Posts Tagged ‘Hunter S. Thompson’

The American nightmare

October 2, 2017

Mandalay Bay, pictured from the walkway into the neighboring Luxor.

If Charlie Manson checked into the Safari tomorrow morning, nobody would hassle him as long as he tipped big.Hunter S. Thompson, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream”

If we learned anything at all from the good doctor, it’s that anyone can bring anything at any time into a Vegas hotel room.

I’ve been doing it for years. Big black rolling suitcase with a big black messenger bag strapped to its handle, a camera bag, a 25-liter backpack, even a cooler. I always thought if anything drew a floorwalker’s eye, it would be the cooler.

“Sir, you’ll need to return that to your vehicle. We have beverages for sale in the resort.”

But nope. Not a peep. Not at the Luxor, anyway. And I’m gonna go way out on a limb here and speculate that Mandalay Bay doesn’t hassle Charlie either.

Regulars here know I own firearms, but nevertheless believe the Second Amendment was in dire need of a copy editor. And I’ll leave it to another Charlie, the invaluable Mr. Pierce, to bring the heat regarding our national acceptance of blood sacrifice on the constitutional altar.

But I will note that while eyes pop at massacres like the one in Vegas, their lids droop at the day-to-day body count in places like Albuquerque, where we are on pace to exceed last year’s 61 homicides, up from 56 the previous year and the highest number in two decades.

So I’ll encourage you to pester your legislators to consider both the cascade of blood and the steady drip, drip, drip. Urge them to do more than send thoughts and prayers, which have proven remarkably ineffective against the gun lobby. Remember that elections matter (we have one here tomorrow).

And cling to hope while remembering another quote from Thompson, a man with his own firearms fetish:

This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it — that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.

Something wicked this way comes

January 19, 2017

• Editor’s note: What follows was intended to be a rambling kickoff to a Counter-Inaugural Podcast at Radio Free Dogpatch, but my sidekick Hal Walter developed a bad case of previous commitments, so I’m laying it on you old-school instead. Tomorrow it will be radio silence from yours truly here and on Twitter. But there will be an open-mic post suitable for commentary, so feel free to chime in with your thoughts on what this particular changing of the guard means for you, and for the rest of us. Finally, a tip of the carny’s boater to Ray Bradbury for the headline. It’s a pity — or is it? — that he didn’t live to see Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show come to life.

We're all bozos on this bus. Some of us more than others.

We’re all bozos on this bus. Some of us more than others.

IT’S BEEN A STRUGGLE, TRYING TO FIND WORDS to describe how I feel about what’s going to be happening on Friday — and afterward — in Washington, D.C.

I’ve watched this changing of the guard since before I was eligible to vote, and it rarely goes well for progressives.

In 1969, when Richard Nixon was preparing to take an oath of office he had already violated by undermining the Paris peace talks, the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam staged a three-day counter-inaugural that proved quite the bash, both literally and figuratively.

Yippies Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman brought a revolutionary-theater sideshow to the circus, proposing to inaugurate their own president, a 145-pound hog named Pigasus, with predictable results. The Left immediately set about eating itself alive — Splitters! — rocks, bottles, horseshit and punches were thrown, cops and protesters alike took a beating, 119 people got a tour of the hoosegow, and as is traditional in such matters, both sides claimed victory.

Nixon, of course, claimed the White House. Twice. You may recall how that turned out.

I found it all fascinating, from a safe distance, and when I became eligible to vote in time for the 1972 elections, I tried to register as a member of the Youth International Party, the proper name for the improper Yippies. Never happen, said the county clerk in Bibleburg, and I had to settle for signing up as an “independent.” But Hunter S. Thompson was actually in attendance at the ’69 inaugural, and he didn’t exactly come away with a smile on his lips and a song in his heart.

Recounting the experience for The Boston Globe in February 1969, Thompson wrote: “My first idea was to load up on LSD and cover the Inauguration that way, but the possibilities were ominous: a scene that bad could only be compounded to the realm of mega-horrors by something as powerful as acid.”

As Thompson watched the deal go down during what he called “a king-hell bummer” and “that wretched weekend,” he saw “a new meanness on both sides … and no more humor.”

“Suddenly I felt cold, and vaguely defeated,” he wrote. “More than eight years ago, in San Francisco, I had stayed up all night to watch the election returns … and when Nixon went down I felt like a winner.

“Now, on this Monday night in 1969, President Nixon was being honored with no less than six Inaugural Balls. I brooded on this for a while, then decided I would go over to the Hilton, later on, and punch somebody. Almost anybody would do … but hopefully I could find a police chief from Nashville or some other mean geek. In the meantime, there was nothing to do but go back to the hotel and watch the news on TV … maybe something funny, like film clips of the bastinado.”

