Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century

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Overview

The Gonzo memoir from one of the most influential voices in American literature, Kingdom of Fear traces the course of Hunter S. Thompson’s life as a rebel—from a smart-mouthed Kentucky kid flaunting all authority to a convention-defying journalist who came to personify a wild fusion of fact, fiction, and mind-altering substances.

Brilliant, provocative, outrageous, and brazen, Hunter S. Thompson's infamous rule breaking—in his journalism, in ...

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Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century

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Overview

The Gonzo memoir from one of the most influential voices in American literature, Kingdom of Fear traces the course of Hunter S. Thompson’s life as a rebel—from a smart-mouthed Kentucky kid flaunting all authority to a convention-defying journalist who came to personify a wild fusion of fact, fiction, and mind-altering substances.

Brilliant, provocative, outrageous, and brazen, Hunter S. Thompson's infamous rule breaking—in his journalism, in his life, and under the law—changed the shape of American letters, and the face of American icons.

Call it the evolution of an outlaw. Here are the formative experiences that comprise Thompson’s legendary trajectory alongside the weird and the ugly. Whether detailing his exploits as a foreign correspondent in Rio, his job as night manager of the notorious O’Farrell Theatre in San Francisco, his epic run for sheriff of Aspen on the Freak Power ticket, or the sensational legal maneuvering that led to his full acquittal in the famous 99 Days trial, Thompson is at the peak of his narrative powers in Kingdom of Fear. And this boisterous, blistering ride illuminates as never before the professional and ideological risk taking of a literary genius and transgressive icon.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The Washington Post Thompson's voice still jumps right off the page, as wild, vital and gonzo as ever.

Publishers Weekly Rollickingly funny throughout, Thompson's latest proves that the father of gonzo journalism is alive and well.

The Washington Post He amuses; he frightens; he flirts with doom. His achievement is substantial.

The Los Angeles Times
The great satirist Terry Southern once stated that the writer's duty is to astonish the reader. Hunter S. Thompson reliably fulfills this mandate with audacious and finely crafted storytelling, and one simply marvels in astonishment. Inhabiting a one-man's-land that blurs journalism and fiction and precludes nothing, Thompson creates no finer collections of written word. Such is his latest random memoir, Kingdom of Fear.Michael Simmons
Don McLeese
Times like these inspire the best in Thompson, as this subversively surreal memoir (the back cover features a bare-assed Thompson firing a rifle attests. Though recent decades have found the good Doctor of Gonzology spinning his journalistic wheels, he's back in high gear with this book, his best since Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72. Thompson here confronts a confluence of circumstances—the ascent of a president he considers more dangerous than Nixon, the 2002 arson committed by a park ranger that set ablaze his home state of Colorado—that bring a renewed sense of purpose to his writing. The book makes a strong case for Thompson as both a social prophet (his day-after analysis of the 9/11 tragedy proves particularly prescient and a patriot. As he admits of his public image, "It hasn't helped a lot to be a savage comic-book character for the last fifteen years, " though he insists that "I haven't found a drug yet that can get you anywhere near as high as sitting at a desk writing." One of the photos illustrating the memoir pairs him with Bob Dylan. If Dylan didn't have Thompson in mind when writing the line "To live outside the law you must be honest," he should have.
Publishers Weekly
Hunter Thompson, author of such classics as Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail and other journalistic endeavors, has finally penned a memoir. Well, sort of. Just as Thompson paved his own way in writing about politics, sports, news and culture throughout the 1960s and '70s, he now offers an autobiography that is typically unorthodox in style but still revealing previously unknown facts about its subject. Wavering between the uproarious and the lunatic, it's vintage Thompson through and through. Chapter one opens traditionally enough, with Thompson's mantra "When the Going Gets Weird, the Weird Turn Pro" setting the stage for the author's first brush with the law, in Louisville, 1946, when he was nine-he pushed a post office mailbox into the path of a speeding bus. He then flashes forward to the present, ranting about the absurdity of the government's post-September 11 "heightened state of alert." This mix of hilarious anecdotes and current-events tirades is the book's mainstay. Thompson shares details about being night manager of San Francisco's renowned O'Farrell Theater, covering the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago ("Random House had agreed, more or less, to finance my education") and running for sheriff of Aspen on the Freak Power ticket, all the while inserting views on terrorism, Bush and the American justice system. Characteristically incoherent at times, yet rollickingly funny throughout, Thompson's latest proves that the father of gonzo journalism is alive and well. Photos. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (Jan. 21)
Library Journal
What makes a gonzo journalist? Cult writer Thompson (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), the subject of adulatory Hollywood fare, offers some insights in this somewhat jumbled, occasionally funny, but more often tedious book of writings, many of them previously published. Thompson's much-imitated writing is fueled by a heavy dose of fear (always capitalized and not only in casino towns) for his safety and sanity, an unshakable addiction to politics, a red-blooded love of America and its best ambitions, drugs and booze, and a magnetic attraction to those living on the edge. There are some canny observations on the difference between outlaws and lawbreakers, insights into the corruption of politics by politicians' lust for power, and instructive pieces on voter rebellion. But Thompson is so obviously charmed by his status as an icon of the counterculture that his writing becomes lazy. He has found his gonzo groove, but it traps his exigent political and social irreverence in a humdrum style, replete with hot cars, guns, girls, and expensive liquor but without packing the heat of earlier work. Recommended for large public libraries only.-Ulrich Baer, NYU
Kirkus Reviews
One of "the last unrepentant public dope fiends" (Fear and Loathing in America, 2000, etc.) is still armed and dangerous after these many years, whether fingering typewriter or pistol. "Hell, I don't miss those whispers, those soft groans of fear when I enter a civilized room," Thompson writes in this collection of political and personal dispatches, attributing the mutterings to the failed understanding that he's a teenage girl trapped in the body of a 65-year-old doper and career criminal. Maybe, but anybody might quail before someone whose day begins: "I finished my ham and eggs and knocked back some whiskey and picked up my Weatherby Mark V .300 Magnum and a ball of black Opium for dessert and went outside with a fierce kind of joy in my heart." Thompson is too outrageous ever to grow stale, his storytelling too rockingly mad to ignore: "I had stopped for the moment beside the road to put out a newspaper fire in the backseat. . . ." Put it out with a can of beer, that is, while a mountain lion takes a leap at him from a cliff above. There are vengeful tangents, Old Testament fury, acts of retribution, accidents not waiting to happen but proceeding nonstop. And choice bons mots: "Texas is not the only state full of wealthy freaks with sinister agendas," or the personally apt but nonetheless scary, "morality is temporary, wisdom is permanent." The Thompson wisdom on political protest: "A Willingness to Argue, however violently, implies a faith of some basic kind in the antagonist." On the invasion of Grenada: "low-risk, high-gain, cost-plus." And more-the whole with enough bile to make a really big custard. "I warped a few things," says Thompson of his writing. When you're a radioactiveforce field of one, what do you expect? Candent prose that still screws and buckles all it touches.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684873244
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 11/4/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 327,400
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. His books include Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, The Rum Diary, and Better than Sex. He died in February 2005.

