Sunday, July 17, 2011
Hunter S. Thompson & The Jersey Shore
Long before Snooki, JWoww, and the Situation were corrupting the Jersey Shore. There was another aspiring, volatile youngster reveling in the same debauchery. But he ended up at the wrong Jersey Shore. Long before "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", Hunter S. Thompson was cold and miserable in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania.
A young naive writer, fresh out of the Air Force he mistakenly thought this place would be filled with beaches and bikinis. To his dismay he got quite the opposite. The small borough sits 15 miles outside of Williamsport, along the banks of the Susquehanna river. The town is quite rural and didn't leave many lasting memories for the "gonzo" writer. A young Thompson wrote a personal letter to a friend envying him for being stationed in Iceland. Hunter writes.
So you think Iceland is bad: ha! Let me tell you about north-central Pennsylvania.
There were three red lights in metropolitan Fort Walton: there are two in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania. There were four laundry and dry cleaning establishments in Fort Walton: there are NONE in Jersey Shore. There were innumerable bars in Fort Walton: there are two in Jersey Shore. There were at least four good eating establishments in Fort Walton: there are but three small grills in Jersey Shore. There were women (whores, lesbians, and divorcees, if you must) in Fort Walton: the only women under forty in Jersey Shore go to high school. There were beaches and water and sand dunes and sea gulls and boats and bays in Fort Walton: there are mountains of coal dust, dirty old people, ancient wrecks of houses, and "True Confessions" magazines in Jersey Shore.
And now you're going to ask just what in the hell I'm doing in Jersey Shore, Pa. I know... and I'm ready with a quick answer I'm having a nightmare."
Obviously this was not the type of environment he envisioned. After a short stint as a sports writer at the Jersey Shore Herald, the eccentric writer left the rural town for New York City. Of course Hunter left as only he can. He had taken out a colleagues daughter, the father was kind enough to allow the young couple access to his '49 Chevy. Sure enough Hunter got the man's prized possession stuck in the riverbed. The next day, the angry co-worker drove the car into work and Thompson said, “I knew heavy trouble was coming …I just got up, took my coat off the rack and went out the front door. Didn’t even collect my pay. Went straight to the apartment, loaded the car and drove to New York.”