Friday Fives – more about the Tap

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Your favorite book?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  You know that already, though.  Let’s mix it up, then, and say ‘Lamb: the gospel of christ according to his best friend Biff’.  I really, really like this new author.  Well… new to me.

Your favorite movie?

Big Fish.  Re-reading over this, before I hit ‘publish’, maybe I should have said ‘Spinal Tap’.  There is a 2 page diatribe down there on how great the film is, how great the actors are, and how incredible it is that they wrote and scored and improvised the film.  But… you know that movie.  You may not know ‘Big Fish’.  It is perfect storytelling.  The cinematography is stunning.  Can you imagine if Tim Burton tried to make something joyful?  Just for once?  Well, with Big Fish, he did.  Don’t worry, it still has his wife.  (Shakes fist in the air).  Don’t just watch the movie, just go buy it.  Get it in blu-ray, too.  You really want the full cinematic experience, if you can.  Don’t have blu ray yet?  Buy it… just for this movie.

Your favorite adaptation of a book to a movie?

 Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.  So good it is freaky!  Depp goes FULL Hunter Thompson in this role.  Not just window dressing, either.  HST was in full cooperation with the film… well… as cooperative as someone like HST could be.  Depp lived with Hunter for months before the filming.  They became fast and close friends.  So much so that when Hunter died, Depp paid for the whole ‘launching his ashes into space from a Gonzo fist cannon that was several stories high’.  Yeah, that isn’t a typo or urban legend.  It happened, and all thanks to Johnny.  They had a kinship all along as they are both from Kentucky.

 Your least favorite adaptation ever of anything to a movie?

Being a book guy, I am always supposed to say ‘the book was better’.  However, I have almost universally enjoyed adaptations of my favorite books into movies.  I like to see the creativity of filmmakers trying to capture such an ephemeral thing.  For example, the last ‘Alice in Wonderland’ movie with Johnny Depp.  Everyone shit on it.  There are good reasons to shit on it – it WAY over featured Johnny Depp, and of course since it was Burton the lead role went to his wife.  He does that EVERY FUCKING MOVIE.  Though my praise for Depp’s acting in ‘Fear & Loathing’ is effusive… he isn’t too good in this movie.  Too hammy, just chewing up scenery being all proud of himself for looking clever.  We can blame Burton for that, though.

But… I loved it (Fear & Loathing, that is).  Here is why – everyone has told that story in various forms of film.  It’s a classic.  The Burton one, though, is a totally different telling.  It takes a story never told… which is what happens if Alice goes back to that world as an adult.  What happens?  Who is there?  Did anything, or anyone, change?  Did it ever really happen?  I think that is cool and creative.  I haven’t seen the second one, but I will.  I waited on purpose.  Since it was reviewed to badly, I knew I could wait and just buy a bluray copy for $10.  I like those (as opposed to just watching it on Amazon) because you get all the featurettes and behind the scenes stuff.

 Your first ever novel/comic book/movie character crush?

  • Editors note: Long diatribe warning

The guys in Spinal Tap.  I mean, it is just some British actors playing dumb, right?  Not remotely!  The actors are all American, and improvised the entire movie, AND wrote AND performed those songs.  It went so well that the fake band accidentally became a real band.   They released albums and recorded new music and even toured.  If you look at all these starlets today, you see Spinal Tap was more real than any of them.  Think Rhianna writes her own songs?  Think she can play and instrument?  Think she actually sings in concert?  Spinal Tap wins on every level.

In fact, those guys went on to do more movies together, and the guys wrote an entirely new music act for ‘a Mighty Wind’, which is actually a great folk album.  Got to see them live, and they played both Spinal Tap songs and a Mighty Wind songs.  That movie (another Chris Guest project) was also entirely improvised.

Why do it?  They are crazy rich.  The bass player is 40% of the voices on the Simpsons.  He probably has 100 million in the bank, and he is schlepping around from city to city playing these silly and perfect songs from 30 years ago.

