Sunday, April 19, 2009
Oh, yes, the original does exist. On hand made paper. In perfect calligraphy.
Signed by all the bands who wrote the book and survived the wars over its
content. It is masterfully preserved, beautifully framed, and heartbreaking
to look at. And, no, it isn't for sale. Some of the red ink is punk writer blood.
ANOTHER ANNIVERSARY (CALLED COLUMBINE). No, it's not a round year of anniversary, but there are reasons nonetheless why this is a significant date for remembering the dedication of The Boomer Bible. Most obviously, the next in the endless succession of new messiahs has come, and so it's appropriate to recall that would-be saviors always have a facile spiel to sucker us in with. The other big reason is that thanks to devoted next generation punks, the once impossible dream of a compleat electronic version of The Boomer Bible, with a fully computerized Inter-Column Reference is close to being accomplished, awaiting only some iterations of proofreading to be published and accessible to everyone. And I'm humbled to point out that no one at InstaPunk had anything to do with this astonishing feat. It's been done as a labor of love by incredibly clever and selfless volunteers. They could use some help with the proofreading, though, which is best done by people who didn't do the writing or the transcribing. When the electronic authors see this, they will tell you how to participate if you want to, and what the rewards will be.
We've reached the point, all these years in, where the print version of TBB is finally getting difficult to acquire, even though the publisher refuses to deem it 'out of print.' So for the benefit of those who have become regulars at InstaPunk.com, which did have a hand in the writing of the original work that inspired the site, I'm going to reproduce some of the customer reviews of The Boomer Bible currently posted at Amazon.com. To make sure you don't think this is all propaganda, I'll begin with the most negative of those reviews and hope you'll accept my assurance that the few others who agree with his appraisal say almost exactly the same thing about the book.
Parts of this book are funny. But not 1000 pages. Insightful? Maybe, if you're new to insight. I paid $4 for it remaindered at B. Dalton's. It, uh, doesn't float.
Others have been kinder:
I first came across this book in juvenile detention. I was kept in there for truancy charges, and one boring day I hastened over to a not commonly visited area, the bookshelf. The fact it was thick stood out, any thick book must be important, so I thought at the time, and saw the front cover, not like any other book I'd seen, sat down, and read the introduction, which at the time I almost believed. I went on to read the histories, one of the most offensive I'd ever read in a long time, full of racial stereotypes that I almost wanted to believe were untrue, but I could not find any evidence against the well established/proven statements. Then came the punk testament:
Ways 34.5: We want to be more, not less than the dead. Ways 7.7-8: And they must've known something, More than a lie.
Us.1-5: Are we all alone out here? Are we crazy and hopeless and doomed? We don't think so, And if you don't think so either, You are welcome to come with us.
I stayed awake almost the entire night reading it, I resolved to make my life a lot more meaningful, I wrote a note on the inside cover to the next person that picked up the book: and then passed it onto someone who needed it when I was released. I went out and bought it, despite the fact I had no income. (Yes it's that good) I then followed the message of the punks of South Street (Yes, its still that good) and studied classical works, even going back and the Holy Bible normally collected dust at home. This book will change the way you think almost as much as the Holy bible would. But only `If you can manage to live up to it.' (Psayings 5A.45)
In closing, this book is a satire, it lifts you up on your toes putting others down, then swiftly kicks your un-guarded rear by putting YOU down. One of the greatest books of all time, you don't have to agree with it or disagree, you don't have to hate or like it, just don't be apathetic towards it.
Best book ever. Laird is a genius.
I read the Boomer Bible 5 years ago. At first I thought it was just a humor book. It's sold in the humor section of book stores. The book is indeed hilarious. But it's also a profound and frightening journey into our modern world. Virtually every subject from the beggining of time is touched upon and we learn from Laird's distinctive style of writing just how we got into this modern mess we're in. After reading the censored chapter (where some harrier has crossed out all the lines they don't want you to read-a very clever device), I felt profoundly depressed. I believed I was a harrier and that there was no hope. Laird's satire really hit home. But the punk testament pulled me right out of the myre and gave me new hope. Laird is a genius, the book is hilarious and brilliant. At first you hear of Harry and you are excited and amused by his teachings. You want to believe in the things he believes in. He speaks for you, but slowly you learn that holding on to those beliefs and not questioning them are where we've gone terribly wrong. When I started the book, I was indeed a Harrier, after reading it, I'm a punk with an axe to grind. I've bought at least 15 copies of this book as gifts for friends. I think it's one of the most importants book ever written. It should be read and studied by everyone.
