Hunter Thompson and Salvador Dali – prisoners of their own creations

I love Hunter Thompson, and Salvador Dali.  I LOT.  Like, I moved my life around for those two.  HST is a big part of why I moved to Colorado.  As for Dali, we honeymooned in Spain, partially so we could travel to Figueres to the Dali museum.  Both were worth it.  They are both huge influences and heroes to me.  Never, until recently, did I think of them together.  On a flight over the Pacific, I watched this cool documentary on Dali.  I would hyperlink it here, but I don’t remember the name of it, or the production company, or anything. To clarify, this doc had nothing to do with Hunter at all. In watching the doc, though, I had an epiphany.

On so many levels, Hunter S Thompson and Salvador Dali were the same person.

Boy, I better deliver on that one.  See, they were both creative geniuses.  They were both  HUGELY celebrated artists.  They were both starfuckers.  They were both trapped by their best creations… themselves.  They both peaked early, and spent the rest of their lives being haunted and pigeonholed by those creations.  Hunter talks about it openly below (jump ahead to the 11 minute mark, but watch the whole piece if you can.  It’s pretty good).

Basically, they had both peaked by 30.  They both did little, effectively, after that.  Hunter, for example, probably has 20 books to his name.  About 3*** were original creative works of any kind of consequence. The rest, and there are MANY, are collections of letters or short stories. (*** see below for aside on this)

Though I love just about all of Dali’s art, and most of Hunter’s full length books (remember, there are basically 3)… their best creations was themselves.  These two LOVED a spectacle.  They invented spectacle.  This was fun and awesome, likely, when they were young.  It became a prison of sorts as they aged.  You realize quickly, as Jimi Hendrix did, that people just want to see that character.  In the early days, Jimi did wild stuff to his equipment, just out of fun and passion.  Pete Townshend, too.  In time, though, people didn’t come to here Jimi play the blues.  They wanted stunts.  For Pete, they wanted to see a Strat smashed of they would have felt they never saw a full Who show.

Luckily, for all mentioned above (except Hendrix), they got to live long enough to see the futility of their creations come to haunt them.  I say ‘luckily’ not because I want them to suffer… but luckily that they had long enough lives to see the silliness of being such a one dimensional characters.

For both Dali, and Thompson… being themselves was their full time jobs.  Remember, Hunter lived to 2005, but hadn’t written anything at length of consequence since 1972.  Now, is that to say Hunter did dick all for 35 years but ride his own coattails?  Yeah, pretty much.

With Dali, we are lucky that we have a great body of work.  However, the documentary I watched strongly implied that he also didn’t do dick all after about 30.  Oh sure, you get the lobster telephone.  However, it isn’t exactly on par with the masterpiece ‘Persistence of Memory‘.  In fact, look at the irony; there is an expression used when people put in bare minimum effort and still get credit.  It’s called ‘phoning it in’.  Is there a better example in all of history than this?

While it isn’t my personal favorite piece, it is certainly Dali’s best known.  ‘Persistence of Memory‘ is most known for it’s iconic ‘soft watches’, though I always called them melting clocks.  Even the Simpson‘s have paid homage.  Aw heck, it looks like everyone has.

This isn’t meant to be critical in an anti-artistic sorta way.  It is more meant to be critical in a ‘huh, I never thought of it that way.  Maybe you got something there’.   Really, mostly I am just jealous.  These guys are SO impactful to my life.  I think I write this to help me better understand why. Proof of their impact on me?  My first tattoo will be a Ralph Steadman drawing of the great white rabbit from the Alice books.  I have been trimming my beard for years, but never ONCE the edges of my mustache, in hopes I can do this one day.

*** 3 books of HST.   There is Hells’ Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972.  That is it.  That is all you need to know about Hunter from start to finish.  Now, he has 4 books of compiled letters (I am also including ‘Better than Sex’ here) and about 10 of short story compilations.  In retrospect, that is kind of a week body of work.  However, those few books were SO good and SO influential.  Look at Lewis Carrol.  What else did he write besides Alice in Wonderland?  Nothing, really.  He was a preacher and a mathematician.  He wrote books on math.  His name isn’t even ‘Lewis Carroll’.  Carroll is a pseudonym he used for the Alice books because he was so embarrassed and mortified of what his religious math buddies would think of his silly childhood fantasy tales.

It occurs to me, years after I wrote this piece, it is now July 2019, that Hemingway was in the same boat.  Heck, he invented that boat and built it with his own hands (if you ask him, anyway).  As a young man, Hemingway was the shit, on every level  Served in both world wars, traveled the world, lived in Cuba, and bedded everyone on Earth.  In his later years…let’s say anything post 45… he is simply playing the part.  I have read a lot of Hemingway, and a lot about him.  Like Kerouac and HST, he was a god to me in my formative teen years.  Hemingway was the embodiment of ‘men want to be him, and women want be him’.  Later, though… its just kinda sad.  He lives his life as a sort of ‘greatest hits of how you perceive Ernest Hemingway to be.

