Jun

21

Summer Solstice in the Rocky Mountains.

 

"Whatever is dreamed on this night, will come to pass."

William Shakespeare, acknowledging the magic of this time of year in A Midsummer Night's Dream

Summer Solstice 2010

 

 

 

 

 

Jun

14

CHE

Born 14 June 1928 in Rosario, Argentina. 

Jun

13

The GONZO FOUNDATION is going to make a dent in the world!!

Anita Thompson graciously hosted a rockin' event at her Owl Farm home yesterday, then after all the very happy guests had gone home, Anita popped open a couple of cans of Red Bull and we got to work on the launch of the Gonzo Foundation.  As you know, Anita is not only my friend, but also the remarkable Executive Director of the Gonzo Foundation and I serve on its Board.

We decided what to do for this summer's kick-off event for the Foundation. Yeeha!  However, since Anita & I are strictly bound by a mutual "no-leak" policy, I can't share any details right now.  I can tell you that by the end of next week we'll have the questions answered that we need answered, and that Anita will be making a public announcement shortly thereafter.

The Foundation's overarching purpose is to honor the genius of Hunter S. Thompson with the focus being on journalism, literature, and political activism.  There will be a lot of buzz around the Gonzo Foundation after this summer's kick-off event, and going forward the Gonzo Foundation will head into uncharted directions, one step at a time, building on the legacy of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

I encourage you to "buy the ticket" for this summer's event (literally!) and "take the ride" with the Gonzo Foundation on what is sure to be a very twisted path.

All the best!

Jim Caruso

Jun

11

Usually the first thing that comes to mind when we hear the word "art" is "The Arts": visual arts, literature, and the performing arts – music, drama, dance, film, etc.

But art is much broader than that, and almost impossible to define.

A few weeks ago the one and only Anita Thompson pulled out a copy of the strange and hilarious The Devil's Dictionary and the entry for ART was "This word has no definition."  Too funny.  Too true.

Art is resourcefuness, solving a tricky problem that has everyone else stumped, finding a creative solution to a situation that is at an impasse, grace under pressure.

Art is humanity.  Kindness, caring, respect, speaking out against injustices, standing tall and being an inspiration to others to do the same, being a shoulder to lean on.

Art is politics.  Getting involved in your community, however that is defined.

Art is speaking up and sharing your thoughts, ideas, opinions and views. 

Art is great design, fine engineering, and highly functional or delicious "stuff"  like anything by Apple, Rolex watches, BIC pens, Audi motor cars, Under Armour, and craft beer.

The essential element of all of the above is that art has to be shared with others to be art.  Art is something that changes someone in some way.  Art transforms us in some way. 

Going back to The Devil's Dictionary, the defintion of PAINTING is "The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic."  And that's what Anita and I were discussing that day.  Our art only becomes art if we expose it to the weather, to the elements, to the world.  The resistance to doing so is that we fear that our art may be criticized. 

If we stand for anything in life, or share anything with the world, I can assure you that there will be someone standing ready to criticize us.  OK, here it is, The Devil's Dictionary of CRITIC is 'A person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him."

So what?

All the fun and value in life comes from some form of art that someone has shared with the world.

Steve Jobs once said "Real artists ship." 

Today Seth Godin blogged about the Fear of Shipping: 

"Shipping is fraught with risk and danger.

Every time you raise your hand, send an email, launch a product or make a suggestion, you're exposing yourself to criticism. Not just criticism, but the negative consequences that come with wasting money, annoying someone in power or making a fool of yourself.

It's no wonder we're afraid to ship.

It's not clear you have much choice, though. A life spent curled in a ball, hiding in the corner might seem less risky, but in fact it's certain to lead to ennui and eventually failure.

Since you're going to ship anyway, then, the question is: why bother indulging your fear?

In a long distance race, everyone gets tired. The winner is the runner who figures out where to put the tired, figures out how to store it away until after the race is over. Sure, he's tired. Everyone is. That's not the point. The point is to run.

Same thing is true for shipping, I think. Everyone is afraid. Where do you put the fear?"

5 – 4 – 3 – 2 -1 this post is shipping right now and I'm off to Aspen!

Your very un-critical friend,

Jim Caruso

Jun

10

A few months ago during a conversation with George Stranahan we started talking about the artistic genius of Ralph Steadman.  

 

George made the comment that Ralph is one of the "true artists" in the world, and then he paused for a moment and said that Ralph may be the "one true artist" in the world.  That was definitely a comment worth thinking about.

 

Last month, George was speaking at the Tattered Cover in Denver about his new book Phlogs (about which much more in an upcoming blog), and while recognizing Ralph Steadman not only for writing the introduction to Phlogs, but also for doing a drawing for the book jacket, George made that same comment.  My friend, Bill, was with me and he nudged me when he heard it.  I nodded.  

 

Ralph's multi-faceted artistic genius is all around me every day and George's comment had been bouncing around in my brain for a few months.  By the time I heard it the second time, it was true for me.

