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A Letter from #Hunter S. Thompson that Changed My Life

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A Letter from Hunter S. #Thompson that Changed My Life

Posted On 25 Jun 2015
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Hunter S. Thompson

Roughly 57 years ago, a 22-year-old Hunter S. Thompson wrote a letter to a friend that had asked him for advice. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like a big deal – 57 years ago letters were just how people communicated. What stands out to me is the fact that Thompson wrote this letter way before anyone really knew who he was. The letter, in my opinion, is a pure statement of faith, written by one of the most influential writers of our time, solely for the purpose of helping his friend. I know the letter wasn’t written to me, but I still read it like it was.

April 22, 1958
57 Perry Street
New York City

Dear Hume,

You ask advice: ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do! For to give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal — to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.

I am not a fool, but I respect your sincerity in asking my advice. I ask you though, in listening to what I say, to remember that all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another. I do not see life through your eyes, nor you through mine. If I were to attempt to give you specific advice, it would be too much like the blind leading the blind.

“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles … ” (Shakespeare)

And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect — between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming.

But why not float if you have no goal? That is another question. It is unquestionably better to enjoy the floating than to swim in uncertainty. So how does a man find a goal? Not a castle in the stars, but a real and tangible thing. How can a man be sure he’s not after the “big rock candy mountain,” the enticing sugar-candy goal that has little taste and no substance?

The answer — and, in a sense, the tragedy of life — is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you. Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.

So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?

The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals, anyway. It would take reams of paper to develop this subject to fulfillment. God only knows how many books have been written on “the meaning of man” and that sort of thing, and god only knows how many people have pondered the subject. (I use the term “god only knows” purely as an expression.) There’s very little sense in my trying to give it up to you in the proverbial nutshell, because I’m the first to admit my absolute lack of qualifications for reducing the meaning of life to one or two paragraphs.

I’m going to steer clear of the word “existentialism,” but you might keep it in mind as a key of sorts. You might also try something called “Being and Nothingness” by Jean-Paul Sartre, and another little thing called “Existentialism: From Dostoyevsky to Sartre.” These are merely suggestions. If you’re genuinely satisfied with what you are and what you’re doing, then give those books a wide berth. (Let sleeping dogs lie.) But back to the answer. As I said, to put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.

But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or doctors — but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires — including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.

As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal), he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).

In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life — the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.

Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN — and here is the essence of all I’ve said — you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.

Naturally, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ve lived a relatively narrow life, a vertical rather than a horizontal existence. So it isn’t any too difficult to understand why you seem to feel the way you do. But a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.

So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life. But you say, “I don’t know where to look; I don’t know what to look for.”

And there’s the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don’t know — is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice.

If I don’t call this to a halt, I’m going to find myself writing a book. I hope it’s not as confusing as it looks at first glance. Keep in mind, of course, that this is MY WAY of looking at things. I happen to think that it’s pretty generally applicable, but you may not. Each of us has to create our own credo — this merely happens to be mine.

If any part of it doesn’t seem to make sense, by all means call it to my attention. I’m not trying to send you out “on the road” in search of Valhalla, but merely pointing out that it is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by life as you know it. There is more to it than that — no one HAS to do something he doesn’t want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that’s what you wind up doing, by all means convince yourself that you HAD to do it. You’ll have lots of company.

And that’s it for now. Until I hear from you again, I remain,

your friend,

Hunter

COOL PEOPLE – Rare Steinbeck WWII story finally published

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Rare Steinbeck WWII story finally published

Associated Press

FILE - In an undated file photo, American author John Steinbeck, takes a rest from work on a new novel. A rare Steinbeck WWII story titled "With Your Wings," an inspirational story about a black pilot that Steinbeck wrote for Orson Welles' radio program, and then seemed to disappear, is getting a second release. Andrew F. Gulli, managing editor of the Birmingham, Michigan-based quarterly The Strand Magazine, features it in The Strand's holiday issue, which comes out Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. (AP Photo. File)
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FILE – In an undated file photo, American author John Steinbeck, takes a rest from work on a new novel. A rare Steinbeck WWII story titled “With Your Wings,” an inspirational story about a black pilot that Steinbeck wrote for Orson Welles’ radio program, and then seemed to disappear, is getting a second release. Andrew F. Gulli, managing editor of the Birmingham, Michigan-based quarterly The Strand Magazine, features it in The Strand’s holiday issue, which comes out Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. (AP Photo. File)
 NEW YORK (AP) — In July 1944, Orson Welles wrapped up one of his wartime radio broadcasts with a brief, emotional reading of one of the country’s favorite authors, John Steinbeck.
The piece was titled “With Your Wings,” an inspirational story about a black pilot that Steinbeck wrote for Welles’ program, and it seemed to disappear almost as soon as it was aired. There are no records of “With Your Wings” appearing in book or magazine form. Even some Steinbeck experts, including scholar Susan Shillinglaw and antiquarian James Dourgarian, know little about it.

