Book Review: Hunter S. Thompson—The Last Interview

This book is part of “The Last Interview and Other Conversations.” The book series that collates interviews with iconic and influential public figures. (It’s worth checking out the impressive list of other titles.)

gordon meyer with hunter book

The interviews have a transcript-like feel to them (although they probably aren’t) which makes for a quick and interesting read. They’re arranged chronologically, which adds another layer of insight as H.S.T. grows in influence and psychosis. (I mean that respectfully, how could someone not be mentally affected by his lifestyle and rise to fame‽)

I should disclose that H.S.T. a favorite author, and I’ve read almost every book he’s published. (Two weeks ago I’d have said that I’ve read all of his books, but I learned in one of these interviews that I somehow missed Hey Rube.)

The interviewers range from editors and publishers of regard, to a student journalist who is clearly underprepared. (Sadly, it’s also the last interview before his death.) Also included are two wonderful interviews with the great Chicagoan Studs Terkel, both of which were lost to history until the Terkel Archive was restored. (A project I am now doubly happy to have contributed to.)

It’s impossible to read decades-old H.S.T. without the lens of the Trump klan disaster, and it makes me feel both happy (for him) and sad (for us) that he’s not around today. Undoubtedly, a 2021 perspective influenced some of the choices I made when highlighting passages, including:

  • “The people being left out and put behind won’t be obvious for years. And Christ only know what’ll happen when it’s 1985. There will be a million Hell’s Angels. They won’t be wearing colors, but they’ll be people who are looking for vengeance because they’ve been left behind.”
  • “I think having a favorite baseball team is like having a favorite oil company.”
  • “(The Hell’s Angels) came out of WWII, and not just the Angels themselves but this whole alienated and violent subculture of people wandering around looking for either an opportunity or, if not an opportunity, then vengeance for not getting an opportunity. Because they get to be thirty, and suddenly, they wake up one morning and they realize there are no more chances, it’s all gone.”
  • “By the time you get to be an expert you’re just an artifact.”
  • “I think the next big-time national politician who comes along and runs on a realistic platform to really shake the system will cause a lot of trouble. He might not win, but he will have a veto power over whoever does win.”

I bought my copy at Daunt Books on Fulham Road, which is sadly now closed, but you can also get it from the Amazon, of course. Thanks for one last ride, Hunter.


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Announcing: Murderous Neighbors - Bizarre Fact File #5

My latest publication...

Murderous Neighbors collage

Ten shocking true stories of neighborhood murders in a compact, handmade booklet. Explore the dark side of Wicker Park and Bucktown (Chicago) history with this latest addition to the Bizarre Fact File series.

$2 postpaid. Order online at Bizarre Fact Files or from the amazing Quimby's Books in Chicago!

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Book Review: Charles Fort

If you’re unfamiliar with Charles Fort, then this book by Jim Steinmeyer might not be for you. However, if like me, Fort is one of the “patron saints” in your pantheon, this is a must-read.

gordon with Fort book

I was introduced to Fort through the writings of Robert Anton Wilson. Furthermore, the primary reason I subscribe to Readly is to have regular access to the UK magazine Fortean Times. Fort’s work, and the worldview that has evolved in the 100 or so years after his death, is not for every taste. This posthumous description by his publisher sums it up nicely:

Most would read Fort’s books with repugnance and fear. Others would cast them aside with a smile and call them childish fairy talk. A few would shudder with delight, recognizing the poetry, the truth, insight and the marvelous intelligence of Fort’s conception.

I’m a shudder-er.

The book, subtitled “The Man Who Invented the Supernatural,” does a wonderful job of putting Fort’s work in a cultural and social context. This was perhaps my biggest lesson from the work — I honestly had little sense of when, where, and how Fort lived.

Steinmeyer includes some excellent quotes from Fort, both from his published works and private correspondence. These, and other observations that stood out, include:

  • Fort had invented a new kind of ghost story, in which it is the cold, hard data that haunts.
  • “I cannot say that truth is stranger than fiction because I have never had acquaintance with either.”
  • “I can’t think why anybody should go to Indiana. Thought everybody cam away from Indiana.”
  • “I believe nothing of my own that I have written. I cannot accept that the products of minds are subject-matter for beliefs.”
  • In Darwinism, there is no place for the influence of the future upon the present.
  • Fort was a regular correspondent with John Reid of Lovelock, Nevada. Reid was involved with the discovery of red-haired giants, the remains of which were witnessed by a member of my family. Six degrees of separation, sort of.
  • One thing that both science and religion agree on is the suppression of witchcrafts.
  • Fort coined the word “teleportation.”
  • Fort is the infant terrible of science, bringing the family skeletons to the desert table when distinguished guest are present.
  • If you’re on-trend with zettelkasten, you’ll be envious of the tens of thousands of notes and filing system that Fort utilized.
  • I was tickled to learn that Fort would hide pennies and other “treasures” for people to find in the future. A practice that I heartily endorse.
  • Steinmeyer’s end notes are as interesting and illuminating as the main text, and I was tickled to find my friend William Pack acknowledged for help with research.

