This month signals the 46th anniversary of a breakthrough moment in the history of literature: a breakthrough moment indeed for all mankind. For way back, almost on this very same retched day a mere 16,790 sleeps ago Dr Hunter S Thompson unleashed his throbbing red beast to the world. And suddenly, nothing would ever be the same again.
I am of course gibbering about the Rolling Stones’ preview of Hunter’s Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas – originally published as a two-part series in November 1971. In it, Raoul Duke heads to a police narcotics conference armed with his attorney and, more importantly, “two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored [sic] uppers, downers, screamers, laughers... and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls.”
The good doctor...
Alongside being an insane drug-eating monster (and journalist), he was also the greatest political commentator in American history: a voice sorely missed in today's current climate of Fear & Loathing.
Inevitable mayhem and carnage naturally ensues. It is, after all, the early 70s. A period of time barely catching its breath from the hedonistic ideal of the 60s, this was a time when change seemed all around: there was the smell of revolt in the air as the Americans ploughed into Vietnam, TV advertising banned cigarette commercials and – crucially – Gonzo Journalism was conceived; a writing style that Hunter coined, fathered, abused and left abandoned to wander the streets alone. Gonzo was the ugly, abominable, bastard-child of journalism and despite the rawness of its multifaceted truths – facts never get in the way. Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas became a cult classic and a must read for any wannabe freaks, of either the literary- or chemically-inclined.
If that twisted STD-ridden-bastard was alive today, he would be fast approaching 80 and he’d be fucking furious about it. He would more livid however about the Fear & Loathing caused by that Orange Man in the White House today. Hunter would be holed up in Woody Creek, drunk, aggressive, chain-smoking, shouting and cussing whilst banging on a typewriter with his tobacco-stained and arthritic fingers.
If he thought Nixon was the most disastrous lying, cheating, thieving crook that ever entered the White House, just imagine his rage if he were here today. He would spew vast amounts of obscene diatribe until he had a cardiac. But, thank fuck, he’s not. If he was he may have written some more poetic justice like this:
It is Nixon himself who represents that dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character that almost every country in the world has learned to fear and despise. Our Barbie-doll president, with his Barbie-doll wife and his boxful of Barbie-doll children is also America's answer to the monstrous Mr. Hyde. He speaks for the Werewolf in us; the bully, the predatory shyster who turns into something unspeakable, full of claws and bleeding string-warts on nights when the moon comes too close…But Hunter, alas, seems to have gotten out while the going was good, or at least better – he always was a no-good selfish rascal. He had the last laugh alright and left us poor souls utterly lost without him.
For those enlightened ones that loosely follow any form of Buddhist philosophy, the only compensation is the beautifully articulated little brat that should be taking his place – by my mystical calculations – is around the aged of 12. This gives us anywhere up to a decade before some highly addictive wordplay reaches us again. Come back Hunter, all is forgiven.
Here’s a few epic quotes from Fear & Loathing:
- Buy the ticket, take the ride.
- I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.
- The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
- There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.
- The only thing that really worried me was the ether. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge. And I knew we'd get into that rotten stuff pretty soon. Probably at the next gas station.
- If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up.
- I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.
- In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.
- A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.
- A word to the wise is infuriating.
- For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled.
- When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.