Tag Archives: rebel

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

Standard

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
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

Advertisements

COOL PEOPLE- WOODIE GUTHRIE- BIO, MUSIC AND SUCH

Standard
COOL PEOPLE- WOODIE GUTHRIE- BIO, MUSIC AND SUCH

 images (44)  images (41)images (42)images (43)

 THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND was written at a small boarding house on 43rd Street. His autobiography BOUND FOR GLORY and many of his most popular songs were written in various locations around town; JESUS CHRIST, TOM JOAD, VIGILANTE MAN, and RIDING IN MY CAR are among the 600 songs he composed here.

http://youtu.be/XaI5IRuS2aE

My Name Is New York – Deluxe Audio Book

http://youtu.be/HFYpdbrKEOA

Now, for the first time, you’ll actually be able to hear these stories told by those who knew him best, in many different ways and through various encounters and circumstances; music partners Pete Seeger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Sonny Terry, and Bess Lomax Hawes, Woody’s first wife Mary Guthrie, Woody’s merchant marine buddy Jimmy Longhi, Bob Dylan, Woody’s second wife Marjorie Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, Nora Guthrie and many others share their memories with you first-hand.

With this new audio tour, we invite you to walk the streets, ride the buses and subways, or sit down and relax on some of the stoops, park benches, or beaches where Woody Guthrie did — always strumming away on his guitar, always working on a new song.

 http://youtu.be/HFYpdbrKEOA

images (34) download (27)images (35)

Woody Guthrie Biography

Singer, Guitarist, Songwriter (1912–1967)
Woody Guthrie was a singer-songwriter, and one of the legendary figures of American folk music.
Woody Guthrie – Centennial Birthday Festival at City Winery (TV-14; 03:04) American folk musician Woody Guthrie’s songs and legacy continue to influence music and politics. To celebrate his 100th birthday, City Winery in New York City held a three day festival of concerts celebrating his life and work.Synopsis
Woody Guthrie wrote more than 1,000 songs, including “So Long (It’s Been Good to Know Yuh)” and “Union Maid.” After serving in WWII, he continued to perform for farmer and worker groups. “This Land Is Your Land” was his most famous song, and it became an unofficial national anthem. His autobiography,Bound for Glory (1943), was filmed in 1976. His son Arlo also achieved success as a musician.Woody Guthrie Photo Gallery: Woody was warmly embraced by leftist artists, union organizers and folk musicians.
Born on July 14, 1912 in Okemah, Oklahoma, Woody Guthrie was the second son of Charles and Nora Belle Guthrie. The future folk hero was born just weeks after Woodrow Wilson was nominated as the Democratic candidate for president in 1912; as his namesake later told a crowd of concertgoers, “My father was a hard, fist-fighting Woodrow Wilson Democrat, so Woodrow Wilson was my name.”Both parents were musically inclined and taught young Woody a wide array of folk tunes, songs that he soon learned to play on his guitar and harmonica. Tragedy and personal loss visited the budding musician early and often throughout his childhood, providing a bleak context for his future songs and supplying him with a wry perspective on life.In short order, Guthrie experienced the accidental death of his older sister Clara, a fire that destroyed the family home, his father’s financial ruin, and the institutionalization of his mother, who was suffering from Huntington’s disease. At the age of just 14, Guthrie and his siblings were left to fend for themselves while their father worked in Texas to repay his debts. As a teenager, Guthrie turned to busking in the streets for food or money, honing his skills as a musician while developing the keen social conscience that would later be so integral to his legendary music.When Guthrie was 19, he married his first wife, Mary Jennings, in Texas, where he had gone to be with his father. Eventually, Woody and Mary would have three children, Gwen, Sue and Bill. The Great Depression hit the Guthrie family hard, and when the drought-stricken Great Plains transformed into the infamous Dust Bowl, Guthrie left his family in 1935 to join the thousands of “Okies” who were migrating West in search of work. Like many other “Dust Bowl refugees,” Guthrie spent his time hitchhiking, riding freight trains, and when he could, quite literally singing for his supper.With his guitar and harmonica, Guthrie sang in the hobo and migrant camps, developing into a musical spokesman for labor and other left-wing causes. These hardscrabble experiences would provide the bedrock for Guthrie’s songs and stories, as well as fodder for his future autobiography, “Bound for Glory.” It was also during these years that Guthrie developed a taste for the road that would never quite leave him.Folk Revolutionary
In 1937, Guthrie arrived in California, where he landed a job with partner Maxine “Lefty Lou” Crissman as a radio performer of traditional folk music on KFVD in Los Angeles. The duo soon garnered a loyal following from the disenfranchised “Okies” living in migrant camps across California and it wasn’t long before Guthrie’s populist sentiments found their way into his songs.In 1940, Guthrie’s wanderlust led him to New York City, where he was warmly embraced by leftist artists, union organizers and folk musicians. Through fruitful collaboration with the likes of Alan Lomax, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger and Will Geer, Guthrie’s career blossomed. He took up social causes and helped establish folk music not only as a force for change, but also as a viable new commercial genre within the music business. Guthrie’s success as a songwriter with the Almanac Singers helped launch him into the popular consciousness, garnering him even greater critical acclaim. The ensuing fame and hardships of the road led to the end of Guthrie’s marriage in 1943. A year later, he would go on to record his most famous song, “This Land is Your Land,” an iconic populist anthem which remains popular today and is regarded by many as a kind of alternative national anthem.During World War II, the singer/songwriter joined the Merchant Marine and began composing music with a more strident antifascist message. (Guthrie was famous for performing with the slogan, “This Machine Kills Fascists,” scrawled across his acoustic guitar.) While he was out of the Merchant Marine on furlough, he married Marjorie Greenblatt Mazia, and after the war the couple made their home in Coney Island, New York, eventually filling the house with four children: Cathy, Arlo, Joady and Nora. This period in Guthrie’s life would prove to be his most musically prolific, as he continued to produce political anthems while also writing children’s classics like, “Don’t You Push Me Down,” “Ship In The Sky” and “Howdi Doo.”

