Interview: Carl Hiaasen

By JIM SULLIVAN  |  July 22, 2010

If it was the same one i visited him in West Hollywood it was pretty dank and dismal. It was bleak.
He had this loft and everything was in gray. He’d torn out all the furniture and he’d put in all gray furniture in because that was his lucky color. He struggled with OCD big time. He would open 10 or 12 Coca-Colas before he would get one that was lucky enough to drink. Not a lot of people knew that. It wasn’t just amusing stuff. Words you couldn’t say to him — “It’s bad luck, don’t say that word.” A lot of folks are tormented. If you go back through history a lot of the brightest artists who are really talented especially musicians and writers are fucked up too.

I remember when I once asked him about his less-than-high-flying living condition I said, “hey, you wrote “Werewolves of London,” a huge hit. You must have made some money you kept, and he basically said “vodka.”
That’s true, and he had a big, big tax problem. He drank it all up. Just like his song [‘The French Inhaler’] says. It was very tough. He was his own worst enemy. At the height of his popularity, when he started misbehaving to the extent that it got in the way of concerts, I know once he opened for the Grateful Dead and he almost passed out on the piano keys. They said, “Forget it you can’t open up for us,” and they’re the most drugged band in the world. That’s pretty severe.

Right after he died, Bob Dylan did three of his songs in concert.
 Dylan was a big fan of Warren’s, and Warren was sick and he was still OK, not drinking that much yet, again, and Dylan was doing a show in California. He invited Warren because he was going to do “Mutineer” in concert and I get a voice mail from Warren who didn’t stay for the whole concert. He just went backstage and saw him. He goes, “Well, I just got covered by Bob Dylan. That’s a sure sign of doom.’” And he loved Dylan. I miss him, there’s not a day that goes by I don’t think about him and wish I could call up and share a funny story. When he was on tour, I’d get cleaned-up stories about what was going on, and when I was on my whiney phase on my book tour, I would call him up and leave him these messages and he was always so funny. He would brighten me up and top me with something more ghastly.

Carl Hiaasen speaks at the Brattle Theatre August 2 at 6 pm

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