Daily Podcast: Fear and Loathing in Detroit

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
daily podcast fear and loathing in detroit

Hunter S. Thompson's early work is his best. No, I mean his really early writing, before the inventor of Gonzo Journalism reported on– and then succumbed to– fear and loathing in Las Vegas. Back when Thompson wrote for The National Observer, Esquire, The New York Times magazine and other highbrow literary publications, the former USAF Airman was a wry observer of political, economic and moral corruption. And man, the guy could write. Hells Angels: The Strange and Terrible Story of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs was Thompson's greatest work, as passionate and informed a piece of non-fiction writing as you'll ever read. From there, Thompson lost focus. Well, "Dr. Gonzo" became the focus. And that's exactly what happened to the domestic automakers' upper management. At some point, they stopped worrying about building great automobiles and started thinking about… themselves. Their priorities shifted from cars to car-eers. And today's bad news is the result. Just as Thompson reported on the zenith of the hippie culture in San Fransisco, TTAC has born witness to the fall of Detroit. It ain't over yet. But the end is in sight. And it is truly terrifying. As Thompson isn't here to report on this epic tragi-comedy, we will do so in his name.

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4 of 13 comments
  • Minion444 Minion444 on Jun 04, 2008

    I have to agree....Fear and Loathing on the campaign trail 1973.....Best book...

  • Martin Albright Martin Albright on Jun 04, 2008

    Damn you, Robert Farago, get out of my head! Hell's Angels was indeed Thompson's best book and for exactly the reason you described: Because starting with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Thompson became the story he was writing about. His writing became self-obsessed, self-indulgent and, by the end of his career, self-pitying. HST is the classic example of someone who peaked early and then spent the rest of his career in a futile attempt to live up to the standard he set with his early work. Which, as you pointed out, is a good metaphor for Detroit as well.

  • Blunozer Blunozer on Jun 04, 2008

    I'll take HST's bad writing over most of the pablum out nowadays. Self indulgent maybe, but Dr. Gonzo was far more interesting than most of his subjects. Like a crazy uncle, sometimes you just had to accept him.

  • Blautens Blautens on Jun 05, 2008

    Mr. Leiberman - How could you not recommend the Civic to your sister? It's the perfect car for that - chances are exellent that it will perform reliably and economically and hold its resale very well compared to the competition. If anything goes wrong, you can point to the fact that virtually every resource and magazine (CR, CD, etc.) called it a smart choice. If you convince her to buy the WRX, it doesn't matter how much fun it is, when something goes wrong, you're responsible, no matter how silly that may seem.