Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Friday, May 18, 2012

Michael Jackson and Field of Dreams Will Send You to Hell, According to This Dumb 90s Book

Posted By on Fri, May 18, 2012 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge studies_in_crap_how_to_be_a_succesful.jpg

Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from Golden State thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.

How to Be a Successful Teenager

Author:Rick Jones

Date: 1994

Publisher: Chick Publications

Discovered at: San Jose estate sale

The Cover Promises: Being a teenager is a thing that you can fail at.

Representative Quotes:

"Judy thought satanism would be fun. But once she got on the inside, she saw things she wished she had never seen."
"Abortions bring in BIG money ...A doctor will make money, nurses will make money, a drug company will make money, a whole system will make money. So when someone asks you to have an abortion, ask yourself 'Who's best interest do they have in mind?'"

In the early 1999s, around the time that Rick Jones' hysterical not-really-an-advice-book advice book How to Be a Successful Teenager was published, a sweet old greeter at the K-Mart your Crap Archivist worked at offered a dire warning: "Do you listen to heavy metal?" she asked. "You shouldn't! Stevie Nicks is a witch!" How to Be a Successful Teenager is a lot like that encounter: It's paranoid, muddle-headed, shaky on firm detail, and almost bittersweet in its behind-the-curve cluelessness. (Stevie Nicks has what to do with heavy metal, exactly? And who the hell cared about heavy metal in the age of Snoop and Nirvana?) While it seems written to make sure that teenagers flee as far as possible from an evangelical lifestyle, How to Be a Successful Teenager is at least somewhat clever in its presentation, especially in its insistence that this is actually a helpful life guide for teenagers -- that cover makes it look like something that might be dispensed by a high school guidance counselor. But then there's the table of contents, which includes "The Secret About Hell," "You're Worth a Fortune -- On One Condition," and "The Secret About the Voices in Your Head." And then there's any random page, where this Rick Jones -- also the author of the Studies in Crap classic Stairway to Hell: The Music's Real Master, in which LL Cool J is accused of demon summoning -- is all up in your face like Shirley the K-Mart greeter was, expectorating about how AC/DC and "former Beatle John Lennon" want you to kill yourself. And then there's this, from just a couple pages in:
click to enlarge studies_in_crap_how_to_be_a_succesful_hell_is_party.jpg
Jones thinks that kids need to be told that eternal damnation is not just like getting the backstage laminate to a Scorpions show. He states this in the strongest way he knows how: hilariously simpleminded prose all bolded and capped and probably only not Bedazzled because typesetters haven't yet figured out how.
"Hell will NOT be a party! Hell is the most horrible place of punishment ever created. It is a terrifying place, worse than anything you can imagine."
So, step one for being a successful teenager: Stop assuming that going to hell is like going to be like chillin' in the Big Brother house. Step two seems to be don't worry about getting your facts right. Jones writes:
"In 1990 Pearl Jam's lead singer died of a heroin overdose, as did Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols. Drugs also took the life of rock guitar legend Alvin Lee."
On behalf of Jones, I'd like to issue the following corrections: 1. Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood died in 1990 of a heroin overdose; members of the band went on to form Pearl Jam. 2. Sid Vicious did not die in 1990. 3. Ten Years After guitarist Alvin Lee did not die in 1990 either, and in fact he has not died at all, and he's cool and all but has never really been held as "a legend," especially among hellbound American teens of 1994. 4. Italicizing band names is just as goofy as ballpoiting them onto your arm in lightning letters.
click to enlarge studies_in_crap_how_to_be_a_succesful_back.jpg
Despite the claim that this godawful book is packed with "18 Secrets Every Teen Needs to Succeed," Jones is simply too disorganized to muster anything resembling a coherent list. Instead, chapter in and chapter out, he just dishes unsourced horror stories of teens who have purportedly killed themselves or others under the influence of popular music. These tales he pairs up with imaginative nonsense about the stars behind that music. Among his notebook scrapings:
