May 1, 2013
Spencer Hall remembers Blockbuster:
There is literally nothing you should miss about Blockbuster Video. Its employees were wage slaves chained to white particle board fortresses at the front of the store, wearing the same blue polo with the BLOCKBUSTER logo emblazoned on the front that they wore yesterday, and the day before, and let’s not talk about how long it’s been since this Blockbuster polo had been washed, kid. You wanted to rent the lone copy of Cool Hand Luke in the store for the third week in a row, and the Blockbuster zombie wanted to get to six o’clock, their arthritic I-Mark in the parking lot, and the bag of shake weed they’re going to have to settle for until the band takes off or the military becomes the only option to a better life. Besides, the shirt under it is clean, and that’s what counts.
Blockbuster’s selection made sense only in the sense that there was an alphabetical order, and sections, and then the words on those tapes were arranged in something like alphabetical order. Blockbuster would have one copy of Lawrence of Arabia. They would have 500 fucking copies of The Pelican Brief because Blockbuster either had a sweet deal with the studio on the video release, or because someone seriously overestimated your interest in a middling Grisham thriller.
Hunter S. Thompson covered the Kentucky Derby for Scanlon’s Monthly in 1970:
The next day was heavy. With only thirty hours until post time I had no press credentials and–according to the sports editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal–no hope at all of getting any. Worse, I needed two sets: one for myself and another for Ralph Steadman, the English illustrator who was coming from London to do some Derby drawings. All I knew about him was that this was his first visit to
the United States. And the more I pondered the fact, the more it gave me fear. How would he bear up under the heinous culture shock of being lifted out of London and plunged into the drunken mob scene at the Kentucky Derby? There was no way of knowing. Hopefully, he would arrive at least a day or so ahead, and give himself time to get acclimated. Maybe a few hours of peaceful sightseeing in the Bluegrass country around Lexington. My plan was to pick him up at the airport in the huge Pontiac Ballbuster I’d rented from a used-car salesman named Colonel Quick, then whisk him off to some peaceful setting that might remind him of England.
Colonel Quick had solved the car problem, and money (four times the normal rate) had bought two rooms in a scumbox on the outskirts of town. The only other kink was the task of convincing the moguls at Churchill Downs that Scanlan’s was such a prestigious sporting journal that common sense compelled them to give us two sets of the best press tickets. This was not easily done. My first call to the publicity office resulted in total failure. The press handler was shocked at the idea that anyone would be stupid enough to apply for press credentials two days before the Derby. “Hell, you can’t be serious,” he said. “The deadline was two months ago. The press box is full; there’s no more room…and what the hell is Scanlan’s Monthly anyway?”