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As a teenager I read several books by Alexander King, and they were a huge influence on my tender psyche. His memoirs formed my concept of what an artist is, and made me decide to grow up to be one. Sure, he was a heroin addict. But he was also the first one to confirm every one of the sneaking suspicions about the world which had been developing in my subconscious. And I wanted to make for myself a life that I could look back on with as much pleasure as King looked back on his.

It’s possible that Acid Heroes could have pretty much the same effect, and ruin a whole new generation of kids. Ruin them, that is, for the purposes of the military-industrial-religious-educational complex.

It’s okay to laugh ruefully at your old hippie self from the pinnacle of middle age, but to totally renounce that earlier, crazier self, as so many have done, is despicable. Ace Backwords has neatly avoided this possibility by remaining crazy, and also by pouring out for our delectation the results of years of psychedelically abetted thought processes.

Ace has been a fixture of Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue scene for yonks. He used to publish Twisted Image, one of the zine era’s most widely-circulated publications. Cartoonist, musician, and writer, his mission has been to collect and present the art and music of street people. He’s published two other books, Twisted Image and Surviving on the Streets, both from the late lamented Loompanics Unlimited.

Acid Heroes is a druggy book with an anti-drug message; a detailed analysis of the downside of the counterculture which went on to become, in many negative ways, the culture. More than a memoir, it’s almost like being there – too much for comfort, maybe.

Geniuses, who often violate the rules of established society, certainly come to suffer for these deviations in various cruel ways but they are, at least, sustained in their travails by the glory of their brilliant accomplishments.
Alexander King

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