artist ever jailed for drawing comics)
Daniel Clowes: Eightball is full of genius
Rory Hayes: Man, I’d hate to be in his mind, but his stuff is weirdly amazing.
… this list could be MUCH longer

Newspaper comic strips:

Too many to list… a few that come to mind:
Dick Tracy (the old Chester Gould stuff)
Henry -- did you know this was greatly admired by Picasso?
Nancy (the classic Ernie Bushmiller stuff, not the awful strip today)
Mark Trail (daily madness and surrealism)
Dilbert (probably the best mainstream strip today)
The Far Side
Conchy gone but not forgotten
Popeye (the original old E.C. Segar strips)

Favorite one-panel gag cartoonists:
(This is, alas, a dying art form.)

VIP aka Virgil Partch
Gahan Wilson
Charles Addams
John Callahan
S. Gross
Baloo (Rex May)

Other comics-kinda stuff

Pud comics, tiny strip found in Double Bubble gum in 1950s and 1960s
Mad magazine, 50s-60s
National Lampoon, early years: Today it is difficult to even imagine that such a magazine ever existed. Hilarious, blasphemous, brilliant, take-no-prisoners humor. Dense prose, great short fiction, parodies, and wonderful comics. Could such a magazine exist today? Will we ever see anything like it again?
The New Yorker: the last stand of the dying gag panel cartoon.
Fred Hembeck: Comic cartoonist with a wonderful understanding of the goofy glory of mainstream superhero comics. His strips poke gentle, loving fun at this stuff, while paying tribute at the same time. Deceptively simple style and excellent writing.


I see a couple hundred or more films a year. Picking “favorites” would be an agonizing and wretched process.

So instead of “favorites,” here is a sampling that is representative, or at least indicative, of some of my tastes in film.

Here are a few mainstream and/or independent films that come to mind that I’ve (mostly) seen pretty recently and really like. If you threw all these into a blender, I’d almost certainly like the film that came out. (Trash, horror and sleaze films get a separate listing, below this one.)

Trees Lounge
I Shot Andy Warhol
Buffalo 66 (one of my favorites)
Bartleby (one of my favorites)
Reservoir Dogs
Pulp Fiction
Eagle Vs. Shark (one of my favorites)
Cabin Boy
Coffee and Cigarettes
Glengarry Glen Ross
The Winslow Boy
Mutual Appreciation
The Big Kahuna
Withnail and I
The Apostle
Britannia Hospital
After Hours
The Prince of Comedy
Being John Malkovich
Apocalypse Now
Hard Eight
Groundhog Day
The Iceman Cometh (version dir. by John Frankenheimer)
Welcome to the Dollhouse

Directors (or film creators)
I like a lot of the work by the following:

Woody Allen
Martin Scorsese
Richard Linklater (a few)
Quentin Tarantino (a few)
Akira Kurosawa
Jim Jarmusch (some)
Edgar Ulmer (many)
David Mamet
John Waters (early films)
W.C. Fields
Andrew Bujalski
Hal Hartley
David Lynch
Vincent Gallo (Buffalo 66)

Trash / Exploitation filmmakers and films
I like a lot of the work by the following:
H.G. Lewis
David Friedman
Ed Wood
Doris Wishman
Russ Meyers
Andy Milligan
Larry Buchanan
Al Adamson
Barry Mahon
Joseph Sarno
Rudy Ray Moore
Shaw Brothers
Santo films: especially the K. Gordon Murray English-dubbed versions, but also the originals
Other 60s b&w Mexican horror films
Japanese-type giant monster movies, esp. Gamera and Inframan
Sixties black and white sleaze films; in general, a lot of the stuff carried by Something Weird video

Underground / Experimental films and filmmakers:
James Fotopoulos: Zero, Back Against The Wall
John Waters (early stuff)
Craig Baldwin: Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America; Sonic Outlaws

Classic American Popular Films:

In general, the best stuff that shows up on Turner Classic Movies. Too many to list. The usual classics and actors, like Bogart, Bette Davis, etc etc. ad infinitum. Almost any decent noirish films, screwball comedies, crime dramas, horror and science fiction, classics, etc. There are thousands of these. In the 70s I came to feel that almost anything produced in the 30s through early 50s was worth watching, as a rough rule of thumb.