My favorite thing about these guys when they did press for Spinal Tap (not known as a classic when it was released, but a stupid and pointless low budget art film)… they only did it in character.  You never got to interview Chris Guest or Michael McKean or Harry Shearer.  You could only talk to Derek Smalls, Nigel Tufnel, and David St Hubbins.  Now… we know Chris Guest as a genius filmmaker, and Harry Shearer as most of the Simpsons.  Back then, in 1980?  A bunch of improve yahoos.  Michael McKean was only known for playing Lenny in Laverne & Shirley.

Can you imagine how they got that film financed?  “I need 5 million bucks to make a movie with these unproven and unknown actors.”  Who will compose the score?  Who is your screenwriter?  Who is going to actually record the songs they pretend to sing?  You know, like we did with the Monkeys.

Well… about that.  No script.  No musicians.  No songwriters.  No famous actors.  We are just going to throw it to some improve guys. There is no screenplay, they are just going to make up the dialogue as we film.  They will write the songs themselves, and play all the instruments in the recordings.  It’s about a fake British heavy metal band that is washed up.”

Has that ever been done before then?  Roy Scheider is quite famous for improving the line ‘you’re gonna need a bigger boat’ in Jaws.  Everyone looks to that moment to prove his genius.  One sentence.  BFD.  If it were Chris Guest’s crew, they would have made up all the dialogue, built the boat themselves… and fought a real fucking shark.

 I mean, I know it is a masterpiece now… but at the time I bet they got laughed out of Hollywood.  Now, hopefully, you recognize the great McKean from Better Call Saul.  Jesus, is there anything these guys can’t do?  Listen to ‘listen to the flower people’ and tell me that song is not as good or better than anything of that era.  Also, full disclosure… I finally got my band to learn ‘Big Bottom’.  We played it at our last gig.

*bonus news, the guy behind these films, Chris Guest (Spinal Tap, Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, For your Approval, a Mighty Wind…) has a new film out soon.  It’s called ‘Mascots’, and will be on Netflix soon.  Like everything Larry David does, you can assume it will be all improvised, and wonderfully stupid.

Friday Fives –

What is your favorite weird word in any language?

Easy – schadenfreude.  I have written about this word before.  It’s a German word meaning ‘to take pleasure in the suffering of others’.  Now, it isn’t too terribly surprising to learn the German’s have a corner on that market.  Still, though, we all live this.  You know when a ahole passes you like a lunatic and cuts you off in the process?  Even better?  Ok.  Watch this road rage clip, and stunning instant karmic retribution.  That laugh of joy and closure you hear from the lady?  That is schadenfreunde!

You know that warm, gooey feeling you get inside when you see him pulled over and getting a ticket ten minutes later?  Yeah, that is schadenfruede.  I wonder if there is any connection to the ‘Freud’ part of that word, and if there is a connection to Herr Sigmund.  Turns out, no.  The ‘fruende’ part of that word is for happiness.  I am more surprised to find that Germans have a word for happiness, than I am to discover they literally invented the idea of mocking one’s suffering.

What is a controversial book more people should read?

Well, I am a book guy.  I love books.  Got a fancy university degree just about books.  So, I can’t just give you one. Also, I am going to try and not write about Alice in Wonderland again.  God, how I do love that book. ok… so let’s talk about non Alice related books. How about two?  These are both ‘banned books‘.  However, every book worth it’s salt has been banned.  When someone once asked Keith Richards how we felt about the Stone’s records getting bootlegged (and so the band was getting ripped off), Keith replied ‘if you aren’t being bootlegged, you aren’t happening!’  I kinda feel the same way about books.

It took me a LONG time to get into reading.  When I was a kid, I was just force fed dreck.  Newbury award winnings books – just boring and sterile horse shit. I never ever saw reading as fun, or an escape, until Kermit.  Kermit was my high school buddy, and he turned me on to SO much.  He got me into Henry Miller, Salvador Dali, the Beatles White Album, Gregory, Bukowski, and so much more.

For a dense, hardcore, escapist read – go for Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer.  He was an American writer who lived abroad (quite literally… tee hee hee) in France in the 20s.  He was broke, but he was wicked smart and fun and interesting.  So, rich people would keep him afloat to keep him around.  ‘Tropic’ is a coming of age story of wanderlust on every level.  Imagine the debauchery of Charlie Sheen, but written so beautifully it’s like Maya Angelou.  Imagine ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ set in Paris.  Imagine everything Charles Bukowski ever did or wrote… first.  It is a book every 16 year old young man should read.  It’s not a quick read, by any means… but nor should it be.

