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A Grande Tableau



Question: Dr. Thompson, do you think there’s any hope for a young person to feel that he’s effective individually in a large society? Do you think he can be effective actually through a career or through his job?


 I think the bottom line on all that is if you can get away in this life with doing what you want and be proud of it – that to me is effective. If nothing else, it tells one other person anyway that it’s possible to live without having to get in line, or clip coupons.  I think it’s very important for people to live in tense opposition to the system.

  — Hunter S. Thompson, speaking to a young person

This morning Doug Brinkley was sitting in an Austin café managing not to write about current politics, even though he’s itching from the fever that Hunter infected him with years ago. Doug is polishing up the last pages of his book on Teddy Roosevelt. He took a break to make sure I read the recent New York Times article on our friend Sean Penn’s latest movie, “Into the Wild.”  I had raved about the movie after seeing the screening, and he also thought it would cheer me up from my recent bitchiness over Hillary’s loss in Iowa –(Doug is lovingly detached from Hillary).

So I read the article and agree totally that Sean should win the Academy Award for Best Director. But not for the reasons A.O. Scott mentioned in the Times. Although I do agree that Catherine Keener’s performance is brilliant, I think that if you watch the movie closely, you’ll realize that the real hero of the story is the character of the sister. I think the subtlety of her role is Sean’s masterwork in the film: through her grieving but evolving words describing her brother’s actions, she is the one who transcends the biggest loss and helps make sense of it without the clichéd “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” of what it means. Hers is a beautiful character, which Sean places in the movie as the elegant Spine to the whole structure. It’s a refreshing, gorgeous piece of work. Bravo, Sean. So many of us fail miserably (myself included) when we try to tackle something bigger than ourselves. But this is comfortable territory for Sean. Hunter once said, with a smile, that “Sean looks at everything on a Grande Tableau.” Go see the movie, and you’ll understand what Hunter meant.

But if you need a good political fix pronto, log on to George McGovern’s eop-ed piece in this past Sunday’s Washington Post. It’s also about loss, but more specifically why we need to lose George W. Bush..NOW.  It’s more than just a recipe for Impeach Cobbler. It’s the nuts and bolts, in McGovern’s lovely English, of why Bush should be Impeached. David Frank sent me this piece before skiing, heli-style, off jagged cliffs into 4 feet of powder down the back side of Aspen Highlands Mountain this morning. Very interesting day, guys.

Thanks for the distractions. Huge thanks to my loved ones today!


Until next time, your friend,


Anita Thompson







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