With a slew of polls now showing that most Americans think pot should be taxed and regulated like alcohol, it’s likely only a matter of time before legalization sweeps the nation.
3 Conn. cops accused of brutality after YouTube vid shows them beating stunned suspect (VIDEO)
COPS BEAT MAN TO DEATH
3 Conn. cops accused of brutality after YouTube vid shows them beating stunned suspect (VIDEO)
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is giving $350 million to alma mater Johns Hopkins University.
Photo: AFP/Getty Images
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — The police chief in Connecticut’s largest city has pulled three officers off the streets after a video was posted online showing them kicking and stomping on a man they had already subdued with a stun gun.
In the video, a stun gun is heard being fired and a man falls to the ground at a park. Two officers stand over the motionless man and begin kicking him. A third officer drives up and attacks him. No complaint was filed.
Bridgeport city spokeswoman Elaine Ficarra said today that all three officers are on desk duty while authorities investigate the May 2011 encounter. Elson Morales, Joseph Lawlor and Clive Higgins are 10-year veterans of the police force. They couldn’t be reached for comment.
The video was posted on YouTube this month. It’s not clear who’s filming or who posted the video
Cop Allegedly Knocks Woman Off Bicycle To Give Her A Ticket
Thanks to the arrival of Citi Bike, there’s been an appreciable increase in cops ticketing cyclists. What cops are still figuring out, apparently, is how to get the cyclists stop without knocking them off their bicycles into traffic!
25-year-old Emily Dalton alleges an officer did just that as she was pedaling her bike to work the morning of July 11. Dalton was riding along 8th Avenue in Chelsea when she glided through a light—she’s uncertain whether it was red or green. But according to at least one nearby officer, it was red—and she’d just ridden through it. His method of detaining her? The officer grabbed her handlebar as she passed, jolting Dalton from her bike and sending her sailing into the road.
Dalton, stunned and bloodied—though not seriously harmed—said she spent several minutes shouting at the officer, unable to understand why someone whose job it is to keep her safe was the reason she’d nearly been smashed by a car in the middle of 8th Avenue. “I was terrified,” she said. “I was in the middle of a New York street!”
The officer, she said, was unfazed neither by Dalton’s scraped elbows and knees, nor the fact that the severity of the crash managed to bend her bike tire and cause the chain to fall from the drive train. His only concern, Dalton said, was getting her ID, which at the time she didn’t think she had.
Shaken, Dalton retreated to a nearby bench. Another officer on the scene called an ambulance, despite the fact that Dalton said repeatedly that she didn’t need one.
“I kept saying ‘I just want to go, I’m fine, let me go, let me go,'” she said. “I was just so frustrated, and I was scared, and all I wanted to do was get out of there.”
The officer who made the grab continued to ask Dalton for her ID, which she finally found in her bag after emptying its contents on the ground. She ended up with two tickets—one for running a red light, and another for “failure to comply,” a charge which Dalton said was never explained to her.
The ambulance eventually arrived and iced her wounds—luckily, Dalton said, she was wearing a helmet, so her only injuries were scrapes. After more than an hour, Dalton was allowed to go to work. She never got an apology from the officer.
“He told me to follow the road signs, but he never once said he was sorry in any way, shape or form,” she said. “He never asked if I was OK.”
Daniel Flanzig, Dalton’s lawyer, said the problem isn’t just a rogue bad—or possibly just impolite—police officer. The problem is the fact that there’s no established system for pulling over a cyclist, in spite of the increasing need to do so.
“There’s no post-academy training on how to deal with this new culture,” he said. “There are bad cyclists, there are bad cops, and everyone has to learn how to get along.” He said that despite the existence of a voluminous code of conduct for a vehicular traffic stops, there appears to be no established protocol for stopping a cyclist.
“If she ran a red light and he pulled her out of the car, it would be crazy,” he said. “Why, if she was on a bike, would it be any different?”
Patrick Moen built an impressive reputation as a federal agent, busting big drug rings that peddled everything from meth to ecstasy on the streets of Oregon.
