Timothy Denevi is a professor in the MFA program at George Mason University and he is the author of "Freak Kingdom: Hunter S. Thompson's Manic Ten-Year Crusade Against American Fascism."
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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r e hey, we did it, we did it. My guest today is an author, professor and a fellow Hunter S, Thompson fan and he wrote a book called Freak kingdom, and this book is, is all about one of my favorite all time, authors, the great and powerful Hunter S Thompson, and I think he did a fantastic job of explaining his adoration for the man and his work. Please give it up for Timothy Denevi, Joe Rogan experience join my day, Joe Rogan. What's up man? How are you guys doing this? Thank you. Have my pleasure. Uh, sorry for the false starts have been having issues with our equipment good to see that man what's up good to be here and talk Hunter Thompson,
my my pleasure, so your book free kingdom, you know we live in a interesting times right now, it's kind of a kind of a show it every kid this moment about off list from your face pulled out soccer, which I did my hand, should I put him to do whatever you want with your hands shoot with this one. What is all this? You got a lot of writing. Well, I wrote the book I wanted to make sure my sentence is never sounded like Thompson sentence is now so I didn't write out a lot of sentences, but this morning, before coming on, I went and got some of my favorite quotes and just What about long hand to get a sense of what is? Ah, what is perspective was rhythm once again didn't he do that with the great Gatsby he like a few times. Yeah I hand you like typed it out. I love that idea that he was trying to find like the rhythm of the words. That's such a fascinating notion because can meet do that in the early a comedy like a lot of guys in, before they ever start going on stage themselves. They'll imitate their
favorite comedians bits like they'll. Do a Richard Pryor Bit and they'll. Do it to the front and they'll get get a sense, of the rhythm and the timing and get those laughs from doing a Richard Pryor Bit to their friends, and then they get that bug. It's like part of what infects them. I mean that's the hardest thing to steal: we're not plagiarizing, but we're trying to understand what decisions they made. Yeah beautiful work, yeah, I'm sure wasn't plagiarizing, but it's it's so unfortunate. When someone does you know when you have someone whether it's Hunter Richard Pryor, anyone is just got a truly exceptional, Nique, mind or who doesn't like our president and decided when he ran in twenty sixteen to plagiarize Richard Nixon's, one thousand nine hundred and sixty eight convention directly. Really that was the headline in the times it said. Instead, inspiration, I'm sorry Trump's inspiration. Nixon is the one. So the lies about crime. In uh like barbarians at the gates,
crime law and order, those were all from Nixon's shitty, but successful. One thousand nine hundred and sixty eight Miami Convention speech Thompson top some new. How effective that that was yeah. I wonder if he did that on purpose, because he was so good, and one thing that trump is so good that he's so good at getting the media to talk about him and like one of the best ways to get we need to talk about him was give them something to be angry about that. No one else is going to give a fuck about. He was like oh well, Anya plagiarize, but I plagiarized much better for mix it pencil would have loved it. Melania took some lines from a show Obama's. That's right! Yeah! You plagiarize Nixon, that's okay! So freaking them the book about Hunter S. Thompson I mean it's really about taking the fucking. A moat of living in this present. Looking back Thompson's career and then trying to write it like a to drama is all of the experiences he through that art today so applicable to us and just show his perspective that so applicable to us today. What do you got you're James from
the intervention, but the inspiration, inspiration Nixon. I was like running on Nixon Wells. What you're writing on here? Some parallels. You know I mean, do you remember when when Hunter got together with Bill Murray and Bill's brother, and they did that thing where they were trying to get people to Nixon, got a bad deal bring him back and people were going along with the hell yeah, that's good yeah yeah, remember that, like that, there's a how to parallels with Trump. In that regard, I mean one of my favorite. Boats by Thompson is like you know, Richard Nixon is with this Barbie doll, family and this Barbie doll. Wife is like America's answer. Thio. You know it is America's Dr Jekyll, Mr Hyde, like you know he is the where Wolf he speaks to the werewolf in us and Nixon chose to hide the where Wolf his whole career until it finally came out, because he was insane with power. Trump ran on the werewolf Wolf No, I'm not going to hide it. That's who I am that's what I'm going to
used to try to get elected and, like George listed like other politicians. Did it had residents and it happened with Trump because of our media environment because of the place we live in now to amplify him all the way to the most powerful position in the world which is insane? It would be really fascinating to see if Hunter was alive and in his prime now how he would I think his take on it would be very similar to Matt TBS you, like mad baby is, in my my opinion hour. More reasonable, more put together version of Hunter Thompson, 'cause he's more sustain discipline, long career version, so he's like rational and he's there all the time I'm sure you've heard the recently uncovered recording of hunter, calling and to some company that installed a dvd player, he's scream and yell at six fifteen minutes and the like is lost on this on the phone, the player doesn't work, yup my chords without a smooth related or not the best. You know, I think what tv does is what Thompson did very well on. The tops was really good at
looking at Nixon saying. How are you manipulating the way we see you to a version of you out and type he looks at the way the media gets played. He looks at the yeah that administration manipulates the media and he dramatizes well, everybody else just gives us the information the administration is giving us and that goes back to Thompson with Nixon Thompson had space when he for looks down. You can read about how Nick it everybody watch his speeches, the press on a closed circuit television, and they made the press just like Trump off in the corner. When the plane arrived, you know being rated by everybody, is very similar to what is going on. Now and again, we see people hot takes or we see people doing, Op Eds. We don't see people dramatizing how manipulative these corrupt administrations are and were, and Thompson to flee. Nick TV does that before was on Nixon being berated by the press. Is that why you chose to have thought it was? I mean he was a crook, so hope he does around the press to investigate. I'm like you know he was a creek with San Clemente, like his loan with Bb Rebos over all of that,
way, use the rs to investigate his and I the he was a when he tried to break into the Brookings the to destroy inform evidence like he didn't want. The press around as had committed very serious crimes that I think that's similar to what we see now I mean as people was on the show. No, no president wants the a journalist you know digging. Into their lives specifically because it's you don't want chumminess with journalists, but think Trump and Nixon both knew They had so much to hide that actually Have a journalist like Hunter Thompson, who was a good investigative journalist to have like my baby around that's danger, for them. They'll go to jail, which Nixon should've, yeah, perhaps, well. Who knows, what's going to happen? Did you had you get involved with the writing this book? Well, I mean I've always loved Hunter Thompson in I tried to get exposed to him You know in in in I was seventeen years old in a high school
repertory up in San Jose and we had a counterculture writing class, and so I read some of it in there and then a friend had an audio book of fear and loathing, and so I just remember the first time hearing that old audio book of fear and loathing were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert and then in my 20s I really got into some strange rumblings, a nozzle on which is about a conspiracy within the LOS Angeles police Department regarding the death of Ruben Salazar, a prominent journalist, and I read that I'm like. Oh, my God, did this, isn't somebody that's just dancing on stage or like performing a road narrative. This is an investigative journalist, who's going to the most powerful people. Exposing things they don't want us to see and in a sense, risking his life to do so because he says in strange rumblings, a nozzle on which is in rolling stone in one thousand nine hundred and seventy says that really kill Ruben Salazar, who was the most prominent journalist in LOS. This you could argue at the time what the fuck is to stop them from here many one hundred percent for asking these questions. Well, I think that's what a lot of people saying today with Jamal Khashoggi, you know
show G's death has got a lot of journalists really freaking out like what you know. What am I doing, criticizing world leaders talking about international politics. If this could happen to me, political violence is effective because it's used to silence yeah either opposition or journalists, and so for me, writing this book, and I tried dramatize it like a novel. It's quick! It's like only two hundred and twenty two hundred pages, and then it's like one hundred pages of notes, so excited every sight, smell or sound, so that some that knows, Thompson really well can be like where the fuck did you get this information and nobody else can if they have questions, just go back and look but long story short. For me, the crux of the book was in Chicago one thousand: nine hundred and sixty eight one hundred Thompson at a press pass. He went to the credit national convention on Wednesday night Mayor Daley gave this order to clear the intersection Bow Bow in Michigan, because there is a protest going on five. Ten thousand people.
Thompson was standing next to the Haymarket in which was on the ground floor level. It was a plate, glass window. He was standing with delegates from the Democratic national convention staying with their wives and the cops charged. They did like a double pincer formation, like Hannibal in like combine like fucking one hundred BC and they split the pro and half beat everybody hit Thompson over the head. He got his motorcycle helmet on just in time, so he's not concussed. You can see everything that's going on in the entire plate, glass window behind him shatters. Everybody falls in cops, jump in our beating, everybody and he's looking around and he's sure that snipers on the roof are going to open fire at any moment. So he runs to the Blackstone where he staying across the way shows his room key gets beat up. Cops is trying to get in because I live here, God damn it, I'm paying one hundred dollars a day. Let me in my fucking room and he barely gets it, and he just sits on his bed afterwards, and he says they knew. I was press, they start my press pass. They hit me because
I was press and if that's where we're at right now with journalists, you know if political opponents and journalists are being clubbed to keep silent and to not respond. Then this is not a democracy. We know yeah, his Ex wife talked about. That is being like one of the only moments where she I'm cry for two weeks. Any just cried afterwards for two weeks he stop. It's crazy. Wow was was a crazy time right. I mean mean that Time is very similar in a lot of ways to what's going on today, which is today there it's just so much more information, and so much more people so much more of an ability to communicate yeah. I think it's almost easier to coordinate violence. I was just talking to the head of the proud boys. You know, Gavin Mcginnis is a group. Enrique Terrio and he's, like you know,
he's saying he's using the language of the left. He's like I'm a victim. I can't buy groceries they've taken my big, a couch, my plant forms when he talks about violence. He's like who the fuck are. You anti feel like I'm You know you're one hundred and twenty pounds in wet like if we have civil war you're going to lose, and I was sitting next to her in the podcast and basically, what I said was if we have a civil war going to be hit by sniper fire from the fucking roof, you're not going to be in a fist fight with Antifa across the way, and I think, there's a yeah on the right that we can push towards violence and we can get very close to it, with our rhetoric or with our actions, but that it won't spread like the comp gration- won't keep going yeah. I don't know if that's isolated to the right. I mean with Andy on the left too, and that's why I left Thompson was as hard on the left as he was on the right when he wrote that was so important for his intelligence as a writer, but I think just even the left and the right in general for a lot of these people is just an identity and a gang that they belong to, and I don't think they really understand violence. You know you want to talk about violence talk to a military guy. You know
talk to someone who really understands what violence actually is, and they don't have. Is empty rhetoric. Like these fools do A lot of these people that are calling for violence like you should be calling for camaraderie. You should be calling. For communication. We should be calling for some way. We could all work this out where this civilians, this civilization, that we live in, that we are all can get along together and most people don't want to impede you from living your life and doing what you want to do most people- the vast majority one hundred dollars believed in working within the system. You know he believed like it might be a fucked up system, but you can still run for sheriff in Aspen and you believe once you resort to violence. That means the conversation has stopped. It disfigures you, so he cried for two weeks. That was the most surprise something for me researching this book and reading it was just How much the violence affected him that he experienced at Chicago and you can speak to someone who's done done and the fighting punched in the face as hard as somebody can punch you most America,
haven't had that and that changes your ability to articulate something back in that moment means if that's political, if it's a police officer or political opponent that uses violence instead of an argument to respond to you. We've left the realm that we recognize and we're not going to be able to communicate, even in a limited way that we're communicating right now at Thompson. Do that? So that's why, after Chicago, I love that he went back to aspen, anything I'm gonna, fucking sheriff, I'm gonna do a mayoral campaign in aspen, and that was brilliant. It was his way to control environment. Knowing that he's, not listening to his nonviolent protest, Richard Nixon not listening to his nonviolent protest Thompson needed to find another avenue to try to work within the american system to make things happen in the great contrast is his good friend Oscar Zeta Acosta, there's a wonderful PBS documentary. It rise and fall of the Brown Buffalo by on Phil Porter Great Great, and it's a cost his life. Gonzo is based on the shore and, in you know, Thompson had more
images than Acosta and Acosta was being pursued by the LAPD, was eventually set up by them and for him working with. System he ran for sheriff, wasn't an option. The cops set him up for high speed bust. You know, like the cops had the cops had under for agents from something called the special operations for conspiracy, which is a fucking department in the LAPD at the time, and they were trying to use those provocative wars to incite violence against the plain clothes please so that or the normal is please so that lethal violence could be used to silence Civil Rights movement, so they used agent provocateurs to make it look like they're, a part of the protest. Yeah there's as an age old tactic. That's how you destroyed civil rights movement cause the most effective weapon in silencing civil rights is the lethal force, and you can do that in another country. Is the? U? S? Has done, but us can't use tactics like my like Thompson, writes about this in the Us Unless you have a provocative reason. Let's somebody that's undercover attacks, a cop, and so the cops then like what happened on August 29th, nineteen,
seventy eight during the moratorium riots can just flood east whoever they want ribbon head off with the tear gas yeah, Those are darker days when you couldn't communicate as well, and I think that's one of the reasons why one hundred decided to run for sheriff in Aspen is that he felt like he could control that area like it would have have a direct impact on his life. The local politics have a real impact in your day to day existence, whereas What's going on in Washington for the most, it's not effect if you, if you're living in Woody Creek, I mean there were people had Nixon's point of view in aspen who are like. Let's develop this valley beyond what it can in terms of its environment, let's imprison hippies because they are going to take away from our tourist economy. You, let's not how not adhere to normal, like civil rights laws, so Thompson in a participatory democracy. Almost a jeffersonian democracy way ran for share.
By emphasizing personal agency and most of all, trying to get out the youth vote, like people who had left the political system, but we're living in ASP in a lot of people who, like hippies, had fled the cities in late 1960s and we're living in the west and he got them involved- They should've won the mayor mayoral campaign with Joe Edwards. Then Thompson was the director of that and they lost by like six votes when he ran for sheriff it, not really bad, and he talks about this in and feeling on. The campaign trail later is that a few nights before both parties, the Democrats and the Republicans freaked out and so the Democrats said alright will kind of throw our weight behind you, the republican sheriff, and then you Republicans will throw you wait for county manager behind our candidate, losing by like two or three hundred votes, and so in fear. In LAS Vegas. On the campaign trail, one thousand nine hundred and seventy two he's at the fixing campaign Nixon's, giving his acceptance speech at the convention Thompson's with Nixon Youth who are about to do a demonstration- and he says, like you, know,
not a journalist? You can't kick me out, like I'm a political observer he's like have you ever run for office and then Nixon Guy is like no have you and Thompsons like sheriff, and I would have one but the liberal. Stuck it to me. I love how he shaved his head too, so they can refer to his long haired opponent. My love, I mean that is a great that debate so in the book. I recreate that debate a lot because there's transcript that debate is brilliant. It is bro. Thompson is amazing. It yeah the guys, like I've, only used my gun once in ten years, but I'd like to have it it's like: we've used it once in ten years. Maybe you don't need it? Could try not having it. You know in his gun rights. These are very complex and changed after Bobby Kennedy's death, but he was so On stage this sheriff was like. I just want this job real bad, like gulping, like you know it couldn't this rated by Thompson. Yeah, you know it's. It's a really interesting the documentary that follows the campaign and when you get to see him, you know heart fallen.
When he loses and you got a sense of what there was real hope back. Then If these guys could do that, What's interesting. Now is you know In the seventies they really did have a free community, an aspen which it's gone. Now I don't know what happen billionaires have replaced the millionaires. So I was told when I went to replace man you go to aspen, you see, there's like twenty million dollars, houses and people like it's one rare places where people still wear fur coats. You know not ironically or fake, but really fur coat. If you wear a fur coat in L a first of all, it's never hold off for a fur coat, but if you did, you might get fucked up blood thrown on you, she's a machine that could go down. You know like you're, do most likely nothing's gonna happen, but there's a possible chance which is really weird, because if you wear a leather jacket, you have no problem yeah. It's weird, you know, I mean This is weird because a lot of the Thompsons friends like Lauren Jenkins, a great journalist, they moved out of assault that they had stayed down valley.
