Monday, July 23, 2007

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."-Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson would have been 70 last Wednesday, and that seems like as good a reason as any to write a few words about him.
I think the man was absolutely brilliant."Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas" alone would cement that opinion, but that is merely the tip of the iceberg. And man, what a fucking iceberg. "Hell's Angels","Fear And Loathing On The Campaign Trail '72","Generation Of Swine", "Songs Of The Doomed", etc. It's a pretty impressive list.
I don't know what was fact and what was fiction. I don't really care. the man had a gift for writing, that's all there was to it.
When I was younger, I tried to emulate him. I had the Dunhill cigarette holder, I drank Wild Turkey(okay, I TRIED to drink Wild Turkey-that shit tastes HORRENDOUS- I need my liquor to taste like candy- I know, I'm a fucking wuss) but I was just an idiot kid. It was not about the fucking props. The writing...the mind. THAT'S where it was at.
I'm not gonna pass any judgements on how he chose to go out. i go back and forth on it. On the one hand, it's a fucking selfish act, and on the other hand, I can also appreciate someone not wanting to live their life in(what they consider to be) a diminished capacity.
I am sad he is gone, but I am gladder that he was here. He definitely gave me a sense of madness,a sense of adventure. A sense of "crazy" not always being the worst thing.
So, I guess what I want to say is: Thanks, Doc. I bought the ticket, and I took the ride...And thanks for steering the Caddy.

And I will leave you with the "wave speech" from "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas", reprinted from the Wikipedia page on the book.

"San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .
History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time — and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.
My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights — or very early mornings — when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder's jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . .
There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .
And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."- Hunter S. Thompson-Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas


Anonymous said...

What a nice Ode! I used to drink the Kicken Chicken myself. Tried to do it again the other night and wow...that smell...obviously, i've moved on to better whiskies. but oh the good times in the late 1980s with Austin Nichols.

Paticus said...

alyssa- Thanks.
Kicken Chicken, i like that.