Biography

Hunter S. Thompson has always had taste for starting trouble. As an ornery Kentucky kid, he was the undisputed leader of the pack, getting himself and his willing followers into trouble. Not much has changed -- Thompson still has throngs of supporters and fans and is now an icon of outspoken, unapologetic social commentary.

Thompson realized in high school that he didn't fit in with society at large. Seeking direction, he joined the Air Force after graduation, determined to be a pilot. While on the long waiting list for pilot training, Thompson was offered a position as an editor and sportswriter for Elgin Air Force Base's The Command Courier. He jumped at the chance, quickly excelled as a journalist, and even began moonlighting at a local paper. Despite his numerous offenses against military protocol, he was given an honorable discharge in 1957.

Thompson knew that writing was going to be a fixture in his life. He was an avid letter writer, often mixing fact and fantasy. After allegedly stealing a box of carbon paper when he left the Air Force, he began keeping copies every letter he sent. Eventually, his letters would be published in The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman 1955-1967 (The Fear and Loathing Letters), three books of love letters, correspondence with his family, and scathing complaint letters to companies Thompson deemed bad for society. The collection is considered a must-read for the glimpse it gives of how desperately Thompson wanted to be a writer.

After the Air Force, Thompson bounced through newspaper jobs, barely making ends meet and working on his first novel, the still unpublished Prince Jellyfish. In 1960 Thompson moved to Puerto Rico. It was less than ideal -- paychecks bounced regularly -- but his time in the Caribbean yielded The Rum Diary. Thompson tried to sell the novel to Random House in the 1960s, but they declined (it was eventually published in 1998).

Thompson's first novel, Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga, came out in 1966, catapulting him to fame and intriguing readers with his fast-paced writing and mischievous, wicked sense of humor. With the success of Hell's Angels, Random House finally purchased The Rum Diary. However, as legend has it, Hunter felt that it needed more work, so he convinced a Random House secretary to steal his manuscript back for him.

By the time Thompson released Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream in 1971, he had perfected his signature style, Gonzo Journalism: wild and erratic, capturing events as they happen, stripped of motive yet decidedly fictionalized. Thompson isn't a passive observer but is instead another one of his freaked-out characters. In the voice of Thompson's alter ego, Raoul Duke, he and his attorney, Oscar Acosta (Dr. Gonzo), go on a destructive drug binge while traveling to Las Vegas to report on a motorcycle race and crash a district attorneys' convention. Thompson found an artistic counterpart in illustrator Ralph Steadman, who designed this cover and others. It's classic Thompson and in 1998 was made into a movie staring Johnny Depp.

A self-proclaimed political junkie, Thompson gave his readers a glaring testimony of the truth and lies found while following the 1972 presidential race in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. In fact, one of Thompson's grand, recurring themes is the myth of the American Dream. The four-volume Gonzo Papers consists of articles, essays, and fiction. They are a massive attempt to expose the failure of the American Dream and show where hope is still possible. The four volumes, in order, are The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (1979), Generation of Swine:Tales of Decadence and Degradation in the Eighties (1988), Songs of the Doomed: More Notes on the Death of the American Dream (1990) and Better than Sex: Trapped like a Rat in Mr. Bill's Neighborhood (1994).

In 1980, Running magazine sent Thompson to Hawaii to cover the Honolulu Marathon. Friend and illustrator Ralph Steadman joined Thompson for the trip, and the result was The Curse of Lono, a fully illustrated, colorful, and strange mix of fiction and travelogue. Another oddity in Thompson's collection of works is his notorious 1991 release, Screwjack, a limited-print novella containing three short stories, ostensibly written by alter ego Raoul Duke.

In Thompson's 2003 release, Kingdom of Fear, he seems to have broken the rules one more time and written his own biography. The book tracks the life of a rebel -- the formative experiences of a wisecracking southern boy questioning authority and the unorthodox journalist who came to personify genre-bending, mind-bending outlaw stories.

Thompson's final book, Hey Rube (2004) brings him full circle; it's a sample of his columns from his stint as a sportswriter for ESPN.com. Thompson doles out searing indictments and uproarious rants while providing brilliant commentary on politics, sex, and sports -- at times all in the same column. Proving once again that he's on top of his game, his keen eye for corruption is as sharp and unforgiving as ever.

Fans and friends were shocked and saddened to learn of Thompson's death in February, 2005. While his narratives are often weird and ugly, he will always be respected and hailed as a professional risk taker, legendary agitator, and literary genius.

Good To Know

True to form, Hunter S. Thompson missed his high school graduation because he was in jail at the time, serving a six-week sentence for robbery.

Thompson once ran for sheriff of Aspen, Colorado, under his own Freak Party, whose platform included changing the city's name to Fat City in hopes of scaring off corporate investors.

Thompson was the original inspiration for Uncle Duke, a larger-than-life controlled substances buff created by Doonesbury cartoonist Gary Trudeau.

Mötley Crüe named their Generation Swine album after Volume Two of Thompson's Gonzo Papers. The book dealt with the debauchery and decadence of the era, and they found it perfect for their sleazy, irreverent brand of rock 'n' roll.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Hunter Stockton Thompson (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 18, 1937
    2. Place of Birth:
      Louisville, Kentucky
    1. Date of Death:
      February 20, 2005
    2. Place of Death:
      Woody Creek, Colorado

Read an Excerpt

When the Going Gets Weird, the Weird Turn Pro

There are no jokes. Truth is the funniest joke of all.

— Muhammad Ali

The Mailbox: Louisville, Summer of 1946

My parents were decent people, and I was raised, like my friends, to believe that Police were our friends and protectors — the Badge was a symbol of extremely high authority, perhaps the highest of all. Nobody ever asked why. It was one of those unnatural questions that are better left alone. If you had to ask that, you were sure as hell Guilty of something and probably should have been put behind bars a long time ago. It was a no-win situation.

My first face-to-face confrontation with the FBI occurred when I was nine years old. Two grim-looking Agents came to our house and terrified my parents by saying that I was a "prime suspect" in the case of a Federal Mailbox being turned over in the path of a speeding bus. It was a Federal Offense, they said, and carried a five-year prison sentence.

"Oh no!" wailed my mother. "Not in prison! That's insane! He's only a child. How could he have known?"

"The warning is clearly printed on the Mailbox," said the agent in the gray suit. "He's old enough to read."

"Not necessarily," my father said sharply. "How do you know he's not blind, or a moron?"

"Are you a moron, son?" the agent asked me. "Are you blind? Were you just pretending to read that newspaper when we came in?" He pointed to the Louisville Courier-Journal on the couch.

"That was only the sports section," I told him. "I can't read the other stuff."

"See?" said my father. "I told you he was a moron."

"Ignorance of the law is no excuse," the brown-suit agent replied. "Tampering with the U.S. Mail is a Federal offense punishable under Federal law. That Mailbox was badly damaged."

