By: David Pratt
We left at 10:00 and drove all night, out of Massachusetts, through Connecticut, and across New York in pouring rain, thunderstorms, lightning crash flashing snap glimpses of the pitch black road barely seen through storm and stoned headlight searching, into a miles-long construction site with one tight lane and a great barrier wall stretching high on the left, down to 60 MPH if we’re lucky and sometimes less when the visibility turned impossible to fake with sudden patches of horror movie fog swooping up and over and sheets of water cascading down, then suddenly bam the lightning flash that burns a stark nightmare image on your retina then gone leaving you blind and blinking, finally took a left down into the dark of Pennsylvania, avoiding the interstates, till the sun came up in Maryland somewhere behind a dirty grey sky and a veil of lazy rainfall. Little did we know, about the same time, another band of our fellow conspirators en route to the 5th Annual GonzoFest in Louisville dodged and fled a small regiment of raging tornadoes on their run down from Chi-Town.
But Ash was good company when she wasn’t sleeping and the perpetual bowl distorted time enough and kept us interested enough to keep banging it through West Virginia, the entire trip a non-stop, mostly dark and hellish run from Maine (for her) to Louisville with no sleep (for me) straight to the center wellspring of the dark and bloody ground. Along the way we discussed this strange, seemingly self-directed organic venture called Gonzo Today we are caught up in and exactly what direction the Great Magnet is pulling us.
The rain didn’t let up till we hit Kentucky and we rolled in with the sun through the undulating hills that rose up to greet us. When we finally arrived at Gonzo House on South 6th Street in Louisville about 3 PM on Friday, only Kidman and Chris were there but that’s probably only because they had a tornado on their ass and weren’t inclined to take the slow scenic route. Doc and his crew rolled in from Olney,Illinois, soon after. We were all scheduled to attend the big pre-Gonzofest bash at the Monkey Wrench bar, featuring Ryan Case’s art show and Ron Whitehead reading his poetry, not to mention your’s truly, the dubious winner of the GonzoFest poetry contest, fulfilling my promise to read my entry in a couple of hours. And there we were with our Editor-in-Chief running late from Georgia and the rest of us deciding a quick nap was an intelligent idea.
Eventually we woke up and the Chief arrived. We all rolled into the Wrench around 10 or 11, missed the whole damn thing and Ron Whitehead is standing there, graciously accepting my apology but with a look in his eye that said I needed a good old-fashioned Kentucky ass whupping. The crew had a few shots, beers and chicken wings, then back to Gonzo House for a nightcap.
GonzoFest Saturday dawned warm and sunny, promising great things. We were still completely disorganized with a handful of loose ends to tie up and others to decide to scrap before setting up our tent by 2:00. The Chief and I figured it was a good idea to scope out the site before attending to our errands but your’s truly for some reason decided the Fest was in Cherokee Park, resulting in a half hour drive around the park’s circular scenic route past joggers who had no knowledge of or interest in some twisted gathering of miscreants called GonzoFest. When we realized my error and got our bearings straight, we wound up at the original, empty site since relocated due to flooding. Finally we said fuck it, confirmed the right address for the fest with a phone call and went back to Gonzo House to muster the troops.
At the park we set up the tent and went with what we had. We came together at crunch time like a fine oiled machine, each of us complimenting the other, this ragtag group who only six months ago were just screen names on Facebook somehow come together, inspired by the same idea: don’t just honor and remember a legend or stick his spirit and vision into a glass case museum…Hunter S. Thompson was an iconoclast. he’d be the first to bust down the doors of his shrine…but rather to carry on that vision and spirit, to each speak our own twisted truth and to give a platform to anybody else with a barbaric yawp to sound over the rooftops, to bring together the artists and writers and free-thinkers, the mold breakers and outsiders, the outlaws and the outcasts who follow the pull of the Great Magnet and the call of the One Gonzo Spirit to blow up the artifice and corruption that kill the beauty and poetry of the human spirit.
What we found in Louisville this past weekend, what nothing could stop us from attaining, was an actual piece of that spirit. You could feel it in the air. We came together like old friends, like family. Many of us were unable to make the trip, but they too would have felt like we’d know each other for years and would have melded together as we did and got the job done. But it wasn’t just the family among us that we discovered. Everybody in Louisville was warm and welcoming and appreciative of our efforts and our talents. We were embraced in a way we never expected. We didn’t want to leave. They didn’t want us to leave. So we aren’t going to. The Chief is still in town looking for a roof, and we will be slowly setting up shop to embrace Louisville as the new Mecca for the One Gonzo Spirit and the Great Magnet that compels us to be what we are, to think what we want, to love who we choose and to live our lives to the fullest of our passions whether anybody else likes it or not
. ‘We’d be fools not to ride this strange torpedo all the way out to the end.’
Thank you Louisville. You guys kick ass.