GONZO JOURNALISM COMES TO CINCINNATI
Belleview F. Cruise
That's right, Gonzo. Not literature, but the freewheeling
ramblings of a deranged mind. (Speed kills, you know.)
Ah, how vaguely I remember! It was the spring (or was it winter)
of '79, (or was it '69) and I had been assigned by my editor to
cover the Potato Growers Association of America Annual Convention
in Las Vegas.
I had just arrived in Vegas the day before and connected with my
old friend and fellow dharma bum, Dr. Bennard K. Nite, of whose
accomplishments you have no doubt heard. We had found ourselves
a room at the ever-stylish Rancho del Rimo and were comfortably
ensconced at the bar of the Purple Turban Lounge, when it became
apparent that even here we would not be able to avoid the
veritable herds of potato ranchers.
Perhaps I should give you a little background on my good friend,
To begin with, no one is certain what the 'M.D.' behind his name
really means. No one is brave enough to ask, either. HE says
he's a doctor, 'good enough for me, y' know? It has, however,
been suggested (I'll not say by whom) that it stands for
'Maddog', or maybe it was 'Mentally Deranged'. or something along
those lines. Still, he's your basic kinda allaround weird guy.
'Dressed in perpetual urban cammo, with commie pins and a slight
psychotic cast around the eyes. Not the kind you would notice
without his being pointed out to you, y'know?
Anyhow, we were minding our own proverbial business and getting
thuroughly wrapped around a local concoction called (for good
reason) the Mad Arab's Revenge, when allufasudden this 300 kilo
farm boy, wearing plastic potato-nose specs (a popular novelty
item with the conventioneers) fell off of the chair he was
standing on and landed on Benn.
This was NOT a good move.
It was bad enough to have knocked Benn of of his stool, but when
he peeled himself up off the ground to find a nasal novelty item
in what was left of his Tequila Sunset. . .he stooped to the
lowest level of clich and flung the remains of his drink into the
mirror behind the bar. Then he leapt to the top of the bar, let
out his usual blood curdling warcry and screamed "DEATH TO ALL
Since this comment was directed at nobody in particular, all spud
humpers present took offense. My alcohol-sodden senses quickly
surmised that a difficult situation was immanent, and resolved
the matter to an either/or type decision. Ether run like hell
and live to drink another day... or .. do something sensationally
stupid, like brawling with fifty drunken potato fetishests from
East Jesus, Idaho.
At this point I'd like to say a few more words about my good and
faithful friend the Doctor.
Now, Benn is a reasonable person, not the sort to get all uppity
and rip your arm off without extreme provocation (like reminding
him that he's twenty minutes late for an appointment, or
tailgating him for more than half a block). It's not like he's
violent or anything. I mean, he wouldn't KILL anyone without a
really good reason, or... er...well, suffice it to say that it
wasn't HIM I was worried about. I decided to trust Benn's luck
and stay to get the shit kicked out of me.
Amid a chorus of "Kill the faggit sumbitchez!!!" I dived across
the bar and came up fighting with the first thing I put my hand
Now either the lighting in there was worse than I remember, or
some of those tater-tot cowboys were on drugs, cuz just as I
popped up from behind the bar with my handy-dandy beer dispenser,
someone yelled "Look out boys, he's gotta gun!" ...Have you ever
been treated to the sound of several tons of lard dropped several
feet onto a hard linoleum floor?
Stifling my nausea, I grabbed Benn off the bar and headed for the
door. Just for the fun of it, I let one of the spud herders have
a quart of bud up the nostrils on the way out. We were in the
parking lot, realizing that we hadn't asked the cabbie to wait,
when I felt hot potato breath on the back of my neck.
Then a remarkable thing happened. There was a deafening screech
of tires, and from around the corner, over the curb and across
the lawn came a shiny, FAST Caddy, lurching to a halt directly
"Belleview S. Cruise?" presumed the anomaly behind the wheel. I
can still see that vision, etched painfully into the fabric of my
mind. A hot pink, pimped out Cadillac with tiger striped safari
seat covers, fuzzy dice, a Scorpio bumper sticker and Elvis
blaring on the radio. A real clich on wheels. The driver was
the main attraction; electric-blue double-knit leisure suit, hair
by Exxon, brain by Car & Driver.
