interview by adam parfrey
conducted by mail while I was in the joint (5/99)

PARFREY: How has life changed for you? Before being forced into the state institution, you were an institution of your own (best magazine publisher/editor/writer, published by Simon and Schuster, truck driver, singer). What do you miss from this period of your life, and what do you get from being in jail? Certainly you get some introspection. Do find this to be useful? Do you find anything good from your life being redirected?

GOAD: Since I share a huge dormitory with 109 other inmates, I miss nights of uninterrupted sleep. I miss freedom of motion and driving at midnight on lonely open roads. I miss my Chihuahua. I miss taking baths. I miss coffee that isn't freeze-dried. I don't miss my whiny ex-wife or my psychotic ex-girlfriend. I don't miss working a full-time job. I don't miss having to cook meals or pay rent. There's more good than bad in all this. I feel as if I'm entering my life's most interesting phase. I'm in superb physical shape and am mentally stronger than ever. I now have a ferocious will to live, and anything that had previously been weak or half-assed about my personality has been burned to a crisp. For the first time in my life, I really like myself. Surviving prison will give me a stamp of legitimacy I couldn't have otherwise acquired. Considering the sort of literary turf I plow, going to prison is a solid career move. Nietzsche was right about that which doesn't kill you. I enjoy the idea of having people think I'm vanquished, only to rear my head again next year. I look forward to the world shrieking with horror when they realize they haven't killed me.

You wrote a piece on not having a piece (of the woman sort), and having sex with your hairy palm. From what I understand, you have no privacy. How do you best get around the possible voyeuristic inclinations of the purple set? And how much do women appeal to you after being incarcerated due to the gender?

I spew at least one wad daily, usually pitching a tent in the middle of the night. My bunk is situated so that the only people who'd have a clear view of me jacking are the guys in the bunks to either side of me, and before pleasuring myself, I make sure their backs are turned or they're sleeping.

It's hard to avoid gawkers in the shower. As long as they look but don't touch, I'm cool. And this place is under such heavy surveillance—with bay windows running all along the showers—that even consensual homos wind up frustrated. But I've seen enough hairy male bodies, combined with visual deprivation of the naked female form for a year now, to confirm rampant rumors of my heterosexuality. When some of the female guards start to look good, you realize the depths of your desperation.

So women's bodies appeal to me more than ever; their minds, less than ever. I'm now convinced that all women are weak-willed and hyperemotional. Women can't hang. Never engage them as partners in crime or evil. There is no such thing as a hardcore girl. A few of them may play at being hard, but when the shit really goes down, they're just...women. Deep down, they're only...girls. Even fags have more guts. I've taken the biggest, brashest "bad girls" and sent them running to Jesus or the police.

Describe a bit about what you're writing for Feral House.

Shit Magnet is a full-length investigation into why so much shit flies my way. It examines what happens when two worlds—Jim Goad and Planet Earth—collide. It is less an autobiography than a comprehensive statement of philosophy using real-life vignettes as illustration. Picture Mein Kampf crossbred with Soul on Ice, and you're getting close. For a fleeting moment, I thought of calling the book Soul on Vanilla Ice. It'll feature chapters on violence, depression, sociopathy, obsessions, and death; the fun 'n' fury of the ANSWER Me! years, including the obscenity trial, White House shooting and triple neo-Nazi suicides which reverberated in its wake; the glories and challenges of prison life; whether or not I'm evil; and my tips on love and romance.

Shit Magnet will also explain why, despite all the calamities that have befallen me, I'd rather be a shit magnet than a pity sponge. It will also explore why I'm so hated, when I actually find myself quite lovable. And, naturally, I'll argue why it's the world, not me, that should apologize.

What do you think about, day by day? Do you make plans?

I obsess about how much time I have left until my release, which is 17 months from today. I'm obsessive enough to also know it's 519 days from today. I run through all sorts of mathematical gymnastics to make the time seem manageable, such as what percentage of my sentence I've already served (41%), what I was doing 17 months ago (hobbling on crutches and getting my dick sucked), phases in my life that lasted 17 months, etc. I'm also fixated on personal fitness and spend a great deal of time running, weightlifting, popping vitamins, and standing in the veggie line down at chow hall. Much of my thought life is focused on my personal past I work on Shit Magnet.

After that Magnum Opus is completed, I'll be editing a collection my essays dating back to my teens. Then it's two novels—The Magic Nightstick, which is about a delusional cop, and Yard Rat, which concerns a lonely female prisoner who's looking for love in all the wrong places. After those are hammered out, I'll finally edit the Encyclopedia of Racism I've been threatening to publish for years now.

Describe some of your favorite or least favorite characters in the jug.