“It doesn’t ring a bell at all,” said Dourgarian, who specializes in selling first editions of Steinbeck’s work. “And that’s saying something if I haven’t heard of it. It’s also surprising because you would think that anything Steinbeck was involved with would be printed some place.”

But 70 years after Welles’ introduction in the midst of World War II, “With Your Wings” is getting a second release. Andrew F. Gulli, managing editor of the Birmingham, Michigan-based quarterly The Strand Magazine, came upon the transcript recently while looking through archives at the University of Texas at Austin. He features it in The Strand’s holiday issue, which comes out Friday.

Steinbeck, who died in 1968, wrote often about social injustice and on occasion featured black characters, notably Crooks in his classic novella “Of Mice and Men.” Gulli, whose magazine specializes in reissuing obscure works by famous writers, said in a recent email that “With Your Wings” was characteristic of the Nobel laureate’s worldview.

“Steinbeck was an idealist. He saw America as this wonderful land with so much to offer but on the flip side, he could see inequality, he could see greed and excess destroying the working classes,” Gulli wrote. “This story strikes me as an effort to show middle America that African-Americans were carrying on a huge burden in defending the United States and the allies during the war.”

An avid supporter of the war, Steinbeck worked overseas as a correspondent in the 1940s and, according to biographer Robert DeMott, wrote a favorable book about the Air Force called “Bombs Away!” Dourgarian noted that Steinbeck had favored “unusual” stories instead of describing the daily briefings from military officials.

“With Your Wings” at first reads like a standard narrative of a veteran’s return, a plot used by everyone from Homer to Ernest Hemingway. Second Lieutenant William Thatcher has completed his training and at a farewell ceremony receives silver wings, pinned to his chest. He climbs into his “clattering” Model-A Ford and sets out for an unidentified hometown. He appears to be greeted as a hero, or at least a celebrity, passing “crowded porches” and children “washed and dressed in their best and starchiest clothes, hairs bursting with ribbons.”

“He could hear the rustle as the neighbors moved silently near and formed a half circle behind him,” Steinbeck writes. “It was as though his own people were sitting in judgment on him.”

Thatcher’s sense of obligation is made more clear and powerful when Steinbeck reveals that he is black, at a time the military was segregated.

“He took off his cap with the gold eagle on it and held it in his hand. He saw his tall father lick his lips. And then his father said softly, ‘Son, every black man in the world is going to fly with your wings,'” Steinbeck writes.

“His heart was pounding. He could hear a little quiet murmur of voices in front of the house. He knew they were going to sing in a moment. And he knew now what he was to them.”

___

Online link: http://www.strandmag.com .

COOL PEOPLE – Ernest Hemingway Trivia

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Ernest Hemingway Trivia


“The first draft of anything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway’s favorite bars: Ritz, Paris; Harry’s Bar, Venice; Costello’s, New York; Sloppy Joe’s, Key West; and La Floridita, Cuba.

“The whiskey warmed his tongue and the back of his throat, but it did not change his ideas any, and suddenly, looking at himself in the mirror behind the bar, he knew that drinking was never going to do any good to him now. Whatever he had now he had, and it was from now on, and if he drank himself unconscious when he woke up it would be there.” —To Have and Have Not, 1937

Ernest Hemingway once dubbed Key West, Florida, the “St. Tropez of the poor.”

COOL PEOPLE – Henry Miller

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Henry Miller

[1891 – 1980]

Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York

Higher Education: 2 months at New York City College (according to one biographer, Miller became “disillusioned after an encounter with Spenser’sFaerie Queene“)

On Education: “[G]oing to school so many hours a day, learning all that nonsense, is what I call utter garbage. The only part of education I approve of is kindergarten. The rest cripples you, makes an idiot of you. I know this sounds crazy, but I believe that we’re all born creative. We all have the same creative instincts. Most of us are killed off as artists, as creative people, by our schooling.”