Moen’s decade-long career with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration ended last month when he took a job with Privateer Holdings, a Seattle-based private equity firm that invests in the fledgling, but lucrative marijuana industry.
Instead of listening to wiretaps and tracking illegal drug money, Moen now vets potential marijuana-related ventures as investment opportunities for the Yale-educated backers of enterprises like Leafly.com, a website offering reviews of marijuana strains.
It’s a radical departure for a 36-year-old lawyer who once toyed with the idea of becoming a federal prosecutor.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” said Moen, who is in the process of relocating from Portland to Seattle. “It’s not one I took lightly. I talked with friends, family and coworkers. I sought out opinions. When it comes down to it, this is an incredible opportunity for me professionally and personally.”
The switch from law-and-order agent to marijuana industry booster raised eyebrows among Moen’s colleagues. Police generally take a dim view of marijuana; the DEA’s own “threat assessment” calls it “the most widely available and commonly abused illicit drug in the United States.” In Oregon, federal authorities have aggressively pursued large-scale marijuana producers and traffickers.
John Deits, an assistant U.S. attorney who oversaw federal drug prosecutions in Oregon until his recent retirement, said Moen was a sharp-eyed agent who “understood the mission” of federal law enforcement when it came to illegal drugs. Though marijuana is legal for recreational use in Washington and Colorado and medical marijuana is allowed in 20 states and Washington, D.C, it’s illegal under federal law.
“I think it was surprising to me that Pat would want to do what he is doing,” Deits said. “I think it was surprising to a lot of people within his own agency.
“But obviously they are the ones that know a lot about the laws and a lot about marijuana,” Deits said.
Moen is the second DEA agent with Oregon ties to make the move to the marijuana industry. Paul Schmidt, who until 2010 served as the highest-ranking DEA agent in Oregon, now works as a medical marijuana business consultant.
Hiring government regulators and enforcement officials is a common strategy among American corporations, said Pete Tashman, an assistant professor of management at Portland State University’s School of Business Administration. The pharmaceutical industry, for example, is famous for hiring former government regulators, he said.
“It’s a revolving-door strategy,” Tashman said.
Former government officials offer businesses an insider’s view of how to navigate regulations and shape future ones, he said.
“Folks that have experience on the legal end of it will help their employers lobby for the right kinds of policies that might emerge in the future,” Tashman said.
Schmidt, 54, acknowledged that some former colleagues consider advising the medical marijuana industry a move to the “dark side.”
“A lot of people say, ‘How could you be so against it Monday and then on Tuesday you are all for it?” said Schmidt, who worked in law enforcement for more than three decades and lives in Canby.
Schmidt has long been interested in the drug’s botanical background and its medicinal potential, he said. And though as a federal drug agent, he testified in marijuana cases in Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Wyoming, he said he viewed the drug as less harmful than heroin, meth and cocaine.
“It was the least of the evils,” he said.
Many officers, particularly younger ones, agree with him, he said.
“If you go to the newer law enforcement – somewhere 45 years and younger – and you talk to them about cannabis, they are just like, ‘Man, why isn’t it legal? I have got other things to do.'”
After Schmidt retired from the DEA, he worked for the Colorado Department of Revenue, the agency charged with ensuring medical marijuana dispensaries comply with state regulations. He returned to Oregon and this year sat on the panel that drafted rules for the state’s medical marijuana retail industry.
Next month Schmidt will hold a series of seminars around the state advising prospective medical marijuana retailers about Oregon’s new dispensary law. The $95 per-person seminars will include “fresh perspectives on the developing cannabis market,” according to the flier.
Steve Fox, a Washington, D.C.-based marijuana lobbyist who helped coordinate Colorado’s successful cannabis legalization campaign, said bringing DEA agents into the industry is “politically savvy” and likely intended to put investors and political officials at ease. Hiring a former drug cop also may help foster a company’s reputation as mainstream, he said.
