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September 30, 2007

Anita & The Gonzo Way on CSPAN2 BookTV

This morning CSPAN2’s BookTV broadcast a segment on Anita discussing The Gonzo Way during her recent booksigning at Olsson’s Books in Washington, DC.

You can catch a replay of the broadcast tonight at 11:15PM (Eastern) on CSPAN2 or via live stream on their website at www.booktv.org.

-Peter B

Living The Gonzo Way

Although I’m running around airports trying to get back to campus by tomorrow morning in time to give a presentation on Toni Morrison for my American Studies seminar, I wanted to post a great letter that I received from a reader from Delaware.  Yes I do get many wonderful emails from readers, and I wish I could post them all, but this one encapsulates the reason I wrote the book all in one email. He had me cheering out loud (waking Athena up) when he says that yes, Hunter did give him the confidence he needed as a young man…

Dear Anita,

My name is Sean Stellfox, I am 23 and from Delaware. After chasing the  moon with marathon of videogames and scotch, I woke up around 10 am. and immediately reached for my copy of The Gonzo Way, which shipped to my  house on Friday, Sept 28. With a minor hangover I managed to read the  entire book cover to cover, in less than 2 hours. I am writing this  email while I am still feeling the emotions from my initial reading to let  you know the impact Hunter has had on my life.   

I first came into contact with Hunter Thompson in my sophomore year of  high school sometime in ‘99 or ’00, through “the Vegas movie.” At the  time drugs were a huge part of my life and I only saw the film as a wild drug trip. After doing some research, I found that the movie was much  more then about drugs and more of an epitaph to the American Dream.

At the time I began reading any books I could find by Hunter starting  with Screwjack and The Rum Diary. Before this I barley picked up a book  (or cared about academics), but there was something about  Thompson’s  writing that I found intriguing and inspiring. My parents began to notice  a change as well, so much so that I can remember the time my father,  to his show support, bought me copy of The Great Shark Hunt. By the time  I graduated from high school, I had read though many of Thompson’s  books and as a result saw an improvement in my grades. 

After high school, I went to a small college in PA, and got a degree in  English (the only field that I was good at). I feel that this is due  to Hunter, who showed me the value of the printed word as well opened my  world to many other authors. In college, I was able to turn some of my  close friends on to Hunter. This was done through a combination of  drugs, “The Vegas Movie,” and my knowledge on him. I was even able to  recruit some students who were undecided to become an English major directly because of Hunter’s writing. 

In my senior at college, I heard that Thompson died through a friend  late Sunday night. That following Monday, I mourned his death by writing  a small note of inspiration in the margin of an old hardback edition of  Hell’s Angels.

Since graduating, I have taken two jobs. One job is as a stock clerk at  a local grocery store and the other is as an adjunct teacher at a  local community college. I will eventually go on to get my Master’s and I  would like to study and teach Hunter’s work because I believe that his  writing needs to be read by everyone.

I feel that your book was very moving and encouraged me to continuing  pursuing my dreams with a vengeance. Even though, I would like to study  and teach Hunter, I do NOT feel I am one of the “elite who understood  the value of his work in ‘literary history’" because I was once and  -still am at heart- that young teenager who gained confidence and courage  from Hunter. I feel that if it were not for Thompson I would not have  found myself and don’t know what path life would have led me down.

I will take the advice from this book in my effort to live the Gonzo Way, but I guess by sending this email; I am also breaking that final  rule of Gonzo.

-Sean Stellfox


Okay. Sean, I love you. Whoever you are! Until next time, your friend,

Anita Thompson




September 27, 2007

Running With the Wolves

Goodmorning! Thank you so much for bday message Peter, and those of you who sent messages. Aw, shucks…. I must admit,  today is bright sunshiny day.  I just woke at 8am at my mom’s house on the foothills which sits on Lake Sherwood,  overlooking the Rocky Mountains (coming home to Owl Farm later). I woke up every morning as a teenager looking at those mountains across this glassy lake, not realizing that one day I’d actually be living in them, and that a guy by the name of Hunter would sweep me off my feet and make me fall in love with him and my country and my community more than I ever thought possible.  Why am I being so nostalgic?  Well, it’s because I am officially 35 years old.  All my mentors and great women that I respect in my life all tell me this is it, honey: 35 is when it all starts. So, I woke up with a universal mandate to run with the wolves now. I am officially a woman!!