Work Experience: Bellhop, garbage collector, cement mixer, gravedigger, employment manager at Western Union, employee at Park Department in Queens, manager of New York City speakeasy, starving artist, proofreader on the Paris edition of The Chicago Tribune

Family and Relationships: Married 5 times (Beatrice Sylvas Wickens, June Edith Smith Mansfield, Janina Martha Lepska, Eve McClure, Hiroko Tokuda); 2 daughters and a son; also had well-documented affair with writer Anais Nin

Favorite Authors: Celine (Journey to the End of the Night), Blaise Cendrars, Joseph Conrad, Dostoevsky, Theodore Dreiser, Elie Faure, Rider Haggard, Knut Hamsun (Hunger), Hermann Hesse (Siddhartha), Jack London, Nietzsche, Marcel Proust (Remembrance of Things Past), Isaac Bashevis Singer, Oswald Spengler, Walt Whitman (Leaves of Grass)

Other Literary Influences: Taoistic writing, Oriental philosophy

On Ernest Hemingway: “Hemingway in my mind was not the great writer they make him out to be. He was a craftsman. But he wasn’t a craftsman as good as Somerset Maugham. There was a real craftsman. But if you are a craftsman you go on turning it out. It gets thinner and thinner . . . as much as I put him down, that first book, The Sun Also Rises, had a lot to do with my going to France; it inspired me to go.”

On George Orwell: “He was like so many English people, an idealist, and, it seemed to me, a foolish idealist. A man of principle, as we say. Men of principle bore me . . . I regard politics as a thoroughly foul, rotten world. We get nowhere through politics. It debases everything.”

On Jack Kerouac: “I have been fascinated by Kerouac, I must say. Very uneven writer, perhaps and I don’t think he has yet show his full possibilities, Kerouac . . . But he has a great gift, this great verbal gift like Thomas Wolfe had, you know, and a few others. Tremendous gift I think, but to me rather undisciplined, uncontrolled and so on, but I am fascinated by one book of his called The Dharma Bums.”

On William S. Burroughs: “Burroughs, whom I recognize as a man of talent, great talent, can turn my stomach. It strikes me, however, that he’s faithful to the Emersonian idea of autobiography, that he’s concerned with putting down only what he has experienced and felt. He’s a literary man whose style is unliterary.”

Tenure in Paris: 1930-1940

First Published Novel: Tropic of Cancer ( “[T]he Paris book: first person, uncensored, formless – fuck everything!”)

Age When Tropic of Cancer First Published: 43

Publisher: Grove Press

Year in Which Tropic of Cancer Finally Published in the United States: 1961 (U.S. Supreme Court finally ruled book was not obscene)

Last Lines, Tropic of Cancer: “Human beings make a strange fauna and flora. From a distance they appear negligible; close up they are apt to appear ugly and malicious. More than anything they need to be surrounded with sufficient space – space even more than time. The sun is setting. I feel this river flowing through me – its past, its ancient soil, the changing climate. The hills gently girdle it about: its course is fixed.”

Anais Nin on Tropic of Cancer: “This book brings with it a wind that blows down the dead and hollow trees whose roots are withered and lost in the barren soil of our times. This book goes to the roots and digs under, digs for subterranean springs.”

Ezra Pound on Tropic of Cancer: “At last, an unprintable book that’s readable.” [Another critic once described Miller’s entire body of work as “toilet-wall scribbling.”]

Origin of Tropic Titles: Miller’s pet names for June’s breasts – Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn

Selected Works: Tropic of Cancer (1934), Black Spring (1936), Tropic of Capricorn (1939), The Colossus of Maroussi (1941), The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (1945), Sexus (1949), The Books in My Life (1952), Plexus (1953), Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch (1957), Nexus(1960), Under the Roofs of Paris (1983) [Note: Sexus, Plexus and Nexus make up trilogy called The Rosy Crucifixion]

Favorite of His Own Books: The Colossus of Maroussi

Sample Sex Scene from Under the Roofs of Paris: “She has a bush as big as my hand and as soft as feathers. She lifts her dress in the front, takes my dong out and rubs John Thursday’s nose against her whiskers . . . will I pinch her breasts, she moans, and would I be offended if she asked me to kiss them, perhaps to bite? She’s catting for a fuck, that she’s been paid to come here has nothing to do with it now . . . she’d probably give the money back and something extra besides just to get a cock into that itch under her tail now . . . “

Awards and Honors: Elected to National Institute of Arts and Letters, 1957; French Legion of Honor, 1974

On His Readers: “I would say that perhaps less than 10 percent of my readers are the only ones I’m interested in having read me. The others are worthless. My books don’t do them any good or me any good. You see, I believe that over 90 percent of everything that is done in the realm of music, drama, painting, literature – any of the arts – is worthless.”

On His Critics: “Critics are just people, after all. They criticize, because you didn’t write the kind of book they wanted . . . I don’t write for the critics. I write for myself and the reader, whoever he or she may be.”

