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How Hunter S. Thompson Looked for a Job

There was never a dull moment with Hunter S. Thompson.  He wrote this cover letter in 1958.  Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times shared it today with his Facebook fans and remarked that it was the best job application letter he ever read.  It also appeared in the Fear and Loathing Letters Vol. 1.  We miss Hunter S. Thompson in Colorado.  When he died it kind of took the high out of our high country.  Don’t think his chutzpah led to a job with The Sun though.

Vancouver Sun

TO JACK SCOTT, VANCOUVER SUN

October 1, 1958 57 Perry Street New York City

Sir,

I got a hell of a kick reading the piece Time magazine did this week on The Sun. In addition to wishing you the best of luck, I’d also like to offer my services.

Since I haven’t seen a copy of the “new” Sun yet, I’ll have to make this a tentative offer. I stepped into a dung-hole the last time I took a job with a paper I didn’t know anything about (see enclosed clippings) and I’m not quite ready to go charging up another blind alley.

By the time you get this letter, I’ll have gotten hold of some of the recent issues of The Sun. Unless it looks totally worthless, I’ll let my offer stand. And don’t think that my arrogance is unintentional: it’s just that I’d rather offend you now than after I started working for you.

I didn’t make myself clear to the last man I worked for until after I took the job. It was as if the Marquis de Sade had suddenly found himself working for Billy Graham. The man despised me, of course, and I had nothing but contempt for him and everything he stood for. If you asked him, he’d tell you that I’m “not very likable, (that I) hate people, (that I) just want to be left alone, and (that I) feel too superior to mingle with the average person.” (That’s a direct quote from a memo he sent to the publisher.)

Nothing beats having good references.

Of course if you asked some of the other people I’ve worked for, you’d get a different set of answers.If you’re interested enough to answer this letter, I’ll be glad to furnish you with a list of references — including the lad I work for now.

The enclosed clippings should give you a rough idea of who I am. It’s a year old, however, and I’ve changed a bit since it was written. I’ve taken some writing courses from Columbia in my spare time, learned a hell of a lot about the newspaper business, and developed a healthy contempt for journalism as a profession.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity. If this is what you’re trying to get The Sun away from, then I think I’d like to work for you.

Most of my experience has been in sports writing, but I can write everything from warmongering propaganda to learned book reviews.

I can work 25 hours a day if necessary, live on any reasonable salary, and don’t give a black damn for job security, office politics, or adverse public relations.

I would rather be on the dole than work for a paper I was ashamed of.

It’s a long way from here to British Columbia, but I think I’d enjoy the trip.

If you think you can use me, drop me a line.

If not, good luck anyway.

Sincerely, Hunter S. Thompson

 
For more information on Vicky Collins visit Teletrends Television Production and Development.

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Some Thoughts on Home

This month’s “More” magazine has a series of essays, by influential women authors, about the meaning of home.  “A Wanderer’s Retreat” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni really speaks to me.  Her writing is flavorful and evocative as chai.  Her story about first loving her grandfather’s home, connecting with landscapes after his loss, then finally finding home in her own heart resonates with the wanderer in me and perhaps would even have meaning for my parents who shared her immigrant experience.  When I was getting ready to leave Vancouver and the Olympics people would ask if I was excited to go home.  It’s a complicated question.  Of course I was more than ready to see my family and be a part of my community again, but I have never considered Denver, Colorado to be home.  There are memories in every house, but I’m not attached to any of the abodes I’ve lived in as an adult.  On the other hand, each time I think of Waa Street and see the skyline of Honolulu, and the lush landscape of Hawaii that’s what fills my soul.  Folks say “home is where the heart is” but maybe as Chitra found out “heart is where the home is.”  For all of my footloose friends and readers who, like me, have moved to chase dreams around the world, perhaps this is what home really looks like.   

