Penn State Witch Hunt and More Sloppy Journalism

image courtesy these guys

The Penn State madness has turned into another witch hunt, as these things will. There’s nothing for it and, when it’s all said and done, our kids won’t be any safer from these monsters than they were before. Sickos like this have always been around and always will be — until the cover-ups stop and the punishment exceeds the crime.

Meanwhile, the Media gnashes its rubber teeth over who is guilty of what, and continues to misrepresent what Sandusky is alleged to have done.

The pedophile is a person who thinks about sexual behavior with children, and the Pederast does these things. He lays hands on innocent children, he penetrates them and changes their lives forever.

Those are a couple of the Good Doctor’s  lines from his 2003 indictment of Georgie Bush, Jr. (You can find the article here.) That quote has been running though my head since last Saturday when this bomb of shame and horror finally blew. From what I’ve read on the wire, Sandusky is (alleged) to be the latter though the Media continues to label him as the former.

I worked on a newspaper for a while myself and accuracy in all things was not only demanded but accepted as the bedrock of good reporting. But, once again, in their rush to be the first screamer with the loudest voice the Media gets it wrong.

Or maybe headlines screaming ‘pedophile!’ sell more papers.

Not that there’s anything to be done about it. They got it wrong and it’ll stay wrong. Pedophilia and Pederasty are one and the same in the public’s mind.

Still, it’s another one of those times I can’t help but wonder what HST would say about this mess.

And don’t misunderstand — this is in no way a defense of Sandusky or any of the thugs running Penn State. If these things happened as they appear to have, Sandusky’s hands need to be chopped off and made into a necklace he’ll wear for the rest of his life. The same goes for all those who abetted him . . . allegedly.

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This just in from bookstore proprietor, publisher, and editor extraordinaire, Otto Penzler:

I’m pretty jazzed right now. After two years of hard and often frustrating work, the website of my electronic publishing company is up and running. Click this link —  — if you’d like to see it and the terrific array of books and authors we’re offering. It’s the first day, so only about 40 books are up, but we’ll be adding hundreds more over the next few months.

Yours sincerely, Otto

For all you mystery fans with e-readers and i-Pads, Otto’s site has enough great titles to keep you busy for a good long while. And like he says, more are on the way.

Don’t forget: X-mas is coming on fast, and e-readers are cheap. Buy one, load it with mysteries, and give it to a friend. They’ll thank you.


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Book Review: Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone

Assurances were made that a review would be posted on the 24th. It’s still Monday for a few more hours and, after a day of brawling with myself over issues peripheral — but bearing no direct relation — to the book’s contents, I’m back to take another swing.

For the uninitiated or casually familiar, F&L@RS is a fine introduction to The Good Doctor’s non-Vegas Gonzo pieces and a good place to find some of his most incandescent writing. And while the book doesn’t illustrate the evolution of Hunter’s style and craft, these repackaged Rolling Stone articles showcase the results of both the writer and his editors, past and present, in creating finished pieces. It also traces the astonishing climb, stall, and flame-0ut of one of America’s most prolific, insightful, and unstoppable humorists.

Much of the material for this book appeared in the same or similar forms in Hunter’s other collected works, most notably THE GREAT SHARK HUNT. In fact, of the 40 or so articles and letters listed on the contents page, nine were in SHARK HUNT and fourteen in CAMPAIGN TRAIL ’72.

(N.B. — I say, “same or similar forms,” because, according to Paul Scanlon’s warm and excellent intro, he’s re-groomed some of the articles for the new book. While editorial nit-pickers and HST fetishists will no doubt have their jollies with it, I have no time for a full-on stare-and-compare. One day, maybe — but not today.)

Where SHARK HUNT takes a somewhat shotgun approach to the groupings, F&L@RS has the advantage of presenting the pieces chronologically. Following the timeline lets readers see how Hunter’s writing for Rolling Stone fed the success and growth of the magazine, and was responsible for the growth and spread of the Hunterfigure. Readers get to witness the Legend being being printed along with the Truth and bound together, for good and ill, in the public consciousness.

For the hardcore fan or HST scholar, F&L@RS ultimately holds no surprises, though there are two pieces worth particular mention. First, is the inclusion of, “Polo Is My Life” — one of the truly essential pieces of Hunter’s writing that has been MIA for too long. Second is the exclusion of “Dance of the Doomed,”  Hunter’s meditation and final word on the war in Vietnam. The real reason why this was left out is anybody’s guess.