Favorite Films: Bunuel’s L’Age d’Or, Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria, Five Easy Pieces

Least Favorite Film: Bonnie and Clyde! Did I hate that! I was clapping to myself when they machine-gunned them to death at the end. Dynamite them! Blow them to smithereens! It was so vulgar, that film. I love obscenity but I hate vulgarity. I can’t see how people can enjoy killing for fun. Also, there was a perverse streak there. There was a suggestion that the hero was impotent. I don’t like that. I like healthy sex. I don’t like impotence and perversion.”

Hobbies: Writing, painting, astrology, eating, roaming the streets of Paris, playing Ping-Pong [“I keep the Ping-Pong table handy for people I don’t want to talk to. You know, it’s simple. I just play Ping-Pong with them.”]

On American Artists: “I feel that America is essentially against the artist, that the enemy of America is the artist, because he stands for individuality and creativeness, and that’s unAmerican somehow. I think that of all countries – we have to overlook the communist countries of course – America is the most mechanized, robotized, of all.”

On Christianity: “The Christian Church in all its freakish ramifications and efflorescences is as dead as a doornail; it will pass away utterly when the political and social systems in which it is now embedded collapse. The new religion will be based on deeds, not beliefs.”

On the Civil War: “At Gettysburg, at Bull Run, at Manassas, at Fredericksburg, at Spottsylvania Court House, at Missionary Ridge, at Vicksburg I tried to visualize the terrible death struggle in which this great republic was locked for four long years. I have stood on many battlefields in various parts of the world but when I stand beside the graves of the dead in our own South the horror of war assails me with desolating poignancy. I see no results of this great conflict which justify the tremendous sacrifice which we as a nation were called upon to make. I see only an enormous waste of life and property, the vindication of right by might, and the substitution of one form of injustice for another. The South is still an open, gaping wound.”

On Civilization: “For 72 years I’ve been waiting to see some breakdown of the artificial barriers surrounding our educational system, our national borders, our homes, our inner being – a shattering of the wretched molds in which we’ve lived – but it never happens. We have the dynamic but we don’t set it off. I get sick of waiting.”

On Hippies: “Always, in the past, as soon as they become adults they join the Establishment. They become conservatives. The radical always becomes a great conservative. And the revolutionary becomes a tyrant, just like the one he overthrew.”

On Obscenity: “I feel I have simply restored sex to its rightful place in literature, rescued the basic life factor from literary oblivion, as it were. Obscenity, like sex, has its natural, rightful place in literature as it does in life, and it will never be obliterated, no matter what laws are passed to smother it.”

On Politicians: “One has to be a lowbrow, a bit of a murderer, to be a politician, ready and willing to see people sacrificed, slaughtered, for the sake of an idea, whether a good one or a bad one.”

On Politics: “Don’t ask me about politics. I’m against war. And I never voted in my life. But I’ll tell you one thing – I’m living with this hope: that the youngsters will get rid of all the old birds and wiseacres. In this country the ordinary man, you know, is dead inside before he’s 40. It’s not his fault. It’s the fault of mechanized things. There’s a lack of individuality. Everything is made for comfort and ease.”

On Joyce’s Ulysses: “There are passages of Ulysses which can be read only in the toilet – if one wants to extract the full flavor of their content. And this is not to denigrate the talent of the author. This is simply to move him a little closer to the good company of Abelard, Petrarch, Rabelais, Boccaccio – all the fine, lusty genuine spirits who recognized dung for dung and angels for angels.”

Henry Miller on Film: The Henry Miller Odyssey (full-length documentary with insights from Miller’s friends Lawrence Durrell, Anais Nin, Alfred Perles, Brassai, Lawrence Clark Powell, Joe Gray and Jakob Gimpel); Henry and June (notable as the first NC17 film, based on Nin’s famous diaries)

Place of Death: Big Sur, California

Final Resting Place: Ashes scattered off coast of Big Sur

CODA“It’s a distortion. Henry, Look at me! Look! You can’t see me or anyone as they are! I wanted Dostoyevsky!”
Henry & June, 1990

TROPIC OF CANCER TRIVIA
• 
Miller was 43 years old when Tropic of Cancer was first published in 1934 by Obelisk Press in Paris.
• Tropic of Cancer was finally published in the United States in 1964 after the Supreme Court ruled the book as not being obscene (Grove Press, Inc. vs. Gerstein).
• Ezra Pound on Tropic of Cancer: “At last, an unprintable book that’s readable.”
• Miller’s pet names for his second wife June’s breasts: Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
• George Orwell called Tropic of Cancer “the most important book of the mid-1930s.”
• Samuel Beckett referred to Tropic of Cancer as “a momentous event in the history of modern writing.”

