Friday Fives – the 5 bestest-est of everything edition

If you could only listen to 5 musicians for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Grateful Dead, Pearl Jam, Guns & Roses

 If you could only read 5 books for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Alice in Wonderland.  Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Tropic of Cancer, anything by Hemingway, and Desolation Angels.  Google them.  Buy them.  Love them.

If you could only have 5 childhood memories to recall for the rest of your life, who would they be?

I had nothing but an amazing childhood and the world’s greatest parents.  There isn’t a single regret in the amazing way our parents loved and took care of us.  To pick only 5 moments would denigrate the decades they invested in us.  I am lucky enough to still have my mom around, and she is my favorite person in the whole world.  Don’t tell my wife I said that.

 If you could only eat 5 things for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Pad Thai, Carne Asada, Gyro sammich, sesame chicken, and coffee

If you could only have five words to describe the world what would they be?

Beautiful, selfish, magical, self-destructive

Kermit found me

*** update Jan 2019 – Kermit’s painting added below

It recently occurred to me that a lot of who I am, I owe to Kermit.  Kermit is a childhood friend, going back a million years.  He is an odd and wonderful man, and he helped me to be the same.  I remember going back to early high school, or maybe middle school.  I was an undeveloped fetus, culturally.  He was a brilliant subversive, and I think he turned me into one, too.  I watched the shows everyone watched.  There was no choice, with 3 channels.  I listened to what everyone listened to… again… you had 3 channels for rock, at best.

Odds are, I was lamenting how much I hated reading.  They gave us the most droll and sanitized shit.  Reading what they fed us was punishment.  Kermit turned me on to everything.  What do I know about comic books?  Still nothing, except barely hetero dudes in tights and sheets.  Kermit found this, and gave it to me.  I still have it in my collection.  It is the story of Gregory, a young boy locked up in an institution and watching his mind go wild.  This was more than a comic book… this was cultural subversion… and I was in!

then, he turned me on to authors.  At this time, I hated reading more than math.  I can not emphasize enough what shitty and boring books they feed kids.  You want me to read Wuthering heights?  Ok, that is like 200 pages of repressed love and emotion in Victorian England?  How the fuck is a 13 year old boy going to connect with that?  All the books were ‘Newbery award winners’.   He turned me on to Hunter Thompson and Henry Miller.  He gave me a copy of ‘Tropic of Cancer’ and it rocked my world.  These were dirty American expats living in France.  They did dick all all day long except sit around drunk and talk about how great they were.  They mooched everything they had, including the women, and just lived as they please.  This book was full of very graphic sex scenes.  It was full of people having fun, and adventures.  Think of it like this – Henry Miller is the x rated version of Ernest Hemingway.

take a look at Henry Miller.  This guy has seen some shit.  Scratch that… this guy has caused some shit!

That book opened the world to me.  There are books about sex?  There are people doing noting all day long but getting drunk in cafes and celebrating their own genius?  How do I get that job?  Of course, the book was banned here… which made it all the more sexy.  Most importantly, the writing was GREAT.  Just beautiful and powerful and visual.  I felt I was there.  These guys defined ‘fake it until you make it’.  Henry Miller basically willed his persona into existence through sheer force of will.  I am reminded of Salvador Dali and Hunter Thompson here… same thing.

Then, he turned me on to ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, my second favorite book of all time.  I don’t need to tell you my love and obsession with Hunter, I think you know.  Then it struck me… what these guys write about is what every young black person in America is in jail for.  Raping, drugging, and general malaise.  These were NOT good people, but they were GREAT writers.  What is the difference?  Well, they wrote about it.  Oh, and they were white.  That helps.

And then he turned me on the Beatles.  I knew the poppy happy radio stuff, which I still love.  But he turned me on the White Album.  He was like ‘these guys will fuck you up,  they changed everything, man’.  And he was right.  He was the first person I knew to have a CD Walkman, and we’d hang out at break sharing headphones listening to this stuff.  Then, he got me deep into Zeppelin.  What do I mean by ‘deep’?  It means listening to Zeppelin OTHER than Zepp 4.  He played for my Physical Graffiti.  It is a sweeping and galloping masterpiece of rock and roll.  There are not pithy 3 minute hits on that double disc.  No sir.  It is just 2 hours of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant following their muse.

