Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Savage Intensity of Gonzo

"I felt like Martin Bormman. What would happen to this poor wretch when we cut her loose? Jail? White slavery? . . .
"All this was academic, of course. Lucy was a potentially fatal millstone on both our necks. There was absolutely no choice but to cut her adrift and hope her memory was f***ed. But some acid victims -- especially nervous mongoloids -- have a strange kind of idiot-savant capacity for remembering odd details and nothing else. It was possible that Lucy might spend two more days in the grip of total amnesia, then snap out of it with no memory of anything but our room number at the Flamingo. . . .
"I thought about this . . . but the only alternative was to take her out to the desert and feed her remains to the lizards."
-- Hunter S. Thompson
Whatever happened to Lucy, the runaway teenage Jesus freak whose bizarre artistic obsession with Barbra Streisand led her, by disastrous chance, into a drug-addled tryst with Oscar Zeta Acosta at the Flamingo Resort Hotel in Las Vegas in 1971? Assuming she survived being abandoned in Vegas and managed to recover sufficiently from the LSD to live a more or less normal life, Lucy would now be 65 or so. You have to wonder if she even has any inkling of her feature cameo appearance in one of the most famous literary products of the Psychedelic Age.

Oh, I'm not musing entirely at random here. One of my habits is re-reading favorite books. For the past few days I've been browsing through "the Vegas book" during smoke breaks and at bedtime.
"Things were good at Empower America [in late 1994]. Newly elected members of Congress called our offices to thank us for what we had done in giving them the ammunition they needed to campaign. Ralph Reed called to see if I wanted to help with more speeches and possibly help him write his next book, for a mainstream publisher. Bill Bennett walked into my office and said that he had recommended me to help write some of Bob Dole's speeches, since Dole was now running for preisdent. Mike Gerson popped in and said he had recommended me to a newly elected senator from Missouri named John Ashcroft. Life was perfect."
-- David Kuo, Tempting Faith

Not entirely random, you see. Because while out for a pre-dawn smoke break this morning, I happened to skim over Thompson's description of Lucy, and my mind flashed back to that quote from Kuo's assistant at Culture11:

How would we be different, David asked, if we had the same writers as everyone else?
That was all the permission we needed to become, as David would often say, "Rolling Stone in the '70s." We wanted to be the place that found the next Cameron Crowes and Hunter Thompsons.

Was Cameron Crowe or Hunter Thompson ever employed at a think tank or as a Senate speechwriter? Thompson once ran for sheriff, but . . .

"Bush was the real deal. . . . He was the embodiment of the Christian political statesman I had dreamed of finding and dreamed of being. . . . [After meeting Bush in Texas in 1998] I called my good friend Joe Klein and babbled like a 1960s girl who had just seen the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show."
-- David Kuo, Tempting Faith

Maybe if Kuo had said, "I babbled like a 1980s girl who had just seen Duran Duran on MTV" . . . but enough of that. I got an e-mail from someone Saturday:

When Kuo was demanding that everyone work out of a high priced office on the Alexandria waterfront instead of just letting it be a collection of nationwide-based authors, you had to know he didn't have a clue. That thing was the Hindenburg.

From launch in August to collapse in January, Kuo burned through Culture11's start-up capital in something short of six months. No Crowes or Thompsons escaped the flaming wreckage. And somewhere out there is 65-year-old Lucy, the one person on earth who could ever possibly make sense of it all.

1 comment:

  1. Robert, can I ask you a question though, after all the support you gave her in those two months, why
    did you turn your back on her, by telling everyone you knew to vote for Bob Barr? Conor, I canunderstand,
    but I don't get that.