Highway 66 Blues

BEEN ON THIS ROAD FOR A MIGHTY LONG TIME

TEN MILLION MEN LIKE ME

YOU DRIVE US FROM YO’ TOWN, WE RAMBLE AROUND

I GOT THEM 66 HIGHWAY BLUES

Hard Travelin’ by Woody Guthrie. With Depression Era photos by the great Farm Security Administration photographer John Vachon. Created in honor of Woody’s 100th birthday.

http://youtu.be/yI9OJ6PIbso

Play MIDI

Highway 66 Blues
(Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger)

There is a Highway from coast to the coast,
New York to Los Angeles,
I'm a goin' down that road with troubles on my mind
I got them 66 Highway Blues.

Every old town that I ramble' round,
Down that Lonesome Road,
The police in yo' town they shove me around,
I got them 66 Highway Blues.

Makes me no difference wherever I ramble
Lord, wherever I go,
I don't wanna be pushed around by th' police in yo' town,
I got them 66 Highway Blues.

Been on this road for a mighty long time,
Ten million men like me,
You drive us from yo' town, we ramble around,
And got them 66 Highway Blues.

Sometimes I think I'll blow down a cop,
Lord, you treat me so mean,
I done lost my gal, I aint got a dime,
I got them 66 Highway Blues.

Sometimes I think I'll get me a gun,
Thirty eight or big forty fo',
But a number for a name and a big 99,
Is worse than 66 Highway Blues.

I'm gonna start me a hungry man's union,
Ainta gonna charge no dues,
Gonna march down that road to the Wall Street Walls
A singin' those 66 Highway blues.

Copyright Stormking Music, Inc.

HIWAY AMERICA – The One and Only Hippie Memorial, Arcola Illinois

Standard

the one and only hippie memorial

 69788_463161373727276_1660128912_n

Hippie Memorial.

Created by the late Bob Moomaw. Bob worked as a railroad clerk and tax assessor, but did not like either job. As an eccentric, independent artist with strong beliefs, he was able to give voice to his feelings, passions, and opinions through his art and the writing on the sides of buildings. He created the 62-foot-long artwork starting in 1992 to say something about his life and the era during which he lived. A nearby marker gives an interpretation of his work.

One and Only Hippie Memorial

Field review by the editors.

 

1462888_638337972876281_1104594452_n 1452538_638337712876307_570859513_n 1375115_608364452540300_1618611452_n 1471977_638338579542887_177404323_n

Arcola, Illinois

While he was alive, Bob Moomaw was Arcola’s town crank. Not crazy-crank. Not village idiot-crank. A crank like Thomas Paine, Captain Nitwit, or Ski Demski: a patriotic thorn in the side of the powers that be. A guy who would defend with his life your right to flip him off, as well as his own right to paint incendiary slogans on his building located right on Main Street (which is why you flipped him off to begin with). A populist defending a populace that would just as soon he defend them from twenty miles down the road.

