Hunter S. Thompson Quotes
Below is a small collection of HST quotes.
If you have a favorite Hunter S. Thompson quote you love or despise please leave it as a comment and I’ll get it on the list, or not.
A word to the wise is infuriating.
America… just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.
Buy the ticket, take the ride.
For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled.
Going to trial with a lawyer who considers your whole life-style a Crime in Progress is not a happy prospect.
I feel the same way about disco as I do about herpes.
I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.
I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.
I wouldn’t recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they’ve always worked for me.
If I’d written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people – including me – would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.
If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.
It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.
No man is so foolish but he may sometimes give another good counsel, and no man so wise that he may not easily err if he takes no other counsel than his own. He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.
Politics is the art of controlling your environment.
That was always the difference between Muhammad Ali and the rest of us. He came, he saw, and if he didn’t entirely conquer – he came as close as anybody we are likely to see in the lifetime of this doomed generation.
The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.
The person who doesn’t scatter the morning dew will not comb gray hairs.
The trouble with Nixon is that he’s a serious politics junkie. He’s totally hooked and like any other junkie, he’s a bummer to have around, especially as President.
The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
You better take care of me Lord, if you don’t you’re gonna have me on your hands.
You can turn your back on a person, but never turn your back on a drug, especially when its waving a razor sharp hunting knife in your eye.
“We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine and a whole multicolored collection of uppers, downers, laughers, screamers . . . Also, a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can. The only thing that really worried me was the ether. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge and I knew we’d get into that rotten stuff pretty soon . . .”
“The Sixties were an era of extreme reality. I miss the smell of tear gas. I miss the fear of getting beaten.”
—Independent on Sunday, October 12, 1997
“Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men’s reality. Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of ‘the rat race’ is not yet final.”
—The Great Shark Hunt, 1979
“If I’d written the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people—including me—would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.”
—Rolling Stone, February 15, 1973
—Speech, University of Colorado, 1977
“Maybe there is no Heaven. Or maybe this is all pure gibberish—a product of the demented imagination of a lazy drunken hillbilly with a heart full of hate who has found a way to live out where the real winds blow—to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whisky, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested . . . Res ipsa loquitur. Let the good times roll.”
—Gonzo Papers, Vol. 2: Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ’80s, 1988
“We are turning into a nation of whimpering slaves to Fear—fear of war, fear of poverty, fear of random terrorism, fear of getting down-sized or fired because of the plunging economy, fear of getting evicted for bad debts or suddenly getting locked up in a military detention camp on vague charges of being a Terrorist sympathizer.” —”Extreme Behavior in Aspen,” February 3, 2003
“My concept of death for a long time was to come down that mountain road at 120 and just keep going straight right there, burst out through the barrier and hang out above all that . . . and there I’d be, sitting in the front seat, stark naked, with a case of whiskey next to me and a case of dynamite in the trunk . . . honking the horn, and the lights on, and just sit there in space for an instant, a human bomb, and fall down into that mess of steel mills. It’d be a tremendous goddam explosion. No pain. No one would get hurt. I’m pretty sure, unless they’ve changed the highway, that launching place is still there. As soon as I get home, I ought to take the drive just to check it out.”
“In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile—and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: not necessarily to win, but mainly to keep from losing completely. We owe that to ourselves and our crippled self-image as something better than a nation of panicked sheep.”
—The Great Shark Hunt, 1979
“There are times, however, and this is one of them, when even being right feels wrong. What do you say, for instance, about a generation that has been taught that rain is poison and sex is death? If making love might be fatal and if a cool spring breeze on any summer afternoon can turn a crystal blue lake into a puddle of black poison right in front of your eyes, there is not much left except TV and relentless masturbation. It’s a strange world. Some people get rich and others eat shit and die.”
—Gonzo Papers, Vol. 2: Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ’80s, 1988
“The mind and body must be subjected to extreme stimulus, by means of drugs and music.”
Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits – a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.”
“There he goes. One of God’s own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”
‘On another day like this, a long time ago, I was humming across the bridge out of Louisville, Kentucky, in an old Chevy and three or four good ole boys who worked with me at a furniture factory in Jeffersonville, Indiana…the tires were hissing on the wet asphalt, the windshield wipers were lashing back and forth in the early morning rain and we were hunkered down in the car with our lunch bags and moaning along with a mean country tune on the radio when somebody said: “Jesus Christ. What are we doing going to work on a day like this? We must be goddamn crazy. This is the kind of day when you want to be belly-to-belly with a good woman, in a warm bed under a tin roof with the rain beating down and a bottle of good whiskey right next to the bed.”
