Archive for April, 2012


Editor’s note: Well, it is a week from the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby and I am posting a section of the famous Kentuckian Hunter S Thompson’s Gonzo article on the Derby entitled “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent And Depraved”. Here is part three is this really entertaining piece first published in a 1970 edition of the short running Scanlan’s Monthly.

PART THREE

The next day was heavy. With only thirty hours until post time I had no press credentials and–according to the sports editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal–no hope at all of getting any. Worse, I needed two sets: one for myself and another for Ralph Steadman, the English illustrator who was coming from London to do some Derby drawings. All I knew about him was that this was his first visit to the United States. And the more I pondered the fact, the more it gave me fear. How would he bear up under the heinous culture shock of being lifted out of London and plunged into the drunken mob scene at the Kentucky Derby? There was no way of knowing. Hopefully, he would arrive at least a day or so ahead, and give himself time to get acclimated. Maybe a few hours of peaceful sightseeing in the Bluegrass country around Lexington. My plan was to pick him up at the airport in the huge Pontiac Ballbuster I’d rented from a used-car salesman name Colonel Quick, then whisk him off to some peaceful setting that might remind him of England.
Colonel Quick had solved the car problem, and money (four times the normal rate) had bought two rooms in a scumbox on the outskirts of town. The only other kink was the task of convincing the moguls at Churchill Downs that Scanlan’s was such a prestigious sporting journal that common sense compelled them to give us two sets of the best press tickets. This was not easily done. My first call to the publicity office resulted in total failure. The press handler was shocked at the idea that anyone would be stupid enough to apply for press credentials two days before the Derby. “Hell, you can’t be serious,” he said. “The deadline was two months ago. The press box is full; there’s no more room…and what the hell is Scanlan’s Monthly anyway?”
I uttered a painful groan. “Didn’t the London office call you? They’re flying an artist over to do the paintings. Steadman. He’s Irish. I think. Very famous over there. Yes. I just got in from the Coast. The San Francisco office told me we were all set.”
He seemed interested, and even sympathetic, but there was nothing he could do. I flattered him with more gibberish, and finally he offered a compromise: he could get us two passes to the clubhouse grounds but the clubhouse itself and especially the press box were out of the question.
“That sounds a little weird,” I said. “It’s unacceptable. We must have access tp everything. All of it. The spectacle, the people, the pageantry and certainly the race. You don’t think we came all this way to watch the damn thing on television, do you? One way or another we’ll get inside. Maybe we’ll have to bribe a guard–or even Mace somebody.” (I had picked up a spray can of Mace in a downtown drugstore for $5.98 and suddenly, in the midst of that phone talk, I was struck by the hideous possibilities of using it out at the track. Macing ushers at the narrow gates to the clubhouse inner sanctum, then slipping quickly inside, firing a huge load of Mace into the governor’s box, just as the race starts. Or Macing helpless drunks in the clubhouse restroom, for their own good…)
By noon on Friday I was still without press credentials and still unable to locate Steadman. For all I knew he’d changed his mind and gone back to London. Finally, after giving up on Steadman and trying unsuccessfully to reach my man in the press office, I decided my only hope for credentials was to go out to the track and confront the man in person, with no warning–demanding only one pass now, instead of two, and talking very fast with a strange lilt in my voice, like a man trying hard to control some inner frenzy. On the way out, I stopped at the motel desk to cash a check. Then, as a useless afterthought, I asked if by any wild chance a Mr. Steadman had checked in.
The lady on the desk was about fifty years old and very peculiar-looking; when I mentioned Steadman’s name she nodded, without looking up from whatever she was writing, and said in a low voice, “You bet he did.” Then she favored me with a big smile. “Yes, indeed. Mr. Steadman just left for the racetrack. Is he a friend of yours?”
I shook my head. “I’m supposed to be working with him, but I don’t even know what he looks like. Now, goddammit, I’ll have to find him in the mob at the track.”
She chuckled. “You won’t have any trouble finding him. You could pick that man out of any crowd.”
“Why?” I asked. “What’s wrong with him? What does he look like?”
“Well…” she said, still grinning, “he’s the funniest looking thing I’ve seen in a long time. He has this…ah…this growth all over his face. As a matter of fact it’s all over his head.” She nodded. “You’ll know him when you see him; don’t worry about that.”
Creeping Jesus, I thought. That screws the press credentials. I had a vision of some nerve-rattling geek all covered with matted hair and string-warts showing up in the press office and demanding Scanlan’s press packet. Well…what the hell? We could always load up on acid and spend the day roaming around the clubhouse grounds with bit sketch pads, laughing hysterically at the natives and swilling mint juleps so the cops wouldn’t think we’re abnormal. Perhaps even make the act pay; set up an easel with a big sign saying, “Let a Foreign Artist Paint Your Portrait, $10 Each. Do It NOW!”
*************************************

PART FOUR, tomorrow

Editor’s note: Well, it is a week from the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby and I am posting a section of the famous Kentuckian Hunter S Thompson’s Gonzo article on the Derby entitled “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent And Depraved”. Here is part two is this really entertaining piece first published in a 1970 edition of the short running Scanlan’s Monthly.

