Articles and essays


Where were you when the fun stopped?

Mistah Leary, He Dead

HST Obituary for John Belushi


by John A. Bielby

Christine: We did find John at last, for those who remember my plea. He was surprised to find the story circulating. Visit his site, AuthorWorld. Ah, for our American friends, Canada has a wonderful thing called the National Film Board, or NFB. No doubt you've seen one of their million cartoon shorts or works on Canadian life, such as "Forbidden Love" and "The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes".

There's nothing better than a cigarette in the morning. Filling your lungs with bleak, grey smoke and then spitting it out seems symbolic in a grand literary fashion especially on this equally bleak, grey dawn. Literary heroes and intellectual geniuses like myself from across the ages have toiled in conditions like these: as pawns to be pushed around the board by the current matriarchs of society. Hemingway stumbled onto the game and blew his brains out. Fitzgerald was too drunk to notice he was only the top hat in the Monopoly game of life but it drove his wife Zelda bonkers and drove him to an early grave when he rolled doubles one too many times. Christ, even Socrates was crucified by the powers that be when he got too uppity.

Long chains of barbed wire are strung across my window so I will not scamper outside and into my neighbour, the National Film Board complex. The building is a bleak pile of bricks on the edge of a parking lot the size of an airplane field and it has a huge smoke stack that spews toxic fumes all night and day while guards patrol the perimeter. I have no idea what twisted madness goes on there. They could be forcing faded celebrities to brutally sodomize dolphins for all I know. What really happened to Bob Crane. It doesn't matter though, at least not to me. I still have lots of chilled whisky in the freezer and Jann Wenner has promised me thousands for this garbled tale of fear and loathing. Today I ventured into the very heart of the beast and came out with my soul untouched, even if my body is a shabby ruin and my credit rating has been slashed to bits like Alexander's knot. I've been run out of my precious farm in the United States and have taken refuge in some Québécois wasteland, like a dictator fleeing after the fall of his empire. Guns, violence, drugs, madness, pornography, gibberish and bad publicity were eventually too much for my old neighbours so dead animals were left impaled on my door each morning, progressively becoming more and more creatively skewered until I got the message and fled here to Montreal.

There are dozens of tiny banks dotting this new, great country of Canada like zits. Apart they are rinky dink and amateurish, easily duped for the most part and vengeful when the realize it. They'll leave a family homeless with the same zeal an eight year old uses in teasing a cripple. Taken as a whole, our banks are a dangerous mess. They have all our money. I know people who wouldn't trust their wives alone with a fifty dollar bill for an afternoon, yet these same people foist all the earnings into the hands of greedy, grey little men who then lend it back to them for an extravagant profit. There are no differences between the banks, as logic would dictate. They are only twisted clones of each other, whitewashed with different coats of paint so the layman imagines there is a distinction. I, however, have seen that there is no distinction. These maggots are all part of an oligopoly whose sole purpose is to slowly twist any blood it can from the innocent while supplying whores, drugs, and booze to those who run it. It is a vicious shell game they are playing and it was only today that I burst into the temple like Christ himself running amok, kicking over tables and whipping the guilty. My name is Hunter S. Thompson and today I went to the bank.

I finally ventured out of my lair around two o'clock, three hours late. There wasä a blazing, celebrity Sun scorching down on me when I first tried to leave around noon, and it was too much to take so I fled back inside and kept drinking with my friends. Stuart was trying to sell me his 1981 Dassia, a hulking Romanian station wagon. If anything can survive a brutal Oregon winter and the vicious treatment I would inflict like a cruel slave master, I figured it had to be the Dassia. A casual look at the thing revealed it to be a scaled down, suburbanized model of a Warsaw Pact tank. There was only enough room in the behemoth for four people, if they all squeezed together like corpses in a mass grave, because the thick, half foot frame of cheap Russian tin took up any available space. When I was a child, we had a contest to see who could drop an egg form the third floor of school without breaking. It was some asinine thing the principle thought up to try and interest us in Physics, though it mostly served to smash a good two hundred unborn chickens into a chunky smear in the teacher's parking lot. We could put the egg in any container we wanted, as if that helped, and if I could do it again I'd hoist that Dassia up to the roof and toss the egg in before sending it plunging back to the Earth. Christ, what was my point? I have no idea why the egg contest was relevant or even what would happen to the egg. My Physics teacher was an escaped war criminal that I paid little attention to. All I know was that heaving that station wagon onto my school would have been one hell of a spectacle and that the Dassia would have come out without so much as a scratch on its greasy headlight. The car was solid.

