“Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas ... with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Looking for the White Rabbit

I have just found possibly one of the best tshirts in the world! How cool is this one: the FEED YOUR HEAD tshirt - check it out here: http://threadpit.com/store/product.php?productid=408&face=feed_AU

There are lots of fabulous tshirt designs on this site but the FEED YOUR HEAD one is simply the best in my opinion and I have even ordered one to be shipped to me from the US. It is certainly going to make people look twice and I daresay, most, if not all of them, will not understand it at all:)

The description of the tshirt says: "When the white rabbit peaks, would you be so kind as to throw this tape recorder into the bathtub with me?" Yes it is a tshirt inspired by the great scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where Oscar is in the bathtub high as a kite on acid. Absolutely brilliant! And just by wearing this tshirt I will have the classic Jefferson Airplane song "White Rabbit" humming along in my head so that can only be a good thing.
Anyway get to it, visit the site and get your own Feed Your Head tshirt to satisfy your twisted mind. I'm sure Hunter would have loved it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson now showing in Melbourne

Sitting here tonight at my computer, music absolutely blasting into my ears via headphones and accentuated by half a bottle of fine Barossa Valley shiraz, I am in a serious party mood...alas, there is no-one to party with....

Bring out the absinthe and the Bob Dylan dvds! Ah, such joys in life..... ok, well, I guess that leaves me alone and randomly browsing the internet and I have ended up at this blog. Ok, while a bit of Duran Duran permeates my brain (gasp, horror, oh my God, I am reminiscing about the good times in the 80's.......... Duran Duran, A Flock of Seagulls.....Pink Floyd's Run Like Hell....) Well it looks like the only consistency there is that I appear to be having a personal music-fest of British music.... bizarre.... And now, moving onto Oasis - just gotta love those Gallagher brothers even though they are rather troublesome. They make fabulous music ~ a la the Beatles.

Yesterday there was an interesting article in one of the Australian newspapers: GONZO THE GREAT. This article had interesting information on Hunter's visit to Australia in 1976. Wish I had been switched on enough to know who Hunter was then, but as a ten year old I had much more pressing issues to focus on .. like fundamental survival.... Anyway, you can read the article in full here:
Greg Burchall (The Age newspaper, Melbourne, Australia)
October 19, 2008

HUNTER S. Thompson may have been somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the Nevada desert when the drugs began to take hold, but filmmaker Eva Orner was somewhere around 14 on the edge of Melbourne when the maverick journalist's gonzoid words took hold of her.

"My brother, Michael, gave me a copy of Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail and while I didn't get it contextually, or know many of the people that it was about, I got hooked on the writing, on the writer," she says.

Orner, who this year won an Oscar for her documentary Taxi to the Dark Side, never got to meet Thompson but was in Colorado at his Woody Creek property some 20 years later to shoot the pyrotechnic memorial service that followed his suicide in early 2005.

The filming was funded by Johnny Depp, who played the Thompson altered-ego Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and narrates the documentary Orner made with Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney, Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr Hunter S. Thompson.

While Thompson never won a Pulitzer Prize for his wild, participatory, highly flammable style of political commentary — described by one politician as being "the least factual but most accurate" reports of the 1972 presidential campaign — Orner and Gibney wanted to concentrate on Thompson's literary legacy.

"It would be easy to focus on the sex, drugs, rock'n'roll, party and celebrity stuff, but he was an incredibly significant writer and journalist," says Orner.

"Indeed, while it's nice to reminisce about the craziness, there are many who say we really need Hunter — or someone like him — to challenge, to challenge authority in these times, especially relevant in an election year."

Siem Reap bureau chief of the Phnom Penh Post, Peter Olszewski, who back in 1976 was "manager" of Thompson's often disaster-prone Australian lecture tour, says he was surprised by how "writerly" the Kentucky-born Thompson was.

"He worked on every word," Olszewski remembers.

"He told me how he wrote Las Vegas — what was true about the book and what was fiction — and that he set out to write an American classic, and even that admission gives the measure of the man.

"He deduced that most US classics were short books and he told me that if I did a word count on Las Vegas and The Great Gatsby, I would discover that the two were identical in word count, down to the last word."

Australia and Olszewski do not feature in Orner's film but an impressive roll-call of writing and political identities do: Tom Wolfe, Timothy Crouse, Ralph Steadman, Jimmy Buffett, Jimmy Carter, Gary Hart, George McGovern, Pat Buchanan and Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner (who does a fair imitation of Thompson's shrieks and howls, and also breaks down in tears). Thompson's two wives and son Juan also make heartfelt contributions.

