The first time I watched that Las Vegas film I was right in the middle of a trip. Some ordinary summer night we got together and it just came up. We, being myself, my roommate at the time, her boyfriend, the fellow that brought the drugs, a friend of mine and her boyfriend.
Shrooms. How much?
About twenty five a person, if you share. So I said, sounds fun. We all started getting glazed looks. Someone was on the floor, laughing hysterically. I rolled around with him, admiring our green sectional couch. We found a glorious space between the back of the couch and the wall.
Soon we heard news that the bathroom walls breathed on my friend while she was using the facilities. This startled and confused her so she wished to leave. I, being a sensitive host found great horror in this revelation. But why, it was only breathing. I couldn’t find the harm. Now she was to leave, what would become of her then? Where did she go? And where was I? Dancing in the kitchen? God, like an idiot. Then, I realized she had gone while I wasn’t looking.
A great wave of terror clenched at the back of my throat. Oh God. I think I’m going to have a bad trip. Calm down said the man who brought the drugs, look at this. I looked at the television.
It was the first time I ever played Guitar Hero which was swell but nothing could prepare me for what happened next. Someone asked if I had ever seen something called fear and loathing. Those words seemed strange, my brain didn’t capitalize them. It’s all about a drug trip they told me.
I had no idea what the hell was going on but that didn’t matter. I found myself asking over and over, is it supposed to look that way? Is this really happening? Are they on drugs? What’s happening?
I loved it, and hated it when each of us began drawing into ourselves. First we are all laughing and talking and turning to each word as if it were sunshine. Suddenly the room becomes heavy and you start to feel your body move. You are pulled in a soft lulling circular motion of conversation. You focus on one thing at a time. Television. Floor. Couch. Poster. Wall. Hand. Pants. Arm rest. Person. Television. Is this really happening? Yes. I mean, is everything supposed to look like that? Yes. It’s about drugs. Ok. And I was off again staring at the couch.
That was the longest night of my life, the night I drank a whole bag of orange juice to myself. Yes, it can and does come in bags. It is very odd, but delicious. The point is, if the extremely talented and somewhat slightly disturbed Hunter S. Thompson had never entered my life I might have never realized the most important thing about writing.
Self-amusement. Once it becomes something more, you’ve ruined it. At least one person (the person writing it and hopefully the person reading it) has to take some interest in the subject. If there is no interest, there is no book. If there is no book, there is no record, and if there is no record it might as well not exist at all, and it never did, or at least they won’t be able to prove it in the future.
Legacy is all we have. If in ten years everyone in this room forgets me so does that memory with me in it. I’ve learned more from watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (even more from reading it) than I have in entire semesters of college. It took watching this film at varying levels of consciousness over several months before I found myself becoming obsessed with the way Thompson wrote, the way words start bleeding together.
Thought becomes dialogue. You can’t separate fiction from reality anymore.
Then, I realized my writing was “spit up,” writing generated (manufactured) with research, detailed lecture notes and a natural way with words. Now people go to college to make money, and I thought people went to the job market to make money, well now they go to business school. Those people really irritate me.
What are you going to do with a bunch of people who don’t know how to do anything but run a business? There are only so many businesses and the work seems really dull so why be a business major? It sounds a little better than a “general studies” major but not by much. Either Mommy and Daddy are wasting their money on a degree or you’re going to have fun paying off your college loans with a job at some shitty restaurant where people five and ten years younger than you talk about going to college and majoring in business. And you don’t say a word you bitter prick. You cry inside because you know those loan bastards are laughing all the way to the bank.
I just want to be free, for one short time in my life to write what I want and to receive the kind of education I want. I want to make films and study astronomy and read everything Gogol ever wrote. I want more than it seems I am going to receive and so I’m taking matters into my own hands.
I can’t apologize and I can’t explain, but I can tell you the events that led to that discovery. I didn’t check the ticket. It was Thursday night, just before 7:00 pm and that time stuck clearly in my head. I knew as soon as walked in it had been a mistake. I saw people I knew, they welcomed me by asking if I was there to help. Not realizing I was entirely too early. I said no, I am not here to help I was merely confused about the time of the performance. 7:30 pm sneered from the ticket in my hand. I began to bend it nervously wishing the ink would run and bleed itself to 7:00 pm. I wanted the night to be over.
A girl I didn’t know felt it necessary to usher me out, as if I could feel no sillier about bursting in before the house opened, I have a theatre background for God sake. I was unsure of what to do next. My first response was to leave, just for a bit. To get a bite and return at a more appropriate time. Fight or flight, crush some skulls to get to my seat or run away.
I was assured that my ride was turning around and would be back to pick me up shortly, I decided to wait. It was raining. As it rained I got a brilliant idea. I daydreamed about writing my play review in the style of Hunter S. Thompson. I was sent to cover the play and instead I freak out and leave and write about everything but the play. It’s either the best idea I’ve ever had or the worst.
I decide to have fun with it and jot down some notes. The plan seemed to work well until we sat down in a McDonald’s at 7:20 pm. I don’t think you’ll make it in time. You wouldn’t want to walk in late.
I roll my eyes, I have been bullshitting a long time but surely even I couldn’t bullshit writing a review for a play I didn’t see. I didn’t even try, I believe in being honest as much as possible… I never did write that review and if memory serves I got an A that semester. All I have to thank for that is Grant Tracey and his undying patience with erratic twenty year old writers.