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Friday Must Read: Hunter S. Thompson Covers The Derby

Kentucky Derby Decadent and DepravedFor any Kentuckian, myself included, this weekend is one of the only times where your birthplace and heritage is met with intrigue, curiosity, and quasi-respect instead of the usual questions regarding Commonwealth dentistry, familial relations, and a suspected lack of footwear. Derby Day in the Bluegrass State is not just a sporting event. It’s an experience. An experience that everyone should enjoy at least twice (once in the infield, once in the grandstand, because frankly those two experiences are literally stratospheres apart).

Capturing the Derby and retelling an experience in long form journalism is nearly impossible to do. Look around this site for proof that most try and fail. Hunter S. Thompson, however, managed to do that and created an entirely new genre of journalism in the process. Thompson may not have set out to cement himself as a counter cultural icon and christen the genre of “Gonzo Journalism” in his retelling of his 1970 Derby experience but that is precisely what happened. Thompson would go on to craft the epic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and other assorted works, all with the unique and self-created Gonzo style where the storyteller himself is the central tenet of the experience. And while the unrest and crowd debauchery may have shifted, some central themes of this particular encapsulation are still prominent some 43 years later.

Thompson’s The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved is after the jump, but be warned. Some coarse language follows.
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