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Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson
Anita Thompson (a cura di)
2009

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I guess I am an action junkie, yeah. There may be some genetic imperative that caused me to get into certain situations. It’s curiosity, I guess. As long as I’m learning something I figure I’m OK—it’s a decent day.

Playboy: Your journalistic style has been attacked by some critics—most notably, the Columbia Journalism Review—as partly commentary, partly fantasy and partly the ravings of someone too long into drugs.
HST: Well, fuck the Columbia Journalism Review. They don’t pay my rent. That kind of senile gibberish reminds me of all those people back in the early Sixties who were saying, “This guy Dylan is giving Tin-Pan Alley a bad name—hell, he’s no musician. He can’t even carry a tune.” Actually, it’s kind of a compliment when people like that devote so much energy to attacking you.

HST: Well that’s true, actually. There’s a lot more freedom in sports writing, I would think, than any other kind of writing. You have a tremendous latitude with the use of verbs and adjectives and action. When you get forced into political writing, you miss that. In sports writing people are “pounced on” and “stomped” and “whipped” and “torn.” And then you get into politics and somebody loses by 400 votes and he is “edged out. “ It just doesn’t seem right. You want somebody “pounced” (…)

Well, I think the feeling that I’ve developed since ’72 is that an ideological attachment to the presidency or the president is very dangerous. I think the president should be a businessman; probably he should be hired. It started with Kennedy, where you got sort of a personal attachment to the president, and it was very important that he agree with you and you agree with him and you knew he was on your side. I no longer give a fuck if the president’s on my side, as long as he leaves me alone or doesn’t send me off to any wars or have me busted. The president should take care of business, mind the fucking store and leave people alone (…)

There’s no way you can get around the fact that whatever happens is God’s will, if you really believe that sort of thing.

I never even thought about Volume II, frankly, I decided it would be nice to have Volume I on it.

Spin: Do you consider P. J. O’Rouke a worthy Gonzo associate?
HST: P.J. is an old friend. He is a monster. We have fought back to back with iron bars against people who wanted to kill us. We have spilled blood together. We have walked with the King.
Shit, P.J. would stab you just for fun.
Spin: Sweet Jesus, why?
HST: Who knows? P.J. is a warrior. He stabs for his own reasons, and he’s usually right. Any enemy of P.J.’s is an enemy of mine. So be warned. If he stabs you, so will I.

Spin: Do you worry about plagiarism, Doc?
HST: No, I pride myself with having the wisdom and taste to steal from the right people: Conrad, Fitzgerald, the Marquis de Sade, Prescott, Isak Dinesen, Coleridge, Twain, Pee Wee Herman—that swine. Yeah, there’s also Ed Bradley, Anne Rice, Ralph Steadman—these are all my friends. I learn from these people. Especially the dead ones.

I don’t know, it was fun. We were reading Nietzsche. It was tough, but when you’re cutting school, you’re reading for power, reading for advantage. I’ve always believed: You teach a kid to like reading, they’re set. That’s what we did with Juan [Thompson’s son]. You get a kid who likes to read on his own, shit, you’ve done your job.

It’s almost embarrassing to talk about Clinton as if he were important. I’d almost prefer Nixon. I’d say Clinton is every bit as corrupt as Nixon, but a lot smoother.

Arena: The letters which you had archived since you were a teenager were recently published in the collection The Proud Highway. Keeping all this documentation seems like part of some kind of grand plan, as if you knew their worth from the beginning.
HST: It’s more and more apparent that I knew all along. That’s going to be the indictment: he knew. There were no mistakes.

BC: So we have bin Laden and Saddam, and then we have the American propaganda machine. Who exactly are the terrorists here, and why should we fear them?
HST: Well, we should fear the White House I think more than the terrorists. In the Kingdom of Fear, people tend to be a lot more obedient. Fear makes people behave differently.
BC: What do you think about the anthrax letters being sent to Congress?
HST: I think that was bullshit, and they were probably planted. My feeling from the beginning was that the tragedy at the World Trade Center was also rigged. I can’t say that for sure, but I’ve had that uneasy feeling from the very beginning. I haven’t been convinced of anything otherwise. They haven’t done a goddamn thing yet to convince anybody that Bin Laden actually did that. I never believed that a gang of Arabs sitting around a fire in Afghanistan cooked this up and pulled it off.

