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Celebrating the life and death of the famed author of ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ with a bang

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Football Season Is Over: Hunter S. Thompson, 1937—2005

hunter

Celebrating the life and death of the famed author of ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ with a bang

By | September 22, 2005

FEBRUARY WAS ALWAYS the cruelest month for Hunter S. Thompson. An avid NFL fan, Hunter traditionally embraced the Super Bowl in January as the high-water mark of his year. February, by contrast, was doldrums time. Nothing but monstrous blizzards, bad colds and the lackluster Denver Nuggets. This past February, with his health failing, Hunter was even more glum than usual. “This child’s getting old,” he muttered with stark regularity, an old-timey refrain that mountain-men used to utter when their trail-blazing days were over. Depressed and in physical pain from hip-replacement surgery, he started talking openly about suicide, polishing his .45-caliber pistol, his weapon of choice. He was trying to muster the courage to end it all.

Then, on February 16th, Hunter decided to leave a goodbye note. Scrawled in black marker, it was appropriately titled “Football Season Is Over.” Although he left the grim missive for Anita, his young wife, Hunter was really talking to himself. Here, published for the first time, are perhaps his final written words:

No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won’t hurt.

At the bottom of the page, Hunter drew a happy heart, the kind found on Valentine’s cards. Four days later, on February 20th, he committed suicide by firing his pistol into his mouth.

ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 20TH, SIX months to the day after Hunter died, many of his closest friends gathered in the high-ceiling lobby of the Hotel Jerome in Aspen. Since the mid-1960s, Hunter had used the hotel’s J-Bar as his boozy late-night office, its long out door swimming pool as his fitness club. Now, family and friends congregated here, waiting for a convoy of shuttle buses that would ferry them down the two-lane country road to Owl Farm, Hunter’s home in Woody Creek, to say goodbye.

As the hour approached, the Victorian hotel became a Gonzo way station. Reporters wandered about with spiral notebooks while Ralph Steadman and Bill Murray held court at the bar. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” Sen. John Kerry said as he boarded a shuttle, his arm around former Sen. George McGovern. “I met Humer in the days of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Then, last summer I offered him the vice-presidency in jest. He’s missed.”

Because Hunter had been a perpetual Peter Pan, accepting the bleak reality of his death came hard. Nobody coveted what his son, Juan, deemed “Dr. Phil closure.” Instead, his family and friends wanted to find a gallant, jubilant way to remember him. Luckily, Hunter provided them with a dramatic, ready-made funeral scheme first hatched nearly thirty years ago, a self-aggrandizing stunt guaranteed to launch his posthumous literary reputation skyward in a final blaze of triumphant glory. “Hunter wanted to be crazy and outrageous in death, just as he was in life,” composer David Amram said on the bus ride to Owl Farm. “Like a phoenix, he planned on rising from the ashes.”

Back in 1977, Hunter had asked Ralph Steadman — his brilliant illustrator and trusted sidekick — to draft a blueprint for a Gonzo Fist Memorial, his warped idea of a pyrotechnics-rigged mausoleum. The morbid notion had been preoccupying Hunter for a while. A few years before, he had asked his artist friend Paul Pascarella to design an official Gonzo logo: an iconic two-thumbed red fist clutching a peyote button, ensconced atop a dagger. Now, with a BBC crew in tow, Hunter and Ralph wandered into a Hollywood mortuary to inquire about transforming the Gonzo symbol into a full-fledged artillery cannon, 153 feet tall, capable of blasting his ashes into the atmosphere. It started out as a lark, but as they years passed, Hunter grew serious about the cannon concept, telling his family and friends it was his “one true wish.” He often spoke of how Mark Twain wanted to report on his own funeral, how France celebrated the death of Victor Hugo with a no-holds-barred parade and, more recently, how Timothy Leary had his ashes fired into space from Grand Canary Island via a rocket. But Hunter had a much grander farewell in mind. He wanted to trump his own suicide with a surefire, high-octane, sizzling Gonzo epilogue complete with a thunderous eight-piece Japanese drum band and a Buddhist reading and his ashes showering down on his lifelong friends while Bob Dylan wailed “Mr. Tambourine Man” from high-decibel speakers.

How one deals with the death of a loved one is a highly personalized affair. Some people weep for days; others take a hike in the woods or count rosary beads. The actor Johnny Depp, it turns out, is a charter member of the Direct Action School of Mourning. Depp and Hunter were home-boys. Both hail from Kentucky, and the two had become friends when Depp played Hunter’s alter ego Raoul Duke in the movie adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. One of Hunter’s great delights was getting Depp enshrined as an honorary Kentucky Colonel in 1996. From induction onward, Hunter always called him “Colonel Depp” — or sometimes just “the Colonel.” Since nothing could bring Hunter back to life, Depp decided to make his buddy’s 1977 death fantasy come true. “Fuck you, Hunter,” he joked one afternoon not long after Hunter died. “You want a Gonzo Cannon? We’ll give you a Gonzo Cannon.”

Following Hunter’s thirty-year-old blueprints, the Colonel commissioned a construction crew to build the cannon. Cost was not a factor. So what if the price tag was $2 million or $3 million? Depp’s recent hits Pirates of the Caribbean and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were financial grand slams, earning the forty-two-year-old actor enough money to buy his owns-land near the Bahamas. Doing it right for Hunter was all that mattered. “I loved him and wanted to make sure his last wish was fulfilled,” Depp says. ‘It’s that simple.” He galvanized Hunter’s inner circle to share his vision of building the most spectacularly weird monument ever erected for a writer. Without hesitation, both Anita and Juan signed up for the ash blast.

