Former Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings has self-published through Caleb Hill Press “Chasing Drew Hastings, A Memoir”, a collection of personal vignettes encompassing narratives of his early life and formative years, his storied time as a nascent comedian and rise to notoriety in Hollywood, and subsequent second act as a farmer, property owner and controversial political figure in Hillsboro.
Hastings’ accounts of the backstories behind many events that transpired during his mayoral tenure, spanning from 2012-2018, provide an illuminating perspective shift that reveals a personal take on the myriad controversies and legal entanglements with which Hastings’ then constituents are at least superficially familiar.
The dissolution of the Hillsboro Fire Department, Hastings’ indictment and subsequent acquittal on criminal charges while in office, the later conviction of longtime friend and supporter, Bob Lambert, and widespread condemnation of some of his social media posts are but a few of the notorious touchstones covered in the book’s pages, which leaves few issues that arose during Hastings’ time as mayor unaddressed.
Hastings, in talking about his early life and family relationships, demonstrates a surprising depth of vulnerability and self-disclosure in the book.
Hastings weaves the inimitable sardonic humour for which he is known throughout the book, but followers of Hastings, be they sycophantic or critical, would be remiss to assume that Hastings’ autobiographical account is purely comedic.
In it, Hastings deftly creates a comprehensive chronology of an offbeat and unpredictable life course that meanders through adolescent delinquency, entrepreneurial ambition, fame and disillusionment in Hollywood, and a new start in rural Ohio.
Hastings documents the cultural contrasts and discovering a sense of community in Highland County, describing the now well-known sequence of events that led to his mayoral bid.
Perhaps the most compelling theme of “Chasing Drew Hastings, A Memoir” is not the stories of rubbing elbows with famous people, or property acquisition, or chasing dreams of fame, success and money.
Hastings’ documentation of his early abandonment by his father, and its aftermath and effect, provide an important explanatory footnote to many of the stories that follow. Hastings’ descriptions of finally having a relationship with his father in his later years and being able to view him as “another man,” rather than through the filter of childhood idealization because of his absence, and his own realization upon becoming a father at 65, that, “I cannot fathom how a father can walk away from his child,” shows a level of poignant sincerity, insight and humanity that might come as an unexpected surprise to those acclimated to Hastings’ defining iteration of nihilistic cynicism.
“Chasing Drew Hastings, A Memoir” is available for preorder on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Drew-Hastings-memoir/dp/1735806625.
Juliane Cartaino is a Hillsboro resident and a stringer for The Times-Gazette.