EDITOR'S NOTE: This month's Shit You Need is special. My editor, Wayne, has a soft spot for Soft Skull Press-- an independent publishing company that releases some of the best books around. They challenge authority, make you laugh, and, best of all, say something different than the usual tripe Oprah gets all wet over. So, I had Wayne do a quick run-through of some of his Soft Skull favorites.
1. Get Your War On by David Rees
Most people found it hard to even go about their daily lives directly after September 11th... but not David Rees! He made comic strips! Started as an online comic, Get Your War On takes an incredibly sarcastic look at the world we were all trying to figure out after those tragic events. This book catalogs strips from the first week of October 2001 through August 2002. Using nothing more than clip art of office workers (and Voltron... no shit), Rees holds a mirror up to our confusions, fears, and apprehensions, and forces us to question just what the fuck was going on during that time. Most importantly, though, he made us laugh, and that was something we were all in dire need of. It's a quick read, and well worth the $11 it costs. Seriously, any comic strip that has "Operation Enduring Our Freedom is in the motherfucking house!" in it is fine by me.
2. Hey, Kidz! Buy This Book! A Radical Primer On Corporate And Governmental Propaganda And Artistic Activism For Short People by Anne-Elizabeth Moore
Want to raise the next Che Guevara or Angela Davis? Perfect! If you're an uber-liberal, chances are you want to teach your children how to think for themselves. If that's the case, this is the book for you. Essentially, Hey, Kidz!... breaks down corporate power and political propaganda to its most basic elements so kids can understand it all. In addition to that, it encourages children to use creative outlets, like visual art and writing, to express their views and opinions. Splendid! In short, if you want your child to be a mindless zombie that follows the crowd, asks no questions, and whose main goal in life is to be a cubical prisoner, don't buy this fucking book! However, if you want your child to be creative and learn about the real world, pick it up.
3. Slanky by Mike Doughty
Know who Mike Doughty is? Like poetry? Then buy this book! It's true that Doughty is probably best-known for his role as lead poet for the now-defunct band Soul Coughing. But he is also a published writer. Originally self-published, Slanky is a collection of Mike's poetry, and it's all damn fine. With poems with names like "The Incredible Magnetic Man" and "The Bug Wrangler", how could you go wrong? If you are a fan of any of Doughty's musical work, chances are you'll be a fan of this. And you'll probably recognize a few key phrases or terms that are very "Doughty" ("I'll be your babydoll...").