"Gathering the talent is always the fun, challenging and frustrating part of documentary-making," says Orner. "You start with such an incredible list but we got just about everyone that we wanted.

"Alex and I have made three films together now and he's always amazed at how being an Australian producer seems to help us get access to people — it seems to disarm them."

The pair having won an Oscar doesn't hurt either.

"It's true that it changes access," says Orner, who is now based in Los Angeles after four years in New York. "It becomes much easier to meet with people you want to meet with.

"But it's always hard to finance a film and even though there's significantly less money around in these days of unprecedented recession, there's still a lot more than in Australia.

"Still, I think the film industry is one of the better survivors — TV is pretty safe, the studio machine will still work — but it's the $10 million to $40 million projects that are hit hardest, the ones normally financed by hedge funds and new wealth."

Thompson's adage "Buy the ticket and take the ride" certainly applies to Orner, the Mount Scopus and Monash University graduate who worked as a production manager on Blue HeelersStrange Fits of Passion and Josh Jarman, before turning to documentary-making with the Logie and AFI Award-winning Untold Desires. and gained producing credits on features

She looked into Thompson's Melbourne connection for Gonzo, particularly his notorious smoking-drinking-swearing appearance on The Don Lane Show, but after a thorough search "in the bowels of Channel Nine's archives" discovered that all footage had been lost or destroyed.

Olszewski remembers it well. "This just confirmed the stupidity, crassness and ineptness of commercial TV producers at that time," he says.

"Rather than let Hunter the talent present himself as himself, the producer pushed him into appearing like a poseur, with coat casually draped over one shoulder. It looked so fake that when Thompson saw himself in the monitor he swore and brushed the coat aside, and of course the expletive was not deleted and it became a quite large story the next day in the morning papers."

The expat journalist's connection continues, with news that his 1976 interview with Thompson for free Melbourne underground magazine Loose Licks will be included in a collection of conversations being compiled by the writer's widow, Anita.

Olszewski, who as J.J. McRoach stood for the Senate as an Australian Marijuana Party candidate, wrote about his often nightmarish job minding Thompson in Mandraxed WombatsThe Monster in Room 450, which was published in his 1979 book A Dozen Dopey Yarns. and

His worst moment came when he "disobeyed the doctor's instructions" and swallowed a small piece of powerful blotter-paper LSD.

"Several hours later, after I had crashed a Fairlane into a concrete pillar in the car park under the Southern Cross Hotel, Thompson admonished me with, 'I clearly told you to chew it slowly'," he recalls.

"But he told me how much he liked some of the creative stuff I'd devised to promote his tour, encouraged my writing and informed me that one of my weaknesses was a tendency towards shyness."

As for Thompson, there were already signs that he was starting to be trapped in the gun-toting, alcohol-soaked, mumbling maniac image that would be exploited in the 1980 film Where the Buffalo Roam and in Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury comic strip.

Olszewski remembers one such moment on stage at the Melbourne Town Hall. "People weren't all that interested in meaningful discourse — they wanted gonzo madness. At one stage he turned to me and said, 'Help me in this thing. I feel trapped. I feel like a goddamned animal in a cage with people poking sticks at me.' "

There's gonzo madness in Orner and Gibney's film — it's hard to avoid Thompson's Freak Power run to be elected sheriff of Aspen or his falling in and falling out with the Hell's Angels — but also plenty of serious discussion.

"We wanted to focus on what a great writer he was in this particular period of time and the film has a very strong political element because of that," says Orner.

"We need more people today to stand up against what's wrong, to door-knock, blog, write — in many ways, it's a call to arms."

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson is at ACMI from October 23 to November 4.

And for no reason whatsoever other than I have been enjoying this song tonight, here are the lyrics to Pink Floyd's classic, "Run Like Hell":

You better make your face up,
In your favorite disguise,
With your button-down lips,
And your roller blind eyes.
With your empty smile,
And your hungry heart,
Feel the bile rising,
From your guilty past.
With your nerves in tatters,
As the cockleshell shatters,
And the hammers batter,
Down your door,
You better run.