It is bitter sweet only in the sense that when Hunter and I would talk about this day, we were to have been celebrating it with our children. But since life has thrown us a curve ball, we will roll with it. And roll with style.  I have our books to work on and a LOT of work to do for school this and next semester that will keep me busy for quite a while, with our sweet spirit guide by our side. The Woody Creek Caucus meeting tonight, after a fundraiser for KDNK this aftoon, and cake with my friends and family…. This is a good one.

Today’s HST wisdom comes from Campaign trail. I picked this passsage because one night, Hunter figured out that he wrote this passage during the hours that I was being born (which is about 2 miles from where I am sitting here on the lake right now… ) He was always very proud of that fact, so here it is.  It’s actually about the press, and Nixon’s dislike of it, which is fitting. Hunter didn’t just teach me about the press, he taught me, and the rest of us, to value and cherish the sparkling Fourth Estate and the journalists who are on the front lines doing the work everyday. 

Nixon has never made any secret of his feelings about the press.  They are still the same gang of “biased bastards” and “cynical sons of bitches” that he called them, backstage, on election day I California ten years ago when he made his now-legendary concession statement after losing the 1962 governor’s race to Pat Brown.  His aides tried to restrain him, but Nixon would have none of it.  Trembling with rage, he confronted a hotel ballroom full of political reporters and snarled: "This is my last press conference!  You won’t have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore!"

He failed to honor that pledge, but the anger that caused him to utter it still burns in his breast.  He rarely hold press conferences, and his personal relationshiops with the working press is almost nonexistant.  In the White House and on the road, he "communicates" with the press corps through his mouthpiece, press secretary Ron Ziegler — an arrogant 33-year-old-punk who trained for his current job by working as  a PR for Disneyland, and who treats the White House press corps like a gang of troublesome winos who will only be tolerated as long as they keep out of the boss’s hair.

— Hunter S. Thompson, Fear And Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72


Until next time, your (running) friend,

Anita Thompson

p.s. I just got an email from Holly from Louisville reminding me about some things I forgot to mention: 1)Yes, I will be going through Louisville for my book tour soon.  Will post asap. 2) I did not see  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speak. I was not on campus that day (I took my seminars off that day and spent it in Colorado between Woody Creek, the Doctor, and Fort Collins). It was a madhouse on campus. protestors and police everywhere. I like what Holly said" I guess Iran is the only place on the planet without homosexuals, then of course that can happen when they all get executed…"  (I also have a good comment from one of my new journalist friends who has to remain anonymous, who said we should just take him straight to Guantanamo to save the Iranian people from the same fate as Iraq!) 3)  Hunter is indeed on the cover of Rolling Stone. It is a wonderful sample of interviews based on the early years of Hunter’s life. Yes, I decided not to have any association with the book. I’ll explain later. I want to keep today positive. That particular excerpt in Rolling Stone is positive and I recommend it highly!!

Happy Birthday Anita!

happy birthday
Happy Birthday to Anita from all friends & family at Owl Farm, GonzoStore and beyond!

-Peter B 

September 21, 2007

The Gonzo Swim

It’s after midnight here at Owl Farm tonight.  50.7 degrees outside that followed a wildly orange/pink/purple and even white sunset over the Woody Creek Valley around 7pm. The girls at the garden, Jennifer, Sue and Meg along with neighbor Ann Owsley all agreed it was one of those way over-the top magical sunsets.  It’s good to be home, despite my melancholy mood.  My German Shepherd Athena and I hiked up the mountain to Compass School, where they were having some sort of board meeting, so we turned around and walked Woody Creek Road to the garden.  I spent the rest of the night cleaning the kitchen, polishing Hunter’s silver cups that sit in front of the TV under the signs that read  “No Music + Bad TV = Bad Mood & No Pages” and the second sign that reads “Animals, Whores and Dialogue.”  When Hunter felt stuck, sitting at his typewriter, he would often turn to that advice:  write something about animals, whores or add some good dialogue etc. 

