Review: The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved (Various Artists/Spoken Word – Paris/429 Records)

Hey folks,

Well what a long road it has been for this project. We first reported on it here at Totally Gonzo back in October of 2009 and have been eagerly awaiting its release ever since. Last November we received a tantalising update on the record courtesy of Ethan Persoff, who also earlier contributed an intriguing profile of Paris Records and their projects to the Evergreen Review. For those of you interested in work by Burroughs, Terry Southern, Ginsberg et al his article is a must read.

As for the Kentucky Derby project well I am delighted to say the wait is finally over and the record is finally available via iTunes and Amazon. I have to say I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first heard about this record. I’m don’t ever really listen to audio books and I always get nervous about any adaptation or interpretation of Thompson’s writing. When it works it is great but when it doesn’t…well the less said the better.

Thankfully, this record has more than exceeded my expectations. Which is a huge relief as The Kentucky Derby article is one of my favourite pieces by Thompson and  is pretty much hallowed ground in the Gonzo cannon. Failure is not an option. I think it is fair to say that full credit must go to Michael Minzer for bringing Hal Willner on board as producer along with composer Bill Frisell, whose accompanying musical score is a delight and without which this project would have no doubt suffered greatly.

As for the cast, obviously the number one question concerns Tim Robbins role as Hunter. When he was first announced in the role I was intrigued. I never thought that he was an obvious choice for the part but I have always been a huge fan of his work ever since I saw The Shawshank Redemption (if you are one of the few mortals who haven’t seen this film then you need to rectify this immediately). I suppose having gotten used to Johnny Depp portraying Thompson onscreen it has become difficult to imagine anyone else playing that role. Comparisons are inevitable, even for such a different project as this. Thankfully however, Robbins is an inspired choice as the Good Doctor. At first it is a bit jarring to hear another actor take on the role, but what a take it is. Robbins brings a wealth of experience to the table here and it really shows. Some people might find Robbins increasingly frenetic delivery a little odd but I think it fits with the material well, particularly as a reflection of the manic energy that defines the Gonzo narrative.

I also took particular delight in the fact that Ralph Steadman came on board to play his part in the story, which lends that extra dimension of authentic Gonzo flavour to the album, not to mention his iconic Kentucky Derby artwork that decorates the sleeve of the album and CD itself. The rest of the cast put in solid performances but I have to single out Dr. John for his take on Jimbo which had me grinning like a fool. He absolutely nails the part.

So now that the 138th Kentucky Derby is less than a month away, what better way to mark the occasion than to make yourself a Mint Julep and listen to this fantastic release courtesy of Paris Records and 429 Records.

All the best,

Rory

COMPETITION: If you would like to win 1 0f 5 copies of the album courtesy of 429records than check the Official Totally Gonzo Facebook Page for details.

Hunter S. Thompson’s Second Life In San Francisco by Warren Hinckle

Hey folks,

The latest issue of Argonaut has just been released. It includes a fantastic excerpt from Warren Hinckle’s book – Who Killed Hunter S. Thompson, which is due to be released by Last Gasp books in February 2012. To download the issue for free – click here.

For those of you on Twitter, you can also follow @WarrenHinckle

All the best,

Rory

Interview with Warren Hinckle

Hey there,

Thanks to Sean @ Babylonfalling for sharing the following:

On one of our last days in town my wife and I met up with the legendary publisher and award winning journalist Warren Hinckle at the Double Play Bar & Grill in the Mission district of San Francisco.


I was there to share my collection of Ramparts and Scanlan’s to see if there was anything he wanted to scan for his book, the perennially delayed Who Killed Hunter S. Thompson: The story of the birth of Gonzo.

As he thumbed through the magazines and showed us proofs of the book we talked about his friendship with Hunter; the roots of Gonzo journalism and the culture that spawned it; his tenure at the groundbreaking radical slick, Ramparts magazine, in the ‘60s; working with Hunter at his short-lived, but highly influential, muckraking monthly Scanlan’s; the Kennedy assassination; San Francisco’s favorite merchants of porn, The O’Farrell brothers; and much more.

Because there is nothing that would indicate that the Who Killed Hunter S. Thompson book will be released anytime soon, I figured I’d put this out in honor of Hunter’s birthday (July 18).

I hope you enjoy it.

Peace

-Sean

Check out the fantastic interview here – Babylonfalling: Interview with Warren Hinckle

Cheers,

R

Who Killed Hunter S. Thompson?

A few weeks ago here at Totally Gonzo, I brought up the seemingly forever delayed Who Killed Hunter S. Thompson? by Warren Hinckle and appealed for any information regarding the hold up. Well thanks to the power of the internet I can now bring you some good news. I have been in touch with Warren Hinkle himself and he brought me up to speed with the project. After the book was announced over two years ago a great amount of new ‘Hunter treasures’ have been unearthed and as a result the book has doubled in size from the original 200 or so pages to approximately 400 or so. Warren also had this to say about the book –‘there’s a fascinating amount of undiscovered Thompson lore and art in there…’

Providing everything runs smoothly Warren said that he hopes the book will be out around November. As soon as there is a definite release date I will post it here at Totally Gonzo. I also came across a blog entry by Peter Richardson who ran into Warren at the recent Book Expo America in L.A. Warren was there to promote Who Killed Hunter S. Thompson? so it seems that we will have this book in our hands sooner rather than later. Speeking of books Peter Richardson is the author of American Prophet: The Life and Work of Carey McWilliams who as you all know suggested to Hunter that he cover The Hells Angels for a story. Peter also teaches a class on California culture at San Francisco State University. One of the books studied in that class is Hells Angels. Check out his blog, it is well worth a visit.

Another blog worth checking out is The Farm Report by William McKeen which is regularly updated as he travels across America promoting his excellent new book Outlaw Journalist: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson.

Thats about it for now,

Ron Mexico

PS: Totally Gonzo was recently mentioned in the papers here in Ireland. You can read the articles here. Reporter Olaf Tyaransen frequently writes about Hunter in both The Herald and Hotpress Magazine. Thanks for the mention Olaf! Also the Gonzostore is now back online.

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Warren Hinckle and Ralph Steadman – As Gonzo As Ever

“Dear Ralph…Prepare yourself; I suspect we have struck a very weird & maybe-rich vein…but instead of laboring over details I’ll just enc. a copy (see below) of a suggestion I sent about 2 wks ago to Warren Hinckle …to wit: “…I thought I’d pass on a suggestion that one of my enemies laid on me today: “Why don’t you just travel around the country and shit on everything?” he shouted. “Just go from New York to California and write your venomous bullshit about everything that people respect!” Which sounds like a nice idea…”

Hunter S. Thompson – Fear and Loathing in America

Hehe you have to be careful about what you suggest to certain people and you always have to be prepared that a dare will be accepted, especially when you are dealing with a Gonzo Journalist and their friends. We all know how instrumental Ralph was to Gonzo but I often wonder does Warren Hinckle get the recognition he rightly deserves for being perhaps the most important editor that Hunter ever had. I was thinking about this after stumbling across this great interview with Warren earlier today.

[googlevideo=http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5940604927835789674&q=Warren+Hinckle&ei=iRF9SKOaEpCUjgKor8X5Aw&hl=en]

I must be getting forgetful these days because I never mentioned the question that I managed to ask Ralph a few weeks back courtesy of The New York Times website. So here is what I asked and also Ralph’s response.

Q: In Wayne Ewing’s documentary, Breakfast with Hunter, you stated that, in your opinion, readers of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas believed the artist and author to be one and the same. You also stated that without your drawings nobody would have noticed the story. Do you believe this or were you just trying to get a rise out of Hunter?

A: I would say anything to upset Hunter because he used to goad me ferociously and it became a game between us. I believe we treated our friendship as a kind of game, but a mutual admiration for what we both did separately kept alive a kind of delicious disdain. We could use the insult as an expression of love. I believe Wayne used some of my own footage in that film. Was I credited???

I always thought Hunter meant whatever he said. If he was insulting me I think he enjoyed it.

Thanks for that Ralph!

Rory

UPDATE: Check out this interview – Charlie Rose with Jann Wenner & Alex Gibney.

[googlevideo=http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=7102587548258716142:149000:1957000&hl=en]

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