On Sundays I reflect.
I did not drink alcohol this week. My life has been better since I quit drinking in so many ways. There are so many areas of my life that I want to improve and abstaining from alcohol was a major step for me in making that progress. At this point it is pretty rare that I even consider having a drink, and it’s rarely something I think about.
I had a lot of firsts this week; very exciting firsts for me if I’m being honest.
Let’s start with yesterday because its feeling fresh. My buddy Vinscent Van Grow invited me to go shooting with him and a few of his friends. I have never shot a gun before, and it has never been high on my list of things to do. A few years ago living in the mountains of Colorado and being friends with a handful of gun enthusiasts, I realized that it was something I wanted to try. It wasn’t anything I cared about enough to put any effort into, but this weekend seemed like the perfect weekend for an outdoor activity with friends before its so cold and snow covered that all I want to do outside is snowboard.
It was quite the selection and by the end of the day I shot all four, but the first thing they set me up with was a rifle. My shot was terrible, though I did get 3 rounds just above the targets that would have been head shots. What I chose not to mention while they praised my shots was that I was actually aiming for the cans below the targets but it was certainly a rush regardless. Next they loaded me up a pistol and I took ten steps towards our targets. I don’t think I hit anything with that one, and I don’t think I enjoyed shooting it very much but it packed a punch! The other one I did enjoy shooting was the revolver though again I don’t think I hit anything besides dirt. Then they gave me the automatic rifle which was by far the easiest to shoot as well as the most intimidating. It could have been the gun itself if not the initial practice with the other three but I definitely hit my targets with that one. I took one last go with the classic rifle after the automatic and ultimately I could see myself spending more time practicing getting used to something like that as well as a revolver for a hand gun. I had to leave my phone at the store for the day to transfer over to a new phone so I didn’t get any photos. It was a nice feeling to be free from the phone for almost an entire day out in nature shooting guns, but I wouldn’t say its something I am in a rush to do again. I’ll say part of what inspired my motivation to want to shoot guns would be the late and great Hunter S. Thompson and his passion for shooting which will lead right into my next story from this week.
The setting is Owl Farm, sitting just outside Aspen in the hills of Woody Creek. I have previously made a point to pop into the Woody Creek Tavern on occasion, attempting to soak up some of the genius and insanity that HST left behind and maybe encounter someone who knew him that could share any tidbits with me about the dude and his life. I would never have shown up to Owl Farm uninvited as I would have likely been greeted by guns based on the signs I have seen in pictures and knowing enough about Hunter and his way of life. It couldn’t have been more than five minutes from the Tavern to his property up the switchbacks into the mountains, and all I could think about was how he would rip his motorcycle through those roads at 150 mph as if it was his personal driveway.
I don’t remember how I discovered Hunter and his work. I know that my sophomore year of college in the spring of 2010 I visited a friend in Boulder who lived with someone who grew up in Aspen. It was my spring break and Max’s roommate Blake loaned me a book of letters of correspondences from Hunter which I read lazily throughout the week. I was already aware of Hunter by this point though probably only minimally. I can’t recall when I first saw the film Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, and I can’t recall when I first read the book. I do remember reading the book on an airplane but I’m not even sure if that was my first time reading it or not. In high school if I was familiar with HST it was only from excerpts or references. The dude died my freshman or sophomore year of high school so I kind of came into the world a bit late to catch him in his prime.
My studio is an homage to HST boasting murals of him all around and operating under the name Bat Country Studios as an allusion to his infamous drive through the desert on his way to Las Vegas from Los Angeles to cover the motorbike race for Rolling Stone that would turn into the epitome of Gonzo Journalism. Maybe it was as a young teenage angsty psychonaut that people began telling me I should read Hunter’s work. Maybe it was in college that I dug deeper into who he was and what he accomplished.
“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro”
I’ve always felt like a weirdo in a way; A freak. I rarely thought of those words with a negative connotation except to the extent that societal pressures tried to make me feel otherwise. Hunter ran a campaign for sheriff on Freak Power in Aspen and that hit home for me.
On wikipedia when I search that quote it says that is is from Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas written in 1971 by Hunter S. Thompson. It links to the obvious reference of “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” which means that in difficult times the strong willed take action. The only other thing the wikipedia page says is “In times of change or upheaval, anyone can make a legitimate business from their own personal vision, however different it may be”. I promise I didn’t put that there, and yet it seems to truly embody what I am doing.
So a few weeks ago a friend was visiting the studio who was aware of my obvious appreciation for the Gonzo movement. He mentioned he had been brought on to assist Hunter’s widow, Anita with a publication she is responsible for. He saw the projects I have been creating with my friend and collaborator Jeremy OLDGREED featuring HST and Gonzo imagery and he decided to put me in touch with Anita. He showed her our work and she asked about featuring us on the Gonzo webstore and so we set a meeting for me to show her samples and discuss collaboration.
Aspen is about two hours away from me, and not exactly on the way to anywhere I would find myself going. This week I finally made my way over there for some other meetings and a loose plan to meet Anita. Our mutual friend Robert mentioned her typical working hours would be from 2:30-6 PM or so. After much correspondence (and lack thereof) in the 48 hours leading up to the meeting it was ultimately determined that I should arrive to Owl Farm around 2:30 PM on Thursday. When I arrived to what was obvious to any Gonzo enthusiast as Hunter’s property I pulled into a scene exactly as I expected in my mind. Glimpses of the views and scenes he took in every day. I knocked on the door of the main cabin from which music resonated straight out of the 1960’s from some kind of outdoor stereo in the attached car port.
No answer at the door so I called Anita. It was hard to tell who’s vehicles were whose and whether she was home or not.
No answer on the phone and I was a few minutes early so I did what I thought Hunter would have done. I lit up a joint and tried to take in all of my surroundings. Eventually Anita emerged from the main cabin and apologized for keeping me waiting. She brought me into a smaller cabin where I was able to unpack a few gun cases full of samples. She introduced me to her peacocks telling me the wild predators had gotten a few so now she had to keep them inside their own part of the cabin. Our meeting was interrupted by a friend coming over to assess the situation for her to move the washer and dryer into what will soon become a new bathroom for the second cabin she plans to live in while doing necessary maintenance work on the main cabin. I helped her move the washer and dryer across the tiny kitchenette so she could get in behind it to sort out the cables and plugs. Fortunately she had the combo washer dryer on wheels but it still required moving every object and plant in the kitchen around to accommodate moving anything else. Throughout this I couldn’t help but notice the red typewriter to my left on a desk, likely where Hunter’s hands were once hard at work.
The entire experience was surreal. The project is in the works.
“Buy the ticket. Take the ride” he said.
Thanks for tuning in this week. It seems like I might be back in the flow of writing these reflections and I hope I can keep it up but I’m not making any promises. For now its time for me to head over to Bat Country Studios for some Sunday Specials on Instagram Live and hopefully I get to spend a few hours on the torch this afternoon. My friend Germ arrives Tuesday for a week of collaboration and OLDGREED and Wigged Out Art will be back for Taco Tuesday. We are in crush mode for some action down in Miami during Art Week in December and as much as it might seem early we are now getting ready for Glass Vegas and the 5th annual Vail Cup Collectors Club in February 2022!
Last thing before I wrap up here. Yesterday I received the first package from SALT for our upcoming drop on the Glass Grab App November 18. The first round of VIP tickets already sold out but we are getting ready to release the second round so please get in touch if you are wanting to get in on the drop before it sells out completely. More info coming this week!
Wishing you a wonderful week!
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