 I opened a page at random tonight for the HST wisdom and landed on page 98 of “Kingdom of Fear.”  It is from a scene in where Hunter was on the campaign trail ‘72, but always finding a way to go swimming, at night, legally or not. This is a conversation he had with the security cop who was trying to stop Hunter from swimming at the Fountainbleau at night:

After the first two days it got to be a ritual. I would appear on the moonlit patio and say hello to the black private cope while I took off my clothes and piled them on a plastic chair near the diving board.  Our conversation on the first night was model for all the others:
“You’re not supposed to be out here,” the private cop said.  “This area is closed at night.”
“Why?” I said, sitting down to take of my shoes.
“It’s against the law.”
“What law?”
“The one they pay me to enforce, goddamnit.  The one that says you can’t go swimmin’ out here at night.”
“Well…” I said, taking off my watch and stuffing it into one of my crusty white basketball shoes…. “What happens if I just jump into the pool and swim, anyway?”
“You gonna do that?”
“Yeah,” I replied.  “I’m sorry to hassle you, but it’s necessary.  My nerves are all twisted up, and the only way I can relax is by coming out here by myself and swimming laps.”
He shook his head sadly.  “Okay, but you’re gonna be breakin’ the law.”
“I doubt it”
“The way I see it,” I said, “about twenty feet of this pool over thereon the side near the ocean is on public property.”
He shrugged. “I’m not gonna argue with you about that.  All I know is the law says you can’t swim out here at night.”
“Well, I’m going to,” I said. “What happens then?”
He turned away.  “I’ll call the cops,” he said.  “I’ll get fired if I don’t.  And I’m sure as hell not comin’ in after you.”
“You could shoot me,” I said, walking over to the edge of the pool.
“Blow me out of the water, claim you thought I was a shark.”
He smiled and turned away as I dove into the pool… and about 15 or 20 laps later I looked up to see two city cops with flashlights pointing down at me.  “Okay fella,” said one, “come outta there.  You’re under arrest.”
“What for?”
“You know,” said the other. “Let’s go.”

They ended up taking Hunter up to the lobby where finally the manager, that night, declined to press charges because Hunter was spending about $85/ day at that point of the campaign, and was registered as a journalist – press.  Hunter went on to describe the rest of his stay:

We went through the same motions 24 hours later, an also on the third & fourth night…but on the fifth night, for some reason, the pool guard said nothing at all when I appeared. I said “hello” and started taking off my clothes, expecting him to head for the house phone on that pole out in the middle of the patio that he’d used on the other nights… but he just stood there and watched me dive in.  Then he spent the next 45 minutes pointedly ignoring me…and at one point, just as dawn was coming up, he chased a videotape crew away from the pool when they tried to film me swimming. When they asked why I could swim and they couldn’t even walk around the patio, he just shook his head and pointed his billy club toward the exit door.

— Hunter S. Thompson, ”Kingdom of Fear”

Oh, did I mention another one of Hunter’s techniques to get his mind working to write, along with dialogue and good music was swimming?   Perhaps that is one of the reasons he wrote so much good stuff during the last 5 years of his life. Jon Nichols from “The Nation” said that some of Hunter’s most savage writing, especially political writing came from those ESPN columns and they will be remembered forever. I agree.  Hunter and I spent a lot of nights swimming like dolphins in the Stranahan’s warm 90 degree swimming pool during those years.

By the way, I’m very grateful to all of you who have wrote so many nice things about “The Gonzo Way.” So glad you like it, and most important…that you understand the 7 lessons. Like all good Jazz, there is a solid structure to the music, despite the sense of total freefall. And that structure is what I saw in Hunter’s life and philosophy, and lay out in those 7 chapters. Alll the other people who paid attention knew  this already. But It’s nice to have it encapsulated in a book.  Is it possible for a dolphin to also be a snow leopard?  Apparently so!

Okay, it’s late here, and I don’t stay up as late as I used to, now that I’m on a school schedule again (even though my seminars are only on Mondays, which is why I can be at Owl Farm tonight!) So, I’m going to cuddle up with the animals and snooze ‘till dawn. I’ve been 29 years old for several years, and next week, I’m facing 35…with sort of a smile.

Until next time, your friend, swimming with Gonzo,

Anita Thompson


p.s. It is true that Mahmod Ahmadinejad is scheduled to speak at Columbia this Monday. They cancelled his speech last year because of security and logistical problems. The decision came after a Jewish activist group outrage over the invitation.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday that the university was free to invite Ahmadinejad to speak, but “personally, I wouldn’t go to listen to him – I don’t care about what he says.”

Lee Bollinger, Columbia’s president) in announcing Ahmadinejad’s upcoming appearance, described the event as part of “Columbia’s long-standing tradition of serving as a major forum for robust debate.” He said the Iranian president had agreed to answer questions on Israel and the Holocaust.

Ahmadinejad’s trip to New York also ignited a debate this week over his rejected request to lay a wreath at ground zero. Politicians and families of Sept. 11 victims were outraged that Iran’s president might visit the site. The reports doesn’t say which of the victims were outraged. 

Police rejected Ahmadinejad’s request, citing construction and security concerns. In an interview scheduled to air Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Ahmadinejad indicated he would not press the issue but expressed disbelief that the visit would offend Americans. He probably has the sickening feeling that Iran is going to be the next ground zero if we don’t get a peaceful, smart president in Office asap. 
Another reason why I think Hillary is the best candidate. She is the smartest,and the toughest one to deal with a man like that, but not dumb enough to cause another Iraq.   

Anwyay, I will not be at his speech, and probably wouldn’t go anyway. I don’t like the guy, particularly after studying Iran last year, and falling in love with the people and history of that country.  His "death  to Israel" is a dangerous statement, of course, just as the current president’s "death to the Middle East" policy is.   Who knows if he’ll even end up speaking. Last year, they cancelled his visit last minute. So, we shall see. 

September 19, 2007


Gonzo WayAnita is too modest to mention this herself, but I’ve decided to share some exciting news on the Owl Farm Blog.  The Gonzo Way hit the LA Times Bestseller list last month.  Congratulations Anita!  Demand for the book is still high, and it is already on it’s third printing only a few months after release.  Again, congratulations to Anita.

Signed copies of the first printing of the book are still available at GonzoStore.

 -Peter B
GonzoStore & Owl Farm Blog Webmaster / proud brother of an LA Times Bestselling Author.

September 08, 2007

Dorian Gray in the Bronx

Hi. Things are moving along quickly in the back-to-school world. I’ve been renting a nice one bedroom apartment from the famous hat-maker, Sue Carrolan. It’s in a safe building in a very interesting part of the Bronx.  Remember “the Kingdom by the Sea” in Poe’s “Annabel Lee?”  Well, it was the Bronx he was talking about, before the buildings and millions of people grew around his tiny cottage where his beautiful Annabel’s life was stolen away from him by jealous angels.

Anyway, I don’t see the sea from my apartment, which would be nice, because it is hot as hell here with 90 percent humidity today.  But one thing I like about the Bronx, that they didn’t do in my old neighborhood on the Upper West Side, is that the kids open the fire hydrants during the day. I took off my sandals yesterday and splashed around with them in the fresh cool water – and had a lovely day.  There are no Starbucks up here, but the street vendors sell fresh mangoes, strawberries and sweet iced coconut with a smile. Almost everything in the little grocery stores and restaurant cafes is relatively affordable.

The only downside of the Bronx is, of course, the night. That’s when the underbelly is most alive.  I’ve already had some close calls and don’t intend to make myself vulnerable anymore – so I have to plan it better next time as my commute to campus takes over an hour by various levels of subway routes.  Besides that, and missing my animals and friends from home, I’m doing very well.

Owl Farm and the animals are being cared for by two responsible and talented journalists: Andrew Travers, who worked for Doug Brinkley for five years and who now keeps the police blotter and writes various other stories for the Aspen Daily News, and Jonathan Bastian, who grew up in Woody Creek (he’s the son of Hunter’s dear friend and neighbor, Ed Bastian), who is a sportswriter —
yes, just like Hunter, who started his own career as a sportswriter for the Eglin Air Force Base newspaper.

I’ll be resuming my book tour in October after an appearance next Thursday in Washington, D.C. All of October’s will be at various campuses and independent bookstores around the country. I adjusted my current class schedule accordingly: I’m only taking a few, but very interesting, classes, includingEnglish Lit (Criticism) and History of American Culture. Two of them are seminars, which I’m excited about.

Peter or I will keep you posted as to the book signing schedule. The book is doing well and I’m quite pleased with the reception from readers. Very positive. But of course some people will hate me for it.  I even got my first nasty review the other day. It was so below the belt, I almost felt flattered.