A few classic gems a bit off the mainstream: Three Men On A Horse (1936), hilarious no-budget farce starring the great Frank McHugh; The “I Love A Mystery” and “The Whistler” series of 1940s fun pulp dramas; Detour (Edgar Ulmer); The Black Cat (Karloff, Lugosi, Ulmer); poverty row cheapies like PRC studio films;…but again this could go on forever.

Kung Fu and Blaxploitation Favorites

In the mid-1970s I went almost every week to the Fox Theater, a decaying Columbus, Georgia slum theater with a mostly black audience, to see blaxploitation and kung-fu double features. The Fox, and its next-door sister theater The Dream, were remarkable places, and rather scary (“Here comes that white guy again!”) at times. One week a guy was stabbed to death out front. Frequently during the inevitable cathartic climax of blaxploitation films, excited members of the mostly or entirely black audience would scream out at the evil Caucasian villains: “Kill that white motherfucker!” and so on. Several times I came extremely close to doing that myself, but I chickened out. I would either have been cheered or beaten to death. All in all, my visits to these theaters were always very… atmospheric. But I saw many great films there.

Kung Fu Films
(I’m basically a fan of 70s “old-school” kung fu. I’m sure I saw over 100 of these things during the 70s, mostly at the Fox and Dream theaters in Columbus, Georgia (see above), I remember one 5-feature dusk-to-dawn drive-in kung fu spectacular I went to with my old partner in such things Bob Swygert. We stuck it out until the credits finished rolling on the last film, even though I’d seen three of the five earlier. The experience almost broke me psychologically – I actually cried tears from the pain -- but I survived and ultimately am a stronger person because of it.)
Bruce Lee: All nods to the great Bruce Lee, and I guess Enter the Dragon is the greatest martial arts film of all time. Not my favorite, by far, but the greatest.
Master of the Flying Guillotine
Ninja: The Final Duel -- the mindboggling water spider assault squad!
Martial Arts Mayhem, Vols. 1-3: This amazing collection of trailers to dozens of insane 70s kung-fu films is probably the best way to get a feel for this stuff. Watching it makes me feel I'm right back in the old Fox or Dream theaters.

All of these films have run together in my mind. Hopefully I’ll sort it out and add more titles later.

Blaxploitation Films
Rudy Ray Moore: Dolomite, The Human Tornado, others. Rudy Ray Moore is, in my opinion, the greatest blaxploitation filmmaker of them all, and simply one of the great insane filmmakers of all time, and more than that, just a great filmmaker and actor. Indeed, more than a few people consider Dolomite to be the greatest film ever made. Seeing Rudy Ray Moore slide naked down a hill onscreen at the (Columbus, Georgia) Fox Theater was surely one of the great filmgoing moments of my life. Quentin Tarantino based a lot of the Samuel L. Jackson character in Pulp Fiction on Rudy Ray Moore. No one has ever said the world “motherfucker” like Rudy Ray Moore; his downright Shakespearean delivery turns the epithet into music and poetry. You simply cannot imagine what it was like seeing these films in a crumbling crowded black theater in the 1970s.
Fight For Your Life
Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde: The trailer, narrated in a manic pre-rap ghetto rhyme, is even better than the film. It is so good, in fact, that Chuck Barber and I came back into the Georgia Theater with a hidden tape recorder to get an audio copy, back in the pre-video 1970s.
The Black SS
Black Shampoo
The Mack
Abar The First Black Superman:
mind-boggling so-bad-it’s- glorious uber-trash.
Afros, Macks and Zodiacs: A wonderful collection of blaxploitation trailers. The trailers for these things were almost invariably wild, insane, capturing the best of these demented movies. Often better than the films themselves. I saw most of the films in this collection in the theaters, and saw the trailers as well.
........I’ll add more titles later.


