by jerry roberts, posted in art ~ film ~ pop cultureliterature ~ poetrymountain ~ desert ~ ocean ~ news & stories ~


Hunter S. Thompson›, circa 1990. Chris Felver/Getty


Part I: Memo From the National Affairs Desk: Sexual Harassment Then and Now… The Ghost of Long Dong Thomas… The Road Full of Forks

Dear Jann, God damn, I wish you were here to enjoy this beautiful weather with me. It is autumn, as you know, and things are beginning to die. It is so wonderful to be out in the crisp fall air, with the leaves turning gold and the grass turning brown, and the warmth going out of the sunlight and big hot fires in the fireplace while Buddy rakes the lawn. We see a lot of bombs on TV because we watch it a lot more, now that the days get shorter and shorter, and darkness comes so soon, and all the flowers die from freezing.

Oh, God! You should have been with me yesterday when I finished my ham and eggs and knocked back some whiskey and picked up my Weatherby Mark V .300 Magnum and a ball of black Opium for dessert and went outside with a fierce kind of joy in my heart because I was Proud to be an American on a day like this. It felt like a goddamn Football Game, Jann — it was like Paradise…. You remember that blissyou felt when we powered down to the Farm and whipped Stanford? Well, it felt like that.

I digress. My fits of Joy are soiled by relentless flashbacks and ghosts too foul to name…. Oh, no, don’t ask Why. You could have been president, Jann, but your road was full of forks, and I think of this when I see the forked horns of these wild animals who dash back and forth on the hillsides while rifles crack in the distance and fine swarthy young men with blood on their hands drive back and forth in the dusk and mournfully call our names….

O Ghost, O Lost, Lost and Gone, O Ghost, come back again.

Right. And so much for autumn. The trees are diseased and the animals get in your way and the President is usually guilty and most days are too long, anyway…. So never mind my poem. It was wrong from the start. I plagiarized it from an early work of Coleridge and then tried to put my own crude stamp on it, but I failed. So what? I didn’t want to talk about fucking autumn, anyway. I was just sitting here at dawn on a crisp Sunday morning, waiting for the football games to start and taking a goddamn very brief break from this blizzard of Character Actors and Personal Biographers and sickly Paparazzithat hovers around me these days (they are sleeping now, thank Christ — some even in my own bed). I was sitting here all alone, thinking, for good or ill, about the Good Old Days.

We were Poor, Jann. But we were Happy. Because we knew Tricks. We were Smart. Not Crazy, like they said. (No. They never called us late for dinner, eh?)

Ho, ho. Laughs don’t come cheap these days, do they? The only guy who seems to have any fun in public is Prince Cromwell, my shrewd and humorless neighbor — the one who steals sheep and beats up women, like Mike Tyson.

Who knows why, Jann. Some people are too weird to figure.

You have come a long way from the Bloodthirsty, Beady-eyed news Hawk that you were in days of yore. Maybe you should try reading something besides those goddamn motorcycle magazines — or one of these days you’ll find hair growing in your palms.

Take my word for it. You can only spend so much time “on the throttle,” as it were…. Then the Forces of Evil will take over. Beware….

Ah, but that is a different question, for now. Who gives a fuck? We are, after all, Professionals…. But our Problem is not. No. It is the Problem of Everyman. It is Everywhere. The Question is our Wa; the Answer is our Fate… and the story I am about to tell you is horrible, Jann.

I came suddenly awake, weeping and jabbering and laughing like a loon at the ghost on my TV set…. Judge Clarence Thomas … Yes, I knew him. But that was a long time ago. Many years, in fact, but I still remember it vividly…. Indeed, it has haunted me like a Golem, day and night, for many years.

It seemed normal enough, at the time, just another weird rainy night out there on the high desert…. What the hell? We were younger, then. Me and the Judge. And all the others, for that matter…. It was a Different Time. People were Friendly. We trusted each other. Hell, you could afford to get mixed up with wild strangers in those days — without fearing for your life, or your eyes, or your organs, or all of your money or even getting locked up in prison forever. There was a sense of possibility. People were not so afraid, as they are now. You could run around naked without getting shot. You could check into a roadside motel on the outskirts of Ely or Winnemucca or Elko when you were lost in a midnight rainstorm — and nobody called the police on you, just to check out your credit and your employment history and your medical records and how many parking tickets you owed in California.

There were Laws, but they were not feared.

There were Rules, but they were not worshiped … like Laws and Rules and Cops and Informants are feared and worshiped today.

Like I said: It was a different time. And I know the Judge would tell you the same thing, tonight, if he wanted to tell you the Truth, like I do.

The first time I actually met the Judge was a long time ago, for strange reasons, on a dark and rainy night in Elko, Nevada, when we both ended up in the same sleazy roadside Motel, for no good reason at all…. Good God! What a night!

I almost forgot about it, until I saw him last week on TV… and then I saw it all over again. The horror! The horror! That night when the road washed out and we all got stuck out there — somewhere near Elko in a place just off the highway, called Endicott’s Motel — and we almost went really Crazy.


P.S. And, speaking of crazy, take a look at this riff on the Judge and Sexual Harassment that I received yesterday from that brute who runs the Sports Desk. He must have been drunk when he wrote it — but whiskey is no excuse for this kind of brainless, atavistic gibberish.

I want that screwhead fired! He was harmless once, but ever since Judge Thomas got confirmed for the High Court, he has been mauling women shamelessly. Last week he pinned my secretary against a hot wall in the mainframe room and almost twisted her nipples off. Then he laughed and said it was legal now, and if I didn’t like it, I could take him to court [see enclosed memo, below]. It was addressed to me, but I have a feeling we’ll be seeing it soon, taped up on the wall of the Men’s Room — and probably the Women’s Room too.

Special Advisory From the Sports Desk
From: Raoul Duke, Ed.

I need your help, Doc. They’re trying to bust me on Sex charges. The snake has come out of the bag, and soon they’ll be after you. Your phone will be ringing all night with obscene calls from Radical Lesbian Separatists.

You know how I feel about Victims, Doc, and also how I worship the First Amendment — along with the Fourth, of course….

And all of the others, including our God-given Right to praise the President when he pulls off a Great Victory and rips the nuts off the Enemy. It was wonderful, Doc. We beat them like shit-eating dogs. They came, they failed, and now we will gnaw on their skulls. When the going gets tough, the tough get going, eh? Right! Fuck those people! Death to the Weird! We will march on a road of bones! Sieg Heil!


  1. Not to dismiss Thompson out of hand, but one of the most infuriating things about reading his work is that you can see in his early work, such as “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved”, and “Strange Rumblings in Aztlan”, how laser focused he could be, which is in marked contrast to something like “Jimmy Carter and the Great Leap of Faith”, which is over-digressive, over-detailed, and excessive in its fictionalisation. At a guess, this piece about Thomas falls towards the latter end of his creative evolution, which is kind of disappointing. For me, anyway. Thanks for posting this, though-I hadn’t come across it before.

  2. Dear Vatican … i totally agree. his work ran downhill unfortunately but was still more accurate politically than most of the other beat reporters. knew him a bit in the early days and i watched him become a caricature of himself as in Doonsberry. It was sad to see and became tiresome, but still he was
    a true character that was brilliant at times.

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