Michael Hemminson’s Fat, Bloated Corpse
a beer memory
by Reviewer Rob
With childlike glee I read, earlier this year, of novelist Micheal Hemmingson’s demise in Tijuana short of his forty-eighth birthday. The guy was well past his pop-noir writing prime, although I’m sure could still annoy. When he was trying to be a resident paid writer (and antagonist) here at Reviewer in 2004 it lasted long enough for his sweaty narcissism to make him more of a liability than a real contributor. He revealed to me that he was both a news wire stringer in Rwanda during the wars of the 1990’s and that he was currently a police informant for the SDPD. Neither of these I doubted but later when I told him I couldn’t find anything from him on the internet about Rwanda he became belligerant. Hemmingson was a dick, and not a very good writer, although he did win “awards”. I quickly grew to hate him. I’m late with writing this obituary — he died in Tijuana over twenty months ago — but I have no qualms about kicking a dead horse, or jackass in this case, especially when it was known to give plenty of kicks when alive. I shared a pizza with the guy. It was pizza and beers, tall cold Budweisers, to be exact, at a Moulin Rouge-themed bar in San Diego’s gaslamp district around the corner from Hustler Hollywood. We had agreed to meet there one night in 2004 to discuss collaborating on some editorial in Reviewer. More on that later. Hemmingson always had to be in print somewhere. He’d published novellas and was on staff at The San Diego Weekly Reader, but all that wasn’t enough to feed his gluttonous ego. He needed to see his name in print everywhere and at all times. I began getting email after email from him, and he would message me all the time on Livejournal. Back then, more so than now, Reviewer Magazine had a tawdry “street” nightclub scene flavor that a noir-beat writer was drawn to. So once on the scent he began aggressively courting it as a source of wind to fill his sails while navigating the seas of cheese. I could say more here about how he bullied people to help fan the dying embers of his literary fame but he’s run out of room. Goodbye, Micheal Hemmingson, glad you croaked, hope it hurt.
Photo credit: a CNN iReport interview, where Michael Hemmingson’s fat, bloated corpse lives on.
“Too Tall Hall”
Ron Hall Was A Friend Of Mine
by Reviewer Rob
It was 2 a.m. in Venice Beach one chilly November night last year with no one on the boardwalk except a lone artist painting a canvas and a skateboarder cruising down the concrete strip, sleeping bag under his arm. I walked out to the top of the sand berm at the high tide line and took a photo with my phone for Instagram. The next morning Tony, a highschool buddy from San Diego I hadn’t seen in 20 years, posted a comment on it: “That’s my neighborhood.”
We messaged back and forth. Found out he’s shacked up with a woman in L.A. who’s a former lead singer. Tony and I made tentative plans to meet for a surf. A while later my phone rang. Tony wanted to get more info about what I was doing up in L.A.. Small talk drifted and we began talking about our mutual friends from when we were kids.
Tony asked, “Remember Ron Hall?” Of course I did. Ron and his older brother Jimmy lived a few block over from me and I knew him from seventh grade until 11th grade when things began spinning out for me due to my mom’s shattered nerves after my dad passed away when I was sixteen.
Tony had been telling his girlfriend about his friend Ron he knew in highschool that had played for the Tampa Bay Buccanneers when she said she had known a guy named Ron who had played pro football when she was partying down in Costa Rica and he “was a freak,” partying like crazy and having sex with his girlfriend while people would watch them. I began to laugh at this, thinking ‘good for Ron.’ But Tony continued: “So I looked him up on the internet — and he died.”
For a moment I was speechless, briefly thrown into a mild form of shock. Ron Hall had always seemed indestructible to me, like a mountain or something. There’s people you expect to die young. Ron wasn’t one.
When I knew Ron he was a tall, goofy guy with lots of natural athleticism — pretty sure he was well over six-feet tall before starting highschool. My group of friends back then, me, Ron, Tony Balona, the O’Dell brothers and Clark Nelson, all learned to surf together at the about same time, in the summer between eighth and ninth grade. Because of his sheer physicality Ron was a kind of guidepost that you looked to of how to be tough. Clark remembers Ron was a thrillseeker always up for adventure, and almost nothing was too crazy for him to try. I once saw Ron eat a whole bowl of breakfast cereal with cranberry juice instead of milk!
Another time Ron and I were going to the annual Halloween “Scream In The Dark” haunted house event in Escondido to try and meet girls when a large racing tire came off a muscle car that was speeding on the opposite side of the street that San Pasqual High School is on — someone must have left the lug nuts loose, possibly as a prank. It was night time and Ron had just lit up a joint and we were passing it back and forth. Then there was a loud “clang!” followed by a screeching of metal on asphalt across the street that caught our attention. Ron and I watched the driver of the car hold on to the steering wheel with a look of intensity on his face equal to the one of amazement on ours I’m sure.
