Fear & Clothing: Hunter S. Thompson


“Countless writers have attempted to copy Hunter S Thompson’s distinctive style of gonzo wordsmithery. The opening paragraph of his book Hell’s Angels is, in fact, often taught in journalism classes as a prime example of ‘The Five Ws’ — What, Who, When, Where, Why — that form the core of any effective piece of reporting. Dig it, friend. … The man sure knew how to string a stanza together, jazzily dishing up the facts, ma’am. So it’s no surprise that the Godfather of Gonzo’s literary style is taught, studied and endlessly emulated. But his approach to personal style is equally worthy of examination, contemplation and imitation. Thompson was among America’s most eminent proponents of ‘Freak Power’ — running unsuccessfully for sheriff of Aspen under that very banner in 1970, on a policy platform that included regulating the illicit drug trade (‘My first act as Sheriff will be to install, on the courthouse lawn, a bastinado platform and a set of stocks in order to punish dishonest dope dealers in a proper public fashion. Each year these dealers cheat millions of people out of millions of dollars… it will be the general philosophy of the Sheriff’s office that no drug worth taking should be sold for money’), and changing the name of the then rapidly gentrifying Colorado enclave to Fat City (‘This would prevent greedheads, land-rapers and other human jackals from capitalizing on the name ‘Aspen’. These swine should be fucked, broken, and driven across the land’). But compared to most of his contemporaries in the hippy era, Thompson didn’t look terribly freaky at all. He dressed like exactly what he’d started out as: a boozy, outdoorsy sports reporter. It was a savvy move. When you’re in the habit of carrying a chemical cornucopia including — as detailed in Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas — ‘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,’ it’s best to appear as ‘normal’ as possible in order to avoid too much police scrutiny. …”
The Rake
NOWNESS: Fear and Clothing… Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo Handbook

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