The Lords of Karma

book review: Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson
edited by Anita Thompson
Da Capo Press, 2009
ISBN 978-0-306-81651-2

(view on Amazon)

Hunter S. Thompson was a media personality from the days when he wrote about the Hell’s Angels in the 1960s until his death in 2005. Always a fan of talking with other journalists and promoting his books, Thompson gave fewer TV interviews as time went on–but he continued to talk to print reporters frequently enough that his late-period wife, Anita Thompson, was able to cull together a collection of interviews ranging the the 1960s to the 2000s. While not fundamentally different from the written words of Hunter S. Thompson, the interviews do reveal many different angles as they are written up in whatever style the interviewer had and not in Thompson’s famously brooding and brilliant prose. And of course Thompson’s words unsurprisingly tend to be less edited and less measured than in his writing. Clever comments and colorful anecdotes are shared throughout. But it is easy to see a slow decline in the quality of the interviews as time passes and Thompson’s considerable legend begins to overshadow whatever fresh stories might be discussed at the moment, and the questions get dumber, more backward-looking, and more predictable with time–and Thompson steadily more irritated. Still, for fans of late 20th century history and especially for Thompson fanatics, this book is an important appendix to his writing.

This volume of the book includes an introduction by Christopher Hitchens, which I cannot report on because I haven’t read a word of it. On to the book.

Due to Hunter S. Thompson’s gift for the English language, short snippets of the book can paint surprisingly vivid images:

“So I don’t agree with [Norman] Mailer that the psychopath could be an advance. I think it’s sort of an inevitable state.” (p. 61)

“If you act as weird as you are, something terrible is bound to happen to you, if you’re as weird as I am.” (p.87)

“There’s something ominous about a totally shaved head.” (p. 43)

Politics was an area that Thompson always followed closely, and some of his most caustic commentary is on public affairs:

“Q. Your theory on the JFK assasination is what?
A. That it was carried out by the Mob but organized and effectuated by J. Edgar Hoover.” (p. 233)

“You talk about losing battles and degrading the system, nobody has done more to discredit the idea that democracy can work and that decent people can be elected and run it than Richard Nixon.” (p. 105)

“Yes, popular opinion [about the George W. Bush administration] in this country has to be swung over to ‘the White House is wrong, these people are corporate thieves. They’ve turned the American Dream into a chamber of looting.'” (p. 292)

“If you want to get out on the road there and say ‘I’m the candidate of the new politics,’ which he’s [McGovern has] done, you have to take some peculiar baggage with you.” (p. 29)

Many of Thompson’s opinions are interesting, and because this book spans a wide range of time and many questioners it includes discussion of a wide scope of issues:

“I really think computers are only as smart as the person who programs it, and I’d have to program the damn thing myself in order for it to meet my needs.” (p. 180)

“By being embedded, it’s almost like being captured. You’re given access to whatever they want to give you access to, and they make you really grateful for it.” (p. 343)

“They seem [now in 1998] to be more completely brainwashed by mass media; more conforming [than in 1958].” (p. 249)

“Drugs usually enhance or strengthen my perceptions and reactions, for good or ill.” (p. 178)

So is there really any way to define Hunter S. Thompson? Well, he offers this thought in an interview with

“Yeah, I consider myself a road man for the lords of karma.” (p. 318)

more Hunter S. Thompson posts:
The Rum Diary
The Kitchen Readings from Michael Cleverly and Bob Braudis
Ralph Steadman’s book The Joke’s Over episode guide season 1

The links and descriptions below take you through the first season (calendar year 2007) of, my video blog. (Podcasts appear in number order; this in some ways varies from the order of release date, because some podcasts were shot and given numbers but not released right away for editing reasons.)

Introduction Movie (May 5, 2007)
In the video that was taken to introduce the site, I talk about stuff while Jessica videos me at King of Thai Noodle House number 2 on Clement Street in San Francisco. The photo at the end is from near Ocean Beach.