• • •

Neither Hunter S. Thompson nor Dick Nixon are with us this time around, but another pair of Sixties relics you may have thought were likewise long gone — LSD and psilocybin — are making something of a comeback as potential treatments for whatever bad scene may be unfolding on the backside of your forehead (or in front of it).

In December, The New York Times reported on a couple of studies that showed “clinically significant reductions” in both anxiety and depression in cancer patients who took synthetic psilocybin.

The studies, which the Times called “the largest and most meticulous among a handful of trials to explore the possible therapeutic benefit of psilocybin,” found the beneficial effects persisted for months.

One patient, who had just completed treatment for stage-3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, described what he called “an epiphany.”

“I’m not anxious about cancer anymore,” he said. “I’m not anxious about dying.”

Another, whose treatment for acute myeloid leukemia left him with graft-versus-host disease, said the experience left him with “a greater sense of peace with what might come.”

“I’m very grateful, beyond words, for this trial,” he added.

And on January 14, The Atlantic ran a Q&A with Ayelet Waldman, whose new book “A Really Good Day” describes her microdosing with LSD to self-correct what she described as “a pretty significant depression.”

She had tried the traditional remedies served up by the medical-industrial complex — antidepressants, ADHD drugs, SSRIs, you name it — but a couple drops of diluted and highly illegal L-S-Dizzy is what did the trick for her.

Said Waldman: “I felt happier or at least not as profoundly depressed almost immediately the very first day I took it.”

Funniest thing, hey? About 10 years after the good Doctor Thompson was mulling over that Nixon inaugural, a friend and I offered an acid-soaked homage to his fear-and-loathing tour of Las Vegas. But we didn’t have his stamina, and when a jai-alai match at the old MGM Grand started to look like a “Star Wars” shootout we got the fuck out of there at a very high speed indeed, driving all the way back to Alamosa — the Brain Damage Express, via Kaibab and Page, the Four Corners and the terrifying Wolf Creek Pass, with the usual horrible weather and without the enhancements that were still a few years down the road.

But we sure as shit weren’t depressed. We were simply seeing a whole lot of things we’d rather not have and thought a case of beer, a long night’s drive and a plate of his mom’s enchiladas might mellow us out.

Forty years later I can make my own enchiladas but I’m not so sure about the acid. I still have my copy of “The Anarchist Cookbook,” but I was never much at chemistry.

• • •

All trips, both good and bad, come to an end, sooner or later. And in May, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will break down the big top in May for the final time after 146 years.

According to The New York Times, Feld Entertainment, the producer of the circus, cited rising operating costs and falling ticket sales, a condition that worsened after Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey dropped elephants from its show last year.

CEO Kenneth Feld told The Associated Press that moving the show by rail, providing a traveling school for performers’ children and other expenses from a bygone era made carrying on a losing proposition.

“It’s a different model … we can’t see how it works in today’s world to justify and maintain an affordable ticket price,” he said.

And let’s not forget that old devil competition. There’s another, bigger circus coming to town, with a permanent base of operations in Washington, D.C., the financial support of the State, and free worldwide access via social media. Plus elephants, too!

The Greatest Show On Earth is now an angry orange clown with a Twitter account. Hur-ry, hur-ry, hur-ry. …

Greatest Hits of 2016, Part 4: Bum hand

December 30, 2016

• Editor’s note: As the year winds down, I’m taking a page from the mainstream-media playbook and reprinting a handful of this year’s “Mad Dog Unleashed” columns from Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. This one was published in the Nov. 1 edition.

Welcome to the Island of Dr. Mandalay.

Welcome to the Island of Dr. Mandalay.

Hold or fold?
This hand looks
more like a paw

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” — a quote often attributed to H.G. Wells

By Patrick O’Grady

Well, now we know which island was Dr. Moreau’s.

Manhattan.

H.G. Wells called “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” published in 1896 when he was just 30 years old, “an exercise in youthful blasphemy.” Perhaps, but the tale has aged well.

Indeed, a descendant of Wells’ Hyena-swine stalks the earth today, shambling from its gilded tower in New York onto stages from coast to coast, snuffling like a greedy hog rooting for someone else’s truffles.

Like its English ancestor, it is “not afraid and not ashamed,” and regardless of its claims to the contrary it does not have America’s best interests at heart.

I suppose it’s too late to build that wall.

The original Hyena-swine got voted off the island near the end of Wells’ novel, after croaking Edward Prendick’s sidekick, the Dog-man. When the beast next came for Prendick, he cast the deciding ballot — bullet, actually — and that was that.

Fast-forward to October 2016 and it seemed that America’s Hyena-swine had likewise sustained a mortal wound. Still, reports celebrating its impending demise felt premature as the Thing thrashed madly about, snapping at friend and foe alike, driving all the other ill-made creatures into slobbering fits of rage.

And as we thumbed through the final pages in the tale of the 2016 presidential election, some doubt remained about which creature would be running the island — the Hyena-swine or the Hilldebeast — at the end of it all.

>> Click here to read the entire column.

A public service announcement

October 19, 2016
When the going gets weird. ...

When the going gets weird. …

Unless Zombie Hunter S. Thompson resurrects the National Affairs Desk atop a taco truck outside the University of Nevada-Las Vegas I will not be watching tonight’s final “debate.”

I suppose there might be some entertainment value in watching the increasingly deranged Ronald McDonald McTrump shout in answer to every question, “You’re fired! You’re fired! YOU’RE FIRED!!!” Or maybe lunge across the desk and sink his fangs into The Hilldebeast’s throat as she stabs him in the venom sac with a ceremonial dagger smuggled to her by the Illuminati.

But goddamn, I’ve had enough of this for one lifetime, in this realm or any other. It’s like watching Maude trade zingers with Yog-Sothoth on the Necronomicon Network.

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!”

“God will get you for that, Donald.”

As soon as early voting commences here in the Land of Enchantment, I will bicycle over to the polls and vote against Insane Clown Pussy. This may be pointless — Real Clear Politics has HRC solidly out front in New Mexico, and the NYT’s Upshot has her with a 92 percent chance of victory nationwide — but insulting him on Twitter seems to have had little effect. Thus I leave nothing to chance.

And if the GOP candidate should transmogrify into a Great Old One and devour the shrieking studio audience tonight, well, that’s showbiz. Doesn’t mean I have to watch.

If only it were true that whatever happens in Vegas stays there.

 

Fear and loathing … but mostly loathing

January 26, 2016
Fear and Loathing, Campaign Trail style

The more things change, etc.

Every time I read a story like this I wish someone could reanimate Hunter S. Thompson and send him lurching back out on the campaign trail.

Wouldn’t you like to get the take on Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio from the guy who wrote: “Any political party that can’t cough up anything better than a treacherous brain-damaged old vulture like Hubert Humphrey deserves every beating it gets. They don’t hardly make ’em like Hubert any more — but just to be on the safe side, he should be castrated anyway.”

Or of the inevitability of Richard Nixon: “This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it — that we really are just a nation of 230 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.”

Or: “Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?”

Road work redux

January 8, 2016
The High Desert neighborhood makes a fine proving ground for touring machinery, with rolling terrain, light traffic and bike lanes.

The High Desert neighborhood makes a fine proving ground for touring machinery, with rolling terrain, light traffic and bike lanes.

Yesterday was one of those insanely busy days that should never afflict the underemployed. We’re not equipped for it.

The Marrakesh Express (c'mon, you knew it was coming sooner or later, right?).

The Marrakesh Express (c’mon, you knew it was coming sooner or later, right?).

With deadlines flitting around my scalp like Hunter S. Thompson’s Barstow bats I committed a few crimes against cycling, emailing back and forth with product managers, marketing wizards and editors; swapping bits of this and that from one bike to another; and bending fender stays around disc calipers, cutting all corners that looked even remotely cuttable, and beating on anything that wouldn’t cut with my favorite tool, the Bravo Foxtrot Hotel (look it up).

Then, before blasting off to the Whole Paycheck for supplies and liberating the Turk from the Nazi war dentist, I managed a brisk, 45-minute ride on the Salsa Marrakesh with full panniers.

It wasn’t actually snowing, which was nice —the temps were in the lower 40s, and I will even go so far as to say that this did not suck, not for January. You may quote me if you like.

This morning it was precipitating again, and Your Humble Narrator was all about writing bikes rather than riding them. Also, furthermore, moreover and too, there was the doctoring of the Turk, the roasting of the poblanos outdoors in a light snowfall, and the cooking of a medium-sized pot of lamb and white bean chili.

Speaking of cooking, now I seem to be slightly baked for some reason.

The cheese does not stand alone

January 4, 2012
Fear and Loathing, Campaign Trail style

The more things change, etc.

So, dead heat between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in Iowa, eh? Guess nobody bothered to write in Haywood Jablomie, Jack Meehoff or I.P. Freeley.

Watching the food fight over the GOP pestilential nomination has been like watching a Coen Brothers treatment of Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72.” Or maybe a round of musical chairs with all the participants crazed on mescaline.

Mitt Romney keeps smiling because he owns all the chairs, the building in which they sit and the surrounding properties to boot. But that doesn’t make him any less a bag of runny owlshit that nobody’s buying as long as there’s anything else for sale.

The big cheese may eventually stand alone. All the smart money’s on it. But right now he’s doing a tango with Man-On-Dog Santorum, and he can’t be feeling too frothy about it.