Fear and Loathing On the ’08 Campaign Trail
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas;
courtesy of Universal Pictures
… Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Drink the Kool-Aid
Greetings and salutations* film nerds from Coos County, New Hampshire where Poppa H has just barreled in from Iowa aboard a supercharged version of Ken Kesey’s Magic Bus, just in time for the big show: the New Hampshire Presidential Primary. Shouldn’t MRF be headed to Sundance? Three words: Banned by Redford, but that’s not why I’m rocking the N.H. To quote Dan Rather, “this year’s election is as wide-open as a hobo’s mouth in a pie-eating contest” so here we are … in Coos County? You’ve got to be kidding.
My latest caprice started New Year’s Eve, when me and my gonzoest colleagues, Raoul Duke and Oscar Acosta (a.k.a. Dr. Gonzo) to name a few, got together and capriciously decided to take a cross-country road trip similar to the one made famous in Tom Wolfe’s book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Our destination: The 2008 Campaign Trail.
What the hell got into us? Lots of Kool-Aid mixed with an altruistic urge to put our f’d up lives on hold for a few months to bow up against the Evil Empire that’s been enslaving our world one war at a time for the last eight years. To you glass-half-empty people, it may look like the world’s gone to hell in a shit basket but don’t you know every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around? ...*
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas;
courtesy of Universal Pictures
Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride … HST
Not to get too metaphysical but, after we embarked on our gonzo mission, my hare-brained “hope for a better tomorrow” hunch was validated by the appearance of one of my most esteemed gonzo elders, the ghost of King Gonzo himself, Hunter S. Thompson. I stumbled upon his apparition rummaging through the wet bar at 5 a.m. in search of Chivas Regal, seemingly none worse for wear after being dead for three years. I let the spook wet his parched beak in our scotch oasis repeatedly before approaching the debauched legend. Once close, his ghostly countenance turned and mumbled, like we were old friends, “MRF, you will find your gonzo calling on the campaign trail. Go to New Hampshire. Get knee deep in Coos.”
Hunter pointed the finger of God straight at me then downed another scotch and was gone. The next instant, I woke from a fever dream (somewhere in Nebraska) resolved to overcome my Fear and Loathing for all things politically corrupt and to wield my sardonic verbal nunchucks for justice in ‘08. I had answered my non-film nerd related calling—who the fuck knew?
The original gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson
When the Going Gets Weird, the Weird Turn Pro … HST
Now for the rest of the story… if the Ghost of HST wasn’t straight-edge enough, things got Kucinich Weird once one of my colleagues whipped out a fossilized joint in the john laced with adrenochrome. “What is this?” I asked Dr. Gonzo. “You won't need much,” he said. “That stuff makes pure mescaline seem like ginger-beer … One whiff of that shit will turn you into something out of a goddamn medical encyclopedia …* Only one whiff?
Too Weird to Live (Free), Too Rare to Die (Hard)
When I finally came to, the back alley ambiance of the bus was so … incredibly rotten and foul. How long had I been lying there? Hours? Days? Months? As I hobbled around like a newly risen ape, I noticed evidence of excessive consumption of almost every type of drug known to civilized man since 1544 AD. It looked like the sight of some disastrous zoological experiment involving whiskey and gorillas …*
But what kind of addict would need all these coconut husks and crushed honeydew rinds? Would the presence of us (political) junkies account for all these uneaten french fries? These puddles of glazed ketchup on the bureau? Maybe so but then, why all this booze? And these crude pornographic photos smeared with mustard that had dried to a hard yellow crust ... These were not the hoof prints of normal god-fearing (political) junkies …*
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; courtesy of Columbia Pictures
Get Inspired, Go to The Movies
And so it was, here I am today (barely) knee deep in the “Coos” Hunter prophesied. What does it all mean? Who knows but let’s bring it home with a message: this election year, how about Poppa Filibuster directs the attention of all you registered voters to a few choice political flics that (to me) represent what we should be looking for in our next president. After watching either of the Capra films listed below, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington or Meet John Doe, guess which candidate I’m backing and win a free enchilada of your choice from Chevy’s (courtesy of 7x7sf.com).
While I hit the NH streets to scoop Fox News and the rest of the mainstream media like the lockstep, slack-jawed fuckwads they are, I’ll leave you Gonzo Citizens to ponder your own personal Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. Just remember what your momma said, if you really want sweeping change brothers and sisters, you gotta pick up a broom.
Until next time, this is you-know-who signing off. Rock the vote America, be bad and get into trouble baby …* MRF
Election Year Movie Picks to Click
• Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) Dir. Capra
• Meet John Doe (1941) Dir. Capra
• Being There (1979) Dir. Ashby
• The Manchurian Candidate (1962) – Dir. Frankenheimer
• All the President’s Men (1976) Dir. Pakula
Volume 46 Footnotes
• “Greetings and salutations..” – Heathers (1991): Christian Slater doing his best Nicholson impersonation to a monacle-lovin’ Winona Ryder.
• “Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around ...” – Vanilla Sky (2001): Catlike Penelope Cruz’ inspires a lovelorn Tom Cruise to open his eyes while jumping off the World Trade Center.
• “You won't need much, that stuff makes pure mescaline seem like ginger-beer…One whiff of that shit would turn you into something out of a goddamn medical encyclopedia..” “Where'd you get this? There's only one source for adrenochrome -- the adrenaline gland from a living human body!” – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998): Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro say goodbye to reality before chewing on a human adrenal gland while inhabiting the gonzo world of the late great HSR.
• “When I came to, the general back alley ambiance of the suite was so… incredibly foul. How long had I been lying there? Hours? Days? Months? As I hobbled around the trashed room like a newly risen ape, I noticed evidence … of excessive consumption of almost every type of drug known to civilized man since 1544 AD. It looked like the sight of some disastrous zoological experiment involving whiskey and gorillas …” – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998): Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro inhale every drug on earth while inhabiting the gonzo world of the late great Gonzo himself, HSR.
• “But what kind of addict would need all these coconut husks and crushed honeydew rinds? Would the presence of (political) junkies account for all these uneaten french fries? These puddles of glazed ketchup on the bureau? Maybe so, but then why all this booze? And these crude pornographic photos smeared with mustard that had dried to a hard yellow crust ... These were not the hoof prints of your normal god-fearing (political) junkie …” – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998): Johnny Depp reflects on a party gone most foul while inhabiting the gonzo world of the late great Gonzo himself, HSR.
• “Let’s get into trouble baby.” – Tapeheads (1988): Soul Train host Don Cornelius (as Hollywood Producer Mo Fuzz) to upstart filmmakers Tim Robbins and John Cusack.