But greater Aspen has a notoriously hard-line building code. Pitkin County is NIMBY-land, a place where rich folks with $10 million alpine homes don’t want their scenic views obstructed by a giant day-glo peyote fist. Facing a political minefield, Depp dispatched his movieland troops to the Rockies, determined to construct a permanent monument for the Good Doctor. “There were a lot of community grumbles,” recalls Sheriff Bob Braudis. “Nobody minded a small cannon blast, but 153 feet tall? And permanent? That, quite naturally, raised eyebrows.”

So a compromise was struck. Depp could build his grandiose monument and his friend’s ashes could light up the Western sky in a fireworks orgy. But the memorial would have to be temporary. Two weeks only and down it would have to come. Faced with this reality check, most people would have resigned themselves to building a makeshift memorial, some tawdry papiermâché-like contraption modeled after a disposable Rose Bowl float. But Depp is not most people. “Our goal was to get everything right,” he says. “We wanted to respect the wishes of the people of Pitkin County. These were Hunter’s friends and neighbors. We wanted them to be part of the entire process.”

In early June, construction crews armed with jackhammers, buzz saws and humongous cranes arrived at Owl Farm. While engineers and security guards roamed the property around her, Anita focused on the guest list. Handsome invitations with a silver-foil dagger topped by a double-thumbed fist went out to a select group of family and friends. “Hunter had so many fans, and I wanted them all to come,” Anita says. “But reality dictated that we limit the event to 300 or 400 people.”

Slowly the program began to take shape. Juan would be master of ceremonies, introducing nine or ten of the people closest to Hunter to make brief five-minute eulogies. The tone was funeral-solemn — a wake — but expansive humor was naturally welcomed. Only mint juleps would be served for phase one. A full bar would open up after the eulogies. Music, of course, would be a big part of the evening; given Hunter’s preference for Kentucky bluegrass, Depp lined up Jimmy Ibbotson of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to play “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and Lyle Lovett and David Amram to orchestrate variations on “My Old Kentucky Home.”

Finally, there would be absolutely no cameras or tape recorders or working media allowed at the ceremony. (An exception was made for the New York Times.) “We didn’t see this as a media event,” Juan says. “It was a remembrance of Hunter. Our goodbye. We simply asked people to respect the family’s wishes.” Not everyone got the message. Three days before the event, a freelance photographer who was snooping around the area was run off by Ibbotson, a neighbor of Hunter’s, who fired off his shotgun for emphasis. “If you want to print the fact that neighbors are shooting at paparazzi, please do,” Ibbotson told the Aspen Times. “It might save us a little hassle on the day of the event.”

THE FESTIVITIES WERE SCHEDULED to begin at 7 P.M. As the shuttle buses approached Owl Farm, guests encountered a wall of frenzied fans, wildly waving Gonzo placards while toking on dope and mixing drinks. Virtually everyone claimed some connection to Hunter — be it a Utah book-seller or Honduran smuggler or Houston social maven or Pennsylvania hitchhiker. A few lost souls were even dressed like Hunter in Tilley hats and white Converse sneakers, smoking Dunhills from a cigarette holder. “Those folks weren’t in Woody Creek to rub elbows with glitterati,” said Gerry Goldstein, a close Hunter friend. “They came from far and wide to salute Hunter.”

As I chatted with some of these pilgrims — all in awe of the fifteen-story Gonzo tower standing across Woody Creek Road surrounded by a forested canyon wall — it dawned on me that Hunter had become the Patron Saint of Righteous Rage for the voiceless outcast. Like Jesse James or Billy the Kid, Hunter took on the Bad Boy persona of the average guy’s avenger. He wouldn’t take shit from uppity bosses or dishonest police or corrupt lawyers or phony agents like most of us do. With a fierce vengeance, he lashed out, creating chaos from the mundane, psychedelic sparks out of the terminally placid. Most of us would never drive our Jeep through plate-glass windows or whiff rotten cocaine in a Huddle House parkinglot … so Hunter did it for us. Mayhem was his calling.

And posterity was his obsession. Hunter spent his entire life in a childlike state, wailing like a rambunctious new-born for things like Equal Rights and Prison Reform. He wanted his legacy to be both literary and political. As the invited guests and family arrived, they walked up a flight of stairs — an elegant, gondola-shape pavilion on the hill above Owl Farm, constructed especially for the occasion. The décor was a luscious cross between a Deadwood-like brothel and a Vegas stage show circa 1970. One entrance to the Gonzo palace was adorned by large framed portraits of Hunter’s favorite authors — Hemingway, Faulkner. Conrad, Twain, Fitzgerald. A fine circular bar stood in the center, flanked by furniture draped in black cloth, to be unveiled after the eulogies. Stuffed peacocks and Chinese gongs and other assorted Hunter artifacts were scattered about, his apple-red convertible stuffed with blow-up dolls perched on a nearby knoll. “It was like entering an ancient temple,” says Curtis Robinson, a former editor at the Aspen Daily News. “It reminded me of how much Hunter looked like the Dalai Lama.”