Podcast 2 (May 10, 2007)
The video is an entry in the genre of crazy San Francisco MUNI bus movies. I had notes prepared but had a hard time reading them. But some of the stuff that the bus passengers say is crazy!

Podcast 3 (May 15, 2007)
Made right at the time of the Digg HD-DVD debacle, Jessica and I mull over the implications. Also involves the homeless of San Francisco and a glimpse of the HowWeird Street Fair.

Podcast 4 (May 16, 2007)
Jessica offers some praise about podcast 3! Then I introduce the show. The homeless dude returns. I tell the story from a restaurant. Jessica and I wander around downtown San Francisco. A lady screams in the parking garage.

Podcast 5 (May 18, 2007)
Lemonade is enjoyed. I talk to Jessica about my realization that I am running out of ideas (already at that point!) and then we go on our walk through the Presidio. During the podcast also we find our way to a sushi-on-a-conveyor place in our Outer Richmond neighborhood.

Podcast 6 (August 4, 2007)
This podcast features some amazing Yellowstone footage for more than the first half of the video. Then it moves on to Reno, San Francisco and even southern California. It features plenty of great sights and some humorous dialague, like me thinking a camera has in-video zoom when it doesn’t and Katie responding to a malfunctioning amateur radio, as well as the predictable Reno crazies on the way home. Includes some beautiful footage, shot by Jessica, of brown (Pacific) pelicans flying around Alameda.

Podcast 7 (August 30, 2007)
Even though I call it podcast 6, it is number 7–set on San Francisco’s Haight Street, this video captures a strange cultish event at Golden Gate Park at the beginning (featuring the chant “Open up the ancient gate” and stuff) and then afterwords the ebb and flow of the people out front of the [now defunct (but recently resurrected with new ownership)] Rockin’ Java cafe.

Podcast 8: Yosemite (December 7, 2007)
Jessica and I spent our 5th dating anniversary at Yosemite National Park. The video shows what we saw during our bike ride around the valley–big rocks and big deer–and then we’re back at our quaint little bed and breakfast near Mariposa. Then we visit upcountry as we walk through the woods to a scenic little lake.

Podcast 9: MUNI car crash (December 6, 2007)
Most people who live in San Francisco know about the MUNI. It can be pretty nuts. Here is no different, as a car driven by some dude smashes into the back of a bus which happens to be filled with kids–and the dude’s car gets the worst of it, and it looks like his Mom even shows up as police arrive on the scene. After gawking at the incident for a while, the group of kids stampedes onto another bus. (The audio had popping noises happening through much of the video.)

Podcast 10: birds of Mountain Lake Park (September 8, 2007)
One of the simplest podcasts, this one is literally just some footage of the bird activity at Mountain Lake, a small lake near Highway 1 in San Francisco.

Podcast 11: remix (September 10-11, 2007)
Different sights and sounds around San Francisco–cycling around the Richmond and the Castro, random footage like the shoppers inside a grocery store and can collectors with carts, and police asking some guy if he speaks Russian on Geary Boulevard.

Podcast 12: journalism edition (October 17, 2007)
An alumnae panel was convened at the University of San Francisco to speak to a group of journalism students. I recorded part of the discussion, as Jessica (a member of the panel) makes several good points along the way while numerous others wheedle naively about the supposedly privileged position of “professional” journalists compared to blogs. (Make sure to download the video because the Youtube version is cut short due to time constraints.)

Podcast 13: antiwar edition (October 28, 2007)
This video was shot partly in widescreen format and partly in a traditional aspect ratio; the way it was edited means that the wide parts are letter-boxed; as for the content, it features a bit of the stage show during an anti-war protest in Mission Dolores Park, followed by myself and then Jessica exhorting the nation to not use war as a foreign policy tool.

Podcast 14: film noir (November 4, 2007)
This video starts out around the edges of Pacific Heights at a coffee shop, and then moves to the 38 Geary MUNI bus. Onboard, a woman talks loudly on the phone. Then we hear some more random people talking on the bus and at the local market in the Outer Richmond.

Podcast 15: from SF to Cleveland (December 8, 2007)
We start this video on public transit in San Francisco–riding BART, watching a cable car go by, and sitting in the back of a MUNI bus across from an obnoxious singing person. Then we go to our visit to Cleveland (Jessica and I moved to Cleveland in February 2008) and we see the now-despised LeBron James shooting free throws, and a tour along the lakefront with Jessica. We then see some very interesting cranes, in addition to monkeys and fish at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

Podcast 16: Obama and ‘08 (December 14, 2007)
In this short video I offer an endorsement of Barack Obama in the 2008 elections over the then-imposing Hillary Clinton, and predict that he would beat John McCain in a general election. It was an exciting time; before liberals realized what a screw-up and traitor and war-monger Barack Obama is–so the video has since been taken off the site.

Podcast 17 (December 16, 2007)
While Jessica and I ride bikes through San Francisco, I note that we often have issues with wind noise in the early podcasts. When we stop at a lagoon, Jessica discusses the culture of podcasting, and then I add my views. At the end we see an egret and a heron and also Santa Claus makes an appearance, just wandering around Golden Gate Park. episode guide season 2

This is an list of the videos from season 2 of the podcast (calendar year 2008), each with a brief description and link to the post.

Podcast 18: 2008 primary season (January 26, 2008)
Shot in both San Francisco and Cleveland, this podcast encompasses a variety of scenes, from a kitchen demo to a discussion of what I like to order while waiting for planes at SFO (omelets!) to politics discussion about Hillary Clinton and Ron Paul (2008-just before the South Carolina primary) to some blues music at Fat Fish Blue in Cleveland (with some issues on the sound) to a crazy old woman in downtown San Francisco (one of the city’s many vagrants) who yells this at me: “Listen Mister you’ve accepted a bunch of lies! You’ve accepted a bunch of lies! That camera is a lie!”

Podcast 19: San Francisco, California (February 5, 2008)
This video opens with a sunset as seen from San Francisco’s Presidio and features numerous other scenic views of the city (including the Golden Gate Bridge), interspersed with some more political commentary about the 2008 presidential election and some random crazies around the city, from Golden Gate Park to the outer edge of the Inner Richmond.

Podcast 20: Half Moon Bay (Next Stop Park Presidio) (February 17, 2008)
This video starts down the Pacific at Half Moon Bay, where we see the town from a beach, watch the seagulls and the waves, and take some video of Jessica Then we go to north to San Francisco. The Outer Richmond neighborhood there is usually a friendly place, but it can turn mean at times–at one point we cut back and forth between a confrontation with a hostile Chinese guy and a heavily accented Russian gangster. Also includes a discussion of how one’s stomach must acclimate to In-and-Out Burger when moving to California. Later Jessica talks about our then-pending move to Ohio, and we also get a look at llamas and get a reminder not to snitch.

Podcast 21: pets and the heartland (March 31, 2008)
This video, the first one done completely in widescreen, offers an introduction to the parakeets. At this point we had Striker, Belle and Ava and I talk about those three. Jessica discusses the move and the cold weather. It also includes a clip of Fishasaurus the betta fish. We see the birds in the cage and Striker out and near my guitar. Near the end, we hear Jessica’s classic line “No beans!” Also we see the Chinese New Year parade as we flash back briefly to San Francisco.

Baseball, Birds, the Neighborhood (July 5, 2008)
We start at Progressive Field, home of the Indians, and cut back to the pre-game festivities at Great Lakes breweries. I offer the contention that “most big bats can’t really bunt anymore.” Then we see Jessica and the parakeets at home as Belle and Striker shower her with affection. Then some random neighborhood scene unfolds where lots of people are out and emergency vehicles are tending to a downed pole or something.

Podcast 23 (July 7, 2008)
First we see the Striker, Belle, Sparty and Ava the parakeets. Then we hear a story about a failed attempt at deploying a Drano bomb. Then we see a bit of backyard football. Then some rather wild fireworks shenanigans unfold. Later I go into a discussion of the state of play in the 2008 general election.

Podcast 24: Chicago (August 1, 2008)
Jessica and I threw this one together from a trip to Chicago in the summer. (And it starts with a few clips from around the house back home in Lakewood as well involving the birds, Jessica and me.) The shots from Chi-town include a view of downtown from outside of the Adler Planetarium. Also includes a drive through the area west of the Loop, and a trip to the far northwest suburb Long Grove where Jessica created her minivan song.

Podcast 25: Arnold Lake, Michigan (August 13, 2008)
Jessica and I met up with some Michigan State friends and we enjoyed a relaxed weekend along a small lake in northern Michigan, up north of Mount Pleasant.

Podcast 26: Manistee National Forest (August 21, 2008)
I went on a backpacking trip through the woods in Michigan with some family members. We started by backpacking several miles along the river over the first few days and then took canoes back down the river at the end. For anyone who’s never been to western Michigan, it’s a very beautiful place.

Podcast 27: Lipstick in Lyndhurst (August 22, 2008)
A classic short video featuring me getting a lipstick kiss from Jessica–but not being able to see it when she tells me about it.

Podcast 28: Cleveland’s west side (August 23, 2008)
A short, dark podcast which features night time images of the city.

Podcast 29: Pittsburgh (September 12, 2008)
Jessica and I tour Pittsburgh for a nice anniversery trip. Including a trip to see the beautiful parrots, softbills and other birds at the national aviary. Then we watch the parakeets and take a ride around Lakewood.

Podcast 30: Vote Obama (September 16, 2008)
This video features Jessica and me walking around Lakewood, playing a little baseball, watching the parakeets, and talking about what Barack Obama needed to do to win the 2008 election.

Barack Obama in Cleveland (November 3, 2008)
A few days before the 2008 election, Barack Obama came to the Mall downtown in Cleveland (with Bruce Springsteen opening for him) to try to make the sale to the voters of Ohio. And even though I have since become disgruntled with the president, his election was an important moment in American history and I think you might get a sense of that from this video. And Springsteen’s down-tempo rendition of “The Promised Land” is amazing.

Saturday in East Lansing: MSU versus Purdue (November 21, 2008)
Jessica and I went to East Lansing, Michigan on a cool fall day to see the Michigan State Spartans host the Purdue Boilermakers in a Big Ten college football matchup. We see the band and the mascot Sparty on the way on to campus on Grand River, then we cross the Red Cedar to Spartan Stadium and see an MSU win. episode guide season 3

This list of videos goes through the podcasts from the third season (calendar year 2009) with descriptions and links. (The two titles at the end are an appendix of wedding video links.)

Night at the Winking Lizard (Febrauary 26, 2009)
The Winking Lizard is a popular Cleveland area bar with numerous locations. We in Lakewood will insist (with good reason) that the best one is the one in our town. Here’s a short peek at a night inside.

Playing with the Parakeets (February 28, 2009)
This podcast features Jessica playing with our birds Belle, Striker, Sparty and Ava. Includes parakeets flying around. Sparty takes a ride in a towel held by Jessica.

Sarah Palin in Lakewood (March 12, 2009)
As the 2008 election season drew to a close, the McCain campaign decided to make one last push for Ohio by sending the idiotic and possibly insane Sarah Palin out to Lakewood, Ohio. [I edited this video a few months after shooting it.] Now, of course McCain/Palin lost big to Obama/Biden in Ohio that year. But did sending Sarah Palin to one of Ohio’s most liberal towns really even move any pieces on the board for the Republicans? Doubtful. Listen to the hateful but vacuous rhetoric spewing out of Palin’s mouth, if you dare.

Superbrawl (Beware the snow shovel) (March 13, 2009)
We had some seriously crazy neighbors for a while. Like, fighting each other while one is armed with a flat iron and the other one with a snow shovel crazy.