A WANDERER’S RETREAT by Chitra Vanerjee Divakaruni

     My father was a footloose man, so as a child I was shunted from town to town in India, a different one almost every year. Our houses blur in my mind. What I remember most is the smell of new paint and the nervousness in my stomach as I got ready to attend yet another school where I knew no one.  Home to me was my grandfather’s house in our ancestral village of Gurap, in the eastern part of India.  To my child’s eye, it was the biggest house in the world and the best (though on returning as a young woman, I realized that it was, in fact, quite ordinary.)

     The two story brick house had a long veranda that looked out on jasmine trees and gardenia bushes.  My grandfather, a retired doctor, was an avid gardener and whenever I visited him, I helped enthusiastically.  Behind the house was a mango orchard that was exciting and scary.  Rumor was, people had seen cobras there– and ghosts.  My days at grandfather’s were filled with freedom and wonder.  I went with him for long walks in the fields of mustard flowers and listened at night, in his cool, tiled bedroom lit by a kerosene lamp, to stories of gods, heroes and demons with the snarling heads of animals. 

     My family left for the United States when I was 19.  My entire first year in my new country, I wept for that house, knowing instinctively that by the time I went back to visit, it would not be the same.  And it wasn’t.  When I was 22, my grandfather died, and with him much of the house’s magic passed out of this world. 

     I must have inherited my father’s footloose nature, because I too have moved around, sometimes for my husband’s career, sometimes for my own, to Illinois, Ohio and a succession of cities in California.  Now we live in Texas.  Perhaps my willingness to relocate comes from being an immigrant: Once you give up your first home, once you suffer through that initial heartache, giving up one more house doesn’t seem to matter so much.  I lost faith in man-made structures and became attached to landscapes: the windy expanse of Lake Michigan, the wide flowering of buckwheat trees, the ancient redwoods and the curve of the Pacific, the water oaks bordering shady bayous that harbored egrets.  Yet I couldn’t hold on to them either. 

     As I grew older, I began to yearn for a permanent home.  Even after we’d been in Texas for seven years, I still wondered if permanence could exist in this sublunary world. 

     One day, by fortunate blessing I discovered meditation.  Through it, I began to feel the quiet center within, filled with light and the deep comfort of belonging and being loved.  This is what I’d always been searching for in all those houses and gardens and all the illuminated beauties of nature.  And all this time it had been in my heart, waiting patiently for me to turn to it: the home of all homes.    

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Tim Horton’s Coffee Commercial

Just another couple of days and I’ll be heading home from Vancouver.  Didn’t want to leave the Olympic city without sharing this commercial with you.  Over the course of the games, out of the corner of my eye, I kept joining this television ad in progress.  I never quite grasped what it was about because I didn’t see it in its entirety until tonight.  It comes from Canadian coffee chain, Tim Horton’s, and like it’s brew it will warm your soul.  What a wonderful spot and way to promote the brand.     

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Olympic Moments

It’s hard to believe that the Olympics are almost at an end.  It is already Day 15.  Soon the closing ceremony will be here and the torch will be extinguished and it’s all over.  Vancouver will be back to its old self with perhaps a wicked Olympic hangover.  It happens every time a city returns to normal after being the center of the sporting universe.  The life cycle of this event is extraordinary.  It’s like a rare moth cocooning for an extended period then it is born as an spectacular creature and within 17 days it dies.  But during those 17 days the entire world is touched by the things they see and experience and others are touched by the things they missed.  Of course we all shared in the triumph and tragedy of Joannie Rochette, who skated through her pain to a bronze medal after her mother died upon arrival in Vancouver.   Joannie will always be remembered for her courage and the legacy of inspiration she leaves behind.  We had a bit of a life altering experience on our team too.  One of our editors, John, came in yesterday morning all shaken up.  His wife had gone into labor the night before and gave birth to his first child, a son.  I suspect they rolled the dice thinking the baby would wait until he got home but he lost that bet.  Instead he gained an extended family who hugged him through his tears, offered him parenting advice and supported him while he worked through what must have been an incomprehensible roller coaster of emotions.  Just seeing him in the morning and hearing how he received the call on the train to work and sobbed all the way in got me all choked up.  I had to take a walk just to ponder the sacrifices that people make so they can be here.  Today I passed John in the hall.  “How’re you doing today?  Top of the world.  I’m a dad.  I’m happy.”  Soon John will meet little Aiden and I trust that someday he’ll have the first of many Olympic moments to share with his boy. 

