Friday, December 16, 2011

on Hunter S. Thompson - 2.5/3

Soooooo no. I'm not finished yet - IT'S MASSIVE! OKAY?!??? 

Seriously this book is bigger than the bible. I'm up to page 360 out of 600 though, and I have SO many pages dog-eared to come back to for EXCELLENT quotes already, that I thought I'd share some of the best with you now. Otherwise I might not be able to put them all in for my final review post.

So without further adieu, here are some of the best quotes from pages 1 through 360 of The Great Shark Hunt:

On jackrabbits and political journalists:
People who claim to know jackrabbits will tell you that they are primarily motivated by fear, stupidity and craziness. But I have spent enough time in jackrabbit country to know that most of them lead pretty dull lives; they are bored with their daily routines: eat, fuck, sleep, hop around a bush now and then… No wonder some of them drift over the line into cheap thrills once in a while; there has to be a powerful adrenalin rush in crouching by the side of a road, waiting for the next set of headlights to come along, then streaking out of the bushes with split-second timing and making it across to the other side just inches in front of the speeding front wheels…
When a jackrabbit gets addicted to road-running, it is only a matter of time before he gets smashed – and when a journalist turns into a politics junkie he will sooner or later start raving and babbling in print about things that only a person who has been there can possibly understand.

On tricks in politics:
This is one of the oldest and most effective tricks in politics. Every hack in the business has used it in times of trouble, and it has even been elevated to the level of political mythology in a story about one of Lyndon Johnson’s early campaigns in Texas. The race was close and Johnson was getting worried. Finally he told his campaign manager to start a massive rumor campaign about his opponent’s lifelong habit of enjoying carnal knowledge on his own barnyard sows.
‘Christ, we can’t get away with calling him a pig-fucker,’ the campaign manager protested. ‘Nobody’s going to believe a thing like that.’
‘I know,’ Johnson replied. ‘But let’s make the sonofabitch deny it.’

On charging expenses to the accounts:
Then fill a hot bath and get something like Memphis Underground on the tape machine. Relax, relax. Enjoy this fine rainy day, and send the bill to Random House. The budget boys won’t like it, but to hell with them. Random House still owes me a lot of money from that time when the night watchman beat my snake to death on the white marble steps leading up to the main reception desk.

On Watergate:
The slow-rising central horror of Watergate is not that it might grind down to the reluctant impeachment of a vengeful thug of a president whose entire political career has been a monument to the same kind of cheap shots and treachery he finally got nailed for, but that we might somehow fail to learn something from it.

On the do-nots of politicians:
There is not much doubt, on the numbers question, that at least twenty of the 100 senators will not vote to convict Nixon under any circumstances… unless he violates that old law of Indiana politics about being ‘found in bed with either a live man or a dead woman’.

On Nixon’s post-presidential meltdown:
So we may as well get braced for a daily dose of extremely grim news out of San Clemente, once Nixon is formally indicted. We will hear reports that the ex-president frequently bursts into tears for no reason at all, that he utters heart-rending screams every night in his sleep, and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner will quote an unnamed ‘prominent Beverly Hills psychiatrist’ who will describe Nixon as a ‘pitiful basket case’ and ‘chronic bedwetter.’ And if Ford still seems reluctant to let Nixon go free, we will start seeing font-page ‘exclusive photos’ of Nixon alone on the beach, staring soulfully at the sunset with tears drooling out of his eyes.

I hope (and trust) that you enjoyed those as much as I did. So far the book has just totally blown my expectations out of the water and proven that Hunter is way way way cool.

A funny little side note, is that I have been reading this book whilst sitting in the local McDonalds, and if you know Hunter's work then I think you'll appreciate the irony in that - especially because I read as I listen to Jefferson Airoplane. I know, I know, White Rabbit is the best track and it's all too awesome. 

But anyways, the story is that a local Chinese guy came and sat at the table beside me, and as he was just finishing eating me he asked me in broken English if he could "have a look at this your book"? Of course I said yes, and asked him if he had heard of Hunter S. Thompson. The man replied that he hadn't, which is when I noticed that he had an iPad with him. I suggested that the man search for Hunter S. Thompson online if he wanted to read "a unique opinion on American politics by a man who was an alcoholic druggo, but absolute genius"? The Chinese man looked slightly alarmed, and as he tapped away at his expensive device, I watched is face turn from confusion to alarm.

Within 60 seconds of reading, he quickly dropped the book back on my table and gave me a pretty filthy look with the comment "I don't think this is of my interests." I laughed out loud and he almost jumped out of his skin. I swear he was looking around for cameras as he scuttled out of the McDonalds. It was just so hilarious - you should have seen how freaked out he was. I wonder what exactly you get when you google Hunter S. Thompson in Chinese?

Now that I'm preparing for more exams (damn the Chinese education system!) I might not even finish this The Great Shark Hunt until I get to Phuket in January... but I have some Rum Diaries-esque plans for that time which shall unfold at a later date. 

Thanks for staying tuned!

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