But Fox doesn’t see the move as a necessarily positive one in general.
“This industry now is about producing and marketing a product and the people who work for the DEA have experience in a different industry, which is arresting and prosecuting people for marijuana,” he said.
Moen, who started his career as a beat cop in upstate New York, where he grew up, joined the DEA in 2003 and spent eight years in the gritty city of Bridgeport, Conn. He earned a degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law.
About two years ago, Moen, who developed an expertise in wiretaps, was promoted and posted to the agency’s Portland district office, where he had a hand in the region’s biggest drug investigations as a task force supervisor. Those cases uncovered major meth, oxycodone and ecstasy rings and marijuana, too.
Moen said marijuana ranked “pretty low” among the DEA’s priorities. And while marijuana cases weren’t routine, his work gave him a close-up view of how drug traffickers exploit Oregon’s medical marijuana law, which he said “needs a complete overhaul.”
“The system is just widely abused,” he said. “It’s set up in theory as a nonprofit situation, but there are tons of people making a living off the system and enforcement of compliance is left up to law enforcement.”
Moen, whose salary as an agent was about $130,000, said he recently began considering job options beyond the DEA. Budget woes and congressional gridlock took a toll on the agency, resulting in “a bit of a brain drain,” he said.
“Really, really talented people were leaving,” Moen said.
Over the summer he heard Privateer Holdings CEO Brendan Kennedy talking on NPR about the company’s mission: investing in the nascent marijuana industry. Impressed, the veteran cop gave Kennedy a call and the pair met at a Portland area Starbucks in late summer.
The agent slid an envelope across the table.
“I am not ashamed to say I was a bit nervous at that point,” Kennedy said. “I wasn’t sure what was going to be in the envelope. Ultimately, it was his resume.”
Kennedy, who has a background in venture capital, said Moen helps the company manage risk associated with the cannabis industry.
“Patrick’s role is to help us navigate a very complicated environment, to help us be in compliance with all of the local, state and federal regulations,” said Kennedy, whose company gets about five pitches daily for marijuana-related businesses.
Marijuana’s legal ambiguity isn’t clouding its business potential. One recent estimate puts the value for the legal marijuana market nationwide at $1.44 billion. The State of Legal Marijuana Markets, a publication produced by Arcview Market Research, estimates that market will grow 64 percent by 2014.
Moen said the challenges of getting the marijuana industry off the ground and helping create mainstream brands appealed to him, but he wasn’t sure how the news would go over with his DEA colleagues.
“Nobody hung up on me,” he said. “That was good.”
It’s been about a month since he quit the DEA. Moen said he’s been surprised to learn how many people he knows consume marijuana.
“Now that people can open up,” he said, “I realize this is a product that someone’s parents use, someone’s friend uses. People that are professional and that have families and that they all view it as an acceptable, better than acceptable, as a better alternative than other options: That was an eye opener.”
— Noelle Crombie
- Coquito: Holiday Egg Nog in the Caribbean Tradition (blogher.com)
The Psychedelic ’60s: Literary Tradition and Social Change
THE SUMMER OF 1967, with its “Love-Ins,” “Be-ins,” and “Flower Power,” came to be known as “The Summer of Love,” and was one of the seminal moments of our generation. Over thirty years later, we who came of age during the turbulent decade of the sixties are dismayed to realize that, to the young adults of today, those years are now ancient history.
The “Psychedelic Sixties” broke the rules in every conceivable way from music to fashion (or lack of it), to manners and mores. Boundaries were challenged and crossed in literature and art; the government was confronted head-on for its policies in Vietnam; the cause of civil rights was embraced by the young; and mind-expanding drugs were doing just that.
Were the sixties the best of times or the worst of times? Did America evolve as a nation and we as individuals? Are we better for the experience? We who were there have our own answers, but it is the historians who will write the collective answers for posterity. In any case, for better or worse, this dynamic, controversial, exciting time was our youth, our creation, and our legacy, and this exhibition is an attempt to revisit it, share it, and interpret it.
