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Citizen Goad

Author is flash point for free speech and divided opinion

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You don’t ask Jim Goad when he stopped beating his wife. (She’s dead.)

You ask him when he’s going to start beating his new girlfriend.

“If you’re waiting for me to beat a woman, don’t hold your breath,” Goad says, addressing the tape recorder. “Sor-ry to disappoint you,” he sneers, then gives a nervous chuckle.

Local author Jim Goad, 41, was imprisoned in May 1998 for assaulting his girlfriend, Sky Ryan, the climax of a relationship so stormy it looked like it was made for the “Jerry Springer Show.”

After breaking her eye socket with his fist and biting her thumb, he kicked her out of his car on Northwest Skyline Boulevard and fled to Washington. Two days later, he was back in town and the police arrested him. He was on his way home from Radio Shack where he had bought equipment for saving her threatening voice mails to him onto tape.

Facing 15 years, he eventually copped a plea and served 29 months for assault and attempted kidnapping.

While in the pokey, Goad wrote the scatologically titled book about his troubles. “Shit Magnet” was published by Feral House in May.

The reason that Portland took any notice of just another fistfight was that Goad had spent the early ’90s alternately defending himself and stirring up more trouble in four annual issues of his zine called “Answer Me!” His rants against what he saw as the hypocrisy of feminists, anti-racists and liberals reached a peak with the fourth issue of Answer Me!, which dealt with the subject of rape graphically and from every conceivable angle, including that of the rapist and the prison punk.

He suggested that violent women get more protection from the law than battered men. And then he battered a woman.

Until then Goad had a history of trouble Ñ but mostly of the bourgeois type. Lawsuits. Letters to the editor. Flame wars. In 1994, madman Francisco Duran shot at the White House and quoted Goad Ñ which brought the feds to Goad’s door.

In 1995, a Bellingham, Wash., newsstand owner was tried for obscenity for selling the “Rape Issue” as it came to be known. Goad was not a defendant, and although he offered himself as a witness, he fell out with the people attempting to defend his work as free speech.

A booster shot of publicity came in 1996. Three neo-Nazi British skinheads killed themselves after allegedly being inspired by his writing.

Goad became a poster boy for the transgressive school of writing (serial killer chic, kinky sexology, suburban Satanism), much of which is discussed at length in Feral House anthologies such as “Amok” and “Apocalypse Culture.”

He enjoyed the publicity but still bit the hand that tried to pet him. Goad always mocked those who would defend his free speech rights; in his latest book, he constantly makes fun of “zine hipsters.”

One evening last month at the Counter Media bookstore, “Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk dropped in at the launch of Goad’s new book. Palahniuk likes Goad’s writing for its directness.

“He doesn’t pull his punches. Brutally honest without worrying about being correct,” Palahniuk says. “So many of my writer friends want nothing to do with Jim, so it’s hard to be with those people and also to like Jim’s stuff.”

At the launch party, the ex-con read and took questions Ñ mainly about prison Ñ from the dozen fans who showed up. Goad has fallen out with his editor over book ads that were to be placed in the rear of his volume, so Counter Media’s Charlie Boucher offered him the space.

His brush with the big time came when Simon & Schuster published “The Redneck Manifesto” in 1997. However, they passed on his second book when the stuff hit the fan.

His new book attempts to settle old scores while simultaneously picking open old wounds. With self-awareness that never quite becomes self-pity, he tells of his horrible childhood, his hideous teens and young adulthood as a punk rocker.



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