« April 2006 | Main | June 2006 »

May 30, 2006

Sports Writers and the Definition of Gonzo

Hello there

Today’s Wisdom is from Campaign Trail. You may have read it before. Those of you who haven’t, put your seatbelt on. Remember that Hunter started his career as a sports writer at Eglin Airforce Base in South florida in the late 50’s. He died as a sportswriter for ESPN. This bit of wisdom always makes me chuckle.

Sports writers are a kind of rude and brainless sub-culture of fascist drunks whose only real function is to publicize & sell whatever the sports editor sends them out to cover. . . Which is a nice way to make a living, because it keeps a man busy and requires no thought at all. The two keys to success as a sports writer are: (1) A blind willingness to believe anything you’re told by the coaches, flaks, hustlers, and other “official spokesman” for the team-owners who provide the free booze . . . and: (2) A Roget’s Thesaurus, in order to avoid using the same verbs and adjectives twice in the same paragraph. Even a sports editor, for instance, might notice something wrong with a lead that said, “The precision-jackhammer attack of the Miami Dolphins stomped the balls off the Washington Redskins today by stomping and hammering with one precise jack-thrust after another up the middle, mixed with pinpoint-precision passes into the flat and numerous hammer-jack stomps around both ends… (Fear and Loathing: On the Campaing Trail ’72).

Remember: The last definition Hunter gave of Gonzo journalism was “journalism that doesn’t automatically accept as truth what the authorities say.”

Guess what?! Peter and Paul are back!! They are on the roof right now as I type this. Peacocks roost in high places at night and they don’t come down until dawn. If you ever see a peacock walking on the ground at night, you know it is sick, or something terrible has happened. Sometimes they squawk to warn each other of acitivity in the area (sometimes a fox, a mountain lion, or a person walking on the road at night). I hope to lure them with blueberries and popcorn (their favorite) into one of the pens in the morning. We shall see.

Sweet dreams.
Anita Thompson

May 29, 2006

Wisdom about his own letters

Wisdom for today; Hunter was looking back on his letters from the late 60’s and 70’s. He wrote this in the kitchen in 2000. “These letters, to me, are a sort of berserk historical record of my efforts to grope and flail and occasionally crawl along in the darkness and try to make functional sense of it. That is the best we can do, I think, and Luck has little to do with it. The real keys are timing, and balance, and the learned ability to know a hot wire when you see one.” Your friend, Anita Thompson.

May 28, 2006


Hello.  Here is today’s wisdom:


Hunter wrote the following in a letter to a friend at age 20:  

“Although I don’t feel that it’s at all necessary to tell you how I feel about the principle of individuality, I know that I’m going to have to spend the rest of my life expressing it one way or another, and I think that I’ll accomplish more by expressing it on the keys of a typewriter than by letting it express itself in sudden outburst of frustrated violence.  I don’t mean to say that I’m about to state my credo here on this page, but merely to affirm, sincerely for the first time in my life, my belief in man as an individual and independent  entity.  Certainly not independence in the everyday sense of the word, but pertaining to a freedom and mobility of thought that few people are able – or even have the courage – to achieve.”


October 24, 1957. 

Eglin Air Force Base

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

This is the quote I read before introducing Lisl Auman at the Denver Universtiy HST reading last week.  You can read the rest of the letter in The Proud Highway. 


Anita Thompson

May 27, 2006

First Quote of the Day

Hi.  Denver was great.  The HST reading with David Amram and Professor Audrey Sprenger at the DU campus was fantastic.  The room was full of mainly students and other Hunter lovers.  We will do it again sometime in the future because it was such a success. Several Students read.   Juan (Hunter’s son) and William (Hunter’s grand-son) also read.  David Amram played the piano and gave an informative and fun lecture. 

Lisl Auman was a bright and shining star.  Right after I read a short piece by Hunter about individualism that he wrote when he was 20.  Then I asked her to stand up.  She was sitting in the front row.  She stood up, turned around and flashed a beautiful smile. Everybody cheered and then she waved.  It was a sparkling gonzo moment.

  Here’s an idea. I will be posting "daily" HST quotes, published and some unpublished.  I’m going to start with my favorite quote of all.  This winter I was on a small panel discussion in Denver and a young guy asked  me what my favorite Hunter quote was.  I had just started the Wisdom manuscript — going through some of my notebooks. 