Some documentaries I’ve really enjoyed:
Most films by Errol Morris
New York Doll
The New York Dolls (Bob Gruen)
9/11: Press for Truth
The Devil and Daniel Johnston
Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst
No Direction Home: Bob Dylan
Mule Skinner Blues
The King of Kong

Actors (in no particular order):
Michael Caine
Robert Duvall
Kevin Spacey
Sean Penn
Crispen Glover
Warren Oates (esp. his incredible performance in Two Lane Blacktop)
Harry Dean Stanton
Steve Buscemi
Woody Allen
Vincent Gallo
John Cusack
Edward Norton
Lee Marvin
Betty Davis
Humphrey Bogart
Frank McHugh (great character actor, stars in the wonderful Three Men On A Horse (1936)
Boris Karloff
Bela Lugosi
Tor Johnson
Santo: he always wore his mask, in and out of the ring
Lou Cutel: For his role as the fey, ghoulish, undersized “Dr. Nadir” in Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster (1965) aka Mars Invades Puerto Rico

Animation (TV and film)

AquaTeen HungerForce
Space Ghost
(the Cartoon Network version, not the original)
Fleischer Brothers (Betty Boop, early Popeye, etc). I love the Fleischer world! Everything seems in constant motion. Wonderful backgrounds and minor characters. Great voices. Pure visual poetry.
Ub Iwerks: He actually co-created Mickey Mouse, and I vastly prefer his style to Disney cartoons, which seem sterile to me. Created the wonderful Flip the Frog! And a host of other gorgeous cartoons.
Felix the Cat: (early black and white cartoons)
George of the Jungle (the 70s toon shows, not the movie)
Rocky and Bullwinkle and accompanying shows: The triumph of writing, storytelling and ideas over a very limited (but brilliantly used) animation style.

Favorite TV shows

Green Acres: I owe my discovery of this magnificent treasure to Chuck Barber. I assumed it was idiotic trash. He said, no, no, it’s brilliant. At his insistence I checked an episode out, and discovered the greatest surrealism to ever appear on American TV. Listen to me, this is brilliant and hilarious stuff. Though a hit show, it was taken off the air as the networks sought a younger, “hipper” audience with Norman Lear-type “socially relevant” shows, most of which now seem creaky while Green Acres still seems fresh and timeless, as it probably will 10,000 years from now.
The Twilight Zone
The Outer Limits
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour:
The shows are of varying quality, but the best are wonderful. As a young child I watched one episode, “Final Escape,” about a prisoner buried alive, and it was so terrifying I cried myself to sleep every night for a week after. Forty years later I saw it again and it still gave me the absolute creeps. You’d be better off not watching it, really.
Get A Life (Chris Elliot)
Amos and Andy: I actually watched this on TV as a child; the legendary “Andy Buys A House” episode is one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life.
Ultraman: What a glorious thing it was to wake up on Saturday morning and watch ridiculous giant rubber-suit monsters turn Tokyo into a steel-cage match.
The Grey Ghost: This1957-58 half-hour CBS black and white TV show influenced me enormously as a very young child. It glorified the astonishing Civil War exploits of the Confederate guerilla soldier John Singleton Mosby. Wikipedia says it was “unusually historically factual for a TV show (36 episodes were written by historian Virgil Carrington Jones).” Why in the world CBS thought making a show with a Confederate as a hero, in the middle of the civil rights era, was a good idea, is beyond me; Wikipedia further notes “the series was canceled by the network and sponsors due to the subject matter but remained popular via syndication in the South for the next ten years.” As a preschool kid in Georgia I was entranced. This show led me to a deep interest in the Civil War and in history and politics in general, which has continued to this day. Mosby was one of the most amazing warriors in American history and a fascinating man in general, well worth reading about.
American Idol: ha ha, got you, just kidding.


Favorite Rock Bands
(Most of these have heavily influenced my own music.)

