Friday, May 29, 2009

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXII: Shady Calipari Does It Again, Plus Stars Are Like Bikinis

Always one step ahead of the NCAA, that Calipari clown
Leaves programs in shambles as he leaves town
Is anyone surprised that Memphis is the last?
The Teflon Weeble Wobble has a sordid past
He cheats and he lies, but he never goes down

Torturing horses makes me say, "What the hecks?"
And the next words I have are, "Fucking rednecks!"
Who chases wild horses on ATVs for a thrill?
And doesn't stop there but decides to kill?
Hope you burn in hell on your way out of the OBX

Another individual title put up on the trophy rack
More good news for the resurgent Wolfpack
Matt Hill is the newest winner in State's camp
He puts up 69s like a freaking champ
Here comes the Red and White, and that's a fact, Jack

There ain't shit on TV these days
Most of it makes my eyes glaze
The season finales left me spent
Still wondering where "Lost" went
Guess I'll finally see whether Netflix pays

It's true that recruiting rankings are shams
A Clemson assistant coach is exposing the scams
They're a joke for the most part
They show nothing about heart
Some coaches are more about PR, like Butch's lambs

Last time

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Of All The Cliff-Diving Joints In All The Cities In All Of Jamaica, You've Got To Walk Into Rick's Cafe

Few things are as resilient as the beggars on Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica. Fortunately, another Negril landmark, Rick's Café, is one of those things that is just that resilient.

In its 35-year history, Rick's has twice been completely destroyed by massive hurricanes. Hurricane Gilbert rocked Rick's in 1988, and then Hurricane Ivan turned the café into sticks with 80-foot-high waves in 2004. Both times, however, Rick's Café has come back better than ever, giving visitors a view of one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world, plenty of cold Red Stripes and some crazy-ass cliff divers to watch in the meantime.

Here's a quick video I took of one of the professional cliff divers, who climbed a tree above the highest cliff for this epic leap.

Sharing a name with the bar that served as a main character in "Casablanca," Rick's offers tremendous people-watching on top of everything else. The long bus ride, the annoying fat chicks with no bus etiquette, the disappointing Seven Mile Beach, the toking bus driver, getting stuck at Margaritaville … almost all of that was made worth it by grabbing a front-row seat to have a few cervezas while watching a stunning sunset in the rain. Pictures like this helped Rick's Café salvage a four-hour round-trip bus ride nearly by itself.

Here's another cool one just before the sun disappeared.

Named one of the 1,000 places to go before you die, Rick's has a prime location on West End Road in Negril, 35-foot-high cliffs to jump off, a tremendous cove … and a fearless outlook on hurricanes.

Be sure to check it out if you have the opportunity …

Friday, May 22, 2009

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXI: An Asshole Returns While An American Institution Says Goodbye

ESPN is still stalking one Michael Vick
He's finally out of Leavenworth, that prick
He's headed to Virginia and house arrest
He won't go away, he's like a mosquito pest
Lock him in a kennel with dogs who are rabies sick

A decision for Raleigh's own John Wall
To play in Kentucky was his final call
For shady Calipari, he's going to play
The NBA beckons, for only a year he'll stay
His entourage may drag him down, but he sure can ball

For GM, it's going to be an emotional end
It's bankruptcy that awaits just around that bend
Put all they had in SUVs with horrible emissions
Didn't adjust to gas prices and economic conditions
Hope other car companies try to help Mother Earth mend

The final four have hit the NBA Playoffs floor
After a regular season that was nothing but a bore
Kobe vs. Carmelo has been a sight to see
LeBron vs. Dwight Howard is worth the fee
A combined one year of college among those four

A happy Memorial Day to each and every one
Here's hoping for a good time had by all in the sun
Have a beer while you soak in some rays
And forget about all the recent workdays
Put it all behind you and focus on having fun

Last time

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Friends, Family Invite Readers Inside Hunter S. Thompson's "Conspiracy To Have Fun"

"I think every writer writes out of some schism in their personality, and I do think Hunter was underneath quite lonely, and the drugs and the alcohol helped mask that. Hunter is also the one writer I know of where everything he wrote would be more or less true but he would pretend it wasn't, whereas others would try to say it was true when it wasn't. he threw caution to the winds early on, and that became part of his persona, and he thought he had to keep doing it. He had to live out who he was."
--Lynn Nesbit