COOL PEOPLE – JOHN STEINBECK AND CANNERY ROW

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CHAPTER 1 CANNERY ROW

John Steinbeck is one of the best-known and most revered American literary figures. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Grapes of Wrath (1939), highlighting the lives of migrant farm workers in the Salinas Valley, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. Seventeen of his works, including Cannery Row (1945), The Pearl (1947), and East of Eden (1955), were made into Hollywood movies.

Best Of Cannery Row

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Monterey County Beginnings

Steinbeck was born about 30 miles from Cannery Row in Salinas, California, on February 27, 1902. He graduated from Salinas High School in 1919 and attended Stanford University, about 90 miles north of the Monterey Peninsula. He married his first wife, Carol Henning, in 1930. They lived in Pacific Grove next to Cannery Row, where much of the material for his books was gathered.

Cannery Row Characters

Steinbeck’s strong personal attachment to Monterey was perhaps inevitable. Living in Pacific Grove, in a house owned by his father, Steinbeck wrote stories spiced with the vibrant tales of cannery workers and roughnecks he knew.

Cannery Row ignited Steinbeck’s imagination and his affection for the colorful mix of people there influenced a number of stories and characters. Tortilla Flat (1935) received the California Commonwealth Club’s Gold Medal for best novel by a California author and marked a turning point in Steinbeck’s career.

Cannery Row (1945), one of Steinbeck’s best and most widely read fictional works, immortalized Cannery Row as a one-of-a-kind neighborhood of fish packing plants, bordellos, and flophouses, and made it the most famous street in America. Sweet Thursday, the sequel to Cannery Row, was published in 1954.

Steinbeck & Ed Ricketts

In 1930 Steinbeck met Ed Ricketts, an accomplished marine biologist who operated the Pacific Biological Laboratory at 800 Cannery Row. Ricketts was the inspiration for the character ‘Doc’ in Cannery Row, although he wasn’t called Doc in real life. Ricketts brought Steinbeck along on his outdoor adventures studying the biological mysteries of the “Great Tidal Pool” near Asilomar Beach, and on a voyage to the Sea of Cortez.

In 1948 Ed Ricketts was hit by a train after his Buick stalled on the tracks near Cannery Row. Today, the location of the train accident is memorialized with a bust of Ricketts at the street corner adjacent to the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa.

Steinbeck died on December 20, 1968, in New York City. His ashes were placed in the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Salinas.

For more information about John Steinbeck’s life and work, visit the National Steinbeck Center.

FROM CANNERY ROW (1982) – FORGOTTEN TREASURE

 Uploaded on May 5, 2010

Hunter S. Thompson -complete

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Erowid Character Vaults
Hunter S. Thompson
Summary
Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Hunter S. Thompson is considered the father of “Gonzo journalism”, a style of reporting conveyed via a first-person narrative characterized by its lack of neutrality, often due to the reporter’s first-hand involvement in the topic being covered to such a degree that the reporter becomes a newsworthy part of the story. Thompson became famous for this irreverent “literary” approach toward journalism, blending fact, fiction, and subjective accounts in an attempt–he claimed–to uncover and illuminate deeper truths that couldn’t be reached through a neutral, objective viewpoint. Within his writing, Thompson could often be found strongly expressing his political and social criticisms, as well as describing his unabashed, liberal consumption of recreational drugs.A troubled youth, following an arrest for robbery in 1956, Thompson enlisted in the Air Force to fulfill part of his sentencing agreement. While at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, he kicked off his profession as a writer by working as a sports reporter. Thompson’s writing began to gain attention after he was hired to produce a magazine article based on his experience of having spent a year with the Hells Angels. “The Motorcycle Gang” appeared on May 17, 1956 in The Nation, and a more subjective treatment of the same topic followed in 1967, when Random House published his book, Hells Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.

Thompson is most well-known for his 1971 book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream, which has appeared in at least 40 editions and 16 different languages. Over the course of his career, Thompson wrote over a dozen other books and contributed articles to numerous periodicals, including EsquireThe National ObserverPlayboyRolling StoneThe San Francisco Examiner, and Time Magazine, as well as penning the “Hey Rube” web column for ESPN.