 Hunter gave many interviews in his life.  He was not fond of the vague and general questions such as "what’s the state of politics in America today, sir?" or, "Can you tell me the meaning of The American Dream."  He called them "What’s It All About, Alfie?" questions. 

  However, I had forgotten about this this bit of wisdom that he told me, that I wrote down on May 15th, 2002.  I found it after he died and it made a lot more sense to me, and helped me through a very difficult period.  It reads:

 "Learning, that’s what it’s all about."

I’ll check in the with an Individuality quote tomorrow.

Your Friend,

Anita Thompson


May 22, 2006

Meet us Tues night: 7pm at Denver University David Amram and family on HST

Hi there.

For all you Denver people:  See you at the University of Denver Sturm Hall at 7pm.  There will be a lecture, music and the words of our beloved Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.  If you’ve never heard the music of David Amram, you are in for a treat.  See you there!


The peacocks were home briefly!  Now they’re gone again.  It’s driving me crazy.  There was a wild and thunderous rain storm today, so that probably kept them in a tree or under somebody’s patio roof.


As far as the Democratic assembly.  It was fun.  We all left feeling like champions. It made me think of the last page of "Hey Rube."  

"Politics is the Art of Controlling Your Environment"

That is one of the key things I learned in those years, and I learned it the hard way.  Anybody who thinks that "it doesn’t matter who’s President" has never been Drafted and sent off to die in a vicious, stupid War on the other side of the World — or been beaten and gassed by Police for trespassing on public property — or been hounded by the IRS for purely political reasons — or locked up in the Cook County Jail with a broken nose and no phone access and twelve perverts wanting to stomp your ass in the shower.  That is when it matters who is President or Governor or Police Chief.  That is when you will wish you had voted. 



 Hunter wrote that paragraph for the introduction to the 2nd letters book.  It was edited out, but I kept it pinned to my wall.  One day we decided to put it on a flyer and pass it around.  I included that page as an insert in the first Woody Creeker issue. 

At the democratic assembly, I voted for all the seats up for election (not senate yet, 2008 is when we will finally get rid of our dunce of a senator Wayne Allard who was named one of the worst senators by TIME mag. The horror the horror!).  I’m inspired by a woman running for attorney general of Colorado named Fern O’Brien.  She started this new career when she went to law school with 3 children at age 36!  So I voted for her and am paying attention to her campaign.  I’ll probably lend a hand.  She appears to be doing a fantastic job. More on that later.  I’m thinking about hosting a couple political training sessions at Owl Farm as the campaigns start.  We must take back congress this year and in 2008 or I get the sense that we will be screwed.  But, then again, Hunter has been saying that since before I was born.


As for Lisl Auman, our bright and Shining Star: She has a great apartment and just got a promotion at work.  She is tan rested and ready.  You go girl!!!


I’m sleepy, see you tomorrow at DU.

love, Anita Thompson 

May 19, 2006

Democratic Assembly

Hi.  I’m leaving now for the Democratic Assembly in Greeley.  We will be going over the Colorado Democratic agenda. I’ll let you know how it goes.  On my way there, I’ll be staying in Denver to see Lisl Auman.  She sends her love.

I’ll be back tomorrow. David Amram will be here.

  Peter and Paul are doing fine.  They wandered around upper Woody Creek yesterday, and slept in one of the Stranahan’s Cottonwood trees.  If they aren’t home by tomorrow night, I’ll probably have to capture them.  THAT is a pain in the neck.  But, sometimes it has to be done.  Just like going to political assemblies 300 miles away.  We have to take care of business!!!

 okay, talk soon,

Anita Thompson

May 16, 2006

Two lonely saints on the prowl

There is a bit of developement re: the peacocks here at Owl Farm.  At the moment, I have 6 birds: 4 males and 2 females.  For some reason, one pair of males was blessed by a priest in Durango on their way to Owl Farm last year.  They were called Peter and Paul.  Now, they are called St. Peter and St. Paul.