"Hi guys! I'm Simon Lease, but you can call me 'Fastlane'"
"Shut up and drive," screamed Benn as we tumbled unceremoniously
into the back seat of the already speeding car. (I swear I never
saw the guy before in my life!)
I came to with the wind in my face and the taste of automobile
upholstery in my mouth. Driving we were. For at least six and a
half minutes I was reasonably sure that I had gotten killed back
at the Purple Turban and some really twisted god had sent me to a
new version of hell. I felt even worse when I sat up to watch
the action as 'Fastlane' hurled us down the boulevard at any and
all moving objects. He seemed to be using the hood ornament as a
gun sight. I hesitate to mention the ten carloads of enraged
spud-boys who were hot on our collective tail.
"Wanna hit" inquired Si, as he passed me an obscenely large
joint, and slowed down to 87 miles per hour to take a corner.
(Maybe this guy wasn't so bad after all.) As we zoomed through
the still night air, I noticed that, dangling amidst the various
and sundry glittering paraphernalia Fastlane had draped around
his neck, was a coke spoon the size of a soup tureen. This
encouraged me to dive into my own stash for a little nose candy
to keep us all awake on the road, and perk up this dull party.
No sooner had we finished snorting a half gram apiece, when I
noticed that Fastlane was headed for one of those big, multi
level parking garages that always make for such nice chase scenes
in the movies, and was chuckling under his breath in a very
disturbing way. I began to sense that this self-proclaimed party
savage was trying to get us into some very deep shit.
By this time, several members of the Las Vegas Police Department
had taken an interest in our little foray.
Benn leaned over to Fastlane and casually screamed into his ear,
"where in Jezus fuck are we going?!!"
"I'm taking you guys to see the Monster," came the reply.
"Right!" shrieked Benn with an air of studied nonchalance. Then,
after a short pause, "What's the Monster?"
"Only the absolute weirdest stage show in all of glorious Las
Vegas!" Fastlane responded from behind the wheel, as he spun us
into the steep upward spiral of the garage. This did not seem to
appease the good doctor, as he drew an Uzi from beneath his spy
coat, and began firing short bursts into the windshields of our
We were now halfway up the inside of the twelve story parking
garage, and there were only ten police cars left in pursuit, the
majority having been dispatched by Dr. Benn. He chose this
moment to run out of ammo. He calmly returned his weapon beneath
his coat and pulled out a sheet of Golden Apple blotter acid that
he had been saving for a very special occasion. Since it seemed
like this occasion could become terminal at any moment, I
understood his reasoning. Dividing the sheet equally, he passed
me half, then wadded his into a ball which he tossed into his
mouth and began to chew on. My mind was not that far gone. He
though he was going to get me completely fucked up on 50 hits of
top grade acid, so I wouldn't notice when everything blew up. I
however, am not such a dumbass. I only took half of of what he
gave me. I figured, what the fuck. If we live, the cops aren't
going to let us see the Monster anyway. Drug safari, here we
We had reached the top of the structure, and I had pretty much
given up all hope of getting out of this shit with my citizenship
intact, when it occurred to me that Fastlane was heading as
towards the edge of the roof...and speeding up. Just then, Dr.
Benn let out a blood-chilling scream and added "JESUS FUCKING
GOD! I'M TOO FUCKED UP TO DIE!! AN IF I DON'T. LEASE. I'M
GOING TO TO KILL YOU, AND YER MOTH-" He interrupted his little
soliliqy as we hit the low railing and vaulted into the starry
night sky. We hung there for a rather long moment before
resuming our plunge at the familiar rate of thirty two feet per
second. ...I think that was the only time I recall seeing the
Dr. buckle his seat belt.
At least one subjective year later we landed on the roof of a
neighboring office building some stories below. Fastlane then
headed for the roof of the next building in the same fashion,
showing a practiced ease to the whole process. Dr. Benn tried to
say something through his gritted teeth that sounded like"NNG
CHRS NT NNGN!!" And we landed with a thud on the next building.
