The Night We Opened For Hunter S. Thompson
So I was playing in this minimalist group out of Cal State Fullerton. I wrote about this particular group in a previous post.
Anyway, we got chosen to open for Hunter S. Thompson at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. This is a famous club and literally everyone has played there. I have no idea if we were randomly picked or if Hunter himself picked us out of a bunch of demo tapes that bands submit to these places.
There was a delay in the initial performance date as Hunter had a minor accident falling off of his riding mower. (Driving drunk, I suspect.)
Well the show finally materialized and we got up and played our set. Between our set and Hunter’s appearance, a friend of mine and I decided to go out to the parking lot and get high, as befitting such an auspicious occasion.
I had a bowl loaded up and, no sooner did I light it, than The Man pulls up and asks what we are doing. I had the pipe in my pocket, still smoking.
My friend bullshitted the cop admirably, saying we wanted to discuss aspects of our recent performance away from the rest of the group.
The cop got a bit apologetic and said that drug deals frequently went down in the parking lot. We acted appropriately shocked.
We went back in to hear Hunter and we got to sit in the private rooms upstairs. Hunter was there with his bodyguard and a table with a bottle on it, which was part of his demands to the club for showing up. He was staggeringly drunk.
He was also aware that he was a bit out of his element, being in Orange County. Those of us in the band were even old enough to know who he was. I had read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas back when I was in music school. He was a political correspondent but his writing style was a seemingly rambling, admittedly drug induced surrealism.
Like a lot of good surrealism I had experienced, the hallucinations were more about an underlying reality than just random hallucinations. This made the whole drug angle kind of an artistic license where he could say whatever he wanted to without fear of getting sued. If someone objected, he could just say ‘hey, I said it was an hallucination!’
As a writer, he reminded me of Mark Twain, who wrote The Gilded Age, a satire on our political process. The writing styles were not the same; Twain, of course being very coherent and non drug induced but the viewpoint was the same. It’s so curious that The Gilded Age could have been written last week.
Hunter, as well had his lucid moments, if you attended. I remember seeing the movie of Fear And Loathing with Johnny Depp as Hunter and he makes the point that ‘they have us locked into a survival mode.’
Both Twain and Hunter seem to share the same viewpoint that politicians are corrupt and our political system is broken if not outright suppressive. If you think about it, keeping everyone’s attention on surviving will keep them from thinking of solutions or, even more dangerous, the cognition that, as Voltaire said;
‘Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.’