The Stooges
Velvet Underground
New York Dolls
Lou Reed (Metal Machine Music LP)
Cramps (esp. early singles, but all their stuff is worthy)
The Seeds (first album; the later psychedelic stuff is awful)
Wire (first album only)
Richard Hell / Neon Boys
Television (“Little Johnny Jewel” single)
Alice Cooper (until “School’s Out” album)
Black Sabbath (first 4 albums only)
Grand Funk Railroad (the 70s-era double live album & “Gimme Shelter” single)
Steppenwolf (greatest hits)
David Peel (esp. “The American Revolution,” utterly overlooked as one of best albums of the 1970s, though it’s not for the faint of heart or the close-minded)
Hasil Adkins
Hank Williams (ok, he’s country, but still belongs on this list)
Jerry Lee Lewis
Little Richard
Chuck Berry
Jonathan Richman / Modern Lovers
Kim Fowley (some great albums, even some of his recent ones)
Very early (mid-60s) Rolling Stones.
X-Ray Spex: The single “Oh Bondage! Up Yours!” sends my adrenaline racing every time I hear it. What an amazing song.
(Also, in general, a lot of 60s and 70s punk bands, and modern bands who share these influences. And this list could go on for pages.)

Great Radio Rock Songs

Some great songs that actually played, and still play, on the real-world radio:

Louie Louie by The Kingsmen (The greatest version of the greatest rock song ever -- not the best rock song, maybe, but the greatest)
Wild Thing by The Troggs
96 Tears Question by Mark and the Mysterians
Pushing Too Hard by The Seeds
Can’t Seem to Make You Mine by The Seeds
Gloria several versions
Rolling Stones: Satisfaction, Jumping Jack Flash, Get Off My Cloud, Playing With Fire, Sympathy for the Devil, more
The Kinks: All Day and All of the Night, You Really Got Me, Lola
Bob Dylan: Like A Rolling Stone, Everybody Must Get Stoned, Subterranean Blues, Under My Thumb, others
Light My Fire by The Doors
Sunshine of Your Love by Cream
Chuck Berry, singles
Little Richard, singles
Hank Williams, singles
Jerry Lee Lewis: Great Balls of Fire, others
James Brown: a whole bunch of stuff
Grand Funk Railroad: Just A Shout Away
Hurly Gurly Man by Donovan – still gives me the shivers
Eighteen by Alice Cooper
They’re Coming to Take Me Away Ha-Haaa by Napoleon XIV
My Generation by The Who
Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf
Let It All Hang Out by The Hombres
… obviously this list, too, could be extended considerably.

My Favorite Rock Guitar Solos of All Time

Ron Asheton: I Wanna Be Your Dog, No Fun, TV Eye, Dirt, 1970
James Williamson: Search and Destroy, Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, Raw Power, Shake Appeal, Death Trip, I Got A Right (this last is downright mindboggling in its ferocity, aeons ahead of its time)
MC5: Looking At You
The Kingsmen: Louie Louie
The Kinks: You Really Got Me
Chuck Berry: Back In The USA, Johnny B Good, and others
Link Wray: Rumble
Velvet Underground, Lou Reed: Sister Ray
Velvet Underground, Sterling Morrison: Pale Blue Eyes
Television / Neon Boys / Tom Verlaine: “Little Johnny Jewel” and the Neon Boys single
Johnny Thunders: any of his signature leads

The Five Greatest Versions of “Louie Louie”
(in order of greatness)

The Kingsmen
The Stooges (live “Metallic K.O.” album)
The Sonics
Black Flag
The Cramps (live bootleg)

Greatest Rock Magazine: Creem
Greatest Rock Writer: Lester Bangs
Greatest Record Labels: ESP Records, Dangerhouse, Raw

Classical Music
Baroque, and some Romantic, guitar, piano, harpsichord, chamber music.
Some New Agey, space music kind of stuff


I am inspired by these:

Medieval Christian paintings
Some paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites
Some outsider / folk art / primitive art / art brut
Hand-painted and hand-drawn street signs
Geometrical paintings
German expressionism
Popular (i.e., commercial, church, Bible) paintings of Jesus from the first half or so of the 20th century
Garish commercial art including comics, exploitation movie posters, 1960s sleaze paperbacks, sideshow tent paintings, 60s and 70s trash tabloids, 1960s “guts and glory” men’s magazines; Mexican votive painting; and more.

