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Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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Beer, Blood & Cornmeal: Seven Years of Incredibly Strange Wrestling Paperback – April 1, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 366 pages
  • Publisher: ECW Press (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1550228277
  • ISBN-13: 978-1550228274
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,804,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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.
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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You don't have to be an Incredibly Strange Wrestling fan to appreciate this book. Calhoun's anecdotes from the bizarre underground world that was ISW are hilarious enough on their own, but he brings them to life so vividly you will laugh until your cheeks hurt. The background details of the characters, the organizers, and the venues are simply unbelievable, even if you are a seasoned fan of offbeat indie entertainment. And if you were lucky enough to catch some of these matches in the late 90s - early 2000s, "Beer Blood and Cornmeal" is a trip down memory lane. (And if you are TRULY lucky, you might see your face at ringside in one of the many color photos, as I did). The inside story of ISW is even more bizarre than you might think, and Calhoun is the perfect narrator for it.
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