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  #1  
Old 11-28-2002, 10:01 PM
The Dark Canuck The Dark Canuck is offline
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How much truth to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?

I read the book and saw the movie a few years ago but just watched it again the other day. It got me thinking: how much of the story is actually true? I know HST is well known for his use of foreign substances, but the amount of drugs they had seem like it should have killed them.

Another thing: Is, or was, the Mint 400 a real race?
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  #2  
Old 11-28-2002, 10:14 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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I know that the 'attorney" was based on a real person, but I think that the rest of the novel was entirely fiction. I think the race was a real event, though, and Thompson used to cover a lot of sports events, so some of the novel may have been true in a "gonzo" sense
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  #3  
Old 11-28-2002, 11:30 PM
sleestak sleestak is offline
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A friend of mine got to interview HST for the college paper she was working on. According to her he was pretty messed up. IIRC, he wouldn't let her into his place on time (she drove a long way to talk to the guy) and when he did let her in he was pretty drunk. This was back in 94 or 95. She loved his work before the interview and walked away pretty much hating the guy. She said he came across as an idiot. Note, this is all hearsay but I never found a reason for her to lie. The story she wrote for the paper was really even handed. I was suprised because she really didn't like the man. So I wouldn't be suprised if the guy actually took the amount of drugs he said he did.

Also, Ozzy is living proof that you can take huge amounts of nasty drugs and stay alive. You may not be in the best shape afterwards but some do live. I wouldn't recommened it though.

Slee
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  #4  
Old 11-29-2002, 01:40 AM
Jello Jello is offline
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The Mint 400 is a real race, and Sports Illustrated really did send HST to cover it. They "aggressively rejected" his 15,000 word response that became Part One of the book. On April 26, 1971 he returned for the National District Attorneys' Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, on assignment from Rolling Stone, who he sold the first story to after SI rejected it.

As for the drug-induced incidents of the two trips, somewhere he admitted that those were simulated, but I can't find the exact quote at the moment.

Excerpt from Fear and Loathing in America, from a letter to Jim Silberman of Random House:

Quote:
Only a genuine freak could have created the Circus-Circus. Which is where I finally found the American Dream...not an easy thing to explain in a few words, as I think I mentioned earlier. This last trip got into far heavier and more serious things than we have in this (Vegas 1) section, enc. What began as a joke and a casual rip-off somehow developed into a serious quest that incredibly yielded up the Main Fruit.
............
But this is not a reasonable story. This is a tale of gross excess on many levels. And those details are hard to fake. There is no way to understand the public reaction to the sight of a Freak smashing a coconut with a hammer on the hood of a white Cadillac in a Safeway parking lot unless you actually do it...and I tell you it's tense.
...........
This is horrible. I admit it, and naturally I regret having ever participated in such a spectacle. But it was all in the interest of Journalistic Science. Or maybe Behavorial Science. I've always been heavy into Science, on all fronts.
Later, in another letter to Silberman, on whether F&L in Las Vegas was journalism or fiction, he just said, "It should never be neccesary for a writer to explain how his work should be read."
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  #5  
Old 11-29-2002, 03:11 AM
FallenAngel FallenAngel is offline
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The attorney was Oscar (de?) Acosta, a good friend of Hunter's and a serious activist in the Chicano movement.

Hunter actually wrote a serious piece about Oscar after Oscar was missing and presumed (accurately, it turned out) to be dead. It was a touching tribute to a friend and appears in The Great Shark Hunt
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  #6  
Old 11-29-2002, 09:16 AM
Cholo Cholo is offline
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Wasn't that piece called "On the Trail of the Great Brown Buffalo"?

BTW, I've seen a picture of HST and OA together in Vegas. At least it looks as if they WERE there together during 71'. How much is true? Who knows.
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  #7  
Old 11-29-2002, 06:30 PM
Zebra Zebra is offline
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What kind of truths are you looking for in the book? Names, dates, places, don't seem to me to be the kind of thing HST writes.
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  #8  
Old 11-29-2002, 07:57 PM
pesch pesch is offline
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The Vincent Black Shadow does exist, and it's a pretty heavy motorcycle to ride.

Of course, all of HST's reactions to things have to be filtered through his drug-addicted sensibilities. And those were weird times.

In reality, HST was a pretty good journalist. A collection of his work gave a pretty complete overview: straight pieces from his pre-'Vegas' days through to the bitter end. His '72 campaign diary book is also excellent, and not only reflective of the times but accurate as well (at least so far as explaining how someone like McGovern managed to cop the nomination).

