When the Going Gets Weird, the Weird Turn Pro
"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like "I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive..." And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: "Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?"
But our trip was different. It was a classic affirmation of everything right and true and decent in the national character. It was a gross, physical salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in this country-but only for those with true grit. And we were chock full of that.
"Order some golf shoes," I whispered. "Otherwise, we'll never got out of this place alive..."
This is the main advantage of ether: it makes you behave like the village drunkard in some early Irish novel...total loss of all basic motor skills: Blurred vision, no balance, numb tongue-severance of all connection between the body and the brain. Which is interesting, because the brain continues to function more or less normally...you can actually watch yourself behaving in the terrible way, but you can't control it.
The Circus-Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war. This is the sixth Reich. The ground floor is full of gambling tables, like all the other casinos . . . but the place is about four stories high, in the style of a circus tent, and all manner of strange County-Fair/Polish Carnival madness is going on up in this space.
This is not a good town for psychedelic drugs. Reality itself is too twisted.
What were we doing out here? What was the meaning of this trip? Did I actually have a big red convertible out there on the street? was I just roaming around these Mint Hotel escalators in a drug frenzy of some kind, or had I really come out here to Las Vegas to work on a story?
Not for me. No mercy for a criminal freak in Las Vegas. This place is like the army: the shark ethic prevails-eat the wounded. In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.
Reading the front page made me feel a lot better. Against that heinous background, my crimes were pale and meaningless. I was a relatively respectable citizen — a multiple felon, perhaps, but certainly not dangerous. And when the Great Scorer came to write against my name, that would surely make a difference.
Or would it? I turned to the sports page and saw a small item about Muhammad Ali; his case was before the Supreme Court, the final appeal. He'd been sentenced to five years in prison for refusing to kill "slopes." "I ain't got nothin' against them Viet Congs," he said. Five years.
Suddenly I felt guilty again.
KNOW YOUR DOPE FIEND. YOUR LIFE MAY DEPEND ON IT! You will not be able to see his eyes because of Tea-Shades, But his knuckles will be white from inner tension and his pants will be crusted with semen from constantly jacking off when he can't find a rape victim. He will stagger and babble when questioned. He will not respect your badge. The Dope Fiend fears nothing. He will attack, for no reason, with every weapon at his command-including yours. BEWARE. Any officer apprehending a suspected marijuana addict should use all necessary force immediately. One stitch in time (on him) will usually save nine on you. Good luck. - The Chief
For more of these go here.
Thanks to AJ for getting me in the mood for some HST.
Buddy Oakes for Odds and Ends...
Image from Ralphsteadman.com