HST, RIP: Conversations with Hunter S. Thompson

June 5th, 2008 → 10:09 am @

The University of Mississippi Press has just released Conversations with Hunter S. Thompson, which is not, as it might seem, a series of interviews but a collection of 30 articles about HST written over the last forty some odd years. The table of contents is impressively eclectic: there’s a Doug Brinkley piece from The Paris Review, a Craig Vetter article from Playboy, and — no joke — a old Ron Rosenbaum story that first ran in High Times. (If you’re wondering: yes, that’s the same Ron Rosenbaum who wrote Explaining Hitler and The Shakespeare Wars.) (There are also, predictably a pair of articles titled “Still Gonzo After All These Years.”) (Triple parens alert. The book is also co-edited by someone with one of the all-time great handles: Beef Torrey. I’ve spoken with him, and that’s his honest-to-goodness, god-given name. His parents, I assume, were not vegetarians.)

All of that should more than enough to recommend the book. There is also an essay I wrote back in 2000, when I first met Hunter during a couple of all-night editing sessions at his ranch in Owl Creek. I hadn’t read the piece, titled “Fear and Writing,” in a good five or so years, and it made me both sad and proud: I miss that old fuck, and the piece is actually pretty good. And since it ran in the now-defunct Brill’s Content, this the only place you’ll ever get to read it.

Post Categories: homophobia & Red Sox Nation & Ron Gant & Ugueth Urbina

Paxton Crawford and the downside of Red Sox Nation

June 21st, 2006 → 5:11 pm @

It was only a matter of time. Admissions or accusations of steroid use now plague almost every major league clubhouse, and today they officially reached the Red Sox, when ESPN The Magazine published an article in which former Sox pitcher Paxton Crawford talks about using steroids, human growth hormone, and speed while with the Sox in 2000 and 2001. (The article is available online, but only if you’re a subscriber to ESPN Insider.)

Crawford says he was introduced to steroids while in the Sox’s minor league system in 1999. “Shoot, why not?” he says he remembers thinking. “I’m just a country boy; I didn’t even think twice. It seemed like everybody else was doing it, so it wasn’t a big deal, right?” When he made the big league team in 2001, he says a teammate—and there are a number of players who were members of the Red Sox in 2001 that remain with the team today—introduced him to HGH.

Over the past half-decade, there have been widely varying estimates of how many major league players have juiced, ranging from Ken Caminiti’s 50 percent to Jose Canseco’s 85 percent. (It’s worth noting that the oft-mocked Canseco appears to have been more honest than many of the players called to testify before Congress last March, including Mark McGuire, whom the Washington Post called “a shrunken, lonely, evasive figure.”) After spending a year around Major League Baseball, neither figure would surprise me. (I want to make clear that I never heard a single player admit or acknowledge using, I never saw anyone use, I never saw the presence of steroids, and I never heard any member of the Red Sox management or ownership talk about knowledge of a player on the team using.) In the days and months ahead, there’ll be more and more players who either come clean or are outed as being users—sluggers, sure, but also marginal pitchers like Crawford looking to reduce their recovery time and gain a few miles on their fastball and slap-hitting singles hitters looking for improved reaction time.

In Boston, where baseball is more a religion than a pastime, the effects of these revelations would be absolutely devastating. Take a look at what’s happened to the Diamondbacks following the Jason Grimsley affidavit and think for a second about how much less suffocating Phoenix is than Boston. Recall the round-the-clock coverage of Theo Epstein’s interregnum last winter. And now imagine the feeding frenzy that would occur if a hero of the 2004 World Series team is revealed to be a user. It could take months, if not years, to deal with the fallout.

Post Categories: Jason Grimsley & Paxton Crawford & Red Sox & Red Sox Nation & Steroids & Theo Epstein