Standing at the podium dressed in a tuxedo jacket, Juan Thompson called for testimonials from his father’s family and friends. Anita. wearing a silk shirt with hand-painted red poppies (Hunter’s favorite flower), sobbed her way through Coleridge’s epic poem “Kubla Khan.” Steadman gave a rambling, hilarious toast, reading some of Hunter’s lengthy faxes to him over the years, including one that demanded an immediate loan of $50,000 (“Keep your advice to yourself,” Hunter instructed, “and send the money”). Ed Bradley of CBS News described encountering Hunter’s work when he bought Rolling Stone at a military PX in Vietnam and eventually growing to trust the notoriously erratic writer enough to allow Hunter to shave his head with a Bic razor. Colleen Auerbach — the mother of Lisl Auman, a young Colorado woman who was being released from prison after Hunter raised questions about her case — read a letter from her daughter. “Hunter saved Lisl’s life,” Auerbach said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t thank him and wish him love.”

Jann S. Wenner, the founder and editor of this magazine, called Hunter “the DNA of ROLLING STONE.” He also commented on the scores of black-clad security officers patrolling the surrounding roads and woods. “Hunter liked to refer to Owl Farm as ‘my heavily fortified compound in the Rockies,”‘ Wenner noted. “Well, today that’s never been more true.”

George McGovern, whose campaign for president Hunter covered for ROLLING STONE, remembered him as “a man of deep goodness and justice and compassion and idealism.” Sheriff Braudis, a longtime friend, gave a heartfelt speech recounting how he had helped Hunter out of various jams over the years. He encouraged those present to keep Hunter’s wife and son and grandson in their thoughts before concluding, “Goodbye, Hunter… motherfucker.”

Juan gave the final ceremonial tribute to his father. “So here we go,” he said. “Let’s do this thing…. Let’s shout, let’s laugh, cry…. Let’s honor the great fallen warrior. Let us spread his ashes on our farm…. Let us celebrate power with power. The king is dead. Long live the king!”

The previous week, Anita had flown to Pennsylvania to deliver her husband’s remains — kept in an oak box draped with an American flag — to Zambelli Fireworks. The company loaded the ashes into ten mortar shells packed with gunpowder. Anita wrote “I love you” on each shell, which were then driven by armored car to Woody Creek and packed into the waiting cannon.

Now the moment had arrived. As “Spirit in the Sky” began blasting over the loudspeakers, even the handful of drunks in attendance sobered up. The massive drapery enfolding the monument was slowly pulled away, revealing the Gonzo fist at the top of the tower — two feet taller than the Statue of Liberty — a multicolored peyote button pulsating at its center. Ed Bastian, a close friend, read part of the sacred text of the Heart Sutra in Tibetan, and a troupe of Japanese drummers began a choreographed ritual. As the drums stopped, champagne flutes were passed around. Then, at 8:46 P.M., more than thirty fireworks rocketed high above Owl Farm, bursting in the night sky illuminated by a nearly full moon. The cannon atop the tower fired, and Hunter’s ashes fell over the assembled guests like gray snow, “Mr. Tambourine Man” blaring from the sound system on cue. Hunter was literally all around us now, a destroying angel whooping it up with one final Rebel Yell. I glanced at Hunter’s compatriots: Kerry looked curious, McGovern sad, Lovett silent. “I have never seen an event like this,” whispered Harry Dean Stanton. “And I’m old. Very old.” Afterward, when the moment came to sing “My Old Kentucky Home,” the performers discovered that no one knew the lyrics. George Tobia, Hunter’s friend and attorney, whipped out his cell phone and managed to find someone to pull the words off the Internet. Struggling to hear over the blare of the music, he wrote the lyrics out in longhand by the light of the moon. Lovett and Amram then took the stage to perform the song, with Depp on guitar and Hunter’s brother Davison on vocals.

Depp, bouncing on his heels, had a wicked grin on his face. He — along with Juan and Anita — had a right to celebrate. They had bucked the tiger and won. Every body knew the tower and its ghostly beacon were temporary. But for the moment Hunter’s family and friends indulged in a well-earned collective pride. They, better than anyone, knew that Hunter was no saint. Far from it. Not even close. At times, in fact, his veins seemed to fill with snake blood. But he was always bursting with kinetic passion and an indomitable prankster vision. Somehow it was hard to mourn his wildly vibrant sixty-seven years with a one-ton Gonzo fist in the sky and Lovett onstage singing “If I Had a Pony” and raw oysters and Gonzo-emblazoned chocolates being handed out like Halloween candy. The party lasted until dawn, with Bill Murray cutting a fine figure on the pavilion’s dance floor and others serenading an inflatable sex doll until the sun finally rose and fatigue settled in and everybody drifted out of Owl Farm full as ticks from food and booze.

As I left the farm with George McGovern and Anita Thompson to deliver a tape of the ceremony to an Aspen bar where hundreds of Hunter’s fans were convened, we stared out the bus window, and there it was, from three miles down the valley — the green orgiastic fist, lighting up the mountain. Jay Gatsby’s green light at the end of the pier had moved west to Hunter S. Thompson Territory. It glowed in the darkness like a long-ago lighthouse on loan from Haight-Ashbury, blinking a sentimental farewell, a bizarre hallucinogenic symbol soon to flicker out forever.

Suddenly, the shuttle bus grew hushed. You could hear the wheels humming down the lonesome Colorado blacktop road. Our transport had become as solemn as an empty church. No human murmurs or casual asides, just stony silence. As the highway turned sharply right, putting the phantasmagoric Gonzo fist out of view, the collective fear of everyone on board was that we had all entered the No More Fun Zone. The Green Light was temporary. The sorcerer was truly gone. The ashes had settled, and only the dark shadow of the valley remained.