I was out there with his his son. One Thompson is a fantastic writer. He wrote a book called stories. I tell myself about his relationship with yeah I've been in contact with one through email, he's a really good writer and he's a really honest and brilliant writer. Seems like a good dude and you seem like a really good dude in the gonzo documentary as well. That was a great document. Yes, yeah, I'm a big fan of kidney. He he always kills it IBM. I went to the the tavern in Woody Creek when I wasn't out felt like if I'm here, gotta go gotta go there. That was weird it's weird being there there. When did you go? How long ago was that? I guess it was a year ago here now, where people on bicycles just riding their bikes by the whole time it's on this huge bike route those coals fuck. It was the winter we were there for a ski trip. So what did you think of it? Well, just you know it's like this place. You go to where you just ah you just kind of
You know I was with my family, didn't give a fuck. My kids have no idea who he is the children. Listen here need to know who he is, as you have children up, where my kids learn eventually with their decedents a lot of sense. But it's just it's up to me. It you know and represented. A big part of who she you know this is like this is bass. Not San Francisco and there's a picture of me there. I think, there's a picture of me there on my instagram was a special from when he was in San Francisco is like being on the central nerve. He was there from sixty four to sixty seven an hour, sixty six and he saw the first Jefferson play in concert right next to the matrix he went out every night till like five hundred? Am he is what the hell's angels? That's awesome. You have ham, radio, two, respect quite a few margaritas, but here he could divide his life up. Look the fruit power. If you will see in the background that freak power yeah the sheriff's campaign,
SIMPLE, but he moved already can you suddenly had you see it in his you interview. People whom you see it in his letters he had space again and being in the city was hard for him because you can write beautifully about the housing. About the counter cultural scene. He was at war protests in the free speech movement, Mario Savio. He was there. It was turning him up. You know it was using him up and I think when you went to Woody Creek, he learned that alright, I can take a plane to Chicago get. My ass kicked, but then come back, and if I want a drink, I can go to that tavern or I can go to the Jerome Hotel, space, and I think that was a good space for him yeah. Well, I think that's a probably the very intelligent move on his behalf and a lot of us think that are involved in day to day. Chaos would probably benefit from something similar, I just don't think he gets enough credit for his effort. You know one thing I found when writing the book. I interviewed interviewed Bob Geiger who fear moving is dedicated to and who was a doctor that it was a friend of his in Sonoma and Geiger. Initially was the one who prescribed him, dexedrine and so people think Thompson was Joe,
just doing acid in writing or whatever and maybe later as a caricature, whoever he became that might have been part of his persona. But when he was reading from the book is from Kennedy's assassination to Nixon's resignation, he was working so fucking hard like he was working harder than we can ever imagine Douglas Brinkley is the presidential historian, who does on literal estate talks about Thompson wasn't as fun as he seemed during that time he took dexedrine to write and he had a drinking transiting, is some sort of an amphetamine collateral. That's cut differently with salt, so it's a little bit like you go a little higher and when it comes down it's little harder while Adderall was a patrol which was an old diet, drug that was repurposed in like ninety six. That is a little bit smoother in that sense, but it's very similar to what what time? took. He had a great editor named Margaret Herel, who was his editor on Hell's angels, and he didn't know she was
twenty seven when he was twenty nine. I thought she was like fifty five because they would talk on the phone every day to edit the book and he sent her. She still has the letter. I've done something about where she still has the actual letter. He sent her a five milligram. Dexedrine he's like hey. It's going to be hard to LAS, ten pages to edit, take this and focus it. So she still has it this orange little five milligram dexedrine for four thousand and fifty years. She said: that's crazy, yeah the but Gibney documentary is really fantastic. It's probably one of best introductions that anybody could have to try to get a grip on why, after all these years, Hunter resonates with so many people I mean, I think that the give me documentary is brilliantly and perfectly done. I think that Thompson means something different with Donald Trump is president of the United States to me that you people could see before give me top
for other, like non brilliant writer sought before tv did, but when Donald Trump became president of the United States, it was a lands on to the past I felt like I was a I mean, I'm Hs Liberal, like I was fucking upset, and so one of the ways I dealt with it was to just remove myself to nineteen sixty eight one thousand nine hundred and sixty seven one thousand nine hundred and sixty nine, and I took the emotion I had in the present- and I realize that Thompson Is- is such a voice right now for people that maybe don't know him only no, through fear and loathing in LAS Vegas, Terry Gilliam's film. I would like freaking do to be a lens that now, if they read that they could then read his work, and perhaps you know what his timelessness will come through will come was an attempt to focus that to focus that tennis is and not what helped was the terror of our you, see the definitely see the parallels and his work You know who also rings true like that is a lot of bill. Hicks stuff on the First Gulf WAR, you know and
as a president, and you know which obviously people today would probably be dying to have bushes. You know the original, so he carried his book around for two weeks at least to carry the book for her Walker, the main the older bush. Yes, you know much more of a reasonable gentleman. Now yeah Well that's our discourse today to where there couldn't be anything said reasonably about him. When he passed away or about life, I mean I think is not he's not very favorable right now, but one of one hundred Thompson's main influences was Norman Mailer, and I don't think Norman Mailer writes well about women and I think, that's I think Thompson wrote better about women. Thompson didn't just what is a credit system, but I'm not familiar with what mailing. Whatever you read about a woman, it's like he's watching the Nixon at get off the next airplane he's like there were thirty three red heads like five had long legs like this like to it's like mail, you didn't need to write that passage. You're reading about powered people,
more extreme than you, so I think Miller writes beautifully about men that have more power than him. So he writes about one thousand nine hundred and sixty eight in Chicago or Thompson. Didn't 'cause Thompson was beat up and he writes about that moment of where Thompson's being beat up. I'm confused: what is the criticism of the way he's writing about women just he's describing them physically. The male gaze is that he will stepped step is right. He stabbed his wife in the heart. Did he really yeah with a pen knife hey want to Belvedere. He went to Bellevue for fourteen days. It was a nineteen six, that's it. He missed yeah, I know you went to. He did a psychiatrist psychiatric evaluation instead of going to jail. I think they stayed married, but yeah Why? What a reasonable lady huh so dialogue on gender politics later, but I would say that Thompson wrote well better about women because he understood that running about people with more power than you. Is really important and when mailer writes about people with more power than him when he writes about here daily, beating the shit out of everybody? He writes really beautifully and that's some
that's resonating right now, with what Trump's doing with the violence that we're seeing on the right, on the left, where that was sitting with Pat Buchanan who was Nixon's on main aid in during the moment in Chicago in the Haymarket in shattered and everybody was beat up and they were looking down from the 17th floor and mailers thinking like well. This is happens of police take over society and he writes beautifully about how the police came and split the protesters. 'cause he's so high up. Writing it's gorgeous and you Buchanan would later like. I knew that Nixon was going to be president of the United States because of Fucking Hubert Humphrey, that Cutlass Old Ward, heeler control his own convention and his own party. How is he going to be able to run the country So as soon as Chicago's violence erupted, the Nixon campaign knew they'd won the election. Papi cannon. It's really interesting because, even though one hundred would shit on him, we can do is actually fan they drank, they generate the Watergate, like they sit there and went deep like all night, but he did
Hunter definitely shit on him. He shit on him hard, but we can ship back on him hard at the first night they met was at the Nixon at the holiday Inn in nineteen sixty eight in new. Sure during Nixon's comeback campaign and Thompson walks in it, and he goes who who's this damn guy, with the Damn ski jacket walking through our God damn lobby and is like. I have a press pass like I'm here to do this, and so they like have this big moment and then later on, that night Thompson goes to a party with campaign people in with Buchanan, and he brings a big body wild Turkey and so began as a young journalist. At the time he worked at the Saint Louis Post Dispatch. I think he's gone to the Columbia journalism. School is work, next in. This is main policy guy he systems like test the the in the got a bottle. What
Oh, if you got a bottle of old crow like no we'll drink that, and so they stayed up all night, they talked about the Vietnam WAR and Thompson. You know talked about how it just figures us to be in a foreign war. That's unjust, destroys our democratic ideals to be doing that and became was like containment. Nuclear war were trying to get out of it and they listen to each other till dawn like that first night that they met now. What was your idea behind writing this book like what? What compelled you, I think, we've mistaken Thompson I think that we see him more as like a Doonesbury character. I people who know him really well don't, but I think that most people, through whatever cultural forces that we've had and it's never. This is a voice because a lot of people don't know the comparison, the Doonesbury care, so I think in the 80s are 70s eighties 90s cartoon Doonesbury by Gary Trudeau, it became there was a character on it. Called uncle Duke and Uncle Duke was based on one hundred Thompson and he was, I have an exaggerated version of Hunter thompson- was a cartoonish version of Hunter S Thompson.
And then I think Terry Gilliam did it wonderful and kind of tourist job on like a brilliant job on fear and loathing in LAS Vegas, but that's also an exaggerated version of one hundred Thompson. We forget to the amount of work. One hundred Thompson did the effort he put out. We forget that he was a straight journalist or he did the freelance assignments. He wrote the straight articles for years to make money for his family and it wasn't until he had his breakthrough with Hells angels that he could develop the style that we identify with today and so it kills me that we identify him more as a clown or like You know more as a cartoonish figure, as opposed to a very serious political thinker, political activist and serious writer who can give us insight into the fucking shit show we experience every moment today. Well, I think the perception of him is fairly nuanced. I don't think that everybody thinks of as a cartoon character, although run, this life, relegated to that, because he really didn't speak well. You know later on his life and he was just the drugs
it had taken over alcohol in his son, writes about the alcohol one right so beautifully about the toll. Alcoholism took on Hunter S, Thompson Couldn't talk anymore, I mean when he was deep into his sixties is heart. Others are thinking, it was so hard to even understand him there's a awful piece that he did. Conan O'Brien or Conan went to Woody Creek and shotguns off the back porch with them, and you could barely stand. Fucking word hunter saying: that's why I end it with Nixon leaving because it was really sad when Nixon resigned, Hunter Thompson was at the Connecticut Hilton, which is a hotel right by the White House. Annie Liebowitz, the photographer with rolling stone, was call him and saying we need to get to the White House. Nixon is leaving like he's going to get on the helicopter and Thompson just laid in the grass and he didn't go.
You know, and that was heartbreaking and he didn't end up writing the eight page spread that he needed to. Instead, it became any liebowitz his photography, which was a famous and in retrospect, like huge move for her career, but I think that that pain right there of thinking that he'd spent ten years I mean he hated Nixon since the checkers speech, you know Nixon was VP for Eisenhower. He hated Nixon since one thousand nine hundred and sixty two when Nixon lost the California governor ship instead You in the press, you've been giving me the shaft for so long like you won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore Thompson had seen that Nixon was somebody said, I'm just the poor son of a butcher, I'm just this like very hard working. You know, can that represents. All of us were beat hi not like he was a politically. You know. Ravenous monster who was Anti Communist, who would go to any extent to win and Thompson, saw that and Thompson knew that other people side in in nineteen sixty four the Barry Goldwater convention.
