DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Explanation:


This section of my portfolio has both of my proposals as well as my prospectus. One can see how my project evolved by looking at the changes in my proposals. Originally i was going to focus on American counterculture from the 1950's-1970's. I eventually narrowed my topic to focus on Thompson's view of the counterculture in the 1960's-1970's. Writing both the proposals and the prospectus helped a lot with time management as well as narrowing my topic. These assignments made me collect my thought and served as check-in to see if i was on track with my project.  

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Proposal:

Vassili Glazyrine   
Professor Smith
WR 150 I2
February 27, 2009


Research Paper Proposal
The primary focus of my research paper is the creation of the counter culture in America in the 1950’s and its decline in the 1970’s. I would like to look at the historical factors that might have contributed to both the bloom and fall of this diverse group in America. I am going to focus on three authors that chronicle the evolution of this fascinating group of Americans. Jack Kerouac, the author of On the Road documents his various cross-country road trips across America. The main character in On the Road, Dean Moriarty, embodies America and the newly established “beatnik” generation. Dean is based on Neal Cassady who later became a part of the Marry Pranksters in the mid to late sixties. Tom Wolfe in his novel The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test follows Ken Kesey and his group of Merry Pranksters who experiment with various hallucinogenic drugs. The Merry Pranksters pave the way for the hippy lifestyle that boomed in the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco in the late 1960’s. Hunter Thompson’s two novels Hells Angels  and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas have similar themes. In Hells Angels Thompson follows the group of outlaws as they reject social norms and lead a life of sex, drugs and parties. In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Thompson takes a very bitter tone when portraying America in the early 1970’s. He feels that all the unity, hope, and optimism that was alive in the 1960’s in California has been replaced with fear and ignorance of the American population. These three authors chronicle three decades in America when people were experimenting with drugs, sex, and diverse life styles. I would like to know what caused the counter culture’s optimism in the 1950’s and the hope in the 1960’s to completely decay to fear and loathing in the 1970’s.
I am going to use On the Road by Jack Kerouac as one of my exhibit sources to show the birth of the American counterculture. This source exemplifies the very beginning of the counterculture. The novel follows Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise as they take various cross-country road trips across American and into Mexico. They have no money and no jobs yet they keep traveling from one coast to the other trying to find their place in life. The extended metaphor of the open road representing life and the car embodying Dean and Sal as they try to find their way is done with an optimistic tone. Kerouac explains the triumphs and struggles that come with the “beat” life style. This novel portrays the optimism and hope that the beatnik generations experienced in the fifties through to the sixties. Later these beatnik intellectuals fuel the hippy movement that continues on throughout the 1960’s. In fact Dean character is based on Neal Cassady who appears in both Thompson’s novel Hells Angels and Wolfe’s Electric Kool-aid Acid Test.
To chronicle the 1960’s I will use both The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test and Hells Angels as exhibit sources to show the various countercultures that were intertwined during that time period. In Wolfe’s novel he follows the Merry Pranksters as they try to establish a religion based on psychedelics and other various hallucinogenic drugs. Ken Kesey the main character of the novel is portrayed as a prophetic figure. With his group of friends, including Neal Cassady, he tries to incorporate psychedelics into a way of life. The Merry Pranksters were known to take road trips across the country in their Day-Glo colored bus strung out on LSD. They chronicled all of their trips using various mediums like film, and audio recordings. The group had such an influence on the counterculture that the Beatles would also take a trip on a Day-Glo colored bus across England. The Merry Pranksters were also good friends with the motorcycle outlaws known as the Hell’s Angels. The Merry Pranksters first introduced LSD to the Hell’s Angels. The Hell’s Angels were infamous during the mid 1960’s. The newspapers portrayed them as savage beasts that rapped women, terrorized entire towns, abused drugs and alcohol. Students felt like the Hell’s Angels were icons and stood for freedom. In Thompson’s novel he debunked most of the false rumors the newspapers spread about the Hell’s Angels. Thompson portrayed them as crude and diverse individuals who are really concerned with themselves and their motorcycles. Everyone knew who the Hell’s Angels were and most people were terrified of them because of what they read in the tabloids. For a time they were a symbol in America. I would like to use both of these groups in order to exemplify the various countercultures in America at the time.
I will also use Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter Thompson as an exhibit source to show the drastic change that happened in America over only three decades. Thompson portrays America in the 1970’s in a very negative light. He feels as if all the hope and unity that he personally experienced in the 1960’s in California has diminished into fear and greed. His alcohol and drug filled journey into Las Vegas to find the American Dream leaves him with little hope for America. When he attends the annual police drug convention he is amazed about how ignorant law enforcement is and is forced to excuse him self half way through. Thompson sees through all the money hungry people that swarm Las Vegas and even under the influence of various drugs has a hard time coping with what America has become.
Apart from using the four novels mentioned earlier I would like to look at the historical time period of 1950’s through to the 1970’s to see what global changes that might have occurred to cause the decline of counterculture. Also it will be very important to look at the 1940’s to maybe find a catalyst for the creation of the “beat” generation.