For quicker fare, but just as impactful (and just as banned) is George Orwell’s Animal Farm.  It’s about the animals rising up and taking over their oppressive humans, and making an animal utopia.  Well… it starts that way, anyhow.  People who wear eyeglasses and finger their goatees thoughtfully will tell you about the analogy to the Russian revolution.  Don’t worry about all that.  The story stands just terrific on it’s own, and you will have NO trouble drawing parallels to so many things in society.  Best part of all, it’s thin.  You can knock it out in a single evening.  Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad!  It doesn’t just work as a meta study on humanity and barbarism.  It is also just a cute sweet story you could read to a 5 year old.  Not a 4 year old, though.  Seriously, that would fuck them up good.  5, though?  Yeah, he’d be fine.  Listen, kids gotta learn about tyranny from someone, amiright?

What’s an everyday grammatical thing that still kind of bugs you?

It’s – when do I use the apostrophe?  I should ask someone who has an English degree, right?  That would be me, and I still don’t get it.  They say ‘only if owns something (possessive), or is a contraction.  Well, isn’t that ALWAYS the case with it’s?

Guess what?  New rule – the only time I want to talk about apostrophe’s is if it is about Frank Zappa’s album.  SO much great, and stupid, Zappa work can be found on Apostrophe/Overnight Sensation.  First off, let’s go with this one.  Moving to Montana soon, gonna be a dental floss tycoon.  Then, listen to Frank explain, in a super catchy song, about how it is damn near impossible to get his lady off manually.  “dynamo hum, dynamo hum.  Where’s this dynamo coming from?  Dynamo Hum, Dynamo hum, I done poked and stroked till my wrist gut numb.  You may be thinking to yourself ‘there is no way in hell studios released an song about how to properly masturbate your girlfriend… and especially not 45 years ago’.  Oh yeah, baby.  They sure did.  Think of all risque Prince songs, like Darling Nikki.  How about 2 Live Crew?  Yeah, Frank was upsetting parents 30 years earlier.  Enjoy.  At work?  Oh, then turn it up really loud.

bonus fun?  That song is nowhere near the most offensive thing Frank ever recorded.  Not by a mile.

Replace a word in a movie title with “Bitch”, what’s the new plot?

Kill Bitch – it’s the sequel to Kill Bill, where all the daughters of the slain samurai come back after Uma Thurman and avenge their parents.  See, she had a beef with Bill.  Whatevs, that isn’t our business.  Just note that, like in every proper Tarantino movie, zillions of ancillary characters die in the hero’s wake.  Tee hee hee.

Write us up a nice little Haiku (5-7-5). 

Arson so pretty

Fire my only friend now

Oops, Sorry ‘bout pants

Friday Fives – you know… that thing?

What would you do if a random stranger gave you a bouquet of roses?

I don’t know. I think that would be pretty swell. Something like that happened when I was a wee lad… early high school. It was Valentines day, and so the spirit team or activity club or whatever they were called (these groups run high in ‘Beckys’) were delivering roses. You could buy a rose from them for a $1 and they would deliver them during 4th period… or something like that.

These gals came on their delivery and handed me ten roses – one at a time. This was in front of the whole class. Clearly someone liked me. I was super duper puzzled. I had zero idea. I looked around class and saw a girl wink at me – just like in the movies, I swear to you. Well, that was pretty goddamn great. We were briefly boyfriend and girlfriend. I can’t say anything like that has happened before or since. I highly recommend it, though.

 What is the most commonly used color in your house?

Green. Love green. Wife loves green. It bring the outside indoors, and celebrates the mountains and pine trees and all that is good about Colorado. There is a reason why out license plates are green. Green is good! Specifically, dark green. Like, a forest green. Whatever color my truck is, I like that color.

What color is your favorite t-shirt?