Remember Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite?

I want to give Marlon Brando some credit on this front.   At no time did dude ever give a shit.  He was stone cold nuts!  See this?  Yeah, that was his own creation for his character.  Mostly out of fat laziness, as this is how he dressed on set.

Image result for marlon brando white face

Friday Fives – cheeky movie edition

Hi.  Listen, I know it’s not Friday.  Its not even Thursday.  Allow to explain. My editor sent these to me.  Apparently, he thinks it’s Thursday.  He’s a great guy, so I don’t have the heart to tell him he is a day off.  It’s like the thing about never waking a sleepwalker.  So, maybe it isn’t a Friday – what are you a cop all the sudden?

1.  What is the Best-Worst Movie Ever?

this is a very important two-way tie.  I am very passionate about these movies, as you will see.  The movies in question here are Gotcha, and Summer School.  They both have big Hollywood casts.  However, I am guessing they made about $6 box office, total.  These movies did so badly that when DVDs first came out… these didn’t make the cut.  It took a good 10 to 15 years for them to press these to DVD.  Think of it, they had the film done.  It probably cost a couple grand to remaster the movie for digital distribution.  They did not bother to do that for these movies.

The cast, though, in both, is huge.  Collectively, we have Mark Harmon, Anthony Edwards, Kirstie Alley, Courtney Thorne Smith, and Rob Reiner!  These are funny, funny movies.  They are also both infinitely quotable.  In fact, I quote them a lot.  Here is what’s fun.  Most people quote well-known movies – like Princess Bride.  Princess Bride is perhaps the most quotable movie ever.  When someone comes to you with a Princess Bride quote, you come back to them with your Princess Bride quote.  When I quote Summer School (written and made by Carl Reiner… the father of the guy who made Princess Pride) no one knows what I am talking about, and I sound like an idiot.  Like this line.  This line is goddamn cinematic gold.  Scene – Mark Harmon is sitting on the porched with this golden retriever, Wondermutt.  They are sharing peanut butter right out of the jar, using his fingers.  He is sad because his girlfriend left.  He says “you know what we need, Wondermutt?  I mean, besides bread.  A woman who appreciates us.”

I wish I could embed this clip, but no one has bothered to edit it out.  Here is a bunch of stuff they did edit and post.  Skip that, though.  Rent it.  No.  Wait.  Buy it.  Seriously.  Spend the $4 and buy it.  If you don’t like it send it to me.  I am still waiting for the four disc criterion collection and directors cut to come out.  That will not happen.  I wanted to pick it up on blu ray, but it doesn’t exist.  wtf?  This Blu Ray omission exactly makes my point that these movies are disregarded.

Sorry, I never even got to Gotcha.  It deserves its own 1200 words on a movie absolutely no one gives a shit about besides me.  We’ll get to that later, one day.  Today, brevity is not my strong suit.  I accidentally knocked out two pages on Summer School and Johnny Depp below.  If I went into Gotcha, we would be here until Sunday.  Rent it, though, it’s brilliant!

2.  What movie have you seen in which you can tell the director knew he was a making a pos so he made it even more campy on purpose?

I can’t think of anything that terrible.  well, I can actually.  However, this movie was so terrible I don’t want to give it any ink.  Lemme cop to something I was wrong about.  I am not wrong often, but I celebrate it.  I had written a review of the movie Drive.  I never write movie reviews.  Never once.  But, I saw Drive and I was very upset and disappointed.  I expected action, and chases, and maybe even dialogue.  It had none of these things, and I was pissed.  Then, a came back 6 months later and watched it again.  Without any expectations, I really really enjoyed it.  The issue was the movie was marketed poorly, and wrongly.  It’s a think piece, and a slow burner.  Can we also just address that Ryan Gosling is hot?  Like, I would change teams for that guy hot.  Like maybe a 5 or 6 on the Eggers scale hot.

I was wrong about Drive, and I apologize to you.

3.  What are some films that should have been absolutely amazing, but ended up being absolutely horrible?

everything Johnny Depp has done in the last 20 years.  I keep rooting for him, but all he does is shit out soulless blockbusters.  Don’t give me that jive about him doing the blockbusters so he can do his art projects.  He doesn’t do art projects.  He was offered a super cool and interesting role doing a Whitey Bulger pic.  This would be amazing, and likely Oscar material.  Problem is, they didn’t have 30 million to give Depp.  Even though Depp likely has about 250 million in the bank from the 13 Pirates movies.

