Dramatic readings of this late gonzo journalist’s essay “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” are something of a tradition here at Horse Nation.
Thompson’s booze-fueled account of the Kentucky Derby in 1970 is perhaps best imbibed with some variety of bourbon and ice. It’s less about the race, and more about Derby culture as viewed through the chaotic lens of Thompson’s writing.
Accompanied by eyebrow pencil-and-lipstick sketches by Ralph Steadman, the essay was originally published in Scanlan’s Monthly, a short-lived magazine that ceased publication after less than a year.
Beyond drink and lack of sleep, our only real problem at that point was the question of access to the clubhouse. Finally, we decided to go ahead and steal two passes, if necessary, rather than miss that part of the action. This was the last coherent decision we were able to make for the next forty-eight hours. From that point on–almost from the very moment we started out to the track–we lost all control of events and spent the rest of the weekend churning around in a sea of drunken horrors. My notes and recollections from Derby Day are somewhat scrambled.”