Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on April 24, 2022

When you type the word gonzo into the amazon search facility, you are given several choices. You can buy gonzo stain remover, gonzo muppett, gonzo odor eliminator, gonzo shirt, gonzo the art, and gonzo the life and work of dr. hunter s. thompson. All of these products are covered in a book PG is wading through, Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson. This is a repost.

There is lots of speculation about the G word (Gonzo, not G-d, although they may have more in common than some suppose. It is safe to say that no one claims “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” to be the word of G-d.). Lord, lets not get caught on the barbed hook of religion, this is supposed to be a review of a book about Horseshit, or  Hunter S Thompson, who has the same initials.

Getting back to Gonzo, it was a cajun expression meaning “to play unhinged.” A man named James Booker recorded a track called “Gonzo,” which is embedded in this commentary. HST played the song non stop, which was not amusing to fellow journalists. One of these people was a Boston fuddy duddy, who called HST “the gonzo man”, and said that in Boston bars, Gonzo meant the last man standing. You can’t believe everything that you hear or read. Taste and feeling are equally suspect, but you can believe what you smell. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, while ugly uses all five senses.

PG used to read a bunch of celebrity biographies, and there is a pattern. They are born, and have childhoods. Somehow, they get a break, and become famous. The fame period lasts a certain time, but the bad habits they acquire last a lifetime. After they have seen the mountaintop (or the place in the Nevada mountains where the high water of the sixties broke up into the sewage of the seventies), there is no where to go but down. Tallulah Bankhead was surrounded by “caddies”, these young queens so enamored of her presence that they put up with her increasingly awful behavior. “A day away from Tallulah is like a month in the country”.

HST fell into this mind trap of duality. Apparently his prodigious intake of substances never slowed down, until he was in a wheelchair towards the end. He was writing a sports column for ESPN in his latter days, about 300 pound samoan quarterbacks who will take the NFL by storm. PG had not read anything by HST in years, and was almost surprised that he was still alive.

The ever facilitative dangerous minds has a BBC show about HST. The show was produced in 1978, a few years after the abdication of Richard Nixon, and into the regime of Jimmy Carter. Smiling Jimmy is not mentioned in this telefilm, but there is a conversation between HST and John Dean. In the rest of the show, HST and sidekick Ralph Steadman drive around in the desert between Las Vegas and Hollywood. You see the place in the high desert where the wave of the sixties broke, setting off the tsunami of Nancy Reagan just saying no, and hiring drug runners to ship guns to  terrorists.

PG has sixty or so more pages to go on this book. Thursday morning is a ride up to Tennessee, and the book needs to be back at the library. It is not worth an overdue fine. The fun is over, and all that is left if for HST to decline and die. Buy the ticket, take the ride. And play dumb when you learn that the phrase is a registered trademark. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

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