The Weird, the pro, and the dead

On this day in 1937, Hunter Stockton Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky. His suicide in 2005 remains a goddamn shame, because I’d love to hear what Hunter would write about PRISM or Trayvon Martin or Obama or Romney or Ted Cruz or even Tim Tebow. But we won’t get that.

Thompson wrote about politics, about sports, about counterculture, and most famously about drugs, but my favorite passage of his remains this, from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, about the failed promise of broad societal change in the sixties:

It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak that never comes again. 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…

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. 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.

Of course, it’s earlier in the book that we hear his most famous words (“We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert…”). By the way, this is the picture from the first edition’s back cover:


(That’s Oscar Zeta Acosta on the right, the inspiration for Raoul’s friend and attorney Dr Gonzo. Acosta disappeared in Mexico in 1974; in 1977, Thompson described him as “One of God’s on prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and to rare to die.”)

Thompson’s culinary advice is also solid, as shown here in his description of a nutricious breakfast:

The food factor should always be massive: four Bloody Marys, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crepes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned beef hash with diced chiles, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for random seasoning, and something like a slice of Key lime pie, two margaritas and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert… Right, and there should also be two or three newspapers, all mail and messages, a telephone, a notebook for planning the next twenty-four hours and at least one source of good music…

All of which should be dealt with outside, in the warmth of a hot sun, and preferably stone naked.

Modulo the Bolivian marching powder, we see no reason why this shouldn’t become a national standard.

Godspeed, Hunter. We miss you.

Comments are closed.