There is a grey (or is it gray?) one and a green one. The color isn’t what the most important part is. It’s the softness. Polo makes these light weight cotton t shirts that I use as under shirts. They are the softest thing in the world. They are also incredibly well made. I have ones that are ten years old that get worn almost once a week and are still in good shape. So… Very… Soft. Ever been hugged by god? Tell you what; this is what it feels like. I am generally wearing one of these shirts at all times. If it is warm out, I am just wearing that shirt. If it is cool out, I am wearing that shirt under whatever you see.

I think the shirts are fairly expensive… maybe $30 of $40 a pop. It’s worth it, though, I swear! Here is the deal, though, I go to the Polo outlet (pretty much my favorite place on Earth) in Castle Rock and get them on sale. Once they are at the outlet, they are already half off. So, they run about $20 a pop. Once a quarter, though, they cut those prices and sell them in all colors for $10 a pop. At this time, I buy like crazy.

It’s not collared, or anything like that. Even better is they now silk screen the tag. So, there is no tag. I know everyone is doing this, but I really love this development! I can’t find the shirt online. They have zillions of different shirts, of course. So, I found a picture from Facebook of me in a grey one. If you look, you will see just about every picture of me has me wearing one of these. I have four grey and four black ones. Treat yourself to one of these, it will change your life! It’s like a great pillow and great sheets and a nice bed. You are going to spend a third of your life in bed, make it comfy!

 If you could go back in time, what time would you live in and where would you live?

San Francisco about 1966-67, Monterey Pop era. You might be thinking San Fran 1969, but you would be dumb. By then, San Fran was overrun and overexposed. Every deadbeat kid from the entire country had set up camp in San Francisco by then, expecting to be taken care of. The great and iconic San Francisco bands were national now, and so not playing around the corner at the Matrix anymore. The Hells Angels had flooded the city with meth, too. So, it was mostly tweakers everywhere.

Wanna know what San Fran was like before then? It was heaven, and paradise. By 69, though… well… just read George Harrison’s account of it. He was disgusted.

 I thought it was gonna be all these groovy kinds of gypsy people with cool shops making works of art and paintings and carvings, but instead it turned out to be just a lot of bums, many of them who were just very young kids who came from all over America and dropped acid

For the 70s, Manhattan would be pretty great!

 If you could have any ONE thing in the entire world (not including money) what would it be?

A cool old beater convertible, just to cruise around the country in. nothing nice, mind you. Like… a $3,000 car. Not a classic car, by any means. Nothing anyone would ever bother to ‘restore’. Just something timeless and cool. It was someone’s grandma’s car.

Something like this.

OR… how about a thing? You know, Volkswagon Thing? Just ugly and unsafe and unreliable. This car says “know what? I am cool! I am cool because I don’t care if I am cool or not… and that makes me cool, right?” Just that they called it the ‘thing’ is brilliant. What else was in the running? The Volkswagon Aw Fuck it? The Volkswagon This Kid is Never Gonna Get Laid? Perhaps the Volkswagon This Seems structurally unsound and dangerous to give to a teenager.

Friday Fives – that was weird, wasn’t it?

Kermit's art 2015What moment made you think “fuck, I am weird!”?

Gosh, I don’t know. I am left handed, so that was a big part of it for two reasons. One is, my mind is wired differently. So, I have a pretty unique perspective on things. Second, everything is fucked up. You don’t fit in school desks, you can’t write in a binder, scissors don’t work. The world is a cruel place for a left handed kid. I was literally born to be anti-establishment.

 The next big piece of my education of weirdness was art, through Kermit. Kermit was a close childhood buddy who was into all the cool shit. In high school, he turned me on to: Beatles White Album, Hunter s Thompson, Henry Miller, MC Escher, and Salvador Dali.  He even turned me on to the graphic novelGregory‘. He was the skeleton key to my awakening away from the square world. He was also, not surprisingly, an amazing artist. See that painting up there? He did that. Sorry it’s not a better quality replication. I just used my cell phone. Think that one is nice? Mikey D has one that blows this out of the water!

If there was a king of all the weirdos, who might it be?

