expenses-paid trip later yielded Thompson’srndisappointing book The Curse ofrnbono. Perry’s hours spent trying to eoaxrna printable text from Thompson hadrnresults, too: they gave him an up-closernlook at the writer, as well as a meansrnof discovering—burst by incoherentrnburst—a few details about the man behindrnthe druggy mask, the man who refusedrnto cooperate with Perry while providingrnabundant material.rnBorn to genteel poverty into an oldrnLouisville family, Thompson was arnyoung golden boy, popular in school forrnhis athletic prowess, good looks, quickrnwit, and gift with a pen. As a teenager,rnhowever, the now fatherless Thompsonrntook to drinking and hell-raising; hernfailed to graduate from high school and,rnas an enlistee in the Air Force, managedrnto rack up nearly every punishment dutyrnshort of time in Leavenworth for myriadrnacts of rebellion. (His unit commanderrncalled him “totally unclassifiablern. . . one of the most savage and unnaturalrnairmen I’ve ever come up against.”)rnDismissed from the service in 1957,rnThompson wandered into New York,rnpromptlv found a series of plum journalisticrnjobs and just as promptly wasrnfired from them, married and divorcedrnand married again, and then took up thernlife of a beatnik in Puerto Rico and, later,rnat Big Sur.rnOnly after a few years of poverty—rnthe real thing this time—did Thompsonrngive up the bongos-and-Chiantirnlife and find meaningful work. He madernhis way to Latin America and beganrnto submit pieces on speculation to thernnewly founded National Observer, arnnewspaper of opinion. The editors likedrnwhat they saw, especially a story thatrnThompson filed from Caracas,Venezuela,rnin which he described a Britishrndiplomat who practiced his golf gamernon his penthouse terrace, driving golfrnballs far out into the city below; “Wherernthey fell,” Thompson wrote, “neither hernnor I nor anyone else on the terrace thatrnday had the vaguest idea.”rnStill, Perrv reminds us, straight journalismrnand Thompson never quiternseemed to coincide. When in need of arncolorful anecdote to enliven a story,rnThompson would cheerfully invent onernand never mind the consequences,rnwhether a libel suit or a bullet. His unlikelyrntalcs of ever-uglier Americansrnsouth of the equator finally came underrneditorial scrutiny, and Thompson wasrninvited to contribute his work elsewhere.rnFinding a new home at Scanlan’s magazine,rnThompson relocated to San Francisco,rnwhere he found the subject thatrnwould make his reputation: the nation’srnmost vicious motorcycle gang, his studyrnof which led to his first book. Hell’srnAngels. He also discovered, in thosernheady days of 1964, other matters thatrnwould carry his reputation even farther:rnchemicals with names like LSD, STP,rnand DMT.rnThe effects of those drugs upon arnmind already given to inventing talesrnand presenting them as fact soon ledrnto the formulation of Thompson’s nowfamousrnstyle. The origins of the termrn”Gonzo Journalism” are shrouded inrntime—Perry traces it to an editor atrnthe Boston Globe—but vou will nowrnfind it in Webster’s third: “bizarre, unrestrained,rnspecifically designating arnstyle of journalism so characterized.”rnWhether it can fairly be called journalismrnat all is an issue Perr}- chooses not tornaddress; if I were a bookseller or a librarian,rnI would shelve Thompson’srnwork in the fiction stacks. Certainly hisrnpurportedly fly-on-the-wall encountersrnwith ). Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon,rnand more recently Clarence Thomas,rnpublished as straight fact in RollingrnStone magazine (for which Thompsonrnis “sports editor”), qualify as some ofrnthe funniest lies since Mark Twain’s.rnAnd a good lie, as we all know, can conveyrna world of truth.rnAfter drawing on interviews withrnmore than a hundred friends and confidantsrnof Thompson’s, Perry devotes arnbit too much of his book to consideringrnThompson’s published work. Anyonernwho has read Thompson—an acquaintancernI highly recommend, with a grainof-rnsalt caveat—will find Perry’s reading arnbit pedestrian; thankfully, he steers clearrnof lit-crit while offering his precis ofrnThompson’s seven books and countlessrnarticles. Still, Fear and Loathing is strongrnenough work to transcend this modernst shortcoming.rnRes ipsa loquitur, Thompson is fondrnof saying. The thing speaks for itself.rnPaul Perry’s useful—and enormouslyrnentertaining—book surely does. Thisrncandid biography may reduce the admirationrnmany people feel for the man,rnwhose fame derives from some, if notrnall, of the wrong reasons. Fear andrnLoathing gives us a tantalizing look intornthe mind of our foremost chronicler ofrnthe death of the American Dream.rnRead it and weep.rnGregory McNamee is the editor ofrnNamed in Stone and Sky,rna literary anthology recentlyrnpublished by the University ofrnArizona Press.rnLIBERAL ARTSrnK 1/ !rn•L^^ii 3-J:,J irnDYNA-MIGHTYrnAmid much pomp and celebration, the ruthless leader of one of the Midwest’s largestrnand most violent street gangs was released from prison last winter after serving only halfrnof his seven-vear sentence for two weapons convictions. As the Chicago Tribune reported,rnfive limousines and over a dozen young men and women dressed in leather,rnfur, gold, diamonds, and alligator shoes came to Logan Correctional Center, 30 milesrnnorth of Springfield, Illinois, last December 30 to retrieve 42-vear-old Willie Lloyd,rnself-proclaimed national boss of the Chicago-based Vice Lords.rnDressed in black and white leather and sporting a mink coat, which his “deputies”rnhad delivered to the prison, Lloyd stepped outside Logan’s steel doors, raised hisrnright hand at his followers, and shouted, “Mighty! Mighty!” Lloyd’s top deputies immediatelyrncrowned him with a black skull cap trimmed in gold like the ones thev wore,rnand Lloyd exchanged passionate kisses with his fiancee Renee. who was wearing arnmatching mink and a hot-pink miniskirt.rnJailed on two counts of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, Lloyd had previouslyrnbeen convicted of killing an Iowa police officer in the I970’s; while he had not beenrnconvicted of a serious crime in Chicago before the two weapons charges, he has beenrnarrested at least 19 times since 1968,rnAPRIL 1993/37rnrnrn