My favorite character is someone I call the Li'l Laotian, who stands about four-and-a-half feet tall, weighs 70-80 pounds, has buck teeth, and is extremely irritable. He constantly shouts "fuck that shit!" so people will think he's tough. The other day he dropped a washcloth while walking to the bathroom and screamed "fuck that shit!" So just to annoy him, I'm super-nice all the time and try to hug him, which usually has him assuming a karate stance. He called a fellow inmate a "fat country faggot" the other day.

Dustin's another good one. He speaks exactly like Butt-head, has a face like the kid in Mask, and asks everyone if they're from Medford, Oregon. He claims to have played guitar for one track on Metal Massacre IV.

I used to dislike Mexicans, but I've come to admire their remorselessness, their solidarity, and their attitudes toward women. This place also hosts your typical lot of Afro-American crackheads, who are usually good for a laugh, too.

What are you not allowed to do over there? What laws seem absurd and needless to you? Do you find it difficult to get or receive anything worth reading? Is this due to Oregon law, or are you singled out?

I'm told that at Maximum Security joints, the guards are too busy breaking up knife fights and gang rapes to nitpick about the pettier rules. But since this is a minimum-security facility, their enforcement of trifling regulations is especially tight-assed. For example, you're allowed to go back to sleep after breakfast, but not underneath your blankets. You're forbidden to trade items you've ordered from canteen with other inmates, even if he needs toothpaste and you need an envelope. You're allowed to walk around shirtless, but not with your shirt untucked. The mail regulations are particularly stringent. Any incoming mail containing stickers, scotch tape, crayon doodling, or lipstick kisses will be returned. A girl who sent me a letter from San Francisco had her missive bounced back because she foolishly wrote "SF" instead of "San Francisco" as part of her return address. A friend in Philly had his letter returned because one paragraph contained the word "nigs." Lords of Chaos was sent back to Feral House because, according to the violation notice, "Pgs. 1-22 describe how the devil uses music to bend man to his will." I'm not sure whether this has anything to do with Oregon law or the personal whims or whoever works in this mail room. I would think I'm somehow red-flagged, because I get a lot of mail from freaks. I'm the King of Mail Violations here.

What are those classes they're having you take?

In order to earn good-time credits, most inmates are forced to attend pop-psych classes designed to cure our "thinking errors" so we won't want to steal cars, shoot meth, or beat bitches anymore. I was given a choice between a program called "Pathfinders" and one titled "Cognitive Self-Change." The notebook for Pathfinders features this slogan on the front cover: "Pathfinders do the right thing because it's the right thing to do!" I've learned to apply this sort of symmetrical logic to other areas of my life. For instance, "I take shits because shits are the thing to take!" and "I hit women because women are the thing to hit!"

But since Pathfinders lasts 12 weeks, compared to 10 weeks for Cognitive Self-Change, I've elected to take the latter, which is broken down into mini-courses with titles such as "Breaking Barriers" and "Bridges to Freedom." The Notebook for Cognitive Self-Change contains such pearly platitudes as "If You Always Think What You've Always ought, You'll Always Get What You Always Got!" Basically, these courses peddle idiot-level happyspeak which only makes me more hostile but which probably resonates with most of the bargain-basement intellects around here. The following is a letter-for-letter transcription of a passage scrawled in a Cognitive Self-Change notebook by the convicted rapist in the bunk next to me: "I believe women are wonderful and should be sharished [sic] and not moked [sic] at + or accused for anything without probable cause trust!"

Clearly, this man has benefited from the course.

How much television or radio do you watch/hear? Do you get much input from the outer world? Or do you feel like Robinson Crusoe?

I have an Aiwa radio walkman which I use to sonically zone out of this dormitory's relentless noise. Most mornings I'm tuned to Howard Stern. For much of the day and evening I listen to a low-wattage AM station out of Stayton, OR, that plays ancient country music: Jimmie Rodgers, Webb Pierce, Ernest Tubb, Faron Young, Lefty Frizzell. At night I fall asleep serenaded by rock 'n' roll oldies. I don't ever watch TV, except for the occasional basketball game in order to marvel at the wonders of Negro athleticism. Apart from these diversions, I'm exposed to very little popular culture, which is a good thing, since it makes people retarded. Cultural isolation gives me the focus I need for my writing.

Isolation makes you a supreme fount of wisdom. Now, Dalai Goad, what wisdom do you have for others?

I've learned lessons, but not the ones which the Nice People wanted me to learn.

Among these lessons:

Lower your expectations.

Trust your instincts.

It's always a mistake to care.

Resist the new wave of smiley-faced totalitarianism.

Never date a girl who hates her father. Never stick your dick in someone who thinks it means more than sticking your dick in them.

If you're going to beat a woman, do it so severely that she's too brain-damaged to identify you.

Finally, and most importantly:

Shit can be used as fertilizer.