Times review of Jann Wenner's book made me realize I need to
communicate in more specific terms. The reviewer was too sloppy to understand
that Jann never forgave Hunter for leaving Rolling Stone. Jann convinced nearly
all of Hunter's friends to participate in what would be a "positive"
book about Hunter. Then, using a cheap parlor trick, Jann excerpted and paraphrased
the negative bits of interviews to weave a tall tale to trash Hunter.
wrote more in the last 5 years of his life than he had in the previous 15, along
with fighting and winning a beautiful legal battle for Lisl
Auman. Hunter believed in the triumph of the human spirit.
John Nichols from the Nation has said, and I agree, that some of Hunter's most
savage and inspiring political writing, was in his ESPN
columns during the last years of his life.
were short, insightful and funny. He inspired thousands of sports lovers to get
involved with politics.
What the L.A. Times reviewer fails
to notice is that in addition to Hunter "using" people around him, the
truth is that Hunter was surrounded,much of his life, by leeches (many of those
leeches grace the pages of the book). It doesn't take a rocket scientist to recognize
that many people did TAKE, TAKE, TAKE from Hunter and gave very little in return.
While sitting at his typewriter, Hunter helped many people, especially Jann, make
a lot of money.
Today is no exception.
is the letter that I wrote to Jann in May, after receiving the manuscript. I had
to tell him the book was a FRAUD, and that I would not write a forward or include
an interview -- which was SCARY, because I felt very much alone. Despite his withering
status, Jann is considered "rich and powerful," and I was warned by
friends that he would go after me if I refused to be in the book. Jann offered
me a lot of money and ad space in his magazine to include my interview and forward,
and implied threats if I didn't. In the end, however, the best people to defend
Hunter are his readers.
In my refrigerator I have a jar of mayonnaise, two tangerines, 1/2 carton
of soy milk and a few boxes of dried spaghetti. And I also have an overdrawn bank
account, $43 in my wallet, and no car. So, I really, REALLY could use that money!
But I need to let you know that I'm sticking with my original decision I made
many months ago - that I can not be a part of [your book] in any shape or form.
I hope you understand. If readers believe that the bits and pieces of interviews
you weaved together tell an accurate story, there is nothing I could possibly
write in a 500 word forward to sway them.
him in a forward would be futile. So, I'm out. And yes, let's part ways.
Stone [and especially US Weekly] is such a huge success financially... You have
accumulated a mass amount of power and wealth over the last 40 years -- Why do
you have to use it against Hunter? It would have been so beautiful if you would
have used that power to compile, into a book, a bunch of humiliating personal
interviews about someone like Paul Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rice, or Rumsfeld or Armitage
or even Bush.
Why Hunter? You walked around at both memorial services
in a constant state of tears and made people trust you to sit down and do interviews
with Corey. I know you and Hunter had some problems over the years... [but] I
don't understand the level of venom employed here.
couldn't deny the fact that yes, as soon as he left Rolling Stone, you portray
him as an awful beast of a man. But you also couldn't deny the fact that all these
people loved him dearly "all the way to the end". The reason peopled
loved him is because he is one of the rare human beings who is essentially decent,
with moments of rotten behavior.
wish I could appeal to your sense of decency and that you would burn this awful
manuscript. It would be the right thing to do. I realize you're probably laughing
at me to even suggest it.
of my first nights working with Hunter on a project here in the kitchen was in
1999 on the second letters book. I wrote about it in one of the essay portions
of my 3 hour Columbia entrance exam. On this night, there were several letters
to [and from] you up for consideration...Many people lobbied to include those
nasty ones. Hunter humored them for a while. But he wouldn't run them in the end.
THAT is why "people
loved Hunter all the way to the end." Because no matter how vicious he could
be, he was essentially decent in a huge way. And when he did attack people, it
was only those who were in a position to defend
I know I've pissed you off and it's probably not the best strategy for me to make
an enemy of you. But I love Hunter, and hate to see his friend bash him to pieces...
and hope to god that you just go with your heart and reconsider this whole project.
If you want to publish embarrassing
interviews about me, so be it. I've learned
to deflect cheap shots. Just lay off Hunter, he's dead. Won't you???
I wish you some peace and forgiveness in your life.
(May 23, 2007)
p.s. for those
of you worried about Johnny Depp, although I haven't spoken to him in a long time,
we'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he just trusted Wenner, like everybody
else when he allowed the reprint of his "forward." regarding
"oral biography" about Hunter S. Thompson.