In San Francisco, my favorite Lee named arena of all time. The cow palace very Goldwater was going to speak to accept the nomination and what happened was Nixon was introducing. It was Nixon's way back from the wilderness. Thompson was a few rows back for the first time. Thompson I think was that close to see him alive and mix is, like you know, poor son of a butcher. Don't think about me just think about Barry Goldwater Mr Conservative will become. Mr President and Thompson was like fuck. Everybody here knows he's lying, but they think that that active lying is a skill in the way a used car salesman who lies. When you make a lot of money off. It were skillful the way that trumped by selling stakes to people, and then they go big corrupt and he gets rich. That's an american skill and Thompson sense that from the start with Nixon, and so I think he battled against Nixon for a decade for a lot of years and when Nixon left, I think he felt spent, and so I tried not to focus on the later. I ended then, and seventy four
or because I think it he wrote some beautiful things. Afterwards. He was still a gratefully. He definitely had some moments where he decided to not do the assignment that he was supposed to Dio and it was kind of sad like um, the Ali Foreman Fight, fucking floated in the pool float in the pool with a Nixon mask on flew all the way to Africa, and this way the greatest sports moments. It was like game. Six of you know, you know the Boston Red Sox versus the Reds I think Ali was something different to people and I think it's. I don't think We have someone like that today, so it's very difficult for us to understand people today look at Ali and they go oh, he was a heavyweight boxing champion. He was way more, though he was a cultural figure. That represented the resistance to the Vietnam WAR and represented it with the biggest loss that any public figure it ever shown and willingly gave three years of his career in his prime from age, twenty seven to thirty from
one thousand nine hundred and sixty seven from the Cleveland, Big CAT Williams fight. He didn't right again for three years he didn't train didn't do anything. They kept him from his career when he was in his prime when he was the best heavyweight of all time and he spoke publicly and often and and fucking hated all over the country, but he represented something different like my parents were hippies and when I was a little kid, he law to Leon spanks and the rematch was on television. My parents never watch tv and they definitely never watched boxing and they Dan. From that tv to watch but uh. Remember thinking, I can't believe my parents want to watch a boxing match like this is crazy. It was probably like maybe eight or nine years old or something at the time- and I just remember- I think I I can't believe my parents want to watch a boxing match and
when it sunk into me, when a really early age that this guy was not just this heavyweight boxer he was he was a cultural icon. He was a historical figure. He meant he meant a lot into hunter. He meant a lot. He meant something something much bigger than just just a boxer, and so one hundred thought he was going to a death sentence. George for crush Joe Frazier. He crushed everybody. I mean he was so powerful, George Foreman, these days, one of the all time time scariest heavyweights of all time with without a doubt he he could hit so fucking hard and literally pick guys off their feet. He hit Joe Frazier and lifted him off his feet with a punch and everybody was convinced that that was gonna happen, Ali that Ali had been past his prime and look just look at what George woman had done to Joe Frazier. What is he going to do to Muhammad Ali and I'll
this rope? A doped him until he got tired and fucked him up in front of the whole world? That's one of the greatest athletic moments. I mean we forget that athletes, others like curt flood. You know they risked that Curt flood was the american baseball player who challenged the reserve clause. But you weren't allowed to get free agency for another team. This great player, and he was like I'm it out and I'm going to wait. Athletes like Colin Capper, neck they've sacrificed that it's not the same with Mohammed Ali. Who was like Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds and like combined at that one moment, but he was risking is the opposite, Trump Trump used his celebrity too come this even more mangled version of himself and get more power. He used his celebrity to speak for his virtue,
Its value is believes in such a Thompson was really good understanding what people sacrifice yeah people have to give up the wager you know between what that act will be what the results will be they maybe later, but he knew that, and so his respect for all the for giving up those years of his prime you know was was in during the keep Thompson, came back to that fight and gave his son warned of boxing gloves that or or a of these boxing gloves, wow yeah. It's a very, very unfortunate that he missed that fight, because it had been fascinated to hear his take on me. I'm sure he would have been so moved when he saw all the win, but it wasn't I mean that's a good point. It was indicative of, I think the stress and the pressure that the last decade of covering Nixon had have but there's a little bit of that, but, let's be honest, he was also kind of a fuck up. I mean when he was writing for rolling stone. They gave him that that early, back some mojo yeah and he would fuck that thing uh.
He would unplug it and plug it back in. He would do it just so. You could go to the bar and say this thing doesn't work, but that was the end I think of his arc, where he was still on point. You still playing the role of a serious journalist and he would use that persona as a fuck up and there's It is by young winner being like you cannot turn in articles three hours before we go to press. I know you made it. This doesn't fucking work, and so he was beginning to break down that. He was also a thing on the tail end of his decade, of being a journalist who had met every deadline so that he could fucking feed his family and he could afford out far like there were there's moments where before he got the contract for Hells angels. In hundred nineteen sixty five, he was red maybe like a longshoreman, he was going in looking for work in the mornings in San Francisco. You know to try to support his family. He was willing to give up writing instead that article blew up and all these beautiful letters b and arrive at three nineteen Parnassus where he lived at the top of the Haight Ashbury in San Francisco, and you know that open up his chance to continue being a writer, but money was
main motivating factor, and so I think, once money like unfurled once alcoholism, I think, took its toll and once He couldn't walk around anymore at a political camp convention without people just like grabbing his shoulder and saying your one hundred Thompson once that happened, I think things began to change. Yeah. That's one of the things that we talked about that I thought was really interesting that he became a part of the story. It wasn't just he was covering stories. You couldn't be anonymous anymore. He was in many cases more famous than the people that he was covering. You know like when would go to meet Nixon. All Nick Nixon secret Service agents wanted to meet him and they wanted to get an autograph from and shake his hand and it was just too weird everything I got and then Alcoholism that alcoholism, look it's a depressant! It thanks you and if you read, you know we me and Fitzsimmons on a podcast once read off that one journalist who had detailed hunters day
the routine yeah, and so we we read the daily routine and they put a techno beat to it. It's hilarious. I was a band, that's a set! Those are so it's so funny because those seem funny you know now, but they're they're kind of it. A definitely could mean that the daily routine that was on the the biography Hunter it was that just is heartbreaking, I mean we have to remember that the dedication to fear and loathing in LAS Vegas was he who makes a beast from himself get through the pain, yeah and- and I think the world was painful for one hundred thompson- he was people to see powerful people abuse the week. You know and like take what they wanted brave only without being held accountable, think it's hard to do with shitty editors, who cut half your fucking essay on Nixon or half your story. It made it into something that had nothing to do with the effort that you put out, it was hard to pay your bills- and you know
live the way that you wanted to live and I think a lot of that gets undermined. I just want people to realize how much effort he put out, especially during those years where he was like all right. I want to be a great journalist. I wanna have a voice in our society. I want to participate in our national conversation. My only path towards that is to work harder than everybody else, be it places when things happen when they matter, and he sacrificed a lot for that, but he was there and he's voice in a light that we can have in this moment, which is another troubling moment in american history. Yeah his voice was very unique too and that he decided to combine fiction with non fiction in a very weird blurry way. I think it is so one thing I think of is he usually gives you a q? What was he dramatized people didn't dramatized? Well, the lady yeah up. He didn't just drama. This is a river ridge, Dr. I didn't say that there he did it. Okay, I said there was. This is about and Muskie's campaign. I said there is a rumor in Milwaukee that he did it again. I started that rumor yeah, I mean
that's what he says, but what we said that on the Dick Cavett show yeah later, I think that'll be on. This show talked about it. Well, where one thing is that Muskie was already out of the campaign when that came out must get already lost, and so Muskie had been a fucking monster and a terrible person on that campaign, and so Thompson used that version of Must he and wrote as Tae be setting a very straight way the ibogaine story on. So, if you had a sense of irony, you kind of knew like you're, not really thinking. This is a guy. Who did it again, so I think there's cues in there for listening audience, but what I think is even more. You know what what it I think you dramatize the way other people didn't he would say. I looked left. I look up. I see he came. Down to me and then he said people didn't write like that in journalism. They didn't go step by step and he did, and that was really important. What I think is more important than they began story, so they became story in the background, as Ed Muskie was the front runner for the democratic primary in one thousand nine hundred and seventy two he fucked up his campaign. Afterwards Thompson talked about how he did
there are there was a rumor that this candidate was doing it again, which is like Moscow or what they would do if he said that it, but they know it's not like. I want, is No, it's very different, sound hallucinatory. It's a self exam atory well that's very good yeah, but he said that but in a brazilian witch doctor. Yes, it's ibogaine is not even a brazilian drugs from Africa. This is city of God, but what I think people don't remember is before that in this affected the election and on February of nineteen, seventy two Thompson was in floor. He was on something called the sunshine special. It was a whistle stop tour that must be the front runner how to get chance to beat Nixon Poll numbers wise was Going all the way down the Florida peninsula on to try to win the Florida primary and Thompson was like this is the most disgusting thing. I've ever seen like every stop must give the same shit speech.
