By Cosmo Volodich

Founder and columnist,

San Francisco Midnight Special, 1967-69


This book is about a famous place called 1968. Some of you've been there, some of you weren't. Some of you got there, but were too young to remember.

Speaking of remembering, how do you know there WAS a 1968?  I'm not sure Minneapolis  exists, but I can get on a plane and find out. We can't visit 1968. If you lived there in the days when we called 1968 NOW instead of THEN, you may have what you think is a memory of 1968, but that's a mental residue in your brain NOW and your memory's not of the YEAR but a THING like a riot or incense or bubblegum songs that prove not all music from the Sixties was great.

There are books about 1968. I have one on my shelf called 1968. The author can't have written it there. He had to go somewhere else, like 1986.

People disagree about 1968, as they do about things that once existed (dinosaurs), never existed (God), or sometimes exist and sometimes don’t (race). But, they can point to bones that exist NOW and say “dinosaur bones” or point in all directions and say “God.” We have nowhere to point when we say “1968,” until we admit that everything we know is in our memories, including what we read in books.

Terence Cannon, who I'm pretty sure I remember, gets it more or less right. So do I, when I’m off my Thorazine®or Stalinize, I mean Stelinize, Stelazine®. Problem is, when I GET IT I can’t write it down — my synapses jam up like a stairwell in a hotel fire. When I want to get it I put the pills behind the toilet bowl, crank up the Konnectikron and write until the ink slides off the page and there’s no room left for basic motor skills.

Point being: there’s no THEN now. We rely on indirect evidence like this novel, which I shouldn’t have to remind you is a novel NOW, not in 1968.

Take my crackup. I know Jimmy and DC saved my ass because everyone told me so. I wasn’t there at the time, I was visiting Crazyville, a suburb of 1968. Remember your first fuck? No you don’t. You remember your memory NOW, which is different than the memory you had when you woke up the next morning. which is not at all like your memory of it ten years later. Memory works like a novel with a thousand unreliable narrators. The only thing it's better than is amnesia. No, sometimes amnesia is better.

Another example: the Vietnamese invasion of Bad Luck, Washington. I’m sure it happened 'cause it's just too right to be wrong.

I better leave the unpublished letter by James Baldwin for scholars to analyze.

Jimmy in Harlem? Reads like non-fiction.

Everyone in this story is crazy, loves someone more than herself, pulls off a world-historical event, sells out, gets stomped, goes on the lam (including the dead), hallucinates, or behaves in complete contradiction to known physical laws. Well, bien sûr! THEY'RE CHARACTERS IN A BOOK, even the ones I knew personally.

Except Lou Rosen. He’s IN the book, but he doesn’t know he is, pissing and moaning in that hotel room, attacking the novel for leaving him out. Me, I don’t complain. I know I’m not in the book. How could I be? I’m out HERE writing the Preface — scrunched in one of those grade school desks with a hole where the inkwell used to be.

My advice — read this story as TRUE and IMPOSSIBLE, ergo realistic. In all fairness to the reader, they should of  put a sticker on the jacket:


Or maybe I need some more

Stalinzine to keep the


from flowing
off the