Bill Cardoso

Page added 1999
Last updated March-5-2006

Update: Last week I received the unfortunate news that Bill passed away on February 25, 2006. He has been ill with bacterial pneumonia for some time; and cause of death is given as cardiac arrest.

Update 2003: Apparently Bill is living in Lucerne, California, having survived throat cancer. You can also find an article by Bill in the June 1977 issue of Hustler called "The San Francisco Fag Murders". Your best bet to find this is eBay.

1984 author pic

In a nut, coiner of the phrase "gonzo" and close friend of HST. The Maltese Sangweech, his first book, is a collection of articles written in the seventies. He was born and raised in Boston, worked for the Boston Globe and eventually became a freelance writer. His coverage of the 1968 McCarthy campaign earned him a national reputation. According to the flap of Sangweech, he currently lives in California and was working on another book.

Recollections from Hunter, by E. Jean Carroll:

Hunter's such an amazingly brutish physical specimen. I couldn't believe his stamina. I remember he tore apart his hotel room in New Hampshire when he was covering Jean-Claude Killy. It was a f--king mess...I mean just demolished it. Everything. I said "I'm getting outta here. I'm the editor of The Boston Globe Magazine. The police are going to be here any minute."...Then he wrote the Kentucky Derby piece...And I sent him a letter. I said, "I don't know what the f--k you're doing, but you've changed everything. It's totally gonzo.

I think the word comes from the French Canadian. It's a corruption of g-o-n-z-e-a-u-x. Which is French Canadian for "shining path".

My marriage had broken up. I was brokenhearted and crazy. And he (HST) invited me to come to Colorado and cool out. He put me in the cellar of Owl Farm. It was like being in a penitentiary. It was a tiny little room, a penitent's cell. I had to go through a trapdoor. Then down a ladder. And then Hunter would bolt the trapdoor. And lock me down there and not allow me to come up until he left the house. I'm telling you the truth. He had to lower a bottle of scotch on a rope in the morning. Then Sandy would unlatch the trapdoor and I would come up and I would drink scotch with her. Then in the evening we would go to the Hotel Jerome and meet Hunter.

He had the world's fastest motorcycle. It was in Hollywood. He asked me to drive him to Orange County. It was night. He had to pick up the bike. It was Japanese. It was supposed to be the fastest bike in the world. He check everything out. Got on, and that was the end of him. He roared off to hell.

Cardoso and HST were together again for the Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire. Rather interestingly, Cardoso's name is spelt Cardoza in Shadow Box as well as in When the Going Gets Weird by Peter O. Whitmer. George Plimpton fondly writes of the pair:

Cardoza and Thompson talked in an odd pidgin English they had developed: "He very m'Bele. He okay. Very, very m'Bele." Cardoza said that his English had disintegrated, since his arrival in September, into an amalgam of Lingala, French and English, plus a little Portuguese in deference to his own blood, and his and Thompson's behavior around town was almost as puzzling as their language. In the bars Hunter signed his a number of his checks "Martin Bormann" and Cardoza signed his "Pottstown Batal Bogas" - a name had made up for an imaginary football team. Occasionally, Cardoza would lean forward and grasp two black miniature hands hanging from a thin gold chain around Hunter's neck and shake them at people in the bars. He introduced Thompson as Chief N'Doke from the Foreman camp - "Big Doctore." Thompson let himself be pushed around by his small, agile friend, his necklace shaken at people. He seemed very abstracted. It was often apparent he had Martin Bormann on his mind. (Plimpton, p226)

Maltese Sangweech cover

The Maltese Sangweech is a collection of articles by Cardoso, including his Zaire piece. It is endorsed by Thompson on the jacket. I really find his writing interesting - it's almost the same as Terry Southern, but more sensitive. Like all good gonzo journalists, getting the story and being a part of the story is the story. By pure chance I found this mint copy (I seriously doubt it had been read, it was like new) for $4 at a used book store.