Like somebody should be a president, namely me, and it was repeated. The reporters were like fucking. This is terrible. Muskie was secluded in the back of the car. He didn't interact with the buddy. They had his political operatives come out and make everybody like sing. The song like about like must, he like sunshine in his hands the whole world in his hands. It was terrible, and so that night Thompson and into a Florida town, it was The second last stop, and he in this young political report in Monty Chili, where I'm going to get a drink, two a am, and this guy walks into the lobby he's like six six, two hundred and fifty Peter Sheridan he he walks in and he he says, he's looking for the Muskie campaign. All these different things. He ends up going out with her Thompson for a drink and her Thompson finds out that Peter Sheridan have been a good friend of Jake, had hung out the Hells angels in California had been Dala Honda. KEN he was and was actually a pretty smart guy. Who was out of his mind in his mid twenties. They stayed out
all night in the night tosses like so what you doing tomorrow, we going and. Sharing was like. Why I'm going to Miami and TOMS like we are too you don't have to hitchhike fuck. That so there's a really good journalist outlaw it's called the spy on the machine that another comes about graffiti talk about how Thompson took his thumbs into his press, pass put into the elevator press, the buttons and the press passed down to the ground floor. Peter Sheridan got it so Peter shared it could write free on the Sunshine Express down in Miami the next day, so Thompson over sleeps. Because the fucking monkey campaign doesn't like him anyways. Instead, Peter Sheridan gets on the sunshine Express with one hundred Thompson press badge and Peter Sheridan goes on to order twelve martinis, and he Give me like a triple gymbucks and hold the buck, and here uh up and down the car, and you know musky has been a really shitty candidate at this point. Not been engaging people. He got in this weird fight with his wife at a a campaign event where they put cake and
Their face. It's been really weird and people aren't reporting on it, like other reporters, aren't saying, he's unstable and so must get the end of this whistle stop he spent. All his campaign money to go up and down and try to do this will stop like tour. He gives the speech at the caboose and Jerry Rubin the Anti WAR invest? Who was one of the Chicago seven and was it has come to heckle? Him is in the crowd and he's saying: musky So why did you support the Vietnam war? One thousand nine hundred and sixty eight like who do you think you are, and so huskies yelling at Jerry, Rubin he's saying young man keep your mouth shut beneath Muskie, reaching up from the bottom caboose Peter Sheridan is holding a gin bottle and grabbing, muskies leg as mosquito give the speech, and then Musky falls back in the whole thing ends like the whole press conference is over. Like women's, wear daily, reported this, and it came out that Hunter Thompson had thirteen martinis and run up and down the train and had interfered with it and
Skis campaign really believed that Thompson was working, with Donald Segretti and Nixon's creep, Watergate crew to fuck up muskies campaign and that actually changed the course it Thompson help expose how fucked up Muskie was as a candidate at that time and I said never forgiven musky for being on the pro Vietnam WAR platform in the nineteen sixty eight convention, and so we talk about the application gate aspect of changing the campaign, but that rip word and the way that disseminated through media. The way it was picked up by other newspapers really did help change the people's perception of Ed Muskie at big, Ed, Muskie and Thompson called about now he when he wrote Hells angels. He hadn't really totally formulated that sort of gonzo style of journalism, but he did have a little bit of fiction mixed in with and that sort of ran him a file of the Hells angels. They were very
set by that right, like he did, write some things in there that they claim or not accurate. I think that when it came to Hell's angels, what Thompson did really well is what Joan Didion did really well. He took the way the media was betraying somebody and he strip that off said this is who they actually are. This is what they're actually doing Joan Didion. When she writes about Jim Morrison, the White Album Jim Morrison was like sex and death in his leather. Pants was the best thing ever. Everybody loves you Morrison and then in the scene in the white, Album Joan Didion, writes about how they sit at a recording studio for two hours and nobody says anything and they eat eggs out of a paper bag, and fucking nightmare Thompson knew that the media was sensationalizing, the Hells angels he went to them on a cold. In San Francisco on down by waterfront waterfront, he said: hey, here's a Newsweek article, here's a time, article, here's how everybody's running about you all I want to do is write the truth about who you are
and he did and he ended up writing with them and he ended up speaking with them. I don't think they got as mad at him about the way he portrayed them. I think they got mad that he began to make money or that he became famous Hells angels sold five hundred thousand paperback copies. That is almost impossible to imagine. Today, five hundred thousand paperback copies of a literary book in the angels were pissed off about that they felt Thompson, owed him more money or owed him something for that. They came to them at all. Today, Give them a study, Barger Sleep, burgers, so ridiculously progress that he noticed a keg and he didn't give us a cake. That's it! You know the famous story at the end of it is that I mean really like and they he said that he said that Thompson was subjective. But it was at least closer than the Shitty Newsweek and time versions and so Thompson. At the end of finished, the book barely made the deadline
had to go down to a hotel in Monterey, lock himself, instead for one hundred hours straight and write it in March of a sixty seven to finish it, so it turns it in makes this advanced deadline, timber they're, like here's, our author photo and it's shitty he's like fuck this. So he goes to a Hells angels rally. He doesn't know anybody because he hasn't been with him for six or seven months, he's taking pictures. That's when he got beat up from running about the hell's angels. And he tiny his friend who later committed suicide after Altamont after being involved in the Altamonte security situation. That's a rolling stone one where the guy got stabbed. Yes, where Meredith one hundred was stabbed, but tiny. It was a woman that got stabbed Man Meredith Hunter, oh um was a man named. I was back in the day when you can name your kids Meredith right, like Marian Marian's, another one right, Lindsey Lindsey some guys are Lindsey. Give me one Jamie
yeah, but Jim is normal. Well, if there's a lot of them that future man scene, where it's like it was his name is like my name, Susan in the future, Men are named Susan. I know it's a girl's name in your, but this is a we, good one. You must hate your fucking, it's on the map, but lose argument with your wife, but but that lost letter but that poor guy was Thompson. Was there in tiny grabbed him after he was beat up, there's a guy holding a rock to drop it on Thompson with the Hells angels he was like all right. I know him. I know the rest of you don't and he grabbed him out Tiny was on this like enormous hell's angel who had been you know. Thomas was very good at episodically understanding, their flaws and their perspectives he'd. Never, I think, may excuses for me said that their inherent perspective is fascistic.
He writes that you know he says they use violence to respond where they were in society. Their idea of total retaliation, Hells angels, where any offense like looking at you funny or being like do to drink, could be met with everybody. Beating you up 'cause. They got determined the they got. The healthiest got to determine the effects like that was fascism to talk and he wrote beautifully about their relying gun, violence 'cause, they felt hells angels they had been left behind by are moderated society like there's technology, there's all these new jobs. If you came back from the war in nineteen fifty, you had a chance in Oakland to have a middle class life in a beautiful house in work, the rest of your days and have a family that will then go on, but by one thousand nine hundred and sixty five. That was no longer an option and the angels were a violent response to that very similar to what we're seeing now and so the way he wrote about the Hells Angels so similar to the way that we see violence within groups that are supporting trump. You know from the left and the right did he ever wind up resolving his differences with the Hells angels? I think so Sonny Barger how things got fucked like right,
So the Hells angels were, you, know, pursued like a mob. Like a like, a mafia group, people went to jail, Sonny Barger went to jail. I think they at the end appreciated his representation of them because it was better than any other one right, there's, no better representation of the healthy, no more sympathetic for sure yeah or just more accurate number under point yeah. No more! Like again, I guess the Thompsons effort, if you ride for six months with somebody, and you're an honest like pulling up your hands, you're, not trying to fit what you see into a thesis you're doing the opposite, trying to look at the reality. You have in front of you and then form an argument out of that. You know here that's what Thompson It was very dangerous to to do that. I mean if he did get beat up taking. Those folks are really bad. Motorcycle accident with this friend on the Pakistan brokers broke his leg like it was that's why he left like get the fuck out of Stanford go race. Looks amazing, like Texas, a meeting, it's a it's a fire that you put your hand on to. How can a branch he
coming down on. It was the mayor of Richmond. He was coming down a slick road and they had hit like something was wet or an oil thing, and it went out the back tire. Thompson rolled, it was fine, but his friends knee hit. Tracks, so friends need broke, really badly It was. The mayor was the mayor of Richmond and that's continued riding motorcycles, though yeah he did he would get in accidents at Woody Creek, but he was pretty careful like so I love that scene in angels. I don't know if readers our listeners know this, but the edge you know and that's a major part of the book where Thompson's fighting with his wife Thompson's finished his book, but he's breaking down because he worked so hard to do it, and so he takes his b s a out and he goes. If you know San Francisco, he goes out to the park, he hits the Coast Highway and he comes down it and he's like I'm so overwhelmed. Everything is so fucking terrible.
He's going as fast as he can, and he talks about how his eyes begin to lose moisture. You know the scene, like this beautiful scene, he's looking for sand for 'cause. You this and fit near the zoo, your fucking dot and he gets all the way to Rockaway Beach. Beach is in like halfway down to Santa Cruz he turns around and when he talks about is. When he's one hundred miles per hour. I think he was near death that he was really overwhelmed. He says you know the edge, the only people that know it are the people that have gone over the rest of the living. I don't have any understanding of, and all we can do is approach it in this way and it's this beautiful and it's called midnight on the coast highway. It was anthologized in Tom Wolfe, you know and it was beautiful, so he comes back and he sits at his desk. So he had a view of the Bay Bridge. He could see its two flashing lights, the whole time and he had broken the window in a terrible fight with his wife like three
weeks earlier, and so he sits the broken window and he writes out that scene right away with his eyes. Still scoured wasn't a broken window when she wouldn't give him a gun, because he was on acid and he threw a shoot through the window. There's three there's three versions, so I do it and then I give the three versions of the notes. So I go with the three versions that I've heard it. I heard it from jazz her. You know she wrote, I really respect sandy like deeply. She wrote it the a few years ago. She said I'm done giving interviews with about so that was my life that was then she's given so many interviews up to this point good for says that that exist, and so I wanted to respect that good for you more than anything and just use the information to the hat and let the reader now yo. Here are three other versions: here's the best version. I could make dramatized look like. Throw do this? Did you talk to Anita um been great? I had talked a little bit about the book ended so early that I it's a beautiful. Our need is a second wife for hope, yeah and Anita Thompson. Is she runs out farm? She runs,
his legacy? She does the facebook page. She does a wonderful job, what is our farm today? Does she still live up there, Gonna make it into a like a writers retreat man she's doing one of job, make it into a writers retreat and also a I can use the it's a while, but to honor his leg, yeah great political thinker and writer, like a great literary light, but since she he didn't meet him till the nineties. I wanted to focus on the time that I was in um, and so I think, talking to Bob Geiger, you know his friend then was was, was really lucky ball Gregor's in this late eighties, he was able to go through like I, I believe, if you interview somebody, you need to read everything that exists already. You know you need to read I think they've already said you don't want to ask them questions that when I do anything for research that they've already supplied answers to yeah. So with Bob Geiger I could see the holes or things I didn't know. I was able to sit with him talk about throwing a football with Thompson We will talk about taking the dog to the beach. Like all these other things, the football thing is an intro
It was who's obsessed football and that's one thing that he shared in common with Nixon and so when they went one time there. Going to the airport and he hitched a ride with Nixon and Nixon wanted to talk to him about football. He said, let's just not talk about politics. When we talk about football, and so he talked for the whole ride. It was in hundred and sixty eight Pat Buchanan had helped set it up. No doubt that we could become friends, and so they come to Thompson like alright the boss is going to take a plane to Florida. You can come talk to him. This is crazy, raised and so later Thompson said later was like they told me not to talk about football, but earlier Thompson said like I was. It's really awkward like this fucking guy they're, both in the back bench of a mercury, and so it's before secret service. So it's just a cop driving and it's like papi Cannon in the front is Thompson and Nixon in the right here. Next to each other and Thomas like wood, you know earlier in the night, you said that you know the Oakland.