In this gorgeous book, R F Laird accomplishes many miracles, foremost among them an old man is lying on a gurney in a hospital doped up waiting to die and thinking back through his life and questioning his choices, his fate, his disappointments, and at one point his much addled mind grabs hold of first Jesus then Lincoln and makes a glorious amalgam of them in the torque of his heart's strings and the end of his rope and it is as beautiful as any passage written in English. This book was poorly marketed and its literary heights and cerebral depths and perceptual vistas are masked by the cover which is only in the most superficial and banal sense compatible with its content. Buy this book--it is the most important thing you can do if you care about rescuing a book that should never be forgotten from the jaws of potential (likely) obscurity.
Reading this book definitely makes you a better person.
My family picked this up years ago, from a random shelf of a random bookstore. It looked neat. Then we fought over it for years. We never saw another copy, and no one had heard of it. If it weren't for the Wall Street Journal quote on the back, I would have been quite willing to believe the Author's note, which claims the book was never published, and is moved by a secret society. I took it to college, and my brothers screamed. Until they found they could order it from the internet. I never go anywhere without it, and sleep with it near the bed. It makes great protection from the demons of cynicism, hopelessness, and uncaring. This is just about the most effective piece of literature I have ever read. And I read a lot. I guarantee it has something for you.
Powerfully Mind Opening,
You'll see everything in a whole new light. After reading this, I hungered for knowledge. I began reading classic literature. This book will change your life!
Below the surface,
I think that the prior reviewers missed the deeper point that this book was trying to make, beyond satire. On the surface it is a satire of christianity but it is actually a very popular christian book. All the self-references aren't just there for looks, but have meaning if you follow them. Like they reveal that the satirical part of the book is intended to create a picture of the modern secular intellectual mind and later to show why it is inferior to hope and faith (because they can't coexist for some reason).
It is not really a parody of christianity but is making fun of christianity for being a parody of what it is supposed to be. it is designed to get christian readers upset and show how science and human nature have negated religion, but later on it shows that humans lost hope when they lost religion. The boomers in this book aren't just the baby boomers, they are the generation of the Bomb. The invention of which allegedly proved to everyone that we will all destroy the planet and ourselves one day, and killed our hope. And science had already taught that we are insignificant, and accidental, and so we became apathetic non-thinking people, "Harriers." Harry was following the scientific idea of a deterministic universe to its logical conclusion, which is, exploit others, embrace materialism to create the illusion of satisfaction, and who cares because there is no punishment or responsibility and we're going to nuke ourselves anyway.
I think that non-religious people can get a lot out of the book too. I don't understand why non-theism is regarded as hopeless or soulless. The essential lesson of christianity that this book wants to recreate is the idea that people should be responsible for their actions, and the golden rule. It's making fun of christianity because it is not supposed to be about killing people who don't believe in your god, or believing god doesn't want you to have any fun, and hating people who do, or getting comfort from the thought that your enemies are gonna fry-all the things it has been about historically. It's supposed to be about brotherly love, which is why Philadelphia is the most important city in the book. It's a metaphor for the mental state of tolerance.
These are just my opinions, but I think it is superficial to see it just as a satire. I give it 5 stars because it was really funny and thought provoking on several levels. Strangely, this book's website is run by people who think  evolution is exceedingly silly, and  charity doesn't exist without gods, and  Stanley Kubrik helped NASA stage the moon landing.
[ED: Chain Gang is presently working on restoring the website BoomerBible.com, and when it's back up, you'll see why the reviewer may have mistakenly misread its satire on the three points he mentions at the end. For the record, the consensus here is 1) Neo-Darwinian Evolution is a flawed theory that is defended more as a religion than a science; 2) uh, no idea, except that we never said that, and 3) the only linkage between Kubrick and the space program we've ever made has to do with our spoof of 2001, which probably doesn't do enough to establish that we think the U.S. moon landings were absolutely authentic.]
