It's the fifth anniversary of HST's death; not that I'm keeping count, because that would be kinda morbid and weird. He's an authorial presence that's missed, though. When I first read Fear and Loathing, I was like, you can do that? I wanted to write like him; I wanted to live like him.
When Bush et al were running the country, I started losing hope in America. I wondered where were the writers like Thompson who would point out the corruption in our government, the corporate takeover of democracy, the war for oil and money, the squashing of civil liberties.
I wrote a short story about a traveling Word festival (kinda like Lollapalooza except for writers). Dave E. and Dave F.W. (rip DFW, as well = another sad, sad day for bibliogeeks) are the headliners of the show; Chuck P and Chuck D break in backstage and tie Billy C (the poet laureate) up so they can steal his spot. Lots of mayhem...but in the end, it is the ghost of HST who tells it like it really is...who keeps it real...for reals.
Here's HST's part (my homage to a great writer):
Fear and loathing incorporates “[T]he flying object maneuver” (okay, not really, but H.S.T. does fly, can fly). Coda:
I was somewhere around Baltimore when I realized I’d been left out. I remember thinking something like “I feel a bit incorporeal, but that could be all the smoke I inhaled when I was shot out of a cannon . . .” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around me and I realized it was coming from down below, so I swooped in like a bat to check out what was going on (and wished I had access to some hardcore drugs of some kind, some MDMA or even some DMT, although I wonder what a near-death experience would feel like when you’re really dead and I think that’s what my problem is, well, one of the lesser ones, anyways). I was dead and watching an audience I didn’t and couldn’t understand. I mean, this audience was eating this shit up. This audience had barely even heard of me. This audience didn’t know what it meant to never feel/be ironic.
Yeah, they were always depressed and didn’t know it; but, worse, I was somewhat depressed. And I was dead. I thought that shit went away after a while.
But, looking for the American Dream, after all these years, can make you feel that way. Still.
There were these two Okies onstage. Okay, they weren’t really Okies and they weren’t really lizards (as if the world, besides me and mine, were really split into such a simplistic dichotomy), but they definitely weren’t me. They definitely didn’t care. Or, okay, maybe it just seemed that way to me. I mean, I suffered through the death of the 60s, the death of idealism, and then I suffered through the 70s, through disco and John Denver and cocaine and all that, and the 80s and I can’t even get into that, and the 90s and politics and then, it just got worse. I always thought it’d break, like a storm or something, a Midwest tornado or a horrible monsoon (and I’d witnessed firsthand the corruption and greed and pure evil that couldn’t put New Orleans back together again or maybe I would witness, when you’re dead time travels all ways, around and through and in and out). I’d thought 1971 was a foul year, fuck.
I guess I don’t blame these two guys. The Daves. Unlike me, they’ve known all along the truth about the Dream. Their audience, too, I guess (there are very few Okies left in this world, in fact they’re near-extinct).
So, it wasn’t personal when I let the fireworks go. And it wasn’t personal when I dropped liquid Acid on the audience. It wasn’t personal when I blasted “White Rabbit” over the sound system. And it definitely wasn’t personal when I shadow-puppeted lizards everywhere. Lizards lounging. Lizards flicking their tongues. Lizards hunting. Lizards hotwiring cars then wrecking them. That was just Act One. Then I got real: Bible-thumping lizards, lizards draped in the American flag, torturous lizards, lizards stealing land and abolishing civil liberties, corporate lizards who own foreign rain forchrist’ssake, lizards wiping their ass with the Geneva Conventions, lizards bathing in oil and eating frozen embryos, lizards sitting in judgment over all, pretending to have a direct line to God. Lizards, yeah, lizards and fireworks and a crackly, popping sound system and maybe my attorney will pop up soon to throw them all out with the bathwater.
Someone’s gotta show them what’s going on, go Gonzo on them, cause it seems like no one’s paying attention. Habeas Corpus’s as dead as me; the borders are closing in.
“God’s mercy on you swine,” I shouted as I flew off to score some amyls or something. It never hurts to try, I guess, even now.
Look out for the lizards,
P.S. The story, in its entirety, was first published in Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens.