Hunter S. Thompson on Halloween

gonzo1

Amazing writing (voice, pace, narrative) as usual from the dear departed Gonzo.

There’s a lot more than the excerpt below from the early 2000s over at ESPN, where HST had a columnist gig for a while:

Getting weird for Devil’s Day
By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

Hot damn, it is Halloween again, and I am ready to get weird in public. Nevermind anthrax for today. The Yankees won, but so what? That’s what I said to that fruitbag who claimed to be Sean Penn when he called earlier. “Screw you,” I said. He was drunk, so I knew right away that it wasn’t Sean Penn. “Get out of my face!” I screamed at him. “You are the same squalid freak who called here a few days ago and said he was Muhammad Ali. What’s wrong with you?”

“I need advice,” said the voice. “Should I jump into the Honolulu Marathon this year? I desperately need a Personal Challenge to conquer. My blood is filling up with some kind of poison.”

“Nonsense,” I said. “You are just another jackass looking for attention. I’ll give your lame ass a beating if I ever catch you sneaking around My house, you sleazy little Freak!”

I didn’t care who he was, by then. He was just another geek in a Halloween parade, to my way of thinking. And for all I knew he was dangerous — maybe some kind of murderous off-duty cop with two guns and a bottle of whiskey in his pocket. I wanted no part of him, especially not on a day like Halloween.

But why not humor him? I thought. Nobody needs this kind of Foul Ball drunk coming into his yard at night. So I lowered my voice and gave him a break. “OK,” I said. “I will help you, just don’t come anywhere near me.”

“I am Sean Penn,” the voice said calmly. “Should I or should I not enter the Honolulu Marathon in December? That’s all I need to know.”

“Yes,” I said. “You should definitely enter it. I will go with you, if necessary. But don’t call them today. Do it tomorrow, not today. Nobody will believe a thing you say on a horrible day like Halloween. … And don’t use the damn telephone anymore! They’ll hunt you down and dice you up like a squid — just go to bed and stay out of sight until noon. That is when the bogeyman sleeps, and so do I. So get out of my face and never call me again!” Then I howled in a low animal voice and hung up the phone.

“These freaks should all be put to sleep,” I said to Anita. “Let’s go out on the town and get weird.”

If you liked this excerpt, get a visual and quote snapshot of HST at The Selvedge Yard. Leaving you with this koan from the master:

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

– Hunter S. Thompson

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in San Francisco

Rivera-the-arsenal

My friend Ben lives in North Beach and told me the other day that Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived on Francisco Street near the wharf for a few years, in the 1930’s.

I loved learning this slice of history.

Our conversation triggered some waking deja vu. I spent the summer of 1996 on Francisco Street with Erin Potts, Andrew Bryson and Adam Yauch of Milarepa when we and many others worked on the first Tibetan Freedom Concert at Golden Gate Park that June.

Francisco Street is part of a pocket of San Francisco that mixes together cable cars and the water, North Beach vibes, and the old days of the city as a fishing port. Salt in the air; seagulls; espressos and Marlboros on the streets and roofs. Milarepa was in the upstairs of a two story building owned by architects. I remember so many lunch runs to Taqueria San Jose for amazing, still memorable burritos all summer long.

I loved finding out this week, seventeen years on, that Frida and Diego were there first.

Banksy and “The Simpsons”

“Q. Even compared to how “The Simpsons” has mocked Fox in the past, this seemed to push things to a different level. Are you sure there’s no one higher up than you on the corporate ladder who’s displeased with this?

“A. I think that we should always be able to say the holes in our DVDs are poked by unhappy unicorns.”
Al Jean, producer of “The Simpsons,” on the show’s recent Banksy-directed opening sequence

the camera eye

tina modotti image of flag carrying girlHere’s the story of how I got hooked on photography.

My first taste of the alchemy is when I get the prints back from a roll I took on a Pentax K1000, c. 1990. The Pentax (which I still have) is a heavy, solid machine. I save up from a summer job to be able to afford it. It’s mechanical, operated entirely manually. I have to study to learn how to configure film speed and f-stop.

What I see in the first set of prints: depth of field, so clearly better than anything shot in years of disposables, Polaroids and point and shoots. I took a picture of a bicycle, foregrounded. The out-of-focus trees and grass behind it helping create a story.

Material objects transmuted into an artifact (artifice?) that reaches some part of me that responds to art.

Other photos – a very few – I take that summer and fall with the K1000, make me feel the same way.

I’m writing about this because I happened to read a review of a documentary about William Eggleston in the local paper today.

It reminded me of some of the photographers whose work I love. Each of them reflects in their art a personal vision, of the world as inamorata.

Tina Modotti

Robert Capa

Cartier-Bresson

William Eggleston

Olivo Barbieri