The Kentucky Derby is decadent and depraved: 5 quotes that capture the madness

Elaborate clothes, excessive drinking and loutish behaviour. Can you tell the difference between the 1970s Kentucky Derby and the atmosphere at the races today?

‘The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved’ is Hunter S. Thompson’s 1970s rendering of the ever-famous Louisville event, the annual Kentucky Derby. Alongside his companion and cartoonist Ralph Steadman, he paints a picture of an event that is just that: utterly decadent and wholly depraved.

Check out our top five quotes and you’ll see what we mean…

#1 Hunter S. Thompson and Steadman arrive at the racetrack bar and anyone who’s anyone is there: the politicians, the beautiful women and the rich locals, all there to see and be seen.

The only thing more important than the horse race itself is the sport of people-watching.

How different is that to the streams of spectators dressed in their best finery on Millionaire’s Row, desperate to impress the watchful eyes of the fashion police at the track nowadays?

#2 Looking out over the stands, Hunter S. Thompson imagines them packed with spectators, crying, fighting and falling over each other when the Kentucky Derby begins. The screaming, the vomiting, the public urination, the desperate grappling for money.

Ever sat in the cheap seats at a race track? If you’re in the infield, say goodbye to your hearing, you might as well throw away your shoes, and forget about personal space.

#3 Hunter S. Thompson studies the faces of the horse breeders, looking for the one face that perfectly represents the character of the typical Kentucky Derby race-goer. The privileged sort, drunk on whiskey and the belief in their own pure-bred Southern superiority.

They might be less conspicuously drunk nowadays but the only people who claim to be more pure-bred than the horses at a derby are the people who breed them.

#4 That night after the first race, drinking ensues in the unfortunate absence of drugs. Stealing passes to the race clubhouse, Hunter S. Thompson and Steadman spend an incoherent Kentucky Derby Day lost in a sea of whiskey-soaked people.

We’ve all seen the pictures of the rowdy drunken crowds falling over each other and pouring out of a race track. Hardly a stretch for the imagination.

#5 Hunter S. Thompson awakes from his drunken, sleep-like stupor, he sees an ill, red, haggered-looking face in the mirror. The exact face of the loathsome type of person he was looking for at the Derby.

The morning after the night before. We’ve all been there. This one doesn’t necessarily apply exclusively to horse races…just, mornings.

Hunter S. Thompson got one thing right in ‘The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved’: the racetrack is capable of bringing out the worst in human nature. But there’s really no denying it, it’s still a great day out.

‘I’m admiring the shape of your skull’ Eating breakfast like Hunter S. Thompson is a terrible idea

Michael Hafford of Extra Crispy reported a couple of months ago that Hunter S. Thompson did not hold many things sacred, least of all his sobriety

breakfast-with-hunter-1-630x474But he was a real person. And he was a real person who loved breakfast. I, myself, am a boring-ass white boy who read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas at age 14 and became enthralled with Thompson’s ability to file while seemingly actively snorting whatever powder was around. And I also love breakfast. So I’ve gotten obsessed with this quotation about Hunter S.Thompson’s breakfast (I also read the Vegas book when I was 14).

“I like to eat breakfast alone, and almost never before noon; anybody with a terminally jangled lifestyle needs at least one psychic anchor every twenty-four hours, and mine is breakfast. In Hong Kong, Dallas or at home—and regardless of whether or not I have been to bed—breakfast is a personal ritual that can only be properly observed alone, and in a spirit of genuine excess. The food factor should always be massive: four Bloody Marys, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crepes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned beef hash with diced chiles, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for random seasoning, and something like a slice of Key lime pie, two margaritas, and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert… Right, and there should also be two or three newspapers, all mail and messages, a telephone, a notebook for planning the next twenty-four hours and at least one source of good music… All of which should be dealt with outside, in the warmth of a hot sun, and preferably stone naked.”

(Binge watching season 2 of Narcos while I write, I’m continually impressed by the outrageous sweaters worn by cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar.)

fear-loathinghunterI view Hunter S. Thompson the way I view all writers talking about their supposed routines: They’re just baiting someone stupid enough to try to recreate them into personal or mental ruin. And yet, the breakfast beckoned to me. How could it not? The sheer amount and variety is completely insane. The food alone is enough to stop one’s heart, let alone the drinking and the dessert cocaine.

So I decided to try to conquer it, this Mt. Olympus of breakfast. My attempt at the breakfast took nearly five hours, inspired a minor argument, and was consumed as close to naked as I could get with a photographer and several other assistants around. I couldn’t be alone for the breakfast—I had a photographer, several people helping with the cooking, and other people that just wanted to gawk—but I cherished my few alone moments and understood why he would have valued his alone time. At times I had to lay down. Once, I vomited. Other times, I wish I had. I think I learned something. Definitely I learned about the limits of my endurance.

Hafford goes into all the details of this 5-hour marathon.

Finishing the breakfast, or coming as close as I did, more or less confirmed my suspicions. This was not a mortal amount of food to eat. Hell, this was not a mortal amount of food to describe eating. I wouldn’t characterize myself as shocked that Hunter S. Thompson would eat (or say he ate) breakfast like this, but I would say I’d be surprised if he did this more than once in his life. This type of eating requires a hotel because it’s elaborate and you couldn’t really find that solitude or nudity anywhere else. Preparing the food took an hour just by itself. One could picture him, cigarette clamped in jaw, growling the order into the phone. One could also picture the person taking the order asking if he needed two place settings.

“Just one,” Thompson might say. “Are you insane?”

Well, yes.


Microbiologically safe missing in Whole Foods Responsibly Grown system

In what demented universe did Whole Foods become the arbiter of responsibly grown anything?

virtueThere’s no more “Good” “Better” and “Best” in the future of the Whole Foods Market Inc.’s Responsibly Grown rating system.

The Packer reports that in a recent blog post Edmund LaMacchia, global vice president of perishable purchasing for the Austin, Texas-based retailer outlined a five-point plan to simplify and improve the program for consumers and growers.

“We launched Responsibly Grown with the goal of creating a dynamic program that we would continuously evolve with our suppliers to address important agriculture issues affecting human health and the environment. Since we launched the programs in our stores, we’ve had a lot of productive dialogue with all of our stakeholders on how we can continue to enhance the program as we move it forward.”

I care primarily about the things that make people barf, so where’s the details on that, or just more hucksterism to make an extra buck?