“Our vibrations were getting nasty . . . Had we deteriorated to the level of dumb beasts?”
-Raoul Duke, from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Fear and loathing in Boulder, Colorado.
I was visiting my friend Jack in Boulder, and we went to this party in a big house up on a cliff. There were two skinny guys in their mid-twenties, both wearing aviator sunglasses, snorting lines of something gray at the kitchen table. A middle-aged bald guy was setting them up, but not snorting himself. Jack asked them if they were doing coke, and one of them smiled and said:
“No way, man. This is way better than coke. This is the ultimate trip.”
The bald guy told us that they were snorting the ashes of Hunter S. Thompson, the famous writer and gonzo journalist. This guy, who introduced himself as Gerard, told us that he worked at a crematorium in Aspen—and that he had personally done the Hunter Thompson cremation. The two skinny guys in sunglasses were now smoking cigarettes in cigarette holders, just like Hunter Thompson’s. They both started to mutter about seeing bats in the room, sounding just like Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
“Oh, that’s bullshit,” Jack said to the bald guy. “They shot Hunter Thompson’s ashes into space with a cannon—Johnny Depp did it.”
“No,” Gerard said. “Those weren’t his real ashes. I just gave them a tin full of regular old ashes—mostly from my barbecue.”
Gerard then tried to sell us a vile of Thompson’s ashes–$300 for a bottle about the size of his pinky. He said it was enough for both of us—enough for “four good-sized lines.”
“Gerard, why the fuck would we want to snort Hunter Thompson’s ashes?” Jack said.
Gerard smiled. “For three or four hours you’ll get to feel like Hunter S. Thompson. You’ll see his visions. You’ll experience what it was like to be Doctor Gonzo.”
“So it would be kind of like reading one of his books?” I said.
Jack was pissed. “This is just such bullshit,” he said. “It’s just burnt up skin and bone and tissue. It’s not a fucking brain transplant.” Jack walked out of the room, shaking his head.
Later on, Jack came out of the bathroom holding a plastic cup full of urine. He brought the cup to the kitchen table and put it down in front of the two skinny guys in sunglasses.
“Here,” he said. “This is Jack Nicholson’s piss. If you drink it, you’ll be wicked cool.”
One of the skinny guys looked up and stopped trying to act like Hunter Thompson for a minute.
“No way,” he said. “For real?”
Paul Rogalus teaches English at Plymouth State University. His full-length play Crawling From the Wreckage was produced in New York City in February 2002 by the American Theatre of Actors, and his