Tribute to Barney Rosset

Janine Lindsey


Dear Barney,

A few minutes ago I finished watching a film about you, “Obscene.” I told my husband and he said, “I think he just died recently.” And ho, I find it to be true. I like you, I like you a lot. I didn’t really know about you until I plucked this film off the library shelf, but see now how influential you were to who I have become, how I think about things, and how this ‘world’ I live in was shaped in part by you. Having been born in 1960, I suppose it was timely enough not to know much about you, but to have been affected by all the amazing folks you published.


In our paradoxically prudish/prurient society, it’s so important to have a little bit of ‘dirty old man’ in each of us. These days fighting the right wing extremist fascism is just a must. You help me do that. You were a funny man, and you know what I love most about you… besides your radical courage? After every hardship you talk about in the film, or during it, you are laughing. Maybe it’s part of what allows you to have that radical courage… not taking any of it so seriously that a giggle can’t escape the ultimately candle-lit heart of every dark experience. I’ve got to go now. My daughter has a soccer game, and I need to meet some folks in the parking lot at Costco, they’re giving away a humidor and 75 cigars, and I’m the lucky recipient. I’m a near-vegan socialist stay-near-home mom who can’t bring herself to own a cell phone cuz of the potentialities. I’m going to pick up a cadre of cigars. What could be more natural? Thank you for the volcano of gifts you gave, the lovely lava you spread around us all. As a Japanese Zen Monk I know says it best:


I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.



Janine Lindsey

Olympia, Washington