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We've All Been There: In 1958, A Young Hunter S. Thompson Needed Gainful Work


Before he created gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson needed work. Here he is, outside the Pitkin County Courthouse, in 1990. Frank Martin/AP Photo hide caption

toggle caption Frank Martin/AP Photo

Before he created Gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson was a copy boy at Time magazine In New York City, already frustrated that his profession — my profession! — was "overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence."

So, he wrote a letter to Jack Scott, the editorial director of the Vancouver Sun, offering to move to British Columbia, to take a job at the newspaper.

The Ottawa Citizen recently published Thompson's inquiry in its entirety:

"Most of my experience has been in sports writing, but I can write everything from warmongering propaganda to learned book reviews," he wrote.

I can work 25 hours a day if necessary, live on any reasonable salary, and don't give a black damn for job security, office politics, or adverse public relations.

It's one hell of a cover letter. Thompson said that, because he hadn't seen a copy of the paper since Scott took over, it was "a tentative offer."

I didn't make myself clear to the last man I worked for until after I took the job. It was as if the Marquis de Sade had suddenly found himself working for Billy Graham. The man despised me, of course, and I had nothing but contempt for him and everything he stood for. If you asked him, he'd tell you that I'm "not very likable, (that I) hate people, (that I) just want to be left alone, and (that I) feel too superior to mingle with the average person." (That's a direct quote from a memo he sent to the publisher.)

Nothing beats having good references.

Of course if you asked some of the other people I've worked for, you'd get a different set of answers.



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