The world is full of downers…which is maybe why Gonzo took so many uppers

This is one of those rare mornings where The New York Times‘ homepage isn’t dominated by a picture of Obama or McCain. So I figured I might as well bring the election back into forefront…of this blog about books…oy. The real reason I’m posting this can be found after the poem.

The following is lifted from Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72, which is Hunter S. Thompson’s take on the 1972 presidential election, written for Rolling Stone.

What’s striking to me is how many parallels there seem to be between the 1972 cycle and this year’s. The first chapters of Fear and Loathing focus intently on the youth vote, the minority vote, the need for change, and the need for hope. Spooooooooky…

Just an additional quote fro the book that I liked:
"The nut of the problem," Thompson wrote, "is that covering this presidential campaign is so fucking dull that it’s just barely tolerable…and the only thing worse than going out on the campaign trail and getting hauled around in a booze-frenzy from one speech to another is having to come back to Washington and write about it."

Anyway, here’s the semi-poem.

"28 newspapers"

This world is full of downers, but where is the word to describe
the feeling you get when you come back tired and crazy from a week on the road
to find twenty-eight fat newspapers on the desk:
seven Washington Posts, seven Washington Stars,
seven New York Times, six Wall Street Journals,
and one Suck
to be read, marked, clipped, filed, correlated…
and then chopped, burned, mashed, and finally hurled out in the street
to freak the neighbors.

After two or three weeks of this madness,
you begin to feel As One
with the man who said, "No news is good news."
In twenty-eight papers, only the rarest kind of luck
will turn up more than two or three articles of any interests…
but even then the interest items are usually buried deep
around paragraph 16 on the jump (or "Cont. on…") page….

The Post will have a story about Muskie making a speech in Iowa.
The Star will say the same thing,
and the Journal will say nothing at all.
But the Times might have enough room on the jump page to include a line or so that says something like:
"When he finished his speech, Muskie burst into tears and seized his campaing manager by the side of the neck. They grappled briefly, but the struggle was kicked apart by and oriental woman who seemed to be in control."

Now that’s good journalism.
Totally objective; very active and straight to the point.
But we need to know more.
Who was that woman?
Why did they fight?
Where was Muskie Taken?
What was he saying when the microphone broke?

If Colin Covert is allowed to write a 700+-word ‘review’ about Gonzo:The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, the documentary now showing at the Lagoon, which has less than fifty words of criticism in it (and therefore about 650 words of obvious biography and navel-gazing), then I figured I’m allowed to take a minute and post one of Thompson’s poems.

And yes, I take most of my journalistic cues from Strib movie reviewer Colin Covert.

Covert writes: "Thompson burst onto the national scene at 26 with "Hell’s Angels," [sic] his account of a year spent on the road with the outlaw motorcycle gang. It was vivid traditional reporting and became a bestseller, winning the young author a spot on ‘What’s My Line?’ But it was his invention of ‘gonzo journalism,’ mixing solid factual research and epic flights of fantasy, that won him a place in pop culture history. His writing was daring and adventurous; it took big chances and made important arguments in relentlessly funny ways."

But he never tells us whether the film is effective in depicting this or not. We’re told that it’s a ‘celebratory documentary,’ and that because of his ‘comfort in the spotlight, [Thompson] made great pictures.’ But that’s all.

It’s really more like an essay that’s occasioned by the film, except the essay has nothing to say about Thompson that even casual readers can’t figure out by reading one sentence from the guy.

For those interested, here’s a more comprehensive point-by-point review of the flick.