Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dr. Gonzo

Where is Hunter S. Thompson when we need him? I hope his ashes--blasted into the sky at his post-suicide memorial service--are still circulating among us. One of his famous tag lines was "It never got weird enough for me," but I wonder if he would say the same today--two years after his death, deep into the second term of the Bush Administration.

So let's all yell "Happy Birthday!" at the Doctor as the Great American Dust Storm whirls by. If we shout loud enough, maybe we'll also breathe in a bit of his awareness; a quality so acute, so finely honed, it often had to be heavily medicated.

Hunter S. Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on July 18, 1937.

Here are the classic opening paragraphs of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (1971):

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like "I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive...." And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: "Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?"

Then it was quiet again. My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest, to facilitate the tanning process. "What the hell are you yelling about?" he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses. "Never mind," I said. "It's your turn to drive." I hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.


Blogger Macy Swain said...

Yeah, so here's to whatever the poor bastards will see soon enough!
I once met -- or actually, saw -- him when I was a young reporter in SoCal -- got to cover the Western White House one day when Nixon was at San Clemente. Dr. Gonzo was quite in evidence -- bermuda shorts, flowered shirt. Nixon's press secretary -- what was his name, Ron Ziegler? -- was visibly unhappy to have this interloper in the room. The rest of us loved it.

5:55 PM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...


How cool!

I would love to have met him--as long as there was a clear exit to the door.

Greg R.

8:27 PM  

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