"[Slackjaw] is an extraordinary emotional ride, through the lives and times of reader and writer alike, maniacally aglow with a born storyteller's gifts of observation, an amiably deranged sense of humor, and a heart too bounced around by his history, and ours, not to have earned Mr. Knipfel, at last, an unsentimental clarity that is generous and deep. What begins as a cautionary tale turns out to be, after all, an exemplary American life. The Park Service ought to be charging admission. Long may he continue to astonish us." --Thomas Pynchon

Illustration by Russell Christian

Preface by Mike Walsh

Books by Jim Knipfel

Ruining It for Everybody
His third memoir. An anti-spirituality spiritual manifesto.

The Buzzing,
A novel about an aging, embittered journalist who stumbles onto what may be a very big story.

Quitting the Nairobi Trio
A memoir of Jim's 6-month incarceration in a locked Minneapolis psych ward after a suicide attempt. Available at Amazon in hardback or trade paperback.


Jim's first book. A classic. Can be purchased as a hardback, paperback, or German translation from Amazon.com.

The Mayor of Hostile City -- Cover story about Jim Knipfel that appeared in the June 1, 2000, issue of the Philadelphia City Paper.

From the former editor of the NY Press: "Jim 'Slackjaw' Knipfel suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, an incurable, irreversible degenerative eye disease. While considered legally blind now, he can still see enough to hold down a job and read the occasional novelization. He can still also enjoy many delightful shows on the television. His doctors tell him that he will be completely blind in a few short years. Knipfel also has left temporal lobe brain damage (from a severe blow to the head he received in 1985), resulting in the occasional 'rage seizure.' The braces he wore on his legs as a child didn't completely do the trick either, leaving his left foot still a bit twisted. The variety of medications he takes has left him with a liver the size of a football. He has also been diagnosed as clinically depressed, and no one much doubts that he's a drunk. He is also an idiot."

Photo by Morgan Intrieri

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Welcome to ... Slackjaw Online

This site contains a selection of columns written by Jim Knipfel. Slackjaw originally appeared in the Welcomat (aka the Philadelphia Weekly) from 1987 to 1994. Slackjaw then appeared in the New York Press, where most of the columns presented here were originally published, until 2006. Slackjaw has appeared on various web sites since then. You can see more Slackjaw columns on Jim Knipfel's Patreon site.

photo by Debbie Egan-Chin

"Things are bad in this world. Ugly, smelly, nasty--a world full of stupidity and starvation and disease--but things never really get as bad as they should." --Jim Knipfel


The Brooklyn From Planet X
The Gatekeeper
Avoiding the Draft
Man in a Cage
Squelching the Feedback
My God Smokes Menthols
Blackboard Landfill
New Adventures in the Land of Ointments
Taken to the Cleaners
When Did I Stop Wanting to be President?
Signs of the Cross
Two Sides of Stupid
Timing is Everything
Wine is the Devil

Dumb as I Look
Maybe I Should Worry
Yes, There's Smoke
The Deep Gray Anger
A Depraved Mind’s Twisted Lair

Earthquakes Without Marjoe
The Big Guy Has Left the Building
Battling the Bulge
Screaming Porch of Horror
What Winslow Homer Taught Me
When the Novelty's Gone
Strangers Near a Train

American Hardcore
The Cockroach Theory of Humanity
Business As Usual
Cheap Haircuts
Everyone's a Fireman
Stolen Images
We’re Alabammy-Bound!
What the Blind Really Need
Where Paranoia Comes From
Who Am the World’s Foremost Authority? A Lesson from Professor Irwin Corey

Bill, Book, and Strangulation
Scared Twisted
Makin' The Kids Happy
Security Risk
Going to Church
Old Habits
Blood on the Lawn

Bad Luck Corner
When Appliances Attack
Future Failures of America
Not Your Jesus Christ

Smoke Gets in Your Head
The Cat in My Hat
How I Finally Forgave Bart Starr
A Mind is a Terrible Thing
Return to Strangeville
Fate Stuck Out Its Foot: The Struggles of Edgar G. Ulmer

Old Bar Fightin' Men!
That Which I Recall is That Which I Regret
The Wages of Bitter Jealousy
Ups and Downs. Mostly Downs
First Night on the Ward
Every Man for Himself, And--
Revenge by Proxy is Still Revenge
Risking My Neck for Nothing That Matters
That Whole Puppy Burning Thing

What About the Lesbian Song, Mr. Humperdinck?
Naught but Doom Awaits the Clever Midgets!
Gorbachev, The Man Who Should've Ruled the World
The House That Henry (Miller) Built
Boxcar Willie: When Hoboes Had Wings
Autobiography of a Smoke-Filled Room
How Many Dots Can You Afford to Spare?
Ed Gein, Werner Herzog and Me
Maybe It's Something You Thought

We Didn't Call It "The GooGooMuck" for Nothing
Surviving Death in a Land Without Condiments
I ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when
Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas
People Think I Make This Shit Up: People Are Stupid
The Fall of the House of Slackjaw
Alaska: Land of Unspeakable Evil!
A Few More Degrees of Separation
Excuse Me While I Talk Myself Out of Something Nice

Wisconsin Hate Trip
Beer and Loafing in Atlantic City (and Elsewhere)

Am I the World's Greatest Ex-Husband or What?
Coming Home to Hell

A Trip to the John with John
God Damn the Sun
You Cut Out His Brain, You Bloody Baboon!

A Loving New Year's Message of Hope (But What's That Stink?)
Don't Mind Him, He's Just My Dad
Give a Man a Little Time, and Trouble Will Find Him
Trying to Become a Productive Member of My Own Life
A Life-and-Death Game of Chicken
Three Conversations, One Answer: Let the Good Times Blow!
More Memories of Midnight That Fell Apart at Dawn

Stripped Bare and Thrown to the Fools
Home Is Where the Hate Is
Twiddling My Thumbs at That Last Two-Minute Warning
Where the Hell's My TV Movie?
Toasty and Warm, Like a Saddlesore
When Even the Cheapest Costs Too Much