This is the web version of “The Psychedelic ’60s: Literary Tradition and Social Change,” which was on view in the Tracy W. McGregor Room of Alderman Library April through September 1998. The exhibition was curated by George Riser, U.Va. Special Collections; exhibition text was written by George Riser and Stephen Railton, Professor of English, U.Va.
By Matt Taibbi
Illustration by Matt Kindt.
Following is an excerpt from Matt Taibbi’s introduction to the 40th anniversary edition of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, out now from Simon & Schuster.
I doubt any book means more to a single professional sect than Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 means to American political journalists. It’s been read and reread by practically every living reporter in this country, and just as you’re likely to find a dog-eared paperback copy of Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop somewhere in every foreign correspondent’s backpack, you can still spot the familiar red (it was red back then) cover of Fear and Loathing ’72 poking out of the duffel bags of the reporters sent to follow the likes of Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Barack Obama on the journalistic Siberia known as the Campaign Trail.
Decades after it was written, in fact, Fear and Loathing ’72 is still considered a kind of bible of political reporting. It’s given birth to a whole generation of clichés and literary memes, with many campaign reporters (including, unfortunately, me) finding themselves consciously or unconsciously making villainous Nixons, or Quislingian Muskies, or Christlike McGoverns out of each new quadrennial batch of presidential pretenders.
Even the process itself has evolved to keep pace with the narrative expectations for the campaign story we all have now because of Hunter and Fear and Loathing. The scenes in this book where Hunter shoots zingers at beered-up McGovern staffers at places like “a party on the roof of the Doral” might have just been stylized asides in the book, but on the real Campaign Trail they’ve become formalized parts of the messaging process, where both reporters and candidates constantly use these Thompsonian backdrops as vehicles to move their respective products.
Every campaign seems to have a hotshot reporter and a campaign manager who recreate and replay the roles of Hunter and Frank Mankiewicz (Karl Rove has played the part a few times), and if this or that campaign’s staffers don’t come down to the hotel bar often enough for the chummy late-night off-the-record bull sessions that became campaign legend because of this book, reporters will actually complain out loud, like the failure to follow the script is a character flaw of the candidate.
Some of this seems trite and clichéd now, but at the time, telling the world about all of these behind-the-scenes rituals was groundbreaking stuff. That this is a great piece of documentary journalism about how American politics works is beyond question—for as long as people are interested in the topic, this will be one of the first places people look to find out what our electoral process looks like and smells like and sounds like, off-camera. Thompson caught countless nuances of that particular race that probably eluded the rest of the established reporters. It shines through in the book that he was not merely interested in the 1972 campaign but obsessed by it, and he followed the minutiae of it with an addict’s tenacity.
For instance, there’s a scene early in the book when he confronts McGovern’s New Hampshire campaign manager, Joe Granmaison, badgering the portly pol about having been a Johnson delegate in 1968:
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail by Hunter S. Thompson.
“Let’s talk about that word accountable,” I said. “I get the feeling you stepped in shit on that one.”
“What do you mean?” he snapped. “Just because I was a Johnson delegate doesn’t mean anything. I’m not running for anything.”
“Good,” I said.
Now, not many reporters would bother to find out what a lowly regional manager for a primary long-shot candidate was doing four years ago, but Hunter had to know. The whole book reeked of a kind of desperation to know where absolutely everyone he met stood on the manic quest to find meaning and redemption that was his campaign adventure.
The obsession made for great theater, but it also produced great journalism. Hunter knew the geography of the 1972 campaign the way a stalker knows a starlet’s travel routine, and when he put it all down on paper, it was lit up with the kind of wildly vivid detail that only a genuinely crazy person, all mixed up with rage and misplaced love, can bring to a subject.
But saying Campaign Trail ’72 is a good source on presidential campaigns is almost like saying Moby-Dick is a good book about whales. This is more than a nonfiction title that’s narrowly about modern American elections. If it were only that, it wouldn’t endure the way it has or resonate so powerfully the way it still does.
