If you haven't read this before, read it now. If you have, read it again.
Great read BB. There's a fantastic link between the genesis of HST's piece and Tom Wolfe's essay 'The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby'. I assume you've read that..?
In the postscript to the above, HST says:
"The story didn’t come easily. “I would lie in the bathtub at this weird hotel. I had a suite with everything I wanted — except I couldn’t leave. After three days of not writing more than two pages, this kind of anxiety/depression syndrome builds up, and it really locks you up."
He goes on, but the upside is the story had a long and painful birth, he had no idea about direction or tone, till in the last desperate moments he found his voice and a new style was born: "“Forget all this shit you’ve been writing, this is it; this is pure Gonzo. If this is a start, keep rolling.”
Like HST, Wolfe covered a story but he had no idea how to write it. He'd travelled to LA and researched the hot rod scene, knowing he'd witnessed something special, a subtle turn in America's culture, and one overlooked by all the media back east, but he had no idea how to convey it. Esquire halted the printing presses while they waited for him to write it. In the end the editor asked Wolfe to at least write his notes down and he'd give them to another author who'd compete the job.
He began writing the notes, and then he wrote all night and into the next morning. He delivered them the next day, and except for the salutation 'Dear Editor', the piece was reproduced in full. It eschewed all existing convention and style, and subsequently it became his voice, his style.
Thompson and this 'gonzo' stuff (reminds me of the term 'grunge'...who comes up and runs with these boxes?) has got a lot to answer for. Well, not really. I mean, you can't really blame Mudhoney for Pearl Jam let alone Staind or Creed or Bush etc etc
Ipso facto, you can't blame Thompson for this:
Ever read George Plimpton's sports forays?
Howzabout Norman Mailer's Pullitzer-winning "The Armies of the Night"? Before that, the piece “Superman Comes to the Supermarket”? The whole book "The Presidential Papers"?
'Two Young Men Who Went West' by Wolfe, and 'The Angels', first section of The Right Stuff originally written for Rolling Stone.
And 'Hells Angels' by HST..."knight errants of a faith from which they have already been excommunicated"
Meet the Twain!
Gonzo is certainly one of Gary's favourite search terms.
Gary (shiver) Gonzo
Actually, I used the pseudonym John Stagliano once at a Broome backpackers.
Marginally better than Bradley John Murdoch, I s'pose.
Gary actually enjoys a bit of the ol' gonzo journalism when whiling away the hours in the solarium. The Kentucky Derby article is a cracker, although Gary personally feels HST's zenith was Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72.
For a modern take on the style that continues this publications' unique political coverage over the years (stretching back to HST himself): Gary is a particular fan of the work of Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone
(Pro tip: don't try reading in one of those flotation pods, oh how Gary had to exfoliate to get the ink stains off after dropping his copy of HST's Hell's Angels in the water)
Funny, I read a review of Taibbi's book 'Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus' yesterday.
Fantastic Saturday morning reading, 'How Tom Wolfe Became Tom Wolfe'. The man in the white suit gets his papers raided and a young acolyte interrogates him.
And then reading this on a manic Monday...
I've read Wolfe's original essay, 'My Three Stooges' in Hooking Up. It's funny, yeah, but he also sways ever so close to being a smarmy bastard. Smart arse is good, smarmy ain't.
With all the facts on the table I still side with Wolfe - the others come across as pretentious twats, even Mailer - but Wolfe's response betrays a weakness in character. It's a regular catfight all 'round - entertaining and illuminating.
Mailer's actual review:
I feel like I've been played.
All that spite and grief because of that?
I always liked this:
In 1989 Norman Mailer said of the eccentrically dressed author, “In my mind, there is something silly about a man who wears a white suit all the time, especially in New York.” Wolfe’s response was simply, “The lead dog is the one they always try to bite in the ass.” To which Mailer replied, "While it is true that other dogs will always try to bite the lead hound in the butt, it doesn't mean you are top dog just because your ass is bleeding."
Then there's this!