Good afternoon, Matt, how have you been, my man? Great for you to join yourself for lunch at The Mediterranean in Boulder. Great spot here on the patio with the sun shining.
I’m doing great. Thanks, TNB, for asking me to do my first-ever self-interview. This is a little strange—taking myself out to lunch—but I can roll with it. I just got back from the first part of my tour for my book <i>Dear Dr. Thompson</i>. I kicked it off in Los Angeles at the Chateau Marmont on May 20th, then San Francisco, Book Expo America in NYC, and then Washington DC at the Eighteenth Street Lounge, home of Thievery Corporation.
It is good to see you alone again. It’s been a long time since you sat down and asked yourself the really hard questions.
What are those? What is my favorite sandwich?
Remember the Hopi Prophecy you quoted so often on your run through the Grand Canyon last summer?
“Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?”
Yes… those questions. I’d say I’m living in a sweet little spot tucked against the Flatirons with my wife Kristin and my two children, Charlie and Amelia, and I’m living the dream in being able to publish a book and tell my story of how one little letter changed a woman’s life—and Hunter’s.
I’m working on banishing the word “struggle” from my vocabulary. My relationships are good and I also have a great crew of friends who continually push me to greater intellectual, emotional and athletic heights. We go on great adventures and have lots of laughs.
Tell The Nervous Breakdown how you got involved with Hunter Thompson and the campaign to free Lisl Auman from prison?
In 2001, I read about Hunter’s involvement in the Lisl Auman case and wrote him a memo outlining a public information campaign about the case. He called me back and said, “Hot damn, son. Let’s do a rally.” We then recruited Warren Zevon to come and play “Lawyers, Guns and Money” on the West Steps of the Colorado State Capitol to call for Lisl’s release. I became the campaign director and her family spokesperson. After almost a decade in prison she walked out a free woman.
I had first read Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail in high school in Lafayette, LA, which inspired me to become interested in politics. Hunter wasn’t necessarily my hero—those fell along the lines of my own father, John Wesley Powell, and Huey P. Long. But if ever there was a person I wanted to enjoy a cocktail with, Hunter was right at the top of the list. After he died, Johnny Depp built a 153-tall Gonzo fist at the compound in Woody Creek where he shot Hunter’s ashes into the ether. Depp hired me to be the communications director and Owl Farm spokesperson. In that role I tried to extend Hunter’s legacy beyond just the elements of guns and drugs; he changed the face of journalism and was one of the most important writers of the second half of the twentieth century.
What did you take away from your experience of working with Hunter?
The ultimate lesson from Hunter would be to strive to achieve the highest, most perfect form of your own self. Hunter taught me to be my own person. What he seemed to really dislike was people trying to emulate him. Hunter wanted everyone to cover their own story, write their own book, and play their own song. Swim the river, dance the dance. “Buy the ticket and take the ride,” he liked to say. Hunter recognized that when we are true to ourselves and our passions—in that space is where the magic happens.
The lesson in my book, besides the fact that we must abolish the draconian “felony murder rule,” is that we should all write our own letters, like Lisl did, or my memo to Hunter. Let’s stir it up and change somebody’s life. As the Hopi Prophecy also says, “Do not look outside of yourself for the leader. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
Speaking of the Hopi Prophecy, what about the last question, “Where is your water?”
Right now my water is down in the Gulf of Mexico. I was born in New Orleans and grew up in Lafayette. OnApril 22 I swam nine miles in Lake Pontchartrain with Glynde Mangum and Jonathan Bartsch to raise money to rebuild the New Canal Lighthouse—and then we went to Jazz Fest.
We swam with little dolphins at sunrise while bluesman and Treme actor Coco Robicheaux dipped his drink in the lake because he liked the saltiness it gave his Bloody Mary. He wore a big black top hat and fur leopard skin jacket and around his waist was a little antique Derringer pistol “just to keep off the sharks and alligators,” he said. He was our spiritual adviser on the support crew. Now, over six weeks later, plumes of oil are creating the worst environmental disaster of our time. We might be the last people to swim Lake Pontchartrain for a long time.
Open water swimming is my water and is in my soul. Right now my soul is with the entire Gulf of Mexico and its people.
What’s up next?
I’m off to New Orleans on Friday for an event at the Michalopoulos Gallery on June 5th with Coco Robicheaux for a special musical performance of the book. This won’t be your mama’s book signing, I can promise you that. Then I’m off to Lafayette; then Boulder on June 11 at Trident Bookstore; Denver Tattered Cover on June 15; Aspen Explore Bookstore on June 17; and Telluride Between-the-Covers on June 19, which just happens to coincide with the Bluegrass Festival. I will back to San Francisco for a literary event on July 12th and other points in between. Check out my website www.MatthewLMoseley.net for more tour dates.
Then there will be a reading and burning of the original manuscripts of the book at Burning Man in late August.
Okay. Many thanks to The Nervous Breakdown, it’s been a great lunch (and where do I send that receipt for reimbursement again?). I was, well, actually nervous about doing a “self-interview,” but it turned out to be an interesting experience. Hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did. My favorite sandwich, by the way, is a softshell crab po-boy, dressed.