HST & Friends

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Media Treatments

HST's Friends

Time To Get Loaded

Spring, 1998

While recently shopping for magazines featuring FLLV, I came across this British men's mag called Loaded which set me back about $10. I didn't really pay too much attention to it because it was next to some gay magazines (somehow in the wrong section I guess :-D), and the pic on the cover was a pretty big turn off. But I caught the little print "with the good doctor" and knew it could only mean on thing and one person. Come to think of it, any magazine that has "for men who should know better" and "the Devil will find mags for idle hands to read" seems like a pretty good place to find HST. This mag is pretty cheeky too.

The article is by Bill Borrows, and is titled "Gonzo but not Forgottenzo" and this is the May 1998 issue. The interview took place in winter of 1997, while HST was writing "Doomed Love at the Taco Stand" for TIME. Pictures include a nice b/w portrait of HST, a picture of HST and Barrows in the kitchen, a "re-elect the president" Benton poster, HST shooting a gun over his head ("F--k off back to Manchester before I shoot you"), a bald pic of HST when he ran for sheriff ("That reminds me, I must Hoover the landing"), HST writing and smoking in his kitchen ("Dear Santa, thanks very much for the nice hat and fingerless gloves. I'm wearing them as I write..."), and HST and Johnny Depp ("You'd hardly know the difference"). This was Borrows second encounter with HST, the first time saw him fleeing from authorities with him and his driver covered in green dye.

The story before the interview is basically a British POV of Aspen; Barrows notes that there are several Al-Anon groups, a Men's support group and finally, a "Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous" meeting. "This is one f--ked-up town, and, fortunately, for the greatest living gentleman of American letters, Thompson is not much cared for in the Aspen of today" Barrows writes, noting the opinions of a bellboy at the Jerome Hotel and a clerk. Both shrug and say that HST is always drunk.

Borrows and his photographer arrived during one of the worst snowstorms of the season. They finally make it to Owl Farm, after gate-crashing "an international drug dealer...in search of the antidote for jet lag". The car triggers the alarm and a frightened peacock whangs itself into their front bumper (This part disturbs me a little, being the owner of two birds, but I'll admit, when you're brain is the size of a peanut, there's not all that much to go around).

Borrows is amazed at the peacock hotel which is bolted onto the side of the house and in full view of the living room. A huge silver revolver (.454 Casul Magnum) is sitting on a holster on the table.

HST demonstrates the gun, and Borrows says,

"In Britain, a love of guns is considered to be a right wing thing," I offer.

"Well, maybe...you know...maybe I'm a Nazi. But they say...They say...that if a man is a Nazi and smokes marijuana...it will come out like heat rises from a tube." He laughs.

He passes the armament to me. I point it directly at Haynes. Satisfactorily, he flinches.

"You should never do that you know," cautions Thompson.

"You don't have to work with him," I tell the old man with the nail varnish, genuinely (and disturbingly) moved by both the sensation of ultimate power and good-quality cocaine euphoria."

Borrows then reads aloud part of the TIME faxes, a common requirement for visiting writers and journalists. The scene takes places in the kitchen, but Borrows calls it the "Owl Farm nerve center". There are two telephones, both on speaker, an electric typewriter, a huge FST television "which has never been turned off since the day he bought it eight years ago", a fax, a selection of egg whisks, a lampshade decorated with notes, various cosmetics, and a PowerMax electric prod. Other items include a backstage pass for a Lyle Lovett concert, Ralph Steadman drawings, and "distressingly" a lot of Country and Western tapes. "Had Bruce Wayne been the most important writer of his generation, this is what the Bat Cave would have looked like".

The interview is a long ramble of accusations by HST and rebuttals from Borrows. It's not too interesting, and it kind of reminds me when our old bird used to stand on top of his cage and give everyone crap just for being around. HST's mood swings between the paternal and the unstable as the faxes are sent to TIME. At one point he urges Borrows to move to the US and make a career under his patronage, then the next moment, HST is demanding that Borrows and Hynes leave.

The ending rather saddens me. As the two leave Owl Farm, they think they might have run over the peacock that had earlier knocked itself senseless before. But then, it could have been anything. This is the second last paragraph:

"Thompson is a slippery old bastard and gives nothing away. The closest you can get is to visit Aspen (his outside world), Owl Farm (his sanctuary) and , if you are privileged, watch him work. If you are exceptionally privileged, an evening in his company could result in being wanted by the authorities or having your head kicked in ("It should come naturally if you're doing it right"). It depends on his mood, but whether it is accommodating, difficult or both, you have to ask your questions on the run, find the gap and exploit it. As we go to leave he mutters, "You've got your piece."

A nice article all around, and the rest of the mag wasn't that bad either.

loaded cover