“Being around Hunter, I stuck to the same approach as when I was with animals and children: I don’t approach them and stick my head in their faces.”
--Anna Steadman

For many young writers, Hunter S. Thompson exists moreso in the domain of myth, a character sprung from the reality of a character. We tell ourselves, "Oh yeah, he's the guy from 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,'" and leave it at that, figuring that he's a larger than a life epic unto himself, that half the stories must be false, that there's no way someone could live that level of existence.

So when I came across "Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson," I had to educate myself. Billed as an oral biography by Thompson's long-time friend and Rolling Stones collaborator Jann S. Wenner and Corey Seymour, the book was comprised of an eclectic mix of interviews. Could any one person really strike up memorable and meaningful relationships with people as diverse as Sandy Berger, Sonny Barger, Ed Bradley, Pat Buchanan, Jimmy Buffett, Jimmy Carter, James Carville, Anjelica Huston, Don Johnson, Margot Kidder, Norman Mailer, Marilyn Manson, George McGovern, Jack Nicholson and Sean Penn?

With a foreword by Johnny Depp, who formed a close late-life friendship with Thompson, the book examines Thompson's life and times, ranging from his days in South America to his time with the Hell's Angels to his on-again, off-again Rolling Stones career to his stint as a Sports Illustrated sportswriter. It also features a tremendous series of pictures in the middle, which provide insight into Thompson's growth and eventual degeneration. The images seemed to bolster the idea of Thompson as very childlike and immature in many ways, prone to tantrums and rage-filled outbursts, a persona that wasn't helped by his operation as a "a perpetual-motion machine, a perpetual intoxicating device," as one friend described him.

Since the book was made up solely of quotes from those who lived in Thompson's world, it was so eminently quotable that I don't know how to make this any shorter—the quotes were so good and insightful and entertaining that I found myself wanting to capture everything. The enigma wrapped inside a riddle that was Hunter S. Thompson doesn't lend itself to brevity or encapsulation; it is naturally huge and voluminous, echoing and mirroring his personality.

Sometimes, I rely on the Word program to capitalize certain words and the first words of sentences for me, and for reasons I can’t explain, I kept just writing ‘hunter’ lower-cased, expecting Word to capitalize it for me. It was as if Word should have known that for this larger-than-life person, there was no other way you could utter his name out into the world with anything less than at least a capital ‘H’ … and somehow, I think Dr. Thompson would have liked that.

Here are just a handful of the many quotes and memories that spoke to me …

On Thompson's writing style and tone:

“All his writing was about the loss of some mythic world that he may once have inhabited. It was no accident that Gatsby was his favorite book. I said to him at one point, ‘You’re really writing one lifelong book called "The Death of the American Dream."’ And that stuck.”
--James Silberman

“I think Hunter had an intuitive understanding of the brand of ‘Hunter Thompson.’ He knew to wear the same kinds of things when he went out. He was aware of things like entrances and exits.
“How much of Hunter was spontaneous and how much was arranged was always one of those questions that people would kick around. I found that he was like jazz. The piece was arranged. It was disciplined. But within that, he was the free instrument and he would go off. Nobody else went off because we were just trying to get through the piece, but he would go off. I always found his writing to be a lot like that. He needed a story. He needed a surprising amount of structure in his head, but within that structure he would go crazy.”
--Curtis Robinson

On Thompson, in the words of his contemporaries:

"For me, he's as big as Hemingway. I said to him once, 'You know, you really are pretty good.' And he said, 'You know what? Sometimes I can be the best.'"
--Tom Benton

"Hunter is going to be read and read and read, and in that sense he is never going to go away. His books will be a part of people's lives; his voice is so unique and powerful and funny. Just rip any page out of any Hunter book and read it and you will immediately know that it's Hunter. There is nothing he did that didn't have his own stamp on it. The hardest part of creative writing is finding your own voice—an authentic, original voice that can translate into the culture. Only a handful of writers in a generation can pull that off, and Hunter, in that regard, transcended his competition. Gonzo is now in the dictionaries. There are a lot of people who write beautiful New Yorker essays and craft elegant novels, but they don't have an authentic voice. Hunter's voice is going to echo the longest of any writer of his generation."
--Doug Brinkley