From The Archives Issue 983: September 22, 2005

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/football-season-is-over-20050922#ixzz3k1twQ85s
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The 10 greatest Stephen King horror novels according to Goodreads

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The 10 greatest Stephen King horror novels according to Goodreads

Although dismissed by critics for much of his career—one New York Times review called him “a writer of fairly engaging and preposterous claptrap” — Stephen King is by any measure one of the greatest horror writers of all time. The author of fifty novels, nearly two hundred short stories and nine collections of short fiction, he is as productive as he is versatile. With so much fiction to choose from, it can be difficult to decide where to begin.

Happily, help is at hand thanks to the online book community Goodreads. As of July this book lovers’ heaven had an incredible 20 million members, the vast majority of whom spend huge amounts of time reading and reviewing. One author who understandably gets lots of attention is Stephen King. Here’s his ten greatest horror hits according to the Goodreads five star rating system.

1.  The Stand – score: 4.3

The Stand might not be the first novel you think of when you contemplate horror, but this post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy, an expansion of King’s earlier short story “Night Surf”, is Goodreads’s top choice. First published in 1978 and later re-released in 1990 as The Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition, it’s a genuine King masterpiece.

Goodreads top review says: “You know what’s really scary? Getting sick while you’re reading the first part of The Stand. Just try running a fever, going through a box of tissues and guzzling the better part of a bottle of Theraflu while Stephen King describes the grisly deaths of almost everyone on Earth from a superflu. On top of feeling like crap, you’ll be terrified. Bonus!”

2. It – score: 4.06

Published in 1986, It is a horror novel in every sense of the word. Moving back and forth between 1958 and 1985, the story tells of seven children in a small Maine town who discover the source of a series of horrifying murders. Having conquered the evil force once, they are summoned together 27 years later when the cycle begins again. The novel is famed for starring one of the scariest clowns in literature.

Goodreads top review says: “This is a brilliant novel, beautifully told in crisp, clear prose, with truly unforgettable characters and situations. It is the essence of good fiction; the truth inside the lie. King knows his way around the corners; and has that undefinable look in the eye, the dreamy look of a child.”

3. The Shining – score: 4.03

This 1977 classic follows Jack Torrance, a recovering alcoholic and writer, and his family, through a terrifying winter as they care for a deserted Colorado hotel whose history is anything but bucolic. The title was apparently inspired by the John Lennon song “Instant Karma!”, which contained the line “We all shine on…” Originally conceived as a five-act tragedy play, the story evolved into a five-act novel that also included many of King’s own personal demons. In 1980, Stanley Kubrick’s film version became an instant cult classic.

Goodreads top review says : “While reading “The Shining,” I revisited my kid fears– as if walking through a bell-bottomed-shaped portal into the shag carpet of the seventies. King evoked my vulnerability and reminded me of what it felt like to be a powerless child in a universe where everybody is stronger and more experienced than I.”

4. Misery – score. 3.99

Published in 1988, the novel focuses on Paul Sheldon, a writer famous for Victorian-era romance novels involving the character of Misery Chastain. After an automobile accident, Paul meets his biggest fan, Annie Wilkes. His nurse-and captor, she wants Paul to write his greatest work just for her, and she will do whatever it takes to make this happen. Of the inspiration behind Annie, King once said, “There was never any question. Annie was my drug problem, and she was my number-one fan. God, she never wanted to leave.”

Goodreads top review says: “I first read Misery when I was seventeen years old. I started it about eight o’clock that evening, and finished it about four in the morning. Heart pounding, bleary eyed and afraid to open my closet door lest Annie Wilkes was waiting there for me with an axe or chainsaw raised over her head.”

5. Salem’s Lot – score. 3.91

Published in 1975, Salem’s Lot follows a writer named Ben Mears as he returns to the town where he lived as a boy, Jerusalem’s Lot, or ‘Salem’s Lot for short. To his dismay he discovers that the residents are all becoming vampires. The title King originally chose for the book was Second Coming, but he later decided on Jerusalem’s Lot, because his wife, novelist Tabitha King, thought the original title sounded too much like a “bad sex story”. In 1987 he told Phil Konstantin in The Highway Patrolman magazine: “In a way it is my favorite story, mostly because of what it says about small towns. They are kind of a dying organism right now. The story seems sort of down home to me. I have a special cold spot in my heart for it!”

Goodreads top review says: “Vampire stories have been around for a long time – But leave it to Stephen King to turn the terror up a notch, add a whole new layer to it. How? In addition to showing us the monsters of the night, he also brings into the picture the monsters and the darkness that are already with us, that live in the deep dark recesses of everyone’s soul.”

6. Duma Key – score. 3.87

The newest book on the list, Duma Key was published in 2008 and reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. In the book, a construction site accident takes Edgar Freemantle’s right arm and scrambles his memory and his mind, leaving him enraged as he begins his rehabilitation in a beach house on Duma Key in Florida.

Goodreads top review says: “Duma Key is not just a novel for the fans, but a cathartic response from King over his near-death accident in 1999; no doubt he relived his agonizing recovery while writing about Freemantle, and yet it is because of this firsthand experience, that Duma Key feels much more personal and empathetic.”

7. The Dead Zone – score. 3.83

Dedicated to his son Owen, the Dead Zone features Johnny Smith, a young boy who  is injured in an accident and enters a coma for nearly five years. When he emerges, he can see horrifying secrets but cannot identify all the details in his “dead zone”, an area of his brain that suffered permanent damage as the result of his accident.

Goodreads review says: “I have been really surprised, especially as I read The Dead Zone, this isn’t more of a popular read, especially with King readers. Johnny Smith’s character and his ability were done very well. I really liked all of the characters, especially Johnny and his parents.”

