Tag Archives: gonzo journalism

Knowing when to fold them…

This story of an addictive personality manifesting itself in the form of degenerate gambling and the lure of the poker table is quite incredible. It has the hallmarks of gonzo style essay writing where the writer is the story, and a few insights into the mind of the gambler, and society more broadly. Check it out.

As a literary society, we have long since gotten over our modesties. The literature of addiction, once the exclusive territory of imbalanced, suicidal poets, has now come to dominate the market. We no longer recognize self-indulgence as self-indulgence. The term itself has fallen out of use, relegated mostly to protests from bitter Amazon.com reviewers and the curmudgeons of the weekly book reviews. Stylish women in New York write chatty columns about how much of their paycheck they spent on the latest “must have” designer handbag. The bestseller shelves are flooded with the memoirs of 30-year-old alcoholics. Sex addicts write 200-page books, complete with sex-cougar dust jacket photos.

Pain in poker comes in many forms. There is the loss you feel about living off of the dregs of a societal illness. There is the gambler’s moment of clarity when you realize you have become just like the old, sad men that you ridiculed in your younger, luckier days. There is the tedium of sitting at a filthy felt table for hours, sometimes days, feigning a studied intensity. There is the anxiety over explaining to a loved one exactly how you lost $30,000 in the course of a weekend. There is searing unease that comes from watching that same loved one twist uncomfortably whenever you give them a gift bought with the spoils of gambling. But none of poker’s daily pains are deadly or instructive, really. What’s more, all of guilt’s iterations can be cleansed by one monster score. Hit a set of 6s on a J-6-2 rainbow flop against the Donkey at the table, the one who is wearing a fake Versace rayon shirt whose outrageous patterning is the only thing taking attention away from his Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses and the poor, doting, usually underage girlfriend who sits behind his right shoulder, awash in the illusion that her boyfriend is Paul Newman from The Hustler—well, win $5,000 off a guy like that and you stop worrying about ethics and your misspent youth.

Yakuza on Yakuza 3

A gonzo journalist who spent twelve years getting to know the ins and outs of the Japanese organised crime gangs, the Yakuza, managed to sit three bona fide gangsters down to play Yakuza 3 – a Playstation game.

They seemed to enjoy the experience. The interview is here, and it’s pretty fascinating.

“M: A real fight–it’s short and it’s brutal. Over in a minute. Nobody goes around trading blows and crap like that. Usually the first guy to punch wins.
K: I like that you can grab things like ashtrays or billboards and beat the crap out of the punks bothering you. Or smash their faces into car windows. That’s what you’d really do in a fight, grab something and use it as a weapon.
S: Why doesn’t he just shoot them?
K: That would be unrealistic. Nobody is going to waste a bullet on some street punk, like the ones that keep bugging Kiyru.
M: If they wanted to make it realistic, he’d pull out a gun and shoot it and miss! Or the damn thing wouldn’t fire. That would be realistic. (They all laugh).
K: Shooting people sends a message.
M: So does shooting anything. Shooting people gets you sent to jail.
K: That’s part of the job description. ”

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Mor(e )on Christian music

Two interesting tidbits to add to my crusade against cringe worthy Christian music… 

The first, is an opinion piece in The Age where an atheist journo went along to a PlanetShakers experience*… it’s got all the echos of the South Park episode I mentioned a few weeks back – just so you know I wasn’t exaggerating the issue here’s a quote…

“Christian pop, ’80s power anthems, Metallica meets Cheap Trick. A mosh pit for Jesus was jumping with teenagers in rapture and a balcony of Planetkids went off for Christ. Music blared from the stadium sound system while the screen seduced us with slick videos edited so fast the phrase ‘‘subliminal image" kept popping into my head. Lyrics flashed up: "Come like a flood and saturate me now." I wondered what Freud would have made of the disproportionate use of such words as ‘‘come’’, ‘‘touch’’ and ‘‘feel’’, and the phrases "move within me" and "being filled". My favourite was "King of Glory, enter in".”

Secondly, There’s apparently an article somewhere where Matt Redman – cliched songwriter extraordinaire – repents from his ways of writing love songs to God. I’ll find that article when I get home and update this post.

*As a side note – this gonzo journalism thing where atheists try to experience Christian stuff from a true outsiders perspective is an interesting phenomena and is probably worth listenting to for those people trying to catch the atheist cultural zeitgeist. Other examples are the Guardian’s Alpha experiences and the Friendly Atheist Hermant Mehta’s book on his experiences in churches that he went to after an ebay campaign where confident churches could buy the right to try to convert him.

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Oversharing: If you can’t beat them…

Clearly I offended people by suggesting some details about your life (particularly gory parenting details) should be kept private and not trumpeted to the world via Facebook.

I am sorry.

There must be more to this oversharing thing than meets the eye… I thought. So, being the student of Gonzo Journalism that I am, I became part of the story, and investigated…

Here are my status updates from today – and the comments they generated…

I gave up after a while. I couldn’t handle the heat.