David’s Song (March 14, 2009)
David and Macumba and “the gang” get drunk. Macumba picks up the guitar. David sings. I get out my Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 and start recording. I though it was all in good fun, but later after I showed Macumba the podcast he was not amused. I actually shot more footage then, this time of him ranting about me and my tendency to video stuff and post it (and it was sort of meta!!). But that footage remains unreleased for now.

The Buzzards of Hinckley Reservation (March 19, 2009)
An annual spring ritual in the Cleveland metro area is the return of the buzzards from the warmer climes southward. Though misunderstood in many places, buzzards are well-liked in northeast Ohio and you can see that in the crowds and atmosphere at Hinckley on the day the video was recorded.

Episode 39 (May 19, 2009)
Jessica and I went into the backyard and were just hanging out when we decided to shoot an episode, so it features some random thoughts on a spring afternoon.

Fourth of July (July 22, 2009)
Jessica went to the Lakewood 4th of July Parade, and recorded the scene. Also the beginning of the podcast features some random footage from an east side mall, and the end features the 2009 Lakewood city fireworks show for the Fourth.
(Jessica also captured the 2010 parade in this video.)

Jessica’s Bridal Shower (July 25, 2009)
Jessica came out to Park Ridge, Illinois, where my Aunt Margaret and Aunt Ann threw a nice event for Jessica, attended by a nice group of friends and family. I got to stop by at the very end, so the video is a very short capture of just a little bit of the celebration.

Tech Edition (August 13, 2009)
In this episode I admit that although I have sometimes mocked the internet video formula of the individual talking to a webcam, I more or less use this format for the whole video while I talk about technology topics.

Birdsong (August 25, 2009)
I love the singing of my parakeets–like many birds they are highly musically gifted–and this one features Belle, Sparty, and the fondly remembered Striker and Ava just singing their relaxing, beautiful songs in the afternoon.

The Wedding Video of Daniel and Jessica McKeown (September 6, 2009)
Though not an official podcast, this is probably the key video among all of mine. It’s a recording of my wedding to Jessica on Sept. 6, 2009, which was done mainly by my cousin Dennis. The event was a beautiful ceremony outdoors at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. (The video’s file size is very large because it is about an hour long and in HD.)

The Convalidation Video of Daniel and Jessica McKeown (October 3, 2009)
After our wedding in Cleveland, Jessica and I had our wedding blessed in the Chicago area. This video captures some of that day, including clips from the ceremony and reception. (The video is a large HD file.) episode guide season 4

This post has links and discussion of the seven episodes of the from season 4 (the videos released in calendar year 2010):

The Christmas Rainbow (January 4, 2010)
In this holiday season special, we see the Christmas tree at home, as well as a rainbow during a Christmas Day bike ride along Lake Erie and then we visit some family in Pennsylvania. I don’t write them in, but sometimes rainbows just happen. A short but festive video.

podcast 45 – goose landing (March 10, 2010)
Birds are a major focus of this one–we listen to some music as we see Ava, Striker and the parakeets as well as geese. Then we see a lady looking for “Vietnamese party” while walking around Gordon Square in Cleveland. As the movie goes on we see my brother Jim play some guitar and do some magazine reviewing, also we catch a bit of a strange, frozen winter festival down by the river.
This podcast also features one of Jessica‘s classic lines: “I surprise!”

podcast 46 – Cactus Juice (May 13, 2010)
The video begins with some music (a song called “Moonshine“) and some dancing. Moving west in Lakewood later, Jessica and I talk casually about the western suburbs of Cleveland like Rocky River and Westlake.
It had been a very tough few months for all of us after we lost our beloved parakeets Striker and Ava in March. As the weeks went on our surviving birds Sparty and Belle (along with Jessica and me) began to recover from their loss, and you can see their renewed spirit as they fly back and forth across the house.
After a visit to the Phoenix Coffee (and their pet beta fish) in the Coventry area of Cleveland, Jessica and I take it upon ourselves to name their new iced coffee drink–and of course Jessica comes up with the best name, “Cactus Juice!”

