Join 3,434 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"Fear and Self-Loathing in Las Vegas"
October 6, 2011 7:13 AM   Subscribe

In 1971, Hunter Thompson first published Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in Rolling Stone. Forty years later, The Daily’s Zach Baron revisits the piece and the town in which it was born, chasing Thompson's ghost through crazy desert car races, a dying local economy and a massive and menacing hacker convention known as DEFCON. (previously)
posted by Trurl (26 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
FINISH THE FUCKING STORY!
posted by Fizz at 7:18 AM on October 6, 2011


Can I have... a little kiss before you go?
posted by CautionToTheWind at 8:20 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's wierd to have found that same title being repeated in two separate essays today.
posted by The Whelk at 8:24 AM on October 6, 2011


Am i the only one who found that painful to read? Granted, i've never been a huge fan of Thompson, but this just felt like 'writers masturbation' to me.
posted by usagizero at 8:25 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a writer, I can assure you that our masturbation does not require scare quotes.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:44 AM on October 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


If I remember correctly, that kiss line was one of the few lines in the movie that weren't pulled directly from the story Thompson wrote - Busey adlibbed it during the shoot, and Gilliam liked it so much, he decided to leave it in.
posted by mysterpigg at 8:49 AM on October 6, 2011


As a writer, I can assure you that our masturbation does not require scare quotes.

It does, however, require an apostrophe.
posted by The Bellman at 9:02 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Am i the only one who found that painful to read?

Nope. Zach Baron is no Hunter Thompson
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:29 AM on October 6, 2011


The one positive thing about this story: it was not entitled "Fear and Hacking in Las Vegas".

A note to headline writers: when you're trying to be clever with a headline, check to see if a half-dozen headline writers weren't already inspired with that same bit of cleverness.

That is all.
posted by el io at 9:39 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a writer, I can assure you that our masturbation does not require scare quotes.


heh, yeah. I'm obviously not a master of the english, or any other really, language. I was just thinking it felt like a term i heard someone describe a piece by an artist that was overly complex, with a ton of unneeded detail, just for sake that he could say he was such an artist. So i put it in quotes, because i felt that was what i should do, or more accurately "what i 'should' do". ;) (god, i can't help myself some days, heh)
posted by usagizero at 9:39 AM on October 6, 2011


Does this mean the 60's are over?
posted by tspae at 9:41 AM on October 6, 2011


Yeah, even the self-aware opening can't fully cover for the fact that any freewheeling magazine story set in Vegas will be compared to "Fear & Loathing" and found wanting. Even one with much more to say on the subject than this one.

It's like the writer's corollary to the never fight a land war in Asia maxim: Never write a gonzo piece about Vegas. Or about Gonzo, for that matter.
posted by gompa at 10:06 AM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I read the first graph and couldn't be bothered to read any more of it.
posted by Relay at 10:58 AM on October 6, 2011


Needs moar mescaline. Also, ether.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 11:36 AM on October 6, 2011


Enjoyable: examining the connects and disconnects between HST's mythical story and the reality from which it sprang or has evolved in to.

Not enjoyable: everything else.

Awesome article at about 17% of the current length...but I guess that's what might charitably be considered the author's point.
posted by Fezboy! at 12:48 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Only just noticed the use of the phrase "menacing hacker conference" with regard to DEFCON.

I wrote a magazine feature about DEFCON 10 years ago (and studiously avoided gonzoisms throughout, even when I came back to the lobby of my hotel - the low-rent Holiday Inn, which has a midway in it - at 3am to find a pitch-perfect Prince cover band playing in the lounge).

DEFCON was fascinating sociologically, but it was about as menacing as an Alice Cooper concert. 
posted by gompa at 12:51 PM on October 6, 2011


Wow. Tough crowd.

I'll be sure and not mention it when I finish my novel, "Beer and Loafing in Las Vegas" about my life here in Sin City.

And DEFCON's perceived menace is probably directly related to the level of one's unfamiliarity with software and dependence upon digital devices.
posted by mmrtnt at 1:45 PM on October 6, 2011


Black Hat is the new DEFCON, there is probably a new Black Hat though that I am not cool enough to know about.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:48 PM on October 6, 2011


NOTE: THE DAILY IS OWNED BY RUPERT MURDOCH'S NEWS CORP.

The article isn't bad, but reading the first quarter makes it clear, the writer is no Hunter S. Thompson. He is his own thing though. That's not bad but anything is going to look sad and pale compared to Fear and Loathing..
posted by JHarris at 2:04 PM on October 6, 2011


The FPP was interesting, although I'm kind of wondering where the pictures are since he mentions a photographer a few times.

I looked into this SNORE organization that re-started the Mint 400 and they've got some surprisingly well-produced videos of some of their races. The 2010 Mint 400 video starts with the HST quote he ends with.
posted by nTeleKy at 2:57 PM on October 6, 2011


DEFCON is interesting, because it's an example of the Menacing Valley. If you're not a computer person, it's cause for concern because witchcraft. If you're a regular computer person, meh, most of this shit is boring and not threatening at all, who would fall for shit like that? If you're a hardcore computer person, then you buy a burner phone specifically for the conference and set it on fire before bringing it within pairing distance of any of your personally owned electronic devices.
posted by felix at 5:19 PM on October 6, 2011


“Seven days?” the receptionist at the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas asked, her tone somewhere between incredulity and pity.

“That’s right,” I said.

“That’s, um…” she paused. “Why?”
Yeah.
posted by brennen at 8:39 PM on October 6, 2011


Las Vegas looks like it lost a war.
posted by The Whelk at 8:41 PM on October 6, 2011


Do you suppose this guy could have spent, I don't know, five minutes actually researching any of the things he writes about?

The DEFCON bit was painful, from "hacking" their way into a completely nonexclusive event that everyone can attend, to the tired stereotype of all people who enjoy firearms being rednecks and all "hackers" being basement dwellers.
posted by autobahn at 9:36 PM on October 6, 2011


I almost feel like he was set to make DEFCON the center of the essay, but then something went wrong and they had to put all this OTHER STUFF on it.
posted by The Whelk at 9:49 PM on October 6, 2011


I almost feel like he was set to make DEFCON the center of the essay, but then something went wrong and they had to put all this OTHER STUFF on it.

The problem is that DEFCON is fairly boring, from this perspective. I mean, it's a bunch of people wandering around in a shitty hotel-casino. If you sort of know what to look for, you will notice that there are hijinks being gotten up to. You don't want to expose yourself to the network. There are a bunch of pretty smart people around. But not a whole lot of it is that obvious, and it wouldn't be that interesting to a lay audience even if it was. I mean, I will concede that I probably need to find some better parties or something next year, but really I'm not sure what else the guy was realistically going to write from that angle.

Some laziness about basement-dwellers and such aside, I didn't think this was that terrible piece of writing. It was just kind of unfocused and never settled on any coherent rationale for its own existence. Which at least is consistent with my experience of Las Vegas (a town I hated so thoroughly that I now kind of look forward to going back) during those same few days.
posted by brennen at 10:29 PM on October 6, 2011


« Older British Fantasy Award winner returns prize; Sam St...  |  Once Upon a Time in War... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments