Louisville Magazine

JAN 2017

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 12.16 17 21 QUESTIONS Illustration by Kendall Regan If Actors Theatre staged a producঞon about your life, what would the play be called? "Can You Get Me an Audition? And honestly: Can you get me an audition? I need as many jobs as I can get; New York rent is ungodly." Something unexpected you love in Louisville? "People who don't know Louisville think of KFC, but Louisville has become quite the city for foodies. The grits at Proof, the desserts at Blue Dog Bakery." What do you collect? "Hotel toiletries. For some reason, I feel the need to take them with me for future travel, but they're just taking up space in my tiny apartment." Fill out and answer: Would you rather _________ or _________? "Would you rather be stuck in rush-hour traffic on Hurstbourne Parkway while listening to James Taylor's 'Traffic Jam' on repeat or say something nice about southern Indiana? I love James Taylor." What supersঞঞon do you believe in? "I don't toast with water. It's bad luck. Also, there's rarely water in my glass." Favorite Derby winner? "Charismatic in '99. He was a longshot and went on to win the Preakness. A longshot who won big. I can really appreciate that." Can't- miss TV show? "Veep." In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job? "Dissect dick jokes — but responsibly." Ron Whitehead, the old "outlaw poet," as he often calls himself, would stick out like a lit firecracker at a piano recital almost anywhere but NuLu, where his bright red glasses and long gray beard — parts of it braided, bejeweled — barely draw a sideways glance. People stand in line for coffee at Please & Thank You, completely unaware of the import of this moment. Whitehead rests his elbows on the table, opens a little red case, something that might once have held a pair of specs. The interior lining is black, perhaps velvet, and a little white sliver about the size of the first segment of a finger bone sits in the center. He picks it up carefully, like a small flower, and starts talking about quantum physics, how it's the scientific answer to spirituality, how everything has energy, how some objects have power. He hands me Hunter Thompson's cigarette holder. Teeth marks on the tip. A bore that delivered smoke to the engines of Thompson's lungs, filling the body that filled the American imagination with tales of slack-mouthed intoxication, wild motorcycle flights and fights, political villains, decadent drunks shouting down hooved beasts. We're here today to talk about another kind of smoke Whitehead's friend loved. In June, Thompson's widow, Anita Thompson, bought the rights to Thompson's likeness; his Colorado compound, Owl Farm; and the Gonzo logo, a double-thumbed fist clutching a peyote button. Then she decided to clone or hybridize six old pot strains Thompson had smoked, planning to pack the market with Gonzo ganja. "Hunter's weed was excellent, but it wasn't the best I've ever experienced," Whitehead tells me. He once smoked with Thompson on a day visit to the Colorado compound, but turned down the cocaine, a night of driving ahead of him. "I understand the wild side, being a wild child myself, but when we honor Mozart, do we honor his lifestyle? He was a wild child too. We honor Mozart because of his work, and that is my goal in honoring Hunter — for people to know his literary work…I do not agree with this attempt to capitalize on Hunter's drug use as a way to put money in somebody's pocket. I don't agree with that at all." I spin the cigarette holder around in my fingers. This is what's left, one real thing that touched Thompson's lips before he shot himself into myth in 2005. Soon his brand will fill dispensary shelves, a literary legend reduced to a label and pasted onto jars of bud that, as far as anyone's reported, he didn't even create himself. People will call it an homage and take out their wallets. Whitehead's mouth closes like a door. He puts the totem back in its safe dark case and slowly shuts the lid again. LOU NEWS Gonzo Ganja By Dylon Jones Photo by Jinn Bug Ron Whitehead with Hunter Thompson's cigarette holder.

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