Mailboxes were huge, back then. They were heavy green vaults that stood like Roman mile markers at corners on the neighborhood bus routes and were rarely, if ever, moved. I was barely tall enough to reach the Mail-drop slot, much less big enough to turn the bastard over and into the path of a bus. It was clearly impossible that I could have committed this crime without help, and that was what they wanted: names and addresses, along with a total confession. They already knew I was guilty, they said, because other culprits had squealed on me. My parents hung their heads, and I saw my mother weeping.

I had done it, of course, and I had done it with plenty of help. It was carefully plotted and planned, a deliberate ambush that we set up and executed with the fiendish skill that smart nine-year-old boys are capable of when they have too much time on their hands and a lust for revenge on a rude and stupid bus driver who got a kick out of closing his doors and pulling away just as we staggered to the top of the hill and begged him to let us climb on....He was new on the job, probably a brain-damaged substitute, filling in for our regular driver, who was friendly and kind and always willing to wait a few seconds for children rushing to school. Every kid in the neighborhood agreed that this new swine of a driver was a sadist who deserved to be punished, and the Hawks A.C. were the ones to do it. We saw it more as a duty than a prank. It was a brazen Insult to the honor of the whole neighborhood.

We would need ropes and pulleys and certainly no witnesses to do the job properly. We had to tilt the iron monster so far over that it was perfectly balanced to fall instantly, just as the fool zoomed into the bus stop at his usual arrogant speed. All that kept the box more or less upright was my grip on a long "invisible" string that we had carefully stretched all the way from the corner and across about 50 feet of grass lawn to where we crouched out of sight in some bushes.

The rig worked perfectly. The bastard was right on schedule and going too fast to stop when he saw the thing falling in front of him....The collision made a horrible noise, like a bomb going off or a freight train exploding in Germany. That is how I remember it, at least. It was the worst noise I'd ever heard. People ran screaming out of their houses like chickens gone crazy with fear. They howled at one another as the driver stumbled out of his bus and collapsed in a heap on the grass....The bus was empty of passengers, as usual at the far end of the line. The man was not injured, but he went into a foaming rage when he spotted us fleeing down the hill and into a nearby alley. He knew in a flash who had done it, and so did most of the neighbors.

"Why deny it, Hunter?" said one of the FBI agents. "We know exactly what happened up there on that corner on Saturday. Your buddies already confessed, son. They squealed on you. We know you did it, so don't lie to us now and make things worse for yourself. A nice kid like you shouldn't have to go to Federal prison." He smiled again and winked at my father, who responded with a snarl: "Tell the Truth, damn it! Don't lie to these men. They have witnesses!" The FBI agents nodded grimly at each other and moved as if to take me into custody.

It was a magic moment in my life, a defining instant for me or any other nine-year-old boy growing up in the 1940s after World War II — and I clearly recall thinking: Well, this is it. These are G-Men....

WHACK! Like a flash of nearby lightning that lights up the sky for three or four terrifying split seconds before you hear the thunder — a matter of zepto-seconds in real time — but when you are a nine-year-old boy with two (2) full-grown FBI agents about to seize you and clap you in Federal prison, a few quiet zepto-seconds can seem like the rest of your life....And that's how it felt to me that day, and in grim retrospect, I was right. They had me, dead to rights. I was Guilty. Why deny it? Confess Now, and throw myself on their mercy, or —

What? What if I didn't confess? That was the question. And I was a curious boy, so I decided, as it were, to roll the dice and ask them a question.

"Who?" I said. "What witnesses?"

It was not a hell of a lot to ask, under those circumstances — and I really did want to know exactly who among my best friends and blood brothers in the dreaded Hawks A.C. had cracked under pressure and betrayed me to these thugs, these pompous brutes and toadies with badges & plastic cards in their wallets that said they worked for

J. Edgar Hoover and that they had the Right, and even the duty, to put me in jail, because they'd heard a "Rumor in the neighborhood" that some of my boys had gone belly up and rolled on me. What? No. Impossible.

Or not likely, anyway. Hell, Nobody squealed on the Hawks A.C., or not on its President, anyway. Not on Me. So I asked again: "Witnesses? What Witnesses?"

• • •

And that was all it took, as I recall. We observed a moment of silence, as my old friend Edward Bennett Williams would say. Nobody spoke — especially not me — and when my father finally broke the eerie silence, there was doubt in his voice. "I think my son has a point, officer. Just exactly who have you talked to? I was about to ask that myself."

"Not Duke!" I shouted. "He went to Lexington with his father! And not Ching! And not Jay!— "

"Shut up," said my father. "Be quiet and let me handle this, you fool."

And that's what happened, folks. We never saw those FBI agents again. Never. And I learned a powerful lesson: Never believe the first thing an FBI agent tells you about anything — especially not if he seems to believe you are guilty of a crime. Maybe he has no evidence. Maybe he's bluffing. Maybe you are innocent. Maybe. The Law can be hazy on these things....But it is definitely worth a roll.

In any case, nobody was arrested for that alleged incident. The FBI agents went away, the U.S. Mailbox was put back up on its heavy iron legs, and we never saw that drunken swine of a substitute bus driver again.

Would You Do It Again?

That story has no moral — at least not for smart people — but it taught me many useful things that shaped my life in many fateful ways. One of them was knowing the difference between Morality and Wisdom. Morality is temporary, Wisdom is permanent....Ho ho. Take that one to bed with you tonight.

In the case of the fallen mailbox, for instance, I learned that the FBI was not unbeatable, and that is a very important lesson to learn at the age of nine in America. Without it, I would be an entirely different man today, a product of an utterly different environment. I would not be talking to you this way, or sitting alone at this goddamn typewriter at 4:23 A.M. with an empty drink beside me and an unlit cigarette in my mouth and a naked woman singing "Porgy & Bess" on TV across the room.

On one wall I see an eight-foot, two-handled logging saw with 200 big teeth and CONFESSIONS OF THE BEST PIECE OF ASS IN THE WORLD scrawled in gold letters across the long rusty saw blade....At one end of it hangs a petrified elk's leg and a finely painted wooden bird from Russia that allegedly signifies peace, happiness & prosperity for all who walk under it.

That strange-looking bird has hung there for 15 extremely active years, no doubt for sentimental reasons, and this is the first time I have thought about adding up the score. Has this graven image from ancient Russian folk art been a good influence on my life? Or a bad one? Should I pass it on to my son and my grandson? Or should I take it out in the yard and execute it like a traitorous whore?

That is the Real question. Should the bird live and be worshiped for generations to come? Or should it die violently for bringing me bad luck?

The ramifications of that question are intimidating. Is it wise to add up the Score right now? What if I come out a Loser? Ye gods, let's be careful about this. Have we wandered into dangerous territory?

Indeed. At this point in my life I don't need a rush to judgment, whatever it is. Only a superstitious native would believe that kind of bullshit, anyway.

• • •

Suddenly I heard Anita screeching from the office, as if a fire had erupted somewhere on the other side of the house. Wonderful, I thought. I am a lucky man to get a break like this. Bring it on. Attack it now. I reached for a red 20-pound fire extinguisher near the door, thinking finally to have some real fun.

