Friday, May 11, 2007

Hunter S. Thompson at the Derby

For some reason, Vinny's post about O.J. Simpson's Derby week run-in with a Louisville restaurateur reminded me of something else that I couldn't put my finger on for a couple of days. Then, last night, I remembered-- Hunter S. Thompson ran into his own problems at a Louisville restaurant during Derby week, and he recounted them in his famous Scanlon's Monthly article, "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved":

"Look, Ralph," I said. "Let's not kid ourselves. That was a very horrible drawing you gave him. It was the face of a monster. It got on his nerves very badly." I shrugged. "Why in hell do you think we left the restaurant so fast?"

"I thought it was because of the Mace," he said.

"What Mace?" He grinned.

"When you shot it at the headwaiter, don't you remember?"

"Hell, that was nothing," I said. "I missed him...and we were leaving, anyway."

"But it got all over us," he said. "The room was full of that damn gas. Your brother was sneezing was and his wife was crying. My eyes hurt for two hours. I couldn't see to draw when we got back to the motel."

"That's right," I said. "The stuff got on her leg, didn't it?"

"She was angry," he said.

"Yeah...well, okay...Let's just figure we f__ed up about equally on that one," I said. "But from now on let's try to be careful when we're around people I know. You won't sketch them and I won't Mace them. We'll just try to relax and get drunk."

"Right," he said. "We'll go native."

This article remains one of my all-time favorites. According to lore, a booze and drug addled Thompson was up against a deadline and hadn't written his article, so he gathered up various scraps of paper containing notes that he scratched out over the course of Kentucky Derby weekend, and mailed them to his editor. The result is a Gonzo classic, and you can read the whole thing right here.

1 comment:

Vinny said...

That's one of my favorite reads.