Now, he's a nutcase ranting on the corner.
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  #9  
Old 12-05-2002, 11:33 PM
Keith Berry Keith Berry is offline
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Acosta also made a lot of problems for Thompson and associates when "Fear And Loathing" was approaching publication. He apparently wanted a sizeable cut of the book's profits under threat of a libel lawsuit. This caused quite a few headaches, as well as any movie interest in the book being scared away. In my (admittedly sketchy) opinion, the basic facts are true: Thompson and Acosta were in Las Vegas, and did party heavily, but I'd say most of the book's most entertaining moments were probably exaggerated from reality or completely fabricated.

As regards the movie, the fact that John Lennon wanted to star in a adapation has always struck me as one of those intriguing "what-ifs?". We saw Lennon act a little in his lifetime (The Beatles movies, plus "How I Won The War") and while he was akward, he also seemed to have a natural quality to him that might have become something with training and experience.
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  #10  
Old 12-06-2002, 01:00 AM
Mr. Wrong Mr. Wrong is offline
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I seem to remember HST writing that Fear and Loathing was written mostly as a way to unwind while working on the much heavier (sixties term) piece about Oscar. The events are probably mostly fictional, but Hunter's observations and insights are mostly truthful. Like any good novel.

"The only thing that scared me was the ether. There is nothing more helpless and desperate and irresponsible than a man in the depths of an ether binge."
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  #11  
Old 12-06-2002, 01:14 AM
alex_arg alex_arg is offline
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Quote:

"The only thing that scared me was the ether. There is nothing more helpless and desperate and irresponsible than a man in the depths of an ether binge."
[nitpick] That would be depraved, not desperate [/nitpick]
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  #12  
Old 12-06-2002, 01:24 AM
reprise reprise is offline
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How true is F&L? Read "The Great Shark Hunt". While many of the stories about HST being drug-f***** are total hyperbole, many more of the stories are some of the most incredibly incisive social commentaries you'll ever read. I'd really love to reprint right here his telling of the assassination of a leading Chicano rights activist but the work is copyrighted - as are his observations of the Nixon years.

IMHO, anyone who wasn't alive at the time these events took place should read the Rolling Stone columns written by HST.
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  #13  
Old 12-06-2002, 04:02 AM
SC_Wolf SC_Wolf is offline
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[hijack]So in the realm of cinema, who was the better HST? Bill Murray in Where the Buffalo Roam, or Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?
[/hijack]
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  #14  
Old 12-06-2002, 07:14 AM
Cholo Cholo is offline
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Depp....he had the bowlegged shuffle down to a "T". Not only that, he let HST shave his head for the film. I give him credit for going all the way.
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  #15  
Old 12-06-2002, 01:18 PM
Mr. Wrong Mr. Wrong is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by alex_arg
[nitpick] That would be depraved, not desperate [/nitpick]
Right you are, I knew that. Must be the mescaline.
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  #16  
Old 12-06-2002, 02:30 PM
SC_Wolf SC_Wolf is offline
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I remember hearing a story that Depp spent two weeks straight with HST to get a feel for the character, and by the end of the first week, Hunter turned his cellphone over to Depp because none of his friends could tell the difference over the phone.

Anyone else confirm hearing this one?

Then again, considering the kind of people HST would have as friends, maybe this isn't saying much.
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  #17  
Old 12-06-2002, 02:39 PM
Eats_Crayons Eats_Crayons is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by SC_Wolf
I remember hearing a story that Depp spent two weeks straight with HST to get a feel for the character, and by the end of the first week, Hunter turned his cellphone over to Depp because none of his friends could tell the difference over the phone.
Dunno about the "over the phone" stuff, but there were some reports that HST behaved so badly (he was around for his cameo) that he was pretty much thrown off the set. Allegedly, his on-set behaviour was similar to what was seen in the film. (I cannot confirm or deny this without digging through old issues of Variety.)
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  #18  
Old 12-06-2002, 02:57 PM
Ivar Ivar is offline
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I saw him speak at college in '91-'92, and when asked the question about how much oh FLLV was true he responded that "since the statute of limitations has run out on those crimes, I'd have to say about 95%" (not strictly a quote by him, but a close paraphrase).

Also, he was an hour and a half late, was drunk and stoned, and insisted on smoking his cigarettes in the gymnasium. Though the reason he was late was not entirely his fault. His plane arrived early, before the students assigned to pick him up got to the airport. In an airport with 8 gates (Roanoke, VA), it took them an hour to find him. The students didn't know anything about him and weren't aware that the first place to look for HST when you can't find him is in the nearest bar. That's right, he was bellied up to the bar in the Roanoke airport.

