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32 Years On Planet Earth: Definitive Bill Hicks Book!,
This review is from: Bill Hicks: Agent of Evolution (Hardcover)
At long last, the definitive biography of the late American comedian and political philosopher Bill Hicks has been published. Written by his lifelong friend Kevin Booth, Bill Hicks: Agent of Evolution is an inside look at the fast times and early death of a comedic genius. When I spoke with Kevin for the interview that appeared in Maybe Quarterly # 02 (Spring Equinox 2005), he told me that he wrote the book by dictating "Bill stories" into a microcassette recorder as he took his pet wolves for their daily afternoon walk. This was a long process of remembering earlier days that had become clouded by both the partying and legend that now surrounds Bill Hicks, and Kevin mentioned that the process of writing this book took approximately five years.
As for the book itself, Kevin, having admitted that he is not a writer, worked with Austin, Texas USA entertainment writer Michael Bertin, who co-authored the book. However, Kevin has done something that Cynthia True could not achieve with her tepid biography American Scream, and that is to take the reader far into the private and personal life of Bill Hicks. Kevin was, after all, his lifelong friend, co-writer, and business partner. Together, Kevin and Bill co-founded Sacred Cow Productions, which continues on to this very day in Bill's memory. Today, the Sacred Cow website is the premiere Internet comedy website, which features the comedy of Joe Rogan and Doug Stanhope, as well as the truth-telling of broadcaster-documentary filmmaker Alex Jones of Infowars.com and Prisonplanet.com. Sacred Cow also contains numerous early audio and video performances of Bill Hicks, and for this reason alone, the website should be investigated and bookmarked by all of Bill's fans.
Kevin has been a tireless promoter of the memory and legacy of Bill Hicks, and he was wise to save all of his great inside stories for his own book. This was one of the failings of American Scream, which seemed to me a rote, perfunctory biography, with little in terms of true revelations concerning the life of Bill Hicks. For example, there is the legendary true-story of Bill and Kevin's Harmonic Convergence experience of the summer of 1987. This was the UFO experience about which Bill often spoke in his stage act. While Cynthia True reported this episode through hearsay alone, in Agent of Evolution, Kevin takes us directly to the Booth family ranch for what he himself described as "the most important event of Bill's life." I won't ruin the books' many surprises, but suffice to say that Kevin brings this event into proper perspective, where he describes total telepathic communication between Bill and himself, while they were both aboard a UFO. One might even imagine that this event was itself precipitated by the five-gram heroic dose of psychedelic mushrooms they both had taken earlier that same afternoon.
And so it goes for nearly 450 pages of interesting and amusing anecdotes, legendary encounters with various geniuses of comedy, and the loving tribute by a man who desperately misses his lifelong friend and spiritual brother. The reader is taken on a trip in the metaphoric backseat of the Hicks rocket-ride to fame and infamy, and all of the humanity and romanticism of Bill Hicks the humanist is represented in a faithful and loving manner. Kevin also provides insight into the demons that haunted Bill Hicks, and the angels that guided his career and life.
The best part of the entire book is where Kevin refuses to limit Bill to a two-dimensional cardboard cutout, where his life and early death could have been represented as a tragedy. Kevin also refuses to amplify the David Letterman censored Bill Hicks canard, and just as he told me personally during our interview, the Letterman incident was a minor issue that was blown all out of proportion merely because of Hicks untimely death. As Kevin said, "if he were alive today, we'd be laughing about this minor incident."
Some of the more interesting sections of the book provided details about Bill and Kevin's comedic Dark Side of the Moon, the incendiary and brilliant Arizona Bay. For those readers who are unfamiliar with the concept, Arizona Bay will be the resultant West Coast, once California, but more specifically, Los Angeles, finally falls into the ocean. Arizona Bay represented the creative symbiosis between Bill and Kevin, comedy and music, and ultimately, truth and lies. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Hollywood propaganda originates from this very state of California? Listening to Arizona Bay, it is easy to imagine the contempt that Bill had for the illusory Hollywood star-making machinery, and this book fills in the aspects about which I had always wondered.
Anyone who treasures the memory of Bill Hicks should pick up a copy of this book, as it was prepared in the most loving and respectful manner possible. The reader and Bill Hicks fan will learn more about what made Bill tick as an artist, whether it was music or comedy, or both. While it is sad that Bill is no longer here with us, I personally take solace in the idea that he is still busy at work, albeit on the other side, as for Bill Hicks in death, just as it was in life, his spiritual work is never done.