Now that he is insanely rich and successful… why not make some art? Because, if he took that role for 2 million, that then becomes his market value.  It’s like the ‘comps’ in your neighborhood when you are selling your house.  Your house may be worth $500,000.  But, if your neighbor has the same house and just sold it for $300K… then that is all your house is worth.  Johnny, I guess, doesn’t want his neighborhood value to crumble.  I did some more research, and I have actual figures.  Depp makes 20 million a film.  For the Bulger biopic, they offered him 10 million.  10 million dollars to do some art and get an oscar.  He turned it down.  Why?  So he can get paid 30 million to do a Lone Ranger sequel?  Depp is a hack a sell out.  That hurts me to say.  He bona fides are impressive.  He was a close personal friend of Hunter Thompson, and spent millions paying for Thompson’s insane funeral.  I love him for that.  He hangs out with Tom Petty and Pearl Jam, and plays guitar.  I love him for that.  He chooses only terrible super high profile films, and seems only to play a caricature of an actor.

Jesus, this thing went WAY off the rails.  Not sure where all the Depp anger came from, but it’s warranted.  But since we are here, let’s hit another issue about Depp and my favorite book of all time.  Depp did Alice in Wonderland.  I love this book more than life itself.  Well, your life, anyway.  🙂 This is the greatest and most important book ever.  So, how did I feel about the Depp movie?  Aren’t I supposed to say “the book was better?”  No.  here is why – the Depp movie was an imagine sequel.  What happens if Alice comes back 20 years later?  I love the premise, and I can guarantee Lewis Carroll would have loved it, too.  I am not in love with the movie, but I don’t hate it.  I admire the spirit of such a bold move.  There are trillions of Alice in Wonderland remakes, but no one has tried to tell a whole new story.

Can I tell you one incredibly factoid on the book, of which there are hundreds?  Alice in Wonderland is actually two separate books.  The second book, “Through the Looking Glass” is a chess game.  It is an actionable, executable chess game.  Each movement of a character in the book relates to a specific chess move.  This guy was a master published mathematician.

Can you comprehend the moral dilemma put on us by the story of the Walrus and Carpenter?  You see two weird fat guys eating oysters.  I did a ten page essay arguing that the Walrus is the true tragic figure.  Thought he ate the most oysters, he felt bad about it the whole time.  Did you know that all the stories in those books are related to fish?  Do you even know what a caucus race is?  Jesus, its like talking to my cat with you people.

4.  Along the same lines, what is a book/story that you just know would be ruined if it were made into a film.

Lamb – a book that rocked my world.  I love that book so much that I fear it could get tampered with.  It would make an amazing independent movie.  However, once suits and money get involved they would suck the life out of it.  I truly can not say enough good things about that book.  I will put my name on it.  As a recovering Catholic, it spoke to me on some serious and heavy beautiful levels.  Also, dig this; I wound up listening to the book on tape on Christmas day.  I was driving by myself, a long drive  4 hours.

think of it.  You could almost put it in the book – due to major insomnia, I was in a very strange place physically and emotionally and spiritually when I happened to have a long solitary beautiful snowy drive all by myself all day long listening to this story on audiobook.  I mean to say this without hyperbole as an atheist with a gift for hyperbole > the book that day was a religious experience

5.  Sharknado?  Yes or No?

It’s a little too soon, bro.  My father was killed by a sharknado.  Is everything a joke to you people?  Meet me at Cafe Friedrichstraussen

Friday Fives

What story did you love reading as a child?

I hated reading when I was a kid.  Bored me to tears.  Would rather be out jumping stuff on my bike.  See, we didn’t have safety back then.  helmets, gloves, pads?  nope!

What remains to be your all-time favorite book?

Alice in Wonderland.  It is so incredibly well written, and such a fun read.  It is also incredibly timeless.  That book was written in 1863.  There is so much joy and silliness in those books (books > Alices Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass).

What book do you usually recommend to people?

Alice in Wonderland.  It’s very approachable.  You don’t have to be smart or clever or old to dig it.  It is as great a read to me as it might be to a little kid.

If you were a character in a book, who would you be?

Not Alice, I will tell you that.  That whole book is just really fucked up stuff happening to her.  It is terrible what happens.  She shrinks, grows, is put on trial, introduced to food (which she never gets to eat.  See, it is rude to eat anything you have been introduced to).  Everything that happens to her is completely out of her control.  Yet, she handles everything with grace and curiosity.  She is a champ, and we can all learn from her.

What do you think of all the movies from books?

Glad you asked.  Tim Burton has an adaptation of Alice coming to the theatres.  I am STOKED.  Only Tim Burton could properly capture the vision of the book.  Also, as I understand it, he has a unique take.  His story is about what happens when Alice returns to Wonderland as an adult.  That nevers happens in the books… so we are completely in Tim Burton’s hands on this.  I am good with that.