We continued in this way until finding our selves on the lowest
building on the block - a mere five floors high. Si parked the
car and walked to the edge of the roof. He peered down for
awhile, as if he were looking for something in particular then
seemed to notice something and came tearing back to the car. He
leaped behind the wheel, gunned the engine and took off over the
roof at an angle to the street. We went soaring off in the now
customary fashion and were leisurely plummeting through space
when the Doctor made the mistake of taking a quick peek over edge
of the car. He whipped his head back in with a look that made me
wonder if he wasn't inventing some new religion, just so he could
have a really good reason for using Fastlane as a human
Just then we hit something with great ripping and rending of
metal and various other materials, and then we were plunged into
darkness. (darker than it had been up till then anyway.) We had
definitely landed on something, but we were still moving! Lease
revved the engine, dropped us into gear and we went crashing
through something, bouncing back onto the pavement, heading in
the opposite direction. It wasn't till I looked behind us that I
realized that we had landed on a semi tractor-trailer. I looked
over at Benn, but he just smiled maniacally and said "fuckin'A!"
I tried to say something casual and cool, like, "Hey, good
suspension." But it came out sounding like,
...and so on. I would later find out that it was to take my
orthodontist two years to put all my teeth back were they
belonged. All but five of them, which I keep in a drawer at
The "Monster" turned out to reside about as far as one can get
from the center of Vegas without ending up asshole deep in crazy
indians and radioactive scorpions. We pulled into the unpaved
dirt lot at about two thirty in the AM, and sat for awhile in a
drugged stupor just staring at the little white club at the edge
of town. It appeared to have been built sometime in the last
century from stolen signboards and old movie sets. The whole
monstrosity had been painted over with a cheap white latex,
across which someone had scrawled "Gwydion's Monster".
Fastlane unfolded himself from behind the wheel and lurched
towards the front door, leaving the engine running behind him. I
could see that it was high time that someone with intelligence
and unimpaired judgement put things back in order, so before
following Fastlane, I crawled into my stash and began handing out
'Ludes and Percadans like candy to all and sundry - including
Simon, who now appeared to me as an electric-blue weasel who was
learning to walk on it's hind legs, began to scratch at the front
door. A small window popped open and Godzilla poked his beak
through and vomited, "Utza pazzwurd?"
"Uhhhh...sweatgland?" mumbled the weasel.
"Git outta here, Assholes!" and the window snapped shut.
"Let me try," suggested a medium sized tree that I had mistaken
for Dr. Benn. The tree pounded on the door, and when the window
opened, it grabbed Godzilla by his beak, pulling his head halfway
through the door. The tree then said calmly, "Open this door,
fucking lizard, or you'll never see your mother again!"
To which Godzilla replied, "if ya knew da passwurd, why dintcha
use it da furst time?" As he opened the door, a cloud of thick
green smoke shambled out to meet us, sniffed about our heels and
moved on. The deafening elevator muzak competed with the
fluorescent yellow pool table for the destruction of my quickly
retreating consciousness. The acid was obviously wearing off.
"Doctor," I asked cautiously.
"Yes my son," relied the tree. "What the fuck do you want?"
"Well, sir, your grace, I mean... is it possible to indulge in
additional doses of LSD once the initial dose has begun to
"Hmmmm..." the doctor seemed to be considering something after
the fashion of trees.
"Well?" I queried.
"Don't interrupt me! I'm trying to decide."
"Trying to decide what?"
"'Trying to decide whether to tell you the truth or to let you
eat more and watch you dissolve into a bubbling, babbling pool of
"What are you trying to tell me?" I cawed from my perch above the
"Here, take these and don't bother me!" He handed me three large
gel-caps filled with a reasonably suspicious-looking white
"What are they? I asked, taking one in my long and multi-colored
"Will they hurt me?" I asked, clutching the other two in my
prehensile tail. The Doctor then made a subtle gesture with a
barstool to indicate that HE would hurt me if I continued to
annoy him. This threw me into a real mindfuck, during which I
came to the following conclusions:
1) That I was still under the influence of the acid,
although I had not noticed any unusual phenomena.
