You ever worked in an office where they have those motivational posters up on the wall? You’re, like, stuck in the copy room, making page after page of copies of, say, a huge book where it has to be reduced and held by hand, and every other copy comes out cut off, requiring the book to be repositioned, and you’re making 120-page sets of 20, and the machine regularly jams at 17, and you’re pulling bits and pieces of shredded paper out of the machine and burning your hand on the fuser, and you’re cursing–quietly–while thinking: “For this I went to journalism school?”

And just about when you’re beginning to revise your resignation letter in your head, you look up to check the clock you’re trying to beat, and you see on the wall some goddamn picture of some goddamn crocus forcing its goddamned head through the goddamned snow, and it has a caption in bold serif saying something like “FORTITUDE” or “COURAGE.” Yes? And there’s that awful split-second where, in your mind’s eye, you can see that beautifully framed print flying out of the copy room like a rectangular frisbee and, with a shattering boom, showering the reception area with glass.

Well, someone’s been clever with Photoshop and made motivational posters for the rest of us, featuring a man who got fired from LIFE magazine for kicking a candy dispensing machine to death.

Inspiration! Courage! Bats!

Good morning, good morning, good morning….

Hunter S. Thompson on The Meaning of Breakfast:

“Breakfast is the only meal of the day that I tend to view with the same kind of traditionalized reverence that most people associate with Lunch and Dinner. I like to eat breakfast alone, and almost never before noon; anybody with a terminally jangled lifestyle needs at least one psychic anchor every twenty-four hours, and mine is breakfast. In Hong Kong, Dallas or at home — and regardless of whether or not I have been to bed — breakfast is a personal ritual that can only be properly observed alone, and in a spirit of genuine excess. The food factor should always be massive: four Bloody Marys, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crepes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned beef hash with diced chiles, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for random seasoning, and something like a slice of Key lime pie, two margaritas, and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert…. Right, and there should also be two or three newspapers, all mail and messages, a telephone, a notebook for planning the next twenty-four hours and at least one source of good music…. All of which should be dealt with outside, in the warmth of a hot sun, and preferably stone naked.”

Separated at Birth?

My friend Mead Hunter recently had a traumatic experience with one of those which-celeb-do-you-look like sites; so he came upon the brilliant idea of putting forth his own doppelganger (which worked pretty good).

To wit, here’s my contribution to the Separated at Birth concept.


P.S.: A friend recently sent me two refrigerator magnets, one of the Dali Lama and one of Hunter S. Thompson, and the resemblance is eerie.

P.S.S.: To correct the perceptions of at least one wag, the figure pictured on the left is not Charles Manson; it’s Warren Beatty in “McCabe and Mrs. Miller”

The Doldrums

Even dedicated political junkies get to a place where they can’t eat another sound bite. I’m there. I’m curious to see if the polls shift away from McCain this week–I have a feeling they might if Palin’s bloom fades a bit (ironic that the McCain campaign chose to attack Obama as a celebrity, then answered with a celebrity of their own, but this whole campaign has been an unreal blizzard of ironies from Day One)–but I’m pretty much resigned that it’s going to be back-and-forth, back-and-forth until the debates start at the end of the month. “When the still sea conspires an armor/And her sullen and aborted currents breed tiny monsters….”

In the meantime, I’ll let Hunter S. Thompson sum up my feelings….

“Many appeared to be in the terminal stages of Campaign Bloat, a gruesome kind of false-fat condition that is said to be connected somehow with failing adrenal glands. The swelling begins within twenty-four hours of that moment when the victim first begins to suspect that the campaign is essentially meaningless. At that point, the body’s entire adrenaline supply is sucked back into the gizzard, and nothing either candidate says, does, or generates will cause it to rise again…and without adrenaline, the flesh begins to swell; the eyes fill with blood and grow smaller in the face, the jowls puff out from the cheekbones, the neck-flesh droops, and the belly swells up like a frog’s throat…The brain fills with noxious waste fluids, the tongue is rubbed raw on the molars, and the basic perception antennae begin dying like hairs in a bonfire.”

The Things We Do

I did a strange thing this weekend.

As a preface, back around 2000, I wrote a play called “Altered States of America,” which was both a comic and serious look at America’s love/hate relationship with drugs, and, I suppose, with my own inclination for getting out this crowded, cluttered head once in awhile (a passion in my younger years that caused me a little trouble and provided a ton of pleassure).

I dedicated the play to Hunter S. Thompson, Warren Zevon, and Ken Kesey, and, within two years of its 2003 production, they were all dead. I sent a copy to Warren when he was literally on his deathbed. I sent copies to Thompson and to Kesey’s widow. I never expected replies, never sought them. I just did what I thought was right, to pay a debt for inspiration and for bad advice that often turned out well. It was a damned good show, great cast, some moments of beauty, others of (I think) sharp satire–at least some laughs. The production got decent reviews, but it was scheduled at the wrong time of year, the ticket prices were too high, and audiences were low. I’d go home each night after every show, sit on the back porch, and play “Wild Horses” over and over until I could go to sleep.

There’s been a lot of talk about Hunter lately. A couple books have come out, and factions are lining up between them, literary battles breaking out. In other words: he’s still riling people up. But I had these unsettled, deeply personal, and unresolved feelings regarding the guy; so, as I think a kind of exorcism, I made a movie.

It’s very simple, just some photos of Hunter off the net that warp and change in time to Pearl Jam’s “Man of the Hour.” It ends with “In Memoriam” then fades to black. It’s clunky and crudely done. I can’t do anything with it: I don’t own any of the rights to the photographs or the music. I wouldn’t want to do anything with it. It’s something for me. I made it, and I watched it, and I let loose a little bit of what had been floating in my head.

It was, in short, a personal endeavor, and this is as public as it will ever be.