No! Not … the bats!
Recent reports of an apparent settlement in the nasty squabble over part of Hunter S. Thompson’s estate were followed, just yesterday, by news of an even nastier fight among Jerry Garcia’s survivors.There’s a certain poetic pairing in that.Garcia and Hunter. Both creative geniuses. Both snuffed out too soon. Both deeply fond of, um, altered states of consciousness. Both almost certain to leave viciously tangled estates – and both doing exactly that.In Garcia’s case, his widow is suing their daughter and the daughter is suing the widow – all in a battle over tapes of Garcia’s music.And although solid details of Hunter’s estate are impossible to find, how could one expect anything less than a royal mess from a man who liked to bury boxes of cash in secret stashes all over his property? (Legend has it that Hunter’s famous peacocks were originally brought in to guard the grounds against treasure-hunting thieves.)Certainly, I have no firsthand knowledge, but there are persistent rumors of less-than-congenial relations between the beneficiaries (if that can possibly be the right word) of Hunter’s estate.Here’s why I’m concerned. There are now reports floating around that the legendary Owl Farm itself may soon be sold.My first thought when I heard of the possible sale was that whoever buys the place might well want to invest in some kind of high-powered exorcism before moving in. Indeed, given Hunter’s rank among all-time hell-raisers, it would seem reasonable to try to bring in the Pope himself to perform the cleansing rites.I am reminded, in passing, of a young Aspen friend who moved into an apartment previously inhabited by a deeply, deeply disturbed young woman. Despite the fact that he was Jewish, my friend decided the place really needed an exorcism – and a representative of the Catholic Church was persuaded to drop by and sprinkle a little Holy Water around the premises.Believe what you will, the process seemed to be effective. At least, the apartment was, from that day on, haunted only by the eerie late-night cries of my friend’s roommate – a lively young blonde woman who had a habit of bringing ski patrollers home from the bars for a long night of activities that even the holiest of Holy Water could not have sanctified.But I digress.We were talking about the possible sale of Owl Farm and it seems to me that we need to take action to keep the farm from falling into the wrong hands and winding up as one more damned trophy mansion.The solution seems simple enough:GonzoWorld! (Or, if you prefer, Fear & Loathing Land.)That’s right. A Hunter S. Thompson theme park.Sacrilege, you say? Not at all. Here’s the deal:After paying an exorbitant fee, visitors would be ushered into the ramshackle farmhouse. As they walked through the door, a voice would be reading the iconic opening lines of “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas”:”We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”At that instant, their hands would be shackled, a black hood would be thrown over their head and a healthy dose of LSD would be injected directly into the base of their skull. The voice would continue, “And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching …”Then the visitor would be thrown into a small closet and left there for the duration. Eight hours sounds about right.And that’s it.The guest would emerge, eventually, shaken but unable to deny that it had been an experience that perfectly encapsulated the essence of Gonzo. The Farm would be saved as a landmark, a shrine to Hunter – and there’d be enough money to keep everybody happy.Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Sean Beckwith is taking advantage of his column space this week to inform the public of the Best in Jest.