Raccolta di interviste a HST. Consigliatissima, a tutti ma in particolare a chi ha letto la sua bibliografia.


Girl with curious hair
David Foster Wallace
1989

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At the law firm where I am an Associate I am a corporate liability trouble shooter. Sometimes the products certain manufacturers manufacture have bugs and defects in them which might injure a consumer, and when a consumer gets a wild hair about being injured and attempts to litigate against one of my firm’s clients, I am called in to trouble shoot. This often happens with such products as children’s toys and power tools. I am an extremely effective corporate liability trouble shooter because I enjoy a challenge very much and enjoy jumping in there with the old Corps spirit and licking the competition! I am especially pleased and challenged in my career when it really happens that a manufacturer’s product has a bug and has injured a consumer, because then it is even more challenging to try to convince a jury or a jurist that what really happened didn’t really happen and the manufacturer’s product did not injure the consumer. It is more challenging still when the consumer is right there at the proceedings and is injured, for a jury tends often to feel sorry for an injured person, especially if the person is a racial minority and has swarms of small children, as racial minorities when they appear in court tend to. But although I have already had many corporate liability cases to trouble shoot I have only failed to bring home the bacon once or twice, because I enjoy a good competition in which I am part of the process, and also because people naturally like me out of instinct, because of my appearance. The average layman would be surprised to know how much juries are impressed by appearances. I am fortunately an entirely handsome devil and appear even younger than twenty-nine. I look like a clean cut youth, a boy next door, and a good egg, and my mother stated at one time that I have the face of a heaven’s angel.

Raccolta di racconti di DFW: come tutto quello che ho letto di suo mette spesso a disagio, ma è come una droga e non riesco a smettere di leggerlo.


On Bullshit
Harry Frankfurt
2005

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It is just this lack of connection to a concern with truth— this indifference to how things really are—that I regard as of the essence of bullshit.

It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.

Un piccolo saggio, letteralmente, sulle stronzate. Si parte dalla definizione, molto rigorosa, da cosa le distingue dalle semplici bugie, per finire su considerazioni varie.
In momenti come questo in cui sono tutti costituzionalisti, due citazioni mi sembrano particolarmente ficcanti.

Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about.

Closely related instances arise from the widespread conviction that it is the responsibility of a citizen in a democracy to have opinions about everything, or at least everything that pertains to the conduct of his country’s affairs.


The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
Charles Duhigg
2012

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One set of neurological patterns—her old habits—had been overridden by new patterns. They could still see the neural activity of her old behaviors, but those impulses were crowded out by new urges.

(…) more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits.

The problem is that your brain can’t tell the difference between bad and good habits, and so if you have a bad one, it’s always lurking there, waiting for the right cues and reward

“Champions don’t do extraordinary things,” Dungy would explain. “They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”

Habits are a three-step loop—the cue, the routine, and the reward—but Dungy only wanted to attack the middle step, the routine. He knew from experience that it was easier to convince someone to adopt a new behavior if there was something familiar at the beginning and end.

Today, habit reversal therapy is used to treat verbal and physical tics, depression, smoking, gambling problems, anxiety, bedwetting, procrastination, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and other behavioral problems

Ho scoperto questo libro tramite Merita Business Podcast, il podcast del mio amico Giorgio Minguzzi, che ringrazio.
Parla di come il cervello trasformi azioni ripetute in abitudini, di come non distingua le cattive dalle buone (un’arma a doppio taglio quindi), di come cambiarle, e cose così.
Consigliatissimo.


The song machine: inside the hit factory
John Seabruck
2015

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Whole subcultures of musical professionals—engineers, arrangers, session musicians—are disappearing, unable to compete with the software that automates their work.

Who are the hit makers? They are enormously influential culture shapers—the Spielbergs and Lucases of our national headphones—and yet they are mostly anonymous.

By 2001–2002, a new extremes period was under way.
As he had been in ’92, Dr. Dre was on hand to drive the extremes part of the cycle, with his latest protégé, Eminem, whose 2000 song “The Real Slim Shady” managed to insult Britney Spears, boy bands, and the Grammys, all in one verse. (…)  Eminem was biggest artist in the world by 2002, and the latest bracing corrective to “manufactured” artists who didn’t write their own material.
(…)
But Eminem was sui generis, and in spite of his insistence that
There’s a million of us just like me . . .
Who just don’t give a fuck like me
there was only one Eminem. His success redefined the rules about what you could say on the radio.