  • Jones quotes Michael Jackson discussing the mysteries of the creative process, and how sometimes, after writing a song, Jackson would feel like he had taken part in something miraculous. "I feel that somewhere, some place, it's all been done, and I'm the courier bringing it into the world," Jackson said. Jones' response:
    "Michael is right. He is just a courier bringing Satan's message to millions of teens. You can't get too mad at Michael because he's just as deceived as those who listen to his music."
    Note to teens: Satan wants you to heal the world.
  • Discussing suicide, Jones claims,
    "Public schools now have classes on the subject, where teachers can suggest suicide as a possible problem solver."
    That probably has something to do with teachers' unions hating large class sizes.
  • Here's one that I bet he's actually right about:
    "When Lisa paid $50 to hear Rod Stewart sing 'Tonight's the Night' in concert, she wasn't thinking about the night a few months later when she would lay terrified on a table in an abortion clinic, about to end her unborn baby's life."
  • More on that last point:
    "And then I pictured Rod, lounging by his pool, soaking up some sun, safe and secure behind his iron gates. He doesn't lose any sleep over the fact that his luxurious lifestyle came at the expense of teens like Lisa. No, her destruction was his ticket to wealth."
    If it's any consolation, since the publication of How to Be a Successful Teenager, abortion-profiteer Rod Stewart has dedicated himself to making music that no teenager could ever enjoy.
  • Jones claims that an article in Hustler magazine explained how to abduct, molest, and gouge the eyes out of children. Soon after publication of that article, guess what happened? NOTE: According to research your Crap Archivist and his neighborhood friends conducted with a stack of rain-damaged magazines found in an abandoned barn in 1986, Hustler is not a how-to magazine.
  • Jones on Madonna:
    "Watch what Satan does to her when he's through using her."
    Actually, since she's handled Sean Penn, Warren Beatty, Denis Rodman, and that one terrible movie director, I think Madonna has less to worry about in this relationship than Satan does. That chump better have a pre-nup.
  • Jones' book is not likely to be recommended by mental-health professionals.
    "Teen, if you are hearing voices, you can be sure that demons have somehow gained entrance to your body and are talking to you."
  • Seriously, that's in context. Jones contends that teens tend to start hearing "voices" after playing Dungeons & Dragons, listening to Ozzy Osbourne, or even enjoying some more seemingly wholesome pursuits:
    "Remember the movie 'Field of Dreams'? Voices in the farmer's head kept telling him what to do. As he obeyed, all the pieces fell into place, and in a tear-jerking finale, his life-long dream was fulfilled -- he got to meet his dad. The movie's message was simple -- obey the voices in your head, and everything will work out for you, too! Don't be deceived! That's a bald-faced satanic lie. If you listen to and obey unseen voices, it will lead you to destruction. Nothing turns out good when you listen to demons."
  • Other things to be avoided, according to Jones: Krokus; Jimi Hendrix; Ouija boards; sex-education teachers whose mission is not to teach "but to convert you" to homosexuality; the "pro-homosexual" film Philadelphia; White Zombie; Kurt Cobain and River Phoenix; Larry Cramer [sic], the "homosexual and internationally known playwright"; Tupac; Motley Crue; all religions that are not Christianity; Iron Maiden; "the rock group Piledriver"
Finally, in this last sad highlight, Jones mounts his strongest arguments against anyone who believes that the path to hell is not paved with Kevin Costner baseball movies:
click to enlarge studies_in_crap_how_to_be_a_succesful_it_doesnt_matter.jpg
Wait, so he's not trying to scare people? Is it even worth pointing out that this comes just a couple pages after "Hell is the most horrible place of punishment ever created"? Wasn't there something in that other holy book about not being a big ol' liar? --
Hey, you could do worse than following @studiesincrap or @ExhibitionistSF on the Twitter thing.

The mighty Studies in Crap e-mail list alerts you whenever a new SiC post hits. Sign up at

  • Pin It

About The Author

Alan Scherstuhl


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"