Also, in the middle of the night, he got hungry and called one of the "handlers" and asked her to get 12 hamburgers. For himself. She had to drive 10 miles out of town to the 24 hour truck stop, pick up the burgers and bring them back. How many were left in the morning? 11 of them.

So, yeah, he's a bit of a jackass.
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  #19  
Old 12-06-2002, 03:01 PM
Lucki Chaarms Lucki Chaarms is offline
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What was HST's cameo in the movie? I bet I can remember him if you tell me where he was.

Anyway, Depp was PERFECT. That movie would have been NOTHING without his dead-on performance.

As a side note, I think that F&L is the scariest book I have ever read. I think pretty much anyone who's taken psychedelics will agree- it takes that to be able to grasp what it would have been like, and that is a freaking NIGHTMARE! Heebies and jeebies man.

LC
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  #20  
Old 12-06-2002, 03:11 PM
Eats_Crayons Eats_Crayons is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lucki Chaarms
What was HST's cameo in the movie? I bet I can remember him if you tell me where he was.
There's one scene in a Vegas nightclub (gee, that narrows it down ) when Depp comes out of the bathroom. There is an old guy sitting at a table laughing, surrounded by drunken revellers. Depp does a double-take and his voice over says: "Shit that's me... Shit that is me!"

Brought the house down in the cinema when I saw it.
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  #21  
Old 12-06-2002, 03:22 PM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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Sleestak said:
Quote:
Also, Ozzy is living proof that you can take huge amounts of nasty drugs and stay alive.
Uhhh!! Have you seen Ozzy lately? You know his Birthday was Dec.3. He's getting close to acting like Mohamed Ali...The guy can barely talk, and he breaks down and cries at the drop of hat.
HST .... at least he can tie his shoes and walk around still.
Hunter Stockton Thompson has beeen called the greatest degenerate of the twentieth century.

Oh yeah E. Jean Carroll put a great picture in the book Hunter: The Strange and Savage Life of Hunter S. Thompson. It has HST with Oscar Zeta Acosta at 3 a.m. in a Caesars Palace bar on April 26, 1971, With a caption reading "Yes it is all True. But Worse.
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  #22  
Old 12-06-2002, 04:35 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Eats_Crayons
There's one scene in a Vegas nightclub (gee, that narrows it down ) when Depp comes out of the bathroom. There is an old guy sitting at a table laughing, surrounded by drunken revellers. Depp does a double-take and his voice over says: "Shit that's me... Shit that is me!"

Brought the house down in the cinema when I saw it.
It's not a Vegas nightclub, Thompson's having a flashback to Haight-Ashbury and the first time he did acid. He talks about the first time he did acid in the bathroom of a bar (The guy who hooks him up is played by Lyle Lovett in the movie.) and a stranger walks in and sees Thompson snorting the acid off Lyle Lovett's sleeve. In the background of the scene, which Eats_Crayons gets right except for the location, you can see Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship fame singing White Rabbit.
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  #23  
Old 12-06-2002, 04:51 PM
Eats_Crayons Eats_Crayons is offline
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Ahhhh... that's right! Depp had more hair in that scene too for the flashback purpose.

Note: When I went to see that film, I developed a migraine just as I was taking my seat. Of all movies to see on the big screen when you have a migraine..... < insert pukey-face icon here >
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  #24  
Old 12-11-2011, 08:32 AM
jimipop jimipop is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sleestak View Post
A friend of mine got to interview HST for the college paper she was working on. According to her he was pretty messed up. IIRC, he wouldn't let her into his place on time (she drove a long way to talk to the guy) and when he did let her in he was pretty drunk. This was back in 94 or 95. She loved his work before the interview and walked away pretty much hating the guy. She said he came across as an idiot. Note, this is all hearsay but I never found a reason for her to lie. The story she wrote for the paper was really even handed. I was suprised because she really didn't like the man. So I wouldn't be suprised if the guy actually took the amount of drugs he said he did.

Also, Ozzy is living proof that you can take huge amounts of nasty drugs and stay alive. You may not be in the best shape afterwards but some do live. I wouldn't recommened it though.

Slee
Actually ozzy is like that because of alcohol not the drugs drinking was ozzy's biggest problem and HST was a full on tripper and it really does mess with your head when you push the limits and also you have to recognise the purity of drugs like lsd at the time when he was does them.
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  #25  
Old 12-11-2011, 09:12 AM
Ike Witt Ike Witt is offline
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And the award for best run on sentence in a zombie revival goes to....
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  #26  
Old 12-11-2011, 09:14 AM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
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This is a nice zombie. I am a huge fan of the film and Hunter's books. Depp was incredible in that movie, IMO. I think Hunter was at times very incisive...but he was also full of shit too. Fear and Loathing is a random, addled and hilarious mish-mash of half-truths, partly recollected experiences, exaggerations and embellishments in my eyes.