Anyway, I have been caught up in reading (for the first time) “The Picture of Dorian Gray." I couldn’t help but post a passage from it for you. It’s almost as if Oscar Wilde anticipated the creation of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

Lord Henry is the wise and beautifully wicked character who first makes Dorian Gray aware of his own youth thus methodically unravelling all sorts of latent passions and desires and sins in the boy.  At one point, Lord Henry gives Dorian a book to read, which changes Dorian’s life forever… and is described thus:


   It was  a novel without a plot, and with only one character, being indeed, simply a psychological study of a certain young Parisian, who spent his life trying to realize in the nineteenth century all the passions and modes of thought that belonged to every century except his own, and to sum up, as it were, in himself the various moods through which the world-spirit had ever passed, loving for their mere artificiality those renunciations that men have unwisely called virtue, as much as those natural rebellions that wise men still call sin.  The style in which it was written was that curious jeweled style, vivid and obscure at once, full of argot and of archaisms, of technical expressions and of elaborate paraphrases, that characterizes the work of some of the finest artists of the French school of Symbolistes.  There were in it metaphors as monstrous as orchids, and as subtle in colour.  The life of the senses was described in the terms of mystical philosophy.  One hardly knew at times whether one was reading the spiritual ecstasies of some mediaeval saint or the morbid confessions of a modern sinner…

Oscar Wilde “The Picture of Dorian Gray”


Yep, HST ineed. Okay, I’m signing off for now. It’s finally cooling down with fans and curtains blowing.

Until next time, your friend, eating the sweet Bronx coconut,

Anita Thompson


p.s. remember last year about this time I bumped into a Columbia poster vendor and stopped in my tracks because they had put a Gigantic picture of "F&L in Vegas" front and center of the poster sale?  This year, the image that popped out at me was of an old Champagne advertisement with a picture of Grace Kelley (before she married the Prince) in a gorgeous black dress behind a sleek champagne glass. L’INSTANT TAITTINGER is all it says next to the seductive look of her face through the delicate bubbles of the glass.  I bought a copy for $10 b/c that poster brings me fond memories of a romantic time I once had talking about that very poster …magnifique!

Then, I hopped in a cab to see a lecture given by my beloved Doug Brinkley on the 50th anniversay of "On the Road" in the East Village at Cooper Union.  Doug is a damn good lecturer, so, if you’re a student at Rice University, and reading this, sign up for ANY of his classes! He and I went out for a NY pizza after and had a nice talk.  He was later going to visit our friend Sean Penn Premier his new film in Canada.  All is well in the world.

 p.p.s.(morning update)  the "novel without a plot" that so corrupts Dorian is, in fact, a supremely decadent French work that our dear friend and editor Shelby Sadler, and writer Robert Chalmers started their doctoral dissertations about: "A Rebours" by Joris-Karl Huysmans.  After reading my blog entry, Shelby wrote to me this morning saying that it is so unfathomably bizarre that hardly anyone has ever bothered to read, much less understand it. Hunter did in fact read the copy that Shelby gave to him (many years after he finsihed Vegas, of course), and admitted it was so incredibly disturbing that he could barely finish it — but did.  Yes, all is well in the world indeed.






September 02, 2007

Gonzo Way now on GonzoStore

Hello, Gonzo webmaster Peter B here.

Signed copies of The Gonzo Way are finally available at GonzoStore.com for anyone who missed the first part of the book signing tour. She signed a few boxes of books earlier today before we zoomed over to Denver International Airport to catch Anita’s flight to the Laguardia.   Thanks to a certain neice & nephew who helped Anita get all the books signed in record time so Anita could catch the flight.

 We will be having a survey on the Owl Farm Blog soon to get feedback on both the Blog and GonzoStore.  GonzoStore is approaching the two year mark for offering fans a variety of Gonzo apparel and merchandise, and the Blog is approaching it’s year and a half milestone .  We’re looking forward to your feedback and suggestions to make our sites even better.  Survey participants will be put into a drawing for Gonzo merchandise.

 A quick reminder to blog readers in the DC area, Anita will be at Olsson’s for a booksigning this month on September 13th.  Again, the majority of the book tour will occur in Sept and Oct  (we will know the dates when Anita finalizes her class schedule for this semester) keep your eyes on the blog for announcements.

-Peter B

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