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Beer, Blood & Cornmeal: Seven Years of Incredibly Strange Wrestling Paperback – April 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 366 pages
  • Publisher: ECW Press (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1550228277
  • ISBN-13: 978-1550228274
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,564,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"In this unforgettable insider's account of the bygone era when punk rock and wrestling ruled San Francisco, Bob Calhoun (aka Count Dante) proves that he's still the fastest mouth in the business. You may run, but you won't be able to hide from this gleefully warped tale. I couldn't put it down."  —Matthew Polly, author, American Shaolin


"Like music and sex, wrestling is so much more fun when it's local, no-budget, and sleazy."  —Jello Biafra, singer, spoken word flamethrower, and former wrestling manager


"Well-observed and sharply funny. [Calhoun's] characterizations nicely communicate the wrestlers' addiction to performance and risk-taking in and out of the ring."  —Slam! Sports



"A behind-the-scenes look at one of the best oddities to come out of the Bay Area over the past few decades."  —San Francisco Chronicle


"Calhoun's reflections on his time in ISW make you feel as though you are ringside. . . . His insightful social commentary adds an unexpected dimension as well, enlightening outsiders to San Francisco's rich history and extremely unique culture."  —Ottawa XPress



"Calhoun intricately traces the developmental trajectory of [Incredibly Strange Wrestling] . . . the book gives readers a look at a formerly shadowed part of non-mainstream culture. Highly recommended."  —Recommended Readings, Butler University



"This book was like candy—I could not stop eating it up. . . . A great read."  —Maximum Rock & Roll



"For seven years, Calhoun tried to help ISW break through to the mainstream . . .  [and now he] chronicles that unsuccessful quest—as well as the twisted characters he met along the way."  —Scripps Howard News Service

About the Author

Bob Calhoun is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Filmfax, Salon.com, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He is the coauthor of martial arts and Hollywood stunt legend "Judo" Gene LeBell's autobiography, The Godfather of Grappling. He lives in San Francisco. 

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Customer Reviews

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The Count was a master of the microphone and he really put together a great read.
Scott Woll
I lived in San Francisco during the era that this book covers and worked at The Transmission Theater as a bartender for many of Incredibly Strange Wrestling's shows.
Brandi Valenza
This is a great read, and a great ride, through a world that otherwise you'd never get to see.
Joan S. Duane

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Brandi Valenza on April 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
If you have ever stepped foot in San Francisco, seen these wrestlers in the ring, been to a punk rock show, or lived through this time in the past, you should read this book. You should read this book even if you've done none of those things. It's more than a memoir, more than an autobiography and filled with all of the drama and excitement you would expect -- in and out of the wrestling ring -- from the show and more. So much more.

