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Thursday, March 24, 2005 

A Gonzo Mourning

There's a certain progression of thought in the mind of a developing young writer. Briefly sketched: I've yet to meet (or hear of) a good, thoughtful writer that wasn't leaning left as a young'un. That's not to say that there aren't good conservative ADULT writers, just that I don't believe conservatism at a young age leads to the kind of intellectual curiosity that serves as the wellspring for a budding writer. (Hell, the word "conservative" itself tells you all you need to know.) Anyway, most writers start out with a fascination with the Sixties--the music, the counterculturalism, the whole sense of freedom as force-fed us by the Baby Boomers. (A lot of it is utter revisionist bull, but that's another story.) And then, once you get tired of the Summer-of-Love softheadedness, you turn to tougher writers like Hunter Thompson. Thompson became a caricature, but when he was on...damn. This right here, an excerpt from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, is still one of the finest passages ever written on the death of an era:

"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 then 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."

But eventually, most writers grow out of Thompson...you take a shot of him every now and then and move on. Most...but not all. Which makes this parody article in The Onion, about the next generation of would-be gonzo journalists, so damn funny. Every alt-weekly paper (those free papers you see all over the bars and bookstores of your town) has one or two young pups desperately trying to plug into that Thompson vibe. So stories here about a writer penning a piece entitled "Fear, Loathing in the Owensboro Parks and Recreation Department" or reporters "covering school-board meetings and slow-pitch softball matches on amyl nitrate" are dead-on funny.
Where am I going with this? Hell, I dunno; just thought the article was a riot. Dig it.

Bonus points to you if you get the cheap pun in the title.


Jay Busbee runs Yahoo! Sports' NASCAR Blog From The Marbles, Atlanta Magazine's Atlanta sports blog Right Down Peachtree, and the Southern sports/humor blog Sports Gone South. He also writes for damn near anybody who'll throw him a buck and a byline, and he's at work on the books The Quiet Dynasty: The History Of The Atlanta Braves' Championship Run (2009, Sports Publishing LLC) and God Is A Bulldog: Georgia, Florida, And The Greatest Play In College Football History (2010, Sports Publishing LLC). Click below for more info on his novels, articles, and comics.
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