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The Case Of The Gonzo Typewriter

By       Message Bob Patterson     Permalink
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The typewriter looked very familiar.

 

Seeing Johnny Depp, in "The Rum Diary," portraying a rookie Hunter S. Thompson in Puerto Rico pounding away on a portable typewriter, we were again inspired to renew our efforts to draw attention to causes such as the effort to Save Richardson Grove State Park, "one of the 100 finest state parks in America" (according to a brochure from wildcalifornia.org), and also draw attention to the environmentalists' alarm that some gold mining activity in the area posed a threat to Yosemite National Park.   We scaled back our goals and settled for spending a day taking photos of the November 2, 2011, General Strike in Oakland, and then posting them online, but wished we could do better.

 

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Wouldn't it be much more Gonzo if we still had an influential voice and a portable typewriter to bang out a column lamenting the fact that while Conservatives are shameless in their efforts to shield the rich from their civic duty of paying any taxes, the Liberals are being inundated by a tsunami of outrageous simultaneous assaults on causes that would (subjunctive mood) draw the scorn and vituperative sarcasm of Hunter S. Thompson, if he were still alive?

 

Would Hunter find humor in the oxymoron that while President Obama was winning the Nobel Peace Prize, bringing justice to Osama bin Laden (as Dubya had promised America he would do), giving the orders to get the troops out of Iraq (in compliance to commitments made by Dubya), and dealing with Ghadafi while the Republicans are constantly trying to tar and feather the President with an image as a lazy, no-good, shiftless, black bum?  

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While posting the photos of the General Strike, we checked our e-mail and leaned that our wish to be the fellow behind the Gonzo typewriter wasn't so farfetched after all.   A friend back in "the old country," just South of the 'bu (= Malibu) sent us an e-mail saying:

   "At one point, a girl came over & started asking me about a slim Olivetti typewriter I had: was it made in or before 1960?  You might remember this item, Bob: lightweight, manual, somewhat anonymous, portable & only 2" thick: you sold it to me back in 1997.

    Now I know this model really came out in the early 1970's, designed by Ettore Sotsass of Milan, I believe, but being the salesman I am, I replied, "Yes ma'am, this unit did indeed come out in 1960."  We haggled just a bit on price, & I let her have it for $25.  With the sale complete, I asked, if she didn't mind telling me, what she was going to do with it?  She smiled & told me that she was the propmaster on a feature film set in 1960.

    Well, Bob, I just saw "Rum Diary" last night, & Johnny Depp is writing with your typewriter!  It has one big hero shot 1/2 hour from the end where they pull in real close, & it's your typer, Bob!  To fit the exegeses of the story, which in part is about American business' despoilation of paradise, they had to have him using an American typewriter, so they refitted a REMINGTON ES nameplate in place of the OLIVETTI one, but it's definitely your machine: the indispensable tool for the travelling journalist.

    So---a young Hunter S. Thompson is portrayed beginning his legend using YOUR typewriter.

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    Does it get any better than this, Bob?

    Oh, and the movie's great."

 

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BP graduated from college in the mid sixties (at the bottom of the class?) He told his draft board that Vietnam could be won without his participation. He is still appologizing for that mistake. He received his fist photo lesson from a future (more...)
 

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