Boomers: Hate, Despise, Surpass?
The Boomer Bible begins with bad history: the kind of history that Boomers learned, but didn't pay attention to. It goes further into the invention of the Boomer culture: do what you want to, blame everyone else for what goes wrong. Finally, it ends with an invitation to surpass this most pathetic generation, knowing that while most of what they do is a mistake and misguided, they'll only blame someone else for it.
Read for enlightement.
Meet a brand-new day.
I imagine many people have lifted "The Boomer Bible" off a bookstore shelf, given it a cursory flip-through, thought "weird", and put it right back. That's what I did -- but fortunately, a couple months later my mom saw it in the store while Christmas shopping and decided it would be a good gift for a weird kid. That was over a decade ago, and I still return to it regularly... sometimes for entertainment, sometimes for inspiration, and sometimes to dig for hidden treasure.
TBB can be read linearly, from front to back, just like any other book, and that alone is worth the price of admission for its immense variety of jokes, memorable turns of phrase, and observations about the often-unacknowledged dogma that permeates the modern mind. The "Past Testament" takes us through the history of the world and the bases of the "Baby Boomer" worldview; the "Present Testament" relates the story of Harry, a man of wealth and taste who inspires the Boomers to do all kinds of fun things; the "Book of Harrier Brayer" codifies the Boomer Way into a secular religion; and finally, a "Punk Testament" tells the story of some nobodies who react to the Boomer Way with crazy ideas.
When you've finished reading "The Boomer Bible", though, you've only finished reading it one way. There's a lot more to it, and if you enjoy puzzles, "The Boomer Bible" has countless hours of brain-teasers in store. (I should emphasize, though, that the book stands just fine on the merits of linear reading alone -- in my case, I had hardly any idea of the iceberg under the surface until I found discussions of TBB on the Internet, long after it had become my favorite book.)
The only reservation I have about recommending "The Boomer Bible" is that it might give some readers dangerous ideas. If you apply the Boomer Way properly this shouldn't be a problem, but if you fail to do so, don't blame me.
A massively intriguing review of history.
Being quite Harrier-ish myself, I was intimidated by the size of this thing. But I didn't really appreciate the content of it until I dove in. In six or seven hundred pages, Laird has jammed in thousands of volumes of history, philosophy, political commentary, and every other conceivable subject under the sun. And bravo to Laird for making it all stunningly readable, even for a Harrier...
This book is a six star social commentary.
We bought our first copy at a used book store, and couldn't put it down for 3 days. Our four teenagers (1 college, 3 high school) have thoroughly enjoyed its unique form of satire on modern thinking. The books on history and the nations leave us in stitches and foster much discussion. This is must reading for any free thinking teenager or young adult.
A vicious romp through the psyche of the 20th century.
Laird creates a satire the way Orwell built allegory. You recoil in horror at his blatant accuracy, but must laugh at how preposterous our world has become. If literature provides the most accurate reflection of its time, this witty, scathing commentary will define the last half of the twentieth century.
Anyone aspiring to rule the world should be forced to read this book at the end of a "pointed stick".
It's also one the funniest books I have ever read. The first part of the book exploring world history through the lens that each great culture has had the absurd notion that they were (are) "the most chosen nation" is priceless.
I first read this book in the mid '90s. It's still funny and important. It's required reading for my teenage children.
Extremely insightful and satirical.
For those of you who think you know history, think again; the past testament is a delightful read for those who can figure out what twisted wording describes which actual event. Parodies on all professions and walks of life make it an appropriate read for all adults.
Simply brilliant and mind-boggling.
I received it as a gift from my brother when it was first released. I was awed and amazed by its insight into our modern culture. But, the thing that amazed me the most was the hundreds of cross-references in the columns.
An incredible book to read through once
and then read again in a random manner by skipping through the
A Stunning Testament of the Modern World,
This book is an absolute monster. It is a satiric and unforgiving scalpel that cuts to the heart of our modern and every-man-for himself society. Plus it is uproariously funny, which may help get you through 700 pages of text.