Then I heard a faint “ping – Ping – PING” getting louder, which was the sound of the detached wheel from the muscle car coming closer. The black blur flew past me at speed, slammed into Ron’s thigh with a sickening loud thump and sent him spinning though the air. He landed a dozen feet away. The wheel, now visible, sailed down the road, bouncing high and almost striking the light of a street lamp as it flew underneath it. I never saw where the driver of the car stopped but Ron was unable to walk or even stand, his leg broken in more than one place. After that he was in a half-body-cast for I think at least six month, and he ran with a limp for a year after that when a car stopped for us hitchhiking. In spite of this he still recovered to play varsity football by his senior year. Ron was tough.
During the late 1970’s there was a long drought in Southern California that ended with a winter of torrential rains. San Pasqual river in Escondido filled the dry lake basin at Lake Hodges to the brim of the dam for the first time in years. The roaring river feeding it could be seen from the back porch of the custom home Ron’s parents built a year or so before in the avocado tree studded hills above the valley. So it might have been Ron’s idea what to do next.
I asked Clark Nelson to recount a good story about Ron. “Almost the best story,” Clark said, “was when we had my mother drop us off near the Wild Animal Park and we got in the rubber raft and rode the rapids all the way down to Lake Hodges and the 15 freeway. We were dodging barbed wire fences, downed electric lines, and floating dead cattle all the way down. It was very dangerous however we didn’t consider that at the time. That was the year that the great California drought broke.” This was after a rocky start to their friendship a few years before in middle school. Clark was always up for a fight and according to him he had gotten into a scrap with Ron’s older brother Jimmy and had knocked his tooth out. This lead to Ron “picking” on him on the school bus ride home one day.
“I felt cocky and confident that when we got off the school bus I would beat him down,” said Clark. “After being knocked to the ground probably more than six times and getting back up my confidence was waning. The ice-cream man was watching the fight from his truck and was yelling to stay down. He was right to tell me to stay on the ground … Shortly after that we became fast friends. ”
Everyone had good memories about adventurous hijinx with Ron. “We used to get together and do fantastically stupid things,” Clark said, “like lighting gasoline-soaked tennis balls on fire and bouncing them all around, hitting fences and his house, leaving a trail of fire wherever it went. Strapping model rocket engines on anything with wheels. They would fly some of the time and roll some of the time but always end up smashing. We would break into his parent’s liquor cabinet several times a week and steal just enough liquor from each bottle so that it wouldn’t be missed. Which typically would be brought into junior high eighth grade and drank in the bathroom just prior to going into main class. I really have no idea how we got away with that. Smelling like tequila-vodka-whiskey-rum and liqueur all at the same time.” The other thing was, before we had driver’s licenses we’d always find ways to get to the beach which was twenty miles away. “We spent a lot of time hitchhiking to the beach and surfing. It really is incredible that we did not get into any real kind of trouble,” said Clark.
That’s right. It’s incredible. We spent a lot of days in the late 1970’s hitchhiking from inland North County to the beach with our surfboards. People would stop for us, as we stood with out thumbs out and our surfboards leaning up next to a telephone pole nearby. Then they’d let us pile them in their cars and give us a free ride. The late 1970’s was a much different era. We’d get construction workers to buy us sixpacks of beer from any local 7-11 or liquor store along the way that was available. It was with Ron that I had my first beer, during the summer between ninth and tenth grade, Schlitz Malt Liquor from a sixer of 16 ounce cans, if I recall. I think he’d learned the get-someone-to-buy-for-us-beers trick from his brother Jimmy. At night we’d sleep on the beach in sleeping bags near a fire ring next to our surfboards.
We also had something else in common other than girls, surfing and getting stoned. We held a disdain for jocks. As teenagers, you may remember, everyone is cloistered into groups, and we definitely were not in the jock group. According to Tony and Clark, Ron was being constantly asked by the coach at San Pasqual High to be on the school football team. He finally did join in his senior year and upon graduation immediately received a full college scholarship and lived a surfer’s dream playing for the University of Hawaii. Then he played tight end for Tampa Bay and Detroit.
“Too Tall Hall” (a name Clark gave him) was making touchdowns on national television while the rest of us were getting drunk in bars back home in San Diego. Ron was a formidable boozer as well as a star athlete so I’m sure be balanced his work on the gridiron with hard partying. He was more than tough enough to pull that off and also, well pretty smart like that. He knew a lot of tricks. Tony Balona recounted more common knowledge and childhood memories with me over the phone that day last November, when he added a strange anecdote: his girlfriend had bumped into Ron in Jaco Beach in Costa Rica in his post-football career life. After playing professionally for nine years and recovering from more leg injuries Ron came back home to San Diego where his mom lived. I think Mrs. Hall had moved to Rancho Santa Fe by then. One summer day Clark saw him carding patrons at the door to the beer garden at the Del Mar Fair. Clark said he didn’t recognize Ron at first though. His face had changed, gotten beefier, he said, more “square”. Something about his brow was different, too. And Ron was even huger. “There might have been some chemical enhancement,” Clark surmised. Later on Clark added that this was “pure conjecture”. But given the era and Ron’s pro career it would be assumed he had plenty of reason to juice. It was Ron who noticed his highschool buddy after over 13 years or so and struck up a brief conversation as he checked Clark’s id. Then they parted.