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com


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Hockey Night in Canada

I was in a beer garden in Vancouver’s Yaletown when a guy draped in an American flag strutted in.  He was carrying on like Superman, all layered up in red, white and blue and making lots of noise.  Boy, did he rile up the Canadians.  After all today is the Canada versus USA men’s hockey match and as friendly as we are with our neighbors to the north, this is war.  The crowd started hooting and hollering and singing “Oh Canada.”  I was talking to my new friend, Scott, and he explained it to me.  Every little kid in Canada, no matter what their circumstances, believes that they can grow up to be a hockey icon like Wayne Gretzky.  If you think there is pressure on Canadians to win gold at these Olympics, consider the hockey team.  Hockey is right up there with mom and Canadians are getting revved up already for the big showdown.  Anything short of a gold medal will be a crushing defeat in this country.

On Thursday night when I was coming back to my hotel I noticed it was particularly celebratory.  I assumed Canada had won some coveted gold medal.  But no!  What really happened was the Canadian hockey team barely escaped the incredible humiliation of being beaten by Switzerland at home.  They could not have recovered from such a disgrace and even if they won the gold medal, Scott told me, they would be reminded that they lost to the Swiss.  Canadians still have not forgiven their hockey team for coming in 7th at the 2006 Olympics in Torino.  It is hard for me to imagine what a scene it will be here in Vancouver tonight when one of the most anticipated matches of the games is played.  The 2010 Olymic winter games is being hailed as the greatest hockey tournament ever and already rowdy fans are banging a drum outside my hotel in anticipation of the battle that looms.  It’s hockey night in Canada.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Why I Work at the Olympics

My 16 year old son is mad at me.  When I call home his anger is palpable.  He does not understand why I leave home for extended periods of time every couple of years to work at the Olympics.  He won’t listen when I try to explain so I’m putting it out to the world.  Being part of a production team at the Olympics is, well, like being an Olympian.  This is a pinnacle in broadcasting and all of my colleagues aspire to work at the games.  It is a global coming together of the best television professionals from around the world.  Every couple of years we rekindle old friendships and make new ones and try to fit in a beer here and there.  We learn the state of the art and the latest technologies.  We work around the clock in a pressure cooker.  Are we having any fun yet?  Hell, yes.  The work that is done to bring viewers the Olympics is nothing short of extraordinary.  We challenge ourselves to acheive feats in broadcasting that are remarkable and inspiring.  It is our Olympics too.  It always stuns me that years of planning and so much money and effort go into just 17 days.  Olympics transcend sports and for those of us lucky to be a part of the games, it is completely addicting.  It is a very unique culture. 

The other thing that makes me want to come back year after year is the way the Olympics inspire communities.  Today all Canadians are walking a bit taller, all decked out in red, for the start of the games.  You sense the pride and anticipation in Vancouver.  Low key Canada is showcasing what makes it special.  It’s enlightening to know how much talent it has given to the world.  And not to be all rah rah about Canada but this country has taken advantage of this moment, not just to offer meaningless apologies to its first nations, but to partner with them in the Olympics.  You will see in the opening ceremonies how the native Canadians are honored.  It is an unprecedented peace.  I might be a bit pollyanna here but I am also still inspired by the idea that the Olympics can foster understanding around the world.  Bring nations together and let young warriors hammer it out on the playing field.  Win for the country then shake hands and hug and if you don’t win at least you participated and made your people proud.