Along with being an avid gun enthusiast, Thompson also had a great love of photography. A posthumous oral history produced in honor of Thompson, featuring many of his photographs, as well as portraits of him taken by others, along with an introduction by his friend Johnny Depp, was published in 2007. Depp played the lead role of Raoul Duke (a character based on Thompson) in director Terry Gilliam’s 1998 film version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

At the age of 67–likely in response to his unhappiness about aging, along with chronic pain from a broken leg and hip replacement–Thompson committed suicide with a gun shot to the head in his Colorado home.

Quote #
“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone…but they’ve always worked for me.”
— Hunter Thompson, “Voices : Footnotes”, LIFE Magazine, p. 68 (Jan 1981)
Author of Books #
  • Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone: The Essential Writings of Hunter S. Thompson (2011)
  • The Mutineer: Rants, Ravings, and Missives from the Mountaintop 1977-2005 (2008)
  • Gonzo (2006/2007)
  • Happy Birthday, Jack Nicholson (2005)
  • Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness Modern History from the Sports Desk (2004)
  • Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century (2003)
  • Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist 1968-1976 (2000)
  • Screw-Jack (2000)
  • The Rum Diary (1998)
  • The Fear and Loathing Letters, Vol. 1: The Proud Highway: The Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman 1955-1967 (1997)
  • Mistah Leary–He Dead (1996)
  • Gonzo Papers, Vol. 4: Better Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie (1994)
  • Gonzo Papers, Vol. 3: Songs of the Doomed: More Notes on the Death of the American Dream (1990)
  • Gonzo Papers, Vol. 2: Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ’80s (1988)
  • The Curse of Lono (1983)
  • Gonzo Papers, Vol. 1: The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (1979)
  • Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 (1973)
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (1971)
  • Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (1967)
Author of Articles #
Interviews #
Remembrances

Salvaging Steinbeck’s Vessel From a Little-Known Berth

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Salvaging Steinbeck’s Vessel From a Little-Known Berth

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The Western Flyer in Port Townsend, Wash. The boat’s owner plans to move it to Salinas, Calif., but a nonprofit group wants it in Monterey Bay. Credit Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times
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PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. — A wooden fishing boat that John Steinbeck chartered in 1940 with a biologist friend, then wrote about in a story of their journey through the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, sits in sad, decaying splendor in a boatyard here, two hours northwest of Seattle.

People have come from as far away as Liverpool, England, to see the vessel, named the Western Flyer, in the eight months since it arrived. There is no exhibit, no effort to market the ship as an attraction, or even point the way so people can easily find it, blocked and braced out of the water at the back of the yard. Mud covers the portholes from its two sinkings and resurrections. The brass doorknobs are corroded to green, and the upper rail buckles inward with rot and age.

“We get a couple of people a week, and we give them directions — it’s pretty low key,” said Anna Quinn, an owner of Imprint Bookstore, a downtown shop that sells a few copies a week of the book that resulted from Steinbeck’s trip, “The Log From the Sea of Cortez.”

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John Steinbeck featured the wooden fishing boat in “The Log From the Sea of Cortez,” sold in Port Townsend at Imprint Bookstore. Credit Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times

“They just want to see and touch it and be in the literary aura,” Ms. Quinn said.

A final chapter for the Western Flyer may be about to unfold. And there are fierce disagreements about how — and where — its tale of fleeting celebrity and ignominious decay should end.

The boat’s owner, Gerry Kehoe, a California businessman, said he planned to collect his property within the next couple of months. The 76-foot-long vessel, he said, will be cut into two or three pieces and trucked to Salinas, Calif., where Steinbeck was born, then reassembled and installed as the centerpiece — with real water and a dock — in the lobby of a boutique hotel Mr. Kehoe is developing.

The hotel, with two restaurants surrounding the boat and glass panels telling the story of the voyage, will open in the summer of 2015 with Western Flyer in the name, he said in a telephone interview.

The nephew of the Western Flyer’s skipper in 1940 has been ferociously critical of Mr. Kehoe’s plan. He says the boat belongs in Monterey, where it worked in Steinbeck’s day as a sardine fisher, and deserves better in retirement.

“He talks a good game, but he really doesn’t know what he’s doing — he doesn’t have a clue,” said Robert Enea, whose uncle, Tony Berry, piloted the voyage by Steinbeck and the biologist, E. F. Ricketts.

Mr. Enea, a retired physical education teacher, led a nonprofit group called the Western Flyer Project that he said had raised $10,000 and was trying to buy the boat in 2010 for $45,000 when Mr. Kehoe got it instead. The group, Mr. Enea said, envisioned a mission of environmental education in Monterey Bay, echoing and honoring the Cortez trip.

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Peter and Anna Quinn, owners of Imprint Bookstore. “We get a couple of people a week, and we give them directions — it’s pretty low key,” Ms. Quinn said of visitors seeking the boat. Credit Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times

Mr. Kehoe said the Flyer Project lacked resources to save or restore anything — not least a boat built in 1937 that would take “well into the seven figures” to be made seaworthy. And, he added, striking a note that Steinbeck himself might have savored as a champion of the underdog, the economically struggling town Salinas simply deserves the Western Flyer more than wealthy, flourishing Monterey.

“Does everybody want the rich to be richer?” Mr. Kehoe said, adding that access to the boat will be free. Salinas, he said, “doesn’t have a lot going for it, to be honest with you, but it is the birthplace of the great man.”

Literary tourism is a big business, in the bits of a writer’s life that get left around in the messy business of living, or the characters that came to life on the page. From Key West, Fla.,visitors can swill rum in honor of Hemingway, to Dickens World, a theme park in England that offers a re-creation of bleak and stinky Victorian London, writers are still earning their keep.

Here on Washington’s rainy Olympic Peninsula, setting of the hugely successful teen-vampire-romance “Twilight” novels by Stephenie Meyer, Steinbeck is small potatoes anyway. In Forks, which the heroine, Bella Swan, called home and is two hours west of Port Townsend, visitors can stay in one of the Twilight Rooms at the Pacific Inn Motel, or eat a Bella’s Barbecue Burger Dip at the Forks Coffee Shop.

Some who have come to see the Western Flyer pay homage to science. The six-week, 4,000-mile research trip in 1940 to study plants and animals formed a template for thinking and writing about ecology decades before the modern environmental movement, said Ian Hinkle, a Canadian filmmaker who came to shoot in January for a documentary on the Salish Sea called “Reaching Blue.”

“That boat was the inspiration for many ocean researchers and ecologists today,” he said. “Now it’s sitting in a boatyard, just sitting there, one more big old rotting piece of broken dreams.”

But perhaps for at least part of the summer tourism season in Port Townsend that began this weekend, the Western Flyer is going nowhere. Ms. Quinn, who owns Imprint Books with her husband, Peter, said they were hoping to do some Steinbeck readings this summer, with people gathering at the boatyard.

Steinbeck himself, in “The Log From the Sea of Cortez,” said he believed the bond of boats and people ran too deep to sever. “It is very easy to see why the Viking wished his body to sail away in an unmanned ship, for neither could exist without the other,” he wrote.

THE HAUNTED LIFE:THE LOST NOVELLA’ BY JACK KEROUAC

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THE HAUNTED LIFE:THE LOST NOVELLA’ BY JACK KEROUAC

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‘The Haunted Life: The Lost Novella’, by Jack Kerouac

From left, Hal Chase, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs in Manhattan, c1944-45©Corbis

From left, Hal Chase, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs in Manhattan, c1944-45

The Haunted Life: The Lost Novella, by Jack Kerouac, Penguin Classics, RRP£20, 208 pages

Jack Kerouac, an author who was barely patient enough to punctuate his sentences, never mind sit still in one place, always claimed that he had lost the manuscript to his early novella The Haunted Life in the back seat of a yellow taxi cab. The truth is less dramatic: he probably forgot it in the closet of a Columbia University dorm room that had belonged to his fellow Beat writer Allen Ginsberg.

Peter Aspden

It resurfaced in a Sotheby’s auction 12 years ago, selling to an unnamed bidder for $95,600. The previous year, Kerouac’s most renowned manuscript, the famous On The Road scroll, had also sold at auction for a whopping $2.4m, which explains the sudden appearance of the earlier work.

Those relative values strike me as well-judged. The Haunted Life, now published for the first time and generously annotated and edited by Kerouac scholar Todd Tietchen, is a minor addition to the author’s corpus but not without interest. Kerouac wrote it at the age of 22, in the turbulent year of 1944, during which he was jailed as an accessory to murder, married his first wife Edie Parker to secure bail, and was then released.

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“I should now have material for a fine book . . . love, murder, diabolical conversations, all,” he wrote mischievously, but none of these promising themes finds its way into A Haunted Life. Instead we get a rehearsal for the semi-autobiographical exploration that would form the basis of Kerouac’s first major published work, The Town and the City.

Tietchen, in his introduction to the novella, believes that this early and methodical exposition of the author’s literary intentions is a significant rebuttal of the “public perception of Kerouac as a spontaneous word-slinger whose authorial approach merely complemented his Dionysian approach to life”. He casts the hedonistic writer as an improbable respecter of process, honing his ideas in this brisk workout.

