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When the going gets weird, the weird turn proThis collection of HST articles from the 1960s and 70s primarily focused on politics and sports, but it also touched on damn near every topic imaginable, including thank god some of his hilarious mis adventures with outrageous amounts of highly illegal substances While it contained quite a few intelligent insights and arguments, the real joy of reading this lunatic at least for me is to take a ride on his incomparably weird and manic wavelength, to experience all of the bizarre, frantic and frenzied energy he was able to channel into much of his work His crazed tone and wild antics never fail to crack me up It makes me really happy just knowing that someone that eccentric and sleep deprived and strange actually walked the planet One of my favorite excerptsI have never seen much point in getting heavy with stupid people or Jesus freaks, just as long as they don t bother me In a world as weird and cruel as the one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either But as long as I know there s a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spotsMother of twelve bastards He was spot on. The First Volume In Hunter S Thompson S Bestselling Gonzo Papers Offers Brilliant Commentary And Outrageous Humor, In His Signature StyleOriginally Published In , The First Volume Of The Bestselling Gonzo Papers Is Now Back In Print The Great Shark Hunt Is Dr Hunter S Thompson S Largest And, Arguably, Most Important Work, Covering Nixon To Napalm, Las Vegas To Watergate, Carter To Cocaine These Essays Offer Brilliant Commentary And Outrageous Humor, In Signature Thompson StyleRanging In Date From The National Observer Days To The Era Of Rolling Stone, The Great Shark Hunt Offers Myriad, Highly Charged Entries, Including The First Hunter S Thompson Piece To Be Dubbed Gonzo The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent And Depraved, Which Appeared In Scanlan S Monthly In From This Essay A New Journalistic Movement Sprang Which Would Change The Shape Of American Letters Thompson S Razor Sharp Insight And Crystal Clarity Capture The Crazy, Hypocritical, Degenerate, And Redeeming Aspects Of The Explosive And Colorful S And S Readers who only know of Hunter S Thompson from his acid washed hunt for the American Dream in one of this countries most deranged metropolitan wastes will find a different sort of Hunter here Given the man s talent for spectacle, pomposity and grand acts of destruction, it s easy for people to forget that before he was a legend, Hunter S Thompson was a talented and capable journalist one of those rare souls who was perfectly able to capture the flavor of the 60s zeitgeist, both its rapturous highs and its naive faith that a better world could simply be visualized into existence Before his image became a caricature to be bandied about by everyone from Doonesbury s Gary Trudeau to Johnny Depp s recent ham fisted offerings I take no umbrage with Fear Loathing, that was Gilliam at his greatest, but rather the execrable adaptation of The Rum Diaries and the animated spoof of Rango Thompson offered up some truly great pieces of journalism The Great Shark Hunt collects many of these lesser known writings of Thompson s There are some definite retreads of what has been widely available elsewhere the entirety of Part II was culled primarily from his Fear Loathing on the Campaign Trail 72, which is an interesting snapshot of life on the campaign trail with the underdog George McGovern campaign that somehow found itself the Democratic nominee despite the Dem establishment s fiercest protests and then fell apart with supreme gusto, allowing Nixon a landslide re election The closest example I can think of from recent elections is how close Howard Dean came to upsetting the staid Democratic platform before an unfortunate moment of exuberance caused the nomination to be handed to John Do I Have A Pulse Kerry For the most part, however, much of this material was new to me and featured many fine gems The book is worth reading if only for Thompson s magnificent reporting from his hometown in The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent Depraved, which recounts the author s first meeting with his long time illustrator Ralph Steadman and their liquor fueled romps during the pinnacle event of white Southern gentry s year Most interesting for me, Part III features political reports sent North during 1963 while Thompson was covering events in ever turbulent South America With his characteristic sneer for all those who would use their power to enrich rather than help, Thompson issues communiques from Puerto Estrella, a lawless city of Colombian smugglers, reports on the Peruvian military s overthrow of the popularly elected APRA party in order to maintain the same 40 family s grip on the nation, and recounts a showdown between the Brazilian military and a Rio nightclub which ends with bullets spraying and grenades being lobbed onto the bustling dance floor all to teach the owner a lesson in respect All throughout Thompson never fails to shine a critical eye on the American expats and businessmen who never fail to embrace the inherent racism of former colonial masters, despairing about Peruvians inability to realize that the gringos are only trying to help and refusing to realize that riding in on a white horse to save them is just a rebranding of the same paternalism that South Americans have been dealing with since the Conquistadors decided to save by slaughter.This is by no means a must read, and I definitely found myself lagging through many of the articles, but for anyone who enjoys Thompson s personal brand of biting rhetoric it is an amusing and informative look at the works of a man who was never afraid to say exactly what he was thinking at a given time and who never failed to be shocked and appalled by the perversion of his American Dream by moneyed interests playing upon a populace s fears In an era that seems so eerily reminiscent of the times in which Thompson was at the top of his game, reading the words of a man who was always willing to voice his outrage is a useful reminder. I stayed away from Thompson for a while, due to an impression I d developed in part from a comic book I read as a kid called Transmetropolitan which featured an ostensibly Thompson like protagonist and in part from the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, that his writing was cartoonish, overly preoccupied with trying to be funny, and basically not serious I would say there are a few pieces here that really do fit that description The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved , supposedly the first work of gonzo journalism, as well as the title essay , and they seem to be disproportionately well known and praised, while his better writing about George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, the killing of Ruben Salazar is, maybe not surprisingly, lesser known I initially wanted to say that his two great topics are sports and politics, but I think that needs some clarification For one thing, while he started his career as a sportswriter, it doesn t seem that he wrote about sports by choice any often nor any less insightfully than, say, David Foster Wallace, which would make his one great topic politics or to put it narrowly, Richard Nixon About 200 pages in the middle of this collection are dedicated to Nixon from Memoirs of a Wretched Weekend in Washington I went to the Inauguration for several reasons, but mainly to be sure it wasn t a TV trick It seemed impossible that it could actually happen President Nixon to The Scum Also Rises Watergate and its aftermath and it s clear that Nixon brought out the best in him There are many other ways to look at Nixon, but on an artistic level he provided Thompson with a tragic, Shakespearean, bottomlessly grotesque figure the sleazyargument that Nixon has been punished enough is an ignorantclicheBut that image of him walking awkward and alone across the White House lawn at night, oblivious to everythingexcept that little black and silver tape recorder that he is holding up to his lips, talking softly and constantly to history , with the brittle intensity of a madman when you think on that image for a while, remember that the name Nixon will seem to give off a strange odor every time it is mentioned for the next 300 years, and in every history book written from now on, Nixon will be synonymous with shame, corruption and failure You can almost feel the boredom that sets in for Thompson in 1974, at the prospect of some harmless, half bright jock like Gerry Ford running a cautious, caretaker style government Nor is it an accident that this collection is dedicated to Richard Milhous Nixon, who never let me down One of the things I found interesting about Thompson s book on the 1972 US election Nixon won re election in a landslide , chapters of which are excerpted here, is that it begins and ends with descriptions of two successive Super Bowls I would say that most sportswriting like TV criticism is limited by its subject matter, and it s often the case that the better written it is, the it seems like a waste of talent It s been a while since I ve laughed out loud while reading as I did at Thompson s explanation of what makes for good sportswriting sportswriters are a kind of rude and brainless subculture of fascist drunksThe two keys to success as a sportswriter are 1 a blind willingness to believe anything you re told by the coaches, flacks, hustlersand 2 a Roget s Thesaurus, in order to avoid using the same verbs and adjectives twice in the same paragraph Even a sports editormight notice something wrong with a lead that said the precision jackhammer attack of the Miami Dolphins stomped the balls off the Washington Redskins today by stomping and hammering with one precise jackthrust after another And there was the genius of Grantland Rice Nixon s favorite writer He carried a pocket thesaurus, so that the thundering hoofbeats of the four horsemen never echoed than once in the same paragraph, and the granite grey sky in his lead was a cold dark dusk in the last lonely line of his heart rending, nerve ripping storiesLike all great sportswriters, Rice understood that his world might go all to pieces if he ever dared to doubt that his eyes were wired straight to his lower brainBut football brings us back to Nixon When Thompson and Nixon met, in the backseat of a limo in New Hampshire in early 1968, they talked about football This was the prerequisite of Nixon s handlers the boss is tired, they told Thompson, and he doesn t need someone yelling at him about Vietnam or civil rights So they talked about football, and Thompson was astounded at how well Nixon knew the game You know , Nixon told him, the worst thing about campaigning, for me, is that it ruins my whole football season I m a sports buff, you know If I had another career, I d be a sportscaster or a sportswriter Thompson never quite makes the point explicitly, but the mindsets engendered by sports and by politics, as well as by a certain variety of drug use, are all very similar It s Thompson s mindset the spirit of gambling and competition, the addictive buzz that comes with playing for all the marbles and being on the verge of losing it all, the ephemera of numbers, odds, records, predictions, point spreads, dosages and ounces, the black and white morality of winning or losing, the comfort of tradition the draft, training camp, getting to know the new players, preseason predictionsspeculation about who s going to run, debates, getting to know the new candidates, the setting of favorites and underdogs, primaries, conventions , the pageantry maybe things shouldn t be this way, Thompson s writing seems to be saying, but they are, and if you try to pretend otherwise in this dirty world you re going to get crushed And as I watched last week the grotesque spectacle of Trump s inauguration, and listened to the commentators discuss the symbolism of Obama s wearing a blue tie and Trump s wearing a red tie, and the ceremonial limo ride inside, left to our collective imagination, the incomprehensible conversation between Obama and Trump symbolizing the peaceful transition of power , really giving the audience a play by play, I felt like I was watching through Thompson s filter a sporting event the only aspect that wasn t choreographed, it seemed, was that the rain commenced with the beginning of Trump s speech although he later claimed that it had been sunny , which the rabbi who came to the lectern afterwards to read a prayer rather pathetically and desperately tried to convince the audience or maybe himself was a sign of god s blessing.Football is of course not the only indigenous American sport, and it s far from being the country s oldest, but nowadays it is the most popular here by a good margin nor does it hurt its suggestive power that most of the games take place on Sunday, Christianity s holy day I don t think it s evil, but it is strongly correlated in the popular consciousness with patriotism see, for example, the controversy that erupted last year when a player for the 49ers, Colin Kapernick, had the audacity to refuse to stand for the national anthem, or the end of a GOP primary debate last January where the final question for each candidate was his Super Bowl prediction , and its unspoken essence is violence, often head trauma that can lead to violent behavior, suicide, etc and somehow, in the era of Trump, I find it hard to watch stadiums full of people wearing the same color clothing, waving identical towels, declaring their allegiance and that they are one with the crowd I think Thompson understood that sports are not just harmless, benign entertainment, and that is further probably part of what he liked about them.Another aspect of Thompson s writing that I think gets overlooked is that he is a writer of the spiritual, as well as the material world As a journalist, Thompson s starting point is always the material the grounded, common experience we can all or less agree on, such as sports, politics, drugs as a social phenomenon, the Hell s Angels, the counter culture And yet here are some other things that recur in Thompson s writing the buzz you get from gambling or taking a risk, the pleasure of swimming, the pleasure of eating a large breakfast, the pleasure of rain pounding on a hotel room window, sleep deprivation, the subjective experience of drug use, the subjective experience of listening to music, riding a motorcycle so quickly around a sharp turn that you almost lose control and die, letting yourself stay underwater to the point where it feels peaceful and you almost close your eyes and let yourself die, etc One of Thompson s favorite drugs was speed, and when he describes riding a motorcycle too quickly and reaching what he calls The Edge, he is looking for the same thing he is in just about every story he writes a buzz, adrenaline, transcendence.That s part of what makes him such a relatable writer, at least in my view But in contrast to a writer like, for example, Henry Miller, Thompson, in his writing at least, rarely allowed himself that transcendence Writing for him always begins with engagement The day JFK was shot, Thompson wrote the following in a letter to a friend I suppose you will say the rotten murder has no meaning for a true writer of fiction, and that the real artists in the little magazines are above such temporal things I wish I could agree, but in fact I think that what happened today is far meaningful than the entire contents of the little magazines for the past twenty years, and the next twenty, if we get that farTen years ago, I would have disagreed with this Now I agree It reminds me of something George Orwell wrote about Henry Miller that as talented a writer as Miller was, he used his talent only to describe his life of introspection and sexual discovery in the Paris of the late 30s, while Europe was descending into war What can we say about a writer who focuses on aesthetics and the inner life when there s a massacre happening outside his window Orwell called it being inside the whale Thompson, at his best, didn t allow himself that. I came into reading this really long Thompson collection somewhat accidentally, but it shows that he is an extraordiary journalist with a convincing desire to pursue greater truths an impression that really outshines the whimsical, drug obsessed icon that he has been reduced to by the culture at large Most of this book is about his experiences covering Richard Nixon and, given that we are at the height of another excessively arrogant conservative regime on the verge of self destruction resulting from an obvious ethic of corruption and single mindedness, his observations ring frighteningly true.Funny, while Nixon and co were the greatest enemy of Thompson s lifetime, he said before his death that he would take Nixon over Bush in a moment Anyway, he s not really interested in being on the otherside Democrat, liberal, blahblahblah and his critiques of Nixon don t feel calculated, just honest Oh, and he tries to spraypaint Fuck the Pope on an America s Cup boat in Newport while on mushrooms If I followed my better instincts right now, I would put this typewriter in the Volvo and drive to the home of the nearest politician any politician and hurl the goddamn machine through his front window flush the bugger out with an act of lunatic violence then soak him down with mace and run him naked down Main Street in Aspen with a bell around his neck and black lumps all over his body from the jolts of a high powered Ball Buster cattle prod.But old age has either mellowed me or broken my spirit to the point where I will probably not do that at least not today, because that blundering dupe in the White House has just plunged me into a deep and vicious hole The Great Shark Hunt, p 318 Hunter S Thompson defines everything good about journalism, despite extreme subjectivity, rampant decadence and pure mania There s strange power in words, how Hunter seems trustworthy than any other piece of longform work out there The last writer who had this impact on me was David Foster Wallace, due to how his extreme maximalism and constant introspection created the illusion that he was right there talking in your face Well, while David Foster Wallace manifests himself as that philosophical and introverted friend who d rant about all the troubles in the world over online chat, Hunter S Thompson is the friend who d take that rant and drive it into your eye sockets with the fierce intensity of a drunk preacher.Journalism should be two things, entertaining and informative Hunter encapsulates both aspects in one dose of pure literary LSD and shoves it down your throat He is THE man you go to to get that feel of the 60s and 70s wildness and insanity, maybe even pick up a history lesson or two while you re following him on that joyride through time.Nixon, Ali, Peru, Beatniks and Hippies, Aspen All the weird and wonderful friends of a time long past are summoned by the flowing prose of Hunter S Thompson It was a ride I d wanna go on again, maybe next time when I pick up FL on the Campaign Trail or Las Vegas.What a grand way to start this 2013 reading log. This is the true Hunter S Thompson Building his legend writing about whatever they throw at him and making it his own It s easy to forget that despite his public persona, Thompson was a tremendous WRITER who could draw many emotions out of his readers A personal favorite of mine and a book I never tire of. THE GREAT SHARK HUNT Gonzo Papers, Volume 1, Strange Tales from a Strange Time by Hunter S ThompsonOne of the best An absolute must for every American, let alone Thompson fan or journalist for that matter The following are a list of the articles from it that I have read, along with commentary and favorite quotes ARTICLES The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved A Southern City with Northern Problems Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl Jacket Copy for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream Freak Power in the Rockies Most of us are living here because we like the idea of being able to walk out our front doors and smile at what we see On my own front porch I have a palm tree growing in a blue toilet bowl and on occasion I like to wander outside, stark naked, and fire my.44 magnum at various gongs I ve mounted on the nearby hillside I like to load up on mescaline and turn my amplifier up to 110 decibels for a taste of White Rabbit while the sun comes up on the snow speaks along the Continental Divide This sense of reality is a hallmark of the Drug Culture, which values the Instant Reward a pleasant four hour high over anything involving a time lag between the Effort and the End For me, that week in Chicago was for worse than the worst bad acid trip I ve even heard rumors about It permanently altered my brain chemistry, and my first new idea when I finally calmed down was an absolute conviction there was no possibility for any personal truce, for me, in a nation that could hatch and be proud of a malignant monster like Chicago The liberals simply can t get it up Traveler Hearts Mountain Music Where It s Sung The Hashbury Is the Capital of the Hippies A cap of good acid costs 5, and for that you can hear the Universal Symphony, with God singing solo and the Holy Ghost on drums In normal circumstances, the mushrooming popularity of psychedelics would be a main factor in any article on hippies But the vicious excesses of our drug laws make it impossible, or at least inhuman, to document the larger story A journalist dealing with heads is caught in a strange dilemma The only way to write honestly about the scene is to be part of it If there is one quick truism about psychedelic drugs, it is that anyone who tries to write about them without firsthand experience is a fool and a fraud When the Beatniks Were Social Lions The Banshee Screams for Buffalo Meat When you get into bear baiting on that level, paranoia is just another word for ignorance They really are out to get you. A little tedious I think I ve overdosed on Thompson I thought some of his usual outrageousness was out of place and read like he was trying to hard to be crazy A few good essays I especially liked the one on Jean Claude Killy.