Posts Tagged With: hunter s. thompson

New York Times’ Snow Fall may not be the future of journalism. But it’s for sure the future of storytelling .

snow fall new york times storytellingEver since the New York Times launched its interactive web project, Snow Fall (a 5 part story of skiers and snowboarders trapped by an avalanche in Washington State’s Cascade mountain range), hypotheses of its effects on journalism and publishing have been ping-ponging between online news outlets. The debates over whether or not Snow Fall’s storytelling model (that recently hit 3.5 million page views) is the future of journalism, in fact deliver something more: lessons in content integration and the opportunity for brand-publisher collaboration.

If you haven’t read the feature yet, do. It’s something like magic — a visceral adventure story about a deadly avalanche that feels more like an interactive documentary that happens to have paragraphs than a newspaper story that happens to have interactives. Particularly ingenious is a section where a map traces doomed skiers’ paths down the mountain face as you scroll down the corresponding paragraphs. Further along, an animated video follows the contours of the avalanche sweeping down the same glade, with a clicking sound whose frequency indicates the changing speed of the barreling snow pack. Not just clever. Utterly ingenious.

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When Hunter met Annie.

Annie Leibovitz is a rock star. She is the most easily recognizable of contemporary American photographers and she is constantly creating new and interesting work for Vanity Fair, Vogue, and various advertising campaigns.

Hunter S. Thompson is the guy who said “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro”, and who really meant it. He left a legacy of brilliant, drug-induced rants about everything from politics to the American Dream to Hell’s Angels.

At same point, to the way to somewhere, those two met.

Years later, she brought him to life in “Annie Leibovitz At Work”, a collection of about 100 photos from her career along with the stories of how the images came about and Annie’s own comments and thoughts about the subject, the impact on her career, and that time in her life.

“Hunter sweated a lot. When he wasn’t sweating he was screaming that he wasn’t sweating and he thought he was dying”, she wrote.

This below is the jerkish, self-centered, psychotic, awesome, talented, brilliant Mr. Gonzo.
33 years before grabbing his Smith&Wesson and blowing his face off.

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Wow, the audience’s responses made this so freakishly surreal…

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Writing a cover letter with Mr. Hunter S. Thompson.

I’m sitting on a hard wooden chair, drinking cold coffee, and struggling to write an impassioned yet professional cover letter.

The thing is, the specter of Hunter S. Thompson keeps blowing cigarette smoke in my face.

“So that’s how you’re starting, is it?” says Hunter, looking over my shoulder at my opening paragraph.

“Well, I guess that’s what they want you to say.”

He darts away to examine something happening outside my window.

“Get f–cked, Hunter.” I grumble, and continue to tweak the same godforsaken sentence that a bunch of other chumps are simultaneously tweaking.

“It really IS with great enthusiasm that I apply for this summer reporting position…” I say, defensively.

But Hunter is gone, and all I have left is the letter than he wrote to the Vancouver Sun, back in 1958.

The month was October. A “tart-tongued” columnist named Jack Scott had just been promoted to editorial director of the Vancouver Sun. On the other side of the continent, a pre-fame and pre-Gonzo Hunter S. Thompson read a story in Time magazine about Scott’s penchant for journalistic stunts. Broke and living in a Greenwich Village basement apartment, Thompson thought to himself, “Here’s a man I might like to work for.” What follows is the greatest cover letter ever written.

There’s no indication that Scott ever wrote back to Thompson. Then again, he might not have had the time: he was demoted a few months later.

I re-read it, and laugh, wishing that I had even half his chutzpah. In case you’ve never seen this classic, here is the greatest cover letter ever written:

——————–

TO JACK SCOTT, VANCOUVER SUN

October 1, 1958 57 Perry Street New York City

Sir,

I got a hell of a kick reading the piece Time magazine did this week on The Sun. In addition to wishing you the best of luck, I’d also like to offer my services.

Since I haven’t seen a copy of the “new” Sun yet, I’ll have to make this a tentative offer. I stepped into a dung-hole the last time I took a job with a paper I didn’t know anything about (see enclosed clippings) and I’m not quite ready to go charging up another blind alley.

By the time you get this letter, I’ll have gotten hold of some of the recent issues of The Sun. Unless it looks totally worthless, I’ll let my offer stand. And don’t think that my arrogance is unintentional: it’s just that I’d rather offend you now than after I started working for you.

I didn’t make myself clear to the last man I worked for until after I took the job. It was as if the Marquis de Sade had suddenly found himself working for Billy Graham. The man despised me, of course, and I had nothing but contempt for him and everything he stood for. If you asked him, he’d tell you that I’m “not very likable, (that I) hate people, (that I) just want to be left alone, and (that I) feel too superior to mingle with the average person.” (That’s a direct quote from a memo he sent to the publisher.)

Nothing beats having good references.

Of course if you asked some of the other people I’ve worked for, you’d get a different set of answers.

If you’re interested enough to answer this letter, I’ll be glad to furnish you with a list of references — including the lad I work for now.

The enclosed clippings should give you a rough idea of who I am. It’s a year old, however, and I’ve changed a bit since it was written. I’ve taken some writing courses from Columbia in my spare time, learned a hell of a lot about the newspaper business, and developed a healthy contempt for journalism as a profession.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity. If this is what you’re trying to get The Sun away from, then I think I’d like to work for you.

Most of my experience has been in sports writing, but I can write everything from warmongering propaganda to learned book reviews.

I can work 25 hours a day if necessary, live on any reasonable salary, and don’t give a black damn for job security, office politics, or adverse public relations.

I would rather be on the dole than work for a paper I was ashamed of.