“In a closed society where everyone is guilty, the only crime is getting caught.”
“When the going gets weird the weird turn pro”
“No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won’t hurt.”
“Faster, Faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death.”
“You can trust me, I’m not like the others”
“Journalism is a low trade and habit worse than heroin.”
“Happy,” I muttered, trying to pin the word down. But it is one of those words, like Love, that I have never quite understood. Most people who deal in words don’t have much faith in them and I am no exception — especially the big ones like Happy and Love and Honest and Strong. They are too elusive and far too relative when you compare them to sharp, mean little words like Punk and Cheap and Phony. I feel at home with these, because they’re scrawny and easy to pin, but the big ones are tough and it takes either a priest or a fool to use them with any confidence.”
“Crack is ruining the drug culture.”
“We were somwhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold.”
“No explenation… no mix of words, music or memory could touch the sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time in the world… Whatever it meant.”
“The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others-the living-are those who pushed their control as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later.”
“…we said good night to Moberg, who was going off to look for his car. He’d forgotten where he’d left it, but assured us it was no problem. I’ll find it by smell, he said I can smell it for blocks. And he shuffled off down the street, a small figure ina dirty gray suit, sniffing for his car.”
“buy the ticket…take the ride”
“And seeing this site has made it all more amusing, because in fact, every time he spoke it was a “quote”, the last time i saw him we had stoped to get a few rounds at the bar right before we left on separate aircraft, and after a few drinks and blatantly poping 3 or 4 pills, and a long silence, and i remeber word for word what he said… “What does a watch do? it percieves when somthing should happen right? no, time only is time because this shithole would be an endless cycle of days and nights without time and date, not that it changes anything but someone still made it and we all understand it. fucking table, i understand it, but why should i? it doesnt understand me, but it was built to understand me. ”
“People who claim to know jackrabbits will tell you they are primarily motivated by Fear, Stupidity, and Craziness. But I have spent enough time in jackrabbit country to know that most of them lead pretty dull lives; they are bored with their daily routines: eat, fuck, sleep, hop around a bush now and then… No wonder some of them drift over the line into cheap thrills once in a while; there has to be a powerful adrenalin rush in crouching by the side of a road, waiting for the next set of headlights to come along, then streaking out of the bushes with split-second timing and making it across to the other side just inches in front of the speeding front tires.”
“Anybody who wanders around the world saying, “Hell yes, I’m from Texas,” deserves whatever happens to him. And he had, after all, come here once again to make a nineteenth-century ass of himself in the midst of some jaded, atavistice freakout with nothing to recommend it except a very saleable “tradition”
“It was a face I’d seen a thousand times at every Derby I’d ever been to. I saw it, in my head, as the mask of the whiskey gentry–a pretentious mix of booze, failed dreams and a terminal identity crisis…”
“Anybody who acted happy on Christmas was lying — even the ones were getting paid $500 an hour….The Jews were especially sulky, and who could blame them? The birthday of Baby Jesus is always a nervous time for people who know that ninety days later they will be accused of murdering him.”
“If I followed my better instincts right now, I would put this typewriter in the Volvo and drive to the home of the nearest politician – any politician – and hurl the goddamn machine through his front window ..flush the bugger out with an act of lunatic violence then soak him down with mace and run him naked down Main Street in Aspen with a bell around his neck and black lumps all over his body from the jolts of a high-powered ‘Bull Buster’ cattle prod”
“Just sick enough to be totally confident”
“We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled the 60′s. That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary’s trip. He crashed around America selling consciousness expansion” without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously… All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped create… a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody… or at least some force – is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.”
“Lets get down to the brass tacks, how much for the ape?”
The “wave speech”: “Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . . History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time — and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened. My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights — or very early mornings — when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder’s jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . . There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . . And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . . So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”
“The sporting editors had also given me $300 in cash, most of which was already spent on extremely dangerous drugs. The trunk of the car looked like a mobile police narcotics lab. We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug-collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can. The only thing that really worried me was the ether. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge. And I knew we’d get into that rotten stuff pretty soon.”
“A cap of good acid costs about $5. For this you get to hear the Universal Symphony, with the Holy Ghost on drums, and God singing solo.”
“true happiness in politics is a wide open hammer-shot on a poor bastard who knows he’s trapped, but can’t flee.”
