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Fear and Loathing
in Las Vegas

by Hunter S. Thompson

Field-Tested by John Gruber

in Las Vegas, Nevada

Packing for a weekend in Vegas, one would be hard pressed to pick a more obvious novel off the shelf than Hunter S. Thompson's 1971 masterpiece, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. But how else to put oneself in the proper frame of mind?

Squint your eyes in most U.S. cities, and you can still see the 1970s. But not in Vegas, and not on The Strip. The Vegas Strip of 1971 is buried deep under the remains of long-ago-imploded casinos. And so Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas can no more serve as a guide to Sin City today than a map from the Manhattan Indians could get you through New York.

It's about setting the bar. Whatever it is that you, as a decent, reasonable, literate citizen, may plan to do and/or ingest while in Vegas, no matter how deviant when judged by the standards of your behavior back home, surely it pales in comparison to the criminal and pharmacological exploits detailed in Fear and Loathing.

Example: poolside, midday. I'm enjoying the last sip of some sort of rum-based cocktail. Cold drinks go down fast in the desert sun. Our waitress spots the empty glass and asks if I'll have another. Ordinarily, no, of course not; it's only 1 p.m. But reading Fear and Loathing, I feel the need to keep pace. So I tell her yes, I will have another, and you better bring a beer with it, just to even things out.

John Gruber writes and publishes Daring Fireball, a website for Mac and web nerds. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and son.

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