Subculture Vulture

Subculture Vulture

by Moshe Kasher
Genres: Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Published on January 30, 2024
Pages: 320
Format: eBook

After bottoming out, being institutionalized, and getting sober all by the tender age of fifteen, Moshe Kasher found himself asking: “What’s next?” Over the ensuing decades, he discovered the answer: a lot.

There was his time as a boy-king of Alcoholics Anonymous, a kind of pubescent proselytizer for other teens getting and staying sober. He was a rave promoter turned DJ turned sober ecstasy dealer in San Francisco’s techno warehouse party scene of the 1990s. For fifteen years he worked as a psychedelic security guard at Burning Man, fishing hippies out of hidden chambers they’d constructed to try to sneak into the event. As a child of deaf parents, Kasher became deeply immersed in deaf culture and sign language interpretation, translating everything from end-of-life care to horny deaf clients’ attempts to hire sex workers. He reconnects and tries to make peace with his ultra-Hasidic Jewish upbringing after the death of his father before finally settling into the comedy scene where he now makes his living.

Each of these scenes gets a gonzo historiographical rundown before Kasher enters the narrative and tells the story of the lives he has spent careening from one to the next. A razor-sharp, gut-wrenchingly funny, and surprisingly moving tour of some of the most wildly distinct subcultures a person can experience, Subculture Vulture deftly weaves together memoir and propulsive cultural history. It’s a story of finding your people, over and over again, in different settings, and of knowing without a doubt that wherever you are is where you’re supposed to be.

I had never heard of Moshe Kasher prior to reading this book. He has lived a very full life though.

  • He was an alcoholic who got sober by 15. This made him the youngest person in his AA group. He got quite the education.
  • He got deeply immersed in rave culture as a sober person. He started selling drugs in order to be able to get in for free before putting on his own events.
  • He was a gate guard at Burning Man for 15 years.
  • He was raised by a Deaf single mother. He worked as an interpreter at the same time as he was promoting raves.
  • His estranged father’s family were Hasidic Jews. He tried to reconnect with them after his father’s death.
  • He became a stand up comedian.

He writes about each of these subcultures in turn. He talks about the history of each. He tells how that influenced his time there. His writing was very informative and at times moving. I learned a lot about each.

This is a book that will make you think about the subcultures that you are in and those that you have left behind. For me it would be 4-H/equestrian, evangelical Christian, veterinarian, reader, and quilter. I’m sure there are others that I haven’t thought of. What subcultures have you been a part of?