Ah, but it was not to be. Anita came rushing around the corner with a computer printout in her hands. "The President is threatening to seize the Saudi Arabian oil fields if they don't help us wipe out the Evil of Terrorism — seize them by military force." The look on her face was stricken, as if World War IV had just started. "This is insane!" she wailed. "We can't just go over there and invade Saudi Arabia."

I put my arm around her and flipped the dial to CNN, which was showing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld waving his cast at the camera like a clenched fist as he denounced the rumor as "nonsense" and once again threatened to "track down and eliminate" these "irresponsible leaks" to the press from somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon. He wanted to Punish somebody immediately. Of Course the United States would not declare war on a close Arab ally like the Saudis. That would be insane.

"Not necessarily," I said, "at least not until it turns into a disastrous botch and Bush gets burned at the stake in Washington. Sane is rich and powerful; Insane is wrong and poor and weak. The rich are Free, the poor are put in cages." Res Ipsa Loquitur, Amen, Mahalo....

• • •

Okay, and so much for that, eh? No more of these crude hashish ravings. What if the bird says I am wrong and have been wrong all my life?

Certainly I would not be entirely comfortable sitting here by myself and preparing, once again, to make terminal judgments on the President of the United States of America on the brink of a formal war with a whole world of Muslims....No. That would make me a traitor and a dangerous Security Risk, a Terrorist, a monster in the eyes of the Law.

Well, shucks. What can I say? We are coming to a big fork in the road for this country, another ominous polarization between right and wrong, another political mandate to decide "Which side are you on?"...Maybe a bumper sticker that asks ARE YOU SANE OR INSANE?

I have confronted that question on a daily basis all my life, as if it were just another form to fill out, and on most days I have checked off the SANE box — if only because I am not dead or in prison or miserable in my life.

• • •

There is no shortage of dangerous gibberish in the classrooms and courts of this nation. Weird myths and queer legends are coins of the realm in our culture, like passwords or keys to survival. Not even a monster with rabies would send his child off to school with a heart full of hate for Santa Claus or Jesus or the Tooth Fairy. That would not be fair to the child. He (or she) would be shunned & despised like a Leper by his classmates & even his teachers, and he will not come home with good report cards. He will soon turn to wearing black raincoats & making ominous jokes about Pipe Bombs.

Weird behavior is natural in smart children, just as curiosity is to a kitten. I was no stranger to it myself, as a youth growing up in Kentucky. I had a keen appetite for adventure, which soon led me into a maze of complex behavioral experiments that my parents found hard to explain. I was a popular boy, with acceptable grades & a vaguely promising future, but I was cursed with a dark sense of humor that made many adults afraid of me, for reasons they couldn't quite put their fingers on....

But I was a juvenile delinquent. I was Billy the Kid of Louisville. I was a "criminal": I stole things, destroyed things, drank. That's all you have to do if you're a criminal. In the sixth grade I was voted head of the Safety Patrol — the kids who wear the badges and stop traffic during recesses and patrol. It was a very big position, and the principal hated that I was voted to it. She said, "This is horrible. We can't have Hunter doing anything. He's a Little Hitler." I wasn't sure what that meant, but I think it meant I had a natural sway over many students. And that I should probably be lobotomized for the good of the society.

I always figured I would live on the margins of society, part of a very small Outlaw segment. I have never been approved by any majority. Most people assume it's difficult to live this way, and they are right — they're still trying to lock me up all the time. I've been very careful about urging people who cannot live outside the law to throw off the traces and run amok. Some are not made for the Outlaw life.

The only things I've ever been arrested for, it turns out, are things I didn't do. All the "crimes" I really committed were things that were usually an accident. Every time they got me, I happened to be in the wrong place and too enthusiastic. It was just the general feeling that I shouldn't be allowed to get away with it.

• • •

It may be that every culture needs an Outlaw god of some kind, and maybe this time around I'm it. Who knows? I haven't studied it, but the idea just came to me in a flash as I read Peter Whitmer's article about me in the Jan/Feb 1984 Saturday Review.

I think of Lono, Robin Hood & Bacchus & the Greeks with their fat young boys & the Irish with their frantic drunken worship of doomed heroes....Jesus, I'll bet that even the Swedes have some kind of Outlaw god.

But there is no mention of good Outlaws in the Holy Bible, I think — mainly because of The Church & all its spin-offs that believe in total punishment for all sinners. The Bible makes no exceptions for good-hearted social outlaws. They are all cast into the Lake of Fire. Punishment. Fuck those people.

(Pause For Interruption)

Sorry, that was a call from Newsweek in New York, asking what I thought about the "shocking Mutombo-Van Horne trade" today, a major shift in the power balance of the NBA East that I was only vaguely aware of. It meant that the 76ers would be rid of that flashy albino pussy who always failed in the clutch. It made perfect sense to me, and that is why I picked up the telephone....What the hell? I thought. People ask me these questions because they know I am a famous sportswriter.

"The trade is meaningless," I said. "It is like trading a used mattress for a $300 bill."

And that was that, apparently. The writer was suddenly called away from his desk and hung up on me. So what? I thought. I didn't want to talk to him anyway. I had serious work to do, and Anita was getting hungry. It was time for another road trip.

• • •

There are eight or nine truly exotic towns to visit in the great American West, but Thomasville, Colorado, is not one of them. Richard Nixon doomed the town when he reluctantly signed the Clean Air Act of 1970 — which soon led to the forcible closing of both the town's gas stations because their 50-year-old underground storage tanks were rusted out and leaking rotten gasoline into the tumbling white waters of the Frying Pan River, a once-famous trout-fishing mecca.

It took us about five hours to climb the 30 steep miles up to Thomasville. I was driving my trusty Red Shark, a rebuilt 1973 454 Chevy Caprice with power windows and heated seats and a top speed of 135 — although not on a winding uphill two-lane blacktop that rises 6,000 feet in 30 miles. That is serious climbing, from summer heat and peach trees up to chilly bleak timberline and then to the snowcapped peaks of the Continental Divide, where wild beasts roam and humans live in pain. This is the road that leads up to the dreaded Hagerman Pass.

But not yet. No, we are getting ahead of our story, and only a jackass would do that...

• • •

We were almost to Thomasville when I noticed a cluster of flashing police lights and a cop of some kind standing in the middle of the road waving a red flag. "Oh Jesus," I groaned. "What the fuck is this?" Anita was scrambling to get a half-gallon jug of Chivas Regal out of sight — which is not an easy thing to do in a huge red convertible with the top down and a beautiful half-naked girl leaning over the backseat. People will stare.

In any case, we soon learned that "the new plan, just in from Washington" is to keep weirdos, foreigners, and other dangerous bad apples out of all National Forests in the nation, lest they set fires and spread anthrax or anything else that swarthy terrorists are wont to do....They are Evil, they are savage, and they must be arrested before they set fire to the whole goddamn country.

I have never had any special fear of Foreigners, myself, but I recognize a nationwide nervous breakdown when I see one. It is EMBARRASSING, for openers, AND IT SUCKS.

