99: Larry “Ratso” Sloman
To call Larry “Ratso” Sloman a writer is not at all inaccurate - he is a writer. He’s written a lot of books, many of them very successful, particularly his collaborations with Howard Stern (including the book Private Parts), Anthony Kiedis (of the Red Hot Chili Pepers), Magician David Blaine, and Mike Tyson. If you’ve read any of their autobiographies, you’ve read Larry Sloman’s writing.
He has also written books on topics of popular interest including marijuana use (a book called Reefer Madness) and The New York Rangers. And he’s written books about two of the people who had the most profound effect on his life. One on 60s counter cultural icon Abbie Hoffman (Steal This Dream), and another about his time on the road with Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Review tour (On The Road With Bob Dylan) in the 70s. In fact, he earned the name Ratso while he was covering that tour for Rolling Stone magazine.
But to say that Ratso is just a writer would be to sell him short.
Our conversation is wide ranging, but covers a period in American history rich with counterculture. Poet Allen Ginsberg, the band The Fugs, organizer Abbie Hoffman, pornographer Al Goldstein, musician-novelist-politician Kinky Friedman, musicians Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Nick Cave, and High Times Magazine… they all make prominent appearances.
Sloman perfected the art of hanging out. And he turned that art into a career.
Here he talks about how studying sociology influenced his thinking and gave him a way to be inside the revolution and outside at the same time. Larry’s personal story is a kind of stand in for so many people’s stories in the 60s… only more so. The edges of his personal journey are just pushed a little to the extremes. The conversation is filled with buried treasures.
Perhaps not surprisingly the one thing left for Ratso to do is make a record, and that’s what he’s done. When I reached out to him about doing an interview, he was excited to talk about his forthcoming album which he’s made with some Brooklyn hipsters and the somewhat mysterious support of legendary music business attorney Brian Rohan.
In this week’s Spotify playlist hear some of the songs we discuss in our conversation, including the songs that influenced Larry, and the songs he wrote with John Cale and Rick Derringer . Listen here.