By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

    "Something is happening here,
    But you don't know what it is,
    Do you, Mr. Jones?"
             -- Bob Dylan

No sir, not a chance. Mr. Jones does not even pretend to know what's happening in America right now, and neither does anyone else.

We have seen Weird Times in this country before, but the year 2000 is beginning to look super weird. This time, there really is nobody flying the plane. ... We are living in dangerously weird times now. Smart people just shrug and admit they're dazed and confused.

The only ones left with any confidence at all are the New Dumb. It is the beginning of the end of our world as we knew it. Doom is the operative ethic.

The Autumn months are never a calm time in America. Back to Work, Back to School, Back to Football Practice, etc. ... Autumn is a very Traditional period, a time of strong Rituals and the celebrating of strange annual holidays like Halloween and Satanism and the fateful Harvest Moon, which can have ominous implications for some people.

Most of these things are obviously Wrong and Evil and Ugly -- but at least they are Traditional. They will happen. Your driveway will ice up, your furnace will blow up and you will be rammed in traffic by an uninsured driver in a stolen car.

Autumn is always a time of Fear and Greed and Hoarding for the winter coming on. Debt collectors are active on old people and fleece the weak and helpless. They want to lay in enough cash to weather the known horrors of January and February. There is always a rash of kidnapping and abductions of school children in the football months. Pre-teens of both sexes are traditionally seized and grabbed off the streets by gangs of organized Perverts.

Most of these things are obviously Wrong and Evil and Ugly -- but at least they are Traditional. They will happen. Your driveway will ice up, your furnace will blow up and you will be rammed in traffic by an uninsured driver in a stolen car.

But what the hell. That's why we have Insurance, eh? And the Inevitability of these nightmares is what makes them so reassuring. Life will go on, for good or ill. The structure might be a little Crooked, but the foundations are still Strong and Unshakable.

Ho, ho. Think again, buster. Look around you. There is an eerie sense of Panic in the air, a silent Fear and Uncertainty that comes with once-reliable faiths and truths and solid Institutions that are no longer safe to believe in. ... There is a Presidential Election, right on schedule, but somehow there is no President. A new Congress is elected, like always, but somehow there is no real Congress at all -- not as we knew it, anyway, and whatever passes for Congress will be as helpless and weak as Whoever has to pass for the "New President."

If this were the world of sports, it would be like playing a Super Bowl that goes into 19 scoreless Overtimes and never actually Ends. ... or four L.A. Lakers stars being murdered in different places on the same day. Guaranteed Fear and Loathing. Abandon all hope. Prepare for the Weirdness. Get familiar with Cannibalism.

Good luck, Doc.

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's books include Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, The Proud Highway, Better Than Sex and The Rum Diary. His new book, Fear and Loathing in America, will be released in December. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," will appear each Monday on Page 2.



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