Citizen Hicks …
• After the abrupt cancellation of his twelfth Late Night w/David Letterman performance, Bill Hicks called his friend, The New Yorker‘s John Lahr (Bert’s son), who after the conversation wrote (“THE GOAT BOY RISES”), a most accurate profile of Bill, for the magazine’s November 1, 1993 issue.
— photograph b/ dave hogerty (originalnoise.org)
“AS A YOUNG BOY IN AMERICA, I was always told that I could grow up to be anything I wanted to be. I could be a fireman, a policeman, a doctor, and then, for the first time in the history of mankind, something called an astronaut. Shit, I could even be PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
“But, like so many kids (especially in Texas), I was brought up on a steady diet of Westerns, and what I always wanted to be was the avenging cowboy hero — that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it … Always standing for FREEDOM, TRUTH, AND JUSTICE.
In my heart of hearts, I still track the remnants of that dream wherever I go … in my endless ride into the setting sun.” — BILL HICKS (1961-1994)
“Real” Patriots Speak the Truth.
Although delivered to illicit laughter, Bill’s honest anger always showed in his vicious social commentary. “Burning Issue” was Bill’s response to the right-wing ignorantly criticizing the United States Supreme Court’s 1989 ruling that the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution protects every American’s right to (non-violent) “FREE SPEECH,” even when expressed in the desecration of a symbol some find sacred.
The image of Bill lighting a cigarette with a burning American flag was taken in 1989, the same time The United States Supreme Court was making the first of its two decisions on the flag-burning issue.
Inspiration came from this and two of Bill’s most popular topics … tobacco and false prophecy.
When asked to do it, Bill’s response was immediate and true. “Yes,” he said, and quickly added, “But I’d rather you take a picture of me pulling a knotted flag out of my ass!,” referencing the First Amendment/Pornography debate over photographer Robert Mapplethorpe’s (1st Amendment) controversial, homoerotic exhibit on display at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. at the same time.
— dave hogerty
A Day in the Life
… preparing for a Late Night with David Letterman performance.
In 1991, the CBS New Feature program “48 Hours” followed Bill as he prepared for one of his 12 “Late Night” with David Letterman performances. In it, you see him with “Late Night” producer, Frank (full-of-himself-republican) Gannon, driving from club to club in New York City, working on the five minutes he will do on the show later that week.
In it you will hear Frank Gannon explain how he knows best what will work on Letterman’s show, and then Bill Hicks with the reporter explaining how full of shit Gannon actually was.
Included, after the “48 Hours” piece, you’ll see the Friday night “Late Night” performance (his eighth) Bill had been preparing for.
The Last Word
Two years later, just months before his death, Bill did his twelfth “Late Night,” which was pulled from the broadcast, after David Letterman (agreeing with the CBS “Standards and Practices” department) deemed it too offensive to air. Sixteen years later, Letterman invited Bill’s mother onto the program, publicly apologized for having pulled the set, and broadcast it then, posthumously.
While many called Bill “Un-American” for desecrating the American flag, and for his aggressive delivery of an extreme, Libertarian, and anti-Republican message, the more enlightened knew Bill was a “real” patriot.
[WARNING: PORNOGRAPHY COMING]
LISTEN — to Bill Hicks (1993) description of alt-right Trump sucker Rush Limbaugh.
… and then came Trump.
TODAY — Nearly 30 years later, Donald Trump, in another exhibit of his monumental stupidity, “tweeted” out his belief that anyone daring to burn an American flag should lose their citizenship. How presidential?
Of course Rush Limbaugh might be the most notorious Trump-sucker there is, and he hasn’t changed since Bill Hicks described him in 1993. This was part of Bill’s last recording (Rant in E Minor), released only four months before Bill died. It was a sad day for the now languishing progressive movement … a day when the left wing lost the voice of it’s most viciously funny, and consequential, social commentator.
Listen to his opinion of the day’s republican heirarchy, and imagine what he’d say today, about Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, and the alt-right’s Breitbart News, Favorite Pussy, Milo Yiannopoulos. Understand, it’s going to be a description far less pretty than Yiannopoulos Milo thinks he is.
Ironically, in the fucked up era of Donald Trump, so stupid is Alex Jones, that he has convinced his army of Elmer Dinkleys that Bill never died, that he, Alex Jones, is actually Bill, and InfoWars is the word of Hicks.
If anything were to resurrect Bill, it would be seeing InfoWars, and rising to beat the shit out of Alex Jones.
The controversial portrait of Bill, shot in the mens’ room at the Palm Beach Daily News, where I worked at the time, had been scheduled as the cover of posthumous box set of Bill’s four performance CDs (Dangerous, Relentless, Arizona Bay, and Rant in E Minor). Considering the picture “offensive,” Bill’s (evangelical Christian) parents refused it’s publication.
In the end, the (Rhino Box Set) project was never realized, and the recordings were later released individually.
As Bill often said on (and off) stage, his Southern Baptist parents were never really “fans,” thinking their son was too often pornographic, personally embarrassing, and fundamentally Un-American.
All true, except the Un-American claim of course. Bill was an unapologetic patriot who loved America, and passionately railed against the commercial, social, and political ills he believed were destroying the country he lived in and loved. It was this All-American Attitude that make the flag-burning portrait an appropriate image to represent Bill’s important legacy.
After his death (February 26, 1994), Bill attained something of a cult status, revered by the more open-minded, free-thinking, and inquisitive members of a younger generation, those likely to also know Miles Davis, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, and the modern-day philosophers, Noam Chomsky, Terence McKenna, and Joseph Campbell (“The Power Of Myth”).,
If you’re more interested in Bill, there is much (almost all) easily found on youtube, but be warned, Bill’s material is not for the easily offended, or faint of heart … but if you’d like to hear the least filtered, most honest, and viciously funny social commentary delivered in the 20th Century, put the kids to bed, strap in, and enjoy the ride.
— dave hogerty
• Bill Hicks vs. CBS
— A bootleg (audio) recording of Bill’s first performance,
after the Letterman cancellation
• Bill Hicks “UnResurrected”
— Criticizing organized religion and corporate advertising
always kept Bill out of the mainstream.
• Bill Hicks vs. War
— Bill was virtually alone, speaking out against
America’s first War in Iraq (1991).