8. Carrie – score 3.82

King’s first published novel, released in 1974,  it revolves around “Carrie N. White”, a shy high school girl who uses her newly discovered telekinetic powers to exact revenge on those who tease her, causing one of the worst disasters in American history in the process. It is one of the most frequently banned books in US schools.

Goodreads review says: “This is one of those books where you’re just like, dude, how did you even come up with these thoughts? I mean, I think we take it all for granted now but honestly, this book is amazing. This novel was insane and fearless and obviously written by someone who had this story in him that needed to gush out like Carrie’s menstrual blood and crazy telekinetic angst. This is one of the books I think of when I get depressed about the idea of workshopped writing and the internal observing critic and all the rest of that limiting quality-control type stuff.”

9. Bag of Bones – score 3.79

Bag of Bones, published in 1998, focuses on an author who suffers severe writer’s block and delusions at an isolated lake house four years after the death of his wife. It’s a tale of grief and lost love’s enduring bonds, which went on to win the Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel.

Goodreads top review says “Don’t get me wrong, I love IT and The Stand and the Gunslinger septulogy, all the crazy outlandish horror and fantasy that is SK’s bread and butter. But I adore Bag of Bones and think it is one of his absolute best. It’s very intimate, very down to earth, with the supernatural downplayed.”

10. Pet Sematary – score – 3.77

Released in 1983, it was later made into a film of the same name. The original idea came in 1978 when King was teaching at the University of Maine at Orono, and his family rented a house on a busy road in Orrington. The road claimed the lives of a number of pets, and the neighborhood children created a pet cemetery in a field near the Kings’ home. King wrote the novel based on their experiences, but feeling he had gone too far with the subject matter of the book, it became the first novel he “put away”.

Goodreads top review says “The painful, hard thing about Stephen King’s writing is that so often, he takes something real, something that people can experience in the real world, and builds the supernatural stuff onto that. In The Shining, there’s Jack’s alcoholism; in The Talisman, there’s Jack/Jason’s mother’s cancer; The Stand plays on our fears of something, somewhere, in one of those labs, getting out of control; in Pet Sematary, it’s the death of a child. So much of the book is completely real and believable.”

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Hunter S. Thompson on Outlaws | Blank on Blank | PBS Digital Studios

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About That Time #Hunter S. Thompson Joined Hells Angels, For Journalism

Edgy animation memorializes Studs Terkel’s interview with the great Hunter S. Thompson.

Hunter S. Thompson on Outlaws | Blank on Blank | PBS Digital Studios

https://youtu.be/P3QoKqEHS8s

Few figures rank above Studs Terkel and Hunter S. Thompson in the pantheon of American journalism greats. So what, exactly, could be better than Terkel interviewing Thompson? Oh, that’s right: Terkel interviewing Thompson about his time studying the Hells Angels.

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Not to mention a wry cartoon animation of the interview from the PBS web series “Blank on Blank,” which debuted Tuesday. The old-school illustrations capture Thompson’s self-deprecating yet hardbitten tone, as he reveals details about his time with the Hells Angels, and lessons he learned from getting repeatedly “stomped.”

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Terkel conducted a radio interview with Thompson in 1967, as Thompson was poised to take off as a superstar of gonzo journalism. He had just written Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga, a book that stemmed from a breakout article he’d contributed to The Nation magazine.

“Hunter Thompson, our guest, is a new kind of journalist,” Terkel said upon introducing him. “The journalist who is not detached […] in fact he was almost an honorary member, or a dishonored member of the the Oakland Hells Angels.”

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Thompson speaks sympathetically about the Hells Angels, without whitewashing their violent predilections. “I think the Angels came out of World War Two,” he posits to Terkel. “This whole kind of alienated, violent, subculture of people wandering around looking for either an opportunity, or if not an opportunity then vengeance for not getting an opportunity.”

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Though he ruefully recalls falling victim to “bylaw number 10 or 11 […] ‘When an Angel punches a non-Angel all other Angels will participate'” — apparently he once made the fatal mistake of giving a member a hard time for beating his wife — Thompson even sees himself in the frustrated bikers. He confesses to a tendency toward throwing “beer bottles into bar mirrors” and admits enjoying the visceral rush he found in speeding down the highway on a powerful motorcycle.

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Thompson only sped down the open road with the Hells Angels for around a year, but he told Terkel he learned about broader society during that time. “I wouldn’t just call Hells Angels in Oakland the only violent part of our society,” he said. “The Angels reflect not only the lower segments of the society but the higher, where violence takes a much more sophisticated and respectable form.”

He wasn’t just referring to easy marks, like political wheeler and dealer Lyndon B. Johnson, whom he named as having great Hells Angel potential. “I learned a lot about myself just writing about the Angels,” he admitted. “I was seeing a very ugly side of myself a lot of times.”

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In the mid-Sixties, gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson spent about a year with the world’s most notorious biker gang to write the book Hell’s Angels, which came out in 1967. He spoke with radio broadcaster Studs Terkel that year for an interview that PBS has now animated whimsically for its Blank on Blank series.

“The Angels claim that they don’t look for trouble,” Thompson said in the interview. “They just try to live peaceful lives and be left alone, but on the other hand they go out and put themselves into situations deliberately and constantly that are either going to humiliate somebody else or cause them to avoid humiliation by fighting.”

But he went on to question their desire for peace, explaining that one of the gang’s bylaws stipulated that “when an Angel punches a non-Angel, all other Angels will participate.” He also said that he was on the receiving end of their wrath. “All during this stomping, I could see the guy who had originally teed off on me that just out of nowhere, with no warning, circling around with a rock [that] must have weighed about 20 pounds,” the journalist said. “I tried to keep my eyes on him because I didn’t want to have my skull fractured.”

