LEXINGTON, Ky. – On Saturday, November 7, at 7PM Lexington literary fans – and Hunter S. Thompson enthusiasts – are invited to step into the pages of Thompson’s groundbreaking cult classic, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream.

The event is the fourth annual installment in the Carnegie Classics series. It will feature a visual art exhibit, a Vegas-style buffet, open bar, live music performances and other artistic surprises – all themed around the 1971 cult classic by Thompson, who was a Kentucky native and creator of so-called Gonzo journalism. The Carnegie Center’s historic downtown building will be transformed into a 1970s-era Las Vegas hotel.

The Carnegie Classics series was conceived in 2011 by the staff of the Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning, a Lexington-based non-profit dedicated to imaginative learning and literary arts. The events are designed to celebrate a classic piece of literature with costumes, decor, art and performance, all inspired by that year’s literary choice. The three previous Carnegie Classics were themed around the novels To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, and Catcher in the Rye. Continue reading

Is this Bat Country? Did Hunter Read Damnation Alley?

By Bradley James Weber
 DamnationAlleyIt was a nightmare, getting out of L.A. . . . The desert would be bad enough all by itself. 
     Something big and batlike swooped through the tunnel of lights and was gone. He ignored its passage. Five minutes later it made a second pass, this time much closer, and he fired a magnesium flare. A black shape, perhaps forty feet across, was illuminated, and he gave it two five-second bursts from the fifty-calibers, and it fell to the ground and did not return again. 
     To the squares, this was Damnation Alley.


Damnation Alley, by Roger Zelazny, is a really awful book with an impossible cult following. Published in 1969, it went on to be made into an even worse film staring George Peppard, Jan-Michael Vincent, and Jackie Earle Haley which as gained an even stronger cult following than the book.

How I acquired first-hand knowledge of these matters is a story too horrible to tell, at least right now. All will be revealed when I’ve made my millions and adoring fans hang on my every word. Meanwhile, I have to wonder if this shitty little book was in some way an influence on Hunter’s conceptualization of Bat Country and the fearful run from L.A. to L.V. Continue reading

HOW CHARLIE GOT HUSTLED [Uncut, Unedited, Untold]

favorEditor’s note: About six months ago I bumped into Mayor Gonzo Sammie Mays online. What the hell is a Mayor Gonzo Sammie Mays? I wondered. Turns out she is a Kentucky Colonel & Honorary Mayor of Key West, Florida, a real (if not “official”) elected position and not just a nickname for some colorful local character…which she also is. Shortly thereafter I received a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card from The Right Honorable Mays, entitling me to one free political favor (as opposed to those based on graft and backroom conspiracy). Also turns out that the Mayor has lived a very interesting life; from moonshiners to biker brawls and survived to tell us about it in her enormously entertaining book Damn the Carnations: Full Speed Ahead. Here we excerpt the story of how, after losing her bar, she managed to get into prison to snap a photo of baseball legend Pete Rose for the National Enquirer that the tabloid called “The sports coup of the decade.”

A published writer and columnist since 1986, Mays’ stories and exploits have appeared in: People Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Los Angeles Times, National Enquirer, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Miami Herald and Key West Travel Host Magazine.There is so much more to say about her I don’t know where to begin. Read the book. Here’s Bill McKeen’s take:

“Sammie Mays is a Category 5 literary hurricane. Here’s a full-force gale of stories about the adventures that earned her the nickname ‘The Gonz’ and a place as the honorary mayor of Key West. ‘Damn the Carnations’ has the added attraction of making you reconsider your approach to toilet flushing. The book is full of piss, vinegar, wisdom and advice for living the good life.” WILLIAM McKEEN, Professor & Chair, Boston University, Dept. of Journalism


Col. Sammie ‘Mayor Gonzo’ Mays 

The call was taken by British story editor Joe Mullins. Having zero time to play footsy I dived into the Brit, asking that he put me on the most difficult assignment the tabloid had to offer; the assignment that pays the most money–and before he could answer, to hopefully enhance a more favorable response, I threw in, “If I’m not successful, whatever the assignment, the tabloid won’t owe me a thing, only my expenses. What do you have?

The words, the tone, the desperation in my voice, the Brit had to know he held my state of mental health in his hands. I was a puppet handing over the strings to the puppeteer. All he had to do was pull them and there was nothing that I wouldn’t do. “Now Pete Rose is in prison but nobody can get to Pete Rose! Now can they?”

With the burglary [recounted earlier in Damn the Carnations] my clock and patience had long left the building and just barely keeping it together, I shot back, “I don’t know, Joe! Can they?” He continued cool and calm, “Newspaper and magazine reporters from across the country have tried and failed but, if successful, we’ll pay you $100,000.00 for a picture and story of Pete Rose in Prison!” Continue reading

CRACK APPLE and POP: Chpts 7-9

by Saira Viola

art by Dan Reece

Chapters 1-6
Chapter 7

“Come in, please sit down” Richard was being as pleasant as his money mouth would allow.

“I understand you are a business man and property magnate in Mumbai is that right?”

“Yes…I have lots of what you might call big wheel enterprises from rice export to Bollywood movies”

“Indeed, so what is it exactly can we do for you here at Deschamps Bouverie. We of course, handle all kinds of commercial, tax, investment and other areas of corporate practice that may of be use to you.”

Poncho leaned forward getting as close to Richard as the desk that separated them would let him:

“I would like a yes man” he proclaimed with a sneaky look in his eye. Continue reading