Hunter S. Thompson: “Too weird to live, too rare to die”

He was “too weird to live, too rare to die,” but live he undeniably did, and death even he couldn’t escape. Hunter S. Thompson was the drugged-out, sleep-deprived, counter culture icon America needed in its awkward, adolescent and spirited young adult phase. He’s most widely remembered today for his intense originality, unyielding weirdness and humongous appetite for mind-altering substances. But what is so often lost in our retrospective gaze is just how damn fine a writer the man truly was. Hunter, had he not possessed an almost super-human ability to bend the English language to his whim, would have likely turned out much like Jimi Hendrix had his military discharge been the result of the loss of his left hand rather than a sprained ankle. Whether it was his genius that incited his weirdness, vice versa or some combination of the two, Hunter occupied the role of virtuosic writer first and foremost, and played the twisted up, tweaked out product of the love generation that he’s known for today in whatever space remained. That’s not to say that Hunter Thompson the writer and Hunter Thompson the man were two different people, but derivatives of the same condition which inspired both his brilliance and his incessant urge to seek out novelty. It’s unfair and inaccurate to portray him as a partier who wrote just as it’s unfair and inaccurate to...

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Why two boxers’ deaths are still relevant today

Max Matson, columnist It’s 1983, and Roberto Duran is geared for a comeback following the large stain on his boxing record that was his “No Mas” fight against Sugar Ray Leonard. Over the years, Duran had fallen into a slump. He looked beat up, he looked old. But on the day of his championship bout with young Jr. middleweight champ from the Bronx, Davey Moore, Duran looked like a snarling animal, months of vigorous training culminating in one final moment of excellence. From the second the bell rung to the second that referee Ernesto Magana finally ended the beating in the eighth round, it was clear that Moore had no business being in the same ring as the elder Duran. By the time that Magana pushed the two men apart, Moore’s right eye was swollen completely shut, his battered body slumping onto whatever surface presented itself in front of him (unfortunately for the majority of the eight rounds, that surface was Duran’s fists). It would be easy to romanticize Duran’s comeback as many people did at the time. But amidst the celebration there was an uneasy tension in Moore’s locker room that night – not the uncomfortable silence that typically follows a loss, but something much worse. Davey Moore from the Bronx wasn’t the first Davey Moore to lose this way… Let’s jump back in time to March of...

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Pornographer: The Colorful Vanity of Nicolas Winding Refn

When a character in your film coughs up a human eyeball, you may have gone too far. “The Neon Demon,” released in 2016, currently sits at a forgettable 58 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. With scathing review quotes such as “Pretentious and self-indulgent” (James Berardinelli) and “each character is astonishingly boring and unlikable,”(Julia Raban) I wouldn’t fault you for skipping it. “The Neon Demon” felt like a youngest child in both its self-importance and penchant for shock value over substantive storytelling. Never a director known for his subtlety, Nicolas Winding Refn’s most recent effort is comparable to walking around in...

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When it comes to gun violence, no one is right

Another day, another mass shooting … How long will gun violence be an issue in the United States? As long as Americans are American and guns are our standard for coolness. Ask a crowd of right-wing gun nuts what their favorite book is and they’ll almost certainly tell you it’s the Bible. Ask a crowd of gun-control favoring left-wingers what their favorite movie is and they’re just as likely to name some R rated shoot-em-up by Quentin Tarantino. The point is, when it comes to guns, we’re all hypocrites, it’s ingrained in our DNA. I’m not unaware of the fact that enjoying fictional violence does not necessarily imply an enjoyment of real-life violence. And while watching Keanu Reeves shoot people in the face is admittedly a treasured hobby of mine, I can’t help but feel that just as Jesus ~probably~ wouldn’t have supported the rights of average Americans to stockpile mountains of weapons in their living rooms, it can’t possibly be healthy for my psyche to watch geysers of blood spray on screen feet from my face every day, even if it isn’t real. In an ideal world, guns wouldn’t even exist (before you type up that comment calling me a libtard, think about how non-controversial that statement actually is). Killing is not an unintended consequence of gun ownership, nor is it even the main intent of owning a...

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Stem cells and the people who made them taboo

Maxwell Matson, columnist In January 1950, the prolific botanist Elvin C. Stakman provided the following quote to Life Magazine: “Science cannot stop while ethics catches up…and nobody should expect scientists to do all the thinking for the country.” In an age of exponential technological advancement, the question of why we innovate is becoming increasingly less important than the question of how. Technology is increasingly global, increasingly affordable and increasingly complex, but with so much innovation surrounding us all the time, it’s easy to grow desensitized. To contextualize this assertion, consider the issue of stem cell research. First, what are stem cells? The short, non-technical answer is that stem cells are a type of multipurpose cell which can be utilized by the body (or by scientists) to form the building blocks of various tissues. Your body currently contains stem cells called somatic cells which repair your bodily tissues when they are damaged and which have the ability to transform themselves into one of several different types of tissues. But it’s another, much more complicated type of stem cell at the root of the debate over stem cell research. Embryonic stem cells are similar to adult somatic cells in that they do not correspond to a specific type of tissue and are therefore able to differentiate themselves into any of the 225 different types of cells found in the bodies of...

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