"Instead of saying, 'Let's put this thing up against the wall,' Hunter would say, 'Let's just go through the wall.' He was just brilliant—there are very few writers who could top him. I can't think of any humorist in the whole century who could touch him."
--Tom Wolfe

On the movie version of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas":

“I was in New York, I think for the twenty-fifth-anniversary party for Fear and Loathing, and I cornered Hunter and asked him if he really wanted me, if he really felt I was the guy to do that, because I knew he had other friends who were actors, and I would have been more than happy to back out. It was Hunter’s book, and if it was going to be me, I needed to have his blessing. And he said, ‘No, of course, you’re wanted. You have my blessing.’ I said, ‘If I do a remotely decent job of portraying you, you know there’s a very good chance you’ll hate me for the rest of your life,’ and he said, ‘Well then, let’s hope for your sake that I don’t, ho, ho.’
“After he’d seen the film, I got him on the phone, ‘cause I had to know. I said, ‘Okay, do you hate me? Was I right?’ And he said, ‘Oh, fuck no, man. Christ—it was like an eerie trumpet call over a lost battlefield.’ Those words just came out of his mouth. I thought, ‘Well, okay. We’re solid.’”
--Johnny Depp

On Thompson's process:

“After that, he got down to work. He was very open with me about his process as a writer. I was with him in the room upstairs where he had his IBM Selectric set up on a card table. He would sit with his elbows out to the sides, his back very straight, and he would get this sort of electric jolt and blast out a sentence. Then he’d wait again with his arms out, and he’d get another jolt and type another sentence.
“Watching him, I began to realize that he was trying to bypass learned attitudes, received ideas, clichés of every kind, and tap into something that had more to do with unconscious, his intuitive take on things. He wanted to get the sentence out before any preconception could corrupt it.
“One of Hunter’s methods of composition was to write a bunch of ledes and then somehow fit them together. By lede, I mean the opening portion of a story, which is ordinarily designed to pack more of a virtuosic wallop than the sections that follow. Early on, I remember, Hunter showed me a stack of ledes he’d accumulated, as if he were fanning a whole deck of aces. On a tight deadline, my job would sometimes be to stitch together the lede-like chunks that Hunter had generated. Ideally, the story would function like an internal-combusion engine, with a constant flow of explosions of more or less equal intensity all the way through.”
--Tim Crouse

“When he would get cranked up, he would get that look and start laughing while he was writing. ‘Hot damn—I have it now!’ Sometimes he’d take hundred-dollar bills and put them around the typewriter because he just liked to have money around. He’d get into it, and you’d see the look of a small child on his face. It was euphoric. He looked like the Dalai Lama when he was like that. Then the phone could ring, or a GM commercial would come on and he’d just start talking about ’66 Chevy Impalas. You’d be thinking, ‘You were so close. So close.’”
--Curtis Robinson

On Thompson's way of life:

“Hunter was going to be Hunter. If you’re the moth coming into the flame, and you get burned by the flame, and then you complain, ‘Oh my God, I got burned’—well, what did you expect? He’s an inferno. Did you think you were special?”
--Doug Brinkley

“‘The best spies build a mythology about themselves. The worst spies come to believe it, and they have to be destroyed.’ That’s exactly what Hunter did—he almost would ask himself, ‘What would Hunter do?’ He was driven by that.”
--Terry Sabonis-Chaffee, quoting John le Carre in “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”

“And Hunter did something that none of us had the guts to do—he led the kind of life that secretly all of us would like to have had the guts to lead. To hell with the whole thing, just stay drunk and high and smoke and hang out and write outrageous things. He’d never lived his life on anybody else’s terms.”
--James Carville

“Around this time I was tussling around with my son Theo, and I sort of absentmindedly said to him, ‘How did I get such a crazy kid?’ and he said, ‘Well, you know, I’m not as crazy as Uncle Hunter.’ I said, ‘Really, Theo? What do you think it is that we do with Uncle Hunter?’ He said, ‘I think you stay up late, you eat fire, and you Bedazzle all night.’ And I looked at Theo and I said, ‘Yeah, that’s about right.’ Hunter loved that.”
--Jane Wenner

“He was the number one gunslinger. He was Billy the Kid with a brilliant mind and an incredible intuitive genius. He was a criminal by nature who essentially cased every room he walked into and saw things that nobody else saw.”
--Doug Brinkley

"Most people start out on the first floor and take drugs to take them to the second floor. He started out in the basement and took drugs to take him back up to the first floor."
-- Rich Cohen

"He must have had the heart and liver and kidneys of a master race. Who could have survived what he put his body through for as many years as he lived?"
--Lynn Nesbit

“I think Hunter preferred drugs to women, actually. And he liked women who understood that.”
--Jack Thibeau

And finally … Hunter himself to Doug Brinkley, on the concept of suicide near the end of his life:

"'Of course it's a fucking option of mine. Who the fuck do you think I am? Do you think I'm gonna go in to live with goddam Nurse Ratched in the hospital and be put through some detox thing? Fuck that.'"

Exactly, Dr. Thompson. Exactly.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Top Ten Things I Learned In Jamaica

1. Margaritaville is even cheesier in Jamaica as it is in Myrtle Beach.

2. The University of Pittsburgh jazz ensemble thinks it's fun to delay a plane and re-enact band camp on a three-hour flight.

3. It's more than a little disconcerting to pass by ramshackle, leaning, partly constructed, corrugated-aluminum dwellings on your way to an all-inclusive palace. Makes you feel more than a little like a hoity-toity piece of shit. On a side note, there are many strange and shady ways to find transport from an airport to a resort.

4. Seven-Mile Beach may be among the most beautiful stretches of beach in the world, but it's not worth putting up with beggars and drug dealers every 10 feet to walk it. Also, fat Hispanic chicks don't understand tour-bus etiquette, but sometimes they get rained on, which is pretty awesome.

5. "The good smoke" means the same thing the world over.

6. Jamaicans are perhaps prouder that "Cool Runnings" and "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" were filmed there than they should be.

7. Topless isn't always good, especially when you're the only person going al fresco and you're leathery, floppy, droopy and late-middle-aged on a public, family beach. Proof that rednecks are everywhere, including Jamaica (especially when they're ordering "hawt dawgs" on the beach at an all-inclusive).

8. You can have as much liquor as you want at an all-inclusive resort, but toilet paper is rationed like it's made of gold. Which borders on irony since all-you-can drink alcohol and butt wipe are pretty closely related.

9. Don't order an Irish Coffee in Jamaica. There is simply no telling what you're going to get.

And … the No. 10 thing I learned in Jamaica …

10. Sometimes trophy wives nearly pass out on their 40th birthday in the fried rice of a Japanese restaurant manned by black chefs in Jamaica.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXX: Red Stripe And Dixie Live Up To, "Hurray, Beer!"

A last-minute switch for a Jamaican honeymoon
A relaxing trip that ended way too soon
Chilling on the beach was pretty freaking good, mon
Red Stripes and White Russians came and then gone
After the last two weeks, feel like I could sleep until June

Smartest team in the ACC, at least that's something
Not sure good grades will win you a ring
Still, good news for the Wolfpack and Sidney Lowe
Other league teams, to classes, they say no
Most kids less interested in school than bling

Horrible news for Mark Herzlich and B.C.
Cancer has struck this young man, it's sad to see
Last year, the best defensive player far and near
But he'll have to fight for his life this year
Best hopes and wishes for him from the entire ACC

An incredible season finale for the "Lost" show
A hydrogen bomb, how high will it blow?
Is it all about Kate, and did Juliet really die at the very end?
Who's the Locke imposter who was dead Jacob's friend?
The entire finale simply made me say, "Whoa!"

Dixie sends free beer to flooded Fargo
1,000 cases for a party in the rain and snow
Hurricane Katrina devastated Dixie in the Big Easy
So they turn around and help others feeling queasy
24,000 beers will help Minnesotans get up and go

Last time