I had a good shot to beat the Packers and super bowl too. Can you talk about that and he was like. Nix is like my good friend, Vince Lombardi. Had told me to watch out for the F l because they pass, they could be very effective and so Thompson. Then like remembers that guy um um Bob Geiger had been in a professional. Jack. He had taken Thompson to his first football game and Thompson said: NFL is better than the a F l and Geiger's like shut the fuck up, let's go to a raiders game and they went in sixty five and the raiders one. On this beautiful past Tom Flores, beautiful goal line pass and Nixon was saying the same thing, and so then, at that moment, at that moment, like well. Yeah was the Miami guy uh Miller Miller, who caught the pass and Nixon goes tops in on the knee and goes you're right and goes all what a beautiful moment it and tops is just like what the fuck is going on so nix and apparently they were talking about like college draft picks and all kinds of crazy shit like Nixon was deep into. It was the only moment Thompson said that he knew Nixon wasn't lying.
It doesn't make it talk about football in that, in that instant, it's fascinating with people there so diametrically opposed to each other, but they find common ground Thompson did a great job of that and I think we've lost it. Today I mean You have to listen to the other side. If you, if you politically, want to beat somebody like PAPI Cannon, you want to defeat his tactics. If you wanted to defeat him, you need to know how he's thinking and what yeah Thompson that bikini was listening to the left to defeat them so Thompson: listen to what led him to move to Colorado. He was losing shit in San Francisco? It was that night on the fucking motorcycle, but how choose Colorado, so great story. Early 60s Thompson had had a chance to drive. I don't know some sort of cargo up friends car out to Colorado on his way to San Francisco Teen sixty heated up doing a road trip up and down San Francisco after he passed through Colorado, but he stopped in Colorado because he had to drop
a friend's car and there's a woman there Piggy Clifford, who was a journalist and with his good friend at the aspen until the times and she was older. She saw him like after driving twenty hours, she lives right in Aspen and Woody Creek, and so then in nineteen sixty three after Sandy was pregnant. Thompson came back from South America, where he was a reporter and did a wonderful job like reporting. How democracies were falling apart down there, him and Sandy wanted to move West, because the national observer was the newspaper Thompson work, for they wanted to give Thompson a position to be at western reporter. He was thinking of going to San Francisco, but instead he chose to stop first or Peggy. Clifford was in Aspen and Woody Creek, and so he was living in Aspen and Woody Creek from August of nineteen sixty three to February of nineteen sixty three.
And he was there. This is where freak kingdom begins. He was there when John F Kennedy was assassinated and he's sitting in his living room. It's you know, ten, a dot m, eleven, a M Pacific time. He gets a knock on the door and it's this rancher named Wayne Vagner, which is an old aspen family and that ranchers, like the president's, been shot. What's more, he's he's been murdered? It's that Thompson just like. Let's have a saab, then he begins the fucking swear and then he fucking calms down and he goes downtown Woody Creek. He goes to aspen and he just gets notes from people what the responses are, and so, when he then went to San Francisco to become the correspondent, for for the magazine that he was working for he. I was having a tough time. He was already wanting to flee because he got hell's angels. He was able to stay in San Francisco longer right report on them, one thousand nine hundred and sixty six sixty seven. He was like this city is not a good place from. He has a great quote about like what, happened if he stayed in San Francisco from sixty seven bodies like it burned up
like I would have been immolated right there, and so, when it was time to leave, he thought again of what he Creek and have ASP in which was so different than than it is now, and that was it that he decided Thio, move and rent for a little while at first. But then because of the success of hell's angels, he was able to buy out for Mmm um Aspen's very different, but Woody Creek is not that much different. Woody creek is still pretty great assault in Woody Creek great. You know, there's a great place called the temporary, they didn't event with mom tonight and I did a reading at it and like a lot of Thompson's friends, were there like I'm some fucking young, I didn't know, tops I'm an interloper, you know like I'm out there, and it was really great to talk to everybody that knew him and to go through it and that's why that's why this book almost killed me 'cause. I did a note for every sound, sell, our site or comet. If I wrote and then at the moment, Thompson felt what the fuck am I doing here I had the quote where you said I looked around then, and I felt what the fuck am I doing here
I had that in the notes, so people could see it and it was because I wanted those people that knew him well and respected him and trusted him to not think that I was in any way trying anything but to make that art off of his life, and he was trying to respond to my fucking view of Trump right now and my love of his work in this moment, um. Why do you say it almost killed? You it's not possible to write a narrator. And then also also every detail of of narrative. So, each day I would spend nine hours researching and outlining with citations every every wanted it like a novel, and I wanted to be like, and at that moment I felt like the machine oil from the bay was coming off. I wanted to read it vividly I need I had to support all of that and so would spend eight or nine hours every day, just on the pure arrangement and research and then for the next six or seven hours or eight hours. I would write the narrative and the night five or six hours. You know you know I get up, and I would do it again, and I did this for four five months after I was deeply into.
And I don't think, that's sustainable. I think it's better in retrospect to go on report somewhere. You know to let go and be in the middle of Congress and take notes, but to try to write something with the dramatized nature that I think Thompson right well and having my protest, I'm nothing like hiss. I wanted my pros to sound nothing like the way he wrote, but then also have almost as many pages of notes, showing my work know showing the math that went behind. So if I'm wrong I'm wrong, but at least you can see it. That was morally correct, but I think that was too much effort because it just because you're trying to do in a short period of time did you have a crazy deadline or something yes, but I also had a year and so on. I had a family and I had a a professor like I, I just I'd. Never when it came to writing had to do both those things which was to try to write it in a in a novelistic way, but then also make sure that
any question the reader would have but like. Why did you think that the dinner was at five p dot m? You know we're like you know why. Why did you think the sun was coming up in this way at the moment to make sure, because out of respect, because what Thompson talked about was people making money off him like Doonesbury yeah, you know like that's what he talked about. Was people trying to make money off him, and if I was gonna write this look, it could have couldn't be in that space. Didn't he have ah lawsuit against Garry Trudeau. He thought about it. I think so I don't think I ever did it. He talked about it publicly yeah. I thought he was just well that he be came that guy. Unfortunately, that's, what's really weird, what happens will become a caricature of ourselves? It's really scary. Do you know? Well it's what's weird about it. Is that he kind of knew that it was happening like there's that famous interview, where he's talk into that british guy, who did a documentary about him breakfast with Hunter, maybe or no, but one of them, one of them, but he's he's rolling a joint, ah
in the grass somewhere with that LAS Vegas Visor on and he's you know talking about how he's really become this caricature and it would be actually be better if he wasn't alive anymore. You know there is breaking up with his wife during that it was really sad. There's a scene in that where he hides. Where he's at like a parking lot, he doesn't want people to see him and he's standing Is the wall and people like come on? We gotta go he's like I just don't want anybody to see me right now. It was really sad and I tried to take that tragedy too, and he wrote great things afterwards. He was a great friend of people. After his run white had this wonderful poet from Louisville was a dear friend of hiss, like all through his life, but the tragedy of how much effort you put out. We want to write about Trump. If you want to go after, like Tybee, did about the financial institution the way Thompson, did it
what kind of wager time later for time now, and he talks about that. He said you mean by the chemical speed he says doing, dexedrine being an alcoholic instead of changing his life in his rhythms. He said I'm wagering time later for time now, I'm using up energy or things that I might have by burning the candle so brightly at this instant 'cause. I believe I need to go after these moments later, I'm not going to have it, but I'm making that Campbell and put in the card down right now and I think that's terrifying, and I also think that he gave us writing over one of the most remarkable spans in american history because of it that's a weird tradition in journalism right to destroy your body while creating your art, and I think, there's a according to my friends with journalists There's a big problem with Adderall today. Can there's a lot of people that are using it to write and it's fucking speed, and you know you get addicted to Adderall, makes everything in front of you closer. Have you done it? yeah. My first book was called hyper, a personal history of ADHD not being medicated as a child
you are medicated having pills forced down my throat like also older, you six. When I took for the fuck man. I had. I had a suicidal moment in like six years old. Why? The first time you were- six you want to commit suicide held like a butter knife to my wrist? I don't remember it but yeah. I kind of remember it but yeah it was on Ritalin which I've taken now as an adult, and I always feel startled when I'm on it. If I ever take Ritalin like now you I take it to write like this world is incredibly painful. So I take adderall now and I take to how often you take it everyday. I take thirty milligrams a day. Really I take it to I take it to go into a library- and this is what David Wallace Wells was talking about? I think, like two days ago on the show us. How do you really shitty academic articles, where you need the information from them. I'm not good at that. I'm not good at even making like a car reservation like a car rental reservation, and so this was going to be painful, no matter what, but there's a functionality that adderall allows, and it's always awake
