Monday, June 23, 2008

Close encounter with Hunter S. Thompson

Saturday, on my way to a bachelor party, I picked up a friend of a friend at the airport. His name is Harlan and my only previous correspondence was two emails, of which one regarded him asking if he could transport livestock in my car. I asked him to leave all animals at home.

While I was a bit ambivalent about picking up a stranger, he turned out to be a great guy. He's just finishing up with a PHD in psychology. I knew about the PHD before, as the friend I was helping out met Harlan as a post doctorate student at the University of North Texas. I figured he'd have all my inner demons exposed by Forest Lake. And he did.

I'm not sure how it came up but we started to talk about Hunter S. Thompson. If you remember, I read Thompson's book "Fear and Loathing Las Vegas" this past spring. Turns out that Harlan's dad, who is also a psychologist, lived next to Thompson while finishing his PHD at Berkeley. Thompson was not a student, he just happened to live near the campus.

Harlan's dad has a number of stories about Thompson. While not as crazy then, they'd go out drinking at times and I got the feeling they'd party pretty hard. From what he told me, Harlan's dad has a beard down to his stomach and wears nothing but sandals. An ex-hippie, if you know what I mean. Thompson had a tendency to stop by for a few drinks when he saw Harlan's dad's light on. They'd talk about a number of subjects. Everything from sport betting to the meaning of life.

Harlan, who has read all of Thompson's books, said that he thinks Thompson was a genius, but also a very troubled person. He didn’t share all the stories with me as we ran out of time. But I found it very interested that Thompson and I have something, though remote, in common.


David said...

Very interesting! Given our previous discussions on this topic... I think to understand (what I think) Hunter S. is saying, you need to leave any conservative (in the modern moral respect) thoughts at the door and just run with it.

Mac Noland said...

That's the trouble with Thompson. I seem to take everything he said to literally.