Kudos to Dr. Thompson; 'Hoot' coming to an Island near us?
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, creator of gonzo journalism and a distint, sometimes wierd individual, died by his own hands Sunday, Feb. 20, at his Owl Farm compound in Woody Creek, Colo. He was 65.
Thompson was one of the writers who was described as iconoclastic in the book "New Journalism" due to his concept of interjecting the reporter smack into the middle of the story. No "objective observer" Thompson, he often became the story.
His first major magazine article was "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved" in which he, a Kentucky native son, spent a debauched week at the derby.
His in-your-face journalism reached novel form in "Hell's Angels" in which he chronicled the California motorcycle gang. He rode with the group for a while, until getting stomped, which ended his "ride" and the book.
His more famous - infamous? - book was "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," made into a movie a few years ago starring Johnnie Depp as the Doctor. It is a story of a twisted, drug-aided assignment Thompson had covering a motorcycle race in the desert. The beginning of the book may convey some of the style that Thompson was famous for:
"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like, 'I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive ...' And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about 100 mph with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: 'Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?'
"Then it was quiet again. My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest, to facilitate the tanning process. 'What the hell are you yelling about?' he muttered. 'Never mind,' I said. 'It's your turn to drive.'"
I saw Dr. Thompson lecture at the University of South Florida. He arrived more than an hour late, muttered for 45 minutes or so, fell down on stage twice, and drank a six-pack of beer during his "speech." It was classic Hunter, and my class of journalism students would not have expected anything else from the King of Gonzo Journalism.
'Hoot' rumors echo through Southwest Florida
There are rumors floating around that another major movie production may take place Southwest Florida, based on a book by one of the state's more popular authors.
"Hoot," a children's book by Carl Hiaasen, is supposedly being produced by he and Jimmy Buffett, also a Florida resident. Yes, it is that Jimmy Buffett. Scenes within the book take place somewhere in Southwest Florida, and location scouts are apparently interested in keeping the locale true in the film version of the story and are roaming our coast.
"Hoot" is quite literally a hoot of a book. Although it is a children's book, it reads pretty much like any of Hiaasen's novels, minus the sex and violence. Or at least not quite as much sex and violence.
The book is the story of a middle school student who befriends another boy who is working to save a number of endangered burrowing owls from a developer's bulldozers. He enlists a set of strange - well, maybe not so strange for Hiaasen fans - friends along the way. There are lots of good old-Florida scenes within the book, including this one between our hero Roy and his buddy Mullet Fingers.
The two are spending an afternoon on a sunken boat in a mangrove forest watching herons, osprey and crabs. "Downstream a disturbance shook the water, and a dozen silvery cigar-sized fish jumped in unison, trying to escape some hungry predator," Hiaasen writes.
"'Cool! Here they come.' The strange boy pointed at the frantic V-shaped wake. He got flat on his belly and instructed Roy to hold his ankles.
"'Hurry up, man, c'mon!'
"With Roy anchoring his feat, the boy scooted himself forward over the rim of the pilothouse until his wiry upper torso was suspended out over the creek.
"'Don't let go!' he yelled, stretching his tan arms outward until his fingertips touched the water.
"Roy's hold began to slip, so he pitched forward, exerting his full weight upon the boy's midsection. He expected both of them to go tumbling into the creek, which was all right as long as they didn't scrape any oyster bars.
"'Here they come! Get ready!'
"Roy managed to hang on as he felt the boy lunge. He heard a grunt, a splash, and then a triumphant 'Whooo-hooooo!!!'
"Roy pulled him safely back on the pilothouse. The boy flipped over and sat up beaming, his hands cupped in front of him.
"'Take a peek,' he told Roy.
"The boy was holding a bright blunt-headed fish that sparkled like liquid chrome. How he had snatched such a slippery little ghost from the water with only his bare hands, Roy didn't know. Even the osprey would have been impressed.
"'So that's a mullet,' Roy said.
"'Yep.' The boy smiled proudly. 'That's how come I got the nickname.'"
Hence the nickname of Mullet Fingers.
Let's hope the location scouts find our part of the world enticing enough for the production of "Hoot." We sure got the mullet.
Eau de cockroach
Chemists believe they have discovered the Holy Grail in the insect kingdom: The synthetic fragrance that entices male cockroaches to amorous females.
The finding means that there is literally now a chance to make a better roach trap.
According to a Los Angeles Times newspaper article, scientists were able to separate the sex pheromone and then recreate it in the laboratory. It apparently will draw male cockroaches in less than 10 seconds flat.
Well, German cockroaches are the most prevalent species in the United States. They spread or trigger asthma and can spread cholera, food poisoning, dysentery and other diseases. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. households spend more than $1 billion a year on trying to stamp out cockroaches. Unsuccessfully.
Female roaches can produce up to 2 million offspring a year. You can do the math for yourself to see that our pest control companies won't have to worry about losing any business any time soon.
But the new roach perfume may help solve the bug problem. A drop or two in the trap, all the male roaches run for what they think is their new girlfriend, and bang, they're trapped.
Oh, and the pheromone is so powerful that a starving male cockroach will bypass food for the chance to copulate with what it thinks may be an amorous female.
Good news from the Holy City
There is actually a pretty nice proposal coming out of the Tallahassee by lawmakers this year.
Bills have been introduced in both the House of Representatives and the senate to offer residents a tax "holiday" on hurricane supplies. The tax-free period would probably be in early June and could include up to 20 sheets of plywood, batteries and a generator.
The proposal makes surprising sense when you think about it. All of the urgings, pleadings and threats we make year after year to entice homeowners to prepare for hurricane season generally fall on deaf ears. Maybe by appealing to one's wallets, the pre-storm precautions will have more effect.
Although the final list of items is still being resolved, as well as quantities on the list, it is estimated that the average home would save about $30 through the tax amnesty period. The tax break would cost the state about $30 million, pretty much the same as the school supply tax holiday.
There doesn't seem to be much opposition to the plan by lawmakers or business groups, although the Florida Retail Federation does have a small concern.
After having four hurricanes hit Florida in 2004, giving residents a tax break on storm supplies it will be "kind of odd to call it a holiday," FRF's Bill Herrle told the Tampa Tribune.
The partnership of the Gulf of Mexico Program is currently soliciting entries for the 2005 Gulf Guardian Awards Program, according to a release. Entry deadline is May 10. Winners will be announced in July and the awards will be presented next fall.
The awards program was started six years ago to honor businesses, industries, non-profit organizations, government agencies and individuals who are "striving to make an environmental difference in the Gulf of Mexico," program officials said.
First-, second-, and third-place Gulf Guardian awards are given in business, youth/education, partnerships, government, individual and civic/non-profit organization categories.
More information is available online at www.epa.gov/gmpo, or you can call (228) 688-1159 or (228) 688-1172.
Cockroaches have been on the planet for at least 200 million years, according to fossil evidence. They survive in almost any environment, eat almost anything including paper and leather, and tend to infest almost every building given time.