Later in the interview, Thompson confided that, like the Angels’ claims, he was then trying to keep a peaceful existence – for his own safety. “I keep my mouth shut now,” he said. “I’ve turned into a professional coward.”

The year Hell’s Angels hit bookstore shelves, the first issue of Rolling Stone also came out. Thompson would go on to become one of the magazine’s most venerated contributors, penning “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” and covering everything from the Nixon-McGovern presidential campaigns in 1972 to Bill Clinton 20 years later for the magazine. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2005. An online archive of his Rolling Stone writing is available here.

Blank on Blank animates archival interviews with musicians, actors and other notable people. Recent installments have included Joni Mitchell, Michael Jackson, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Tupac Shakur and Jim Morrison.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/see-hunter-s-thompson-talk-hells-angels-in-newly-animated-interview-20150728#ixzz3hPHTeXzX
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30 Writers Other Writers Loved To Hate

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30 Writers Other Writers Loved To Hate

Norman Mailer could throw some serious shade.

 

. Jack Kerouac

Tom Palumbo

Signet

“None of these people [in the Beat Generation] have anything interesting to say, and none of them can write, not even Mr. Kerouac. It’s not writing, it’s typing.” — Truman Capote

“His rhythms are erratic, his sense of character is nil, and he is as pretentious as a rich whore, sentimental as a lollypop.” — Norman Mailer

2. Truman Capote

Roger Higgins / via commons.wikimedia.org

Random House

“He’s a full-fledged housewife from Kansas with all the prejudices.” — Gore Vidal

3. Saul Bellow

Keith Botsford

Penguin

“[It’s] not that there were no ideas in Herzog to be pondered, but rather that these ideas were not Bellow’s own theses, but rather ideas he had picked up in his reading. His mind is very intelligent, very cultured, very cultivated. He’s read a million books and remembered them, but he is not an original thinker..” — Norman Mailer

4. Mark Twain

Charles Webster

“[A] hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old proven ‘sure fire’ literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.” — William Faulkner

5. Ernest Hemingway

Lloyd Arnold

Charles Scribners Sons

“I read him for the first time in the early Forties, something about bells, balls and bulls, and loathed it.” — Vladimir Nabokov

“People always think that the reason he’s easy to read is that he is concise. He isn’t. I hate conciseness — it’s too difficult. The reason Hemingway is easy to read is that he repeats himself all the time, using ‘and’ for padding.” — Tom Wolfe

“No courage. Never been known to use a word that might send the reader to a dictionary.” — William Faulkner, as recounted by A.E. Hotchner

6. William Faulkner

Carl Von Vechter

Penguin

“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?” — Ernest Hemingway

“Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You’re thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes – and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he’s had his first one.” — Ernest Hemingway, again

7. Evelyn Waugh

Carl Van Vechten

Chapman & Hall

“His style has the desperate jauntiness of an orchestra fiddling away for dear life on a sinking ship.” — Edmund Wilson

8. Marcel Proust

Modern Library

“I am reading Proust for the first time. Very poor stuff. I think he was mentally defective.” — Evelyn Waugh

9. E.M. Forster

Dora Carrington

Signet

”[Howard’s End] is not good enough. E.M. Forster never gets any further than warming the teapot. He’s a rare fine hand at that. Feel this teapot. Is it not beautifully warm? Yes, but there ain’t going to be no tea.” — Katherine Mansfield

10. James Joyce

Sylvia Beach

”[Ulysses] is a revolting record of a disgusting phase of civilisation; but it is a truthful one; and I should like to put a cordon around Dublin; round up every male person in it between the ages of 15 and 30; force them to read it; and ask them whether on reflection they could see anything amusing in all that foul mouthed, foul minded derision and obscenity.” — George Bernard Shaw

“[Ulysses is] the work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples.” — Virginia Woolf

11. Edgar Allan Poe

Bantam Classics

“[To take Poe] with more than a certain degree of seriousness is to lack seriousness one’s self. An enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection.” — Henry James

12. William Shakespeare

“The intensity of my impatience with him occasionally reaches such a pitch, that it would positively be a relief to me to dig him up and throw stones at him, knowing as I do how incapable he and his worshippers are of understanding any less obvious form of indignity.” — George Bernard Shaw

13. Jane Austen

c.1810)_hires.jpg”>en.wikipedia.org

Penguin

“I am at a loss to understand why people hold Miss Austen’s novels at so high a rate, which seem to me vulgar in tone, sterile in artistic invention, imprisoned in their wretched conventions of English society, without genius, wit, or knowledge of the world. Never was life so pinched and narrow. The one problem in the mind of the writer … is marriageableness.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” — Mark Twain

14. Joseph Conrad

George Charles Beresford

Penguin

“I cannot abide Conrad’s souvenir shop style and bottled ships and shell necklaces of romanticist clichés.” — Vladimir Nabokov

15. Alexander Pope

Michael Dahl

Penguin

“There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.” — Oscar Wilde

16. Ezra Pound

Alvin Langdon Coburn

New Directions

“A village explainer. Excellent if you were a village, but if you were not, not.” — Gertrude Stein

17. J.K. Rowling

Carlo Allegri / Reuters

Scholastic

“How to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? Why, very quickly, to begin with,
perhaps also to make an end. Why read it? Presumably, if you cannot be persuaded to read anything better, Rowling will have to do.” — Harold Bloom

