NEW YORK: He once claimed he would be dead by the year 2000, but the great and glorious Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is still very much with us. Well, as much as he ever was. This week, the guru of Gonzo journalism gives TIME magazine the exclusive, 3,000 word story on (ostensibly) what it was like to be on the set of the movie of his totemic novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. But you knew that. You probably already hurt someone in your mad scramble to grab the first copy from the newsstand.
What you didn't know, my friend, was the story behind the story.
These 3,000 word half-crazed masterpieces don't write themselves, you know. There are months of fevered and frenzied negotiations involved, usually via fax (Mister Duke having not yet joined the e-mail age). Now TIME Daily brings you the communiqués of Dr. Thompson, fresh from the fax machine of TIME Managing Editor Walter Isaacson. Here, for the first time, the good doctor:
CLAIMS to have smoked marijuana with TIME founder Henry Luce;
THREATENS to stab Isaacson "with a fork" if anything goes wrong over booking a suite for him and his "assistant" in New York over Halloween;
DEMANDS $50,000 for his "services" in writing the article. "I have overreached myself with this beautiful piece of music," Thompson says. "Children will read it forever"; and
THREATENS cartoonist Ralph Steadman with a writ under the Official Secrets Act "if anyone publishes that horrible degenerate cartoon." (Cartoon enclosed).
Indeed, Gonzofaxgate — as it will no doubt come to be known — affords us an incredible insight into the mind of a late-20th century genius. Now the only question remains - what exactly was he on?