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Derby Indeed, But No Tom Benton

Hi there. No, I haven’t forgotten about you. My laptop refuses to show anything else on its screen except for an array of technicolors. Circuit City says I have to mail it back to them to recover all my documents — which did include one final paper from last week. and several important manuscripts.

I was also very depressed by another blow to the tribe: We lost artist Tom Benton last week to cancer. You know him as the man whom Hunter asked to create the beautiful double thumbed fist for Hunter’s gonzo symbol. He also made Hutnter’s sheriff posters in addition to the cover of “Fear and Loathing on The Campaign Trail.” He was a great artist and a local resident in Aspen and he will be missed.

I’m back home at Owl Farm and have to use my html skills to post on my huge mac, which I’m typing on right now. For some reason, this one won’t show me the tool bar that I need to post margins and things like that. In addition to the general depression I feel for many reasons, despite this blog celebrated its 1 year anniversay on April 24, which is Hunter and my anniversay. Becuase I am in the middle of studying for finals (to fly back to NY next week to take). for the first time in 7 years I won’t be enjoying a derby party here at Owl Farm. It will just be me and Sue Carolan (she is an artist whom Hunter made famous for her “single edition sex hats” in his ESPN column) and Chris and Gerry Goldstein. I don’t even have the julips yet. Soon come.

Hope you all are doing well in this springtime and as Ralph Steadman would say “kicking the shit out of life…” soon, you will also see an image of the gonzo memorial poster that Ralph created to pay off the mortgage of Owl Farm. There are still a few left which you can email your info and we’ll get in touch with you.

Anyway, enjoy this clip from “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved: And please, have a mint julep for Hunter and Tom.

  …I shook my head and said nothing; just stared at him for a moment, trying to look grim. “There’s going to be trouble,” I said. “My assignment is to take pictures of the riot.”
“What riot?”
I hesitated, twirling the ice in my drink. “At the track. On Derby Day. The Black Panthers.” I stared at him again. “Don’t you read the newspapers?”
The grin on his face had collapsed. “What the hell are you talkin’ about?”
“Well…maybe I shouldn’t be telling you…” I shrugged. “But hell, everybody else seems to know. The cops and the National Guard have been getting ready for six weeks. They have 20,000 troops on alert at Fort Knox. They’ve warned us–all the press and photographers–to wear helmets and special vests like flak jackets. We were told to expect shooting…”
“No!” he shouted; his hands flew up and hovered momentarily between us, as if to ward off the words he was hearing. Then he whacked his fist on the bar. “Those sons of bitches! God Almighty! The Kentucky Derby!” He kept shaking his head. “No! Jesus! That’s almost too bad to believe!” Now he seemed to be sagging on the stool, and when he looked up his eyes were misty. “Why? Why here? Don’t they respect anything?”
I shrugged again. “It’s not just the Panthers. The FBI says busloads of white crazies are coming in from all over the country–to mix with the crowd and attack all at once, from every direction. They’ll be dressed like everybody else. You know–coats and ties and all that. But when the trouble starts…well, that’s why the cops are so worried.”
He sat for a moment, looking hurt and confused and not quite able to digest all this terrible news. Then he cried out: “Oh…Jesus! What in the name of God is happening in this country? Where can you get away from it?”
“Not here,” I said, picking up my bag. “Thanks for the drink…and good luck.”
He grabbed my arm, urging me to have another, but I said I was overdue at the Press Club and hustled off to get my act together for the awful spectacle. At the airport newsstand I picked up a Courier-Journal and scanned the front page headlines: “Nixon Sends GI’s into Cambodia to Hit Reds”… “B-52’s Raid, then 20,000 GI’s Advance 20 Miles”…”4,000 U.S. Troops Deployed Near Yale as Tension Grows Over Panther Protest.” At the bottom of the page was a photo of Diane Crump, soon to become the first woman jockey ever to ride in the Kentucky Derby.

— Hunter S. Thompson

Until next time, your friend,
Anita Thompson

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