Stuart only wanted three hundred and fifty dollars for the that scary tank. It would be easily worth that, even if the engine shuddered and blew into a fiery death trap by March. When you're in journalism events can quickly cross the line over into Twilight Zone fantasy, only there's no pale mortician in a bad suit and stuffed on downers telling you where the story ends: you have to figure that out for yourself. A battletruck would be useful for plunging into crowds of degenerates and protecting myself from any crazed felons I've crossed over the years. We live in uncertain times and sealing myself into a massive, mobile bunker would be comforting.

My bold, clever plan was to get a short term loan from the bank so I would be able to afford the car, pay my rent before Gerry , our cheap swindler landlord who has chains dripping down to his bare navel, threw me into the street like the impotent nazi be thatä he is, and still remain pumped up on the finest whisky and speed available to modern man. I didn't actually have an account anywhere. I like to deal in cool, crumpled bills that I can use to wipe sweat from my forehead and fondle for cheap thrills. Booklets with numbers interest me about as much as the 1940 economics of Namimbia. My wife made an appointment for me at eleven o'clock and anyone who hadn't forecasted Mondale for President could have told you I would be late but she didn't listen and went ahead anyways.

In retrospect, it was probably a bad idea to have done the acid. My friend Tanjir, a wild drummer and spiritualist had advised me that a half hit would prod me into the proper state of being, and he knows what he's talking about. Two and a half hits had put me on edge and the speed had just whipped me into a tense frenzy so my neck was twisting back and forth from side to side in weird spasms. I pumped back a half bottle of Wild Turkey to calm me down and straighten up my vision, maybe even make my hair grow back, but it hadn't helped. Neither did the second half I guzzled after running from the late morning Sun.

The guards in the bank, usually laborious in looking unconcerned, eyed me with a zealous worry when I stumbled in about two thirty. I had changed back into my peppermint coloured Bermuda shorts and bright yellow t-shirt while chug-a-lugging the booze and the uncultured louts seemed to be eyeing my progressive fashion sense with a combination of envy and fear. Toddering octogenarians turned away from me as I waltzed across the lobby, no doubt shy about meeting such a famous and talented journalist as myself. Buck toothed rug rats pointed and gaped. Surely they had heard their fathers recount the grand tales I had published. Bats. Nixon. Ibogaine. Fear and Loathing. It wasn't so long ago. Hell, there were swooping bats right there in the bank.

I had always had bad luck in banks. Whenever I tried to cash my cheques they took a piss, fucking long time to pass me the money. They lingered over their work as they tap tap tapped on their computers and gazed like retarded monkeys at the monitor. My signature had never remained the same for more than a few weeks in my life so whenever I would saunter in and scrawl whatever fanciful loops I fancied at the time, they would always give it a hard look and then berate me like a child writing in pencil instead of pen on an exam. Jesus, didn't they know who I was? I was allowed to do that sort of thing! I was Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

One on occasion I had swindled a welfare check from some reprobate in a weekend long poker tournament. I needed the money for a run of mescaline just in from the coast and they gave me the most persistent, circular argument I've every encountered in my life. By the time the manager had cooly strutted over to me, informing me the money had to remain in an account for three days before I could see any lettuce, I was so pumped up by my own anger that I would have fucked Richard Nixon a dozen times over had he been there. I whipped my zippo out and lit a cigarette (strictly verboten) before setting my bankbook blazing and tossing it down on a stack of deposit forms only people like Gandhi and Sinead O'Connor really know.

Sinead O'Connor is remarkable. To see her on tv bombasting whoever she feels like brings a magical flowing to my veins in this generation of doomed ingrates. Fuck her career. Fuck everybody. She had enough money to live like a rational woman for the rest of her life so screw them all. So do I for that matter, but I digress. The speed is wearing off now and I can feel exhaustion and the idea of rest rearing its ugly head in the back of my mind, I have to finish this tale before I collapse in a heap for seventy-two hours.

I ended up doing pirouettes around a pillar of aluminum used to keep the herd in line before someone finally noticed me and ushered me into the loan officer's office. She was a svelte thing whose hairdo would have fallen like a cake in a drum factory without all the hairspray. Her office - really a cubicle with cardboard walls and a picture of the President - was tiny, as if mice were the usually customers who came begging for some cheese. She pored over a thin file in front of her before looking up with a greedy, politician smile. "So what can we do for you Mr. Thompson?"