 

Revised Proposal:

Vassili Glazyrine   
Professor Smith
WR 150 I2
April 22, 2009

Revised Proposal Assignment
    For my research paper I would like to focus on a specific passage from Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In this passage Thompson depicts California in the mid 1960’s as a place were anything could be accomplished by the counterculture. During that time there was a sense of unison among the counterculture. However, after close analysis of the passage it is evident that Thompson knew that the counterculture would ultimately fail to unite and in turn collapse. This collapse leads to a much less optimistic time period in American history, the 1970’s, which is evident throughout the rest of Thompson’s novel. After researching the 1960’s counterculture I have come to a thesis: Hunter S. Thompson saw the 1960's in California as a symbol of hope and freedom, but the failure of the counterculture to unite caused its collapse and lead to fear and loathing in the 1970's. To gain a better understanding of Hunter Thompson in order to analyze his ideas, I will use the movie Gonzo which describes his life .
To depict the 1960’s society that Thompson is referring to in his passage, I will use two intertwined countercultural groups, the Hell’s Angels and the Merry Pranksters. In Hunter S. Thompson’s novel Hell’s Angels, he follows the outlaw motorcycle gang during the mid 1960’s when the gang was receiving a lot of media attention for their barbaric behavior. The majority of the American population was terrified of the gang because of the tabloids who depicted them as rapists and savages. But to Thompson and the counterculture the Hell’s Angels were a symbol of freedom.  Their disregard for social rules and norms were a prime example of the freedom to live that the 1960’s counterculture offered. Contrary to the rest of the American population, the Merry Pranksters welcomed the Hell’s Angels with open arms. The outlaws lived by their own code and did what they wanted, when they wanted. The entire state of California was against the Angels making the annual 4th of July “run” but despite the pressure from the police the Angels were able to have their annual party. In Wood’s article he portrays the Hell’s Angels as media whores and not truly part of the counterculture. Wood believes that towards the end of the decade the Angel and Prankster relationship started to wear thin due to the fear the Pranksters felt when the Angels were around.
The Merry Pranksters who were also part of the 1960’s counterculture were establishing a religion based on hallucinogenic drugs. Both of these countercultural groups were living their own diverse life styles. But when it came time to unite, both of these groups failed to do so. The Hell’s Angels went against the counterculture and endorsed the Vietnam War as well as attacked a Berkley student anti-war protest. The Merry Pranksters did not help the situation ether. Ken Kesey, the leader of the Pranksters was asked to speak at an anti-war protest and instead of advancing the cause he got up to the podium and said, “fuck it.” Because these groups failed to unite the 1970’s was a whole lot less welcoming to the counterculture.  While each group succeeded in disregarding American norms and living their own unique lifestyles, they failed to establish a lasting tradition or union which would expand the influence of the counterculture into the 1970s.
    Thompson portrays America in the 1970’s in a very negative light. He feels as if all the hope and freedom that he personally experienced in the 1960’s in California has diminished into fear and greed. His alcohol and drug filled journey into Las Vegas to find the American Dream leaves him with little hope for America. When he attends the annual police drug convention he is amazed about how ignorant law enforcement is and is forced to excuse himself half way through. Thompson sees through all the money hungry people that swarm Las Vegas and even under the influence of various drugs has a hard time coping with what America has become. His depiction of the biped amphibians at the bar when he first enters the hotel lobby on LSD is a clear metaphor for the beasts that visit Las Vegas. I will use this scene from the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to characterize the bestial and brutal nature of 1970’s America. It is clear that Thompson knew that the 1960’s would not last. He knew that people would fail to come together. Bonco’s article highlights Thompson’s realization of the falling counterculture of the 1960’s. She interprets the passage that I will use from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Thompson seeing the collapse ahead of time. This article also does a great job characterizing the tourists that infest Las Vegas.   
    To present my argument I need to have a clear definition of what counterculture is. I have yet to find a good theory source that gives me a clear definition of counterculture. Despite my lack of a clear definition, I know that counterculture is in essence a society which rejects the conventional norms and behaviors of the majority of the population while espousing their own ideas and methods of living.

