'Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson,' an oral biography


Not exactly positive Amazon reviews, are they? Same goes for the journalism collection Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone.

You might get the impression that Jann Wenner is cashing in on his connection with Hunter S Thompson somewhat. I’d rather he did something about the crappy quality of his magazine; seriously - Taibbi is great but the rest is only good for lining cat litter trays. It’s obsessed with Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen.

Is this book related to the film of the same name? I have to assume so.

If I want to read Thompson, my go-to book is definitely Campaign Trail '72.


Oddly enough, Campaign Trail '72 was an assigned book back when I was in college in the 70’s. Government, no less. And Univ of TX to boot.


Wow, reading the excerpt freaks me out. I’ve spent a lot of time at sea, and enough time with psilocybin to know that it would be the last thing I would consider if I was feeling uncomfortable on a boat. Makes the hair stand up on my neck just thinking about it.

There are some truly perfect times and places for that stuff, but a boat at sea while feeling seasick is definitely NOT one of them. (At sea on a beautiful flat calm while feeling fantastic might be another story, but even then it is a good place to keep your head about you).


I can’t help but think of what Hunter says in the documentary “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson”: “When I’m asked to give a speech, I never know if they want the real Hunter or Raoul to show up. Usually they want Raoul. They rarely want Hunter.”

I get the feeling that Hunter was a bit of performance artist. A performance artist, whose art overtook and type-cast him.

No wonder he did a lot of drugs and killed himself.

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If, by oral, you mean book.

Downhill skiing with acid and ipod on the other hand, is pretty hard to beat.

Caveats: you want to be a damn fine judge of risk and be quite good at preventing yourself getting carried away, and being in a state that makes it difficult to judge how cold you are is obviously potentially problematic.

Still, I bet most folks would handle it better than mushrooms as a ‘cure’ for seasickness… that’s positively diabolical!

Makes me wonder if Steadman ever did anything to Thompson to have it coming…

Funny way to talk about a book being the product of interviews; when I saw the headline I was expecting a podcast.

Jann Wenner is a twat.

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Having just come back from a ski trip, I’m having a hard time imagining what that would be like. I’ve experienced that particular drug in rather docile states (riding a bike, sitting around the house). I can hack a single black diamond on nothing more than abject fear and my brother’s goading, but doing it with a head full of wackadoodle is something else entirely.

Poor Steadman–it’s a wonder he lived through that friendship.

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Ever noticed how much of a performance-enhancer acid can be?

There was that no-hitter that guy pitched that one time…

I hadn’t been skiing in 20 years, so having an ipod was pretty shit-hot all by itself… with the acid on top, I managed to have one high-speed blast (70-80km/h) all the way down a beginner’s slope while Iron Maiden was cranking that was just like living a music video. I was gibbering with sheer joy at the lift attendants : D

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He tried to hit every batter in the opposing lineup once, too.


Wow–that was a pretty perceptive comment, until the last line. HST was in pretty much constant pain during his final years.

No, actually. But then I can’t say I’ve ever made an attempt to use that drug in such a fashion. For the most part I used it after hiking to remote areas or at home with friends–the idea never really occurred to me to do that. Also, most of my use was done on the West Coast where I’d likely be either surfing or hiking, and given the crazy shit my mind comes up with to scare me when surfing, acid is most definitely NOT the drug I’d want to be on with a 15 foot swell and waters containing a creature we appropriately referred to as “The Landlord”:

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Never noticed any performance enhancements. I suppose it would be possible for someone who was able to get into a ‘zone’ with something (i.e. the baseball player). There are some sports/activities that coincide very well with certain drugs (ie snowboarding powder and marijuana), but I doubt they make someone a superman. More likely they just make it more fun (or less, depending).

It can certainly make you feel like you are doing something amazing, but from the outside all you are doing is drooling and looking like a lunatic.

I say all this with hindsight, it has been over 20 years since I consumed LSD, and it isn’t likely to happen again barring a truly amazing chain of events.

I don’t doubt that he was pain, nor do I doubt that he had problems reconciling his persona and his person. Nor do I doubt that he was an abuser of alcohol, psychotropics, and other drugs. Not do I doubt, that he knew he knew his career had been essentially over since 1972.

The dude was messed up.

After looking into it a bit, I’m surprised to find a recent study that indicates reduced activity in the brain under the effect of psilocybin, which has pretty similar effects to LSD…

Which seems paradoxical since tripping seems strongly associated with increased mental activity on a subjective level; however the abstract hints at the likely resolution of this conundrum when it says the decrease in activity is centered in coordinating hubs of the network…

Our brains work in two basic ways, thanks to the invention of language; without which we’d be stuck in a parallel mode like animals. Which would be fine for responding to dynamic kinetics in physical flow, but not so great for juggling concepts, which need to be broken down into discrete chunks and sequentially processed.

So psilocybin (and presumably acid and other similar hallucinogens) reduces the central role of the sequential coordinating bits enough for plenty of interesting parallel stuff to show up in consciousness, accounting for the sensation of increased activity, not to mention the difficulty of putting that last insight into words. And it should be conducive to achieving excellent flow in a physical context, which I’ve subjectively verified a number of ways.

Tried sex while tripping? Bucket list stuff.

Stupid Reefer Madness-style stereotypes seem to be the reason people seem to find the concept of ‘performance-enhancing drug’ so unthinkable to apply to acid, in spite of all the artistic inspiration it’s obviously engendered; truck drivers have speed, stand-up comics have cocaine, and artists have acid.

It wouldn’t be in the same league in terms of the reliability of the effect, but I’d say it can be a lot more of an enhancer when you’re lucky. I’d be really interested to meet a gymnast or dancer or someone who’s an experienced tripper, to see if they’d agree…

Maybe I’ll remember to perform the experiment of laying down some Gran Turismo lap times under the influence one day.

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