 

RAGING BITCH

We love you, Ralph Steadman!!

 

Your friend,

 

Jim Caruso

 

 

 

Jun

9

I was thinking through some new ideas today, and a couple of them felt exactly right.  There was no quantitative analysis to back up my feeling, and I couldn't connect the dots of some line of reasoning that led to the conclusion that, yes, these particular ideas are good ones. It was my instincts that I was listening to.  I've learned to trust and appreciate my instincts more and more. 

It made me think about something I had read by John Hunt, an award-winning playwright and author. 

"In an age where everyone seeks certainty, instinct sounds like a concept that belongs to a bygone era.  It's too difficult to define.  Over time, the word has been repositioned to mean the opposite of intellectual.  If you are instinctive, you are somehow part animal and in the sophisticated human world, that's bad.

Fewer and fewer people pay any attention to what their gut is trying to tell them.  They shun the feeling because it is exactly that. . . a feeling.  And feelings are messier than facts.  So they're disregarded altogether.

Yet, when you're desperate for an idea, it's the most precious commodity on earth.  At the early stages of something new, that's often all you've got.  An instinct, an inner twitch in your gut, that says you might be on to something big.

Way before a thought can evolve into something we believe in, it floats in the primitive soup of instinct.  Those who come up with the best ideas are those who are comfortable with the fact that, sometimes, you just know before you know why.

Sadly, we have been taught that the opposite is true.

Nothing is more depressing than being in a room with people who have had their instincts beaten out of them.  The look at you with the doleful eyes of neutered cats."

There are times to simply "trust your gut" and forget about "running the numbers."

Your friend,

Jim Caruso

Jun

7

I am one of the legions of people who the literary genius, philosopher, and intellectual, Hunter S. Thompson, has inspired over the last 40 years. 

Hunter S. Thompson is also an everyday presence in my Flying Dog world, and among many of the thousands of people I connect with in some way as part of that world, Hunter S. Thompson is so venerated, admired, and respected that he has reached mythical proportions.

But, for reasons I alluded to in an earlier post, I had not cracked the cover of any of HST's books for almost 5 years, until this past February.

In February, after a brief visit to Woody Creek, CO and meeting up with Anita Thompson at the Tavern, I headed to NYC.  At the end of the business day, I picked up a copy of Anita Thompson's "The Gonzo Way"  at the Barnes & Noble at 46th St. & 5th Ave., walked the couple of blocks to the Algonquin Hotel, the literary landmark where I was staying, found an open cozy chair in its historic lobby, ordered an appetizer and cocktail, and settled in to read it.

Anita Thompson's loving tribute to her husband does not focus on what she refers to as the "Hunter S. Thompson Show."   Hunter S. Thompson most definitely played as hard as he worked, and Anita acknowledges that his lifestyle was indeed "interesting", but in The Gonzo Way Anita shares with us the SEVEN LESSONS she learned from her husband and the great depth of wisdom he possessed.  Anita Thompson and Hunter S. Thompson were deeply in love and Anita also gives us a few glimpses into her private life with Hunter at Owl Farm.

As I read The Gonzo Way in the warmly-lighted lobby on a very cold NYC night, my reactions were "Yes!", "Exactly!", "That's it!", "That's the genius of Hunter S. Thompson!!"  and I was suddenly ready to rediscover HST's writings.

Here is a sample of the super-abundance of wisdom that Anita Thompson shares with us in The Gonzo Way:

"[Hunter] helped me see my own strengths and weaknesses, and taught me never, ever try to be like anybody else – especially Hunter S. Thompson. . . . play hard, work hard, but always be yourself."

"[Hunter] opened my eyes to the senses of humor and possibility that lie in even the most twisted of scenarios."

"The quality that really distinguished Hunter was his attitude that anything is possible, that any situation can be turned into fun."

"What few people realize is that smart was cool to Hunter, and he was never the least bit ashamed to admit it."

"Not only did Hunter choose curious and intelligent friends, but stupid people didn't last long in his life.  Stupid, like drunk, was unacceptable to him . . . people who loved to learn . . . had a special place in his work."

"Life, if it is to be lived with grace and in the Gonzo Way, must be filled with courage, truth, love, and laughter."

Anita includes a quote from HST's close friend, Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis:  "[Hunter] never wavered.  He didn't submit to bullshit.  He never gave up his core values, no matter what the cost.  And he paid a lot of heavy prices for his steadfastness.  But in the end, when you're staring into the grave, are you going to pat yourself on the back for all the wishy-washy adjustments you made or are you going to say, 'Hey, no matter how hard it got, no matter how rough the road, I kept moving'?  That's one of the things I prized and prided in Hunter.  He never budged from his well-thought-out — always well-thought-out — convictions."