• • •

Most people are happy on Fridays, but not me — at least not yesterday, when I drove up the mountain to assess the fire-fighting & water-flow capacity of a bleak mountain community called Thomasville, on the map and right smack in the middle of a National Forest tinderbox that is already burning with monster firestorms that leap from hill to hill like summer lightning and kill everything they can reach.

• • •

Big Fire is a terrifying thing to deal with up close, and you never forget it — the panic, the heat, the deafening roar of the flames overhead. I feel queasy every time I think about it....If freezing to death is the nicest way to die, then burning to death in a forest fire is no doubt the ugliest. Beware. Fire is like lightning; they will both kill you, but lightning doesn't hurt as much. It is a monumental WHACK with no warning at all, and hopefully that is it — gone, no more, and minimal mortuary charges.

Surviving a lightning strike is even worse than dying from it, according to people who have lived (returned from the dead, in fact) because 8,000,000,000 volts of electricity is an unacceptable trauma to tissue of the human body. It fries everything in its path and leaves every organ in the body, from blood vessels to brain cells and even the sexual system, charred like overcooked bacon for the rest of its delicate life.

My friend Tex got hit by lightning one gloomy afternoon in the parking lot of the Woody Creek Tavern. "It kicked the mortal shit out of me," he said later. "It blasted me fifty goddamn feet across the road and over a snow fence. I was out for forty minutes, and when I woke up I smelled like death."

I was there that day, and I thought a bomb had gone off right in front of me. I was unconscious for a while, but not for long. When I woke up I was being dragged toward a shiny sky-blue ambulance by two well-meaning medics from the Sheriff's Office....I twisted out of their grasp and backed against an ice machine. "Okay, boys," I said calmly, "the Joke is over. Let's not get crazy about this. Give me some air, gentlemen," I croaked. "I feel a little jangled, but I know it will pass. Get your hands off me, you pigfucker."

No doubt it sounded rude to casual onlookers, but in truth it was not. I was just kidding with them. They know me.

• • •

Friday afternoons are usually loose and happy in this valley, but today was different. I live in the mountains at an altitude of 8,000 feet, which is roughly a mile and a half high. That is "big air," as they say in the zoom-zoom business. It makes for large lungs and thin blood, along with dangerously expensive real estate. Life has always been a little spooky up here, but now as this vicious new century swarms over us like a fester of kudzu vines, life in these mountains is becoming living relentless hell.

The whole state of Colorado is on fire, according to The New York Times, and the nerdish Republican Governor is raving like a banshee about the death of Colorado as we know it before the summer is over.

That would be about 90 days, on most calendars — or right about September 11, 2002, only one horrible year after those stupid bastards blew up the WTC...We will actually be at war by then, and anybody who doesn't like it will be locked up in a military holding pen.

• • •

Weird things happen when you get whacked by serious lightning. Many years ago, nineteen (19) members of the Strange family in North Carolina were struck at the same instant when they all leaned against a chain-link fence at a July 4 fireworks display. They all survived, but none prospered. It was like some horrible merciless coincidence out of the Old Testament — or extremely bad karma, to millions of non-Christians, among whom I definitely count myself. I have abandoned all forms & sects of the practicing Christian Church.

I have seen thousands of priests and bishops and even the Pope himself transmogrified in front of our eyes into a worldwide network of thieves and perverts and sodomites who relentlessly penetrate children of all genders and call it holy penance for being born guilty in the eyes of the Church.

I have seen the Jews run amok in Palestine like bloodthirsty beasts with no shame, and six million brainless Baptists demanding the death penalty without any trial at all for pagans and foreigners and people like me who won't pray with them in those filthy little shacks they call churches. They are like a swarm of rats fleeing a swoop fire, and I want no part of them. Indeed, I have my own faith and my own gods to worship, and I have been doing it with a certain amount of distinction for ten thousand years, like some fine atomic clock with ever-lasting batteries.

Whoops! I have wandered off on some kind of vengeful tangent, here, and we don't really need it now, do we? So let us save that wisdom for later.

Copyright © 2003 by Gonzo International Corp.

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

When the Going Gets Weird, the Weird Turn Pro

There are no jokes. Truth is the funniest joke of all.
-- Muhammad Ali

The Mailbox: Louisville, Summer of 1946

My parents were decent people, and I was raised, like my friends, to believe that Police were our friends and protectors -- the Badge was a symbol of extremely high authority, perhaps the highest of all. Nobody ever asked why. It was one of those unnatural questions that are better left alone. If you had to ask that, you were sure as hell Guilty of something and probably should have been put behind bars a long time ago. It was a no-win situation.

My first face-to-face confrontation with the FBI occurred when I was nine years old. Two grim-looking Agents came to our house and terrified my parents by saying that I was a "prime suspect" in the case of a Federal Mailbox being turned over in the path of a speeding bus. It was a Federal Offense, they said, and carried a five-year prison sentence.

"Oh no!" wailed my mother. "Not in prison! That's insane! He's only a child. How could he have known?"

"The warning is clearly printed on the Mailbox," said the agent in the gray suit. "He's old enough to read."

"Not necessarily," my father said sharply. "How do you know he's not blind, or a moron?"

"Are you a moron, son?" the agent asked me. "Are you blind? Were you just pretending to read that newspaper when we came in?" He pointed to the Louisville Courier-Journal on the couch.

"That was only the sports section," I told him. "I can't read the other stuff."

"See?" said my father. "I told you he was a moron."

"Ignorance of the law is no excuse," the brown-suit agent replied. "Tampering with the U.S. Mail is a Federal offense punishable under Federal law. That Mailbox was badly damaged."

Mailboxes were huge, back then. They were heavy green vaults that stood like Roman mile markers at corners on the neighborhood bus routes and were rarely, if ever, moved. I was barely tall enough to reach the Mail-drop slot, much less big enough to turn the bastard over and into the path of a bus. It was clearly impossible that I could have committed this crime without help, and that was what they wanted: names and addresses, along with a total confession. They already knew I was guilty, they said, because other culprits had squealed on me. My parents hung their heads, and I saw my mother weeping.

I had done it, of course, and I had done it with plenty of help. It was carefully plotted and planned, a deliberate ambush that we set up and executed with the fiendish skill that smart nine-year-old boys are capable of when they have too much time on their hands and a lust for revenge on a rude and stupid bus driver who got a kick out of closing his doors and pulling away just as we staggered to the top of the hill and begged him to let us climb on....He was new on the job, probably a brain-damaged substitute, filling in for our regular driver, who was friendly and kind and always willing to wait a few seconds for children rushing to school. Every kid in the neighborhood agreed that this new swine of a driver was a sadist who deserved to be punished, and the Hawks A.C. were the ones to do it. We saw it more as a duty than a prank. It was a brazen Insult to the honor of the whole neighborhood.