“with a bit of luck, it ruined his life forever”
“It would be easy to say that we owe it all to the Bush family from Texas, but that would be too simplistic. They are only errand boys for the vengeful, bloodthirsty cartel of raving Jesus-freaks and super-rich money mongers who have ruled for at least the last 20 years, and arguably the last 200 years. They take orders well, and they don’t ask too many questions. The real power in America is held by a fast-emerging new Oligarchy of pimps and preachers who see no need for Democracy or fairness or even trees, except maybe the ones in their own yards, and they don’t mind admitting it. They worship money and power and death. Their ideal solution to all the nation’s problems would be another 100 Year War. Coming of age in a fascist police state will not be a barrel of fun for anybody, much less for people like me, who are not inclined to suffer Nazis gladly and feel only contempt for the cowardly flag-suckers who would gladly give up their outdated freedom to live for the mess of pottage they have been conned into believing will be freedom from fear. Ho ho ho. Let’s not get carried away here. Freedom was yesterday in this country. Its value has been discontinued. The only freedom we truly crave today is freedom from Dumbness. Nothing else matters.
“Few people understand the psychology of dealing with a highway traffic cop. A normal speeder will panic and immediately pull over to the side. This is wrong. It arouses contempt in the cop heart. Make the bastard chase you. He will follow.”
“At the top of the mountain, we are all snow leopards.”
“For those of us who have been up all night, we were in no mood for coffee and doughnuts”
“How many times had he stood calmly back there on the duckboards and listened to respectable-looking people talk about raping the hotel penguins?”
“What Leary never learned is that you can get a lot higher without drugs than with them…and neither have i for that matter.”
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!’”
“The hippies, who had never really believed they were the wave of the future anyway, saw the election results as brutal confirmation of the futility of fighting the establishment on its own terms. There had to be a whole new scene, they said, and the only way to do it was to make the big move — either figuratively or literally — from Berkeley to the Haight-Ashbury, from pragmatism to mysticism, from politics to dope… The thrust is no longer for “change” or “progress” or “revolution,” but merely to escape, to live on the far perimeter of a world that might have been”
“In a nation run by swine, all pigs are upward-mobile and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: Not necessarily to Win, but mainly to keep from Losing Completely.”
“I returned to the Holiday Inn — where they have a swimming pool and air-conditioned rooms — to consider the paradox of a nation that has given so much to those who preach the glories of rugged individualism from the security of countless corporate sinecures, and so little to that diminishing band of yesterday’s refugees who still practice it, day by day, in a tough, rootless and sometimes witless style that most of us have long since been weaned away from.”
T”here are times, however, and this is one of them, when even being right feels wrong. What do you say, for instance, about a generation that has been taught that rain is poison and sex is death? If making love might be fatal and if a cool spring breeze on any summer afternoon can turn a crystal blue lake into a puddle of black poison right in front of your eyes, there is not much left except TV and relentless masturbation.It’s a strange world. Some people get rich and others eat shit and die. Who knows? If there is in fact, a heaven and a hell, all we know for sure is that hell will be a viciously overcrowded version of Phoenix — a clean well lighted place full of sunshine and bromides and fast cars where almost everybody seems vaguely happy, except those who know in their hearts what is missing… And being driven slowly and quietly into the kind of terminal craziness that comes with finally understanding that the one thing you want is not there. Missing. Back-ordered. No tengo. Vaya con dios. Grow up! Small is better. Take what you can get…”
“Maybe there is no Heaven. Or maybe this is all pure gibberish — a product of the demented imagination of a lazy drunken hillbilly with a heart full of hate who has found a way to live out where the real winds blow — to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whisky, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested…
Res ipsa loquitur. Let the good times roll.”
“It is all well and good for children and acid freaks to still believe in Santa Claus — but it is still a profoundly morbid day for us working professionals. It is unsettling to know that one out of every twenty people you meet on Xmas will be dead this time next year… Some people can accept this, and some can’t. That is why God made whiskey, and also why Wild Turkey comes in $300 shaped canisters during most of the Christmas season.”
“There is a huge body of evidence to support the notion that me and the police were put on this earth to do extremely different things and never to mingle professionally with each other, except at official functions, when we all wear ties and drink heavily and whoop it up like the natural, good-humored wild boys that we know in our hearts that we are..These occasions are rare, but they happen — despite the forked tongue of fate that has put us forever on different paths…”
“Suddenly I was tired of Lotterman;He was a phony and he didn’t even know it. He was forever yapping about freedom of the press and keeping the paper going, but if he’d had a million dollars and all the freedom in the world he’d still put out a worthless newspaper because he wasn’t smart enough to put out a good one. He was just another noisy little punk in the great legion of punks who marched between the banners of bigger and better men. Freedom, Truth, Honour- you could rattle off a hundred such words and behind every on e of them would gather a thousand punks, pompous little farts, waving the banner with one hand and reaching under the table with the other.”
