I believe that I am fortunate to not have encountered the writing, rambling, and ranting of Hunter S. Thompson when I was young. Somehow, I missed that unique voice until I was older. His brand of hell-raising would have been combustible mixed my own recklessness and need to find the outer-banks of whatever I was doing, am doing. It is not difficult for me to push a little too far beyond whatever established guidance lines exist. (Pushing a little too far can quickly become a stumble, a fumble, a rumble, a crash. Escalation, for me, has often run on rocket fuel.) I find Dr. T's work is complicated by the scope and expanse of his life, a life that broke the boundaries of a box singularly labeled as writer. H.S.T. became, due to what seems like his own provocation, I never knew him personally, a caricature of himself. The outlandishness and absurdity of his life, as he got older, placed him behind the cage bars of mass-media attention and sat him before people to poke and prod like an animal in a zoo. Or, so it seems to me. As I said, I never met the man. I would have liked to.
There are lessons learned by reading both H.S.T's work and the work created about him. I prefer his older material, his clearer work, the pieces before his craziness became more significant than his brilliant rhythms and lancing perspectives on this or that. I do not think of H.S.T. as often as I do other writers, but I couldn't help picturing him sitting in my current abode: A Motor Inn off of 287 in Nyac, New York. Bumping music plays out in long sessions at 5 30 AM. It is audio camouflage for the prostitutes working on the other side of the motel. Google just informed me, a little late, that the hotel has had "previous issues with prostitution rings." Maybe it is true. Maybe it is not. It certainly fits the decor, the clientele I've passed in the hallway. You can not read and believe everything on the internet, you know. If it is true, to the hotel owners credit, there seems to be some division between the travelers without another option and the working members of the guest list. I am in the first category. Campgrounds had been the plan, but timing and torrential rain shifted the itinerary and the cheap rate of the motor inn pulled us from the rolling of highway driving. Hunter came into my mind because this is the kind of place I pictured when I read a story he pounded out, a finger at a time, on his typewriter, about the Cuban migration in Florida. He wrote about and described a location where debauchery and mayhem were the complimentary entree. What occurred, according to Thompson, was a stunning debacle. I can see the barking writer held up, vats of alcohol fueling late night writing sessions influenced, through osmosis, by the sounds and activity around him. Taping into the energy of a place is a priceless ability for a writer. Sometimes it is an overwhelming experience. I try to steady myself and take whatever ride I have caught, absorbing, cataloging, and engaging. I am better at that than actual surfing, which is the image I was picturing when I wrote that last sentence. Here is a brief side-note: I tried surfing in Indonesia during a week that I took to decompress from an intense exit and existence in China-Land. I crashed hard surfing. Both China-Land and Indonesia are stories for another time. Not today.
This motel is a last ditch effort by everyone here: Travelers passing by in need of cheaper accommodations than 140.00 to 250.00 hotels in the much more affluent neighbor of South Nyac and Nyac, travelers like myself who were forced to change plans, cheap weekly/monthly rates for people in need of a home, prostitutes and johns looking for a discreet liaison, and other folks somewhere on the sliding scale of life here in America.
There is much to be desired in a place like this: A motel where the lobby smells of either decaying bodies or truck loads of cat-piss, the wooden door to my room has a long, running crack from being pried open. I have stayed in a fair number of different accommodations throughout my various time between here and there. On more than a few occasions I have had legitimate, focused concern that I would have to deal with the unpleasantness of bed-bugs. Pulling back the sheets, looking for tell-tale signs of rust-colored blood stains became a habit. But, there have been many unique and memorable moments because of either my openness to new situations or my lack of options. In Macau, I stayed in a former brothel where the thin plywood walls did not even reach the ceiling. The place was a collection of little chambers erected by green painted partitions. Despite an inability to stop any and all night-sounds: Snoring, talking, sex and babies wailing, its location led to several of my most enjoyable evenings during a six month stint abroad in 2010-2011.
The music has stopped again. Doors just opened and closed and muted voices trailed off down the hallway. Another session completed, I suppose. I am tempted to pick up my guitar and offer my original score to the audience of early morning risers. I wonder, would they appreciate it more than the barrooms of people focused on playing pool, conversations, and waiting for a song to be played that they know the words to, waiting for the human juke-box? Maybe. Maybe not.
Options are not always plentiful and decisions must always be made. I was glad to pull off of the road and lay on a semi-firm mattress and sleep. The place, despite the seedier quality of hallways and outer appearance, thin walls, and the look of other guests that suggest a worn, and tiring existence, the room is pretty clean and the water is hot. Sometimes, that is all you need. Most of the time, that is more than you need. A brief exhale of rest and hot water and then back on the road.
I'll be moving on today, wandering New York City, and then blasting on past The Big Apple for the lower end of Pennsylvania. Many of the other folks at this motor lodge will remain here, making ends meet and probably grateful for a roof over their head. This is a last resort kind of place. A place where options have been exhausted. But, for some, there is a new day and a road leading out of town with the fresh choices of miles to come. I am grateful for the miles I have driven and the ones leading around the corner. Being sucked into the muck of choked choices and desperation is never easy. It is damn unnerving.
I am almost packed and ready to slide behind the wheel of my newest chariot: The Rock, and move on. This piece will get its final punctuation momentarily, and my thoughts of Hunter Thompson will have faded away again. Surely, they will return. Before I go and this piece ends, I must scrawl this note: Again, I am glad I encountered Dr. Gonzo when I was older. I was able to appreciate the substance of the man and not be driven by the sugar rush of his antics. Keep your eyes and ears open and write like hell, that is what I learned. Any way it plays out, I am glad to be back on the road again. Until next time.
Dylan P. Laurion
Nyac, New York 2015