Nicolas Roerich: One of the most unjustly neglected painters of the 20th century?
Kasimir Malevich
Paul Klee
Hieronymus Bosch
Ernst Ludwig Kurchner

Some Heroes

Virtually all the artists above are heroes of mine in one way or another. But here are some people whose greatness transcends their artistic or other achievements, persons whose lives I find worthy of emulation and study. None of them are perfect (well, arguably one of them is), and some are considerably less perfect than others, but they all lived extraordinary, courageous, fascinating, gigantic lives and left the world a far better place.

This list could be infinitely large, but I’ve tried to pick those whose influence I am most aware of on my daily life and values, and whose life and work I continue to study.

In no particular order:

H.L. Mencken: A large portrait of him hangs over my desk as I write this. Arguably the greatest stylist in American literature, unquestionably one of the world’s great writers, a satirist on the level of Twain, Voltaire and Swift, and a complete and utter joy to read and reread. Though today he is (utterly erroneously) denounced as a racist and anti-Semite, he was, in fact, one of the greatest defenders of the liberties of blacks and Jews in his lifetime. He championed more black writers than any other prominent critic and editor of his time, risked his life to fight lynch mobs, and repeatedly denounced anti-Semitism (indeed, most of his close friends were Jewish). The last article he wrote was an attack on segregation. He was America’s leading champion of individual liberty and economic freedom (classical liberalism, now known as libertarianism), during a time when those values were almost extinguished in America, and is one of the most astute political thinkers America has produced. He is endlessly quotable. Despite his public persona, he was mostly kind, thoughtful and generous in private life. He has been badly mistreated by critics and biographers, most of whom seem simply incapable of understanding him. William Manchester’s delightful H.L. Mencken: Disturber of the Peace, though published in 1950, may still be the best introduction to his life; certainly it is the most fun to read, and it captures like no other biography the excitement, the fun, the incredible energy, the love of liberty and the zest for life that made Mencken’s life such a grand adventure. Of the recent biographies, Mencken: The American Iconoclast by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers (2005) is the best. Terry Teachout’s widely publicized and praised The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken (2002) is contemptible trash.

Albert Schweitzer: Once universally known as “the most famous man in the world,” he is now less and less known. Perhaps one of the few actual practicing Christians who ever lived. A loving, kind and tireless humanitarian, doctor, missionary, philosopher, musician, writer, scholar, theologian, preacher and more. Few know of, and understand, his wide-ranging genius, and what he gave up in fame and worldly goods to pursue his vision of love for all persons in diseased and impoverished Africa. His phrase “a reverence for life” beautifully sums up his philosophy:

"If I am a thinking being, I must regard other life than my own with equal reverence. For I shall know that it longs for fullness and development as deeply as I do myself. Therefore, I see that evil is what annihilates, hampers, or hinders life. And this holds good whether I regard it physically or spiritually. Goodness, by the same token, is the saving or helping of life, the enabling of whatever life I can to attain its highest development." -- Albert Schweitzer, "The Ethics of Reverence for Life."

Harry Browne: I found his classic book How To Be Free in an Unfree World in the 1970s, years before I became a libertarian, and it influenced me profoundly and does so today. It is not a libertarian book per se, but a brilliant and very practical guide to living a life free from all sorts of tyrannies, not just political. Later I had the pleasure of knowing him and working with him on some small projects. Most people know of him from his two Libertarian Party presidential campaigns, and he was indeed a model candidate and would have been the finest president in American history if elected. His other books are all worthwhile, too. A marvelous writer, and a kind, gentle, brilliant man.

Murray N. Rothbard: In my view the greatest libertarian thinker in history, and the father of the modern libertarian movement. A master economist, historian, philosopher, and more. A truly wonderful (and underappreciated) writer, a sort of modern Mencken. Charismatic yet completely unpretentious, and so generous with his time, as willing to speak to an unknown student or activist as to a world-class scholar. A blazing mind, a tireless champion of liberty, and willing to leave the ivory tower and wade into the nitty-gritty of political activism. I had the honor of knowing him, in a small way, and spoke with him several times and interviewed him for Chic (that interview is at this Web site). My review of his For A New Liberty, originally written for Laissez Faire Books, is at Amazon.com

Jesus: It’s a cliché to put him on a list like this. Yet surely he is one of the most remarkable figures in history. Billions of alleged followers, yet almost no one attempts to live as he suggested. Try loving and forgiving your enemy, or your neighbor, for five minutes or so, and see why; or even harder, try loving and forgiving yourself. He offered the gorgeous and psychologically liberating promise of instant forgiveness and redemption, preached a doctrine of love triumphing over all. No wonder he was hated, imprisoned, tortured and killed. Doubtless he would be today, also, and by his own loudest self-proclaimed followers. Was he the Son of God? If so, what are the rest of us? Someone should found a religion based on the Sermon on the Mount.