Although it was published a few years ago, the book is still in print and available in hardback, paperback, or bytes at Amazon.

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

IKEA's wonderful audio catalog

Bravo to IKEA for this audiobook version of their iconic catalog. It is perfectly executed, and such a clever idea. It's things like this that make me wish I was still updating Usable Help, as this deserves to be widely seen by the tech writer community.

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Book Review: The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street

This is a fun middle schoolers book that focuses on a haunted house and how its mysteries are resolved by a group a seventh grade kids. The intended audience is young, but Lindsay Currie does an admirable job of creating a spooky haunting and mysterious circumstances that even adults can enjoy. (Additionally, as you can learn in this review, you really should be reading children’s books once in a while anyway.)

gordon meyer with book

Although I enjoyed the book and I recommend it, I was frustrated at times with the protagonist. She’s an unlikeable precocious girl who moves from a shit hole city in Florida to the wonderful Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park, and she is adamant that the move is a downgrade. I also stumbled over the timeline of the story when, more than halfway through the book, it is mentioned that only one week has elapsed. This didn’t jive (for me) with how long it takes to settle into a new home, get started with a new school, and exchange letters with an out-of-state friend. And in the end, when she very predictably decides that Chicago maybe doesn’t suck, it’s not clear how soon this realization came, which made it unsatisfying.

But don’t let me dissuade you too much. I’m glad I read it, and I admire its overall pace, tone, and construction. Plus, annoyances aside, it was lots of fun! I got my copy (which was signed!) at Volumes in Wicker Park, but of course, you can find it at Amazon too.


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Book Review: The Cosmic Serpent

I wish I could remember who told me about this book; I’d like to thank them. The book is hard to describe because a cursory description — an ethnographic narrative about the similarities of cross-culture shamanism and DNA structures — doesn’t really do justice to the insights and feeling of revelation that the book provides. If you’ve studied esoteric works, the connections that this book identifies will bring forth more than a few “ah-ha!” moments. If this is all new to you, it might just pull you down a rabbit hole from which you’ll never escape.

gordon meyer with the cosmic serpent book

The book’s subtitle is “DNA and the Origins of Knowledge,” and the reviews from far more serious readers than I are not just notable, some declare that it could be a Copernican revolution for both social and life sciences. And while there is a psychedelic aspect to it, it’s perfectly approachable to those, like me, with an unexpanded mind.

A sampling of the notes I made while reading:

  • I was particularly tickled with the discussion that modern anesthesia is based on curare, which is a Stone Age formula that Western scientists insist was accidentally discovered by Amazonian natives, yet it is very complex to create and, even today, it remains unknown as to how it actually works. (Remember that next time you’re having surgery!)
  • Another interesting fact that stood out: If one were to stretch out the DNA contained in the nucleus of a single human cell, it would be a two-yard long thread that is only 10 atoms wide! If you were to lay out all the DNA in a human body, it would stretch 125 billion miles. (Presumably even longer for someone built like I am.)
  • Regarding the “cosmic serpent” of the title, it is primarily an old god found at the beginning of all cosmogonies, and this book lays out the ways in which our understanding of DNA overlaps with the serpents’ characteristics and traits. Is it possible the answer to life was given to us in life-creation “myths”?
  • That’s a bold claim, but using only a rationale perspective that insists on dissecting and separating all things into compartments to understand them destroys complementary insights. Or, to put it as Roald Dahl wrote, those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.

The author of this book, Jeremy Narby, has done an excellent job in making it both readable and technical enough to provide some real insight — not too bad at all considering he’s an anthropologist. (That’s a joke. Sort of.) The back third of the book contains more than enough footnotes and references to satisfy any nitpicker or researcher. Get your copy at Amazon (no relation to the Shamans).


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Book Review: The Dutch Shoe Mystery

My earliest memory of “Ellery Queen” is the eponymous Mystery Magazine in my father’s lunchbox. He was a civilian Air Force employee, and he’d spend his breaks reading the short stories (when he wasn’t reading Popular Science or Popular Mechanics). But aside from that, I didn’t really know anything about Ellery Queen, including whether he actually existed.

