Madison authors, topics, book events and publishers
Stu Levitan welcomes The Rev. L. J. Sloman of the Last Exit Before the Freeway Church of God, as seen on WMTV’s The Weekend Starts now with Ben Sidran, a/k/a UW graduate student Larry Sloman, a/k/a “Ratso,” to talk about a book, and album and a movie. The book is On the Road with Bob Dylan, his epic account of Dylan’s 1975 tour, the Rolling Thunder Revue. The critically acclaimed album is Stubborn Heart, from which that brief snippet of Dylan’s Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands was borrowed, and which includes 8 Ratso originals. The movie is Martin Scorcese’s fascinating and fanciful Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story, in which he has a featured role – as he did in Dylan’s own movie about that tour, Reynaldo & Clara.
As to Bob Dylan, he is, without question, the greatest singer-songwriter since Homer. And his live performances on that 1975 tour were among his most intense and electrifying in a 60-year career of intense and electrifying performances.
As to Larry Sloman, he has had a career path I both envy and appreciate. A native New Yorker, he made phi beta kappa and graduated magna cum laude from Queens College in 1969, with a degree in sociology. To avoid the draft, he joined Volunteers in Service To America, the domestic peace corps, and was assigned to Milwaukee, where he worked with Father James Groppi’s welfare mothers, and sometimes their daughters. After a year in VISTA, he accepted a fellowship from the National Institute for Mental Health and came to Madison for his Master’s in Deviance and Criminology, which, as he notes has informed his work ever since.
But more importantly, while here he also became music editor of the Daily Cardinal. Which helped him sell a story to Rolling Stone, after which he wrote for it some more, and then broke big news with a preview of Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks album. From there, he got the Rolling Stone gig to cover the Rolling Thunder Revue– at least for a while — and then wrote the book which Bob Dylan himself calls “the War and Peace of rock and roll.”
Then five years as Editor-in-Chief of High Times magazine, six as Executive Editor of National Lampoon, and a literary career that now includes Steal This Dream: Abbie Hoffman and the Countercultural Revolution in America, Reefer Madness: The History of Marijuana in America, The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of : America’s First Superhero, and Thin Ice: A Season In Hell With the New York Rangers. And best-selling collaborations with radio personality Howard Stern, boxer Mike Tyson, magician David Blaine, Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis, and Peter Criss of Kiss. Various side projects, including producing the award-winning music video of Dylan’s song Jokerman. And now he’s a recording artist, as well. As I said, envy and appreciate. It is a great pleasure to welcome to Madison BookBeat the legendary Larry Ratso Sloman. https://ratso.org/