Monday, January 11, 2016

Sean Penn's Off-the-Wall Account of His Meeting with Mexican Drug Lord El Chapo

Gawker was extremely tough on Sean Penn's report.

Brendan O'Connor at Gawker speculates on how much of the Penn article, which required El Chapo's  approval, was actually read by the drug kingpin, and why he did not make any changes:
[M]aybe El Chapo did start reading it, only to stop, calculating (correctly) that it didn’t matter what Penn wrote because everyone was just going to stop after three excruciating paragraphs anyway.

Actually, the article is so off the wall that many may read through it as a piece of work that turns into gonzo journalism quite by accident.

The first thing we learn in the essay is that Penn really thinks of himself as an international man of intrigue (While sitting in an NYC 5 star hotel room!) :
I'm sitting in my room at the St. Regis Hotel with my colleague and brother in arms, Espinoza.

Espinoza and I have traveled many roads together, but none as unpredictable as the one we are now approaching. Espinoza is the owl who flies among falcons. Whether he's standing in the midst of a slum, a jungle or a battlefield, his idiosyncratic elegance, mischievous smile and self-effacing charm have a way of defusing threat. His bald head demands your attention to his twinkling eyes. He's a man fascinated and engaged. We whisper to each other in code. Finally a respite from the cyber technology that's been sizzling my brain and soul. We sit within quietude of fortified walls that are old New York hotel construction, when walls were walls, and telephones were usable without a Ph.D.

And how can you have a good essay without product placement?  Mexican film and television star Kate del Castillo arranged for the meeting between Penn and El Chapo, and so we have this, as Penn reports of flying in a small prop plane to El Chapo:

The flight had been just bumpy enough that each of us had taken a few swigs off a bottle of Honor tequila, a new brand that Kate is marketing. 
But this is the paragraph that has never seen anything like it in print before:
 I throw my satchel into the open back of one of the SUVs, and lumber over to the tree line to take a piss. Dick in hand, I do consider it among my body parts vulnerable to the knives of irrational narco types, and take a fond last look, before tucking it back into my pants. 

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