We would need ropes and pulleys and certainly no witnesses to do the job properly. We had to tilt the iron monster so far over that it was perfectly balanced to fall instantly, just as the fool zoomed into the bus stop at his usual arrogant speed. All that kept the box more or less upright was my grip on a long "invisible" string that we had carefully stretched all the way from the corner and across about 50 feet of grass lawn to where we crouched out of sight in some bushes.

The rig worked perfectly. The bastard was right on schedule and going too fast to stop when he saw the thing falling in front of him....The collision made a horrible noise, like a bomb going off or a freight train exploding in Germany. That is how I remember it, at least. It was the worst noise I'd ever heard. People ran screaming out of their houses like chickens gone crazy with fear. They howled at one another as the driver stumbled out of his bus and collapsed in a heap on the grass....The bus was empty of passengers, as usual at the far end of the line. The man was not injured, but he went into a foaming rage when he spotted us fleeing down the hill and into a nearby alley. He knew in a flash who had done it, and so did most of the neighbors.

"Why deny it, Hunter?" said one of the FBI agents. "We know exactly what happened up there on that corner on Saturday. Your buddies already confessed, son. They squealed on you. We know you did it, so don't lie to us now and make things worse for yourself. A nice kid like you shouldn't have to go to Federal prison." He smiled again and winked at my father, who responded with a snarl: "Tell the Truth, damn it! Don't lie to these men. They have witnesses!" The FBI agents nodded grimly at each other and moved as if to take me into custody.

It was a magic moment in my life, a defining instant for me or any other nine-year-old boy growing up in the 1940s after World War II -- and I clearly recall thinking: Well, this is it. These are G-Men....

WHACK! Like a flash of nearby lightning that lights up the sky for three or four terrifying split seconds before you hear the thunder -- a matter of zepto-seconds in real time -- but when you are a nine-year-old boy with two (2) full-grown FBI agents about to seize you and clap you in Federal prison, a few quiet zepto-seconds can seem like the rest of your life....And that's how it felt to me that day, and in grim retrospect, I was right. They had me, dead to rights. I was Guilty. Why deny it? Confess Now, and throw myself on their mercy, or --

What? What if I didn't confess? That was the question. And I was a curious boy, so I decided, as it were, to roll the dice and ask them a question.

"Who?" I said. "What witnesses?"

It was not a hell of a lot to ask, under those circumstances -- and I really did want to know exactly who among my best friends and blood brothers in the dreaded Hawks A.C. had cracked under pressure and betrayed me to these thugs, these pompous brutes and toadies with badges & plastic cards in their wallets that said they worked for

J. Edgar Hoover and that they had the Right, and even the duty, to put me in jail, because they'd heard a "Rumor in the neighborhood" that some of my boys had gone belly up and rolled on me. What? No. Impossible.

Or not likely, anyway. Hell, Nobody squealed on the Hawks A.C., or not on its President, anyway. Not on Me. So I asked again: "Witnesses? What Witnesses?"

· · ·

And that was all it took, as I recall. We observed a moment of silence, as my old friend Edward Bennett Williams would say. Nobody spoke -- especially not me -- and when my father finally broke the eerie silence, there was doubt in his voice. "I think my son has a point, officer. Just exactly who have you talked to? I was about to ask that myself."

"Not Duke!" I shouted. "He went to Lexington with his father! And not Ching! And not Jay!-- "

"Shut up," said my father. "Be quiet and let me handle this, you fool."

And that's what happened, folks. We never saw those FBI agents again. Never. And I learned a powerful lesson: Never believe the first thing an FBI agent tells you about anything -- especially not if he seems to believe you are guilty of a crime. Maybe he has no evidence. Maybe he's bluffing. Maybe you are innocent. Maybe. The Law can be hazy on these things....But it is definitely worth a roll.

In any case, nobody was arrested for that alleged incident. The FBI agents went away, the U.S. Mailbox was put back up on its heavy iron legs, and we never saw that drunken swine of a substitute bus driver again.

Would You Do It Again?

That story has no moral -- at least not for smart people -- but it taught me many useful things that shaped my life in many fateful ways. One of them was knowing the difference between Morality and Wisdom. Morality is temporary, Wisdom is permanent....Ho ho. Take that one to bed with you tonight.

In the case of the fallen mailbox, for instance, I learned that the FBI was not unbeatable, and that is a very important lesson to learn at the age of nine in America. Without it, I would be an entirely different man today, a product of an utterly different environment. I would not be talking to you this way, or sitting alone at this goddamn typewriter at 4:23 A.M. with an empty drink beside me and an unlit cigarette in my mouth and a naked woman singing "Porgy & Bess" on TV across the room.

On one wall I see an eight-foot, two-handled logging saw with 200 big teeth and CONFESSIONS OF THE BEST PIECE OF ASS IN THE WORLD scrawled in gold letters across the long rusty saw blade....At one end of it hangs a petrified elk's leg and a finely painted wooden bird from Russia that allegedly signifies peace, happiness & prosperity for all who walk under it.

That strange-looking bird has hung there for 15 extremely active years, no doubt for sentimental reasons, and this is the first time I have thought about adding up the score. Has this graven image from ancient Russian folk art been a good influence on my life? Or a bad one? Should I pass it on to my son and my grandson? Or should I take it out in the yard and execute it like a traitorous whore?

That is the Real question. Should the bird live and be worshiped for generations to come? Or should it die violently for bringing me bad luck?

The ramifications of that question are intimidating. Is it wise to add up the Score right now? What if I come out a Loser? Ye gods, let's be careful about this. Have we wandered into dangerous territory?

Indeed. At this point in my life I don't need a rush to judgment, whatever it is. Only a superstitious native would believe that kind of bullshit, anyway.

· · ·

Suddenly I heard Anita screeching from the office, as if a fire had erupted somewhere on the other side of the house. Wonderful, I thought. I am a lucky man to get a break like this. Bring it on. Attack it now. I reached for a red 20-pound fire extinguisher near the door, thinking finally to have some real fun.

Ah, but it was not to be. Anita came rushing around the corner with a computer printout in her hands. "The President is threatening to seize the Saudi Arabian oil fields if they don't help us wipe out the Evil of Terrorism -- seize them by military force." The look on her face was stricken, as if World War IV had just started. "This is insane!" she wailed. "We can't just go over there and invade Saudi Arabia."

I put my arm around her and flipped the dial to CNN, which was showing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld waving his cast at the camera like a clenched fist as he denounced the rumor as "nonsense" and once again threatened to "track down and eliminate" these "irresponsible leaks" to the press from somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon. He wanted to Punish somebody immediately. Of Course the United States would not declare war on a close Arab ally like the Saudis. That would be insane.

"Not necessarily," I said, "at least not until it turns into a disastrous botch and Bush gets burned at the stake in Washington. Sane is rich and powerful; Insane is wrong and poor and weak. The rich are Free, the poor are put in cages." Res Ipsa Loquitur, Amen, Mahalo....

· · ·

Okay, and so much for that, eh? No more of these crude hashish ravings. What if the bird says I am wrong and have been wrong all my life?