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Share it: QR dot for FLotU78 site

The Other Brad has been on me about doing something with the QR dot for this site. T-shirts, business cards, tribal tattoos. That kind of thing.

All of which are sound ideas. I’m so focused on the book right now that I don’t know how or where to put it to use.

(I keep staring at it, waiting for some kind of 3D eagle or sailing ship to resolve itself, but so far nothing. I must be too sober or too awake for it to work.)

Wait a minute . . . .


Just had a first-rate idea on where to print and show this for maximum effect. Too good to share — but guaranteed to get awesome results.

Meanwhile, print this and post around your office, bus stop, nursing home, or elementary school.

UPDATE 10/26:  Just got word that my great idea is not feasible. Ah, well. Ever forward.

And for more QR goodness, check these guys out.

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Rum Diary Soundtrack

The fine folk handling Lakeshore Records’ PR assured me a copy of the new soundtrack will be delivered as soon they received a link from the label.

That was last Monday, the 17th.

The soundtrack hits digital release on the 25th.

Guess I’d better get back on the wire.

By the looks of the track list and the tidbits in press releases, jazz drummer Christopher Young’s score, combined with the pop songs he’s selected, are set to capture the 1960s island feel.

When I hear anything, I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile, THE RUM DIARY opens in theaters Friday, October 28th. At least two venues in the Chicago area have Thursday night-Friday morning screenings starting at 12:01AM. Check your local theater listings.

UPDATE (10/25/11): The word is that the promo link is still not available from Lakeshore Records. Which is strange because the digital copy went on sale yesterday at Amazon.

It’s a Scooby-Doo mystery to me.

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This just in . . .

Returned Saturday from a research trip into the city and found two — count ’em! TWO! — books on the doorstep.  I knew Rolling Stone was being shipped, but The Rum Diary re-issue was a sweet bonus. Special thanks to the fine folks at Simon & Schuster for these.

Since all I’ve managed to do is get greasy fingerprints on  the books without any actual reading, it would be unfair to comment beyond saying that they look great and I’m eager to dig in.

Expect more clarity (on the books, at least) next Monday, Oct. 24.


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Rum Diary Poster

Of all the things that could have been done to make this a really intriguing poster and they went with this.

What a disappointment.

Analyzing the gross and numerous failures in concept and design would be pointless, mostly because the people concerned (i.e., producers and publicists) clearly don’t give a shit.

Noticeably absent from the poster is any mention of the novel or its author. This may seem counter-intuitive, but that could work in the film’s favor.

Most people these days who know anything about Thompson are either a) familiar enough with the man and his work to know it’s more than the some of it’s parts, or b) know the man and his work by reputation only — and that’s the way they like it. (Because let’s face it: anyone impressed by the more outré aspects of the good doctor’s life and writing would have found out more.)

For the former group, the title alone is enough to get them in the theaters. For the latter group, for whom Doc’s antics were an immediate turn-off, Depp’s name and the mystery of the poster might lure them in.

It’s a crap-shoot, really. And we won’t know it’s success or failure until the box office returns are in.



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Rum Diary Trailer — HUZZAH!

Now that’s what I’m talking about (or was the other day). Finally — a bit of press for this baby!

Special thanks to the fine folks at Bleeding Cool for the heads-up.

(THE RUM DIARY opens in the USA on October 28, 2011)

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Teal Bowser: Someone You Should Know

Digging for book cover art the other day and came across this fine example by Graphic Designer and Illustrator, Teal Bowser.

Here’s what she has to say about the piece:

Hunter S. Thompson is one of America’s most eclectic writers. I created this mock book cover after reading the novel, The Rum Diary. I began this cover traditionally with scans of torn paper that I imported into an illustrator file and finished in InDesign.

I won’t vivisect analyze the cover like I‘ve done elsewhere, mostly because it’s not necessary. Just sit back and admire.

More HST fan art as I find it.

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KICK-ASS and the Hopless Stupidity of American Moviegoers

Let’s be clear about something: the following rant is based on an actual event. Maybe more than based. Maybe it really happened.