I was particularly inspired by what Anita wrote in "Lesson 6 – Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride": "[Hunter] spent his life studying freedom, promoting it, and finally writing about it.  I believe a large portion of his formative years were spent researching what was necessary to attain freedom.  And during that time he had to learn, perhaps the hard way, what to avoid – what is the antifreedom?  I think he learned that fear is the anifreedom – because as we gain freedom, which is the opposite of security, we also reap fear.  And fear can drive us away from freedom in a hurry.  That, I believe, is why Hunter spent so much of his life fighting fear – and teaching others how to do the same: how to slay the dragon. . . . There is nothing more inhibiting, or more crippling, to freedom than fear. . . . fear is necessary, but if gone unchecked, it will make you constantly seek safety, which to Hunter . . . is the same as being in prison."

Anita Thompson says that "the more people reading Hunter's work, the better.  Every time a young person reads a page of Hunter S. Thompson's, he gains confidence in himself to have courage, and in my opinion, the world becomes a better place. . . . It serves to inspire me to dedicate more of my time to spreading his work and philosophy, and to living the Gonzo Way."

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Anita is back at Owl Farm after graduating from Columbia University in New York, and as Executive Director of the Gonzo Foundation she will be spreading the wisdom of Hunter S. Thompson in her own uniquely creative ways.

After reading The Gonzo Way, I told Anita how much it meant to me and how wonderfully generous it was of her to share her art with the world.  It felt like the start of a beautiful friendship.  And it was.

In addition to writing The Gonzo Way, and creating the Gonzo Foundation and serving as its Executive Director, Anita Thompson also founded the Woody Creeker magazine and did a brilliant job selecting and editing her late husband's interviews for publication in Ancient Gonzo Wisdom.  Check out Anita's blog for daily news and views from Owl Farm.

Shine on, Anita!!

Jim Caruso

 

Jun

2

I grew up in Cleveland with some very fun Italian hoodlums.  We idolized  Francis Albert Sinatra.  I have almost everything Sinatra ever recorded, including his V-Disc ("V" for Victory) songs from the World War II era.  I had the good fortune to see Sinatra perform live a few times, including one show in a small venue in Detroit. No matter the size of the space, Sinatra owned it the moment he appeared on stage. 

About the same time we were discovering Sinatra, Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga by Hunter S. Thompson was published and Hunter S. Thompson immediately became an equally revered role model for us.  In school, we couldn't take one more paragraph of Eliza Doolittle in George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion".  There had to be something to read that would teach us about life.  Hell's Angels appeared just as our young minds were about to turn to jelly.  I'm pretty sure the book was banned at our school, or something like that.  Further confirmation that we were on to some truth we weren't supposed to know.  For us, Hunter S. Thompson owned the written word just as Sinatra owned the space he performed in.  I was still in complete awe of Hunter S. Thompson 30 years later when I became part of the Flying Dog Brewery world.  I have all of Hunter's books.  I can open any one of them to any page and be gripped HST's writing.

The truth we weren't supposed to know back then?  That truth was that the purpose of the educational system in America was to teach us to be compliant.  The theory being, I suppose, that compliant students would make good compliant workers for America's military-industrial complex. 

Sinatra and HST were our heroes not just because they were artistic geniuses, but also because they were anti-authoritarians to their core and possessed tremendous personal courage.  They were giants.

After Sinatra passed away, it was about 5 years before I could listen to his music again.

I was in Chicago when I got a call from Bill Husted from the Denver Post to let me know about HST's death.  That was just over 5 years ago.  I started reading Hunter S. Thompson again a few months ago.  Since then I've read more than 1,500 pages of Hunter S. Thompson's works and my summer reading will include a re-reading of all of HST's books.

There's a painful gaping void for a while.

But their art is here for eternity.

And the hell of it is, as extraordinarily powerful an influence as their art was originally, it's even more transformative when it's explored again and again and new layers of meaning are discovered.

That's art. 

Sharing something with the world that will make a difference.  Art changes people.  And great art changes people for generations.

It allows us to stand taller because we stand on the shoulders of giants.

Your friend,

Jim Caruso

 

Jun

1

According to an article titled "UNIQLONES" in the May 17th issue of New York Magazine, the Japanese-owned UNIQLO, an affordable fashion store in Soho, is the hottest retailer in New York right now.  On a typical Saturday a whopping 24,000 customers shop there.

UNIQLO operates 950 stores worldwide, but the Soho store is currently its only U.S. location.  However, according to New York magazine, "UNIQLO confirmed that it had signed a $300 million, fifteen-year lease to build a second American store at 666 Fifth Avenue.  It is the largest retail lease ever signed in New York."

What caught my eye was this highlighted text.  The title of the article "UNIQLONES" makes more sense.  Sounds like a real fun place to work.  Not.

Uniqlo

 

 

May

31

To understand this country, you must understand the paintings in the Whitney Museum in New York, or know how to pretend to, but you must also understand the 3-story-high Pink Flamingo at the Cafe Hon in Baltimore, along with next week's HonFest, a local tradition that has become an international curiosity. 

It's important to know how to look at all parts of America.

Many thanks to Jerry Weintraub for being the inspiration for this post.

Cafe Hon

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