We All Have One Of These Stories

Vegas + Acid = Another Hunter S. Thompson Moment

Posted by Richie Ravioli

Hunter S. Thompson once said, "I hate to advocate weird chemicals, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone ... but they've always worked for me."

This is not to say that all you need to do is drive to Vegas with a trunk load of drugs, ("funk in the trunk", as I like to call it) and you have yourself a story. But Thompson put Vegas on the map for the 1970's "underground" drug culture in the same way Sinatra and the rat pack did in the early 1960's, and the way Elvis did for a separate sector of society in the 1970's. Glassy eyed drug enthusiasts since the 1970's read "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas" the way a backpacker reads a Lonely Planet travel guide. It is their map to a fantastical time in Las Vegas.

I remember being with a group of otherwise respectable people during my first visit to Las Vegas in the early 1990's , (we all have one of these stories)... when suddenly there were whispers. I could hear my buddy John mention something about acid, as he motioned us into the men's bathroom. There were four of us standing in the bathroom tearing off little pieces of paper from a larger sheet, and I said, "shouldn't we do this in our private hotel room?". "Just take this..." was John's response.

As a "safety net" I managed to get everyone to agree to trade ATM cards, (we didn't share our pin numbers), so if somewhere along the way I thought I really needed money because a very special slot machine had spoke to me over a spot of tea about the finer points of gambling and hairless cats, I would have to find John and ask him for my ATM card, thus getting a second opinion and giving myself a little more time to think about what I was spending my money on.

We truly thought that we were about to have a Hunter S. Thompson experience... and maybe we did. We thought we would get back up to the room later and have the best stories to tell... maybe even get a good song out of it. We're musicians, you see, and as musicians we are very familiar with "drug induced genius". But what most people don't seem to understand is that if you take raw talent out of the equation, then getting loaded, as many Thompson admirers soon find out, is just getting loaded.

Thompson was a talented journalist who was such a character, so much bigger than life, that his stories inevitably became about him. The author becomes the story, and thus was born "gonzo journalism". Many journalists think they could pull this off... the same way many aspiring musicians think all they need to do is shoot a bunch of heroin and they'll write songs like Keith Richards. But doing a bunch of drugs, for most musicians or journalists, does less for getting out some great art as it does for avoiding the actual work altogether.

So, back to my Vegas trip... which pretty much began and ended with the four of us exiting the men's bathroom, pausing to look around at all the lights and sounds, and then simultaneously reaching in to our pockets and handing the ATM's back to their owners. The "safety net" lasted about three seconds. And while we didn't wake up the next day to find our hotel room emerged in a foot of water and microphones taped to our faces, we had, if fact, spent all of our money. We had to call our friend's mother to come bail us out.

Thank you Hunter S. Thompson. You will be missed.

Sleepyhouse is a San Francisco based artist, musician, writer and thinker who, in addition to writing some of the greatest rock n roll riffs ever, has been Chuckmonsters best friend since Nineteen Eighty Something. Check his shit out at www.thesleepyhouse.com

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