Hunter had such a brilliantly flashy narrative style that a lot of people were fooled into thinking that’s all he was—a wacky, drug-addled literary party animal with a gift for memorable insults and profanity-laden one-liners. The people who understood him the least (and a lot of these sorry individuals came out of the woodwork, bleating their complaints on right-wing talk shows and websites, when Thompson died) had this idea that he was just the journalistic version of a rock star, an abject hedonist with a gift for the catchy tune who was popular with kids because he stood for Letting Loose and Getting Off without consequence. I particularly remember this passage from someone named Austin Ruse in the National Review:
Hunter S. Thompson.
Author Hunter S. Thompson.
Photo by William J. Dibble.
[Thompson’s] famous aphorism, “When the going gets tough, the weird turn pro” was the font of more ruined GPAs than any other single source back in the 1970s. “When the going gets tough, the weird turn pro” meant that you could stay up all night doing every manner of substance and in the few milky hours between sunrise and the start of morning classes churn out a master term paper. Almost all of us discovered this was not true. Some, like Hunter himself, never learned it.
People like this either never read Hunter’s books, or they read them and didn’t understand them at all. All the drugs and the wildness and the profanity … I’m not going to say it was an act, because as far as I know it was all very real, but they weren’t central to what made his books work.
People all over the world don’t identify with Hunter Thompson because he was some kind of all-world fraternity-party God who made a sexy living mainlining human adrenal fluids and spray-painting obscenities on the sides of racing yachts. No, they connect with the deathly earnest, passionate, troubled person underneath, the one who was so bothered by the various unanswerable issues of life that he went overboard trying to medicate the questions away.
People who describe Thompson’s dark and profane jokes as “cynical humor” don’t get it. Hunter Thompson was always the polar opposite of a cynic. A cynic, in the landscape of Campaign Trail ’72, for instance, is someone like Nixon or Ed Muskie, someone who cheerfully accepts the fundamental dishonesty of the American political process and is able to calmly deal with it on those terms, without horror.
But Thompson couldn’t accept any of it. This book buzzes throughout with genuine surprise and outrage that people could swallow wholesale bogus marketing formulations like “the ideal centrist candidate,” or could pull a lever for Nixon, a “Barbie-Doll president, with his box-full of Barbie Doll children.” Even at the very end of the book, when McGovern’s cause was so obviously lost, Thompson’s hope and belief still far outweighed his rational calculation, as he predicted a mere 5.5 percent margin of victory for the Evil One (it turned out to be a 23 percent landslide for Nixon).
When I read this book now, it reminds me a lot more of vast comic epics like The Castle or The Trial than one of Fear and Loathing’s smart nonfiction thematic contemporaries (like the excellent The Selling of the President, 1968, for instance). Just like Kafka’s Land Surveyor, Hunter in Campaign Trail ’72 enters a nightmarish maze of deceptions and prevarications and proceeds to throw open every door—bursting into every room with a circus clown’s theatrical self-importance and impeccably bad timing—searching every nook and cranny for the great Answer, for Justice.
What makes the story so painful, and so painfully funny, is that Hunter chooses the presidential campaign, of all places, to conduct this hopeless search for truth and justice. It’s probably worse now than it was in Hunter’s day, but the American presidential campaign is the last place in the world a sane man would go in search of anything like honesty. It may be the most fake place on earth.
Both now and in Thompson’s day, most of the press figures we lionize as great pundits and commentators seem to think it’s proper to mute our expectations for public figures. We’re constantly told that politicians should be given credit for being “realistic” (in the mouths of people like David Brooks, “realistic” is really code for “being willing to sell out your constituents in order to get elected”) and that demanding “purity” from our leaders is somehow immature (Hillary had to vote for the Iraq war; otherwise she would have ruined her presidential chances!).
To me, the reason so many pundits and politicians take this stance is because the alternative is so painful: If you cling to hope and belief, the distance between the ideal and the corrupt reality is so great, it’s just too much for most normal people to handle. So they make peace with the lie, rather than drive themselves crazy worrying about how insanely horrible and ridiculous things really are.
But Thompson never made that calculation. He never stooped to trying to sell us on stupidities about “electability” and “realism,” or the pitfalls of “purity.” Instead, he stared right into the flaming-hot sun of shameless lies and cynical horseshit that is our politics, and he described exactly what he saw—probably at serious cost to his own mental health, but the benefit to us was Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.
We can easily imagine how Hunter would have described people like Mitt Romney (I’m guessing he would have reached for “depraved scumsucking whore” pretty early in his coverage) and Rick Santorum (“screeching rectum-faced celibate”?), and all you have to do is look at his write-up of the Eagleton affair to see how this writer would have responded to whatever manufactured noncontroversy of the Bill Ayers/Reverend Wright genus ends up rocking the 2012 election season.
But more than anything, this book remains fresh because Thompson’s writing style hasn’t aged a single day since 1972. Thompson didn’t write in the language of the sixties and seventies—he created his own timelessly weird language that seems as original now as I imagine it did back then. When you read his stuff even today, the “Man, where the hell did he come up with that image?” factor is just as high as it ever was. There’s a section in this book where he’s fantasizing about the pro- Vietnam labor leader George Meany’s reaction to McGovern’s nomination:
He raged incoherently at the Tube for eight minutes without drawing a breath, then suddenly his face turned beet red and his head swelled up to twice its normal size. Seconds later—while his henchmen looked on in mute horror—Meany swallowed his tongue, rolled out the door like a log, and crawled through a plate glass window.
I’ve read every one of Thompson’s books three or four times, and I’ve probably read hundreds of passages like this, but this stuff still makes me laugh out loud. Why a plate glass window exactly? Where did he come up with that? On top of everything else, on top of all the passion and the illuminating outrage and the great journalism, the guy was just one of a kind as a writer. Nobody was ever more fun to read. He’s the best there ever was, and still the best there is.
Excerpted from Matt Taibbi’s introduction to the 40th anniversary edition of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, out now from Simon & Schuster. Copyright 2012 by Matt Taibbi.
Matt Taibbi is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone. He’s the author of five books, most recently The Great Derangement and Griftopia, and a winner of the National Magazine Award for commentary.
- Downtown Louisville Is Getting a Trippy Hunter S. Thompson Memorial (theatlanticcities.com)
At age 63, Bridges has discovered the secret to living in the moment and aging dudefully
By Devin Friedman
Photograph by Sebastian Kim
Certain Buddhists believe that there are nine levels of consciousness. One explanation for the apparent contradiction of Jeff Bridges—who now, at age 63, is both among the most accomplished, consistently sought-after actors in Hollywood and, by reputation and vibe, also one of the nicest and most contented—is that Jeff Bridges lives up there in the ninth level. The ninth level—it’s called, as I’m sure you know, the amala consciousness—is kind of the penthouse of the mind, and up there you’re freed from not only all that heavy karma you’ve accumulated in your lifetimes, but the entire thinking mind! You’re even blissfully unaffected by the overwhelming and cosmically unimportant stream of information the pedestrian world ceaselessly sends your way. Now, while Bridges has gone Zen in his late middle age, reads some Thich Nhat Hanh and knows Ram Dass and tries to meditate every day, he does not lay claim to living in one consciousness or another. But being both part of this earth and not would help us understand this:
For breakfast on this late-July morning, Bridges has selected a little café called Swami’s, right on the 101 in Encinitas, California. He arrives wearing comfortable jeans, canvas slip-on shoes, a kind of soft, towelly green shirt that buttons up the front. He’s got his famously beautiful hair slicked back and wears black sunglasses. His body is big, lived in; it betrays almost no kinetic energy but instead a kind of stillness, like a giant boulder you might find while hiking in Canyonlands National Park that would cause you to contemplate the unfathomable enormity of time. Anyway, we order some breakfast and sit down. Bridges, who, just to remind you, has been playing music for fifty years and has put out two albums and wasn’t lip-synching in Crazy Heart, is in Encinitas to play a show in the middle of an eight-date tour with his band, the Abiders. And GQ, seeing in him not only an accomplished gentleman of a certain age but also someone who, as we mention above, has attained a certain level of serious life contentment, has sought him out here to gather some wisdom. So our conversation begins, like awkward conversations at weddings have begun since time immemorial: Where ya coming in from?