"Eyes?"

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  #27  
Old 12-11-2011, 09:27 AM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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Well, as long as this is up and running, I'll recommend Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr Hunter S Thompson. It's a great documentary on Hunter and when Johnny impersonates him, you almost can't tell the difference.
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  #28  
Old 12-11-2011, 09:29 AM
Bridget Burke Bridget Burke is offline
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Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run ...but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant ...

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.... There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda .... You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning ....

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave .... So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark —that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.
That much is true....

Last edited by Bridget Burke; 12-11-2011 at 09:31 AM..
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  #29  
Old 12-11-2011, 12:46 PM
SeldomSeen SeldomSeen is offline
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....And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave .... So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark —that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bridget Burke View Post
That much is true....
This entire passage (shortened here for brevity) has always seemed to stand out as a damned fine piece of writing....the kind of perfect wordsmithing that everyone who has ever "wanted to write" wishes they could achieve. Even HST couldn't do it all the time - one has to wade through a lot of incomprehensible dross in his work to dig out these occasional gems. Thompson's essay "Midnight on the Coast Highway" rises to the same level. I have not found too many other writers of his stripe that could achieve these flashes of pure brilliance. Edward Abbey came close in some of his essays, and Tim Cahill (another Rolling Stone alumnis) could sometimes manage it, although he is altogether a more subdued personality than Thompson. There are probably others working today that can produce that same feeling of clarity and vision in their writing, but none come to mind.

Where have all the real writers gone?
SS
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  #30  
Old 12-11-2011, 01:31 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeldomSeen View Post
This entire passage (shortened here for brevity) has always seemed to stand out as a damned fine piece of writing....the kind of perfect wordsmithing that everyone who has ever "wanted to write" wishes they could achieve. Even HST couldn't do it all the time - one has to wade through a lot of incomprehensible dross in his work to dig out these occasional gems.
Thompson always said the wave passage was the best thing he ever wrote. Despite all the other insanity, he was serious about writing and he struggled with the fact that he was a caricature for most of his career. The way I see it, Thompson did plenty of drugs but in his books he uses drugged perceptions as a way of showing what it was like to be in a particular place and time and as a way to bring out the undercurrents and tensions in a scene. That's what he's really doing when he writes about all the drugs he and Zeta Acosta (or others) were doing, and in his best stuff, he does it very well. Some of the drug intake had to have been real, but the real and fictional drug use is in the books for literary purposes.

Thompson's style - the whole Gonzo Journalism thing - was about putting the author and his perceptions at the center of the story. If you read a few of his stories (especially if they include The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved), you start to get a sense of where the reality probably was and what's been enhanced.
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  #31  
Old 12-11-2011, 01:41 PM
China Guy China Guy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cholo View Post
Wasn't that piece called "On the Trail of the Great Brown Buffalo"?

BTW, I've seen a picture of HST and OA together in Vegas. At least it looks as if they WERE there together during 71'. How much is true? Who knows.
Here are links to the photo: http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=...=AS&sk=#x0y413

I remember rolling stone magazine republishing this when Michael Jackson and his one glove were big. Rolling Stone pointed out that The Brown Buffalo far predated Jackson for the trend.
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  #32  
Old 12-11-2011, 01:48 PM
China Guy China Guy is offline
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It's obvious that some of the posters don't know that Hunter S Thompson blew his brains out on 20 Feb 2005. Wiki has a decent page on Hunter: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter_S._Thompson
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  #33  
Old 12-11-2011, 01:57 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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It's obvious that some of the posters don't know that Hunter S Thompson blew his brains out on 20 Feb 2005.
Well, that was two in the future when this thread began.
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  #34  
Old 12-11-2011, 02:56 PM
Small Hen Small Hen is offline
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Originally Posted by Tuckerfan View Post
He talks about the first time he did acid in the bathroom of a bar (The guy who hooks him up is played by Lyle Lovett in the movie.) and a stranger walks in and sees Thompson snorting the acid off Lyle Lovett's sleeve.
<ten year old nitpick> Not Lyle Lovett - the man in the bathroom was played by Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. </nitpick]

I had a brief fascination with HST about a year ago, and concluded that I wouldn't want to spend more than ten minutes with the man, but at least it would be an interesting ten minutes. It's rare to be that big of an asshole and still be such a colorful, magnetic character.
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