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Film and Music: Books


Jim Goad


"I've been pissed off for as long as I can remember," wrote Jim Goad in the introduction to AK Press's Answer Me! compendium in 1994. "And I have an excellent memory." Answer Me! grasped the world by the balls, a groundbreaking hate-zine rooted in years of collected resentment festering in the minds of Jim and his equally bile-filled wife Debbie. Jim had been writing for "dull magazines" for years, and had finally had enough. He wanted to publish things his way: "The pen is mightier than the sword, but why should I have to choose?" he railed. "I have two hands, so I carry BOTH."

The magazine ran for four massively influential issues. The first editorial asked: "WHY ARE YOU SO FUCKING STUPID?" and went on to entertain, provoke and nauseate in equal measures. Unlike any white liberal journalist ever before him, Jim opened his Public Enemy interview by asking Chuck D, "Am I a devil because I sunburn easily?" After Chuck's lengthy explanation of the black Muslim ideology behind the term 'devil', Goad responds: "Oh, well, I'm glad I'm not a serpent. That would really suck."

If you missed out on Answer Me! you missed out on the 100 Greatest Murderers, 100 Greatest Suicides, interviews with Iceberg Slim, Anton La Vey, The Geto Boys, David Duke and El Duce - the latter now a famous stiff thanks to the legacy of Nick Broomfield's film Kurt And Courtney. Articles on gun laws, deformity comics, rants on the uselessness of men and the dishonesty of women - all saved from becoming tedious harangues by the searing intelligence and unforgettable graveyard humour of the double-barrelled Goad attack.

Of course they couldn't get away with it for long. ANSWER Me! 4, the infamous rape issue (with board game drawn by Mike Diana, later sentenced to psychiatric treatment for publishing his own zine Boiled Angel) was taken to the District Attorney in Washington State. A store owner, Ira Stohl and his manager Kristina Hjelsand of the Newsstand International in Bellingham, WA, risked up to five years in prison and a ,000 fine for stocking the magazine. After a year of "legal constipation" the case was heard in January 1996 and the verdict eventually turned out 'not guilty'.

But infamy still had it in for the Goads. A man called Francisco Martin Duran was caught firing 30 rounds at the White House with a semi-automatic rifle. In his truck, police found a note which quoted from Answer Me! issue 2 - "Can you imagine a higher moral calling than to erase someone's dream with one bullet?" And then there was the English suicide trio of Stephen Bateman, Ruth Fleming and Jane Greenhow, neo-Nazis who went to the USA in February 1996 with the express purpose of blowing themselves away. Bateman and Fleming did so in spectacular fashion at a rifle range in Arizona. Greenhow was found later with a bullet in her head in a fume-filled car in California. One of her last deeds had been to write to Jim Goad, sending him her life's savings and stating that she felt unable to articulate her frustration with life. Jim sent the money to her parents, publicly stating, "her departure has saddened me greatly".

After issue four, the Goads moved to Portland where Jim gave up working to devote all his time to writing and publishing. The first fruit of his endeavours, The Redneck Manifesto, is Goad's finest statement to date, a brilliant defence of America's maligned and mocked poor white class: "...America, particularly in non-Southern areas, has a Deliverance complex," he argues, with the conviction of one who was trailer-park raised himself. "Urban America may subconsciously fear a mass invasion of stubble-chinned rural degenerates eager to settle the score. Most of us have a redneck in the woodpile, somewhere. One day the crackers may come home to roost. "'Howdy, Amurrika. Yoo sher dew have a purty mouth.'"

In a further show of solidarity with the hard drivin' man, Jim has also unleashed his alter-ego, Big Red Goad, and a CD full of white-line-fever anthems, Truck Drivin' Psycho.

But just as The Redneck Manifesto seemed to be gaining Goad the reputation for fine writing and astute political thought he deserves - "in years to come, people are going to feel like ninnies for having read Nick Hornby novels instead of this" as Suck online put it - life turned sourer than a barrel of hogs' piss. Last year the Goads divorced, and Debbie was diagnosed with cancer. In May 2000 Goad was incarcerated in Oregon, and is at the time of writing still awaiting trail on a number of charges - all of which are disputed - relating to a short-term relationship he had with a girl who he met while he was still married to Debbie. Languishing in his cell, he is unsurprisingly unable to pay the enormous bail set against him. He must know how Dostoyevsky felt - his writings are hardly going to count in his favour. But we bet his rage is burning hotter than ever.

So if you're looking for trouble, you've come to the right place. The man who asks the questions that America is too scared to answer.


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