Thursday, June 30, 2022

Sonny Barger Dies at 83

Sonny Barger and Hunter Thompson parted on bad terms, but their relatively short time together benefited both men. Barger might think otherwise, but his death at age 83 wouldn't have generated national headlines if it weren't for Thompson's 1967 bestselling book about the Hell's Angels.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Newsweek Podcast with Jack Sonni

Had a nice chat about Hunter Thompson with Jack Sonni on his Newsweek podcast. I always relish the chance to go deeper with an aficionado. Jack is certainly one of those, but he's probably even more famous for his guitar work with Dire Straits.

Friday, June 03, 2022

CBS News with Nicole Killion

CBS News streamed my brief chat with Nicole Killion about Hunter Thompson. I had COVID and was a little spaced out, but I wanted to focus on Thompson's literary formation, not on his myth or persona. The Gonzo formula was a winner, but these days I'm more drawn to the struggling writer than to the swaggering party animal.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Bay Area Book Festival with Sam Quinones

The Bay Area Book Festival took place last weekend in Berkeley. It was the festival's first face-to-face event in three years. I assembled and moderated many panels in the early years, and I think I'm officially still on the program committee, so this event has always meant a lot to me.

This year I was on the talent side of the equation. I chatted about Hunter Thompson with Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland and The Least of Us. Dreamland, which I reviewed for The National Memo, won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2015. It's an incredible tour de force on an urgent topic--the opiod crisis. I've known Sam for years, but I'm also a huge admirer, so I was delighted he could appear with me.

Our conversation was wide-ranging, but this was the first time I've discussed Thompson with someone like Sam, who has been documenting the ravages of drug abuse. As he pointed out, Thompson's drug use seemed funny in the 1970s, but there's nothing remotely amusing about what's happening on the streets now.

Washington Post Magazine Story

Jason Vest looked me up for a piece he wrote for The Washington Post Magazine. It appeared online a few days ago but is scheduled for Sunday's newspaper. It focuses on Hunter Thompson's campaign reporting in 1972, which is a remarkable chapter in his life. It's the 50th anniversary of that campaign, which always helps with this kind of story.

Jason also found Timothy Crouse, Thompson's Rolling Stone colleague on the campaign trail and author of The Boys on the Bus. Crouse has been out of journalism for some time, but that book holds up remarkably well. I felt I was in good company there.

Jason and I had a lot of fun swapping insights, so I was especially pleased that his story went over well. Many old colleagues saw it and contacted him, and CBS Morning News quickly reached out to UC Press about an author interview. We'll see what happens there.

As it turns out, NBC/Peacock also will interview me next week for a series on the Zodiac killer. Evidently, the production company heard my dulcet tones on the Monster podcast a while back. This interview will take place in Vallejo, where some of the murders occurred.

Friday, April 22, 2022

C-SPAN Airs My Chat with David Talbot

Not sure how I missed this program, or that I was properly lit. (Take that as you will.) But I was delighted to appear on C-SPAN's "Book TV" with David Talbot and Peter Maravelis. Thanks to City Lights for hosting this event way back in January. In fact, this was the book's official launch.

Let's take these things one at a time.

First, what an honor to appear on C-SPAN. I think someone there might be a Thompson fan because the station also featured Timothy Denevi and Juan Thompson in recent years.

Second, what a privilege to appear with David Talbot. He wrote (among other things) the bestselling Season of the Witch about San Francisco in the 1970s and 1980s. He also crossed paths with Thompson at the San Francisco Examiner. As this program shows, he's a Thompson aficionado and a skilled interviewer. I can vouch that he's also an all-around good guy, and I'm so glad he has returned to form.

Third, how cool that City Lights was the host. Over and above my affection for that San Francisco shrine, there's the magnetic attraction that drew Thompson to San Francisco in the first place. You can't understand that attraction without City Lights and its history.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Savage Journey Podcast With Janna Lopez

This interview was special. As a writing coach, Janna took our conversation to a new and interesting place. I enjoyed the chance to discuss Hunter Thompson, the book, the craft of writing, and the stubborn itch to say something about our own experience.

Friday, April 08, 2022

Savage Journey Chat at Mechanics Institute

I was pleased to talk about Hunter Thompson and Savage Journey at the Mechanics Institute. Love their mission, delighted that Taryn invited me, and Matthew did a superb job. Great opportunity to go a little deeper.

Monday, April 04, 2022

The Star-Crossed Documentary

A few years ago, I was asked to help with a documentary film about Hunter S. Thompson. There was a long telephone call about his life and work. Then I was asked to read the proposal, which didn't mention me. I said I usually received an honorarium to evaluate works-in-progress, including ones I helped conceptualize. Crickets after that.

The film was never made, and today I learned the back story from a podcast called The Failed Pitch. It features doc ideas this fellow never got across the finish line. The HST episode consists of him and an all-purpose historian mixing facts and errors (not really fiction) for 43 minutes.

My favorite part is when the doc guy says he wanted the result to resemble ESPN's 30 for 30. Seems he didn't know there already was a 30 for 30 episode about HST at the Kentucky Derby.

Cheap is one thing, lazy is another. The combination should ensure that "The Failed Pitch" has plenty of fresh material.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Daniel de Visé on "Savage Journey"

I appreciated this review of Savage Journey, which appeared in the Washington Indepedent Review of Books. Daniel de Visé zeroes in on the major themes and claims, and he ends with this:
Someone close to Thompson told me recently that she never reads books about him because they are largely populated with “people making up theories” about someone they barely knew. Savage Journey wisely focuses on the man’s work, which speaks for itself. It’s a good read.

Exactly right about my intention here. We already have the Thompson biographies; this one is about the work--and how he managed to produce it.