Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey To The Heart Of The American Dream, is one of the most bizarre, hectic, drug-fueled and downright funniest books ever written. Not surprising, then, he had his battles through his lifelong use of alcohol and illegal drugs, his love of firearms, and his iconoclastic contempt for authoritarianism. He remarked: “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”
Here are 30 gems found in the book, and all of them are rules of life, really.
“Every now and then you run up on one of those days when everything’s in vain…”
“The mentality of Las Vegas is so grossly atavistic that a really massive crime often slips by unrecognized.”
“It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run… but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant…”
“Good people drink good beer.”
“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.”
“No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it off to forced conscious expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”
“In a scene where nobody with any ambition is really what he appears to be, there’s not much risk in acting like a king-hell freak.”
“Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits — a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.”
“1) Never trust a cop in a raincoat.
2) Beware of enthusiasm and of love, both are temporary and quick to sway.
3) If asked if you care about the world’s problems, look deep into the eyes of he who asks, he will never ask you again.
4) Never give your real name.
5) If ever asked to look at yourself, don’t look.
6) Never do anything the person standing in front of you can’t understand.
7) Never create anything, it will be misinterpreted, it will chain you and follow you for the rest of your life.”
“Any officer apprehending a suspected marijuana addict should use all necessary force immediately.”
“Take it from me, there’s nothing like a job well done. Except the quiet enveloping darkness at the bottom of a bottle of Jim Beam after a job done any way at all.”
“My attorney has never been able to accept the notion – often espoused by reformed drug abusers and especially popular among those on probation – that you can get a lot higher without drugs than with them. And neither have I, for that matter.”
“There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge.”
“Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas … with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether.”
“After a while you learn to cope with things like seeing your dead grandmother crawling up your leg with a knife in her teeth. Most acid fanciers can handle this sort of thing.”
“No, this is not a good town for psychedelic drugs. Reality itself is too twisted.”
“After five days in Vegas you feel like you’ve been here for five years.”
“The thing to do – when you’re running along about a hundred or so and you suddenly find a red-flashing CHP-tracker on your trail – what you want to do then is accelerate. Never pull over with the first siren-howl. Mash it down and make the bastard chase you at speeds up to 120 all the way to the next exit. He will follow.”
“Psychedelics are almost irrelevant in a town where you can wander into a casino any time of the day or night and witness the crucifixion of a gorilla – on a flaming neon cross that suddenly turns into a pinwheel, spinning the beast around in wild circles above the crowded gambling action.”
“In Las Vegas they kill the weak and deranged.”
“KNOW YOUR DOPE FIEND. YOUR LIFE MAY DEPEND ON IT! You will not be able to see his eyes because of the 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.”
“[In Vegas] the only bedrock rule is Don’t Burn the Locals. Beyond that, nobody cares. They would rather not know. If Charlie Manson checked into the Sahara tomorrow morning, nobody would hassle him as long as he tipped big.”
“It’s not often that a man gets a chance to run terminal experiments on a virgin Cadillac and four brand-new $80 tires.”
“Too weird to live, too rare to die!”
“You better take care of me Lord, if you don’t you’re gonna have me on your hands.”
“North Vegas is where you go when you’ve fucked up once too often on the Strip, and when you’re not even welcome in the cut-rate downtown places around Casino Center.”
“There is no formula for finding yourself in Vegas with a white Cadillac full of drugs and nothing to mix with properly.”
“People like Sinatra and Dean Martin are still considered “far out” in Vegas.”
“Denver is a national clearing house for stolen Dobermans; they come from all parts of the country.”
“If you have any trouble you can always send a telegram to the Right People.”