Because it’s spring, and I don’t have enough females to go around, St. Peter and St. Paul took off a few days ago looking for hens.  Well, I had an APB out for them.  They were spotted up the road at the Stranahan ranch by several people.  All reports said that St. Peter and St. Paul were squawking and spreading their big blue feathers but headed home. But something happened en route and again, they are no where to be found. If anyone sees them, please call me.  Don’t feed them.  Also, if you know anybody with any females that they are looking for homes for, please let me know.  We certainly don’t want any unsatisfied peacocks at Owl Farm!

May 11, 2006

Hunter S. Thompson night in Denver May 23rd

Hi.  I’m back home.  The annual Derby Party was great.


A quick note to let you know that David Amram and I will be in Denver on the evening of May 23rd  for a tribute to Hunter. 

We did something like this at the Bradstock XII in September.  It is an annual music festival that was dedicated to Hunter.  So, this will be something similar.  Reading Hunter’s work while David plays.  It’s fun.

Here is David’s bio for those of you unfamiliar with his work:

David Amram has composed more than 100 orchestral and chamber music works, written
many scores for Broadway theater and film, including the classic scores for the films Splendor
in The Grass and The Manchurian Candidate; two operas, including the ground-breaking
Holocaust opera The Final Ingredient; and the score for the landmark 1959 documentary Pull
My Daisy, narrated by novelist Jack Kerouac. He is also the author of two books, Vibrations,
an autobiography, and Offbeat: Collaborating With Kerouac, a memoir.

A pioneer player of jazz French horn, he is also a virtuoso on piano, numerous flutes and
whistles, percussion, and dozens of folkloric instruments from 25 countries, as well as an
inventive, funny improvisational lyricist. He has collaborated with Leonard Bernstein, who
chose him as The New York Philharmonic’s first composer-in-residence in 1966, Langston
Hughes, Dizzy Gillespie, Dustin Hoffman, Willie Nelson, Thelonious Monk, Odetta, Elia Kazan,
Arthur Miller, Charles Mingus, Lionel Hampton, E. G. Marshall, and Tito Puente

Amram’s most recent work, Giants of the Night is a flute concerto dedicated to the memory Charlie
Parker, Jack Kerouac and Dizzy Gillespie, three American artists Amram knew and worked
with. It was commissioned and recently premiered by Sir James Galway, who also plans to
record it. He is currently completing his third book Nine Lives of a Musical Cat.

Today, as he has for over fifty years, Amram continues to compose music while traveling the
world as a conductor, soloist, bandleader, visiting scholar, and narrator in five languages. He
is also working with author Frank McCourt on a new setting of the Mass, Missa Manhattan, as
well as on a symphony commissioned by the Guthrie Foundation, Symphonic Variations on a
Song by Woody Guthrie.

When not on tour, Amram and his son live on their family farm in upstate New York.

This is Amram’s third visit to the University of Denver as a Leo Block Visiting Distinguished
Professor and his first visit as a Marsico Visiting Scholar. He is also celebrated at the
University of Denver by a group of students, professors and parents called The David Amram
Collective, an organization dedicated to merging the arts and the academy, as well as The
David Amram Liberal Arts Tree planted in the University’s Arboretum. His work at the
University of Denver this spring will include co-teaching a thematic core course with Dr. Audrey
Sprenger (Names We Call America, Digging the Roots of Cool); giving a series of lectures with
live music for students and professors of English, Anthropology, Judiac Studies, Art, Art
History, Sociology, French Studies, Biology, Urban Studies and the Lamont School of Music;
offering a seminar on the work of novelist Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady with Dr. Audrey
Sprenger and Visiting Guest Lecturer Dr. Ed Adler; hosting a Tribute to Poet Lawrence
Ferlinghetti with Dr. Audrey Sprenger and Visiting Guest Lecturer Chris Felver; screening his
Opera of the Holocaust, The Final Ingredient, originally telecast by ABC Network Television;
and performing in and around the city of Denver.

Details of Amram’s activities around campus for the month of April will be available on April
15 and for the month of May, April 27. Please contact Dr. Audrey Sprenger at
draudreysprenger@mac.com if you have any questions. 



May 07, 2006

I wrote this en route last night.

