Friedman, Josh Alan 1956-
FRIEDMAN, Josh Alan 1956-
PERSONAL: Born February 22, 1956, in New York, NY; son of Bruce Jay (a writer) and Ginger (a drama and acting teacher; maiden name, Howard) Friedman. Education: Attended New York University. Hobbies and other interests: Boxing.
ADDRESSES: Home—New York, NY. Agent—Edward J. Acton, Inc., 928 Broadway, Suite 301, New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Regent Sound Studios, New York, NY, assistant engineer and microphone operator, 1974-76; freelance writer and musician, 1976—; Screw (weekly newspaper), New York, NY, senior editor, 1980-82; High Times (monthly magazine), New York, NY, managing editor, 1982-83; City Limits (touring rhythm and blues band), New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, lead guitarist, 1983—.
AWARDS, HONORS: Shared Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, 1985, for series on the plight of the hungry in Africa.
(With brother, Drew Friedman) Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead Is Purely Coincidental (comic strip anthology), Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA), 1985.
Tales of Times Square (nonfiction), Delacorte (New York, NY), 1986.
(With Drew Friedman) Warts and All, Penguin (New York, NY), 1990.
(Editor, with Nile Southern) Now Dig This: The Unspeakable Writings of Terry Southern, 1950-1995, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Contributor of articles and short stories to periodicals, including New York, Heavy Metal, Oui, High Times, Screw, Soho News, Playboy, Penthouse, National Lampoon, Spin, and "various underground and men's mags." Author and editor of weekly consumer listings/street life column "Naked City," for Screw, 1980-86. Contributing editor, National Lampoon, 1985—.
SIDELIGHTS: The son of novelist and playwright Bruce Jay Friedman, Josh Alan Friedman wrote his first book with yet another Friedman, his brother Drew. Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead Is Purely Coincidental is an anthology of comic strips drawn by his brother and written by Friedman. Reviewing the book in Voice Literary Supplement, Barry Walden described its contents as "twisted stories of obscure TV personalities and late-night, Z-movie idols—the stuff every kid stays up to watch over strenuous parental objections." Walden noticed that in many of the stories the Friedmans "reconcile the apple-pie pleasantness" of 1960s television situation comedies with the harsher reality of 1960s life.
Friedman wrote his second book alone. Titled Tales of Times Square, it is a collection of essays on New York City's notorious burlesque show, strip joint, peep show, porn shop, and prostitution district. With its focus on Times Square's pornographic sleaze, Tales made a Washington Post Book World critic "want to shower." The critic did note "some interesting history" in the book, however, and recommended it to readers interested in "this subculture." Voice Literary Supplement reviewer L. S. Klepp found other things to praise in the book, observing that Tales of Times Square offers "perspective on how much the neighborhood has changed" over the years. Times Square was undergoing redevelopment when Friedman wrote the book, and attempts were being made to root out the pornography. Klepp encapsulated the district's history: "elegance declining into carnival tawdriness declining into emetic sleaze, followed by extinction in the guise of salvation." But Tales of Times Square's "main advantage," Klepp assessed, "is that it doesn't take itself seriously. . . . [Friedman] plays his grotesque and malodorous subjects for comedy." The reviewer concluded that the book is "an entertaining obscene postcard of Times Square on the brink."
Tales of Times Square was followed by another collaboration with Drew Friedman titled Warts and All, and a collection of pieces by Terry Southern, Now Dig This: The Unspeakable Writings of Terry Southern, 1950-1995, which Friedman coedited with Southern's son, Nile. The former includes cartoons and strips by Drew from 1986 to 1990 in a book that darkly satirizes various public figures of the late-1980s; the latter was described by George Plimpton in Harper's as an "utterly diverse collection . . . [that] at the very least . . . shows the wide range of Terry's targets, none of them treated with any reverence whatsoever." Terry Southern was a famous writer known for the novel The Magic Christian, screenplays such as Easy Rider and Barbarella, and his relationships with authors and celebrities of the Beat generation. Now Dig This includes an eclectic mix of letters, magazine articles, short stories, and interviews by Southern that, according to Brooke Horvath in Review of Contemporary Fiction, "does much to freshen the cocktail that was always [Southern's] gone (but not forgotten) prose."
Friedman once told CA that his motivation is "trying to preserve everything old about this country." He further explained, "I don't know whether this is a personal neurosis or an honest desire to preserve the soul of Americana. Architecture has become corporate, cars have become fiberglass, diners have become malls, chains have replaced mom-and-pop stores, the regional greatness of different states has become as homogenized as McDonald's. This process is the enemy."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Harper's, August, 2001, George Plimpton, review of Now Dig This: The Unspeakable Writings of Terry Southern, 1950-1995, p. 71.
Library Journal, March 15, 1990, Keith R. A. DeCandido, review of Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead Is Purely Coincidental, p. 55; June 1, 1991, Keith R. A. DeCandido, review of Warts and All, p. 134.
New York Times Book Review, June 17, 2001, Claire Dederer, "The Hippest Guy on the Planet," p. 7; May 5, 2002, Scott Veale, review of Now Dig This, p. 28.
Publishers Weekly, May 23, 1986, review of Tales of Times Square, p. 98; May 28, 2001, review of Now Dig This, p. 63.
Review of Contemporary Fiction, summer, 2002, Brooke Horvath, review of Now Dig This, p. 247.
Variety, October 8, 1986, review of Tales of Times Square, p. 160.
Voice Literary Supplement, April, 1986; July, 1986.
Washington Post Book World, August 10, 1986, review of Tales of Times Square.*