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04-02-03: Checking Up on Madison Priest, Jim Knipfel gets the Chip Kidd Treatment, Richard Morgan Deserves the Chip Kidd Treatment

Checking Up on Madison Priest

"Madison is a special guy. If he had been properly directed somewhere along the line, he could have been salesman of the year in whatever he wanted to go into. He just had the ability to talk people into stuff."

Last year, I wrote a column about would-be network wonder Madison Priest, whose high-speed internet "modem" promised the delivery of high-quality digital video over regular phone lines. I compared his schtick with that of 'The Turk', as described by talented non-fiction writer Tom Standage. I decided to cast about and see what happened to the seemingly unsquashable Mr. Priest. It seems that "pipe dreams" will certainly describe his current occupation as well as his former job hocking network "neverware". Here's a copy of the news story I dug up with the ever-helpful search engines. It's from something called '', the thinking being, presumably, that as whatever European it was who bumped into America bumped into the Atlantic Coast "First". Over to you, Alan.

For Madison Priest the Field of Dreams is indoors and combustible.

Two arrested in large marijuana-growing operation

(11/23/2002) By First Coast News Staff

PALATKA, Fl - Two men were arrested in a large marijuana-growing operation on the First Coast. The size and scope of a marijuana operation in Putnam County shocked even the authorities who made the drug bust. The investigation began in Pinellas County and ended on the First Coast. It was a joint investigation that included the Pinellas County Authorities, St. Johns County authorities and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Madison Priest of St Augustine and Christopher Barley of Jacksonville were arrested and are being held in the Putnam County jail. Police caught up with Priest at a warehouse he was leaving in east Palatka after he allegedly tried to sell a pound of marijuana and two assault rifles to an undercover police officer.

With a search warrant in hand, police found an elaborate marijuana growing operation. Deputies found more than $5 million of marijuana growing at the warehouse. They also discovered close to 80 guns after a raid on Priest's home in St. Augustine.

"They had [the operation going] but they had not started producing product yet. It was going to cause a lot of problems throughout northeast Florida. This dope would probably be going throughout the southeastern United States," said Captain Keith Riddick, Putnam County Sheriff's Office.

There is more to Madison Priest, the suspected brains behind the operation, than just the drugs. Priest is a man some call a "scam artist." Police say it might explain how Priest got the money to fund the elaborate marijuana-growing operation.

Madison Priest was peddling his "invention" to investors. He talked people into investing millions of dollars for a "magic black box." It is a device he claimed would allow people to download movies over the telephone thus eliminating the need to go to a video store.

"Madison is a special guy. If he had been properly directedsomewhere along the line, he could have been salesman of the year in whatever he wanted to go into. He just had the ability to talk people into stuff," said David Hodges, Private Investigator.

Investigator Hodges estimates that Priest took investors for at least $15 million for products he has still not delivered.

Jim Knipfel gets the Chip Kidd Treatment

Chip Kidd designed the cover for this weird novel by Jim Knipfel. It looks a bit like a rip on the old 'News of the Weird' series by Mark Sumner that was turned (briefly) into a very enjoyable SciFi Channel series. Kidd's Godzilla-monster splattered cover not only gives adecent idea of what's going on in the novel, it's incredibly cool. I actually own the Japanese plastic toys of these monsters. Sad old git, eh?

I interviewed Chipp Kidd last year (alas the tape was recycled before I could get it onto The Agony Column) for the release of his hilarious first novel 'The Cheese Monkeys'. Be assured I'll interview him again when he comes around again, and this time I'll keep the tape! Not only is he an accomplished writer, he's the top of the heap when it comes to book design. The above novel by Jim Knipfel, which looks to be pretty good, has a great cover by Kidd that's probably worth the price of admission. I sought out Knipfel's novel based on a review I saw in the San Francisco Chronicle by Michael Berry. He made the novel sound imminently readable. I'll let you know what I think by and by. It's about a reporter who gets the "Weekly World News" stories for a metro daily, and finds himelf immersed in one that may not be utter BS or hallucination.

Richard Morgan Deserves the Chip Kidd Treatment

Take a walk on the Yew-glee side. Whatever you do, read this novel -- it'll knock your socks off.

If you haven't read Richard Morgan's 'Altered Carbon' yet, now you can get it in an afordable if rather unsightly US trade paperback. This should be the book on all the beaches this year. I can't say the American cover is doing this novel any great favor. It's an absolute rocket-ride SF thriller with great characters, great plotting and some wonderful world-building. The sequel, 'Broken Angels' is already out in the UK, and if you read this in the US the chances are that you will be ordering the UK sequel online before you even finish this novel. If you don't, email me and let me know.

04-01-03: Wine Wars in California, Sub Slips in a Chapbook, New Locus & CD

A Tale of Two Valleys Arrives

This books looks to dish out the dirt on California's Wine Wars.

I'll be talking to Alan Deutschman live on KUSP ( on 4/11/03 at 11 AM. This book tells the story of how Alan Deutschman managed to get the job of hanging out with America's richest and most eccentric wine barons in one of the most beautiful places in the world. It's short and looks to be very funny. I'll have a report on it shortly.

Where's my 17" Powerbook?

Speaking of the future, as I often do in my role as Science Fiction critic, it will be most interesting to read about one of the men who twisted my future of huge mainframes networked in a monolithic control of the world into the chaotic mainframe-on-a-desk situation we now have.

Subterranean Press Slips by the Slipcase

J.K. Potter's cover for the 'Embrace the Mutation' limited edition chapbook, which they're giving out instead of a slipcase. Great decision!

Yesterday also brought this title from Subterranean Press. They nicely explained in their letter that they were having problems with slipcases, so instead of a piece of cardboard, they were giving those who bought the limited edition a signed, limited edition chapbook with "nearly 20,000 words of new fiction by J. K. Potter and Caitlin R. Keirnan." Now that's a great decision. Thanks, guys!


New Locus and Cemetery Dance

What? Is there such a thing as the "horror genre"? I thought it was all "dark fantasy"!

The latest issue of Locus "looks at horror". Given that Paula Guran recently announced the death of horror on their website, one is skeptical. However, Edward Bryant brings a true history and understanding to the arena. I have a collection of Edward Bryant stories from Dark Harvest Press. That's one hell of a long history. It's nice to see that they got JK Potter to do the Ramsey Campbell cover. Check out David Schow's hysterical rant as well.

Now that's horror!

The latest issue of CD is out, and well worth picking up. Tom Piccirilli has an interview and piece of fiction, and both are well worth reading. Save yourself some trouble and just subscribe. This is the modern history of horror.