Tony’s story had a plot twist. Some time after this chance meeting with Clark, Ron must have left for Costa Rica. Tony’s girlfriend said that in 2002 she and a friend of hers, also a “cute blonde,” stayed with “this American ex-football player at his house” in Jaco Beach. His name was Ron Hall and they’d met him in a sushi bar. He invited them to his house with his girlfriend and spent the next two days doing lots of coke and inhalants, she said. Once he had them wait outside a pharmacy while he went in to get a shot of Demerol for pain due to old non-specific football injuries. Apparently opioids are easy to get there and they’ll inject them right into you inside the pharmacy. “Ron was partying like a freak, doing lots of coke and having her and her friend watch him have sex with his girl,” Tony said, laughing. “Ron was a FREAK!”
Yeah, although I never saw that behavior when we were kids it kinda sounds like Ron, I guess. He was a wild one and not afraid of much. Then Tony said that after his girl told him this old story he ran a search for Ron’s name and to his surprise found out – he’d died. It seems Demerol, coke and booze for extended periods might not be good for your health, even for a mountain of a man like Ron. But then I thought: lots of drugs, sun and surf, plentiful tourist girls and a cheap economy – sounds like Ron found his slice of paradise before he died at age 43 in 2007, “of natural causes,” according to his Wikipedia page. For a guy who I remember had always liked to say “Hey you only live once so why not fuck up?”, he seems to have gotten it kinda right.
From the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ website: “One of the best tight ends in Buc history and one of the most popular players during his seven seasons in Tampa Bay. Played briefly with the Lions on leaving Tampa after the 1993 season, seeing action in 19 games across two seasons in Detroit. His 209 receptions still rank 11th in franchise history and 2nd only to Jimmie Giles amongst Buc tight ends and any all-time Tampa Bay roster would have to include Hall as Giles’ back-up. Famously used to walk across hot coals as his party trick when at university in Hawaii. Died in May 2007 from natural causes at his home in Costa Rica.”
FAST GUYS, RICH GUYS, AND IDIOTS
Sam Moses and The Bandit hit the Portland International Raceway
Sam Moses, author and racecar driver, has been an icon at Sports Illustrated for the last 17 years, from being involved in assignments that would rival any at National Geographic, to getting inside a racecar himself to compete with the rest of the country, it is easy to see how Sam Moses and his award-winning journalism has taken him all over the world.
Recently part of The Bandit’s team at the Portland International Raceway, I sit down with team engineer, Dave Wimsett, at The Busy Bee Restaurant in Springfield Oregon, for some vitals and insight into Sam’s remastered book and most recent races before Sam and I connect via telephone, from his home in Washington, where he fills me in on all exploits past, present, and yet to come.
“Rule One of Racing: Race cars blow up,” Dave bellows, as-a-matter-of-fact, fork in hand, gesticulating as he talks over his plate, hands hovering, maybe coincidentally, or maybe as tale of his trade- around the ‘ten’ and ‘two’ o’clock position of an invisible racecar wheel. “Rule Two: There’s no way to alter Rule One.”
Sam Moses disagrees. Still in disdain over his failed race in Portland over the 4th of July, he declares – and quite tenaciously- “I won’t talk about it.” Mid-interview, the tale diverged, he admits one way to avoid Rule Number One is to maybe listen to your engineer.
“I didn’t know I was abusing the thing,” Sam insists , talking about his notorious vintage 1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass and racecar, The Bandit. “Dave told me what the rules were. He told me ‘you can’t break the gearbox, Sam.’ I should have believed him.”
I ask Sam the obvious, which came first, racing or writing. In his book, Fast Guys, Rich Guys, and Idiots, it’s easy to tell Sam Moses wasn’t raised watching his dad picking at a typewriter, it was racing he watched his dad do, starting as far back as the summer of 1957, the year, Sam claims, “the speed in his [own] young blood was lit.”
Four years in the Navy, Sam took to writing his family about his exotic surroundings when he found he couldn’t sleep and there was nothing else to do. As a result, Sam took up journalism for a brief time at Penn State and The University of Miami before, given the first opportunity, he left to immediately become a nomadic journalist, following motorcycle circuits throughout the desert for the bi-weekly motorcycle magazine MotorCycle Weekly, where a measly $25 dollars covered both the expenses and wage for his first article.
