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13 Great Articles and Essays by Hunter S. Thompson

13 Great Articles and Essays by Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter Stockton Thompson (July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005) was an American journalist and author, and the founder of the gonzo journalism movement. He first rose to prominence with the publication of Hell’s Angels (1967), a book for which he spent a year living and riding with the Hells Angels motorcycle gang to write a first-hand account of the lives and experiences of its members.

In 1970, he wrote an unconventional magazine feature titled “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” for Scanlan’s Monthly, which both raised his profile and established him as a writer with counterculture credibility. It also set him on a path to establishing his own subgenre of New Journalism that he called “Gonzo”, which was essentially an ongoing experiment in which the writer becomes a central figure and even a participant in the events of the narrative.

Thompson remains best known for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971), a book first serialized in Rolling Stone in which he grapples with the implications of what he considered the failure of the 1960s counterculture movement. It was adapted on film twice: loosely in Where the Buffalo Roam starring Bill Murray as Thompson in 1980, and directly in 1998 by director Terry Gilliam in a film starring Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro. The Doonesbury cartoon character Duke – who was modeled after Thompson – pens an essay about “my shoplifting conviction” titled “Fear and Loathing at Macy’s Menswear”, a reference to Thompson’s book.

The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved

Hunter S. Thompson

The telephone rang at Warren Hinckle’s San Francisco home at about 3:30 in the morning on Wednesday, April 29, 1970. When Hinckle picked up the receiver, he heard the unmistakable voice of Hunter S. Thompson, calling from Aspen, proclaiming, “Goddammit, Scanlan’s has to cover the Derby. It’s important.”

The pitch, even at the late hour and the late date (barely 72 hours before the race itself), was fairly irresistible. Send Thompson, still finding his distinctive voice in countercultural journalism, to his hometown of Louisville to cover the drunken, debauched scene at Churchill Downs for Scanlan‘s, the anti-establishment (some would say subversive) monthly magazine for which Hinckle was co-editor.

Online Article

Doomed Love at the Taco Stand

Hunter S. Thompson

Going to Hollywood is a dangerous high-pressure gig for most people, under any circumstances. It is like pumping hot steam into thousands of different-size boilers. The laws of physics mandate that some will explode before others–although all of them will explode sooner or later unless somebody cuts off the steam.

I love steam myself, and I have learned to survive under savage and unnatural pressures. I am a steam freak. Hollywood is chicken feed to me. I can take it or leave it. I have been here before, many times. On some days it seems like I have lived at the Chateau Marmont for half my life. There is blood on these walls, and some of it is mine. Last night I sliced off the tips of two fingers and bled so profusely in the elevator that they had to take it out of service.

Online Article

Freak Power in the Rockies

Hunter S. Thompson

A Memoir and Rambling Discussion (with Rude Slogans) of Freak Power in the Rockies… on the Weird Mechanics of Running a Takeover Bid on a Small Town… and a Vulgar Argument for Seizing Political Power and Using It like a Gun Ripped Away from a Cop… with Jangled Comments on the Uncertain Role of the Head and the Awful Stupor Factor… and Other Disorganized Notes on ‘How to Punish the Fatbacks,’ How to Make Sure that Today’s Pig Is Tomorrow’s Offal… and Why This Crazed New World Can Only Be Dealt with by… A New Posse!

‘Just how weird can you stand it, brother — before your love will crack?’ — Mike Lydon in Ramparts, March, 1970 Two hours before the polls closed we realized that we had no headquarters — no hole or Great Hall where the faithful could gather for the awful election-night deathwatch. Or to celebrate the Great Victory that suddenly seemed very possible.

Online Article

He Was a Crook

Hunter S. Thompson

Richard Nixon is gone now, and I am poorer for it. He was the real thing – a political monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy. He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time. He lied to his friends and betrayed the trust of his family.

Not even Gerald Ford, the unhappy ex-president who pardoned Nixon and kept him out of prison, was immune to the evil fallout. Ford, who believes strongly in Heaven and Hell, has told more than one of his celebrity golf partners that ‘I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon.’

Online Article

The Motorcycle Gangs

Hunter S. Thompson

Last Labor Day weekend newspapers all over California gave front-page reports of a heinous gang rape in the moonlit sand dunes near the town of Seaside on the Monterey Peninsula. Two girls, aged 14 and 15, were allegedly taken from their dates by a gang of filthy, frenzied, boozed-up motorcycle hoodlums called “Hell’s Angels,” and dragged off to be “repeatedly assaulted.”

A deputy sheriff, summoned by one of the erstwhile dates, said he “arrived at the beach and saw a huge bonfire surrounded by cyclists of both sexes. Then the two sobbing, near-hysterical girls staggered out of the darkness, begging for help. One was completely nude and the other had on only a torn sweater.”

