On this day in 1937, Hunter Stockton Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky. The kids today seem to know him best for being portrayed by Johnny Depp in the 1997 film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but the man was a heavy hitter as a writer. Vegas was his masterpiece, but there was far more to him than a bender with a 300-pound Samoan attorney. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’76 should be required reading on American politics (especially this year), Hell’s Angels (1966) is a stellar read, and The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved (originally published in Scanlan’s Monthly in 1970; part of the 1979 collection The Great Shark Hunt) is one of those perfect chunks of writing that comes along only once in a great while. Like this:
Steadman wanted to see some Kentucky Colonels, but he wasn’t sure what they looked like. I told him to go back to the clubhouse men’s rooms and look for men in white linen suits vomiting in the urinals. “They’ll usually have large brown whiskey stains on the front of their suits,” I said. “But watch the shoes, that’s the tip-off. Most of them manage to avoid vomiting on their own clothes, but they never miss their shoes.
So! Have yourself some Wild Turkey today. Some Chivas, perhaps. Or beer… Flying Dog’s Gonzo Imperial Porter would be particularly appropriate, but Budweiser will do in a pinch; it’s part of the packing he did for Vegas, after all.
We had 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 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.
Please note that I do not endorse the other elements on the above list. And lord knows there’s no point in trying to emulate the man. Try to keep it between the rails, would ya?