Jack Acid jacket hype!
Webster defines metaphor with an example: he was in the springtime of his life. A bit like Icarus flying too close to the sun, and also drawn to the rocks by Sirens. But, listen to the story and find your own myth. The storyline deserves the spoken word. Jack Acid had an abbreviated life, etc.
There were contradictions. Jack is an everyman of the 70s in America. The jacktale about LSD, the jacktale (a traditional everyman sort of story, probably can be traced to Appalachia) about a jack-ass, and trickster of sorts. The puns are all intended and extended. Jack's roots trace to Cincinnati, an industrial and intellectual high ground on the edge of a river just outside of Appalachia and Midwestern by most standards. It's just a notch too big and independent to be a suburb of Chicago, but certain specialists just cannot be found in Cincinnati.
Jack spends time in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Ivy League contacts are made. Jack also visits Palo Alto, California, where the Harvard of the West, Stanford, manages to stay on the edge of his awareness.
Jack rides rails, and ten speed bicycles, as a pioneer of cycling in USA's cycle boom. The rails are source for Jack's quest.
The Jack Acid Society Black Book from the Pogo cartoonist Walt Kelly had no character "Jack Acid."
In Jack Acid there is a society with at least one believer in world brotherhood. “...Both his mother and my mother said he was hopping on when it happened to him. It won't happpen to me. They said it was suicide, literally. I am alone.
I recalled his last visit, now four years ago...I gave Marc the Jack Acid Society Black Book by Pogo. Cartoons about the fifties and McCarthy blacklists. Everyone in the cartoon wanted to be on the Deacon's blacklist. It wasn't about freight trains. Marc had had a broad back. Mother told me to be careful....”
Jack is the everyman of the one in ten who has been incarcerated in a mental hospital...an American statistic of the seventies. And he is able to balance madness against the concrete mechanics of ten speed bicycles...but when he brings railroads into the picture he encounters the mortality that hovers around his political acts of conservative anarchy. Jack tells a central tale of The Hoohaw, describing a fantastic journey by thumb to a real Poetry festival. In a coffee house in the Southwest, in Santa Fe, where he helps make tofu and blueprints, a listener apprehends the irony that he cannot plan his life, nor visualize it without a stream of interchangeable characters each minutely more stable at any given time than Jack. These impressions combine to make Jack’s telling this tale an adjustment to varying degrees with the problems of telling and showing. Is Jack Acid a postmodern jacktale?
When Jack slips into marijuana’s glorious seductive trance his center wobbles further and further. In the climax, after hitchhiking for days on end, Jack attends a smoke-in at Washington, DC and the next day his quest ends. He discovers a Rolls Royce, and the authorities discover him. In a poignant conclusion, Jack is asked to volunteer his name to the nurse in a psychiatric hospital.
This is a first novel written as an experiment, and as in Tristram Shandy, the experiment is a topic for the writer's dialogue with the listener. Lansky's poetic voice carries the anguish of the young novelist whose ambition is to an enigmatic skill, and whose talent with the language is undeniable.
Thanks to John Batki who helped me get started at Harvard in 1976 and 1977; to Gurney Norman whose storytelling class at Foothill Junior College in Palo Alto, California provided structural inspiration. Gurney’s advice, to “risk reality” came to me again and again. I am indebted also to Josip Novakovich and Erin McGraw, both of whom taught workshops at the University of Cincinnati. Each of them helped with later chapters. Of the writers whose impact I felt I must acknowledge Ed McClanahan. Ed read several drafts and suggested, “getting out of the way of the story,” which I needed to do. Ed’s contribution to my effort cannot be calibrated. As for Mike Henson, I cannot begin to describe his help. Mostly, I’m grateful to Mike for his friendship and that of his family.
On a more personal note, I have to mention some of the women with whom I involved myself gaining their love, and at times risking my health. Thanks to Jane Burton and her two children, for understanding. Thanks to Dianne Eblen for her love and respect. I owe a debt of experience to Robin Gradison. Maura Moynihan provided ongoing inspiration. I cannot express my gratitude to Janet Freeland, but I think she knows that.
Mike Carey, Arthur Allen, my brother Dave, my father, Len, and mother, Dona deserve a lot of the credit for my survival in getting this work finished. Carl Adlon’s spiritual guidance was also essential. Thanks to Brenda Sampsell, Howard Wells, Justin Fernandez, Colin Trask, Billy Larkin, Cheryl Wallace, David Lyman, Laura Blackwood, Bob Sutton, Ben Singleton, Robin Bergstrom, Paul Cagle, Po & Jackie Roberto, Julie Allen, Phil Paradis, and everyone else who helped in less direct ways. Thanks to those of you who picked up hitchhikers when it was safer to do so.
Aunt Katherine was also a wonderful resource. She sent many books, set a fine example, and has been supportive and understanding while not always approving.
Thanks also to the great ones who inspire us all; Garcia Marquez, Mellville, and Kerouac come to mind. Thanks to the Union Institute, CRI, and WNKU. Thanks especially to those of you who believed in me when my own self-confidence ebbed low. People with “disabilities” rock.
Written, produced, and read by: Steven Paul Lansky
Recorded at: Wine Cellar Studios
Engineered by: Phil Combs
Original Art by: Steven Paul Lansky
Original recording by: Laura Blackwood
Layout/Design by: MadMacsgraphics.com
Acoustic Guitar/Harmonica: Steven Lansky
Acoustic Guitar: Robert Sutton
Acoustic Guitar: Bryan Allinsmith
Thanks to the circular nature of the universe, I have come full round to be with a group of childhood friends who have helped me produce this work.