He gave me a light.  Where the future used to look boring and corporate and soulless and inevitable… Kermit made it this wide open adventure. Shortly after this, I would spend a month in Mexico every summer.  I would just backpack around with no plan, often by myself.  I don’t think I would have had the courage or confidence to do something like that were it not for Kermit.

Kermit, I don’t know where you are.  I don’t even know if you are alive, but I love you and I miss you and I thank you!

Because of Kermit, I went from hating reading to getting a literature degree.  And… you will not find 1 goddamn Newbery award winner in my stacks.

Did I mention this painting he gave to me?  It is AMAZING.  It is an entirely original oil painting he must have given me 30 years ago.  Behold.  Better yet, come over and see it in person.  It is stunning.

These photos don’t do it justice.  Clearly I had a flash on.  I need to take a pic in the day, with no flash.

 

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – a perfect review > and epitath for Hunter S Thompson

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I love this movie, the Johnny Depp one.  The film is perfect.  I think it captures Hunter and that era of his life perfectly.  Johnny Depp goes so deep into Hunter’s persona it’s a wonder he ever made it out.  I can tell you how I think he did it, too.  Not just the craft of acting, he lived with Hunter.  That is no small feat.  Even Bill Murray didn’t actually move in with Hunter.  Hunter and Depp became close friends during this process, and remained life long friends.  The connection was deeper than love of drugs and nonsense and art and great writing and blowing shit up.  They are both from Kentucky.  I own the 2 disc ‘Criterion Collection’ set, which I highly recommend.  It is FULL of hours of featurettes and old Hunter movies.  It’s where we learned about Hunter’s absurd funerary request, which Johnny Depp handsomely and famously paid 5 million dollars to make happen.

You know… the one about shooting his ashes out of a Gonzo fist cannon into space after he commits suicide.  The footage is from when Hunter is in his 30’s, but 30 years later… he up and went and killed himself… almost as promised.

Let’s talk about the movie for a second.  Being a lit grad, and a HUGE fan of Hunter’s writing.  I should tell you the movie does the book no justice.  Wrong.  I mean, you absolutely must read the book… but the movie is fantastic.  I think it’s perfect, and could not have done better.  Heck, even Hunter himself does a cameo.  Probably not as an artistic endorsement so much as to score the per diem, and to keep an eye on the process.  Legend goes, he was kicked off his own set for being a wasted pain in the ass.  Pretty easy to believe, so I shall.

But this isn’t about that.  This is about the movie, and the synopsis I read about it on Rotten Tomatoes.  Of course, the movie was slammed by critics.  Who cares what the critics think of a movie?  Honestly, I NEVER look at that.  I want to know what people thought about it.  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has an epic discrepancy between the two, perhaps one of the biggest on all of Rotten Tomatoes.  Critics gave it at 49%, where fans gave it an 89%.  I would argue few people know Hunter’s writing and social impact like me.  Hunter is a BIG part of why I moved to Denver, CO… to be closer to him.  But this isn’t about that.  No sir, this is a quick hit on the review the ‘critics’ left of the movie.

Critics Consensus: Visually creative, but also aimless, repetitive, and devoid of character development.

This is almost too perfect. Those words above are meant to be a slam. There is no character development.  It’s a long movie… and our protagonist never grows?  He never learns?  He never changes his way?  No sir, he does not.  Hunter Thompson defined… nay… deified… that critique.  He never grew up.  He never sold out.  He never played ball.  He continued to live his life like a rich petulant 22 year old who got kicked out of the Air Force in a pretty damn funny story.  Kicked out for what, you ask?  Well… for behaving like a petulant 12 year old who got kicked out of school for savaging a mailbox in a pretty damn funny story.  Like… for behaving like a petulant 27 year old who got fired by Time magazine  for savagely attacking a candy machine (… in a pretty damn funny story).

No.  Hunter never grew up, and certainly never learned from his lessons.  He was, by all accounts, a terrible person.  As an artist and a writer and hipster deity… the man was a genius.  Take that review, and put it no on his movie.  No sir, take that review and put it on his headstone.

RIP Hunter, you twisted bastard!

HST good grave