Hippie Seal

Arcola is a mixing pot of Roadside Quikcrete. A few miles away is Rockome Gardens, the Amish Amusement Park, known for its Haunted Barn and buildings made from empty bottles of caffeine-free 7-Up and Fresca. It was the birthplace of Johnny Gruelle,creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy. A local museum, monument and yearly festival honors them. Arcola is the “Broomcorn Capital of the World.” There is a gourmet French restaurant in a bowling alley (June 2005 – Oops, reported moved out of the bowling alley). This, in a town of 2,700 some forty miles from Champaign.

The Hippie Years.

For many decades, Bob Moomaw lived and worked here. He served as a tax assessor and railroad clerk. He didn’t like either job. His joy and duty was painting messages of alert on the side of a building that he owned. According to a Chicago Tribune story from 1993, the messages included: “America you’re turning into a nation of minimum-wage hamburger flippers. Rebel. Think for yourself. It works!” And “Oh wretched world, more rank each day, and ruled by lunatics, the heroes have all gone away!” The messages changed several times a week, much like those on the outdoor signs of quirky motels, dry cleaners and churches.

He told the Tribune reporter: “My life has been the opposite of an adventure, it’s been one long dental appointment broken up by episodes of nothing happening.” Moomaw lost a leg to cancer in the late 80s and had bypass surgery just before starting the Hippie Memorial in 1992. In April 1998, Moomaw died of a heart attack, bequeathing the memorial to Gus Kelsey, a former Arcola hippie who had moved out of state. Kelsey refurbished it, and the city allowed it to be placed downtown, near the old railroad depot.

Always Remember bench.

The artwork is 62 feet long, with each foot representing one year of Bob Moomaw’s life. The first 26 feet include The Great Depression, World War II and 1950s hypocrisy. “The idea is that as my life passed through time, other people’s junk stuck to me and made me what I am – the product of leftovers from a previous existence,” Moomaw said.

The middle section is higher and more colorful, representing the Kennedy years and the coming of the hippies. It salutes their influence on freedom of expression and dissent. One of the metal pieces during this period is a personalized license plate reading “WOODSTC.” Other scraps are brightly painted with many of the classic peace symbols, including the Vulcan double-fingered greeting from Star Trek. This colorful period runs some twenty feet, from 1960-1980, and presumably also includes Nixon, Viet Nam, Stagflation, the bear market of ’74-75, and avocado green station wagons.

Small mindedness returned in 1980 with the election of Illinois native Ronald Reagan, and the last 18 feet are embedded with plain rusted scrap.

The work was dedicated at the first (and apparently only) Hippie Memorial Festival in June 1999. Plans to add a hippie movement flag, Volkswagen Beetle and a “twirling, three-sided neon peace sign” never got together, man.

Sharon Moomaw, Bob’s wife, described the work in her dedication speech. It is reprinted on a large sign next to the memorial. This is good, because without it, a new visitor has no idea what is going on. For example, since his life post-hippie was nearly as long as his life pre-hippie, the higher, more colorful center section looks like a simple bow to symmetry — a concept we would think foreign to Moomaw.

Alway Remember Dec 7, 1941.

The speech also makes it clear that he was a pot-stirrer, not a pot-smoker. (Well, maybe he was that, too, but you know what we mean) “Was Bob Moomaw a hippie? NO. He did have a beard and a ponytail while attending the university. He was THERE at the same TIME and PLACE as the hippies were, but he was raising his children then…to his shame, he was no hippie.”

Since he passed away, Moomaw’s America has become a different place, as shown by a new memorial in Arcola. The Hippie Memorial is on Oak Street. Just over the railroad tracks on Chestnut Street is a big marble monument urging remembrance.

Dedicated on Memorial Day, 2002, a black marble globe sits on top. Below it are chiseled quotes from Generals Patton and MacArthur, the Bible, Walt Whitman and George Bush, cheering fighting men and women. On both sides is a photo-etched American flag, with “Arcola, Illinois” and the zip code beneath in big letters. A time capsule is buried, to be opened on Memorial Day, 2052. At the far end of the little park are two small benches. One reads “Always Remember Dec. 7, 1941,” and the other reads “Always Remember Sept. 11, 2001.”