what Thompson writes about is whenever something is given. Something else is lost. You never get anything for free in this world. Thompson understood that better than anybody so with with the trade I'm not going to TOMS hyperactive, I'm not going to go into that, but Dex Adren, like Geiger, was like yo you're breaking down like you're twenty six, you have a wife have very small child you're writing right now. You want to have your career go forward, you're not doing well and I was like I'm a doctor- I had gone through med school. You know I'd, I I've been overwhelmed like you, Gaga ran every morning. You know he did. He did other things, but he took extreme, so I gave it to Thompson and for that small period of time it helped. I mean for me, it's like I I a good researcher, and maybe I would be now, but the only way I can write about something like one hundred Thompson, where I didn't know him, I have no experience with him is to read everything that he's ever written or
written about him and then go out and interview people, and so effort is my only path forward, what adderall helps for me is to take the pain away of that effort. It doesn't take away. It shifts it around other aspects in other parts of life and I think Thompson when he wrote he who makes a beast of himself escapes the painter gets for the pain of being a man we don't listen to that like he was like this effort is hard. I'm struggling with this effort. I'm trying to make these beautiful things. I always think of James Salter fiction, writer, ASP in resident wrote, beautiful, novels he wrote his whole life till he was ninety. His last novel was at eighty seven. He wrote a memoir at seventy six about being a fighter pilot among other things in korean war, Lyric literary he did it his whole life. He didn't. He didn't burn out for a small period of time, he's the antonym to Thompson. I think, comes to effort in literary work. Right did you just take it for work? Yeah I mean you
have like an issue the need to take it. For my my I mean what we will. I think that will whenever we have something like chemical speed, whenever we have something like alcohol. Whenever we have something, that's not like marijuana, or at least marijuana cuts. Your mania. Whenever we have something else like alcohol or and all we need ask questions, is it is taking the pain away and being productive through those actually hastening your own doom, but I think with alcohol is very clear. It is
Adderall is more complex. I think, if you d'oh amount of time release you could make it work. How many Americans do that out of the percent that are prescribed? You know, I don't know ten percent twenty percent like it's dangerous. How often do you take time off I'd, say? Maybe one or two weeks, ah of ah every thirty four months, and when you do that, do you feel weird now just watch movies. I just don't do anything it doesn't. I don't have any productivity, I don't produce. So the only way you produces on speed anyway produce I want to right now is on speed. I didn't start taking it till two thousand and ten It's crazy that we're talking about this because there's so many people like you, it's So mean how much of the work that we enjoy today, especially literary work, is written by people. Journalistic work is written by people that run speed. That's not new, I mean that's what Thompson and burns and southern this is been.
I believe that our american society, the situation, I'm in, I have created a situation where I have too much work and it's my fault. I should not be trying to be a professor and also go reported, comedy teach and also at George Mason in creative writing program. You know and also then hosting like people coming out and also then like be trying to reach something that might be my next thing. That's too much in the Thompson saw dexedrine was that he could make reality match his effort, so there was no longer the limit. It was the american dream idea if you just put out enough effort, you'll get it and that's why I think he's so brilliantly understood. The toxicity of the american dream is that the effort is what destroys you Mmm just because you have a path with the effort to be rich to be successful. That doesn't mean that's a good thing. That's what will actually dismantle you yeah it's putting it out and I think forget that. Do you one of the things about Hunter? That's really intoxicating is that his sort of self destructive path becomes romantic. When you read
and you get involved in his work and you kind of mimic it, you know it's that's the greatest fallacy I think I think what he was trying to say with self destruction was that this was an incredible threat to American. I mean I mean his his The romantic ask picked up. It was it. His work was fantastic, I mean when it was still it wasn't. It was fantastic till it till it was, and I mean so. He understood he lived within the field. It was, but he lived in with he spent much more time within the the consequences of that bingeing than he did within the success of the bingeing, and that I think he knew that in his letters it's really beautiful and heartbreaking, and in his writing too. I mean, I think, that's what's been missed about. Him is there's no romanticism self destruction
right towards the end. He definitely losses. Productivity and Yon Warner talked about that in the Alex. Gibney documentary is at his sticky fingers was a grace. Is a document of the new book on on the new book on young winner has gray with Thompson, the seventies just being kind of lost the area. You know, and I think I think we got to remember- that we have an incredible times and in history. We have times that are going to burn brightly and it's up to each rider decide how they like to burn next to it. Yeah gonna burn brightly. They may not have other times and that's, I think, an american thing where you can wager that bright flame, which means you may have nothing left afterwards, but Thompson knew that he may have to live in. That kind of afterlife want one Thompson writes about it, so yeah stories. I tell myself there's some some footage of him when he was writing for I forget what newspaper some Was it somewhere in the Pacific northwest? What who is your writing for who's? The author
playing off the rail Google playing off the rail there's, a guy who was a journalist? What year do you think it was David Mccumber? Yes, David Mccullough, David Mccumber employed Hunter for a while. When David was, I forget, what publication he was working for some footage of them community community getting together and I was trying to get Hunter What is the San Francisco and hunters out of his fucking mind I mean it was younger. I mean he wasn't even that old, but he was just wrecked. He couldn't communicate. You couldn't talk, and you know here makes a beast of you escape the pain of articulation. You escape the pain of saying this. What's wrong in american society for him to say the way he did one of his great essay one thousand nine hundred and sixty four by going to Hemingway,
his catch him, Idaho, on grave in Hemingway's house, and it's gorgeous because it talks about Hemingway was a good writer one of the best writers when he was writing about a period. He understood the nineteen forties nineteen thirties when there was a firmness to the reality that he could arctic late. One of the writers goals is to give a pattern to chaos is to give an articulation cast. But what happens in the nineteen sixties when the chaos is multiplying repeatedly, somebody like Hemingway becomes a literal relic like his narrative, no longer fits into the present that he's in and Thompson saw Hemingway's decline and he wrote about having ways suicide, you mean by his narrative, doesn't fit anyways the of what America was when a man should be fit perfectly with what I think the twenties to the forties when we experience, but I think in the early nineteen sixties, with our social upheaval of sole rights of on you, know, political upheaval, Hemingway it was confusing to
it didn't. It didn't fit anymore like his way of operating no longer articulated the president right and so Hemingway's last act was to take away his ready to say anything at all. It was his only the last thing he ever said was the same. Not going to say anything anymore was the suicide that Hemingway committed, wrote about that gorgeously yeah, when when, when he one killing himself, it was almost unsurprising, No. When, when I read that he had died in a going go well, I guess yeah, you know man I mean it's like you knew that he was deteriorating rapidly. You knew that he had really bad hips hit had Hip placement surgery. The Ralph leg, yeah Ralph Steadman had drawn this very crazy image of him with the artificial hip, and
it looked like pain. You know I mean, but I think that it's not my place to even deal with that, because one Thompson's book writes about that moment, where one homes it was in the house yeah and that's that's, that's his and one writes beautifully aboutthe stakes of it. How painful it was to the people that loved him course everything about it: and how that, even if that's a logical outcome that that's not no so it's interesting, I would say read stories I tell myself without that moments so honestly and brilliantly written by one sure, boat bomb. All I was getting at is that at the time of his death. You know he was in just sort of is deteriorating so badly, he was wearing diapers. His entire 'cause of his alcoholism, his ability to control spotter was gone, and so one gave this wonderful speech at Georgia
when he came out is like how do you write honestly about your father and he asked the questions like should. I include this detail and he's like my father was alive. I couldn't include that, but that's why I chose in a sense to write my book what my father was dead, because I think my father would want me to write honestly, but also not want me to include that if he was still alive, and so he included that detail- and he talked about that. The struggle to include that detail, which I think brilliantly articulate. What you're saying, which is the deterioration, yeah and the sadness of it, and I mean we have finite amount of energy or effort. We really do we have to take care of ourselves. If we don't, we will pay that price at some point we're going to pay it anyways we're all headed to the same place, whether we want to or not. You know, and so many hundreds of police terrifying, a beautiful example of one wager of chips that were made for the nineteen sixties and nineteen seventies, and I I think the best way to honor that is to you know, apply the brilliance that he forged in cart to the situation we have right now with
corruption, Donald Trump, an attack on american democracy or american democracy is basically it's like early on, says is a train and we arrive at the station. We get off like the use the ladder to get to the attic now Trump's pulling up the ladder, I think Thompson would understand that really really well. I think reading him now whether you him or not helps you and that's. Why I wrote the kingdom was so that it can be a lens on his his work going back or just on this present right now, it'll be regardless of trump. I think what he really represents is a brilliant historical time capsule and he he sort of captures that time period the upheaval, pre internet, where the world was in chaos like no one else. He he he encapsulated this very strange moment in history, which I don't think is nearly a strange, is the moment we're going through right now. I think this is probably the most strange moment ever, but he he nailed it and he nailed it in a very, very unique way. That's still today I mean to
