Hunter S. Thompson was in Las Vegas writing a 250-word story on the Mint 400 motorcycle race, he was working on another, more important story at them time and soon the 250-word sports review turned into a 2,500 word manuscript which would, in time, become the work he is most noted for. While Sports Illustrated “aggressively rejected” the Mint 400 story, his experiment in Gonzo journalism transformed his writing career.
I have come to the conclusion that of all the writers I have ever read I idolize Thompson above the rest. He was a writer his whole life, and even up to his death, the last thing he wrote was this suicide letter: No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won’t hurt. I dedicate this essay to Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Fear and Loathing: The Death of an American Salesman, and the American Legend
In a way, legacy is all we have. If in ten years everyone in this room forgets who I am, do I no longer exist? If I die, does that memory with me in it die too? It’s sad. Really fucking sad. Sometimes it makes me nervous that I might be remembered as that strange girl who works in the library. It makes me feel worse knowing I might not be remembered at all. I’ve learned more from watching the film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas than I have in entire semesters of college. I was obsessed with the way Thompson wrote, the way his words start bleeding together.
I realized my writing was “spit up,” writing generated, manufactured with detailed lecture notes. I am tired of regurgitating paper after paper of more of the same. A few classes challenge and intrigue me. This gets me by until I realize I’m never going to be able to use this in the real world. If there is, in fact, a real world. I always looked forward to going to college because no one else in my family did. I truly believed that I would be free in college. Free to learn what I wanted. When I got there, I realized that’s not why most people go to college now.
Now, people go to college to make money. I thought people went into the job market to make money and people who wanted to smoke pot and read shit went to college. Today’s rough necked ill-educated class don’t work shit jobs and work their way from the bottom up, now they go to business school. I’m not saying this is the only reason people major in business, I’m just saying, college caters to some parents who send their loser kids to college to “make something of themselves.” The only problem is, this practice drags the rest of us down, clogging the pipes with lackluster gunk.
Higher education has become a business. That sounds enough like the real world to me. Everything is for money. Everything has always been for money, but at least in the past, more people were willing to throw those dollars right back in the government’s face. We all buy into a system of debt and guilt, where we allow our best and brightest to worry over ridiculous costs for education and health care until they finally run into the ground and conform. Conform. Get a job. Pay your loans. You’ve been bad. You like to pay it. You work more so you can get more shit. We get more money. We all get good and fat. Don’t forget about the other things that make your life suck. Like not being able to afford health care, or the fact that everyone told you to “wait til you’re in college” to experiment with drugs and when you finally get there you are surrounded by loud alcoholics.
I am pissed at how my generation is turning out. Drop out teenage mothers and Meth addicts. For those of you who aren’t from Iowa, or have no idea where Iowa is, Iowa is in the Midwest where two things are very prevalent, corn and Meth. In the early 90’s when I was growing up they ran a lot of anti-drug ads. Many of you will remember the classic “this is your brain on drugs” egg on the frying pan PSA. In the Midwest Meth is a huge issue and anti-Meth ads ran that featured a young woman on Meth, scrubbing her bathroom and clawing at her face. It was eerily scored with this upbeat song, it was really fucking catchy. I still remember some of the lyrics: “Look at me, busy as a bee. Where’d I get all this energy? Ahh Meth. Ooo Meth. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. But I’ve got the cleanest house on the street. Ahh Meth. Ooo Meth. Get these hairs all outta my face. Get these bugs all out of my place. One more hit no time to waste. Ahh Meth. Ooo Meth.” All I have to say is, that’s kind of fucked up, Iowa. I was about ten, I thought the commercial was funny. I didn’t even know what Meth was. Ooo Meth. The commercial didn’t come close to depicting what Meth could do to a person.
I didn’t know how close to home Meth would hit me as a young woman living in Iowa. I didn’t know my parents and their friends were into the shit. My mother has been an alcoholic and drug addict for much of her life. The worst I ever saw her was when she was using Meth. She lost her teeth at forty due to Meth. She has scars all over her body where she scratched herself open. Our society is worried about me smoking a little pot when I watched my mother pawn all her shit to score drugs.
Old people tell me to “wait til I live in the real world.” I’d like to know what’s out there that I haven’t seen, even if it was only a glimpse. I am the bastard offspring of two drug addicts. I am bipolar and a recovering mutilator. I couldn’t relate to half the fucking people at school. I want to scream when I see how little people appreciate where they are when most of my childhood friends are pregnant, addicted to drugs or high school drop outs. That is the sad truth. I’m the only one who got out.
Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong, like I was supposed to be born in a different decade or something. Anytime but now, but I guess that must be how many people think. I don’t want to think like other people. I want to think and write for myself. I guess that’s how I became interested in Gonzo journalism. I simply cannot stand to remain invisible. I won’t shut up or shut the fuck up and I will never apologize and I’m not sure I could explain…