DON’T MISS THIS
Jeff Bridges in the New Topcoat for Fall 2013
Life Advice with Jeff Bridges
Icon: Jeff Bridges
“Um…ha! Uhhhhh. We came in from, uh…” He laughs at this. Because it’s funny! Isn’t life funny when you’re not always hung up on the cosmically unimportant stream of information the pedestrian world ceaselessly sends your way? “Oh God, it all kind of blends! It’s very tough for me to remember what we did. I want to get this right for you! So let me think. We played Laughlin, Nevada. We slept in. And then drove the four hours here. No, no, this isn’t right. Ha!” He stands up and darts off. “Let me go find Chris”—his music director—”so I can answer your first question!”
(He came in from Anaheim on Sunday night and had the day off yesterday.)
Now, for some people this might be embarrassing. Or could cause a little anxiety: What the fuck, am I losing my mind? But not to Jeff Bridges. Hey, man, let go, the invisible currents of life force will carry you! Ha ha ha! What a ride. Bridges just isn’t an anxious dude. Sitting close enough to him that you can hear him lazily ruminate his huevos rancheros confirms what you probably suspect from watching him in the movies: He might be the least anxious person in America (who has also won an Academy Award for best actor). As the film critic Pauline Kael famously wrote: Bridges “may be the most natural and least self-conscious screen actor that has ever lived.”
When he comes back to our outdoor table at Swami’s, named for the famous surf break just the other side of the 101, a comment is made about his lack of anxiety. Can you just teach us all how to be a little more like that? But he says I have it wrong. Even playing his music tonight here in Encinitas will involve a struggle that goes something like this: “I go through the gamut of emotions. It’s kind of like emotional weather. Feeling anxious. You know, a lot of anxiety. And that’ll pass. Nothing will particularly change, except something inside. And then all of a sudden I’m saying, Hey, this is fun, being alive! Look at that! Look at this!”
Listen, if you’re going to be spending time with Bridges, you need to get comfortable analyzing your feelings.
This is the point when we get up and go inside to get something from the juice bar.
“You ever had wheatgrass before?” Bridges says, contemplating the menu.
“No,” I say. Why do I lie about having had wheatgrass before? I don’t know. You just don’t want to deny Jeff Bridges the pleasure of introducing you to a wonderful health beverage.
At the counter there’s a tiny middle-aged man with a kelp bed of sun-bleached hair, sunburned eye sockets, a small puffy-lipped mouth. He’s a fixture at Swami’s, likes to call himself a co-owner. When he hears the conversation, he adds: “You know, it’s the microorganisms on the wheatgrass that are so amazing—the wheatgrass itself doesn’t do anything.”
“Far out, man!” Bridges says.
Then it dawns on the “co-owner” who he’s talking to. “Hey, man!” he says. “Will you write on our wall, man?”
“I’ll tell you what, man. Why don’t I come back later and draw you a picture!” Bridges says.
When we’re back at the table, I bring up the topic of marriage. This is another thing he seems to have figured out. If you know anything about Bridges, one of the things you know is that he’s been married for almost forty years, that he has spent the better part of his life (a) being one of the best-looking, most famous men in the world and (b) waking up next to the same woman he met in his twenties. But I’m particularly interested in something wise he said in an interview not long ago: In a marriage, every fight is the same fight, over and over again, in different forms. (Note to unwed readers: In a marriage, every fight is the same fight, over and over again, in different forms.) I ask him what his version of the fight is.
TagsJeff Bridges, Hollywood, Movies + TV, Topcoats, Entertainment, October 2013