Countdown to Launch gives you one of our favourite submissions every Monday. Adam’s story can be found in the FREAK Circus bumper Kindle edition. Available October 1st.
Adam V. Cheshire is one of my favourite performers and writers. Living in Glasgow (a mere jaunt for my Edinburgh self) I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him a few times, and seeing him perform a few times more. I knew Adam had to kick off our run up to launch.
This tale is an intimate look at losing your hero. Enjoy, comment, share, and for gods sake seek Adam out. He’ll tell you how at the end.
The Day Dr. Hunter S. Thompson blew his brains out and ruined my plans to crash on his sofa
Adam V. Cheshire
The day Hunter S. Thompson killed himself started like any other – with me waking painfully, struggling to come to terms with consciousness. A somnambulant foot grasping blindly for purchase on a threadbare carpet, eyelids creaking; opening, closing. That internal scream begging for caffeine. Me practically falling down the stairs as I struggle to remember how to walk.
It was only after I’d logged on, a daily routine that I’ve gone through since the days of dialup, that the revelation made itself known.
Celebrity don’t usually mean shit to me
but there are a few exceptions.
This was one of them.
Whilst I was doing my A-levels I used to carry his address around in my notebook. The idea being that if I ever ended up stranded in Colorado I’d hit him up for a sofa to sleep on. I figured that even if he harassed me off his property wielding a shotgun that at least I would have a tale to tell.
That sure as fuck wasn’t gonna happen now.
You know those times when it feels like solid ground has been offset by a few centimetres? Those times your head opens up like a desolate prairie and it feels like you are floating through a vast and ruined landscape?
At the time I was studying Film & Video at university in the next town over. Getting to lectures usually involved jumping the train fare. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the money. It was just really easy.
Also, I didn’t have the money – I’d spent my student loan on an ipod and 3 grams of cocaine. Because I’d never done a decent amount of coke at one time and really wanted to. Also, iPods had just launched in the uk and I wanted one really bad. You understand, right? Of course you do. I can see you’re one of our own.
As I made my way to university the terrible knowledge that HST was no longer on this mortal coil sat in my skull like a shite that just won’t flush. My first introduction to the guy had come courtesy of a short story I’d handed in at high school. It might have involved drugs. Also a torture scene set to the tune of Singing in the Rain, à la A Clockwork Orange. These days handing in such a piece of homework would probably get you expelled, arrested, waterboarded, have each and every one your cavities turned inside out by force, and your name included on the No-Fly list. Instead, an English Teacher, not even my English teacher, took me aside and told me about Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
He also mentioned The Basketball Diaries, you know, for balance, but I never did read that book, and frankly it has nothing to do with the topic at hand. I think the general theme was Heroin is Bad.
Anyway, off I ran, giddy at the personal attention from an English teacher from The Top Set (I was in set 2), a new name on my lips, my library card in my hand, eager to be violated by this man’s words. It wasn’t my first introduction to the counter culture, that had been Robert Anton Wilson, but it was an introduction that set my mind on fire. The vitality of the prose! The anarchic energy! The rampart use of psychoactive substances! Everything a strange-as-fuck pubescent boy could want from a novel. It was a special kind of bliss. It was the beginning of the end of the beginning.
On the bus that ran from the train station to campus I could be found engaging every one I met in the same conversation, asking the same desperate question.
“Did you hear that Hunter S. Thompson killed himself?”
I swear, you’ve never seen so many blank expressions in your life. Even after mentioning the film that Terry Gilliam had made from Fear and Loathing responses didn’t get much better. I was baffled that nobody else had heard of the guy. That nobody else was devastated. Meeting my production group in the uni bar before first lecture I at least got some recognition of the man and his achievements. Well, at least off a couple of them. They did however lack the appropriate emotional reaction.
That came minutes before the lecture began, when my mate Sion rang me and asked if I had heard.
I certainly fucking had.
A plan was made. University was abandoned. I made my way back the way I’d came, back to Cardiff, to drink Wild Turkey (HST’s favourite tipple) in a weatherspoons, to toast his demise, to revel in his life, and to get really fucking drunk. It was a goal we achieved with great aplomb.
When I first approached the idea of submitting something to the first issue of Freak Circus I really wanted to write a poem. Something deep and highly personal, something a little bit tortured. Something ironic with the message that Conformity is Love. We all want to belong. It’s a lot less painful than not belonging.
Instead I’ve submitted a personal essay beatifying a man who made a living out of being an oddball, of living successfully on the fringes. The man who declared that when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. A man who lived his life the way he chose. Who once scared the shit out of Jack Nicholson in his own home, In the middle of the night, with a bag full of fireworks. Who once ran for major of the highly conservative town of Aspen on a Freak Power ticket and nearly won. Who once said
“Some may never live, but the crazy never die.”
I do hope that’s not true.
Frankly, I’m looking forward to the rest.
Adam V. Cheshire has been writing compulsively since he was 16 and it’s starting to look like he’s not going to stop any time soon despite the fact that he currently makes very little money from it. Cutting his performative teeth on Cardiff’s lacklustre spoken word scene in the early 21st century before going into hiding Adam spent several years flailing about in the arse-end of Ayrshire before crash landing in Glasgow in 2013. Despite serious hardship and homelessness he fell in love with the city and threw himself with wild abandon into its burgeoning spoken word scene. He currently co-runs two regular spoken word events, the illustrious bi-monthly Inn Deep Spoken Word with Sam Small ( held in the pub of the same name on Great Western Road ) & the snot-nosed and anarchic upstart STFU – a monthly mess of poetry with a focus on the more deprived and perverse outpourings of the human soul, cut straight from society’s festering underbelly and served lightly toasted on a bed of couscous for your Aural edification, held in Rockus on Argyle Street.
He is currently working on an Erodic chapbook of poetry for publication in 2016 which may or may not be entitled CAN I JOIN YOUR DEATH CULT? The same year will see the premiere of his one hour Fringe show Worse Than Hitler.
You can find him on:
and the blogosphere