CARNEGIE CENTER NAMES BOOK FOR
4TH ANNUAL CARNEGIE CLASSICS EVENT:
“FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS,” BY HUNTER S. THOMPSON
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
by C.A. Seller
To merely say that Ron Whitehead is an author, activist, musician, publisher, producer, editor, poet bar none with 40 cd and audio recordings such as “Tapping My Own Phone,” and even an actor, is an understatement. He has written 30 books, most notably “I Will Not Bow Down” and his latest, “MAMA a poet’s heart in a Kentucky girl.”
In MAMA, Ron’s use of lower case letters conveys the humility of his family. Each poem tells a story. I began taking notes and realized there was much too much to mention.
‘From “wrestling hercules” by Ron Whitehead:
“…know that i’m not kidding the 1st 17 years of my life would make marine boot camp
look like the training school for valet parking
and that’s nothing against marines…”
From “the boxer” by Ron Whitehead:
“…a poet from Kentucky
with a gentle soul
miles and miles I’ve traveled many fights I’ve fought
oh the story of my life
despite the losses
against all odds
relentlessly leaning into the wind
without regrets I remain.”
Ron’s mother, Greta Render Whitehead, is 83 years old and her poems are stories broken into spry stanzas. There are love poems for her devoted husband, Ron’s father, Ed, deceased, who sounds like the father we all wish we had. A record of hard living before and during The Depression, Mrs. Whitehead’s voice is undeniably full of loss and almost indescribable joy that is all centered around her family. Music, meals and an almost ancient sense of community combine to produce a picture of the past and present when the most precious thing the Whitehead’s and Render’s have is a dedication to doing the right thing.
From Page 2 by Greta Render Whitehead:
“…Daddy discovered an abandoned Greyhound Silverside bus in the woods below Centertown.
He moved it to town and made it into The Blue Bus Café.
That was during WWII. Everything was rationed but Mama used their war stamps, and he Mom’s too, to buy sugar for lemonade as well as her delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and hamburgers.
The Blue Bus Café was a great place to eat while sitting in a booth and listening to juke box music. You could also sit by the fireplace and visit.”
- * * * * * *
By the end of MAMA I was wanting more and there it was, an interview between Ron and Mama that amplifies her poetry and gives in depth explanation to her losses and loves. This book is an inspiration via family history. The values Ron exhibits in his life today are reflected in Mama’s poems.
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
Editor’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
HOW CHARLIE GOT HUSTLED
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
by Saira Viola
art by Dan Reece
“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