Dan’s Comedy Special (June 6, 2010)
This about sums it up:

I don’t really have much to say about this one. It’s my comedy special. Set in mid-February Lakewood Park, it was sort of a disaster and much of it had to be cut in the editing process, so enjoy jokes about drinking and unemployment.

The Parrots of Lahaina, Maui (podcast 48) (July 1, 2010)
After our wedding, Jessica and I went to Maui for our honeymoon. One of our days there, we stopped by a very nice pet store in Lahaina where Jessica adventerousely interacted with some of the birds. One or two of them nipped her a little, but she got along well with most of the birds–one of the sun conures just loved her.

One Day in San Francisco (podcast 49) (August 3, 2010)
We return to San Francisco! The city that saw the early days of the podcast is now our one-night stopover on the way to our honeymoon in Hawaii.
We start in downtown near where our hotel was, but head west into Golden Gate Park. After we walk through Sharon Meadow, Jessica and I settle in for a discussion of painting techniques. Then the final seconds unfold at the intersection of Haight and Ashbury.

Podcast 50 (September 2, 2010)
The podcast has many themes and motifs through the course of 50 episodes, and of course Jessica is the pivotal figure of the podcast, the woman who was my girlfriend when the podcast began and is now my wife. She has given many episodes her talents as executive producer, and she has been the star of the show. For this episode she appears in Columbus and New York City, along with a cameo by our friend Les and a quick appearance by our parakeets Belle and Sparty. I introduce the video with a call to not listen to the authorities, we see Jessica at the park, and with that–I step behind the camera and let the viewer see a puzzling and vague story line emerge from the frenetic streets of the east side. Like I say, I don’t write them.

Writings on business

Over the last few years I’ve offered several posts of commentary, reflection and prediction about  the profound crisis in America’s (and the world’s) economy. Here’s a list:

  • Why web 2.0 is a bubble, and why the deflation will be gradual (8/13/2007)
  • The American auto industry is not coming back (9/27/2007)
  • Techcrunch misunderstands basic finance (10/27/2007)
  • The long-predicted housing disaster unfolds (3/17/2008)
  • Let Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapse (7/12/2008)
  • Bush’s punks get ready for a government takeover of the housing debt market (9/7/2008)
  • Paul Krugman rejects Bush’s bailout idea – so should you (9/21/2008)
  • GM bankruptcy not surprising, should have already happened (6/3/2009)
  • Techcrunch thinks regulating Google is a kind of free trade (7/13/2009)
  • Foreclosures now legal in Dubai (1/17/2010)
  • Upper Silver Lake

    Upper Silver Lake, July 2010 by Daniel J McKeown
    Upper Silver Lake, July 2010

    Jessica and I were driving around western Michigan and visiting a familiar site: Silver Lake and its impressive sand dunes. But then we went wandering around the town’s back roads and found another small lake just a bit inland–it’s called Upper Silver Lake and while it is a private, upscale vacation area it lacks the bustling and exciting vibe of the area around Silver Lake (with its dramatic sand dunes separating it from Lake Michigan) in the summer time.

    New page – my WordPress themes

    I’ve set up a new page for my free WordPress themes at
    My themes are totally free (licensed under the GNU GPL 2 or later) and open source. You are free to download, modify, and redistribute them (under the same license).
    These themes are designed to be configurable and easy to use, but they are intended for a broad audience. If you want me to develop a custom theme for your web site or blog, just send me an email at consulting -at-

    Egret free WordPress theme, version 0.0.4

    From the Egret theme blog:

    A new version of the Egret theme is available-it has only one minor fix which I realized would be useful when creating Egret child themes.  The goal for this version is that the stylesheet should now be able to easily modify all the divs:

    -some div tags had a mal-formed id; now have fixed id declaration

    -also: removed link tag

    Egret 0.0.4 is a free WordPress theme released under the GNU GPL, version 2 or later.

    Download Egret theme version 0.0.4 here

    (previous [already outdated] version: Egret 0.0.3 is a […])