No, Al Goldstein wasn’t for everybody. And he most certainly didn’t try to be.
“We will apologize for nothing,” he wrote in the 1968 debut issue of Screw, his colorful and unabashedly sleazy porn paper, and he lived up to the proclamation, in print, on his weekly cable access porn/humor/rant showcase Midnight Blue, and in his everyday interactions with staff, enemies and friends.
He was the anti-Hugh Hefner—no airbrushed pictorials, no hypocritical pretense of anything but smut—and as much a part of New York City as Lou Reed, whose life was celebrated with an all-star memorial tribute at The Apollo three nights prior to Goldstein’s death in a Brooklyn nursing home Thursday at 77.
Goldstein, no doubt, won’t get the same celebrity send-off as Reed, but he likewise merited a front page New York Times obituary. And while he couldn’t sing or play a lick, when it came to self-expression—and the will to fight for his right to it—he was second to none.
Indeed, Goldstein was a warped genius, as self-effacing as he was self-serving, and depending on one’s lot in life, off-the-rail or dead-on right in railing against the machine. Fuming against perceived slights and very real social wrongs, his was the voice of the little guy, or more to the point, the gluttony guy, whose dual appetites for pleasure and justice were matched and unsurpassed.
For sure, he used his media outlets as a bully pulpit, and was dismissed as hateful, not to mention repugnant, by many. Yet he was also generous and immensely lovable, and if you had a broad sense of humor, a joy to be around. Although peeved and peevish most of the time, he loved life, and lived it to the fullest for as long as he could.
And by reveling in the power of the printed and spoken word, he was a true patriot, an American original.
[The Examiner was the subject of two of Al Goldstein's notorious Midnight Blue “F—k You”’s.]
Subscribe to my examiner.com pages and follow me on Twitter @JimBessman.