At the end of all this we are completely spent and wondering how we could possibly do this again.  Then we go home to our families and catch up with our sleep and as the next games are a year and a half away we are getting back in touch with our associates and raising our hands again.  I have been producing television for 30 years and I am still on fire about the Olympics.  This morning when I was watching NBC’s Today Show kick off its coverage of the games and I heard the Olympic fanfare I got all choked up.  The Olympics are here.  Let the games begin!  Get the party started.  And Kyle, if you are reading this, that’s why your mom is here.

For more information about Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Enlightened Canada

I walked out of my hotel room this morning carrying a plastic bottle of water and by the time I was at the front desk it was empty.  I handed it to the concierge and asked if he could throw it out.  Before I could correct myself a hotel manager did it for me.  Recycle!  From what I can tell, Canada is an enlightened country.  There are as many recycle bins as trash cans.  Cops ride bicycles.  Gay people can marry.  Citizens care about the homeless and even accomodate them.  There is universal health care.  And most impressive, Canadians seem very proud of their diversity.  Vancouver is a city full of languages and color.  I ride the bus with a man from Mozambique.  A Sikh guards the gate.  The city is full of Asians and French speakers.  Foreign accents are everywhere.  I’ve always been impressed with the way Canadians embrace their diversity.  People intermarry.  Not a big deal.  My cousin from the Czech Republic married a black woman from the Caribbean.  Just like America, this is a nation of immigrants, but Canadians are not caught up in discussions of race.  That is so yesterday.  Canada is a true melting pot and it’s moving forward in an enlightened way. 

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com


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Olympics: Canada Style

I walked out of my hotel room in Vancouver this morning to see a flock of seagulls squacking their heads off.  That’s the most noise I’ve heard since I arrived in Canada.  Toto, we’re not in Beijing anymore.  In 2008, with the Olympic Games a week and a half away, the city was buzzing with anticipation and chaotic with last minute preparations.  Thousands of people were planting flowers, cleaning up and security was fierce.  Here in Vancouver it is so calm and low key you hardly know it will soon be the center of the universe.  There are some banners, new buildings and infrastructure improvements but you don’t sense that Canada’s place in the world hangs on these games.  I’ve been asking around and people tell me that’s just how it is in British Columbia.  People are pretty relaxed and take things in stride.  Even the security is laid back.  Police greet you with friendly smiles.  Maybe it’s because there aren’t that many media, athletes or guests here yet, or maybe folks are being polite and deferential to those who felt the money could be better spent.  Or maybe it’s just that the only thing Canadians get really worked up about is sport.  As one young woman told me, “I’ll get excited for the men’s hockey.”

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Greyhound Bus to Vancouver

This blog was born so that I could post to my friends, family and anyone else interested from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Now on the eve of 2010 Olympics, as I prepare to board an airplane for British Columbia, I find myself blogging again and reflecting on the only other time I was in Vancouver. I was 10 years old and my great uncle Jacques, who lived in Canada, was getting married. My great grandmother, Daisy Peraya, would not fly on a plane so four generations boarded a Greyhound Bus in Long Beach, California and spent the next 36 hours heading up the coast to Vancouver.

I am certain that this is where the seeds of my wanderlust were planted. I loved looking out the windows at the rugged coast and pulling into Oregon and Washington bus stations at 3 in the morning.  I was mesmerized by the people along the way with character written on their faces and smoke coming out of their mouths.  More than anything else I loved talking to the teenage girls in the back row. They regaled me with the stories about running away, sex, boyfriends and bad behavior. I was flattered that they would tell me secrets only older kids knew.  I aspired to be free just like them. 

I don’t really remember much about the wedding. My most vivid memory of Vancouver was going with a 17 year old distant relative/hottie named Boris to the Pacific National Exhibition. The PNE was a huge provincial fair and I developed the biggest crush on Boris as we were hurtling down the largest roller coaster I had ever dared to ride.   I literally “fell” in love.  I’m certain the Olympics in Vancouver will be another great adventure and I will do my best to share them on this blog.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.