"AN UTTER CONTEMPT FOR POWER."

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‘An utter contempt for power’

“I think Thompson has remained a writer of significance because, essentially a satirist, he displayed utter contempt for power – political power, financial power, even showbiz juice,” wrote the novelist Paul Theroux in 2003.

And yesterday, as news of Thompson’s death emerged, this sentiment was echoed by others. “He may have died relatively young but he made up for it in quality if not quantity,” said Paul Krassner, the veteran radical journalist and one of Thompson’s editors.

Fun and insanity: the doctor in his own words

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive…” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?”

Then it was quiet again. My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest, to facilitate the tanning process. “What the hell are you yelling about?” he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses. “Never mind,” I said. “It’s your turn to drive.” I hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough. – Opening to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, 1972, in which HST begins his “savage journey to the heart of the American dream”

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 multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers … Also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls … not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked in a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can … – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

George W Bush does not speak for me or my son or my mother or my friends or the people I respect in this world. We didn’t vote for these cheap, greedy little killers who speak for America today – and we will not vote for them again in 2002. Or 2004. Or ever. Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? – Kingdom of Fear, 2003

At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles – a restless idealism on the one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other – that kept me going. – Paul Kemp, The Rum Diary, 1959, published 1998

The Edge … there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. – Hell’s Angels, 1965

I have learned a few tricks along the way, a few random skills and simple avoidance techniques- but mainly it has been luck, I think, and a keen attention to karma, along with my natural girlish charm. – Last paragraph of Kingdom of Fear, 2003

He shrugged. “Well, we don’t ask for nothin but the truth. Like I say, there’s not much good that you can write about us, but I don’t see where that gives people the right to just make up stuff … all this bullshit, hell, ain’t the truth bad enough for em?” – Hell’s Angels

To hell with Fun. I shit on the chest of Fun. Look what it did to Charles Manson. He had Too much fun – no doubt about that – so they put him away for life. – Kingdom of Fear

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me. – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

O Ghost, O Lost, Lost and Gone, O Ghost, come back again. – Kingdom of Fear

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About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in Tucson, Arizona with Stephanie Smith. https://linktr.ee/jaywbabcock