“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
— Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Gonzo Journalist
You cannot imagine how important the good doctor was to me 30 years ago.
After a mind-numbing night shift at the Waco Trivial-Herald, covering “TNDs and misdemeanor murders”, I’d limp home to my cockroach-infested apartment, drink mass quantities of adult beverages and immerse myself in Fear and Loathing.
And Dr. Gonzo would ease my pain:
*I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.
*You can turn your back on a person, but never turn your back on a drug, especially when it’s waving a razor sharp hunting knife in your eye.
*Step right up and shoot the pasties off the nipples of a ten foot bull dyke! Win a cotton candy goat!
Even though we didn’t do drugs, Capt. Buttface and I were Gonzos-in-Training, pushing newspaper prose to the limit. On a crap newspaper. In the Heart of Texas. Where savage heat and miserable humidity made summer reek of poverty and brewing hops.
So of course, one night we snapped.
It was late, probably about 1am. There was NOTHING on the police scanner. I had filed all the heinous crime and dead-boring city council stories. We were waiting to proof the first edition. And waiting. I was ready to mutiny.
But Capt. Buttface had a better idea – 60 seconds of Fear and Loathing in Waco, Texas. There were no grapefruits. No savage hunting knives. No 300-pound Samoan lawyers named Lazlo to offer sage counsel: “As your lawyer, I advise you to start drinking heavily.”
Even so, it was time to go Gonzo.
I raced to my computer. We stared at each other with demented Gonzo smiles. Then we were off, each on a savage quest to out Fear and Loathing the other. Just open a vein (with a Bowie knife) and write, laugh your ass off when reading the other guy’s F&L, and then gonzo again.
As I recall, some of the Pulitzer-worthy tales penned that fateful night included fiberglassing the keel of one unpleasant female reporter, massive drug taking and murder by a pock-faced Nazi police chief, and someone’s 50-foot-long fire hose penis.
What did you expect? We were roaming with the buffalo.
We paused for 15 minutes to proof the paper, then killed out our Hunter-esque stories from the computer’s LDR (Local Daily Raw) file. And that was the end of Fear and Loathing in Waco.
Or so we thought.
Capt. Buttface had enemies. An imposing and talented young journalist, he was hated by some on the paper without such talent. And one of them had managed to quickly open the LDR file, grab the Captain’s fire hose penis story, and save it in the city editor’s file.
When Buttface was called into the office the next day, he knew something bad was up.
More nervous than usual, his soon-to-retire boss couldn’t even comb his oily white hair. He could only hold up a copy of Buttface’s prize-winning Fear and Loathing, with a look of confusion and terror across his palid face.
Not only did he have to put up with everyone’s crap, as he desperately held on for retirement. Now he had to worry about his assistant murdering him with a Bowie knife.
Obviously, this was the end of Buttface’s career. He was fired, humiliated, tarred and feathered, and forced to work for city government.
Not really, but that horrific vision flooded his mind in that awful moment.
But the worn-out old journalist just shook his jowls, combed his hair and made unpleasant gastric sounds to end the meeting.
You can bet there was massive booze-fueled F&L that night aboard the Moon Cricket.
We were relieved that we’d kept our terrible jobs on a putz newspaper. We guffawed at the strange and terrible tale. And we made detailed, evil plans for payback.
Enormous payback was required for the swine who tried to get Buttface fired. It would have to be epic. It would have to make Hunter S. proud.
Click here for more strange and terrible tales from Waco.