Johnny Question #1 ~ Influences

by Edgar Allen Poe, William Saroyan, Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Johnny Question #1 ~ Influences

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:34 am

The Autumn authors we have discussed the past several weeks were chosen because of their importance to Johnny. When you read this essay written by Johnny, do you see any of their influences in his work - either his writing or his acting?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

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Re: Johnny Question #1 ~ Influences

Unread postby sweetchia » Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:42 am

I feel Hunter's influence in the strong, direct, aggressive tone of his writing. I also feel Kerouac's influence in the train of thought style in which he expresses himself. He is no doubt, influenced by other writers, as we all are when we write, but what I love about his writing is that it is the one place we see the truest example of Johnny. As if we were sitting across from him at a table, sharing a glass of wine, talking for hours in relaxed conversation. He writes as he speaks...as he communicates in everyday life. In this way, I can't help feel as if I am listening to someone I have known a lifetime. His style is intimate and engaging. Truthful and open. I think those things are very much Johnny.
During a day, if you don’t make someone smile or feel good about himself, you’re not a man! I don’t think you’re fulfilling your part of the bargain as a human being - Johnny

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Re: Johnny Question #1 ~ Influences

Unread postby gemini » Mon Nov 23, 2009 3:06 pm

Well if this paragraph isn't Hunter I don't know what is!
The minimal abrasion soon became potential self-destruction. I was not feeling good about myself or this self-induced/out-of-control jail term that an ex-agent had prescribed as good medicine for unemployment. I was stuck, filling up space between commercials. Babbling incoherently some writer's words that I couldn't bring myself to read (thus having no knowledge of what poison the scripts might have contained). Dumb-founded, lost, shoved down the gullets of America as a young Republican. TV boy, heart-throb, teen idol, teen hunk. Plastered, postered, postured, patented, painted, plastic!!! Stapled to a box of cereal with wheels, doing 200 mph on a one-way collision course bound for Thermos and lunch-box antiquity. Novelty boy, franchise boy. f***ed and plucked with no escape from this nightmare.

I think he has a bit more Hunter style then the others because he knew him better.
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Re: Johnny Question #1 ~ Influences

Unread postby deppaura » Mon Nov 23, 2009 4:46 pm

I wondered about brother Daniel's influence..????. I haven't read all the stuff in the archive..but, I wonder about his earlier writing?? I'm going to try and review more of his writing. Through the offerings of the archive.

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Re: Johnny Question #1 ~ Influences

Unread postby shadowydog » Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:07 pm

I agree with what you all have said. I also find a poetic lyrical style to his writing. For example when he writes..... "A pale, frail-looking, sad-eyed man with hair that expressed much more than last night's pillow struggle. A comb with legs would have outrun Jesse Owens, given one look at this guy's locks. A clump to the east, four sprigs to the west, a swirl, and the rest of this unruliness to all points north and south." you get a strong immediate image of what he is describing. Johnny has a unique ability to paint with words; which might be influenced by the authors he has read, but is, in a sense purely and uniquely Johnny. Johnny has a unique gift that is truely his own.
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Re: Johnny Question #1 ~ Influences

Unread postby ladylinn » Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:17 pm

Johnny's writings never cease to amaze me. His style and flow of words are truly artistic. He comes across smooth and very descriptive of his feelings on the subject he is writing about. This is his own style - but probably some influence from his never ending thirst for reading. I agree sweetchia - his writings are like having a conversation with him.

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Re: Johnny Question #1 ~ Influences

Unread postby sweetchia » Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:42 pm

Boy. Wouldn't it be nice...if he wrote a book? Maybe one day.
During a day, if you don’t make someone smile or feel good about himself, you’re not a man! I don’t think you’re fulfilling your part of the bargain as a human being - Johnny

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Re: Johnny Question #1 ~ Influences

Unread postby Buster » Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:23 pm

Hunter was/is a big influence. Much of HST's writing is about how he felt in any given situation...and Johnny's intro is definitely about how Tim influenced and rescued him. Both seem to reveal as much about themselves (if not more) as they do about their subjects.

Wondering what was going on at this time in his life, I found this:

I replaced your link with one from our own Zone Archives.
~ Joni



His writing does sound a lot like his talking...

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Re: Johnny Question #1 ~ Influences

Unread postby nebraska » Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:53 pm

The part where he wrote "Plastered, postered, postured, patented, painted, plastic" reminded me very much of Hunter -- not sure why, something in F&L maybe?

Yes, Johnny is a good writer -- very descriptive and very intimate. This was a lovely piece! :cloud9:

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Re: Johnny Question #1 ~ Influences

Unread postby Buster » Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:23 pm

Although it seems at first as if he is actually revealing a lot of himself, it also seems apparent that there are many parts of him that he's not going to be so forthcoming about. Hunter was like that, too - you could know his opinions, and his public persona from his writings, but Hunter himself was somewhat differed from the "self" he portrayed. (See The Kitchen Readings: Untold Stories of Hunter S. Thompson by Michael Cleverly and Bob Braudis)

I actually think that Saroyan may have had more of an influence later on Johnny. He advocates maintaining a sense of self and privacy without the spectacle. It seems that Saroyan may be more of an advocate of hiding within oneself, while Hunter hid in plain sight. By making a big enough wave with his life, he was able to make people see what he wanted them to see, leaving his real privacy intact.