Bibliography
Banco, Lindsey Michael. "Trafficking Trips: Drugs and the Anti-Tourist Novels of Hunter S. Thompson and Alex Garland." Studies in Travel Writing 11, no. 2 (September 2007): 127-153. MLA International Bibliography, EBSCOhost (accessed March 26, 2009).
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Dir. Terry Gilliam. Universal Studios, 1998.
Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Dir. Alex Gibney. Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2008.
Konas, Gary. "Traveling 'Furthur' with Tom Wolfe's Heroes." Journal of Popular Culture 28, no. 3 (Winter 1994): 177-192. MLA International Bibliography, EBSCOhost (accessed March 26, 2009).
Thompson, Hunter. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas A Savage Journey to the Heart of
Thompson, Hunter. Hell’s Angels. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995.
the American Dream. New York: Vintage Books, 1998.
Wilson, Steve. "'Buddha Writing': The Author and the Search for Authenticity in Jack Wolfe, Tom. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. New York: Picador, 1968.
Wood, John. "Hell's Angels and the Illusion of the Counterculture." Journal of Popular Culture 37, no. 2 (November 2003): 336-351. MLA International Bibliography, EBSCOhost (accessed March 26, 2009)

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Prospectus:

Vassili Glazyrine   
Professor Smith
WR 150 I2
March 24, 2009
Prospectus
   
    In my research paper I would like to investigate what catalyzed both the rise of American counterculture in the 1950’s and its subsequent fall in the 1970’s. In postwar America of the 1950’s we see the rise of the “beat” generation, as exemplified by Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road. Both Dean and Sal, the main characters in the novel, are jobless, homeless, and broke. They did not fit in with social norm of postwar America were peoples lives were stable and predictable. Less then a decade later in the middle of 1960’s there is a giant boom in American counterculture. Minorities were coming together to support the civil rights movement, participate in the anti-war protests, and do drugs. The 1960’s was a very special time in American history when people were coming together and fighting for a common cause. So many people had joined in that those previously considered part of the counterculture were now part of a large majority of the American population. The population in American was now split over two major issues, the exploding civil rights movement and the seemingly endless war in Vietnam. But the Merry Pranksters and the Hell’s Angels neither supported nor oppose the Vietnam War. They were neutral and during that time period in America it was against all social norm and put them in the counter counterculture category of the American population. By the end of the 1960’s both the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War had come to an end. President Johnson passed the civil rights act in 1968 and President Nixon negotiated a ceasefire with North Vietnam as well as removed American troops from the area. There was no longer a sense of common purpose within the counterculture and a sharp decrease in American counterculture was seen by the of the 1960’s and beginning of the 1970’s. Hunter S. Thompson exemplified the counterculture in his novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas during the 1970’s were he rejects the American Dream as the “beat” generation had in the 1950’s.
    What is counterculture? In a society there is always a majority in a given population, inevitably a minority must also exist. The minority of a population is usually considered the counterculture. The name itself, counter-culture, leads one to think about people whom opposing the culture. For example in the 1950’s the “beats” opposed the postwar American population that was in a state of stability. Initially in the 1960’s the counterculture opposed those who were pro war and anti civil rights. But the influx of supporters brought in new breed of counter counterculture namely the Merry Pranksters and the Hell’s Angels who were neutral on the subject of war. In the 1970’s Thompson represented the counterculture that opposed the prevalent middle class that wanted to get rich and who chased the American Dream as the 1950’s postwar population had done.                 
