Paul Krassner, a prime mover behind the generation that didn’t trust anyone over 30, turns 80 today.
This Desert Hot Springs-based “investigative satirist” has outlived most of his contemporaries from the 1960s counter culture. Of the co-founders of the Yippies, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin; and the most famous Merry Pranksters, Ken Kesey and Neal Cassady, only Paul remains standing, although he does walk with a limp.
Like his friend, Allen Ginsburg, Paul transcended the underground movements of the 1950s and ’60s, blurring the line between generational distinctions. He was close friends with Lenny Bruce and Timothy Leary. In fact, he turned Groucho Marx onto LSD. So the Marx brother who refused to join any club that would have him as a member was initiated into the world of mind expansion by our local member of the Stoners Hall of Fame.
It never ceases to amaze me how many important counter cultural figures have been part of Paul’s daily life. I was recently having a conversation with Groucho’s nephew, Bill Marx, about dogma, and he quipped, “My karma can run over your dogma.”
I passed that line onto Paul and he told me he put it on a button and gave it to Ram Dass more than 20 years ago.
Paul’s most famous quote came at the height of the cold war when he wrote, “F**k communism.” No one could criticize him for being obscene because because he was being patriotic.
I think the secret to Paul’s longevity is he doesn’t drink or take any drugs that are not illegal. He’ll smoke marijuana or ingest LSD, but he won’t take an aspirin.
I told him he’s a testament to the benefits of better living through non-patented chemistry.
Of course, his greatest tool against old age is his sense of humor.
He’s needed it for all of the abuse he’s endured in standing up for things we take for granted today. The reason he walks with a limp is because he was beaten by the San Francisco police during the protests of the light sentence for Harvey Milk’s murderer, ex-cop Dan White.
Paul’s a great American and if the American dream was half as real as a pipe dream, he’d be rich man.
But Paul’s rich in many ways the Koch brothers could never understand.
Happy birthday, Paul.