You better run all day,
And run all night.
And keep your dirty feelings deep inside.
And if youre taking your girlfriend out tonight,
You better park the car well out of sight.
cause if they catch you in the back seat,
Trying to pick her locks,
Theyre gonna send you back to mother,
In a cardboard box.
You better run!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

How to become a terminal menace

Tonight I came across this quote stashed away in the dark corner of my desk and as it is one of my favourites, here it is:

"Oscar was not into serious street-fighting, but he was hell on wheels in a bar brawl. Any combination of a 250 lb [113 kg] Mexican and LSD-25 is a potentially terminal menace for anything it can reach - but when the alleged Mexican is in fact a profoundly angry Chicano lawyer with no fear at all of anything that walks on less than three legs and a de facto suicidal conviction that he will die at the age of 33 - just like Jesus Christ - you have a serious piece of work on your hands. Especially if the bastard is already 33 1/2 years old with a head full of Sandoz acid, a loaded .357 Magnum in his belt, a hatchet-wielding Chicano bodyguard on his elbow at all times, and a disconcerting habit of projectile vomiting geysers of pure blood off the front porch every 30 or 40 minutes, or whenever his malignant ulcer can't handle any more raw tequila."

—Hunter S. Thompson, Rolling Stone #254, Dec. 15, 1977

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dazed and Confused

Ok I haven't been blogging here for a while. In between working too much and partying (my team won the AFL Grand Final after a seventeen year wait) there has not been time or brain power to blog. Football season is over. And thank **** for that! My liver hates me and it's time to start behaving myself just a little.

In a moment of serenity last night, I was thinking of Hunter. He didn't give a rat's **** what people thought of him - his ambition in life was to speak truths and have fun. Sounds like a good philosophy to me but sometimes it does make life more difficult. But would he have wanted it any other way? I think he enjoyed most of the battles he created (and sometimes ended) and good for him. I'm sure he has hunted down Nixon by now and is still making his life hell.

I also understand how sometimes Hunter just wanted everyone to nick off and leave him alone. There's a lot to be said for solitude and although some people simply cannot stand being alone, it drives me to the point of insanity if I cannot have time to myself without interruptions and no noise. I can see myself being a hermit on a secluded beach house a hundred kilometres from anyone or anything and living out the rest of my life there quite happily. I can see Hunter's fascination for a place like Big Sur. And indeed, Woody Creek. A fortress, that's what I need. So enough blogging for now, I am going to look for some razor wire before the wolves come knocking back on the door. But before I go here's another quote from the good Doctor:

"We are living in dangerously weird times now. Smart people just shrug and admit they're dazed and confused. The only ones left with any confidence at all are the New Dumb. It is the beginning of the end of our world as we knew it. Doom is the operative ethic."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Good people drink good beer - Flying Dog Ales

I subscribe to many newsletters on the internet but my favourite is the one from Flying Dog Brewery. It's always an interesting read with excellent links to many articles including a blog by George Stranahan. It also has a blog specifically for previous Flying Dog newsletters at FlyingDogBlog.com

Another wonderful section of the newsletters is Ralph Steadman's Art of the Week - a different piece of art in each one courtesy of Ralph; brilliant stuff! To see this and more, visit the general website here: http://www.flyingdogales.com/

A definite must on my to-do-one-day list is to attend the famous Gonzofest which is held this year (2008) at the Brewery in Maryland on September 13 from 3-9pm. Would be an interesting concept for a group of Aussies to attend one of these in the future perhaps ...?? Now, that could be dangerous .....

Ok that's it for now - I'm going back to finish reading the latest Flying Dog newsletter. I just digressed momentarily so that I could write this blog before I forgot to do it (too much absinthe or is it just old age....?)

Anyway, here's another Hunter quote to ponder:

"I have always loved marijuana. It has been a source of joy and comfort to me for many years. And I still think of it as a basic staple of life, along with beer and ice and grapefruits - and millions of Americans agree with me."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Going to California

On this blustery winter afternoon in the high hills of my own "Owl Farm", with a wood fire raging in the background and a glass of sparkling red wine in my hand, I decided to check out a website that a friend had suggested to me: http://www.greendoorbook.com

I had no idea as to the website subject so coincidence perhaps that while I was waiting for the web page to load (no broadband internet connection in these hills, only dial up!), I was listening to the classic Led Zeppelin song, "Going to California"... The greendoorbook.com page then blinked at me and I read:

9 1/2 YEARS BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR A Memoir by Simone Corday:
A Mitchell Brothers Stripper Remembers Her Lover Artie Mitchell, Hunter S. Thompson, and the Killing that Rocked San Francisco

Hunter's time as Night Manager at the Mitchell Brothers' O'Farrell Theatre in San Franscisco was a very bizarre time in his life (well, what wasn't I guess...?) This will be an interesting story to read and perhaps add to my ever-growing collection. Has anyone else out there managed to acquire or read this one yet?

On that note, as the rain pounds down on my roof and the wind howls through the trees outside of my window, I think it is also time for a Hunter quote....