“You have to get in wherever you can at first,” Sam advises me about writing, “Even if it doesn’t pay. If you’re any good at all, someone will notice you.”
Now Sam can say he’s brushed shoulders with them all, from motorcycle champion, Kenny Roberts to Dale Earnhardt. He’s witnessed over 40 years of motorsports culture and history, and Sports Illustrated has taken him all over the world. His remastered version of Fast Guys, Rich Guys, and Idiots, due to be released this September, is a compilation of stories taken from the best of over 200 of Sam’s own pre-1984 Sports Illustrated articles, as well as from a motley of personal racing experiences.
“I treated it like a vintage racecar,” he says, smoothly, of his pending new release, “I avoided calling it ‘revised’ or ‘edited.’ Remastered is what musicians used to call their old albums made with new technology, and that’s what I did. …The original version was printed twenty years ago, before the internet, when… I had to have a hard copy of it sent away just to be turned into a word document. This version has more racing in it, and it’s written from the perspective of a veteran motorsports writer, not the self-involved kid I used to be. Also, it’s way better researched, and I know more now about the characters than back pre-1984.”
“I met Hunter S. Thompson, once, in Key West,” Sam reminisces, “My wife and I were driving a white, 1987 Z-28 Camaro across the whole of the U.S., from the furthermost point in the west to the furthermost point in the east. I asked her to marry me coming down the hill into Pueblo, Colorado at 90 miles-per-hour, during a thunder and lightning storm.”
“When we got to Key West, we went to the Sam Woody Creek Tavern. We were just having a good time, telling everyone there how we were planning to go to Nevada the next day for our marriage license, when there’s Hunter S. Thompson sitting right there in the corner. I didn’t really know him, or that he hung out there — I mean sometimes we covered the same events — but he must have overheard us because he stands up suddenly, says something like, ‘Oh!’ and runs out to his truck. He rummages around out there for, it seems like a while, and then he comes back in with this thing in his hands like a huge, million-watt spotlight, that I guess he had to spotlight things at night with.”
“I said thank you.” Sam doesn’t forget to mention of the oddity, “Couldn’t tell you where it is now, though.”
Of course, Sam Moses never had to be bought with a red Ducati left in his driveway by such as Cycle World , as Hunter S. Thompson self-admittedly did. No, Sam needed no persuasion to indulge the speedster lifestyle and translate his experiences back to the world. That desire came on its own. He had the guts and the ability. It was only a matter of time before Sports Illustrated gave him the opportunity, and the keys.
Now, after over 40 years of observing motorsports history, and with a new chapter on the horizon, “The friendships endure,” Sam says, of his career with Sports Illustrated, racing in general, and of his time with The Bandit, Still, always the perfectionist, and never slowing down, Sam tells me he’ll race The Bandit at least once more time next year in September before passing on the torch. Still agonizing over the broken gearbox from his last race, he insists, “I can’t quit on this note.”
When I ask Sam what’s next, he admits, “My future is in Australia.” Maybe he will write another book out there, without a doubt he will continue kite-surfing, but the keys to The Bandit are to move on, as even now wheels are in motion for it to be auctioned off next year in Monterey.
Will this be the end of his partnership with The Bandit? Sure. Yes. Most probably, but it doesn’t mean the end of the Sam Moses legacy. As Sam so delicately puts it, “What does a guy really need with two race cars anyway?”
For more, check out Sam’s webpage and blog at http://papamadre.com/index/.
pixie Ashley performing after work in private
This story is a rough draft. For the real post go to the x-blog HERE.
by Bob Yunger
Here’s the video of pixie girl Ashley going at it with herself on my bed, shot sometime around 2008 or 2009.
At about 1:09 she turns her head toward the camera suddenly because the cameraman (me) had a boner under his shorts and it accidentally thwacked against her left foot that she had sticking out off the side of the bed during a casual move around her for another angle that shot down her body from her head.
The idea was to get her to “squirt” but she said it was hard to do without “help.” Stupidly I wasn’t aggro enough to volunteer. But the video is still good. Ashley was a topless dancer looking for day work that answered an ad I had on Craigslist where I was looking for a day laborer. As described in a previous post, mostly green-card bearing migrant labor with some under-employed white construction workers have traditionally filled this role in the past but in 2008 and 2009 there was a dip in helper availability while the Tea Party waged war in the media on Mexicans. So I tried posting an ad on the internet to fill a gig opening.
I brought her on a jobsite where there was another crew doing a remodel and when she asked to use the bathroom and was told where it was but that it didn’t have a door on it she laughed and said, “that’s fine,” and unashamedly got in there and pulled her pants down while the guys just stopped working for a few seconds and stared with their jaws open.
She looks good naked here. I should have kept in touch.