Bob Moomaw might have hated this park, but he would have defended its creators. They, in turn, have defended his Memorial in his absence. Which makes for a cranks’ gnash equilibrium – and another reason to visit Arcola.

GREGORY CORSO

Standard

gcstamp1

Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso1973

corso

Gregory Corso biography
Quick Facts
NAME: Gregory Corso
OCCUPATION: Poet
BIRTH DATE: March 26, 1930
DEATH DATE: January 17, 2001
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Robbinsdale, Minnesota
Full Name: Gregory Nunzio Corso

Gregory Corso was a troubled youth who spent time in prison and grew up to become one of the leading voices of the Beat poetry movement.

Born in New York City in 1930, poet Gregory Corso became one of the leading voices of the Beat movement along with his friend and mentor, Allen Ginsberg. His poetry is known for its imagery, directness and rebellious tone. Notable collections include The Vestal Lady on Brattle (1955) and The Mutation of the Spirit (1964).

Contents
Synopsis
Early Life
Beat Poets
Poetry Career
Lifestyle and Death

Early Life

Gregory Nunzio Corso was born to teenage parents in New York City on March 26, 1930. His mother abandoned him as an infant, and he had a troubled youth that included a span of foster homes, orphanages and a months-long stint in prison while awaiting trial for selling stolen goods at the age of 12. The stay was hard on the boy, and he was hospitalized under observation for months after his acquittal. He served time again when he was 16, for robbery. Having missed out on a traditional education, Corso took time to educate himself while incarcerated.

Beat Poets

After he was released from prison, Corso traveled the country working a series of odd jobs. In 1950, Corso met Allen Ginsberg in a bar in Greenwich Village, a chance encounter that would change his life. Ginsberg was intrigued by the potential he saw in Corso’s poems. He introduced the new poet to less-conventional poetry styles and to his social circle, a group that included Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. In 1954, Corso moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and spent extended amounts of time reading poetry at the Harvard University library. The Harvard Advocate published his first poems.

In 1956, Corso moved to San Francisco, where the Beat movement was taking off. As the Beat poets gained notoriety and success, they began to travel the country together. In the late 1950s, they lived in Paris, all sharing one bed in a hotel near St. Michel. Corso also lived in England and central Europe for several years.

Poetry Career

Corso’s poetry is known for his diverse vocabulary, imagery, directness, sense of humor and, most of all, rebellious nature. Corso is frequently referred to as the “bad boy” of the Beat poets. He authored more than 20 books of poetry, including The Vestal Lady on Brattle (1955), The American Express (1961) and The Mutation of the Spirit (1964).

Lifestyle and Death

Corso was a heroin addict. He struggled financially and at times sold his notebook of poetry for drug money. In his later career, he taught at universities, including New York University. In 1965, the State University of New York at Buffalo fired Corso after he refused to sign a legal document denying membership in the Communist Party. He was married three times and was survived by his three daughters and two sons. Corso died of prostate cancer on January 17, 2001, in Robbinsdale, Minnesota.

© 2014 A+E Networks. All rights reserved

blacktitle.jpg (12329 bytes)

Some Gregory Corso: Online Poems

Last Night I Drove a Car

Last night I drove a car
not knowing how to drive
not owning a car
I drove and knocked down
people I loved
…went 120 through one town.

I stopped at Hedgeville
and slept in the back seat
…excited about my new life.

Online Source

Destiny

They deliver the edicts of God
without delay
And are exempt from apprehension
from detention
And with their God-given
Petasus, Caduceus, and Talaria
ferry like bolts of lightning
unhindered between the tribunals
of Space and Time

The Messenger-Spirit
in human flesh
is assigned a dependable,
self-reliant, versatile,
thoroughly poet existence
upon its sojourn in life

It does not knock
or ring the bell
or telephone
When the Messenger-Spirit
comes to your door
though locked
It’ll enter like an electric midwife
and deliver the message

There is no tell
throughout the ages
that a Messenger-Spirit
ever stumbled into darkness

Online Source

The Mad Yak

I am watching them churn the last milk they’ll ever get from me.
They are waiting for me to die;
They want to make buttons out of my bones.
Where are my sisters and brothers?
That tall monk there, loading my uncle, he has a new cap.
And that idiot student of his — I never saw that muffler before.
Poor uncle, he lets them load him.
How sad he is, how tired!
I wonder what they’ll do with his bones?
And that beautiful tail!
How many shoelaces will they make of that!