liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,

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Why I love Hunter S. Thompson

I must re-read Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail 1972 again. It's one of those books of 512 pages of sheer brilliance and rage as Hunter S. Thompson watches Nixon win the U.S. Presidency through the presidential campaign season.

The best part of the book is when he writes about the Vietnam Veterans Against the War marching down the streets of Miami Beach. The goal was to try to get into the Republican National Convention to deliver their message (they failed). Thompson goes into details about the march to the Fontainebleau Hotel and how just the physical presence of these guys scared the shit out of the cops, even though most of the marchers were severely injured. Here's a passage from that chapter:

But as I drove toward Key Biscayne with the top down, squinting into the sun, I saw the Vets...They were moving up Collins Avenue in dead silence; twelve hundred of them dressed in battle fatigues, helmets, combat boots...a few carried full-size plastic M-16s, many peace symbols, girlfriends walking beside vets being pushed along the street in slow-moving wheelchairs, others walking jerkily on crutches...But nobody spoke; all the "stop, start," "fast, slow" "left, right" commands came from "platoon leaders" walking slightly off to the side of the main column and using hand signals.

One look at the eerie procession killed my plan to go swimming that afternoon. I left my car at a parking meter in front of the Cadillac Hotel and joined the march...No, "joined" is the wrong word; that was not the kind of procession you just walked up and "joined." Not without paying some very heavy dues: an arm gone here, a leg there, paralysis, a face full of lumpy scar tissue...all staring straight ahead as the long silent column moved between rows of hotel porches full of tight-lipped Senior Citizens, through the heart of Miami Beach.

The silence of the march was contagious, almost threatening. There were hundreds of spectators, but nobody said a word. I walked beside the column for ten blocks, and the only sounds I remember hearing were the soft thump of boot leather on hot asphalt and the occasional rattling of an open canteen top.

Thompson has a new Fear and Loathing article for The Presidential Campaign 2004. Check out the Rolling Stone article and be awestruck.

My favorite line in the article? The one that shows Thompson's sheer brilliance? It's this one:

The question this year is not whether President Bush is acting more and more like the head of a fascist government but if the American people want it that way. That is what this election is all about.

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