It’s a long way from here to British Columbia, but I think I’d enjoy the trip.

If you think you can use me, drop me a line.

If not, good luck anyway.

Sincerely, Hunter S. Thompson

My favourite part:

“… [I've] developed a healthy contempt for journalism as a profession. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity. If this is what you’re trying to get The Sun away from, then I think I’d like to work for you.”

And, in the end, don’t forget what Mr. Hunter S. Thompson used to advocate:

Related posts:

Football season is over

Would you like to try out Mr. Thompson’s “breakfast of champions”?

6 writers who had to look up the word “sober”

“Stay motivated!” Starring: Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson’s positive perspectives

(Post inspired by Fab Carletti)

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Hunter S. Thompson’s positive perspectives.

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Would you like to try out Mr. Thompson’s “breakfast of champions”?

If your answer is “Sure!”, then you should probably think twice. Really. :D

Why think twice? Well, let’s just say that Hunter S. Thompson‘s breakfasting habits were just like the man himself: over the top and very… unique. So, wondering what’s the definition of breakfast, according to HST? Here it goes!

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

I think I’ll stick to my old-fashioned (non-avant-gardist) breakfast: no bloody marys, no margaritas, no lines for dessert, no sunny outdoors, no clothes off.
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“stay motivated!” starring: hunter s. thompson.

I found these very funny motivational posters here and I thought to share. : ))

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6 writers who had to look up the word “sober”.

The source of this deliciously well-written post (I’m just only hosting it): here.

Writing is a doddle. Just look at this. Look at what I’m doing right now! I could literally tap the ever-loving shit out of these keys all day and never break a sweat. But that’s the difference between writing for fun in a squalid crack den using a nearby heated spoon as a WiFi access point, and writing to feed a family and pay the heating bill.

Carving a career as a writer is hard (as opposed to the actual act of writing itself). It’s not always book signings and movie adaptations. And even if it is (as is the case with these examples) the stress and the piled up years of torment and rejection after rejection is bound to play an evil role in it all. Call it their muse. Call it medicinal or therapeutic or a deep-routed desire to kill onself slowly. However you choose to disguise it some writers just need that morning whiskey before continuing with that paragraph.

The following are great American writers who may have screwed up some vital organs in pursuit of alcohol and artistc outlet but managed to achieve a hell of a lot more by doing so than if they’d have been quaffing carrot juice and  having yoga sessions.

Stephen King (1947 – )

Yes, I intend all these photos to be black & white. It’s so noir…

Who is he?

Probably one of the most famous authors currently writing today. If you were to lay all his published short stories, novels, novellas and film adaptations end to end…you would be ousted as a weirdo. At the height of his success he took the rockstar approach to writing and began indulging in a variety of substances. To the point where he has even been quoted as saying that he had no recollection of writing the novel Cujo.

So what has he achieved?

Just about everybody on the planet has read at least one of his books (or seen his films for those of you with no imagination). His work is so widely accessible and popular entire sections of high street bookshops are set aside just to house his work and several of his adaptations have gone on to win awards . In short: what has he achieved? FUCKING EVERYTHING!

Oh, and he slated Twilight author Stephanie Meyer.

What happened to him in the end?

He cleaned up (boo hiss!). After the publication of The Tommyknockers in the late 80′s his family held an intervention. Emptying a bin bag in front him they saw – amongst beer cans and cigarette ends – cocaine, Xanax, Valium, NyQuil, dope and…er…cough medicine (hey, drugs are drugs). It was basically a Wurzel Gummidge version of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing passage (below). He stated in his memoirs that he quit drink and drugs after that. And his subsequent novels have not been as well received since. Just saying…

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(unboring) work outfits ideas. :D

Today’s brilliant idea: an anti-tickling T-shirt next to Dexter’s grrreat tie. God bless the copywriters, who can wear crazy outfits at any time. As Hunter S. Thompson once said: “If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.” True, true. Anyway… Gotta have these! :- ))

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football season is over.

“… two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls.” (Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)

…and that’s exactly what Hunter S. Thompson and his writing were: one never sober (but always damn brilliant) montagne russe. He hated to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for him. In fact, he once even said that if you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up. And he certainly did get paid for his brilliant insanity.

(Next to Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Norman Mailer, Truman Capote) Hunter S. Thompson is one of my favourite journalists/writers. As you well know, he is credited as the creator of Gonzo journalism, a style of writing similar to  a trip through a journalistic fun house, where you didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t. You knew you had better learn enough about the subject at hand to know when the riff began and reality ended. Hunter was a stickler for numbers, for details like gross weight and model numbers, for lyrics and caliber, and there was no faking it. Of course, he is known also for his love of firearms; his long-standing hatred of Richard Nixon; and his iconoclastic contempt for authoritarianism.

“So why did you remember him just now?”, you’ll ask. Truth be told, I don’t know. Maybe because I saw around his “Hell’s Angels”, an angry, fascinating and excitedly written book, that crackles like motorcycle exhaust. Or maybe I remembered him just because he died more or less about  6 years ago, in February. His legend ended with a Smith&Wesson, along with these words:

“Football season is over. No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won’t hurt.”

His ex-wife used to say that he was born with an incredible talent and with a hyper-brilliant mind, but also with a “tormented soul”. What did she mean? Well, I don’t really know.  All I know is that he was one incredible talented writer who – in the end – just couldn’t take the fact that “the football season” was over. And “if you wonder if he’s gone to Heaven or Hell, rest assured he will check out them both, find out which one Richard Milhous Nixon went to — and go there. He could never stand being bored. But there must be Football too — and Peacocks…”  (Ralph Steadman)

And now please allow me to go back to my vacation. (;

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