I gotta go with Salvador Dali.  He was weird, sure.  Many folks are.  However, he made it a living.  It wasn’t just who he was, but the who he was to all outside appearances.  I can’t think of anyone who was so successful and tickled about their weirdness than Dali.  Well, maybe Andy Warhol… but he didn’t make anything lasting.  He was more John Waters weird (as a marketing angle) than fruit loops.  Dali was fruit loops, baby.

I mean… just look at this photo.  This is a real photo.  There are no tricks, illusions, or photo manipulation.  They this photo took dozens of hours to get the right shot.

The difference between Dali and a madman is that Dali is not mad – S Dali.

What’s the smallest thing that seems to piss you off that no else gets bothered by?

Well, I have talked about the turn signal thing. No sense rehashing that one. Another thing that drives me super nuts is watching people vote actively against their own interests. I would argue no state (well, besides Louisiana) has been more impacted by climate change than Kansas. We used to get our hay from Kansas. It has been SO dry there that now all the hay comes all the way from Canada. Yet… Kansas votes super Republican at all times… even though the GOP denies climate change. Plus, the senators from Kansas and Oklahoma are both working extremely hard to eliminate FEMA. Yet, those two states draw more from FEMA than all other states (almost combined).

It’s the tornadoes. So, this state really really really needs FEMA. Because of climate change, Kansas (and OK) have record tornado years… ever year.  Each year it only gets worse, and climatologists say this will continue.  Yet… these folks vote GOP literally at their own peril. It is so sociologically impossible to understand that it has spawned a movement. It’s called ‘what’s the matter with Kansas’. It is a study (and then a book, and then a movie) as to why Kansas folk aggressively shoot themselves in the foot by voting GOP. Short answer, (and I am dead serious)… it is because of the gays. That is why they all vote Republican. They are afraid of gays. Seriously, watch the documentary.

The state, as we all know, depends on agriculture for everything. They are losing the corn. They can’t make enough hay anymore. That isn’t liberal propaganda. Our hay guy is as right wing as you would guess a hay guy is. It KILLS him to drive all the to Canada for hay to sell in Colorado. It won’t get better, either.

Colorado briefly suffered with this. In the Northern Plains is a town called Greeley. The area around this is VERY heavily dependent on water for agriculture. They had a Congresslady named Marilyn Musgrave. Her one and only concern was stopping the gays. From what? We don’t know, but she was going to stop them.

She let her district languish over and over again. She could have been getting water protection passed, bail out money, protections from farmers against bad crop loans. She did not of that. NOTHING. It took a few election cycles, but the good folks of Greeley finally realized keeping jobs and houses was more important that whether or not there was gays next door. Musgrave never did figure that out, and got bounced. She spent every ounce of political capital and resources to fight gay issues.

       So, that drives me crazy.

What is a common phrase that you absolutely hate hearing?

 “It is what it is.” I get it, and I have had to say it. Sadly, it just means ‘fuck it. Why bother? Why even try?

What’s the dumbest product that made a fortune?

I think we can all look back and agree it was the pet rock. Wait… and bottled water. You know that bottled water is just tap water, right? Plus, you are destroying the oceans with those empty bottles.

Friday Fives – I was a afraid of that – edition

What do you have an irrational hatred for?

          spiders

 What do you have an irrational love of?

 guitars

What do you have an irrational fear of?

           spiders

What is your most irrational fear while driving?

Not a fear, but a big ass pet peeve… how about that?  People not using their turn signals.  If… When I am president, it will be a law.  You MUST use your blinkers if you are turning.  I live out in the country, and I use them on dirt roads.  I use them if I am turning left… even if I am in the left hand turning lane.  So should you!  It takes no energy nor effort.  It burns no fossil fuel, and likely doesn’t even take a calorie of labor.  What about shopping centers, I mean… that is private property, right?   ESPECIALLY in shopping centers.  That is all the more reason.  Do you know cops mostly won’t get involved in an accident on private property… like a mall.  No matter whose fault it was, they won’t issue a ticket.  This means that no matter what happens, your insurance has to cover you.  What better reason to use your blinkers?

 How about rational fear?  What is a real thing you are afraid of?

