Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like "I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive. ..." And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about 100 miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: "Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?"
Then it was quiet again. My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest, to facilitate the tanning process. "What the hell are you yelling about?" he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses. "Never mind," I said. "It's your turn to drive." I hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.
Perhaps the greatest pair of opening paragraphs in history. These days you can get the story free (and entirely legitimately) from the Rolling Stone website. I, however, can remember buying it as a Paladin paperback in the Cardiff bookshop Lear's in the late 70s.

That is the same place (now lost to us) where I got my imported Tom Wolfe Bantam paperbacks. They seemed glamorous, I remember, because the odd glossy page of advertisements was bound into them.

It doesn't make sense now, but that is how it felt at the time. (I must have that translated into Latin so I can use it as a motto.)
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