Certainly I would not be entirely comfortable sitting here by myself and preparing, once again, to make terminal judgments on the President of the United States of America on the brink of a formal war with a whole world of Muslims....No. That would make me a traitor and a dangerous Security Risk, a Terrorist, a monster in the eyes of the Law.

Well, shucks. What can I say? We are coming to a big fork in the road for this country, another ominous polarization between right and wrong, another political mandate to decide "Which side are you on?"...Maybe a bumper sticker that asks ARE YOU SANE OR INSANE?

I have confronted that question on a daily basis all my life, as if it were just another form to fill out, and on most days I have checked off the SANE box -- if only because I am not dead or in prison or miserable in my life.

· · ·

There is no shortage of dangerous gibberish in the classrooms and courts of this nation. Weird myths and queer legends are coins of the realm in our culture, like passwords or keys to survival. Not even a monster with rabies would send his child off to school with a heart full of hate for Santa Claus or Jesus or the Tooth Fairy. That would not be fair to the child. He (or she) would be shunned & despised like a Leper by his classmates & even his teachers, and he will not come home with good report cards. He will soon turn to wearing black raincoats & making ominous jokes about Pipe Bombs.

Weird behavior is natural in smart children, just as curiosity is to a kitten. I was no stranger to it myself, as a youth growing up in Kentucky. I had a keen appetite for adventure, which soon led me into a maze of complex behavioral experiments that my parents found hard to explain. I was a popular boy, with acceptable grades & a vaguely promising future, but I was cursed with a dark sense of humor that made many adults afraid of me, for reasons they couldn't quite put their fingers on....

But I was a juvenile delinquent. I was Billy the Kid of Louisville. I was a "criminal": I stole things, destroyed things, drank. That's all you have to do if you're a criminal. In the sixth grade I was voted head of the Safety Patrol -- the kids who wear the badges and stop traffic during recesses and patrol. It was a very big position, and the principal hated that I was voted to it. She said, "This is horrible. We can't have Hunter doing anything. He's a Little Hitler." I wasn't sure what that meant, but I think it meant I had a natural sway over many students. And that I should probably be lobotomized for the good of the society.

I always figured I would live on the margins of society, part of a very small Outlaw segment. I have never been approved by any majority. Most people assume it's difficult to live this way, and they are right -- they're still trying to lock me up all the time. I've been very careful about urging people who cannot live outside the law to throw off the traces and run amok. Some are not made for the Outlaw life.

The only things I've ever been arrested for, it turns out, are things I didn't do. All the "crimes" I really committed were things that were usually an accident. Every time they got me, I happened to be in the wrong place and too enthusiastic. It was just the general feeling that I shouldn't be allowed to get away with it.

· · ·

It may be that every culture needs an Outlaw god of some kind, and maybe this time around I'm it. Who knows? I haven't studied it, but the idea just came to me in a flash as I read Peter Whitmer's article about me in the Jan/Feb 1984 Saturday Review.

I think of Lono, Robin Hood & Bacchus & the Greeks with their fat young boys & the Irish with their frantic drunken worship of doomed heroes....Jesus, I'll bet that even the Swedes have some kind of Outlaw god.

But there is no mention of good Outlaws in the Holy Bible, I think -- mainly because of The Church & all its spin-offs that believe in total punishment for all sinners. The Bible makes no exceptions for good-hearted social outlaws. They are all cast into the Lake of Fire. Punishment. Fuck those people.

(Pause For Interruption)

Sorry, that was a call from Newsweek in New York, asking what I thought about the "shocking Mutombo-Van Horne trade" today, a major shift in the power balance of the NBA East that I was only vaguely aware of. It meant that the 76ers would be rid of that flashy albino pussy who always failed in the clutch. It made perfect sense to me, and that is why I picked up the telephone....What the hell? I thought. People ask me these questions because they know I am a famous sportswriter.

"The trade is meaningless," I said. "It is like trading a used mattress for a $300 bill."

And that was that, apparently. The writer was suddenly called away from his desk and hung up on me. So what? I thought. I didn't want to talk to him anyway. I had serious work to do, and Anita was getting hungry. It was time for another road trip.

· · ·

There are eight or nine truly exotic towns to visit in the great American West, but Thomasville, Colorado, is not one of them. Richard Nixon doomed the town when he reluctantly signed the Clean Air Act of 1970 -- which soon led to the forcible closing of both the town's gas stations because their 50-year-old underground storage tanks were rusted out and leaking rotten gasoline into the tumbling white waters of the Frying Pan River, a once-famous trout-fishing mecca.

It took us about five hours to climb the 30 steep miles up to Thomasville. I was driving my trusty Red Shark, a rebuilt 1973 454 Chevy Caprice with power windows and heated seats and a top speed of 135 -- although not on a winding uphill two-lane blacktop that rises 6,000 feet in 30 miles. That is serious climbing, from summer heat and peach trees up to chilly bleak timberline and then to the snowcapped peaks of the Continental Divide, where wild beasts roam and humans live in pain. This is the road that leads up to the dreaded Hagerman Pass.

But not yet. No, we are getting ahead of our story, and only a jackass would do that...

· · ·

We were almost to Thomasville when I noticed a cluster of flashing police lights and a cop of some kind standing in the middle of the road waving a red flag. "Oh Jesus," I groaned. "What the fuck is this?" Anita was scrambling to get a half-gallon jug of Chivas Regal out of sight -- which is not an easy thing to do in a huge red convertible with the top down and a beautiful half-naked girl leaning over the backseat. People will stare.

In any case, we soon learned that "the new plan, just in from Washington" is to keep weirdos, foreigners, and other dangerous bad apples out of all National Forests in the nation, lest they set fires and spread anthrax or anything else that swarthy terrorists are wont to do....They are Evil, they are savage, and they must be arrested before they set fire to the whole goddamn country.

I have never had any special fear of Foreigners, myself, but I recognize a nationwide nervous breakdown when I see one. It is EMBARRASSING, for openers, AND IT SUCKS.

· · ·

Most people are happy on Fridays, but not me -- at least not yesterday, when I drove up the mountain to assess the fire-fighting & water-flow capacity of a bleak mountain community called Thomasville, on the map and right smack in the middle of a National Forest tinderbox that is already burning with monster firestorms that leap from hill to hill like summer lightning and kill everything they can reach.

· · ·

Big Fire is a terrifying thing to deal with up close, and you never forget it -- the panic, the heat, the deafening roar of the flames overhead. I feel queasy every time I think about it....If freezing to death is the nicest way to die, then burning to death in a forest fire is no doubt the ugliest. Beware. Fire is like lightning; they will both kill you, but lightning doesn't hurt as much. It is a monumental WHACK with no warning at all, and hopefully that is it -- gone, no more, and minimal mortuary charges.

Surviving a lightning strike is even worse than dying from it, according to people who have lived (returned from the dead, in fact) because 8,000,000,000 volts of electricity is an unacceptable trauma to tissue of the human body. It fries everything in its path and leaves every organ in the body, from blood vessels to brain cells and even the sexual system, charred like overcooked bacon for the rest of its delicate life.