Robert E. Lee: I think he was the last of the great, noble Americans of the mold of the Founding Fathers. He enshrined duty: “Duty is the sublimest word in the language. You can never do more than your duty. You should never wish to do less.” He opposed slavery and the secession of the South, and felt the Civil War was a lost cause. Yet because he felt it was his duty to defend his homeland, he turned his back on guaranteed Northern military glory to lead the doomed Confederate army. After the war, he devoted his life to healing the split between North and South, turning down riches and fame to become the humble president of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University), then a small, undistinguished school which he transformed into an innovative college to train future leaders, from both North and South, of post-Civil War American.

(I idolized Lee as a young child, reading everything I could about him. When I was still in grade school, my parents took me to see Washington and Lee University. In the school chapel, our tour guide pointed out where, he said, Lee sat each Sunday. “No sir,” I piped up, pointing to another place. “He sat over there.” The guide smiled indulgently and said I was wrong, and those in the tour looked on with amusement. As we left the chapel, the guide called me and my parents back in. “I looked it up, and you were right,“ he said. To make amends, he gave us a private look at places not on the official tour. As I recall, he also let me sit in Lee’s desk chair.)

Thomas Jefferson: For all the obvious reasons.

Wayne Dyer: Several years ago my wife and I were answering a survey question: Who is the living person you most admire? To our surprise, we both answered Wayne Dyer. It was because we agreed with his earlier self-help books, and admired his effort to live a consistently high-quality life based on integrity, self-actualization and spiritual growth. I find his first two popular books, Your Erroneous Zones (1976) and Pulling Your Own Strings (1978) enormously useful, and I refer to them regularly; they remain my favorites of his dozens of books. His later, more spiritual books, while I find them interesting and provocative, have not attracted me as much, which may well be a failing on my part rather than his.

Thomas Edison: I love his relentless and irrepressible optimism and enthusiasm and entrepreneurship, so quintessentially American. In 1914, when Edison was 67, his laboratory and factory caught fire and burned to the ground, destroying much of his work and doing over $100 million (in today’s dollars) in damage. Edison, called out of bed in his nightclothes, stood in the cold winter night air and stared at the roaring blaze, then shouted excitedly to his oldest son: “Charles! Where’s your mother? Go get her and tell her to bring her friends! They’ll never see a fire like this one again!” The next day, walking through the ruins, Edison told Charles: “Son, there’s great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burnt up. Thank God we can start all over again.” Publicly, he declared: "I am 67, but I'm not too old to make a fresh start." The buildings were rebuilt and he was back to work.

Ron Paul: The greatest Congressman since the days of the Founders, quite possibly the greatest ever. When I told him that, he smiled modestly and said, “Sometimes people are kind enough to say things like that to me. But I always tell them, you know, there’s not a lot of competition.”

Forrest J. Ackerman: I once wrote him and told him I thought he might be the greatest man in the world – and I wrote this not as a child, but as a man 53 years old. He is many things, but above all, the founder of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, which sparked and inflamed the imaginations of untold numbers of children, many who took the dreams and passions he inspired into their adult lives. A life of generosity, creativity, contagious enthusiasm, and love.

Percy Wells Cerutty: The controversial, charismatic Australian distance running coach who realized distance running could be a philosophy and a way to self-discovery and even spirituality. Decades or more ahead of his time, in both his training techniques and his philosophy. In high school, when I was a freshman runner looking for something to read about my new sport, a coach gave me a copy of Cerutty’s Athletics: How To Be A Champion. I devoured it and must have read it a hundred times or more. I copied passages on index cards. It forever changed my life. One day someone will make a great film about his remarkable life.


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