I'm not appalled at all by the political incorrectness and sheer irresponsible lunacy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Saying so, however, can't help but show, I fear, that the responsible-citizen side-of-me believes I should be appalled; that I should absolutely and incontrovertibly loathe Hunter S. Thompson's Savage Journey To The Heart Of The American Dream. And yet I don't. I treasure my posh, mylar-protected, Modern Library hardcover first printing of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. A book, I suspect, that has induced more side splitting, spittle spraying, laughter per page, in others -- I know it has in me -- than any other book in history.
|frontispiece illustration in first printing
"We" being, Thompson, of course, and his high, high powered attorney. Driving under the influence through the Mojave Desert, or while intoxicated; loaded, if you will; out of one's mind (which is to say hammered, blotto, stoned, shit faced past Pluto, well beyond the rubicon of any possible recovery) isn't funny -- never mind hysterical -- or even remotely mildly amusing, correct? Yes, correct. DWIs are reprehensible, unforgivable, completely avoidable, correct? Correct, except -- for there is one exception and one exception only in recorded history -- when it was Hunter S. Thompson behind the wheel, gathering wild, outrageous, jaw dropping material as lucid as it was lunatic for what would become the plastered pages of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a masterpiece of pop culture and sociopolitical reportage that tweaked and freaked out even the California Highway Patrol in the research, with so much of Hunter's speedy shenanigans, aided and abetted at every wrong turn by the illegal assistance and conduct unbecoming of his attorney who should've been disbarred.
Getting hold of the drugs had been no problem, but the car and the tape recorder were not easy things to round up at 6:30 on a Friday afternoon in Hollywood.
While Hunter would not ultimately need that tape recorder for what turned out to be a dud instead of a scoop in the 1971 Mint 400 Desert Race outside Las Vegas, Nevada, the drugs would be a vital necessity in order for Hunter's plan-B option to reach its zenith after the Mint 400 Race fizzled: His uninvited yet impromptu attendance at the National District Attorneys' Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs that, coincidentally, was then ongoing in Vegas the very same weekend as the Mint 400 assigned to him for a paltry $250 by Sports Illustrated. Hunter saw, as only a new gonzo journalist like Hunter S. Thompson could see, the gloriously subversive opportunities of such an anti-drugs shindig like that and struck, er, smoked, snorted, and imbibed, a motley stash of narcotics and dangerous drugs while the proverbial iron was hot. Ergo, he got the hysterical, in your face scoop and then some, in his classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.