Online Article

Strange Rumblings in Aztlan

Hunter S. Thompson

‘Strange Rumblings in Aztlan’ is a long article about many things. HST touches every front he possibly can while reporting the death of Ruben Salazar, a nationally known Mexican American reporter for the LA Times. ‘Aztlan’, in style, is similar to HST’s South American reporting, however it teeters at gonzo in some parts.

The story was important enough to be included in The Rolling Stone Reader (1974) and the Modern Library version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Other American Stories. In fact, it was this article that touched off Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Online Article

Memo’s From the National Affairs Desk

Hunter S. Thompson

And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is becoming the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.’ – REVELATION 18:2

Richard Nixon is gone now and I am poorer for it. He was the real thing–apolitical monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy. He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time. He lied to his friends and betrayed the trust of his family. Not even Gerald Ford, the unhappy ex-president who pardoned Nixon and kept him out of prison, was immune to the evil fallout. Ford, who believes strongly in Heaven and Hell, has told more than one of his celebrity golf partners that I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon.

Online Article

Prisoner of Denver

Hunter S. Thompson

Just 22, Lisl Auman was convicted in 1998 of the felony murder of a police officer, a crime she didn’t commit, and is serving life in prison without parole. This summer, three years after gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson began his campaign to free Lisl, Colorado’s Supreme Court will rule on her appeal.

Mark Seal joins Thompson in exposing the brutality, corruption, and arcane legal strategy which doomed an innocent young woman—and threatens every other American.

Online Article

The Hippies

Hunter S. Thompson

The best year to be a hippie was 1965, but then there was not much to write about, because not much was happening in public and most of what was happening in private was illegal. The real year of the hippie was 1966, despite the lack of publicity, which in 1967 gave way to a nationwide avalanche in Look, Life, Time, Newsweek, the Atlantic, the New York Times, the Saturday Evening Post, and even the Aspen Illustrated News, which did a special issue on hippies in August of 1967 and made a record sale of all but 6 copies of a 3,500-copy press run.

But 1967 was not really a good year to be a hippie. It was a good year for salesmen and exhibitionists who called themselves hippies and gave colorful interviews for the benefit of the mass media, but serious hippies, with nothing to sell, found that they had little to gain and a lot to lose by becoming public figures.

Online Article

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Hunter S. Thompson

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 100 miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas.

And a voice was screaming: “Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?”

Online Article

The Song of the Sausage Creature

Hunter S. Thompson

There are some things nobody needs in this world, and a bright-red, hunch-back, warp-speed 900cc cafe racer is one of them – but I want one anyway, and on some days I actually believe I need one. That is why they are dangerous.

Everybody has fast motorcycles these days. Some people go 150 miles an hour on two-lane blacktop roads, but not often. There are too many oncoming trucks and too many radar cops and too many stupid animals in the way. You have to be a little crazy to ride these super-torque high-speed crotch rockets anywhere except a racetrack – and even there, they will scare the whimpering shit out of you… There is, after all, not a pig’s eye worth of difference between going head-on into a Peterbilt or sideways into the bleachers. On some days you get what you want, and on others, you get what you need.

Online Article

Fear and Loathing in America

Hunter S. Thompson

It was just after dawn in Woody Creek, Colo., when the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York City on Tuesday morning, and as usual I was writing about sports. But not for long. Football suddenly seemed irrelevant, compared to the scenes of destruction and utter devastation coming out of New York on TV.

Even ESPN was broadcasting war news. It was the worst disaster in the history of the United States, including Pearl Harbor, the San Francisco earthquake and probably the Battle of Antietam in 1862, when 23,000 were slaughtered in one day.

Online Article

Rare Early Articles

Hunter S. Thompson

Some of Hunter S. Thompson’s rare articles, downloadable in PDF. Among the titles are – Big Sur: The Tropic of Henry Miller – Hunter S. Thompson (Rogue Oct. 1961), “It Ain’t Hardly That Way No More” – Hunter S. Thompson (Pageant Sept. 1965), The 450-Square Mile Parking Lot – Hunter S. Thompson (Pageant Dec. 1965), Why Boys Will Be Girls – Hunter S. Thompson (Pageant Aug. 1967), Nights In The Rustic – Hunter S. Thompson (Cavilier Aug ’67), War Correspondent – Hunter S. Thompson (War News March 2nd 1991), Community of Whores – Hunter S. Thompson (Northwest Extra May 1990), Another Vicious Attack – Hunter S. Thompson (Northwest Sextra, Long Hot 1990 Summer), Song of the Sausage Creature – Hunter S. Thompson (Cycle World Mar. ’95).

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