That was another thing I want to ask you about. Why did him and Tom Wolf like Tom, Wolf got some of his tapes from some of the visit Honda, the Hells Angels, Hell's angels parties and some crazy orgy that was going on and he gave the the tapes to this like what was all that about. So when Tom was covering the Hells angels, they believed the counter culture of the left of the nineteen sixty sixty five sixty six we're talking about kidding, Keesey we're talking about the Anti WAR movement, the free speech movement with Mario Savio. They believe those angels were on their side. They were fellow countercultural lists that are also outside of the ball game and so Keesey and Thompson were having a drink. After being on like a q e d or like some local tv show in San Francisco- and you know, KEN Kies background is, he was a wrestler at oregon- grew up on a dairy arm come down to Stanford, to write for what is now the Stegner fellowship, but back then was a graduate program at Stanford. He had moved up to La Honda
success of his first book on one flew over the cuckoo's nest and it just written another beautiful book and so Thompson was like yeah right about the house, angels keys. He was like yo I like to meet them and so Thompson knew how dangerous those hells were, or I think people either romanticize them or exaggerated. Their danger he's like ok, set them up, and you know we contacted the chapter with Kisise on August. Seventh, I think of nineteen. Sixty five like the Hells angels, came to Honda, Allen. Ginsberg was there with Kizi Alpert was there, you know who that, like all of that, all the Stanford intellectuals were there and they made a huge banner that says the merry pranksters welcome the hell's angels and Thompson rolled up with this. Isn't this isn't the documentary Thompson rolled up with his family,
One was a child baby in the backseat Sandy was in the front seat and he pulled up and what Thompson saw was Canc easy. Giving acid red cups like Red K, cups to the hell's angels was like well we're the fuck out here, and so he grabs his wife and his son? They go to. Klementi, which is on the other side. They have like a big picnic and on the way back check it out, let's see what it's like and they in he's driving this old like roadster. They pull in and everybody's watching on a giant kimberlyn screen like the five hour stream of consciousness, footage from the merry pranksters trip across the cross. The US, which is what time will Ford and comes like all right, they're, not eating each other skulls like we can hang out a little bit they hung out and it was interesting how asked it pacified the angels instead of made them violent, and that's what I asked you know. Of course that's what it is, but they spent the night hanging out there. Thompson was writing so he's like I'm not going to do. Drugs he's like I'll. Have a future
he's taking notes for his his book and later on in the night him and Allen Ginsberg- and this is something I cut out of the book- are like. Let's go get. Some here is the cops, are staking out the property at Ginsberg and Thompson, get pulled over by the cops Thompson, sober he's talking to the cops he gets a ticket because his red lends for his back tail light. Is cracked and he's like come on dude. That's twenty bucks like paternalist. The cops are like. Why are you writing about them and they're talking about like people being taken away to jail and kids were goes what's in? What's ah, what's in Redwood city man, tough goes, it's called a jail Alan, and that goes back to talking to the cops and all of this and Thompson,
friends with Ginsberg, and so they go back into the party Thompson, realizes that Neal Cassidy who's blackout, drunk who is Dean Moriarty and on the road by Jack CARE Act. That's the character on who it was based, his two or three girlfriends. One of them is having an orgy with the hell's angels. At this cabin off the side and Thompson sees it, and He describes it in two ways when he writes about it, but he did audio nuts so did audio have step by step, and he described as like just horrific, where she's barely awake, like she's she's catatonic, and they bring in Neal Cassidy to have there too it's her. Riff ic and he articulates his horror? I had a friend is a good feminist writer Lee who's dear to me, she's, like the Navy, you wrote about fucking white guy, like whatever she's like he did most of it right she's, like you excused Thompson. In that moment, you should've just let it stand and write about it in the book. Instead of try to talk about how upset he was, seeing it Carson was really upset. So why did she say that that doesn't make me
because I think she thought that I was making the experience less authentic by trying to qualify for a current times what would that be the case when you were just explain explain? Why should I just left Tom Sonoma? No, but I think I should have let him stand more, instead of showing or amplifying his emotion too much. What do you saying this based on her criticism or your own personal opinion? No, I think that he was really upset, but I think him being really upset is secondary to whatever she was experienced, right, but you're writing about him. Yes, so I stand by it like I thought about that, what I wrote it yeah, I stand by it, but it was what is her criticism again that by amplifying his upset by showing how upset he was that that's too much of an excuse for him just just it? What did she think he should have done? No, no! No! Nothing like that. She was on point. She thought I shouldn't. She felt the effort on my part to try to
splain his upset Niss, instead of just having him, be upset with one sentence and then go on. She thought it was overriding. I thought it was a fair criticism. Where I overwrote it, but long story Short Thompson goes back and he goes a kizi he goes. This is one of the worst things I've ever seen, and this is in the documentary right. But if that's the case, then why would it be that you are overwriting it? It doesn't seem like you over. I always worry. I'm overriding this one of my create one of my great fears. If someone sees something like that, I think it's important that you accurately relay the emotions of the experience when they're watching a horrific event. I mean he did describe it as horrific, but how much of it is my cultural perception of this moment that I'm giving too much to Thompson and how much of it was what he accurately experience, but he talked about so I just giving his words instead of saying a little bit. You know going okay, I don't know what you said: yeah yeah, and so he goes back and he us notes that night? These are the notes he gave to KEN easy. I'm sorry, these are the notes. Tom Tom Wolfe says
it gave him the recordings. No, I don't think there were actual recordings. No, I don't think that a Tom Wolfe said, but one of the documentary said Thomas said he gave me the the notes so. He gave me the notes of what happened in Tom Wolfe. I know what those notes are used. Those notes, okay to recreate that scene in an electric Kool aid acid test, and so this is why we talk about truth later in Life Thompson. Some biographies might have said that he actually recorded the event. He didn't. He went back and he took long audio notes. Right of like shadow and light in the horror that he saw, no, that's what I'm saying yeah he took the audio knows the recordings he made the record. Yes, yes and then right this time. Often Tom doesn't say exactly yes, let's some people have said that he put the tape recorder. No, no, that's not what I meant. I mean he gave him the recordings and I was rather beautiful. I think they're terrifying, but it's about like violence and shadow and light and horror You know it's a horrific. It's a horrific scene that says Thompson's brilliance at that age. He could, in an audio note, get the fucking.
Images and details that he needs to express the nature of that instant and so Tom Wolfe used those to create it himself, but then Thompson recreated it to our wrote about it in Hell's angels yeah, but in a more distant where then wolfed, which is crazy because he was actually there. It's fucking crazy did. Now is the first time Thomas never took acid because he was so upset. He went, would keys he's like fuck it I'm not a journalist anymore. That's so horrific what I saw fuck it. He had friends that had told him that he's a personality where, if he did acid to go to the bottom of the well for him, you know this would be a really fix thing and so he's like. I don't care anymore and instead he just walked around and like peace like that? So it's funny with someone tells you how you're going to react to a drug, relax right, yeah you're, going to react about how you're going to react to it. What was it like for you when you finally finish this when you put the last page down- and you knew you were done- I know that, You like me, share
We have an adoration for this guy. He's one of my for sure personal heroes mean, the last image I wrote was. One of the most people think Thompson Thompson writes is something he didn't actually see was with Nixons helicopter. He sat on on tv left, the White House lawn. What happens is that giant helicopter with the white up in the blue. Its wheels lose their pressure, so the wheels are flat and flattened the the bottom as the rotors begin to bring it up. They become a long it'd wheels that still touch the ground. Thompson wrote that image I've. I've always love that image. So I was writing that in a sense when I was at C pack it on twenty eighteen last year, and it was what king out just after I wrote that in pence's helicopter was on the lawn right there. It was lifting off and I saw the wheels elongate just like that, and I had so much respect for Thomas Ability, as we talk
fiction as a narrative writer to detail that instant. You know into detail the way that that elongated and went you to have that be the emotion of Nixon finally departing, and so I felt I gave it through as hard as I could. I throw as many pictures as I could. I threw for as long as I can. You know- and I hope that everybody knows it's my version of Thompson and then it's a version of Thompson written through the lens off Donald Trump, but hopefully that it's through the effort and through the detail, a version that might bring more people to Thompson, while also at the same time, for Thompson fans um. You know being something that they can respect and engage beautiful. Well, thank you for writing it. Thank you for just highlighting who this guy was, and thanks for all your work. Man appreciate it thanks for being a good fan in and for highlighting his work to your beautiful poster. We didn't even talk about it. The Aspinwall poster that you have right in here is just so
yeah. I got one hundred shit all over the place. It's fantastic! It's good yeah! Now, I'm I'm a die hard for sure you was on pre- she ate it. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thanks doing this, tell everybody the book where to get it, how to get it. Free kingdom one hundred Thompson's ten year manic crusade against american fascism. It available everywhere on Amazon, I'm at TIM Denevi on twitter and you should check out the guns of voice. Twitter hashtag, which has Thompson, quotes all the time which is great and you is a great guy on Instagram two there's a couple of am but jacks Gonzo, Rx Gonzo and the Jackalope he's another guy who's got a bunch of green Anita. Thompson doesn't great job on Facebook, and you know if you are interested Thompson, you don't know him. I hope you read every kingdom and that's a lens on his work. You know to organize it and if you love Thompson, I hope you read free kingdom too, because that's where to engage him again beautiful. Thank you. Everybody. Thank you. You
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Transcript generated on 2019-09-25.