Hi again,

I’m en route from New York to Denver.  In last night’s note I said that Hunter was the only person in two places on the cover of the 1000th issue.  But I was wrong.  The other person pictured twice is John Lennon.

Also, I didn’t realize that Ralph Steadman also wrote for that issue!  I haven’t spoken with Ralph in over two weeks.  He writes about the “Birth of Dr. Gonzo.”  The fourth anniversary issue (Nov 11, 1971) was the first installment of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”  He writes that “Hunter Thompson has been the bane and the blessing of my life.  He didn’t give a shit whether I slaved all night or worried all day.  But he did appreciate the drawings when they were there….Hunter didn’t want a photographer.  He wanted somebody who would become part of the story.   Hunter loved having somebody like me along. He could play with me and take me to the edge and watch what I did, but pull me back before I fell over.”

What he says about that cover is this:

“The idea of the cover was a motorbike flying over the journalists in a bar.  There was also a landscape, a bit of sky.  But the rider was completely attached to his motorbike, almost swallowed up by his gearbox.  The second cover, for Part Two of “Fear and Loathing,” the magazine chose the picture of the 250 pound Texan necking with his wife in the back row.  After those two issues, Rolling Stone had a blueprint of where to go next:  It wasn’t only rock & roll, but something different, something social and political…”

Okay, checking in en route, Anita Thompson 



May 05, 2006

New York, New York

Hi there.
I just got back to the hotel from a party for the 1000th issue of Rolling Stone. It was a grand ordeal.  Jann Wenner was in fine form.  It is quite an accomplishment: 1000 issues. I know the work it takes to put out even a small magazine, so bravo Rolling Stone.
Hunter, of course is on the cover.  He is the only person on the cover in two places.  Once, as the spirit in the sky, and then the huge blue gonzo symbol in the back, on which Jack Nicholson is perched.  It’s a wild cover, with artistic, cultural and political icons spanning from 1967 to 2006.  Inside, Doug Brinkley writes about the cover photo of the March 24th, 2005 issue: “Hunter’s quixotic 1970 campaign for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado….  There’s something evocative and haunting in the way Hunter’s smoke envelopes him, swirling around his eyes like ethereal wisps of bordello opium.  Mostly, I think the photo shows the man behind the image: the thoughtful, serious artist who was already, even in those early Gonzo days, living on the edge…”  
Doug’s piece goes on about Hunter’s love for Bob Dylan’s music with a story about Bob’s harmonica and Hunter’s red IBM Selectric II typewriter, and how I sent it to Dylan after Hunter died, knowing that that was what Hunter wanted. 
Then, the piece ends listing some of the projects that are in the works (of which I’ve mentioned to you last week I think).  Also noting: “And practically anybody who ever downed whiskey with Hunter has a memoir in the works.  Lost in all the mania over Gonzo Hunter, however, is the more poetic, brooding, contemplative Thompson – the one on this final Rolling Stone cover, the man who read Revelations weekly, memorized Coleridge and listened regularly to “Mr. Tambourine Man” as if it were a gift from heaven.”
I re-read this issue in the car on my way home from the party.  I walked up to my hotel room, sat down on the bed and had a good cry.  Not so much out of sadness but because I see that he is so very much alive in this legacy he left behind.  And something else is happening Mr. Jones. More and more new people are being introduced to his work.  People who hadn’t read anything of his while he was alive, are being introduced…. then seduced…. then activated.  I guess the same thing probably happened to you when you first read his work. 
Anyway, thank you so much for your letters.  I was completely overwhelmed after having put up the incoming mailbox on the blog.  But, I will be going through more of them when I get back to Woody Creek tomorrow.
So,  I regret to say that I can’t hold the impromptu HST reading here in New York like I hoped because the covers of the Woody Creeker 2nd issue were delayed, so, I have to be there to get the mag together this weekend.(I’ll plan ahead next time)   But, you can certainly hold your own impromptu reading.  Call over a few friends for the Derby. I would suggest to you to reread “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.”  We all know that’s a humdinger! Tell me what you think after rereading it.  And don’t be shy about drinking a mint julep or two.  He drank it only one day a year, and he liked his with fresh mint perched on the side. 
Sweet dreams! 
Anita Thompson
New York.
May 4th, 11:45pm

Hosting by Yahoo!