"Hakim Bey: Real and Unreal is a compelling and spellbinding exploration into the enigmatic world of Hakim Bey. Metzger's unique non-narrative approach in recounting his relationship with Bey unfolds with a mesmerizing quality, skillfully intertwining earnestly playful anecdotes. As I navigated the pages, the narrative's immersive nature reached a point where the boundaries between reality and fantasy dissolved, leaving me captivated by the spellbinding allure of Bey's existence."

Garret A.


This tome, eleven years in the writing, is one of the less expected productions from Metzger's eminent pen. It is a narrative history, a docudrama. It is written entirely in the first person voice of the main character, Charles Flaherty, Roman Catholic priest, boxer, amateur physician and abortionist, who lived in early twentieth century Rochester.

Over the years, Metzger has written a number of essays and books dealing with the Burnt Over District of western New York State, which was home to so many utopian religious and social experiments in the nineteenth century: the Mormons, the Shakers, the Spiritualist Fox Sisters, and the Electric Chair. Flaherty's Wake is the magnum opus and masterpiece of Metzger's many excursions into this weird regionalism. 

Every detail here is authentic, every event described is real. Metzger, writing in Flaherty's literate. but unpolished voice, has connected the minute particular facts into an account which is oddly credible and meticulously matches the (mostly newspaper) records. It is truer than an actual first person account could have been - for Metzger has no personal interests to protect.

This is a style of history writing that would have seemed natural to Livy or Thucydides, but which has fallen far from favor since the nineteenth century. But unlike most history written in the days of Carlyle and Michelet, Metzger's is scrupulously unbiased. Here you gain a true view of the beliefs, ethnicities, and social circumstances of early twentieth century Rochester and environs. It could not be bettered by the most impeccably dull academic account. And one does not have to pay the dues of boredom which is the usual price of such fine detail. This is a compelling, page-turning read.

It is, however, a little bleak. It made me think of Scorsese's film, The Irishman, which is similarly a docudrama, but focused on an associate of Jimmy Hoffa. There, as in Metzger's book, the narrative was weirdly compelling albeit grim throughout. The chronicles of men whose lives are full of somewhat illegal action tend to have a gloomy glamor.

In the life of Flaherty the abortionist priest, you will not find a hero of feminism or of faith. The only real faith he seems to have had was faint in himself.

Metzger has created here a valuable work of history, which raises more questions than it answers, but which one thanks him for asking.

Mildred Faintly 

96th of October


 "We can count on one hand the rarified few who truly knew the effervescent Hakim Bey well enough to write an authentic biographique of the infamous unholy man. Th. Metzger is the opposable thumb on that hand. Only a fez-sporting late century Moor, an Old Weird New Luddite, a sui generis scholar of crypto-religious kitsch-funk could offer up this manic account of the 'man made out of words, a story telling itself.' To be sure this effulgent, hallucinatory deep dive into Bey's, and Metzger's, friendship offers insights into the mind and world of this trickster magus - but more than that it's one sweet portrait of two singular thinkers, their mutual love and admiration for each other."  

Derek Owens

HAKIM BEY: REAL AND UNREAL - just published

 For a man made of words, it is perversely perfect that none can capture the essence of Hakim Bey. Anarcho-Sufi wise man, scholar of the unknowable, miraculous monologist, psychedelic shaman: all of this is true. Yet it only suggests - rather than defines - this writer and the long shadow that he casts.

Th. Metzger was initiated into the Moorish Orthodox Church (resurrected in 1986 by Hakim Bey and ruled by him in perpetuity.) This new book is the story of their long-distance friendship and their year after year journeys together into the mythic landscape, both real and unreal.

Take the plunge and find out:

The Book That Changed My Life

"Chaos," by the Great and Mysterious Hakim Bey, loomed out of the shadows in 1985. Published by the Grim Reaper Press in Providence, it's only 28 pages long. But line for line, phrase for phrase, no book has had as big an influence on me as a writer. Sometimes classified as a collection of rants, "Chaos" is much more than that: with a hundred times the gorgeous weirdness of countless other so-called Great Books. Most of these short poetic pieces made their initial appearances in cheap xeroxed  zines, floating like specters in the U.S. postal system. Just a few titles gives some hint at what the writer was up: "Wild Children," "Poetic Terrorism," "Paganism," "Art Sabotage," "Chaos Myth," "Sorcery." The language is beautiful; the subject matter is strange and at times distressing. I read this book again and again. The amazing images and ideas seeped into my brain. They've been leaking out in my work ever since.

Infernal Blessings

For weeks, there's been a small sign on the expressway bridge I pass under as I drive to work: "I love you, Jesus." Today, I saw it had been replaced by another sign: "Lucifer is Light." This got a genuine belly laugh out of me, and seems a good portent for the day. Thousands of cars pass under the sign every day. How many drivers will look up? How many will feel blessed by the light?

The Davi Question

A number of readers have asked: is Davi a boy or a girl., both or neither? That's a hard one to answer. Given that Meet me in the Strange is told by Davi, we never get a solid "he" or "she" - only "I."

I see Davi through a retrofuturist lens. Glam rock, from its beginnings, blurred the boundaries between the sexes. I'd often see the word "androgynous" used to describe Bowie, Eno, Jobriath and other early glam rockers. Literally, "androgynous" means man-woman or masculine-feminine. When the first pioneers crossed the gender boundaries, fans, music writers and people gawking from the outside had fewer words than we do now to describe the phenomenon. And it was far more risky, even dangerous, to "take a walk on the wild side," (as Lou Reed put it.)

Some readers see Davi as a boy and some as a girl, some don't care, and some project onto Davi their own fears and desires. Meet me in the Strange started with Anna Z. - a girl at a concert, overwhelmed, blissed-out. Davi was the observer, the teller of the tale, and because they both live in a world of glam rock fantasy, Davi's sex, or gender, or whatever word you use, dissolves in the mist and music.