2) That I should not trust Dr. Benn when he is a tree.
3) That I had come to the ultimate crossroads of my
4) That I was a really twisted god, who had sent myself to a
newly developed version of hell on a research and development
5) That I should indeed take the three capsules and wash it
all down with a fifth of peppermint schnapps.
So I did...
The next thing I knew, we were upstairs, stumbling our way
through a tightly packed room of "people" that someone had had
the audacity to call a 'dance floor'. There was more than enough
light to see your hand in front of your face, provided that you
could find your hand and shove it in front of your face, and
providing that you weren't tripping your buns off on 25 hits of
blotter, 3 hits of psilocybin, two perks and assorted alcoholic
The Doctor found us some seats beside a pile of battered corpses,
which I suspect occupying the seats just before the doctor found
same. After awhile, a recorded fanfare sounded and a neon sign
lit up over the stage which said, "thank you for not breathing
while we smoke."
The show started with the usual sick fantasy shit. Milkman rapes
housewife, Catholic schoolgirl dominates leather-clad accountant,
Polly the Poodle goes to Greece, Bride of the Burro, and other
silly things involving doctors, lawyers, nurses, advertising
salesmen, Pago lizard men, mice, dolphins and assorted props. I
yawned and drained my glass of its most recent contents; a
Bourbon Manhatten Project. I glanced back at the stage just in
time to see the last of a four foot long, saturn-5 rocket
disappear into the two girls who were..., well, nevermind.
Dr. Benn had gripped Fastlane by the collar and was complaining,
"you promised us something weird. What is this shit?" -when he
was interrupted by an exceedingly mellow voice just off our port
"Hey, guys. Why not cool it down a bit?" I turned around to
tell the nice person that this was a private lynching, and had an
unexpected religious experience. Imagine the sickly-sweetest of
all the jesus pictures that ever stared down at you from the
walls of sunday school, done up in a
used-car-salesman-sharkskin-suit, with a plastic carnation and a
odor that reminded me of some unchaste nights spent south of the
border. "Why you must be Belleview Z. Cruise," he exclaimed in a
simpering sort of way that reminded me that I had always wondered
about the gender of whoever had posed for all those sweet little
"Uh... who want's to... I mean, yeah. I guess you could say
that." For some reason, just the close proximity to this person
was beginning to tighten around my neck like a hair-noose.
"I'm Gwydion. I own this place. I do hope that you're enjoying
the show...sailor." I nudged the Dr. for some assistance, but he
was otherwise engaged. I turned to pull him lose from Si, but by
the time I got his attention and turned back to the proprietor,
all that was left was a fading impression of cheap flash powder
and the smell of goats in season.
"Nevermind." I told the doctor, and he turned back to his own
Just as I was about to give it up as a wasted evening, the
fanfare sounded again. This wasn't the cheap recorded one
though. This one sounded like strange pipes and horns with a few
large drum thrown in for effect. The curtain began to rise on a
completely dark stage. I could barely make out a huge writhing
mass of 'something' there on stage, but I couldn't tell if it was
the acid of the special effects - then the lights came on. It
was horrible! The entire universe seemed to rend itself to
pieces in my head. Angles went all funny, and the corners of the
room went somewhere else. The vast amorphous . . .thing on
stage, began to undulate to the tune of an accursed flute which
it held and played in it's flabby paws. It seemed to be giving
birth to any number of strange and deformed creatures, while
engaging in unnatural relations with the long hairs gentleman I
had recently met. As the whole scene began to dissolve into
rapidly fading shades of grey, I heard Gwydion's voice cackling
and howling in some twisted version of ecstasy. "Yes! Jesus!
Hahahahahahaha! SWEET Jesus! hahahahahahahah...!"
I told you that story to explain why I never got around to
completing my most recent assignment, which was to interview
Simon Lease in his new position here in Cincinnati.
Unfortunately, the experience seems to have rattled him somewhat
and he refuses to take my calls.
On my way here I was unavoidably detained by the Chicago Police
Department on a trumped up charge of drunk and disorderly
conduct. I was not drunk I was stoned. And I had not even begun
to disorder, but that's another story.