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John R. Hall
Little Ricky / John R. Hall

I have avoided social media like some dark age plague. Not because I didn’t see the benefit in it—of course I did, and do! But because I always thought that the world did not need me updating my timeline with: I just finished a great dinner with a friend; now I am drinking at a casino bar alone; now I am drunk; now I am being asked to leave the casino bar; now I am hearing “You have the right to remain silent.” By the way, that is really good advice which I have unfortunately all too often ignored.

Okay, I made my point about social media. That stated, I have had to rethink my social media stance with the birth of HuntingForThompson.com; the reasons should be obvious. That notwithstanding, this piece is not about this website or social media, per se. It is about a dear friend of mine, and my intermittent searches for him over the last five years.

Perry Michael Lewis: Chilean and friend extraordinari; more on that in a moment. First, I’d like to properly explain myself on the friend extraordinari statement and to do that I have to go back in time to when I first encountered—and then was properly introduced to—the man.

With the dawn of the 21st Century came the beginning of the end of the gambler and the straight up, no apologies made, gambling halls of Las Vegas. It was in that environment that I met Perry Lewis. He was dealing poker. This was before TV turned poker into a youthful testosterone pit . . . sprinkled with a dash of estrogen. Before the pseudo promise that being the next big Moneymaker1 was in the cards, and you were just a click of the mouse, a flop and a turn away from being made a star on the river—and wealthy to boot!

Perry and I had met back before spin doctors had successfully changed the term “gambling” into “gaming.” That change in casino nomenclature occurred because there’s much less reality in “gaming” and no ominous warning. Your money wagered in a casino now is done so within a “game of chance” instead of gambling with your dollars. In a game of chance, it’s subconsciously implied that we will be entertained. In gambling, as we are all too aware of, there will be consequences. Maybe a good outcome awaits; we all know that the odds are against that happening when we gamble . . . and rarely when gambling are we entertained. When we play a game, we expect to be entertained, and we therefore approach gaming psychologically and diametrically differently than we do gambling—hence the name change.

I had met Perry when one could still find straight up gambling, back before gamblers were a dying breed. Perry and I did not meet in the normal way most people do: Hi, my name is. . . .

Nope. We met in the heated, contentious throws of a gamble. He was dealing and I was chasing a flush. The flush was not to be and I did not handle that news very well, to say the least. “I could have been a contender. I could have been somebody.”2 Due to my disappointment, and due to it happening where I held swagger and court, I threw a quick fit; along with throwing the empty chip rack to the floor resulting in an attention grabbing thud, ending with the empty rack ricocheting like Ricochet Rabbit. Perry was not amused. But he was at a distance, sitting there safe and secure in the dealer’s chair with nothing on the line except controlling the game, and dealing with an impulsive id* like me.

That day, when Perry and I met, he had recently returned to Las Vegas after an extended hiatus, and resumed his dealing duties at the then World Famous Horseshoe Casino; the very last of the old school gambling halls in Vegas, or anywhere else for that matter. So, he was at a disadvantage and ill-equipped for what came next (because he had not been informed of the “juice” that I held in the Horseshoe). Yet, he was bound by his dealing duties to do it. He had to deal with the brief Darwinian outburst of yours truly. He said, “Listen here pal, you better knock that off.” To which I replied, “Or what?” “You’ll see,” he said. “Why wait,” I replied, and then called for the poker room shift manager Steve (who happened to be a friend of mine) to come to the table of broken dreams.

Steve arrived quickly and I gave him a staccato snapshot of the situation. He said to the dealer, “Perry, this is John Hall and John promises not to do that again—right John?”  “Obviously,” I said, “and please get me two more racks of chips” while slipping Steve a respectable tip. “Deal him in,” Steve said to Perry. Ah, Vegas . . . back when gamblers had some juice (connections in high places). Oh, how I miss those days and the friends who taught me “when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.”3

Two things happened on the very next hand Perry dealt. One, was that his relief dealer had arrived and he’d be going on break. Two, was that I saw that his relief had arrived and so for theatrical effect—and to let him know who was the boss—I mucked (tossed away) my cards without looking at them, while saying to Perry with a huge grin, “Timing is everything, and it’s not on your side today.” I was sure that my jab had the intended effect on him, but he was not going to show that to the other players at the table.

When the cards had been read, and the pot pushed, Perry stood up. That is when I first became aware of the imposing presence he projected: a tall, robust, man. Well, shit, I thought, maybe I shouldn’t have thrown those racks—and I most certainly should not have called for Steve to save me. This could go bad, very bad.

