the two-fisted Gonzo image I used on my shirtsfor Terry and John

“We can’t stop here.  This is bat country.”  (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, p 18)

It’s Nixon who started all of this and I can’t help but think that would make Hunter smile.  When I was first getting into a serious love of film, one of the first great films I watched was All the President’s Men.  Then I read the book, and I was just hooked.  I could do a whole For Love of Books post on books about Nixon and the Nixon administration.  And I already had the makings of a serious political junkie, having been apparently the only fifth grader at Taft Elementary willing to offer up support of Walter Mondale.  I followed the trail through the primaries in 88 and less than four years later, had a serious conversation with my best friend, John, and we decided that of all the candidates, it was Bill Clinton that was the best chance – both for the country, and for getting elected.  I couldn’t get enough of it.  And through it all, I was reading books about Nixon.  So, somewhere along the line, not long after Nixon died, I bought a book called Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72. (more…)


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: our three copies plus the film

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream

  • Author:  Hunter S. Thompson
  • Rank:  #26
  • Published:  1972
  • Publisher:  Random House
  • Pages:  204
  • First Line:  “We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”
  • Last Line:  “I felt like a monster reincarnation of Horatio Alger . . . a Man on the Move, and just sick enough to be totally confident.”
  • ML Edition:  1996  (gold cover Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Other American Stories)
  • Film:  1998  (***.5 – dir. Terry Gilliam)
  • First Read:  Spring 1996


Terry Gilliam

Benicio Del Toro and Johnny Depp embodying Dr. Gonzo and Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Benicio Del Toro and Johnny Depp embodying Dr. Gonzo and Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

  • Born:  1940
  • Rank:  52
  • Score:  571.20
  • Awards:  LAFC
  • Nominations:  Golden Globe
  • Feature Films:  11
  • Best:  The Fisher King
  • Worst:  Tideland

Top 5 Films:

  1. The Fisher King – 1991
  2. Monty Python and the Holy Grail – 1975
  3. Brazil – 1985
  4. 12 Monkeys – 1995
  5. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – 1998

Top 10 Best Director Finishes (Nighthawk Awards):

  • 1985 – 3rd – Brazil
  • 1991 – 3rd – The Fisher King
  • 1995 – 3rd – 12 Monkeys
  • 1998 – 10th – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


25 Reasons Why Rock and Film Are Beautiful Together

(I originally wrote this for CinCity2000 almost two years ago)

When the opening notes of “Misery” start playing and Clerks II fades to black and white, it’s a sign. Kevin Smith might not have developed a visual style yet, but he’s definitely learned something from Martin Scorsese; the synthesis of rock and roll to film can take what would otherwise be a sloppy moment of film and turn it into a classic. It’s Soul Asylum, it’s Dante and Randall, it’s obviously designed to make us remember the end of the first Clerks. It evokes a very specific memory of a film we loved and we leave the theater smiling. Barely two months later, The Departed reminded us once again that Scorsese is a master of this directorial trick and those first few moments of the film, with the menace that is always lurking beneath the surface in both Jack Nicholson and the Stones, remind us that we love this connection. We want this connection. We want to think more about this connection. If that’s really what you were thinking, this is the list for you.

We must have rules. We must all have rules forthwith. (more…)

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichten (1942-2008)

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (1942-2008)

Don’t you ever just read for enjoyment? You can’t read Faulkner all the time! It’s too difficult, too depressing. You must unwind and relax a bit sometimes.

That’s the argument, anyway, and I hear it a lot. Of course I do. Like I said, there are plenty of books I love that wouldn’t necessarily make my top novels list. So to that end, I hereby present my 25 favorite novels to read, the ones I read over and over again. And there’s no Faulkner.

There is Michael Crichton, though. For a long time he was a very enjoyable author to read. I read Jurassic Park in high school, knowing that Spielberg was working on the film, and I not only loved it, it actually changed the way I view the world (seriously).

So, to the author of Jurassic Park, The Great Train Robbery, Sphere and The Andromeda Strain (all highly enjoyable), in honor of his untimely death yesterday, I dedicate my following list.

There are a few books that in the end, surprisingly didn’t make my list, some brilliant but damn enjoyable (Catch-22, 100 Years of Solitude, The Stranger), some more of a pleasure (The Big Sleep, Hound of the Baskervilles, The Golden Compass), some because I love the author but couldn’t pin down a specific book (Kurt Vonnegut, Christopher Moore), and, then, the Harry Potter series, because I just couldn’t figure out which one, yet didn’t want to put the whole series, because the last four books are so much better than the first three.


Be warned: your favorite book may not appear here. One of my favorite books doesn’t appear here (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). It’s hilarious and I love it, but it’s not great literature. There’s a difference between my favorite and what I think is the best. Star Wars has long been my favorite film. Sunset Boulevard is the best.

That said, there are several books that I love (I’m going to mention Good Omens, His Dark Materials, The Hotel New Hampshire, The Stand, High Fidelity and The Straight Man) that just don’t measure up. I will read them again and again, but they won’t make the list. And the one book that everyone loves (To Kill a Mockingbird) just doesn’t measure up as literature. And there are no pre-20th century books. There are no short story collections, no non-fiction books, no works of philosophy. And there are no books originally written in a foreign language (that will be an upcoming list). There are no 21st century books (that will also be an upcoming list). What there are, are the 25 best English language novels of the 20th Century. (more…)

we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave…

The Rumble in the Jungle was fought the week after I was born. Yet, by the time Hunter S. Thompson shot himself on a Sunday evening in early 2005, I was thirty years old, married and it was the day my son turned seven months old. Those intervening thirty years, my lifetime, are barely covered in Gonzo: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson, the new documentary released today. And it’s not hard to see why.
Sondi, Hunter’s first wife, mentions that people have written her about how Hunter went out on top with a bang. She corrects that notion in the film. He wasn’t on top anymore, hadn’t been on top for a long time. His best writing was behind him and he knew it. And so those last thirty years flash by in just a few minutes, with the various interviewees discussing how hard it was for him during those years, how little he accomplished in terms of his writing. It is at this point that Jann Wenner, describing his friend, becomes so choked up that he actually stops the interview. (more…)