(He didn’t. Ellery Queen is basically the American Sherlock Holmes, invented by two cousins who collaborated on the many books published under the pseudonym.)

gordon meyer with book

I decided to read this book because it came highly recommended as a classic Queen novel, and as an excellent example of “Fair Play” mysteries (where the reader is provided with all the clews and info necessary to solve the case, if they are smart enough). I was also motivated to read it because the nifty niche store, Mysterious Bookshop, was having a club meeting to discuss it with the son of one of the authors.

I’m a fairly studious and fast reader, but I barely managed to finish the book in time for the meeting. That’s primarily because of the writing — which is very engaging but also filled with archaic and learned references. Queen, it seems, is a bit of a snobby dick. This slowed down my consumption of the prose as I felt compelled to look up unusual words, phrases, and idioms to satisfy my curiosity. I loved every minute of doing so. (I kept my notes in the nifty Craft app, by the way, which is the first time I’ve used it. I was generally satisfied with that choice.)

Did I manage to solve the mystery? Nope. My chief suspect was disqualified (no spoilers!) about 50 pages from the end. Oh, well. Honestly, I wasn’t trying that hard, I was just enjoying the ride. (Which is a legit way to approach the Queen books, I learned at the book club.)

If this sounds appealing, I recommend you give one of his many books a try. I strongly suggest buying from the Mysterious Bookshop as the “American Mystery Classics” series is lovingly constructed — and, as others have noted, some Ellery Queen reprints (and the Audible audiobook) omit entire chapters or important diagrams. (Yes, there are diagrams!) Happy reading!

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Book Review: There Once Was…

(Or, why I’m not a poet)

gordon meyer with book

There once was a stream
With no water, just zines
(Tiny books and art made from dreams)

There’s Corinne
and Liz
Drinking coffee (with lids)
Sharing grins and drumming up biz

It’s how I discovered the charm
of this small (yellow) book of yarns
Morality tales both clever and smart
So you should buy it
Seriously

There Once Was… #1 by David Hankins


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Upgrading to eero 6 and HomeKit

A quick word of caution. Although I’m a fan of eero (starting before Amazon bought them), if you’re a HomeKit user, there is an obvious oversight in their software of which you should be aware.

Replacing an old eero device with a new one is easy using the eero app. But, when you delete the old device, the unit is not removed from HomeKit. And once the device is removed from your network, you can’t delete it from your home. You’ll be forever stuck with error messages about “non-responsive” devices in your Home app.

eero homekit error

eero tech support confirms that there is no way to fix this after the units are decommissioned. Clearly, their software should either do this for you automatically, or alert you before you shoot yourself in the foot. But it does neither. Fair warning.

See also: eero Beacon Deployed, and Inconsistent eero Speed Test Results Explained.


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Covering a doorknob hole

When we moved into our place, the front gate had a deadlock and a locking doorknob. This combination created some usability problems:

  • the doorknob, when locked, could be easily unlocked by reaching through the fence and turning the dial on the inside knob. This made it silly to ever bother to lock it.
  • when the doorknob was unlocked, it would turn (of course) but if the deadlock were locked, the gate still couldn’t be opened. The state of the deadbolt was inscrutable.
  • there’s no indication which way the gate opens. So, even if both locks were not engaged, you had a fifty-fifty chance of the gate opening when you pushed it. If it didn’t open, you couldn’t be sure why.

I quickly noticed that most visitors struggled with these conditions. Pushing, pulling, turning, and so on, never sure if the gate was locked, or if it was some combination of the three possible impediments. (You can view a photo of the gate in this post.)

To correct some of these issues, I removed the doorknob from the gate. But this created an unsightly problem — there was a hole where the knob used to be. Additionally, because the gate is iron, I wanted to cover the hole to prevent water infiltration.

It was inexplicably hard to find, but I did eventually uncover the two solutions I needed. The first is a plate that covers the hole where the doorknob used to be, and the second is a smaller plate that covers where the latching mechanism used to protrude.


doorknob hole cover

Here’s what I purchased:

I can’t recommend the Door Hole Plate Cover that I used because the bolt that comes in the package is too large to fit through the hole in the cover. (What the hell‽) I had to enlarge the hole to make it work. But perhaps you can find another brand that’s properly designed. The Door Edge Filler (not shown in my photo above) fit perfectly, but you’ll need to supply your own screw to install it.

For more on my modifications to this gate, see: A Remote, Wireless Gate Alarm


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer