Friday Fives – basking in celebrity goodness edition

bono and i

What was your last interaction with a famous person?

Well, we have to mention my run in with Bono… even though it technically doesn’t count.  So, let’s start there.  I was in San Fran a fall or two ago for a very very big business conference (Dreamforce) and they had bought up the whole town.  Huey Lewis literally played right in the middle of the street they shut down.  Sean Penn was there to get into fights with hotel patrons, and they bought up the baseball stadium to have Green Day come and play for everyone for free.

As I was walking through one of the big conference thingies, I spotted Bono.  Not someone who looks like Bono, mind you, but motherfuckin Bono his goddamn self.  I love U2, and I love Bono.  Bono gets too much shit for being overexposed… and he IS… but he uses that literally to solve the world’s problems. I have seen them a lot, and I think they may be the best rock back in production right now. Not saying they are my favorite band, or that I saw them on their last tour.  BUT…if someone comes to America and wants to know what a big production of a great rock and roll band us… you give them U2.  Given that I was rubbin’ uglies with Huey Lewis, Billie Joe, and Sean Penn… it was not too much of a stretch to think I was within the same breathing air as his Bono-ness.

Shit, I already told this story, didn’t I?

Spoiler, it wasn’t Bono.  It was Pavel.  Pavel, btw, is a good dude.  I have corresponded with him.  I posted this anecdote on Facebook and my buddy Eddie had the greatest comment.  He said “you met the Pavel?  In person?  That is huge, and everyone knows ‘Bono’ is just a big Pavel impersonator!”

So… we can’t count that one, can we?  How about Dave Barry?  Up for a Dave Barry story?  We chatted about dogs, and he was thrilled I had not only a ‘regular dog’, but a ‘small emergency back up dog’ as well.  We were taking selfies and he looked at my blackberry (so yeah… that kinda dates me.  Maybe this was about ten years ago?) to see our pictures.  My wallpaper was my doggies, so we talked about that.  Am I boring you?  Why don’t you tell me your Dave Barry story?  Exactly.  I am CERTAINLY not telling you my Johnny Depp story.  Not with that attitude.  After I am done not telling you my Depp story, you will next NOT get to hear about hanging out with Ralph Steadman.

  • was that boring to you?  Did you want to tell your Dave Barry story?  How about your Johnny Depp story?  Do you have one?  Well, I do… and I ain’t sharing it now!

You know that girl in your elementary school class that was really obsessed with horses? What is she doing with her life now?

She married me, and we have horses.  It’s much less romantic than they showed in movies.  Our horses have saved exactly ZERO children almost swept away by ravaging flood waters.

What is the most pretentious hobby?

Playing guitar in a rock band?  Is that pretentious?  Or, maybe just sad and middle agey?  hmm. what else do I do?  Oooh, I like to collect aged books.  I would almost just a rather carefully thumb through a 125 year old first edition hard back than look at boobs.  ALMOST.

One day I will tell you the good story of the book I found at goodwill for a $1.  It was called ‘Presidents I Have Known’  How is that for pretentious?  Anyhow, I bought it because it was beautiful.  The book, I mean.  It was a well worn, a hard back, and  a first edition.  Plus, with a title that pompous… I simply had to have it.  This is book porn… especially for 25 cents!  THEN… I get it home and it is inscribed by some dude wishing some dude the best.  For shits and giggles (my fish) I googled the name.  The guy whom is it inscribed to was the wealthiest and most important guy in America at the time.  I wish I remember the name, but I don’t… and I ain’t at home.  And the guy who hand wrote the beautiful inscription was the author his damn self!

I guess you can scratch that ‘one day’ part above, since I mostly just told you that story.

Wait… are you asking my most pretentious hobby?  Or, just in general.  Guess what?  This questions is over now.  SHELVED for being unspecific.

… ok, I thought of something.  The most pretentious thing I can think of is being the prevost of a polo mallet museum.  Really, prevost of anything would do the trick.

What is your favorite debunked conspiracy

Hasn’t even conspiracy been debunked?  In fact, is that not the definition of ‘conspiracy’.  I would have to go with the moon landing.  People not only don’t believe we went there, but they are SUPER vested in their opinion.  At the end of the day, who cares?  Let’s say the govt did lie about the whole moon landing?  How EXACTLY does that impact your day to day life?  Even if the govt copped to it, and even apologized… would you get cheaper gas?  Or a month off rent?  Or a couple days off of work?  No.  So get over it.

I should note I can not write off all conspiracies as the work of loonies with too much spare time.  I am still actively wondering what the hell happened with the Kennedy assassination.  Like most Americans, I am settled about this much  – I am not sure what happened, but I am about 90% confident that the version they fed us as the truth is NOT what happened.  Even went to Dallas to see Dealey Plaza.  That was awesome, and you should go!

I guess what we can take away is if you believe in govt conspiracies you are a sad little man… UNLESS… you believe in the same ones I do.

What is your favorite random Wikipedia article?

Well, if it were my favorite, wouldn’t it not be random? This feels like entrapment.  This question is SHELVED for editorial negotiation!

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

Friday Fives – book edition

Last week was movies. This week its books.

1. What was the last book that you absolutely could not put down until you finished it? 

for this, I have to reference this.  I am such a book nut that I archive everything I read.  I started doing this years ago, noting down books as I read them.  Now that I have probably a hundred catalogued, I find it a very useful resource.  Plus, allow me cop to the fact that it is a bit pretentious.  It sounds like something Sting would do.  To me, Sting sets the bar for pretension.  But, it is practical.  I read a lot, about a book a month.  This helps me keep it straight in my mind, and go back to find authors that I loved.

Now, back to the question.  The last book that just rocked my world was an audiobook… so that could constitute cheating.  It was ‘Lamb’.  This was the most amazing book.  I believe it is one of the best and most important and amazing books ever written.  Note (again, Sting alert here) I have a degree in Literature, so I know of what I speak.  Lamb was amazing, life changing!  I put it up there with Alice in Wonderland.  If you are a reader here, then you know my devotion to that book.  If you are not a reader here, what are you doing reading here, huh?  You got some esplainin’ to do.

Allow me to tell you a tiny bit more about Lamb that might shed light on the truly religious experience it had on me.  When I listened to it, I was driving by myself across the desert on Christmas day.  I had not slept in 4 days, so I was literally loopy.  Also, I am a recovering Catholic.  This means I believe in Jesus and most of his story, up until he died.  I do believe there was a Jesus.  I do believe he was a leader, and I do believe he was murdered for that.  I don’t believe he came back to life.

I didn’t mean to be listening to the fictionalized story of Christ on Christmas day.  Nor did I mean to be driving through the desert by myself whacked on sleep deprivation when I did.  Those are all just amazing co-incidences that made it a very seriously powerful experience for me.  You must read that book.  Religious or not.  It is incredibly thoughtful.  it is not satire, or humor.  It is at least as accurate as the Bible, and I am dead serious about that.  Both were written by men who were nowhere around when it happened.  At least Moore cops to it.

There you have it.  I have officially not written that much about a book (besides Alice in Wonderland) since college.

2. Do you have a difficult to read author/book that you really want to read/finish?

I did.  There have been many books I meant to finish.  Many books that felt embarrassed that I had not read or finished.  Finally, though, I realized life is too short to read boring books.  Here is an example – Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote ‘100 years of solitude‘.  It has been regarded by about every scholar as one of the greatest books ever written.  Entire college courses are taught on this book.  So, being as though I am a lit guy, I should read it.  I should know it.  I tried.  I really did.  a bunch of times.  Here is my educated literary analysis – holy fuck is it boring.  See, it is 500 pages.  So, your first 60 pages are just about setting the scene and introducing characters.  I couldn’t get past page 25 ever.  So, this book is shelved.  I am not even going to try anymore.

There is a really great article/infographic about this very topic.  Btw, full Sting disclosure here.  As much as I truly enjoy talking about books, I did not pick these questions.  These came from my editor, who is my close buddy who turned me on to blogging ten years ago.

3. If you had to pick a genre that your read as a favorite, what is it? 

non-fiction memoirs, and neurology.  I am a freelance neurologist.  Go ahead, google it.  Just kidding, you can’t.  I just made it up.  Ok, that was a little Stingy.  Allow me to explain that reference.  Sting put out a movie of him playing lute and discussing literature with guys with bears and tweed coats.  Doing those things doesn’t make you a douche, but putting out a movie of you doing those things sure does.

4. If you had to help someone who “doesn’t get into reading” what would you suggest to them to light their fire?

start light.  Comedians often write great and super funny books.  Here is one I read fairly recently.  it is really enjoyable, and super fluffy.  Also, I strongly recommend Alice in Wonderland.  it is not too long, amazingly well written, and totally absurd.  Here is an even better one.  This book, Animal Farm, is super entertaining, and incredibly thoughtful.  it is also so short you can read it one night.  Classes have been taught about this book, too.  Hell, Pink Floyd made an album about it.

5. What are you reading right now?

Nothing, actually.  I just finished this last week, and am in between books.  I am pretty sure I am going to get a couple books on Russian history.  For now, though, I am on brain vacation and just reading my magazines (Rolling Stone, Playboy, Popular Mechanics, and Psychology Today).  Both of the Russian history books are over 400 pages each.  I am a bit intimidated to get into something that thick and thinky, but it is a fascinating tale.  Like, if you asked anyone on Earth who the worst person in history is, most would agree Hitler.  Lemme tell you, when it comes to body count, no one comes CLOSE to Stalin.  Stalin makes Hitler look like a youth league volunteer for charity by comparison.

I go back and forth between really thinky stuff, and fluffy memoirs.  Oooh oooh!  I just thought of another great book you should read.  Adam Carolla has a couple terrific memoirs out.  I am a big fan of Carolla’s podcast, and listen almost daily.  Start with this one, and then do this one.

* since we are talking about books, and Alice in Wonderland, I have an update.  I finally scored the holy grail of books.  This is the book I have been wanting for 25 years.  It is scarce, and believed by many to have never even existed.  Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Ralph Steadman.  I haven’t even cracked it open yet.  I have too much on my plate to really lose myself in it like I want to.