So, it was with much apprehension that I followed Perry out of that poker room’s side door per his demand of, “I want to talk to you outside—right now.” Once outside Perry said that it’s obvious that I am “juiced in” and that my joke about timing made it tough for him to keep his composure. And then he proceeded to mock my poker play, by chastising me for chasing that flush by saying that even if I had gotten it, I would have still come in third to two full houses. “That’s not the fucking point,” I said. “And besides that you paired the board on the river.” Perry let out a loud, deep, laugh that I was to hear many, many more times.  Perry’s sense of humor was second to none. That sense of humor was to be my saving grace from many bad nights at those poker tables, and from some fairly fiendish situations in which this gambler was found.

And so it came to pass, that on that sidewalk, next to the side door of that poker room, with an era fading fast, that two of a dying breed would become very, very good friends.

To continue on with all of the moments in which Perry brightened my life, through his sense of humor and laughter, would require too much space within this article. But I must share this: There were two times when I found myself in dire straits of my own making (think: “You have the right to remain silent”). Both times Perry stopped what he was doing, which was sleeping, and both times he answered my battle cry of, “send lawyers, guns and money. . . .”4 Even an id like me knows that it is extremely rare that a friendship of that caliber is stumbled upon.

That is why I have been searching for Perry Lewis over the last five years. Whenever I was in Vegas, I would ask, “Has anybody here seen my old friend [Perry]?”5 Always to no avail.

I launched HuntingForThompson.com on November 11, 2016, and subsequently posted on a Facebook account’s timeline that I have had for many, many years, but had refused to use. The post was to announce the birth of this website. I still don’t think the world needs to know what I have for dinner, but it does need to know what HuntingForThompson.com is up to, and that is “No Good” in the eyes of the Right People, I assure you.

I have toiled in technology off and on since 1995, and in that time I have collected a fair amount of “end of life” computer equipment. A few days ago, I decided that it was time to unencumber myself of some of it. Before one ever tosses a hard drive in the trash, it should first be mined for needed data, and then liquefied because there is no Fourth Amendment lying in wait to protect you at the city dump. I set out to do just that.

That is how I came across a computer folder named: “Perry Lewis.” It contained a solitary text file with cell numbers which I had called, and email addresses to which I had sent emails, looking for my dear friend. Then my eyes focused upon a set of characters. I could not make sense of them. I printed the text file, finished the data mining and then proceeded to liquefy the hard drive.

The next day I was preparing a Facebook post when it dawned on me that the set of characters which eluded my deciphering capabilities the day before were Perry Lewis’ daughter’s Facebook account. You know, the letters at the end of: facebook.com/thisandthat. I sent the friend request and the next day it was accepted and a private message ensued from Perry’s daughter, Nicole. It went like this:

Nicole: “Hello….do I know you? or do you know me?”

Me: “Hi—I know your father Perry and was hoping to get a status update. Unable to contact him nor has any one else.”

Nicole: “Perry passed about 3 years ago.”

Me: “I had hoped my assumptions were wrong. I am sorry for your loss… He was a good friend to me, and to many, many others.”

Nicole: “I feel him closer more now than ever and am sure he is much better off now!”

Me: “Agreed. He had struggles—but was a very good man!”

Fuck!

Who hasn’t had struggles? I have. Too many of them in fact. Now, I have another one. Accepting that my dear friend is gone.

I am here to state and memorialize that Perry Michael Lewis (b. January 16, 1948 — d. January 30, 2012), father, grandfather, great grandfather, and friend extraordinari, was a very good man.

I miss you brother. I’ll catch you on the other side if I am allowed in.  Luckily, I’ll have you to vouch for me. Godspeed, Perry Michael Lewis.

Perry Michael Lewis is survived by his daughter Nicole Leslie Lewis, et al, of Chile . . .  along with brood of grandchildren and great grandchildren.

family

 Post scriptum: As I passed the news to others, the refrain was  . . .  well, there’s less laughter in the world now.

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* Id (Latin for “it”) is the unorganized part of the personality structure that contains a human’s basic, instinctual drives. Id is the only component of personality that is present from birth — more.

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John R. Hall is a James Copley Scholarship for Journalism recipient. John studied journalism, psychology, communications & drama at City College, San Diego, California. John has largely traveled through life as a single and childless rolling stone, collecting little moss. He has been employed in numerous industries: first as a KFC dishwasher, then a Red Lion busboy, followed by soda jerking for Dairy Queen. All of that occurred before Uncle Sam whispered in his ear and he donned the olive drab green as a soldier in the U.S. Army. After that non Yankee Doodle Dandy duty was over, he attempted a career in entertainment, performing comedy and magic. When those opportunities disappeared, John reappeared in the transportation industry as a taxi and truck driver. He's been a barkeep, a hotel manager, a street performer, a professional student, a business manager, a dispatcher, an oil field professional, and an IT/IS professional; He's even been a procurer of substances. John developed and maintains both HuntingForThompson.com and HALLESQUE.com. All of this basically makes him an omnipotent . . . (in his own mind, which, as he says: "Is all that counts").