“Like most of the others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that my instincts were right. I shared a vagrant optimism that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles – a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other – that kept me going.”
“Fiction is based on reality unless you’re a fairy-tale artist, you have to get your knowledge of life from somewhere. You have to know the material you’re writing about before you alter it.”
But speaking of rules, you’ve been arrested dozens of times in your life. Specific incidents aside, what’s common to these run-ins? Where do you stand vis-à-vis the law? “Goddammit. Yeah, I have. First, there’s a huge difference between being arrested and being guilty. Second, see, the law changes and I don’t. How I stand vis-à-vis the law at any given moment depends on the law. The law can change from state to state, from nation to nation, from city to city. I guess I have to go by a higher law. How’s that? Yeah, I consider myself a road man for the lords of karma.”
“A man who has blown all his options can’t afford the luxury of changing his ways. He has to capitalize on whatever he has left, and he can’t afford to admit — no matter how often he’s reminded of it — that every day of his life takes him farther and farther down a blind alley… Very few toads in this world are Prince Charmings in disguise. Most are simply toads… and they are going to stay that way… Toads don’t make laws or change any basic structures, but one or two rooty insights can work powerful changes in the way they get through life. A toad who believes he got a raw deal before he even knew who was dealing will usually be sympathetic to the mean, vindictive ignorance that colors the Hell’s Angels’ view of humanity. There is not much mental distance between a feeling of having been screwed and the ethic of total retaliation, or at least the random revenge that comes with outraging the public decency.”
“Tiny hurts people. When he loses his temper he goes completely out of control and his huge body becomes a lethal weapon. It is difficult to see what role he might play in the Great Society.”
“But with the throttle screwed on, there is only the barest margin, and no room at all for mistakes. It has to be done right… and that’s when the strange music starts, when you stretch your luck so far that fear becomes exhilaration and vibrates along your arms. You can barely see at a hundred; the tears blow back so fast that they vaporize before they get to your ears. The only sounds are the wind and a dull roar floating back from the mufflers. You watch the white line and try to lean with it… howling through a turn to the right, then to the left, and down the long hill to Pacifica… letting off now, watching for cops, but only until the next dark stretch and another few seconds on the edge… The Edge… There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others- the living- are those who pushed their luck as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later. But the edge is still Out there. Or maybe it’s In. The association of motorcycles with LSD is no accident of publicity. They are both a means to an end, to the place of definitions.”
“This is not a good town for psychedelic drugs. Reality itself is too twisted.”
“Why bother with newspapers, if this is all they offer? Agnew was right. The press is a gang of cruel faggots. Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits — a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.”
“When you bring an act into this town, you want to bring it heavy. Don’t waste any time with cheap shucks and misdemeanors. Go straight for the jugular. Get right into felonies.”
“It was dangerous lunacy, but it was also the kind of thing a real connoisseur of edge-work could make an argument for… Separately, we might pull it off. But together, no — we would blow it. Too much aggressive chemistry in that mix; the temptation to run a deliberate freakout would be too heavy.”
“(After awaking in the destroyed suite)The possibility of complete mental and physical collapse is now very real.”
“Sympathy? Not for me. No mercy for a criminal freak in Las Vegas. This place is like the army: the shark ethic prevails-eat the wounded. In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”
“Reading the front page made me feel a lot better. Against that heinous background, my crimes were pale and meaningless. I was a relatively respectable citizen — a multiple felon, perhaps, but certainly not dangerous. And when the Great Scorer came to write against my name, that would surely make a difference. Or would it? I turned to the sports page and saw a small item about Muhammad Ali; his case was before the Supreme Court, the final appeal. He’d been sentenced to five years in prison for refusing to kill “slopes.”
“What were we doing out here? What was the meaning of this trip? Did I actually have a big red convertible out there on the street? was I just roaming around these Mint Hotel escalators in a drug frenzy of some kind, or had I really come out here to Las Vegas to work on a story?”
“”Let it roll!” he screamed. “Just as high as the fucker can go! and when it comes to that fantastic bit where the rabbit bites its own head off, I want you to throw that fuckin radio into the tub with me. The room was very quiet. I walked over to the TV set and turned it on to a dead channel-white noise at maximum decibels, a fine sound for sleeping, a powerful continuous hiss to drown out everything strange.”
maximum decibels, a fine sound for sleeping, a powerful continuous hiss to drown out everything strange.”