Thursday, March 1, 2007

"This incident...smacked me in the eyes one peaceful Sunday morning a few weeks ago"

I'm back on the sauce. The strong sauce, that is. Ever since that one magical week in December, 2004 that I spent holed up in Mocha Joe's basement cafe in Brattleboro, VT reading the magnificent journal of Nixon's re-election, Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72, I have not been the same person. Prior to that week I had seen life through a different set of eyes. It was a set of eyes that was far more naive, foolish and willing to settle. A set of eyes that had not read the words vile, swine, freak, or maniac nearly enough. Upon closing the back cover of the book, I ruminated for a few hours and then immediately got on the horn to spread the gospel. Within days I was in my car driving south to Guilford, CT where I left my bargain copy of the text with a crew of intellectually and soulfully untouchable gentlemen hoping it would spread like gonorrhea at Mardi Gras, and hoping I would never see it again. I can't promise results on the first, but I will vouch for the fact that I never saw that short, fat, red tome ever again. I held it in my memories, but I never held it close to my breast to keep me warm on some of those hairy Allston nights later on; nor to keep me sane on those riotous stable nights in the summer of 2006. Perhaps that whole freaky period (December, 2004 -Present) was too far removed from a real election to make it worthwhile. Perhaps I was afraid. Then again, maybe I just never got around to replacing it.

That all changed this past Monday. Wandering around Northampton after an offseason high school track practice looking for a copy of the New York Times to bring into a coffee shop so that I might climb upon it's pretensions to gain the proper footing to flirt with an older, liberal local female sipping a pot of organic green tea at 5 in the afternoon I came upon a bookstore with seven copies of '72 stocked among it's verbal weaponry. It was a true omen, seeing as I hadn't been able to causally locate a copy in some years, in spite of noticing title upon title of Gonzo Papers, Las Vegas and Hey Rube but never the Golden Goose. I picked one up and haven't looked back.

"It was just before midnight when I left Cambridge and headed north in U.S. 93 toward Manchester--driving one of those big green rented Auto/stick Cougars that gets rubber for about twenty-nine seconds in Drive, and spits hot black divots all over the road in First or Second ... a terrible screeching and fishtailing through the outskirts of Boston heading north to New Hampshire, back on the Campaign Trail ...running late, as usual: left hand on the wheel and the other on the radio dial, seeking music, and a glass of iced Wild Turkey spilling into my crotch on every turn (43)."

That is where it begins, both for Hunter and myself: a commitment to the '72 Campaign Trail and a deep-rooted love of Austin Nichols, bred on cold nights after closing up Harriman's Pub in West Dover, Vermont and warm nights dreaming of the gulf stream in Cotuit, Massachusetts with Manchester, Nashua, Keene, Berlin and all the rest on the docket.

The Lord knows that I am a small fraction of Hunter S. Thompson, but the Lord also knows a thing or two about inspiration. With that said, it is likely only a matter of time before we see some sort of bootleg publication of Thugs and Cowardice: On the Campaign Trail '08. Then again, given that the New Hampshire primary was in March of 1972, perhaps a more fitting title would be On the Campaign Trail '07-'08. Frontloading, shame be thy name.

In the meantime I have briefly traded digs, tonight choosing The Spoke over the M & D, in part because of prior engagements and in part because this is the kind of place where you can see fat, drunken townies mingling some 10 feet away from a table full of pre-gaming sorority sisters on their way, ultimately, to The Pub. Over yonder sits a woman on a barstool with a Weezer tattoo on her neck. The whole fuckin' pie, by the way, with wings and everything. She is obnoxiously loud, and probably prefers Beverly Hills to Why Bother?. To Hell with that. In the words of Rivers, "I know I should get next to you/You got a look that makes me think you're cool/But it's just sexual attraction/Not something real so I'd rather keep wackin'/Why bother? it's gonna hurt me/It's gonna kill when you desert me/This happened to me twice before/It won't happen to me anymore." Then again, who am I to judge?

Lastly, let me give a shout out to the Indian Hill Cemetery (aka the Sem-ET-ery, copyright James S., 2004). I randomly thought about this place tonight because of the facebook and it's infernally lovable newsfeed. I have seen so many sunsets at that place, it's not even funny. Yet how is it that I hadn't thought about the place in 3 years?? O hallowed Indian Hill. Hail, hail, Mattabeseck.

Meanwhile, it's Ballard Bitter all the way. Ya Sure? Ya Betcha!


Heidi said...

Dig it.

Chris said...

Most excellent post, sir. I actually saw a copy of that book two weeks ago at that used bookstore by my house. I'll have to swing by their tonight to pick it up...

Vince said...

which bookstore had seven copies? raven?

in other news, your recent post inspired me to re-watch nick nolte's performance in "affliction." it's not "blue chips," but nolte pulls it off. how far from lincoln did he live?

BTB said...

Actually, it was the bookstore in Thorne's Market. I failed to clarify in my post, furthermore, that the entire city was dry for the Times. I went everywhere, all 3 bookstores, the used paper racks at Haymarket and Woodstar, Starfucks, even CVS.

And its funny you mention Affliction. I have no recollection of writing about it, although I do recall watching it a few weeks ago. He lived in a fictional town called Lawford, so who's to say the distance from Lincoln, but I would guess about 50 miles. I actually tried really hard to find where it might be when I was watching the movie.