My friend Tex got hit by lightning one gloomy afternoon in the parking lot of the Woody Creek Tavern. "It kicked the mortal shit out of me," he said later. "It blasted me fifty goddamn feet across the road and over a snow fence. I was out for forty minutes, and when I woke up I smelled like death."

I was there that day, and I thought a bomb had gone off right in front of me. I was unconscious for a while, but not for long. When I woke up I was being dragged toward a shiny sky-blue ambulance by two well-meaning medics from the Sheriff's Office....I twisted out of their grasp and backed against an ice machine. "Okay, boys," I said calmly, "the Joke is over. Let's not get crazy about this. Give me some air, gentlemen," I croaked. "I feel a little jangled, but I know it will pass. Get your hands off me, you pigfucker."

No doubt it sounded rude to casual onlookers, but in truth it was not. I was just kidding with them. They know me.

· · ·

Friday afternoons are usually loose and happy in this valley, but today was different. I live in the mountains at an altitude of 8,000 feet, which is roughly a mile and a half high. That is "big air," as they say in the zoom-zoom business. It makes for large lungs and thin blood, along with dangerously expensive real estate. Life has always been a little spooky up here, but now as this vicious new century swarms over us like a fester of kudzu vines, life in these mountains is becoming living relentless hell.

The whole state of Colorado is on fire, according to The New York Times, and the nerdish Republican Governor is raving like a banshee about the death of Colorado as we know it before the summer is over.

That would be about 90 days, on most calendars -- or right about September 11, 2002, only one horrible year after those stupid bastards blew up the WTC...We will actually be at war by then, and anybody who doesn't like it will be locked up in a military holding pen.

· · ·

Weird things happen when you get whacked by serious lightning. Many years ago, nineteen (19) members of the Strange family in North Carolina were struck at the same instant when they all leaned against a chain-link fence at a July 4 fireworks display. They all survived, but none prospered. It was like some horrible merciless coincidence out of the Old Testament -- or extremely bad karma, to millions of non-Christians, among whom I definitely count myself. I have abandoned all forms & sects of the practicing Christian Church.

I have seen thousands of priests and bishops and even the Pope himself transmogrified in front of our eyes into a worldwide network of thieves and perverts and sodomites who relentlessly penetrate children of all genders and call it holy penance for being born guilty in the eyes of the Church.

I have seen the Jews run amok in Palestine like bloodthirsty beasts with no shame, and six million brainless Baptists demanding the death penalty without any trial at all for pagans and foreigners and people like me who won't pray with them in those filthy little shacks they call churches. They are like a swarm of rats fleeing a swoop fire, and I want no part of them. Indeed, I have my own faith and my own gods to worship, and I have been doing it with a certain amount of distinction for ten thousand years, like some fine atomic clock with ever-lasting batteries.

Whoops! I have wandered off on some kind of vengeful tangent, here, and we don't really need it now, do we? So let us save that wisdom for later.

Copyright © 2003 by Gonzo International Corp.

Read More Show Less

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 26, 2011

    Pure Gonzo

    Atlanta, Georgia- Gonzo Journalism founder Hunter S. Thompson in Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century book rants and raves into his final crusade the lost American dream.
    America was suppose to be a new beacon of hope among men, and the founders sought to bring the best ideas forward to facilitate the evolution of the this great experiment of democracy forward.
    What Thompson does is deconstructs these ideas and delves into the failure of government.
    This book is a collection of stories and adventures from originating from the fifties to the later part of the 20th century. In his later days, disillusion Thompson kept his keen eye on the true landscape of the disintegrating place known as the USA.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2003

    The best book of the year!!

    Kingdom of Fear has Thompson's usual insane narrative and jumping around but it is as potent as ever even all these years after Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Hunter Thompson has never stopped being an important author or above all journalist and this book has little snap shots into his personal and professional life that even a casual fan of his will find interesting. But make no mistake, this book isn't just for Thompson fans, it's for anyone who was alive in the 20th century.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2003

    I rate this book AWESOME!

    I have flipped through this book at the store near where I live, and let me tell you: This man is one honest dude! He may be 65, but from what is in this book you would never even care that he was born long before the stuff us 20 somethings were born with. This book is 100% pure genious, and I would recommend it to Daniel Rather, Bill O'Reilly, Dr Laura Schlessinger, Rev Al Sharpton and Rev Jesse Jackson, all the censors at ABC News, NBC News, Fox News and anyone who wants to see just how true Plato's cave theory is... just by reading this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2003

    Too Much Fun Club

    Ok, so Hunter might use certain phrases a little too often at points, but if thats the worst criticism an author faces then its not too shabby. The book is amazing, i guess its a memoir but its not, just like any other Hunter book you learn something new about him, but at the same time must take everything with a grain of salt wandering what is or is not true. Now for the good stuff: Hunter is a literary giant and deserves to be, his prose is like no other his ability to instill feelings of "fear and loathing" is unmatched. Just when that starts to get too much, the laughter rolls in, a sick and twisted laughter yes but laughter none the less, displayed perfectly in his story about "The Judge", a certain supreme court justice who had certain problems with a certain female. Hunter discusses his campaign for sheriff of Aspen as well as the criminal charges brough against him in the 90's. The book is a priceless gem, but if you have not read any other Hunter i would choose another book first, probably fear and loathing in las vegas or if you are looking for the more hardcore journalism go with Hell's Angels...if you have waded in the pool that is Gonzo, then take a deep breath in prepare to be submerged and thrust into the life of one of the greatest authors of the modern era

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2012

    Brilliant

    Some of Hunters best work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2004

    The King of Gonzo

    Another great piece by the master of Gonzo journalism. His life stories make for a tome far greater, and better, than War and Peace. A true legend!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2003

    major fan of Warren Zevon and giving H.S.T. a try

    alothough I haven't read the book, I've heard the song that he wrote with Warren Zevon, also titled 'Kingom of Fear', and decided to see what all of the rave is about.Hey, if Warren Zevon likes the guy he's gotta be good. (oh yeah congrats on his wedding to Anita)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2003

    Expected more from Thompson

    One of the great things about Hunter Thompson is that, at least early in his writing career, he could live the life of excess (putting it mildly) without it adversely affecting his work. But as he has aged he seems to not have this ability to be creative out of his consumpsion. I found this book to be little more than ranting and ravings and rehash. This book may have contained some new material, but I found a lot of older work here also and the new stuff didn't have that spark of genius as his earlier works. Overall, a big disappointment. I suppose I will just have to enjoy his earlier works and hope that Hunter puts more honest effort into his next release.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2003

    A great book/memoir/gonzo journalism

    Just got the book yesterday, so I haven't had a chance to read it through all the way, but Hunter really seems to go into detail about his 1990 lifestyle bust. He has a lot to say about the the Bush's........Its been a really good read so far....Includes Fear and Loathing in Elko, Taco Stand and he also writes about his time as night manager of the O'Farell theater in SF

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    Posted October 25, 2010

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    Posted March 3, 2009

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    Posted January 8, 2010

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    Posted March 29, 2009

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    Posted October 4, 2011

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