"What's he doing?" I asked from the backseat.
"He's trying to kill die NFL courtesy car," Boston broadcaster Clark Booth said. "That's his ambition. To kill the NFL courtesy car." I had just met the Good Doctor. This was before Super Bowl VIII, 30 years ago, the last time die NFL Championship Game was brought to Texas. I was young, new to the show, a football writer for The Boston Globe eager to put the thermometer under the tongue of this great capitalist athletic carnival, to take a true reading of its many excesses. The Good Doctor seemed to have the same idea.
Already famous for his 1971 best seller, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the inventor of what was called gonzo journalism, he had stocked his room at the Hyatt with assorted chemicals, a boom box, a bathtub full of Mexican beer and numerous bottles of Old Grand-Dad. He was on assignment for Rolling Stone to write "Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl." The death of an NFL courtesy car presumably would be a good opening to his article.
"What's he doing now?" I asked as he cut up some substance and put bits of it into his drink in a booth at a sedate TGI Friday's restaurant, our eventual destination on the edge of the city.
"I think that's blotter acid," George Kimball, then a writer for 3 the Boston Phoenix, said.
The excitement went on from there. I missed some of it—the police raid at the biker bar, Hunter's ether-exaggerated reading of an epistle from Saint Paul ("Daughters of Satan, ye be consumed in a lake of fire") from a Jehovah's Witness comic book while he stood at a railing 14 floors above the atrium bar at the Hyatt—but I saw enough to know I was overmatched. The numbers on Hunter's thermometer were far different from the ones on mine.
"What's the weirdest thing you've ever done?" I asked him sometime during the week.
"Had to be the leeches," he replied in his clipped, speeded-up way. "I was living in San Francisco. I shaved my head. I went to an old Italian pharmacy and bought a jar of leeches. I put the leeches all over my head. Gave you kind of a high, sucking the blood to your brain. I moved the leeches around with a Number 2 pencil—just to make sure they didn't get too comfortable—and walked into my favorite bar to see what everyone would say."
"What'd they say?"
"Not a thing. Not a damned thing. Too weird, too weird."