You think I am going to tell you my greatest fear?  It’s physical, I will tell you that much.  However, I have between 200 and 500 readers here daily.  I don’t know that many people.  Surely one or two are here from this post, and want to kick my ass.  Hell, I want to kick my ass many days.  If you think I am going to tell you how best to hurt me, I am afraid that will not happen on this day.  What is written on the internet lives forever.

Let’s look at this.  Know how Dave Mustaine got kicked out of Metallica?  You know the over arcing story, he was a dick when he was drunk.  Metallica drank a LOT back then.  They were fun drunks.  A guy who is an ahole when he is drunk means that guy is an ahole.  He is just able to keep it hidden pretty well from himself.  Mustaine got kicked out for kicking Hetfield’s dog.

You know how Hunter Thompson got his ass kicked by the hell’s angels?  Know why?  He was watching a Hell’s Angel beat his girlfriend.  This, apparently, wasn’t uncommon. More importantly, it was no one else’s business.  Hunter saw this, and made no comment.  It’s against code.  Then, though, that same guy kicked a dog.  Hunter stepped in and said something like ‘only a chump beats his old lady and his dog.”  Again, this is against code.  He got his ass kicked.

I love dogs.  If I see you kick your dog, shit is gonna go sideways.  Therefore, I can not in good conscious, tell you how best to kick my ass.  I’m not tough.  I am a coward of a man who hides behind the internet and uses pseudonyms and fake pictures… expressly for the purpose of not getting my ass kicked

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.

Excuse me, Mr Steadman, but you are ruining my book

I found this book in the basement. Not sure why it was boxed up with old work stuff, but it was. I was VERY tickled to find this book. It is, in fact, probably my most treasured book, for reasons that will be revealed below.  This book pre-dates my listing of all the books I read.

After Hunter Thompson shot himself in 2005, there was a slew of books that came out, most of them great. All his good friends had a book in them, with their favorite Hunter Stories. His widow, Anita, wrote one. It’s ok. His best friend, though, was the sheriff of Aspen. Read that again. Hunter’s best friend was head cop in all of Aspen. He wrote a really terrific book of his favorite Hunter stories. It’s called ‘the Kitchen Diaries’. So, this book below (The Joke’s Over) was Ralph Steadman’s favorite Hunter stories. Ralph Steadman was Hunter’s artist. All of those amazing and iconic images from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas… that was all Ralph. They worked together for about 25 years.

Ralph is a wonderful man. When Hunter died, he paid off the Owl Farm property in Aspen for his widow (Anita).  This book is Ralph’s stories of his time with Hunter. He was in Denver doing a book tour and speaking engagement. Everybody who does Hunter Thompson related work comes to Denver. We are the closest metropolis to Aspen.  Over a few years, I went to many Hunter related events: books signings, films, speaking engagements, etc. Ralph’s event was super cool. There was a pre event at a local private club/bar/ tavern. Then, there was a bigger event at the Denver Post building downtown. For some reason, there was virtually no one at the pre-event. There was about ten people, all drinking. Hunter’s widow, Anita, was there, as was Hunter’s son, Juan.

I was just hanging out and chatting and drinking with all of them. It was amazing. I had brought my copy of the new Steadman book. It is a first edition hard back. If you were a book nerd like me, you would know how important that is. So, we are standing in a small circle while Ralph (Mr Steadman, to you) holds court. We are chatting and laughing like old pals – at least in my mind. After I had a few drinks in me, I sheepishly asked if he would sign my book. He smiled and took my book and opened it up to the title page, which is where books are always signed. The picture below is the two of them.  Hunter on the left and Ralph on the right.

Then… I watched him go all Ralph Steadman on it. He just started doodling in his super characteristic way. Then, he handed it back and started explaining it to me. He said that is wine and grapes. The creepy figure is Hunter, as detailed by his iconic cigarette holder. He was so nice and engaging. Can you believe this? I have a first edition hardback signed copy with original crazed art by the man himself. You ruined my book, Mr Steadman. God bless you, sir.

Allow me to explain what you are seeing.  The original page just had the title.  Not even the author’s name.  Everything else you see is Ralph’s ink drawing.

Ralph Steadman sketch 2007