Apr 21, 2008

Fear and Loathing in Whittier, CA

I'd thought about mentioning the link between the death of Ruben Salazar and the birth of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but Crime Scene blogger Frank Girardot blog beat me to it.

Still, it's good to remember that the spark that fueled the brilliance of Fear and Loathing was not some vague mourning over the loss of 60's idealism, but real outrage over the brutal realities of racism and social upheaval in a not so distant Los Angeles.

It was 1971, and Hunter S. Thompson had come here to write about the Chicano movement and an anti-war protest that ended with a sheriff's deputy firing a tear gas canister through the front door of the Silver Dollar Cafe in Whittier, striking and killing journalist Ruben Salazar.

Thompson's take on Salazar's death became Strange Rumblings in Aztlan, published in Rolling Stone magazine in April, 1971. While researching the article that same year, Thompson and Chicano attorney Oscar Zeta Acosta (a key source for Thompson) took their first trip to Las Vegas. That was the start of Fear and Loathing, which he began writing while finishing the Salazar piece at a Holiday Inn in Arcadia.

Almost 40 years have passed. I imagine it would be hard for anyone walking the streets of Whittier today to understand what was happening then. Maybe it would be a good time to pull the thread of history and tell the story of what has changed and what has stayed the same.

1 comment:

Frank Girardot said...

Thanks for the link Gary. BTW, I think our blogs are finally operating a little faster this week!