Only a major label has the resources for that kind of campaign. According to an NPR investigation, it can easily cost more than a million dollars to promote a single song.

 Come nascono le hit? Le risposte sono in questo libro, e non piaceranno a quelli che pensano che basti essere bravo e avere talento.
Le risposte sono molto più fredde: creare hit è una scienza, e come tale è messa in pratica da scienziati. I cantanti sono solo le ultime pedine della catena di montaggio, e nel 99% dei casi sono intercambiabili. Gran libro, pieno di aneddoti sulla storia degli ultimi 30 anni di musica.

Down and out in Paris and London
George Orwell
1933

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It was now that my experiences of poverty began—for six francs a day, if not actual poverty, is on the fringe of it. Six francs is a shilling, and you can live on a shilling a day in Paris if you know how. But it is a compli­cated business.

And yet the PLONGEURS, low as they are, also have a kind of pride. It is the pride of the drudge—the man who is equal to no matter what quantity of work. At that lev­el, the mere power to go on working like an ox is about the only virtue attainable. DEBROUILLARD is what ev­ery PLONGEUR wants to be called. A DEBROUILLARD is a man who, even when he is told to do the impossible, will SE DEBROUILLER—get it done somehow.

Work in the hotel taught me the true value of sleep, just as being hungry had taught me the true value of food. Sleep had ceased to be a mere physical necessity; it was something voluptuous, a debauch more than a relief.

Era tanto che volevo leggere questo libro, un resoconto più o meno (meno) veritiero delle avventure parigine e londinesi di un giovane e povero Orwell.
Tragicomico come solo i migliori libri sanno essere, lo consiglio a tutti.


ALTRO (ARTICOLI, ECC) (E UN ACCORATO APPELLO)

Photos Taken 100 Years Ago Capture Rare Look at Paris in Color

Foto a colori di Parigi nel 1914… Bellissime!


Eminem: On the Road Back From Hell

Intervista fantastica a Eminem, risalente al 2011.
E la buona notizia è che Eminem sta lavorando a un nuovo album, e questa è la canzone che ha appena fatto uscire. Non vedo l’ora.


Ed ora l’accorato appello: siccome vedo che causa referendum sono tutti in modalità dovere civico estrema, ne approfitto per invitare la cittadinanza a inviare una lettera (cartacea) a Johnny Depp (l’indirizzo è: Johnny Depp c/o Ms. Spanky Taylor, 3727 West Magnolia Ave., Burbank, CA 91505) invitandolo (o minacciandolo, fate voi) a fare uscire il terzo e ultimo volume di lettere di Hunter S. Thompson, The Mutineer: Rants, Ravings, and Missives from the Mountaintop, 1977-2005.
Il libro sarebbe dovuto uscire nel 2005, ha un codice ISBN, una copertina, una prefazione (di Johnny Depp, appunto), ha una pagina in tutti i negozi online ma… Non è mai uscito! E il tutto senza spiegazioni.
Sarebbe carino che Anita Thompson, al posto di vendere l’erba di Hunter, facesse uscire quello che conta sul serio: il libro. Ce lo deve.
Ho ovviamente scritto per chiedere informazioni all’editore, Simon & Schuster, ma la risposta come prevedibile è un becero copia-incolla: “Dear Mr. Pezzi , Thank you for contacting Simon & Schuster Customer Service. We are sorry but we are only able to answer questions and offer assistance with orders placed at our online store. We are sorry that we cannot be of more help. Sincerely, Falisha”.
Spero che questa vicenda vergognosa si risolva nel modo migliore (ovvero con l’uscita del libro, l’unico che devo ancora leggere della sua bibliografia), ma nel dubbio ho inviato una lettera di minaccia a Johnny Depp con tanto di assegno col prezzo del libro.
Speriamo bene. (e fuori i francobolli)
Ah, dato che probabilmente non scriverò nient’altro prima dell’anno nuovo, chiudo con una citazione di HST :

So, for now, well … Merry Xmas & all that crap. (…) Christmas is a rotten hype & all we can do is ride it out.


Matteo Pezzi

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