18. John Updike

“My moral complaint was that Updike had tremendous, Nabokov-level talent and was wasting it, because he was too charmed by his daily dumps and too afraid of irregularity to take the kind of big literary risks that might have blocked him for a year or two. …Updike was exquisitely preoccupied with his own literary digestive processes, and his virtuosity in clocking and rendering the minutiae of daily life was undeniably unparalleled, but his lack of interest in the bigger postwar, postmodern, socio-technological picture marked him, in my mind, as a classic self-absorbed sixties-style narcissist.” — Jonathan Franzen

“Maybe the only thing the reader ends up appreciating about [Toward the End of Time protagonist] Ben Turnbull is that he’s such a broad caricature of an Updike protagonist that he helps us figure out what’s been so unpleasant and frustrating about this gifted author’s recent characters. It’s not that Turnbull is stupid… It’s that he persists in the bizarre adolescent idea that getting to have sex with whomever one wants whenever one wants is a cure for ontological despair. And so, it appears, does Mr. Updike…” — David Foster Wallace

19. Miguel de Cervantes

Juan de Jáuregui

Harper Perennial

“Reading Don Quixote can be compared to an indefinite visit from your most impossible senior relative, with all his pranks, dirty habits, unstoppable reminiscences, and terrible cronies.” — Martin Amis

20. George Orwell

BNUJ

Signet

“He could not blow his nose without moralising on the state of the handkerchief industry.” — Cyril Connolly

21. Honoré de Balzac

Modern Library Classics

“What a man Balzac would have been if he had known how to write.” — Gustave Flaubert

22. Henry David Thoreau

Benjamin D. Maxham

Prometheus

“He was imperfect, unfinished, inartistic; he was worse than provincial — he was parochial.” — Henry James

23. Virginia Woolf

George Charles Beresford

Harcourt Brace

“Virginia Woolf’s writing is no more than glamorous knitting. I believe she must have a pattern somewhere.” — Dame Edith Sitwell

24. Walt Whitman

“Like a large shaggy dog, just unchained, scouring the beaches of the world and baying at the moon.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

25. T.S. Eliot

Barnes and Noble Classics

“If I knew that by grinding Mr. Eliot into a fine dry powder and sprinkling that powder over [Joseph] Conrad’s grave Mr. Conrad would shortly appear…. I would leave for London tomorrow morning with a sausage grinder.” — Ernest Hemingway

26. Bertolt Brecht

Getty Images

“Personally I would rather have written Winnie-the-Pooh than the collected works of Brecht.” — Tom Stoppard

27. Bret Easton Ellis

Getty Images

Vintage Books

”[American Psycho] panders shamelessly to the audience’s sadism for a while, but by the end it’s clear that the sadism’s real object is the reader herself […] In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what’s human and magical that still live and glow despite the times’ darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it’d find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it. You can defend Psycho as being a sort of performative digest of late-eighties social problems, but it’s no more than that.” — David Foster Wallace

28. David Foster Wallace

Keith Bedford / Getty Images

Little, Brown

“Saint David Foster Wallace: a generation trying to read him feels smart about themselves which is part of the whole bullshit package.” — Bret Easton Ellis

29. Agatha Christie

Keystone / Stringer / Getty Images

Cardinal

“To say that Agatha Christie’s characters are cardboard cut-outs is an insult to cardboard cut-outs.” — Ruth Rendell

30. J.D. Salinger

Associated Press

Little, Brown

“I seem to be alone in finding him no more than the greatest mind ever to stay in prep school.” — Norman Mailer

“It took me days to go through [Catcher in the Rye], gingerly, a page at a time, and blushing with embarrassment for him every ridiculous sentence of the way. How can they let him do it?” — Elizabeth Bishop

“[Franny and Zooey] suffers from this terrible sort of metropolitan sentimentality and it’s so narcissistic … so false, so calculated. Combining the plain man with an absolutely megalomaniac egotism. I simply can’t stand it.” — (Mary McCarthy

Steven Spielberg To Adapt Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ For TV

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Steven Spielberg To Adapt Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ For TV

BraveNewWorld FirstEdition.jpgI don’t doubt that Aldous Huxley’s classic Brave New World is on many a disinfonaut’s list of top novels. Apparently it’s one of Hollywood stalwart Steven Spielberg’s favorites too and now he has the green light to turn it into a television series for Syfy, per the Hollywood Reporter:

The Emmy-winning team behind Syfy’s Taken is reuniting for another science fiction classic.

Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television is adapting Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World as a scripted series for the NBCUniversal-owned cable network, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Brave New World — ranked fifth among the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th Century by Modern Library — is set in a world without poverty, war or disease. Humans are given mind-altering drugs, free sex and rampant consumerism are the order of the day, and people no longer reproduce but are genetically engineered in “hatcheries.” Those who won’t conform are forced onto “reservations,” until one of the “savages” challenges the system, threatening the entire social order.

First published in 1932, Brave New World will be adapted by writer Les Bohem, who penned Taken, which won the 2003 Emmy for best miniseries and racked up six other nominations…

[continues at the Hollywood Reporter]

The Belles of Picardy and more by V. Alarcon Cordoba

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Joaquín doesn’t live here anymore . . .

I

“… he died of the Vietnam War

from drug and alcohol abuse.” — it’s what I tell
whoever still asks about my brother
Joaquín


I remember Joaquín
he used to fill my head with stories
about days he’d spent on furlough
in the summer of ’67
in San Francisco
while recuperating from two broken legs
at Treasure Island Naval Base hospital

he described in foggy detail the Haight-Ashbury
the Fillmore
how he’d watched Eric Burton
who was a regular then
tripping on acid
singing blindfolded
daring himself to not walk off
the edge of the stage

he also introduced me to his Missouri Meerschaum
a yellow corn-cob
with a tortoise-shell colored plastic mouthpiece
and the small bag of Vietnamese
he had smuggled
from his tour of duty in ‘Nam

my thoughts
suddenly
a stream of moving pictures
thoughts
dreamed

I closed my eyes
and in an instant
opened them

the bohemian . . .

… painting the pages

The Belles of Picardy

I

… during
the Vietnam War
I became a conscientious objector

I looked with horror
at photographs of overcrowded cemeteries
with no room left to bury the dead

tombstones lined up shoulder to shoulder
on the landscape of Europe
like soldiers marching to their death

I remember
the photograph
of my father in uniform
bringing to mind that he had indeed
been one of the lucky ones
who had made it back in one piece
from the Pacific Theatre

in my head I heard bells tolling
hammering to the beat of foot marches
an anthem to the dead

and to my brother
who was yet to die the slow death
of Vietnam’s lingering poison

I called it
The Belles of Picardy
an imaginary war march sung by the nymphs
that beckon soldiers

from every cathedral bell tower
in every corner of the world
to the Fields of Flanders
Dunkirk
Da’nang
Iraq
Iran
–hell

coda:
(for years I had watched the dismal gray theater of Eastern Europe
never realizing that what they depicted could one day come true)

the bohemian . . .

… painting the pages

ABOUT V. ALARCON CORDOBA  -VISIT HIS TERRIFIC BLOG  –  the bohemian  @  https://alarconvictor.wordpress.com

I am a writer of poems, short stories and existential fantasies. My writings should be read as lyric paintings—theater of the mind (to borrow a phrase from Eugene O’Neill). They are better viewed as pictures rather than verse—the vivid blue of a Paris street illuminated by a harvest moon and a lovers’ quarrel at 3 o’clock in the morning, or the sunlit yellows of a Kansas wheat field in a rolling epic of the American West.

They are fiction, but filled with the realization that one will eventually wake from the dreams of childhood. But those dreams, though doused, are never fully extinguished. Life is change. Life goes on. Dreams remain forever. Find your dreams.

Have you ever found yourself caught in a trap so subtle you wonder how you ever got there in the first place? Have you ever needed to get out of a situation, but were too enticed by desire to leave? In Flatland – A Modern Southwest Adventure Icarus Dade finds himself in the grip of just such a web of intrigue.

When a railroad accident in the Four Corners region of the New Mexico desert leaves him stranded, Icarus finds life much more complicated than he could have imagined. Follow along as he becomes entangled in a seemingly inescapable net of love, corruption and betrayal in the double-dealing small town justice of Flatland.


Now available at the following:

Amazon.com

iTunes

Barnes&Noble

eBookMall

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

50 great novels about madness

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Not so much into March Madness? Well, perhaps you should look at it another way. March is the perfect month for reading books about madness — it is a transitional time, after all, possessed of both lion and lamb. Plus, you’ll have ample reading time, both outside and inside. The books herein, it should be noted, are those that deal with a kind of literary madness — obsession and absurdity and hallucination — not directly focusing on mental illness proper, whenever the two can be separated. So you won’t find The Bell Jar or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or The Yellow Wallpaper here, though those are all excellent reads. READ MORE >

mother and Jack Kerouac

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jack

 mother and Jack Kerouac

jack

Reading their love letters from before I was born is an eerie experience.

My mother met Jack Kerouac on a blind date arranged by Allen Ginsberg. It was January 1957. Kerouac at the time was penniless, 34 years old, burned out from frantic world wandering. My mother, Joyce Johnson, then 21, worked in book publishing as she slowly wrote and revised her first novel. Years later, in his novel “Desolation Angels,” Kerouac called her “an interesting young person, a Jewess, elegant, middleclass sad and looking for something.” He also wrote, “I still love her tonight.”

The correspondence between them, collected in the new book “Door Wide Open,” starts a few months after that first meeting, when Kerouac characteristically splits for Africa, then San Francisco, Mexico City and Florida. As he speeds from place to place, he sometimes asks my mother to join him, then abruptly changes his mind. “I admit I’m flipping and am bugged everywhere I go,” he writes from Berkeley, Calif., distraught as each new place offers no refuge, no vibration, no new vision.

When “On the Road” was published late that year, the Beats quickly went from underground cult to mainstream clichi. But the success of “On the Road” only increased Kerouac’s sense of isolation and despair, hastening his desertion from the cultural revolution he helped to invent. In the letters, he comes across as a mad, ruined genius, swinging between the “starrynight exstasies” of his writing binges and the squalid excesses of his alcoholic binges.

My mother’s letters radiate precocious self-awareness and tenderness. She seeks to lure Kerouac closer without frightening him away with any hint of commitment, and she also tries to dissuade him from his “desperate, gluttonous drinking,” his bitterness and the other demons that threaten to destroy him. “I remember the first party we went to last Fall,” she writes. “You said, ‘Protect me,’ and I wanted to with all my heart, but didn’t do a very good job, having all my old shynesses and especially my strange shyness of you.”

I feel a kind of shyness approaching these documents. My mother’s relationship with Kerouac ended six years before she met my father, painter Peter Pinchbeck, and eight years before my birth. There is something eerie about reading a parent’s early love letters; it gives you a vertiginous glimpse into the accidental processes that led to your own creation. Covering a span of less than two years, the letters not only suggest huge worlds of possibility that my mother could have lived, they also make me aware of the various ways these distant events shaped my own consciousness.

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