May 27, 2010

I picked up my bag
and went looking for a place to hide



Harry Callahan, Eleanor, Chicago, 1949

* * From a 2003 interview of Hunter S. Thompson. excerpt:

MB: You write passionately about the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention. Was that the death of the American Dream for you? [Protests against the convention were met with unprecedented police brutality]

HST: No, it was just the beginning of the fight. I would say right about now, boy, we're losing. They've got this country turned into a police state. I'm not sure how that term would resound with you, but a police state is a heavy situation.

MB: Well, Bush just authorized the U.S. military to kill American citizens overseas if they're suspected of being terrorists. ["THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Dec. 4, 2002–American citizens working for al-Qaida overseas can legally be targeted and killed by the CIA under President Bush's rules for the war on terrorism, U.S. officials say."]

HST: Yeah, suspected of terrorism. It's not so bizarre that our conversation tonight could be seen by someone in the police station as sympathy for terrorists. What's going on here? Valhalla. All you have to do is keep moving west, and you'll still get arrested.

MB: Bush Sr. has been very quiet these days. Do you think he's still running the show?

HST: The answer is yes, but I wouldn't go out looking for a boogeyman. He's running it in the figurehead sense that his son is the president. I still remember the night, that horrible night I watched the Bush family [on the evening of the 2000 election], the old man laughing like a hyena. I believed Gore could win, and when they called–the whole family, gathered together in Texas–they looked like little piggies, and then the old man and that horrible laugh…

MB: The Bush family history is terrifying. They've been in business with Hitler, Saddam, Osama… [George W. Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, had his stocks in Nazi steel manufacturing removed by Congress in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act.]

HST: And they're Jesus freaks on top of it. Carter was one and I loved Jimmy Carter–we're still good friends–but this is a stupid Jesus freak. Carter deserved the Nobel Prize.

MB: Do you believe the end of the world is coming?

HST: Yeah, it is the end of the world. What, do you think it's going to come on a TV show, right on schedule? Shit. They've been digging this for a long time. Read the fucking Book of Revelations… The end of the world is not just coming; it's here. Until Bush came in it was still possible to be successful, happy. That was two years ago, but now the wheel is turning and I don't think what we're in now will possibly get any better.
...
MB: In the new book you admit you secretly pray to God.

HST: No, this is far beyond God.

MB: God can't save us now?

HST: There is no God.

MB: A lot of the figures from the '60s have passed on in the last 10 years–Ginsberg, Leary, Kesey–how does it feel to see that era fading away?

HST: You morbid little bastard… Yeah, how does it feel to be the last buffalo? Fuck, I don't know. I don't think anybody knows… When you talk about the '60s, you're talking about people who were scared out of their senses, trying to get the feeling for what the fuck was going on.

[Thompson suddenly screams for his assistant to turn the television volume up to eardrum-shattering levels. The History Channel is airing former U.S. ambassador Adlai Stevenson's Oct. 25, 1962 address to the United Nations General Assembly, demanding that the U.S.S.R. immediately withdraw its nuclear warheads from Cuba. The address on behalf of JFK is widely credited as having prevented the Cold War from going nuclear.]

"This one always gets to me," Thompson says wistfully, captivated for the entire duration of the speech. "You know, it haunts me that I never pursued the 'who killed Kennedy' story. I believe it's the one story I consider a failure. Yeah, I failed, and now the assumption is that obedience is normal–the president is king."

* Ten maps that changed the world.

* "Anything I can sing, I call a song. Anything I can't sing, I call a poem." -- Bob Dylan

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