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From 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 a hundred 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.


There was also the socio-psychic factor. Every now and then when life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only real cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas. To relax as it were, in the womb of the desert sun. Just roll the roof back and screw it on, grease the face with white tanning butter, and move out with the music at top volume, and at least a pint of ether.


One toke? You poor fool! Wait till you see those goddamn bats. I could barely hear the radio ... slumped over on the far side of the seat, grappling with a tape recorder turned all the way up on "Sympathy for the Devil." That was the only tape we had, so we played it constantly, over and over, as a kind of demented counterpoint to the radio. And also to maintain our rhythm on the road. A constant speed is good for gas mileage- and for some reason that seemed important at the time. Indeed. On a trip like this one must be careful about gas consumption. Avoid those quick bursts of acceleration that drag blood to the back of the brain.


...but when I got there, the money-woman refused to give me more than $300 in cash. She had no idea who I was, she said, and by that time I was pouring sweat. My blood is too thick for California: I have never been able to properly explain myself in this climate. Not with the soaking sweats ... wild red eyeballs and trembling hands.


This is the main advantage of ether: it makes you behave like the village drunkard in some early Irish novel ... total loss of all basic motor skills: blurred vision, no balance, numb tongue- severance of all connection between the body and the brain. Which is interesting, because the brain continues to function more or less normally ... you can actually watch yourself behaving in this terrible way, but you can't control it.


But nobody can handle that other trip- the possibility that any freak with $1.98 can walk into the Circus-Circus and suddenly appear in the sky over downtown Las Vegas twelve times the size of God, howling anything that comes into his head. No, this is not a good town for psychedelic drugs. Reality itself is too twisted.


From Hell's Angels:


The dunes are flatter here, and on windy days sand blows across the highway, piling up in thick drifts as deadly as any oil slick... instant loss of control, a crashing, cartwheeling slide and maybe one of those two-inch notices in the paper the next day: "An unidentified motorcyclist was killed last night when he failed to negotiate a turn on Highway 1."

Indeed... but no sand this time, so the lever goes up into fourth, and now there's no sound except wind. Screw it all the way over, reach through the handlebars to raise the headlight beam, the needle leans down on a hundred, and wind-burned eyeballs strain to see down the centerline, trying to provide a margin for the reflexes.

But with the throttle screwed on, there is only the barest margin, and no room at all for mistakes. It has to be done right... and that's when the strange music starts, when you stretch your luck so far that fear becomes exhileration and vibrates along your arms. You can barely see at a hundred; the tears blow back so fast that they vaporize before they get to your ears. The only sounds are the wind and a dull roar floating back from the mufflers. You watch the white line and try to lean with it... howling through a turn to the right, then to the left, and down the long hill to Pacifica... letting off now, watching for cops, but only until the next dark stretch and another few seconds on the edge... The Edge... There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others- the living- are those who pushed their luck as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later.

But the edge is still Out there. Or maybe it's In. The association of motorcycles with LSD is no accident of publicity. They are both a means to an end, to the place of definitions.


From Songs of the Doomed:


But he was clearly sick and dangerous. He was a liar and a thief and a rapist who was probably incurable.... In some states they have Castration Programs for foul balls like this: Chop out the hormones, turn them into eunuchs with fat little hands and glistening eyes and wispy hair on their necks who don't mind admitting they're wrong.


I stared at him, but he was grinning like a newborn sheep. His mind was somewhere else. Lost and gone, like some kind of Pod with no pulse.... He was ugly and wrong. Deeply wrong, and now I knew what had to be done. The truthless little swine had left me no choice. He was evil....


There was a stupid kind of White Trash arrogance in his manner, and his eyes were like two holes poked into his skull with a cheap screwdriver.... I was beginning to hate the sight of Andrew. He was dumb and ugly and loud; a bonehead rapist with a big mouth and a mean spirit. So I busted him. It was easy....


Andrew never had a chance. Rodman got him in a death-grip Full Nelson while the teenage bailiff kicked him repeatedly in the groin until he finally sank to his knees and screamed desperately for help as Rodman pistol-whipped him from behind, then dragged him to his feet just as I got there and hooked Andrew twice in the groin before he even saw who I was. So I hit him again before Rodman could put him in manacles.... Other courthouse bystanders joined in- stomping and whooping as they swarmed over him. He was like a rubber chicken, kicking and jerking and screaming as I moved closer to the Beating Area and tried to catch his eye, but it was impossible. They were swollen shut, and I had a feeling he didn't want to talk to me anyway, if only because he was bitter.


But we brought out a massive backlash vote. They couldn't handle a mescaline-eating sherriff who shaved his head and looked like the devil.


In a way it was an almost accidental breakthrough- a whole new style of journalism which now passes for whatever Gonzo is... accident and desperation.


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