I have a bookshelf with several of my favorite authors. When I was more more organized, the top two shelves were dedicated to two writers exclusively. Hunter Thompson and Douglas Adams.
I have spent some time in collecting everything that they have written, at least within reason, as some books and editions are redundant or impossible to find. But for the most part, I have a complete collection. And now I fear it.
When you truly enjoy a great writer, you can just burrow through their pages, absorbing the words and prose, and burst out the other side of the book with a sweaty glow, soaking in the the feelings and emotions of the writing. Great works you can read over and over, but nothing replaces the thrill of picking up the next work. And I can now look at my shelf and not only see the next work, but the last work.
I have unread books from both Hunter and Douglas. And I will read them, but not yet. I have gone over the covers several times, feeling the spines, then sliding the books back into the gaps they leave in the shelf. Pulling one open and starting at the first page is carefully planned. These are influential works to me, even when they are just scribbled rantings, because there will be no more.
I met Douglas Adams when I had just graduated high school. He came to Seattle to the University Book Store for a book signing. I was thrilled to learn this, and was there right of the bat with my copies of hitchhikers guide to sign. Once I got to the front of the line, I had no idea what to say. I had been reading his books since Elementary school, and I didn’t know what to ask.
So I asked him one of the stock questions he always got, about getting the idea for the books lying in a field. I knew the answer, but hearing it from Douglas was worth it. He was my height, well over 6 feet, looking me in the eye. And he was sincere and happy to answer even the most basic question from one of his fans. I never forgot that moment.
I only read Hunter after becoming trapped in Las Vegas after Chuck’s wedding. We flew down on stand-by tickets into Las vegas, and by accident, the wedding was during March Madness. The wedding itself was fantastic, but Vegas was a zoo. By the last day of the long weekend we were ready to leave. But with stand by tickets, there was no space. So we waited another day. Nothing.
Yulia and I were trapped in Vegas with our daughter, and the estimate was that it would be at least 3 to 5 days before a clear flight would let us out.
At that point, I had The Fear.
To escape out of our desert gulag I worked a scheme with a car rental company, three airports, and getting put on the Terrorist Watch List that had us driving from Las Vegas to Seattle via San Francisco.
I knew of the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and after that experience, bought it to relate to what just happened to us. I was immediately struck by the writing, and never looked back. I read The Curse of Lono just before our last trip to Hawaii, and have the rest of Hunter’s books on the shelf.
Both Douglas’s humor and Hunter’s brutality influence my writing today. I love peeking into what they have written, but am not sure that I want to hit the end just yet.
Perhaps, once my writing us matured, it will be what fills that gap for me. The same way their own writing filled the gap from their literary heroes.
I’m not there yet. But each time I pull another book off that shelf, just a bit remains in me afterwards, and lives in on in my eyes and fingers. And is inflicted upon you.
“On some days you just want to beat the living shit out of someone, and then have the cops come and clean them up”
– Hunter S. Thompson
Nothing really puts me into a foul mood than watching people I respect, care for, and love get really shat on by some fucking mental midget.
Seriously, what the hell is wrong with the Generation Y fuckheads today? These 20-something year old goddamn children seem to wander around the place, wanting to run everything without ever doing any work. I mean, I respect the innate laziness of wanting to avoid all responsibility, in fact, I was quite good at it. But that state of affairs generally means you are sticking it to the man, not trying to be the man.
This pissy, whinining malaise that seems to cross a whole group of degenerates injecting themselves into my world just drives me batshit. Tune in, turn on, drop out. That’s fine. Just don’t whine to me and blame the whole world when you don’t get what you want.
Christ, I suppose the worst part of so many of these children is that they truly think that they not only offer some value to the world, but that that it is their world, and you are just in it for them. Why can’t we just offer them some respect!
When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol’ Jack Burton always says at a time like that: “Have ya paid your dues, Jack?” “Yessir, the check is in the mail.”
– Jack Burton
You kids want some fucking respect? You want someone to listen to you when you offer priceless advice? Fucking earn it. Pay your dues. Get off your ass and add some value to the world. Fuck, with the sorry state of most of you I’d settle for matching socks and clean underpants.
Got that? Prove to me that you don’t have a skidmark and I’ll show you some respect.
‘Cause what I see are kids dropping out of college, getting a job and expecting to be management out of the gate. Talking some big talk about how amazing they are, then engaging in epic blamecasting when they can’t fill their britches. You know kids, work is hard, that’s why you get paid for it. Don’t make big promises, fail to deliver, then spread it on the people who were there before you came along – fucking shit up in the process.
Hell, I’d be happy if the failure wasn’t so mediocre, can’t you guys put some effort into that at least?
The sad bit is that I can’t even get that mad at these fools. Their own lives are going to be the source of their worst suffering. Years of floundering around like those little yappy dogs – angry at the world for being born small. I did my big fuckups in college, when no one was looking. I figured out I was a jackass, and my biggest goal at that point was to hope that no one else found out too soon.
And guess what kids? You aren’t any better.
Don’t trust anyone over thirty.
– Jerry Rubin
This is what I love, just love about getting older. I don’t have to pretend that I know what is going on all the time. But I know enough not to track the dogshit around the house after stepping in it. “I don’t know that answer, but I’ll get it for you” is always better than making a bunch of shit up, only to have it crash down on you later. But being willing to learn seems in short supply today.
So fine. I am more than happy to watch these waterheads march off into the distance, muppet arms flailing madly, screaming how the rest of the world is the problem, and why won’t we just listen!
Go for it kids. I wish you luck.
In the meantime, get off my lawn!
That is one of the key things I learned in these years, and I learned it the hard way. Anybody who thinks that “it doesn’t matter who’s President” has never been Drafted and sent off to fight and die in a vicious, stupid War on the other side of the World–or been beaten and gassed by police for trespassing on public property–or been hounded by the IRS for purely political reasons–or locked up in the Cook County Jail with a broken nose and no phone access and twelve perverts wanting to stomp your ass in the shower. That is when it matters who is President or Governor or Police Chief. That is when you will wish you had voted.
–Hunter S. Thompson, Hey Rube