On the down side, a bit of the material seems a little dated. The evils of corporate America, the attitude of blaming everyone but yourself and the concept of drowning your troubles with "Consolation" (read cocaine) seems more in line with the whole 80's Miami Vice Michael Douglas "Wall Street" mentality that has become passé as it has become something of the norm in our modern world. There is also quite a hefty bit of repetition, especially as you move into the four gospels of Harry that all tell the same story with very few new facts. Even when the book gets bogged down, however, it is still a grand and stunning work of social commentary that some may loathe but all will recognize.
So what is the Boomer Bible exactly. Well it is NOT a parody of Christianity. It simply uses the format of the Bible to preach the things that have replaced traditional religion and morality as the world races headlong to the atomic Apocalypse that Laird envisions is coming soon.
The Old Testament Pentatuch portion is a history of the world, nation by nation, from ancient times to present day. These little history lessons are terribly politically incorrect using terms many will find offensive, but they also cut to the chase with unforgiving satire and brutal wit. These little histories are also stunningly direct and accurate in their portrayal of every nation's bid for becoming the Most Chosen Nation on Earth. This is the funniest part of the Boomer Bible and also the one that still rings the most true.
The Poetic Books that parody Psalms and Proverbs poke fun at all of the mindless entertainments mankind bothers themselves with from poetry and literature all the way down to television.
The Prophetic Books are direct messages to major historical persons telling them what their work will amount to, but assuring them that there will come a man who will tell everybody exactly the way that it is and make everything O.K.
This leads into the New Testament which begins with the four gospels of a guy named Harry who happens upon the message that all of mankind needs and which he begins spreading with a vengeance. That is until he is arrested for dealing in coke which helps all of his little Harriers not think about anything which is exactly what they should be doing if they are going to follow the way of Harry.
The Epistles are messages from Harry's core followers to different segments of the population telling them how to best employ the message of Harry into their lives.
There is even a Revelation type book concluding the main body of the work delivered as the last words of Harry's dying father who has been consigned to a nursing home by his uncaring sons to perish tired and alone. After the lengthy and repetitive nature of the New Testament portion, this final period to the work is an insightful and bittersweet heartbreak punctuating how far humanity has devolved from simply functioning as decent human beings.
The last segment is liturgy set up like the Book of Common Prayer helping you in your celebration and following of the ways of Harry.
Like I said, this book is a monster. The humor will hook you as you thumb through the book and find funny line after funny line. On a thorough reading, however, it will cut you to the bone as you recognize the state of the world we have all had a hand in making. It may be too late to change anything until the big one drops, but the Boomer Bible makes you do exactly the opposite of what Harry tells you to do--it makes you seriously think about it.
A couple of concluding points. You can decide for yourselves if any of the book seems "dated" because of its drug references, especially since our new president and secretary of state are so anxious to blame Mexico's problems on Harrier drugs and guns. And "blame" is obviously no longer part of our national ethos...
But some of you may be wondering, idly, about the role of punks in all this, like the ones we have here at InstaPunk. Here's a final reminder:
The Way of the Punks.
So what exactly do you do with a book like this, whose cover shows a holographic hand, just begging "Gimme Gimme?" Do you read it straight through? Do you jump around using the ICR until you find everything it has to offer? Or do you supbscribe to the Way of Harry? The Way of the Punks? After ingesting this monstrosity of Modern Philosophy, that has taken some of us to new heights and sharper long scrivers, all you can do is think, Shammadamma.
They began The Boomer Bible. They were thought to be dead. They come back.
After the republication of The Boomer Bible will come its sequel, Shuteye Town 1999, which is also -- after many false starts -- close to becoming internet-compatible. In the interim, fragments of Shuteye Nation will have to do, beginning with the Amerian Glossary. We were hyperlinking before Apple thought of it and multimedia before anyone coined the term. But we were always as merciless and misanthropic as Ambrose Bierce. Go figure. Maybe we should reconsider calling ourselves InstObama.com and call ourselves Anachronism.com instead.
UPDATE 4/28. What's all the fuss about TBB's Intercolumn Reference? Go here. One verse. And its tree of connections. As somebody said, The Boomer Bible was the last book made of paper. It was also the first made entirely of links.