Nate Gangelhoff - You Idiot: The First Book (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Nate Gangelhoff

You Idiot: The First Book (2008)

Arsenic Books

Nate Gangelhoff has played in some pretty sweet Midwest punk bands like Banner Pilot, Off with Their Heads, Rivethead and the Pyongyang Metro among others, and that was probably the one selling point for me to crack open his submitted material: You Idiot, which compiles just about the entirety of his defunct DIY zine of the same name.

You Idiot dissects surprisingly riveting topics like the complete failure that was the "Say No to Drugs" campaign of the late `80s / early `90s, the respective rap albums recorded by Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage, batshit crazy religious fanatics and awful video games among other areas. Sometimes these topics overlap quite a bit, but that''s besides the point.

The point, rather, is that Gangelhoff looks at everything with a sure self-deprecation and pure enough wit that You Idiot proves to be a thoroughly compelling read. There are plenty of outright moments of hilarity that bubble up, and while he does drag on a bit at points, those sections tend to end before becoming intolerably stale.

Gangelhoff touches upon some rather incredible stuff. In one section he describes a wealth of supposed "diet" products like Slim Slippers, the Magic Couch and the Fat-Be-Gone Ring, all legitimately sold (at one time or another) goods. Another finds him reviewing books by evangelical preachers who swear that My Little Pony and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers are tools of Satan.

There are also issues of his Whiskey Plus zine, which took more of a look at music -- as in, reviews of karaoke performances or Top 40 hits. It''s still pretty amusing, though.

I know all this sounds pretty goofy and more just like a guy riffing on easy targets for 200+ pages -- and it is. But that's part of its charm, even with all the overlooked grammatical errors. And there are a few, despite Gangelhoff's introductory remarks warning of the embarassing possibility.

Besides being a healthy nostalgia trip for children of the `80s (like me), fans of the absolute absurdity of the ideas and products that are respectively argued or created every day by real, insane people should get a kick out of this.