In A Haunted Life, Kerouac’s concerns are refracted through Peter Martin, heading into his sophomore year at Boston College along with his friends Garabed Tourian and Dick Sheffield, based on the author’s real-life buddies Sebastian Sampas and Billy Chandler, both of whom had died in the war by the time Kerouac wrote the novella.

The three young men’s conversations skirt around some of the issues that preoccupied American intellectual life in the 1930s and 1940s: the end of the Great Depression, the US’s entry into the war, the exploitation of the working classes, and the possibility of romantic escape from all of those needling dilemmas.

Garabed and Dick respectively represent the leftist and liberationist ideals that animated those debates. In contrast, Peter’s frosty exchanges with his father Joe – clearly based on Kerouac’s own father Leo – see the young man wrestling with the bigotry of the preceding generation. In the novella’s very first pages, Peter drowns out the beginnings of one of his father’s rants by turning up Benny Goodman on the record player, an early reflection of Kerouac’s belief that jazz music’s freedom of form was the nemesis of sclerotic social views.

This opening feels stagey, as do the opening remarks between Peter and Garabed, clunky in their philosophical intent: “Poor Garabed,” says Peter. “Dostoevsky terrifies you with his Slavic portraits that remind you too much of yourself. You fear ugliness, you chase beauty and embrace it.”

As we focus on Peter’s interior life, touches of the freewheeling Kerouac begin to emerge in passages of existential celebration: “The morning sun, the swift clean smell in the air had called him back to life, called him back for more of the same – which at times held so much wonder that Peter deplored his physical limits. On a morning like this! – to be everywhere, be everyone at the same time, doing everything!”

Kerouac always intended The Haunted Life to become a multi-volume saga on the war, told through the story of the Martin family. “[It] will be a very sad book,” he explains in a note included here. “It can’t be otherwise: youth is shocked by maturity, but war adds to this shock enough to kill youth forever.”

But it is not for this melancholy tone that Kerouac would become best known, and it is clear from his musings that he was already looking ahead at a new America. In an outline for The Town and the City, he emphasises that the book’s ending will treat its characters well. “I write with gravity and gleefulness because I do not feel sceptical and clever about these things, and I believe that this is an American feeling. (No Joyce, no Auden, no Kafka has anything to say to a true American.)”

With that slap at the Old World, Kerouac launched himself to become one of the most exuberant adventurers of a new cultural landscape, whose heroes would include James Dean, Marlon Brando, Elvis Presley, characters who were infused with a sense of the limitless. Here, in this small book, are the tentative beginnings of a journey that was always going to lead to the open road.

Peter Aspden is the FT’s arts writer

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Philip Roth Says He Has Had His Last Sandwich

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Philip Roth Says He Has Had His Last Sandwich

The Borowitz Report

May 20, 2014

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NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—The novelist Philip Roth announced today that a sandwich he ate last week, a turkey one with lettuce and tomato on wheat, would be his last.

Roth’s retirement from sandwich eating, announced in an interview with a Dutch literary magazine, came as a surprise to the worlds of publishing and sandwiches.

In the interview, Roth attempted to soft-pedal the reasons behind his startling decision, saying only, “I had my first sandwich when I was three or four. That’s almost eighty years ago. That’s a lot of sandwiches.”

The response to Mr. Roth’s renunciation of sandwiches was skeptical, with some readers of the interview questioning whether the acclaimed novelist had not left the door open a crack to sandwiches in his future.

When asked by his Dutch interviewer if he had sworn off deli meats, Roth said, “I could see a situation at a buffet where they’d have those mini slices of rye bread, and I’d make an open-faced thingy with roast beef and maybe a pickle or whatnot. But that’s not the same thing as a sandwich.”

As if to quell any misunderstanding, on Tuesday afternoon Roth issued the following statement through his publisher: “Not only have I had my last sandwich, I have made my final public statement about sandwiches.”

Photograph by Jenny Anderson/Getty.

This piece was presented as Kurt Vonnegut’s commencement address at MIT in 1997. It’s great stuff, but apparently it wasn’t written or delivered by Vonnegut. It’s still a beautiful piece…

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This piece was presented as Kurt Vonnegut’s commencement address at MIT in 1997. It’s great stuff, but apparently it wasn’t written or delivered by Vonnegut. It’s still a beautiful piece…

I came across this and find it completely confusing- if Vonnegut didn’t write it or deliver it why present it!

This piece was presented as Kurt Vonnegut’s commencement address at MIT in 1997. It’s great stuff, but apparently it wasn’t written or delivered by Vonnegut. It’s still a beautiful piece…

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Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.