The website Cool Tools has been compiling a list of best magazine articles as a followup to a review of some tools used to turn said articles into iPad or Kindle readable files. Of course I had to suggest one of my favourites, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson’s wonderful “Song of the Sausage Creature”.
“Sausage Creature” was originally published in the March 1995 issue of the motorcycle magazine Cycle World. The idea of the article was that Dr. Gonzo was going to road test a motorcycle that Cycle World magazine lent him. Thompson being Thompson, he demanded a better bike than the Harley Road King they had originally suggested. He wanted something fast, and was much happier with the replacement, a Ducati 900 Supersport, and he went out and did the best he could to kill himself on the bike.
There are some things nobody needs in this world, and a bright-red, hunch-back, warp-speed 900cc café racer is one of them — but I want one anyway, and on some days I actually believe I need one. That is why they are dangerous.
If I had a bike like that I’d probably end up killing myself too — you could say that I’d die to have one. It would be just too tempting to take the bike out to see what it could do.
I have visions of compound femur-fractures and large black men in white hospital suits holding me down on a gurney while a nurse called “Bess” sews the flaps of my scalp together with a stitching drill.
Thankfully Mr. Toad survived his wild ride and lived to ride and write for another decade until he, as the Cycle World editor describes in a May 2005 editorial eulogizing the writer, “selected a .45 caliber handgun from his vast arsenal, cocked the hammer and proceeded to redecorate his kitchen walls.”
Some people will tell you that slow is good — and it may be, on some days — but I am here to tell you that fast is better. I’ve always believed this, in spite of the trouble it’s caused me. Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba.
“Sausage Creature” has been republished in a number of books and collections, though is not available on the Cycle World website. A Google search will find a dozen unauthorized copies, though.
Thompson was a motorcycle rider from way back. His breakthrough work as an author was the 1966 Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga, a study of the motorcycle gang in California. He lived and rode with the group for a year or so, became one of them, and was then beaten to a pulp by them when he left the group to write a book about them.
The menace is loose again, the Hell’s Angels, the 100 carat headline, running fast and loud on the early morning freeway, … like Genghis Khan on an iron horse, a monster steed with a fiery anus, flat out through the eye of a beer can and up your daughter’s leg…
What sort of insane, twisted person does it take to write something like this?
Thompson wrote a lot: articles for various publications, books, etc. His book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was made into a movie directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Johnny Depp — no other two people could have pulled this one off. He wrote on a variety of topics; my least favorite works by the Doc are about politics and sports, subjects that I don’t care much for and about which I don’t think Thompson’s writing was very good. His best writing is about fast or wild living, gonzo journalism where he becomes part of the story. His creed and attitude can best be summed up in two quotes:
I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.
It never got fast enough for me.