March 2005: Where the Buffalo Roam

"Hell. If I were 22 years old in this country today I’d be wearing earphones too. No news is good news."
                                        -Hunter S. Thompson, “Fear and Justice” Playboy, January 2004

Count on it. Count on anyone over fifty-five trying to sell you that something happened back there. Count the disguises. The variety of cultural diplomats as you could count the needle pricks in their freshly botulised mouths and eye sockets. The surgical surrogates with fresh tattooed eyebrows. A.A. guidebook contributors who gave up their art too young to have remembered what it meant to give up anything. The Harvard “C” student and former baseball team owner named Bush that so earnestly lacks in the area of oratory that he got it right when he stammered “There’s and old saying in Tennessee I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee….but it says fool me once…shame onnn….shame on you…you fool me can’t get fooled again.” Always on borrowed time these kind. So much, that it seems reasonable many have set about blessing themselves with the promise of heaven; summarily trading one version of their adolescence imaginings with another. Count them as they spin in the mass grave of political suicides for which footage remains unavailable. Count them as they turn away from the mirror. Do so in search of an America that never was.

     As we prepared for press for the March 2005 edition, Hunter S. Thompson, Louisville, Kentucky prodigal, took his life. Took his life out loud it is in said, while his wife listened. I was eighteen when a friend from the aforementioned age demographic turned me on to “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. I read it in a day. Passed it around to my friends as we set about the work of divining why “Where the Buffalo Roam”, one of two cinematic adaptations of the book, was completely inadequate. We settled on the drugs. The next I seen Thompson was when he, along with the star of the second cinematic adaptation of his book, Johnny Depp, spoke at a Literary Renaissance event in Louisville. That Thompson was speaking in his home town was not lost on me. That he was speaking before a Louisville based Beat Poet cult was neither. He groveled, growled, made people laugh and paid careful attention to remind the audience to be wary of their heroes. This despite who they were looking back to. In the swath of Thompson obituaries swelling up through the news cycle, the concurrent themes of Thompson as literary hero and the following quote from Fear and loathing in Las Vegas are predominate. Just in case you haven’t read the quote:

“We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark— the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”                          -Hunter S. Thompson, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"

     Now three things about mega-media corporations you should etch into the glass of your TV screens and monitors. First, they all get it from the same place, so bias is in the origin. Second, they usually employ someone less than 40 years old to write obituaries. A sort of a right of passage for staff writers. Last, mega-media outlets pre-fabricate their coverage of the mort celeb years in advance so they can be first to say someone is dead. A slimy and subversive illusion that acts to support their proclaimed prowess to get you the story first, held together by a cadre of bachelor degree level designers who sit around ruminating, rummaging through archival footage. No one pre-fabricated an obit-u-active in the case of Thompson. Some might say because his star had faded, or perhaps, that he rejected the journalistic establishment. Neither hold up as his legendary antics are sure to outlive his body, soon to be shot from a cannon as the media takes aim to write stream of conscious eulogies. The story of how we end up with a literary hero sketched from a wistful passage of an otherwise important body of works is how they are counting on you and me.
      The loathing is in the facts of a life lived. Thompson ran for sheriff shaving his head so he could call his republican opponent a "long haired". Thompson rode with, and was nearly beat to death working to document the Hell's Angels. Thompson had an infamous relationship with Richard Nixon. Thompson also worked at a Mitchell Brothers (creators of the famed Behind the Green Door) porn theatre. I choose to remember Thompson for what I do remember of reading his books, the drugs and the monsters. Knowing Rimbaud, de Quincey and Mary Shelley before him; Thompson did the work, took up recording the monsters that lurk in us each. Monsters that rise up like a Ralph Steadman portrait when sense falls away and you are left with yourself. When all delusions fail and one is brought to the brutal reminder: Count on the time you will no longer be counting, but will be counted. The unfortunate carrion of an undeserving hoard.

     February took a walk towards literary digressions. This month, we return with feature writer La Tasha N Nevada Diggs as she cast siren like spells cutting through the linguistic hopscotch of identity and the media memes. We also take up hermetic linguistics with a lecture given by Peter Lamborn Wilson in our audio archive while featured visual artist, photographer Max Skeans, brings story telling of another kind. Appropriate to the past month’s events, new editions to the electronic library include Dostoyevsky’s The Gambler, and, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Not to disappoint those of you who only read periodicals for the slick trivia bits with an editorial bent…

A recent Harris poll indicated the percentage of people who believed the highjackers of 9/11 were Iraqis has increased. From October 2004 to February 2005, the number of respondents who believed the highjackers of 9/11 were Iraqi increased from 37% in October 2004 to 44% in February 2005. The 9/11 Congressional report, published late last summer, found none of the 9/11 high-jackers were Iraqi.

In another poll, this one certainly rigged--- Dr. Phil, whose website conducts regular, and, certainly unscientific polls, found an inordinate number of couples had considered swinging this past Valentine’s day. According to semantikon sources, the poll “Have You Considered Swinging?” was re-engineered by members of the Redclouds Bulletin Board, an amateur adult website. Members who organized the campaign to make room for company called on redclouds members to hit the site casting multiple votes successfully shifting the poll from a 60-40 spilt to the “No” column to a 60-40 split to the “Yes” column. None of the involved parties contacted have made comment.

Members on both sides of the political wound that has widened since the re-election of George W. Bush who fear the end is near have a new way to validate their apocalyptic malaise. The site, offers concerned visitors the option to prepare a pre-fabricated e-mail that will be automatically sent to loved ones when god takes the faithful before the tribulation.

THE BODY POLITIC, an organization which worked to re-elect George W. Bush in 2004, are busy straddling their aisle baggage with a PR campaign thanking “Hollywood Liberals” for the re-election of “W”. The group, which has been buying up billboards featuring the disembodied likes of Whoopi Goldberg and Michael Moore have been asking for donations to make signs for a planned rally to show their appreciation at this years Oscar Awards. Leaves one to wonder why they are not thanking the nearly 100 Million voters who didn’t vote in the 2004 election. So much for a 1/5 mandate.

Lance Oditt
editor at semantikon dot com