Hunter Thompson, b. 1937-Jul-18

Think what you like of Hunter Thompson’s politics, he was — with the possible exceptions of H.L. Mencken or Gore Vidal — America’s best essayist. And the opening line of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is, going away, the best opening line in all of American letters.

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.

It sets the tone for the rest of the book, and commands you to keep reading; that is genius.

  • When the going gets weird, the weird turn professional.

  • So much for Objective Journalism. Don’t bother to look for it here — not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of.

  • I went to the Democratic Convention as a journalist, and returned a raving beast. For me, that week in Chicago was far worse than the worst bad acid trip I’d even heard rumors about. It permanently altered my brain chemistry.

  • I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.

  • Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!

  • The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.

  • Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.

  • Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism — which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place.

  • If you consider the great journalists in history, you don’t see too many objective journalists on that list. H. L. Mencken was not objective. Mike Royko, who just died. I. F. Stone was not objective. Mark Twain was not objective. I don’t quite understand this worship of objectivity in journalism. Now, just flat-out lying is different from being subjective.

  • If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.

  • I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.

  • These are harsh words for a man only recently canonized by President Clinton and my old friend George McGovern — but I have written worse things about Nixon, many times, and the record will show that I kicked him repeatedly long before he went down. I beat him like a mad dog with mange every time I got a chance, and I am proud of it. He was scum.

  • His body should have been burned in a trash bin. [On Richard Nixon’s funeral]

  • You’d be surprised at the things people will do in order to get their names or pictures in the paper.

  • I may sound a little black, but I’m really pretty well adjusted.

  • Sacrificing good men to journalism is like sending William Faulkner to work for Time magazine.

  • Most people who deal in words don’t have much faith in them and I am no exception — especially the big ones like Happy and Love and Honest and Strong. They are too elusive and far too relative when you compare them to sharp, mean little words like Punk and Cheap and Phony. I feel at home with these, because they are scrawny and easy to pin, but the big ones are tough and it takes either a priest or a fool to use them with any confidence.

  • I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that my instincts were right.

  • What passed for society was a loud, giddy whirl of thieves and pretentious hustlers, a dull sideshow full of quacks and clowns and philistines with gimp mentalities.

  • The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now — with somebody — and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.

  • Paranoia is just another word for ignorance.

  • At the top of the mountain we are all snow leopards.

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