Laird R. F. - The Boomer Bible

Author : Laird R. F.
Title : The Boomer Bible
Year : 1991

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For a dedicated scholar of American literature, there can be no more difficult task than that of introducing an obviously inferior piece of writing to the reading public. When the situation is further complicated by the fact that the content and tone of the proffered work seem premeditatedly designed to offend almost every ethnic, religious, and gender constituency in the population at large, one is hard-put to know quite how and where to begin. Nevertheless, extraordinary circumstances have resulted in publication of the contemptible document that presumes to call itself the Boomer Bible, and it would be unforgivable to release it to an unwary public without some explanation. It has therefore fallen to me to write this preface, which I undertake with a sense of commingled trepidation and outrage that are unique in my literary experience. I have determined to begin my unwelcome task with the strongest possible warning to those readers whose sensitivities are less impervious to injury than stainless steel. Make no mistake: it is well nigh impossible to think of a racist (or otherwise ethnocentrist), religious, or sexist slur that is not enshrined in what passes for the scriptural language of the Boomer Bible. Nor is this the only offensive element of this work. For it would seem that the author(s) of the Boomer Bible were resolved from the start to libel everything they touched, with special malice reserved for all subjects pertaining to the twentieth century. Indeed, it is quite literally impossible for any contemporary reader to work his/her way through this assemblage of bile without encountering mUltiple instances of insults that seem deliberately calculated to offend his/her race, his/her religion, his/her profession, his/her taste in literature and art and music, and/or his/her preferred lifestyle. The very fact that such a warning is needed leads inevitably to the question of what purpose is served by publishing the Boomer Bible at all. The answer to this question is not an easy one to summarize in simple terms, however, because it relates to the circumstances under which the Boomer Bible was purportedly written, as well as the circumstances surrounding its "discovery." We shall discuss both of these in tum, beginning with an explanation of what is presently known about the work. In all probability, the manuscript that gave rise to this volume is almost exactly ten years old. The original date of publication is given in the epistle dedicatory as April 19, 1981, and thus far at least, no compelling reason for disputing this dat(1 has been uncovered. Scientific analysis of the paper and ink also seems to confirm that the manuscript is at least eight to ten years old. That said, however, there is little else about the Boomer Bible that is not suspect in one way or another, including the identity or identities of its author(s), the means by which it was allegedly written, and even the authenticity of the manuscript that has given rise to this volume. Those who claim to know the truth about this work have declared it the product of a renegade literary community that was entirely contained in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, between the years 1979 and 1985. And to be sure, there is a certain amount of evidence to support this contention. It is known, for example, that the historic but economically depressed South Street section of Philadelphia may have served as the base of operations for a particularly virulent offshoot from the punk music fad of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Further, there exists some documentation indicating that these alleged South Street punks considered themselves writers and carried out a form of vanity publishing to disseminate various works of "punk fiction" among themselves during the years in question. And perhaps most strikingly, fragmentary records of this so-called punk writing movement do repeatedly refer to a Boomer Bible written by the collected efforts of the entire South Street community. Given this basic context, it is hardly surprising that amateur literati would regard any manuscript bearing this title as, ipso facto, the work of South Street's punk writers. Unfortunately for those who would ascribe authorship of the Boomer Bible to this community, however, punk records make so many extravagant claims as to shed doubt on everything they contain. For example, a variety of punk documents acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of the South Street community (which, in their hubris, they renamed "Punk City") could barely read and write in the early months of 1980. This deficit was supposedly overcome through what is described as an "orgy of learning" led by a punk king named St. Nuke, who ruled his subjects with an almost unbelievably primitive legal code. Called the NukeLaw, the code featured such barbaric anachronisms as duels to settle civil disputes, trial by combat, public whippings, banishment, and even sentences of death, although these were allegedly reserved for outsiders. Spokespersons for the Philadelphia Police Department deny out of hand any possibility that such a deviant separate society existed, or ever could have existed, within the city limits of Philadelphia, and such declarations are convincingly confirmed by police files, which contain no record of punk arrests inside "Punk City" for the full four-year period in which they supposedly held sway on South Street. Although there is record of a gang war on South Street during the winter of 1979-80, there is no evidence whatever that punks were involved. Roland Belasco, an acknowledged expert on Philadelphia gangs, scoffs at the idea that South Street's punk rockers could have waged a war against any gang in the area: "Not even an army of punks could stand up to a Philly gang for more than about ten minutes," he declared in a recent interview, laughing out loud at the thought. "The gangs I know would make a punk 'king' eat his crown and then cut his throat while he was choking on it." As if all this were not sufficient to cast doubt on the veracity of their selfhistory, punk records make the further claim that their writing activities were carried out with the aid of powerful computers that enabled four or five members of a "punk writer band" to write together on hand-held input instruments. The central computer that received this input was allegedly powerful enough to correct and collate their work into coherent pieces of writing, and during the effort to write the Boomer Bible, one computer is reported to have corrected, collated, and edited the work of two thousand writers into a finished work that punk proponents believe to be reduplicated in this book. On the face of it, all of this is absurd. Despite its grievous flaws, the manuscript that appears in this book could not have been written by semiliterate children, no matter how many computers they had. There is no official record (outside of the delusionary self-histories referenced above) that such a community ever existed in the first place. There is no official confirmation that ,punk "stars" mentioned in the Boomer Bible manuscript- including St. Nuke, Alice Hate, and Johnny Dodge-ever lived in Philadelphia or anywhere else. Indeed, the only possible connection between Punk City and official records concerns the band known as the Shuteye Train, although the discrepancies between police files and punk documents simply could not be any greater than they are on this point. For example, the punks claim that the Shuteye Train consisted of four individuals named Loco Dantes, Reedy Weeks, Pig Millions, and Joe Kay. These four were Sl;lid to be quite literally immortal: they were believed to represent "the inv,ncible heart of Punk City," although even punk documents concede that they never lived on South Street and visited only rarely. Police files depict the Shuteye Train in wholly different terms: as a syndicate consisting of four loosely connected criminal organizations that heisted huge quantities of both drugs and cash from drug dealers throughout the Middle Atlantic states. Over a five-year period in the early 1980s, numerous arrests were made of alleged Shuteye Train functionaries, although no confessions of such tie-ins were ever upheld in court. Ultimately, according to anonymous but reputable police sources, federal drug enforcement organizations designed a sting operation that apparently put the Shuteye Train organization out of business for good in 1984. And where does all this leave us? There is, to put it simply, no proof of any kind that a community of "punk writers" occupied South Street in the sense, or on the scale, we are asked to believe. Consequently, the mere mention of a "Bqomer Bible" in otherwise suspect records cannot be accepted as evidence that punks wrote the manuscript reproduced in this book. ...

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