"But with the throttle screwed on, there is only the barest margin, and no room at all for mistakes. It has to be done right... and that's when the strange music starts, when you stretch your luck so far that fear becomes exhilaration and vibrates along your arms. You can barely see at a hundred; the tears blow back so fast that they vaporize before they get to your ears. The only sounds are the wind and a dull roar floating back from the mufflers. You watch the white line and try to lean with it... howling through a turn to the right, then to the left, and down the long hill to Pacifica... letting off now, watching for cops, but only until the next dark stretch and another few seconds on the edge... The Edge... There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others- the living- are those who pushed their luck as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later. But the edge is still Out there. Or maybe it's In. The association of motorcycles with LSD is no accident of publicity. They are both a means to an end, to the place of definitions."

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Football season is over...

Despite the initial excitement of creating a blog that may help to collate a list of Aussie Hunter fans over the coming months, I haven't felt like posting much lately and there is a reason for that. Tonight however, in a quiet moment, I began thinking of Hunter. Or more specifically, what Hunter was thinking on that fateful day in February 2005. "Football season is over...."

I have spent the past fortnight watching a close friend
of over twenty five years - indeed, one of the good old boys - go through the agonising diagnosis of a terminal illness which has taken the sparkle and lifeblood from him at the speed of lightning. From being his old self to The End in a period of a month perhaps, and in the most horrid state of suffering. The shockwaves have penetrated my closest circle of friends and we are all in a state of disbelief and numbness. Which brings me back to Hunter.

I often read Anita's blog and can still feel her pain; the inconsolable loss of her best friend and husband. To have the additional stress of knowing that her beloved Hunter took his own life must have sometimes been almost too much to bear and yet, in seeing how my friend's spirit is disintegrating so rapidly, I wonder how I would react in his, or Hunter's, situation. I read somewhere on a website tonight that Hunter had terminal cancer and that contributed to his final decision. I am not sure if that is true. I simply thought that he wanted to end his pain, his anger at the world and needless to say, other more personal battles.

Hunter's suicide note read: "
Football season is over.... 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."

Many of us still mourn Hunter who even in his own eyes lived 17 years more than he needed. My friend is 51.... just 51. I mourn for him because unless a miracle occurs, he won't even see 52 let alone 67. Football season for him also, is over. And the irony there, the crazy mad AFL (Australian Football League) supporter that he is, his team may as well stop playing for season 2008, they have no chance. And so it seems, nor does he.

I cannot be judgemental on what Hunter did. I admire him far too much to criticise his actions. If there is a Heaven though, I do hope that Hunter is the doorman at the Pearly Gates - with a few glasses of whiskey in hand. One each for the two good old boys. Selah....

POSTSCRIPT AUGUST 17, 2008. My friend Mark passed away on August 13th after a tragic month long battle with cancer. May he rest in peace.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy Birthday to the Good Doctor

Yes today is the day! Hunter would have been 71..... It is sad that he is no longer with us in body but in spirit, he lives on stronger than ever. The freaks of the world will celebrate in their own warped way, in every corner of the world.

Myself, well I have plans today to start with a good ol' boy glass of Kentucky Whiskey and then once the stomach is lined, a shot or two of absinthe just for good measure. After that I should be in fine form to sit down, after booting my two teenage sons out of the room, to a furiously loud session of watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas .... If something's worth doing, it's worth doing right! I just hope that I don't end up in the middle of a ******* reptile zoo...

My new book from John arrived today (of all days!) so after I have watched the movie, if I am still even partially coherent, I will begin my "Kitchen Readings".

I do note that the date on this posting is July 17, well in Australia, it is the 18th.... just a little confusion to add to the fire. Does that mean I can celebrate for two days...? Ah Hunter, wherever you may be, I do hope that your soul is at peace. Happy Birthday Doc!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Better to have felt fire in the nuts than nothing at all...

Yes "Fire in the Nuts" is indeed a special piece of Hunter literature.... in fact, if I had nuts, I would be feeling fire in them right now.

Buy the ticket, take the ride! Well, I bought my ticket last week and the ride has not stopped since... I fear, fellow fiends, that I have met my match..... Super Geek (AKA Mitch) has been frantically emailing and without a word of a lie, it's almost as if the emails have come directly from Hunter himself (wherever he may be......)

What an amazing experience the last few days have been.... I think that Gonzoism is rampant; it is simply that I had lost touch..... perhaps even lost faith that Australia had more than a handful of fiendish fans... I was wrong. There are many - let the freak list begin!! The party is not worth having with only three of us... (well, it could be) however that would mean more absinthe and bourbon for all of us... but I am not sure my liver is up to the task!

Anyway I will ponder that, but for now, here's a little piece of Hunter wisdom: "If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up."