This was first posted over at my Junior Mad Scientist site with some password protection so little the kids and parents who frequent the site wouldn’t be treated to some harsh language. But, based on the nature of this site, you already know what you’re in for. Enjoy. bjw

May 10th, 2010

[I’m warning you right now that this one has some language in it — language that, if you’re over the age of seven, you’ve probably said at least once today. And if you haven’t said it, then you’ve thought it or heard your parents say it, probably more than once today. But when they’re in print, words are suddenly different. Don’t ask me why. I’m a writer and I still don’t understand the physics of words (supposedly) having more meaning when they’re on the page. Anyway, if you’re under the age of 18 or easily offended, you’ll likely want to skip this one. Just sayin’. bjw]

There’s one in every crowd. The guy who hands you back the fast food garbage you dumped in the Home Depot parking lot. The guy who yells in the theater for you to put away your goddamned cell phone and watch the movie. The guy who whips a rock at your car because you just blew the stop sign while he was walking his kid across the street.

Like I said: There’s one in every crowd.

Usually, it’s me.


It’d been a long Sunday: the only worthwhile things being time spent with the wife and kid, pricing bookcases for the new office, and some barbeque and strange conversation at a friend’s house. After that, it was 8:30pm and I was at loose ends. The local Googolplex was showing KICK-ASS at 8:45. I snagged a twenty and headed out the door.

My cell phone and watch were left home on purpose, so I had no idea what time it was when the woman tried to sneak in with the little boy. This was right around the part where Kick-Ass first meets up with the Red Mist in the alley. The kid sits one over from me; she’s on his left. The kid is so small he’s practically swallowed by the seat.

I saw them come in, fresh from either DIARY OF A WIMPY KID or HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. The kid was oblivious. She was furtive, clearly new at trying to get away with something and failing hard. It makes no difference who you are; we’ve all done it, all failed to be invisible. Whether it’s your first crack at theater-hopping, shoplifting porn or buying that first box of condoms, we all act the same way and it’s easy to spot.

As God as my witness, I wanted to let it go.

Not that this woman needed to be Tased for sneaking into a movie. Hell, no. Except for under–paid theater managers and over–paid studio executives, nobody gives a shit about that kind of thing because whether anybody is in the theater or not, the movie still runs. So, as long as she stayed off her phone and the kid kept his yap shut, I would count myself among the careless nobodies.

But she brought this little, little kid to this particular movie. This stupid, stupid woman, whose knowledge of the film was likely gleaned from a fast glance at the movie poster, and this kid, no doubt tripping on Mountain Dew and Twizzler Bites, who is geeked to be up past his bedtime on a school night and sneaking into a superhero movie. And who could blame him?

The thing is, I know what’s coming. I’d never read the comics, but had seen enough reviews to know how bad it would be. That I paid ten bucks to see this piece of crap is my problem, my choice. But this kid, he doesn’t have a choice, doesn’t know he has a choice. Even if he did know, he’d still vote to stay. Because it’s a superhero movie.

And I think about the people I know –– personally know –– who let their five- and six- and seven-year-olds watch SPIDER–MAN 3, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, and THE DARK KNIGHT, over and over and over. Especially THE DARK KNIGHT. Because to most parents, the line between THE INCREDIBLES and THE DARK KNIGHT doesn’t exist. Because they are superhero movies.

One of these days, I’m going hit my brakes while the wrong guy tailgates me. One of these days, I’ll tell the wrong woman “you’re welcome” when she fails to smile, make friendly eye contact, say “thank you” while I hold the door open for her. One of these days, I’m going to tell the wrong guy that if he and his buddies want to talk they should go to Denny’s –– otherwise they need to shut up and watch the movie. One of these days, I’m going to get slapped around, have a cigarette put out in my face, get stabbed. Get shot.

One of these days, I’m going to mind my own business.

I lean over the empty seat. I tell the lady, “You know this rated R, right?”

“Oh. It is?” she asks, and means it.


I turn to the kid. “Hey, pal. How old are you?”

He holds up four fingers, says he’s three. His eyes never leave the screen.

“He’s four,” she smiles.

I say, “Listen, lady. They already showed a little girl get shot in the chest by her father and it’s only going to get worse. You need to get him the hell out of here. Like, now.”

She says, “Oh,” and starts tugging a jacket on her mesmerized kid. “OK. Thanks.”

“You know the best way to thank me? Read the reviews before you take your kid to the movies. Because shit like this will fuck him up fast. Now beat it before they start having sex and chopping off heads.”

She hustled that kid out with a lot less furtive than she came in with.

One of these days, I’m going to Hell.

–– Chicago, May 2010

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