PART TWO

“Not here,” I said, picking up my bag. “Thanks for the drink…and good luck.”
He grabbed my arm, urging me to have another, but I said I was overdue at the Press Club and hustled off to get my act together for the awful spectacle. At the airport newsstand I picked up a Courier-Journal and scanned the front page headlines: “Nixon Sends GI’s into Cambodia to Hit Reds”… “B-52′s Raid, then 20,000 GI’s Advance 20 Miles”…”4,000 U.S. Troops Deployed Near Yale as Tension Grows Over Panther Protest.” At the bottom of the page was a photo of Diane Crump, soon to become the first woman jockey ever to ride in the Kentucky Derby. The photographer had snapped her “stopping in the barn area to fondle her mount, Fathom.” The rest of the paper was spotted with ugly war news and stories of “student unrest.” There was no mention of any trouble brewing at university in Ohio called Kent State.
I went to the Hertz desk to pick up my car, but the moon-faced young swinger in charge said they didn’t have any. “You can’t rent one anywhere,” he assured me. “Our Derby reservations have been booked for six weeks.” I explained that my agent had confirmed a white Chrysler convertible for me that very afternoon but he shook his head. “Maybe we’ll have a cancellation. Where are you staying?”
I shrugged. “Where’s the Texas crowd staying? I want to be with my people.”
He sighed. “My friend, you’re in trouble. This town is flat full. Always is, for the Derby.”
I leaned closer to him, half-whispering: “Look, I’m from Playboy. How would you like a job?”
He backed off quickly. “What? Come on, now. What kind of a job?”
“Never mind,” I said. “You just blew it.” I swept my bag off the counter and went to find a cab. The bag is a valuable prop in this kind of work; mine has a lot of baggage tags on it–SF, LA, NY, Lima, Rome, Bangkok, that sort of thing–and the most prominent tag of all is a very official, plastic-coated thing that says “Photog. Playboy Mag.” I bought it from a pimp in Vail, Colorado, and he told me how to use it. “Never mention Playboy until you’re sure they’ve seen this thing first,” he said. “Then, when you see them notice it, that’s the time to strike. They’ll go belly up ever time. This thing is magic, I tell you. Pure magic.”
Well…maybe so. I’d used it on the poor geek in the bar, and now humming along in a Yellow Cab toward town, I felt a little guilty about jangling the poor bugger’s brains with that evil fantasy. But what the hell? Anybody who wanders around the world saying, “Hell yes, I’m from Texas,” deserves whatever happens to him. And he had, after all, come here once again to make a nineteenth-century ass of himself in the midst of some jaded, atavistic freakout with nothing to recommend it except a very saleable “tradition.” Early in our chat, Jimbo had told me that he hadn’t missed a Derby since 1954. “The little lady won’t come anymore,” he said. “She grits her teeth and turns me loose for this one. And when I say ‘loose’ I do mean loose! I toss ten-dollar bills around like they were goin’ out of style! Horses, whiskey, women…shit, there’s women in this town that’ll do anything for money.”
Why not? Money is a good thing to have in these twisted times. Even Richard Nixon is hungry for it. Only a few days before the Derby he said, “If I had any money I’d invest it in the stock market.” And the market, meanwhile, continued its grim slide.

************************************

PART THREE, tomorrow

One blue sky above us
One ocean lapping all our shore
One earth so green and round
Who could ask for more
And because I love you
I’ll give it one more try
To show my rainbow race
It’s too soon to die.

Editor’s note: Well, it is a week from the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby and I am posting a section of the famous Kentuckian Hunter S Thompson’s Gonzo article on the Derby entitled “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent And Depraved”. Here is part one is this really entertaining piece first published in a 1970 edition of the short running Scanlan’s Monthly.

PART ONE

I got off the plane around midnight and no one spoke as I crossed the dark runway to the terminal. The air was thick and hot, like wandering into a steam bath. Inside, people hugged each other and shook hands…big grins and a whoop here and there: “By God! You old bastard! Good to see you, boy! Damn good…and I mean it!”
In the air-conditioned lounge I met a man from Houston who said his name was something or other–”but just call me Jimbo”–and he was here to get it on. “I’m ready for anything, by God! Anything at all. Yeah, what are you drinkin?” I ordered a Margarita with ice, but he wouldn’t hear of it: “Naw, naw…what the hell kind of drink is that for Kentucky Derby time? What’s wrong with you, boy?” He grinned and winked at the bartender. “Goddam, we gotta educate this boy. Get him some good whiskey…”
I shrugged. “Okay, a double Old Fitz on ice.” Jimbo nodded his approval.
“Look.” He tapped me on the arm to make sure I was listening. “I know this Derby crowd, I come here every year, and let me tell you one thing I’ve learned–this is no town to be giving people the impression you’re some kind of faggot. Not in public, anyway. Shit, they’ll roll you in a minute, knock you in the head and take every goddam cent you have.”
I thanked him and fitted a Marlboro into my cigarette holder. “Say,” he said, “you look like you might be in the horse business…am I right?”
“No,” I said. “I’m a photographer.”
“Oh yeah?” He eyed my ragged leather bag with new interest. “Is that what you got there–cameras? Who you work for?”
“Playboy,” I said.
He laughed. “Well, goddam! What are you gonna take pictures of–nekkid horses? Haw! I guess you’ll be workin’ pretty hard when they run the Kentucky Oaks. That’s a race just for fillies.” He was laughing wildly. “Hell yes! And they’ll all be nekkid too!”
I shook my head and said nothing; just stared at him for a moment, trying to look grim. “There’s going to be trouble,” I said. “My assignment is to take pictures of the riot.”
“What riot?”
I hesitated, twirling the ice in my drink. “At the track. On Derby Day. The Black Panthers.” I stared at him again. “Don’t you read the newspapers?”
The grin on his face had collapsed. “What the hell are you talkin’ about?”
“Well…maybe I shouldn’t be telling you…” I shrugged. “But hell, everybody else seems to know. The cops and the National Guard have been getting ready for six weeks. They have 20,000 troops on alert at Fort Knox. They’ve warned us–all the press and photographers–to wear helmets and special vests like flak jackets. We were told to expect shooting…”
“No!” he shouted; his hands flew up and hovered momentarily between us, as if to ward off the words he was hearing. Then he whacked his fist on the bar. “Those sons of bitches! God Almighty! The Kentucky Derby!” He kept shaking his head. “No! Jesus! That’s almost too bad to believe!” Now he seemed to be sagging on the stool, and when he looked up his eyes were misty. “Why? Why here? Don’t they respect anything?”
I shrugged again. “It’s not just the Panthers. The FBI says busloads of white crazies are coming in from all over the country–to mix with the crowd and attack all at once, from every direction. They’ll be dressed like everybody else. You know–coats and ties and all that. But when the trouble starts…well, that’s why the cops are so worried.”
He sat for a moment, looking hurt and confused and not quite able to digest all this terrible news. Then he cried out: “Oh…Jesus! What in the name of God is happening in this country? Where can you get away from it?”
“Not here,” I said, picking up my bag. “Thanks for the drink…and good luck.”

********************************
PART TWO, tomorrow

Weekly Photo Challenge: Together

Here is the latest selection from the photo library of Nascence photography contributor, Linda Kuster. This week’s theme is TOGETHER. So lets enjoy this beautiful photo together. ;)

That first step being…admitting you have a problem. You see, I have an annoying addiction…to browser tabs. The advent of tabbed browsing was apparently, carte-blanche, for me to go all willy-nilly with frenetic, multi-topic internet surfing. But I know now that I am not alone. Molly Oswaks over at i09 shares her struggle with browsertabophilia.

We need to talk about my addiction to opening browser tabs. And leaving them open. Because maybe it’s your addiction, too. Right now I have 16 tabs open, of which four are actively being used. The remaining 12 are split between a) pages I need to reference for something I’m not working on right now and I don’t want to close them because then I’ll forget b) pages I think I’m about to need but in reality probably will not. If my honest assessment of the situation has you thinking it’s not really that big a deal, reader, you are wrong.

At this moment I have nine tabs open. But together we can beat this. ;)

Of course. Gotye has infected my ears as well.

The Quotable Reverend Dana

A good friend of mine who is a Lutheran pastor in South Dakota asks some good questions:

At a ministerial association meeting today, I expressed reservations about the upcoming “National Day of Prayer.” This is partly because the proposed agenda called for prayers for our leaders, our government, and our military, but not the poor, the unemployed, and the oppressed. It is also because I find only praying “God Bless America,” when so much national sin continues without repentance, deeply troubling to my conscience. On May 3rd, will there also be prayers for the innocent people our government has imprisoned and tortured in our name?

Vermont-bound

Exciting news! My nephew may be attending college in Vermont on a track scholarship! I ran cross-country in HS and never ran a mile under 7:00 minutes…and this was before I started smoking…but my nephew’s best 1-mile run time is a wonderful 4:43. He is far better than I ever was at my best so I am excited to help.

We will be travelling to Bennington in southern Vermont where he will meet with officials at Southern Vermont College. He has his transcripts, recommendation letters and suits ready so keep your fingers crossed and hopefully he will have some papers to sign soon! Updates to come when we return from Vermont on Wednesday the 25th.

Fellow readers, as someone unashamed to say that I occasionally partake in marijuana usage, I want to wish you all a Happy 4/20. I am obliged to repeat the question as to why pot is illegal while alcohol and cigarettes, which are far larger public health threats are much less controlled. Our drug laws are an insult to the pragmatic trend that has always shaped American policy-making. Just legalize and regulate the stuff.

**Steps off soapbox**

Here is the latest selection from the photo library of Nascence photography contributor, Linda Kuster. This week’s theme is SUN. Here’s the excellent solar photo.

Einstein’s desk

Great minds apparently never ever stop working. On the anniversary of Albert Einstein’s death here is a pic of his office on the day of his death: April 18, 1955. Not only this pic kinda cool but it is also a relief that such a genius could have such a messy desk. :-)

Check out the rest of a series of pics on Albert Einstein over at LIFE Magazine.

The Quotable Terence Malick

Discovered this beautiful quote over at Andrew Sullivan’s blog The Dish.
It is from the screenplay of Terence Malick’s movie Tree of Life and discusses consciousness:

Reptiles emerge from the amphibians, and dinosaurs in turn from the reptiles. Among the dinosaurs we discover the first signs of maternal love, as the creatures learn to care for each other. Is not love, too, a work of the creation? What should we have been without it? How had things been then? Silent as a shadow, consciousness has slipped into the world.

I am a child of the internet usually with my mind awed by the pace with which the Information Age has unfurled. I am truly amazed by the social, political, economic and scientific change that has happened within the lifespans of even my parents. But as a believer in God I can say that Nature awes me even more than the creations of humankind. Humankind included…I recently ran across an article that floored me with this stunning and humbling conclusion: all of the world’s computing power matches the computations per second of just ONE human brain. We are awash in a world on the verge of coming alive with creations of our own making yet it still does not match eons of evolution.

From Ars Technica:

Lest we get too enamored with our technological prowess, however, the authors make some comparisons with biology. “To put our findings in perspective, the 6.4*1018 instructions per second that humankind can carry out on its general-purpose computers in 2007 are in the same ballpark area as the maximum number of nerve impulses executed by one human brain per second,” they write.

We think life is endless
We fear the end
Infinity is comforting
Finitude is the mother of illimitability
Be here
Be now
Be you

Beautiful words from a wonderful song. This is one of my favorites from Mazzy Star.

Starting in Cartagena

I know it has been something that people with common sense on the center-left spectrum in the US have been saying for years…but isn’t it time we reconsider the Drug War? The US is no less a consumer of drugs (prescription or illicit) than it was at its commencement and the countries that produce the drugs are therefore tempted with no smaller of incentives. 50 000 dead in just five years in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala as two of the most dangerous places on Earth, emboldened drug bosses and millions of Americans jailed for nonviolent drug offenses. Are these the indicators of success? President Obama and Prime Minister Harper should heed the calls of Central and South American leaders as the effects of this failed decades-long venture become too large and too grave to ignore.

From The Globe and Mail:

Latin American leaders are pushing to make a Cartagena summit a moment that sparks the world to redefine its approach to drugs. Stephen Harper, like U.S. President Barack Obama, has vowed to stand in the way. Make no mistake, as presidents from Colombia to Mexico flirt with the idea of legalizing or decriminalizing drugs, the notion is a challenge aimed at the nations to the north, the United States and Canada, the big consumer markets for the smuggled drugs. At the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, Mr. Harper will tell them they’ve got it all wrong.

Here is the latest selection from the photo library of Nascence photography contributor, Linda Kuster. Now, there are indeed two subjects in this photo and I am pretty sure you all will easily guess where they are. This week’s theme is TWO SUBJECTS. I hope you like this pic as much as I do.

Well, in addition to the Arby-Q, this is a guilty pleasure of mine at the moment:

Here is the latest selection from the photo library of Nascence photography contributor, Linda Kuster. Here is the image that represents a journey to me. =) This week’s theme is JOURNEY. I hope you like this pic as much as I do.

I’ve been sharing the view from my own two eyes through Nascence for over four years. For half of that time it was pretty much a ghost blog but some 18 months ago I came back, rejoining the blogging community. Well, we hit a milestone today–20 000 visitors! Thanks to all of you who have took even the smallest time out of your day to read entries here. Since returning to Kentucky, the posts have been few and far between but I will be back soon. 2012 has been a year of unprecedented change so far and I suspect part two will be much the same.

Thanks again for being a part of the community.

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