"Doctor Thompson,"I corrected her in a dull mumble. I told her the tale of the Dassia, briefly in a Reader's Digest style since I wasn't being paid by the word like I am here. She assured me there would be no problems, in the same somber tone of voice an old girlfriend once told me she was pregnant: sad, sad, sorry but true.

She started to fill out a form and looked awkwardly in the air. "What's the date?"


She gave me a puzzled glare before I caught myself and tossed off the current date. We hammered out a few details of when I would pay the money back and insurance and so on. She filled out a long, typed form as she went along asking questions and I wasn't terribly offended - even if she hadn't complimented me on my last book. I doubt that such a prissy little loans manager (I say as if loan manager were synonymous with cancerous sores) would be involved in fine literature like mine. In fact, there seem to be fewer and fewer people delving into my continuing chronicle of the American Dream. I wondered if she could see the purple time whirlpool slowly beginning to spin and blow behind her.

"I need two references, please,"she said and then looked up. "Doctor Thompson, are you all right?"

I figure a tab of acid had lodged itself in my throat or lungs or oesophagus and only now had dissolved into my bloodstream, like mercury in a stream serving as fodder for the tiny fish. A deep crimson haze suddenly paled over the room and a dark alarm began sounding like a soundtrack faint in the background.

"References?"I screamed. "You don't trust me?"

She stammered and leaned forward, waiting for a punch line. "Excuse me?"

"I am Dr. Hunter Stockton Thompson!" I bellowed and jammed a cigarette into my slick, black holder. "I don't need to give references for a measly three hundred and fifty dollars! I am a spokesman of my generation! A man of letters!"

She stood up and the blood dropped down to her feet, leaving the rest of her pale and confused. I could tell, had she half the courage of a crippled gnat that she would have spit out, "I'm sorry, Doctor. I was just so overwhelmed by your presence. I didn't want to fawn like the rest of those fools! Here let me make it up to you..." but instead she had finally bolstered the courage to bolt for the phone. If only I had mace.

Then it hit me: the car. Jesus, I'm not going to get the loan if these keeps up. "Fine!"I howled and tore my wallet out. I started launching tiny business cards around the room as if they were kites with invisible strings. "I'll give you references! How about Jann Wenner! Anthony Burgess! Richard Fucking Milhouse Nixon! How's that for references!"

"Mr. Thompson, please--"she cried.


I swooped down on her desk and swooped her papers to the floor in a heap. I started screaming in tongues and waving my arms like a scarecrow that had been bitten a by crows once too often. I spun about like a weather vane in a hurricane and burst out of her cubicle into the main lobby of the bank.

"Get your money!"I roared. "The bank's folding! Get your money!"

The customers glanced back in terror, rather than the expected curiosity and odd envy. Two hired guns suddenly lunged at me so I grabbed a silver guard rail and began wildly swinging it around me, yelling over and over about Nixon, Reagan, and Chinese domestic food consumption. The memories are hazy at this point. The whirling roar of the time whirlpool, as it grew and sucked up everything in its path including the two guards was too loud for me to hear anything being said. Under the cover of the howling wind and tiny, fuzzy dragons I stormed out of the bank and leapt into a passing cab.

The driver seemed flustered and nervous, what with the approaching sirens, the berserk fashion I burst into his car, and the yelping dinosaur that had stomped out of the bank after me but a twenty dollar bill silenced him and I headed home. I had to phone Wenner and get a check from him before I wrote this down. After all, when the going gets weird the weird go pro. What an exclusive!

The banking regulations rolled back by that senile loon Reagan have set up a silver pair of tongs aimed right at the balls of America. Those cold demigods that hoard our money and dole it out to us as if we were children on an allowance should be toppled to the ground like a cigarette lit at the wrong end. If there was ever a real revolution needed, it is now in a society where you can't buy a car without giving blood to a bunch of forty story leeches. I urge everyone to go and find their bankers' car. Look for the gaudy foreign made giants with cheap Korean cellular phones. Sneak back in the heart of darkness and use a jagged stiletto to carve "WHITE POWER" on both sides. When they drive to work the next day they will be attacked by hoards of marauding blacks, rightly outraged at such a brazen display of bourgeoisie. Riots will break out and fire will engulf our cities like those vicious images in Revelations and only then, out of the destruction of these institutions will be able to build a better world where children go to bed full of candy, husbands enjoy sex with their wives, and a gram of weed really weighs a gram.

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