Good role models.

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Re: Johnny Question #1 ~ Influences

Unread postby deppaura » Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:42 pm

I wonder about the "sponge", mimic aspect of his personality. He may be artistically sensitive and inevitably absorb characteristics and styles of those he admires and who greatly influence him. Almost subconsciously. In his writing and acting. He seems to have an open, receptive, child like curiosity. And, a sensitive intelligence.

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Re: Johnny Question #1 ~ Influences

Unread postby nebraska » Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:31 pm

deppaura wrote:I wonder about the "sponge", mimic aspect of his personality. He may be artistically sensitive and inevitably absorb characteristics and styles of those he admires and who greatly influence him. Almost subconsciously. In his writing and acting. He seems to have an open, receptive, child like curiosity. And, a sensitive intelligence.



Good point, deppaura. More than imitation being the highest form of flattery, instead internalizing the things he admires and respects. I have often singled out women I admire, for whatever reason, usually strength of self, and tried to get close to them hoping it would rub off on me, like osmosis. That may be a bit of what happens with Johnny, like adopting a bit of the accent of wherever you are, he makes the style of those he admires a part of himself.

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Re: Johnny Question #1 ~ Influences

Unread postby Buster » Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:38 pm

Interesting, nebraska. It is very easy to hide behind a persona, and the easiest ones to adopt are those embraced by the people you admire.

Or, perhaps more telling, those who exhibit the person you secretly wish you were, whether truly admirable or not. I think recklessness is attractive, as is vulnerability, though both these attributes usually come off worse for wear in real life.

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Re: Johnny Question #1 ~ Influences

Unread postby Liz » Tue Nov 24, 2009 12:51 am

There is just soooooo much to comment on here. I was going to start commenting a couple of hours ago, then family called. :-/ So I hope I can remember all of my thoughts.

Sweetchia, yes, I agree with you that I feel like I know Johnny. That may not be true. BUT between his interviews and his writing, I am left with the feeling that I do. And I think it is more so from his writing. There is something about the way he wears his feelings on his sleeve. The odd thing is that he is still fairly private. But there are certain parts of him that he shares that exude “feelings”. An example would be this passage just because he lets us in on his apparent lack of self-confidence/humility/vulnerability/whatever you want to call it:


My chances were, at best, slim -- if that. Better-known people than me were not only being considered for the role but were battling, fighting, kicking, screaming, begging for it. Only one director had really stuck his neck out for me and that was John Waters, a great outlaw film-maker, a man both Tim and I had huge respect and admiration for. John had taken a chance on me to spoof my 'given' image in Cry-Baby. But would Tim see something in me that would make him take the risk? I hoped so.

As Buster pointed out, he is still fairly private. I think he is private with the details of her personal life and his family, but open about his sensibilities. And nebraska and Buster, I can totally relate to what you are saying about hiding behind the persona of someone you admire.

gemini wrote:Well if this paragraph isn't Hunter I don't know what is!
The minimal abrasion soon became potential self-destruction. I was not feeling good about myself or this self-induced/out-of-control jail term that an ex-agent had prescribed as good medicine for unemployment. I was stuck, filling up space between commercials. Babbling incoherently some writer's words that I couldn't bring myself to read (thus having no knowledge of what poison the scripts might have contained). Dumb-founded, lost, shoved down the gullets of America as a young Republican. TV boy, heart-throb, teen idol, teen hunk. Plastered, postered, postured, patented, painted, plastic!!! Stapled to a box of cereal with wheels, doing 200 mph on a one-way collision course bound for Thermos and lunch-box antiquity. Novelty boy, franchise boy. f**ked and plucked with no escape from this nightmare.

I think he has a bit more Hunter style then the others because he knew him better.

Gemini, I totally agree. I so see the parallels between Johnny and Hunter here. There are other passages too. I can’t really put my finger on what that style is. But I will agree with deppaura that he may have developed it by osmosis. I think we have noticed him doing that in his roles. And there are just some styles that call to you to emulate. Hunter’s is one of them (at least for me). I feel a need to explain that. You see, I have a tendency to adopt the styles of those around me….like a sponge. So it doesn’t seem that strange to me that he would too.

Shadowydog, I totally agree that the passage you quote is extremely lyrical. Johnny seems to be in command of the English language and knows how to use it…..like his alliteration that nebraska quoted.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Johnny Question #1 ~ Influences

Unread postby Buster » Tue Nov 24, 2009 1:35 am

One of the marks of a charismatic writer or performer is that they appear to let you into their inner most thoughts while preserving their personal integrity.
A balancing act. (Philipe Petit...)
Bravery (bravado, even) but with self-deprecating humor always as a disguise.


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