I lived in San Francisco during the era that this book covers and worked at The Transmission Theater as a bartender for many of Incredibly Strange Wrestling's shows. Bob Calhoun covers this spectacle in such depth and with such precision and detail, it was almost like being in the 90s again, except this time I am a fly on the wall privy to bits and pieces that I never would have known about until reading.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Adam Cantwell on June 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
In this fine punk-wrestling memoir, combining aspects of punk tour diary, independent wrestling reportage, and cultural critique, Calhoun deploys his satirical gifts upon himself, his fellow grapplers, San Francisco hipsterism, and the country at large, always to hilarious and thought-provoking effect.
As the book opens in early 90's San Francisco, Calhoun, fed on an intellectual diet of Marvel comics, monster movies, and pro wrestling, is a striving loser whose stated ambitions are for nothing more than local celebrity - some color to brighten the drab modern American existence of commuting and wage-earning. He leads a band in the persona of a mail-order martial arts huckster from comic book ads, works his way through the San Francisco club scene, and in time falls in with a crowd of urban niche hipsters, the punk/greaser retro-gearhead founders of Incredibly Strange Wrestling. Conceived partly as a tribute to/ripoff of Mexican-style pro wrestling, ISW grows over the years into a local and regional nightclub attraction, gradually incorporating more of Calhoun's non-sequitur concepts. Not content with the scuzzily rarefied, insiders-only vibe of early ISW and SF hipsterdom in general, Calhoun and others in his camp use the ISW platform to stage increasingly bizarre, satirical, and transgressive spectacles. Scientologists, organized religion, and white rappers all get the treatment. In a process mirroring the evolution of independent rock toward the mainstream, ISW edges closer to a material success which confounds everyone involved. Personality conflicts multiply, and the efforts and rewards involved are not always evenly distributed.
As is appropriate in a story about pro wrestling, the psychology of obsession is laid bare here.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Scott Woll on July 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
I'm not your average book reviewer but this book is beyond average, It's amazing! I can clearly remember seeing Incredibly Strange Wrestling at the Warped Tour in 2001. I've never had more fun at a wrestling event. Before the matches even started, they handed out tortillas to throw at the wrestlers. It was so much fun. The charachters are hilarious, such as El Homo Loco, a gay luchador would carry a milk jug filled with cum. There was also El Pollo Diablo, who was a wrestler in a full chicken suit, much like a sports mascot. There was no way you could deny the pure entertainment that ISW brought to the masses that day. As I said before, I've never forgot ISW and my friend recently told me about this book, Beer Blood & Cornmeal, wrote by the ISW announcer/wrestler Count Dante. I couldn't wait to find a copy and I haven't been able to put the book down. The Count was a master of the microphone and he really put together a great read. I would highly recommend this book to any fan of wrestling. It recounts the beginning of ISW in San Francisco and covers the entire 7 year run of the fabulous company. I hope that this book helps more people discover the greatness that was Incredibly Strange Wrestling and maybe one day they will make a comeback. I know that I would be first in line at the show with a bag full of tortillas.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Regan on September 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am currently about halfway through this book, but I can already tell you that I love it. That might not be shocking, since the opus involves two of my long-standing guilty pleasures: pro wrestling and punk rock. However, my praise for Beer Blood & Cornmeal goes beyond the subject matter. It also takes into account the actual writing: it's funny!
The book is well written, interesting, and incorporates (counter)cultural aspects of San Francisco and the US in general to flesh out the story. If there is any negative aspect to this book, it's that I only wish I had been in the San Francisco area during those years and experienced ISW in person. I know I would have been to every show, and secretly tempted to somehow become involved, trying to conjure up a character worthy of facing Macho Sasquatcho or the other brilliant, twisted creations.
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By Daniel Boyd on December 15, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I can't count the number of pro-wrestling related books I've read in recent years - well into the dozens - but I can name the most enjoyable: "Beer, Blood & Cornmeal!" Bob Calhoun (as Count Dante) becomes a psychotronic George Plimpton, finding himself smack dab in the middle of one of the wildest pro wrestling movements in history. Many boys dream of joining the circus, and Calhoun thought his circus would be that of rock & roll, but in the unexplainable phenomenon of right time - right place, he landed center stage in San Francisco's Incredibly Strange Wrestling promotion. With "backyard" wrestling lacking skill and polish, and "old schoolers" losing sight of the sacred law of pro wrestling - entertaining a crowd & putting butts in the seats - Calhoun rides this short wave where punk met wrestling. And as well, crashes with it at the end of the short life. He admittedly confesses to a near-total lack of the extensive physical skill traditionally required for the sport. But you know, he "gets it." He gets that wrestling at any level is a glorified freak show (and I say this with total love in my heart). At this one moment in time, he was able to change his music gimmick a couple clicks to jump in and give us a glimpse of perhaps the freakiest wresting freak show of all time. Calhoun really nails the pettiness of 90-plus percent of all pro-wrestling (the major piece of the pie not owned by Vince, TNA & Ring of Honor). But what I was most impressed with was how he did it with a kindness usually not extended to this outer ring of the Uranus of entertainment. He also saw the talent and goodness in his band of freaks. My guess is that he was lucky to land ECW Press for this book, allowing him to be honest in a world that hates honesty like children hate drunks. Simply and plainly, I loved it! If I had a time machine Incredibly Strange Wrestling would be one of my first stops on my trip backwards. Daniel Boyd
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