sub genius

Hey its a doctorate…..

by Art Chantry (

This is my official ‘doktorate’ diploma from the Church of the Sub-Genius. It’s what you used to receive when you joined up (i think it was $25), back in the 1980′s, when they were still interesting. you also got a subscription to their newsletter (always great and very cool) and other assorted items like a sheet of “bob dobbs” faces (complete with pipes) that you could clip and use all over the place. the idea was to spread the gospel and poison minds everywhere, young an old.

Dennis P. Eichhorn hooked me up with the sub genius. Denny seemed to be on first name basis with just about everybody and everything. I think he collected weirdoes. he seemed to know everybody who was strange and busy. denny spread the word widely, too. he was probably the ‘best connected’ guy I’ve ever met. funny, too. I miss him.

AC:i guess they can afford to back candidates, now. i wonder how many other rip/scams they've pulled off with thier "stolen" clip art image? amazing. it's nothing to be proud of, actually. it's morally no better than disney changing copyright laws to protect their stupid little mouse franchise..

when i first met denny at the rocket (where he kept a desk.) one of the first things he did was introduce me to peter bagge. maybe the second thing he did was introduce me to the sub genius. this came in the form of all sorts of suggestions to slip pictures of bob into the rocket and to illustrate reviews of church “slack fests” in the magazine with cool little collage images form sub genius files. he was true evangelist for the sub genius, that guy was.

Many years later, I met up with a sub genius feller who was dubbed “the pope of new york”. turns out he did record reviews for the rocket and also wrote mainstream editorial articles for various city-style magazines. he was a big beach boys fan(!) and since I was really interested in the Beach Boys at that point (late 80′s) he and I got together for a number of lunches to just obsessively talk about the Beach Boys. It was fun. but, eventually, we sort of ran out of BB stuff to talk about and we drifted apart.

Cut to over a decade later. my old cohort Jesse Reyes is working for penguin books in lovely new york city and I get a phone call from him. he told me that there was a legal problem with a book cover and that if it was ok for a penguin lawyer to call me for info. I was curious as hell and agreed to it.

---2007:Sunday night, after the St. Stupid’s Day Parade, there will be monumental Church of the SubGenius literary convergence at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. “Avatars of Slack” celebrates the release of the Church of the SubGenius books “The SubGenius Psychlopedia of Slack, Vol. 1: The Bobliographon” & “Revelation X: The ‘Bob’Apocryphon”, as well as Hal Robbins’ books “Dinosaur Alphabet” & “The Meaning of Lost and Mismatched Socks”. SubGenii in attendance will include Dr. Howland Owll, Dr. Philo Drummond, Puzzling Evidence, Bishop Joey another others.

The case was pretty simple. some eager beaver freelancer designed a book cover for some sociologically based sort of book about some damned thing. The cover was a collage of hundreds of weird little faces. prominently among those faces was a nice big bob dobbs (with pipe). the guy who was the main dude in the sub genius (i forget his name) sued over copyright and usage and damages. go figger.

Seems that things had changed in the sub genius. they now took themselves and their organization much more seriously and were actu

trying to make a living with their (originally what was a) joke. so, rather than promoting folks to spread “the word” by using images of bob through the pop culture, they were now “protecting their copyright”. they were now an official religion! not bad for what was originally a lifted piece of clip art from decades earlier.

The lawyers wanted to ask me about copyright usage and the history of the subgenius and any old references to the old clip image. I think they were hoping that I had the original source material where the old clip source of bob came from. I don’t. I told them that. but, I did have a nice cache of old sub genius materials that I had collected and saved over the years. they wanted to borrow that to use as research materials. I agreed and packed it all up and sent it.

I was sort shocked at the cheap money grab that the sub genius was going for. It amazing how our collective elitist sense of moral superiority will evaporate when easy money steps into view. they obviously saw money and gambled on a big payoff, even though their entire history was a scam and a joke and an effort to spread into culture anonymously. so, I figgered it was ok to let the asshole lawyers protect themselves from an even worse asshole move. (“balance in all things,” said the anaheim flash.)

Now, here’s where the story gets twisted. after a long time, I get another call from Jesse. he wanted to know if my stuff got returned. I had forgotten! It hadn’t, so I told him, “no.” he looked into it for me and then the lawyers went nova (as lawyers are prone to do) because they sent it out a long time back. then Jesse checked the mail room and found out that it had some problem with the address and sat there for ages. eventually the loser hack mail room guys opened it and stole everything. totally gone.

---...During 1979 Dr. Philo Drummond and Reverend Ivan Stang developed the basic public outreach materials, such as our original Pamphlet #1 and the multi-document Ordainment Kit with its All-Purpose Excuse Document, Doktorate of the Forbidden Sciences, Ordainment Card etc. The first copies of Pamphlet #1 were picked up from the printer on January 2, 1980, ready to be left in bars and laundromats, and to be mailed to publishers. Philo and Stang mailed it to 150 publishers and got 150 rejection slips. Even the publishers of underground comics tossed them in the trash. But from those trashcans, the SubGenius Pamphlet copies were rescued by various artists and janitors. A year later the graphics were much better, and the Pamphlet got reviewed by Rolling Stone and Heavy Metal; and got reprinted in the magazine WEIRDO; finally a young editor at McGraw-Hill had found a battered copy of the Pamphlet and made them an offer. The Book of the SubGenius came out from McGraw-Hill in image for more...

So, Jesse (asking for the lawyers) wanted to know how much it was all worth. Jesse suggested to go high, because it was corporate. somehow the amount of 3 or 4 thousand dollars came up (i think as a joke). so, that amount was actually submitted. I felt like the greedy subgenius all of a sudden.

The lawyers freaked and some lesser amount was agreed on (but still in the thousands.) and they sent me a check for damages for that amount! I basically sold some old sub genius crap for thousands of dollars! pretty funny.

Of course, later I found out that the lazy dumbass lawyers had settled out of court (so much easier than actually doing their job) with the subgneius for several HUNDRED thousand dollars. man, I shoulda held out for more.

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