Postwar America in the 1950’s was a time in history when people tried to return to normalcy. There was stability that was universal throughout America. Citizens had steady jobs, happy families, and predictable futures. But in a society were there is an established culture, there is also a prevalent mirror image backlash known as the counterculture. In the 1950’s, Dean Moriarty, the main character in Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road popularized the beatnik lifestyle. Dean legend as a womanizer includes his marriages and divorces with both Camille and Mary Lou not to mention his affair with Inez, those are a few of his many relationships throughout the novel. During post war America the “normal” American family consisted of a mother, father, and two children. The father worked and the mother raised the children. Dean not only has multiple wives but multiple children with them. He does not help raise or support his children. This is going against all norms during that time period. Furthermore Dean and Sal both smoke marijuana. This is not only illegal but totally rejected by society at that time. The novel takes place sometime during the 1950’s over several years. Kerouac deliberately does not name precise dates and times in order to further exemplify the irrelevance of time to the “beat” culture. In the 1950’s when people had appointments to attend, meeting to go to, and deadlines to meet, the “beats” rejection of time further puts them into the countercultural stance within society. To further exemplify the detachment from social norm Kerouac tells the story when Sal and Dean drive a very expensive Cadillac limousine to Chicago in order to deliver it to the buyer. Dean ends up driving it into a ditch while he is flying down the highway full speed as it is raining. By the time they get to Chicago the buyer is speech less because his new car is completely trashed. Dean’s total lack or responsibility is all part of his countercultural “beat” image. Dean is based on a real life character, Neil Cassady, who in the 1960’s joins Ken Kesey and the Merry Prankster who are both part of the counterculture and counter counterculture.       
During the 1960’s people were also experimenting with drugs like LSD and marijuana. Ken Kesey was the leader of a group called the Merry Pranksters who experimented with LSD and attempted to become enlightenment with the aid of the new drug. Tom Wolfe documents Ken Kesey and his group of Merry Pranksters as they experiment with LSD in his novel The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. The Merry Prankster were clearly part of the counterculture in the 1960’s because their repeated drug use as well as their communal living on Kesey’s ranch located in LaHonda, California. But during the later part of the 1960’s it seemed like everyone was doing drugs and attending anti-war rallies. The counterculture was now becoming much more mainstream. The Merry Pranksters now fell into a new category all together, the counter counterculture. Kesey was asked to attend an anti-war protest at Berkley in California. Instead of supporting the rally he got up to the microphone and said, “fuck it,” not taking sided in the matter. This was socially bizarre even to the counterculture who he was speaking in front of. Not only did the Merry Pranksters not have political views they were also friends with the Hell’s Angels.
In the mid 1960’s the media went on a frenzy writing fictional stories about the satanic actions of the motorcycle gang known as the Hell’s Angels. The effect was so great that across California police departments were on constant watch for the Hell’s Angels. The police harassed the gang so much that some were forced to leave the San Francisco Bay area are and relocate their chapter to Oakland were there was much less heat from the police. That much media attention cause the entire country to fear and despise the Hell’s Angels. It was custom to have shivers running down your back when their name was mentioned. But the Merry Pranksters and the Hell’s Angels were great friends. The Hell’s Angels constantly partied at the Kesey’s ranch. The Merry Pranksters even put up a sign saying, “The Merry Pranksters welcome the Hell’s Angels.” Because of the reputation the Hell’s Angels had the sign caused a lot of distress to the residence of LaHonda were the ranch was located. It is obvious that the Merry Pranksters did not fit in, infact they were trying to stand out. They had a Day-Glo colored bus that had hug speakers on the roof. They would constantly take trips across the country and blast music while they were all strung out on acid.
The Hell’s Angels did not fit in to any spectrum of the society in the 1960’s. Most of the American population feared them. In Hunter S. Thompson’s novel, Hell’s Angels, he describes how on a 4th of July weekend when the Angels were making their annual “run” the police brocaded an entire town and told them they could not enter. The police redirected them to a separate camping area were they were less likely to destroy anything or hurt innocent civilians. The Angels were so socially out cast that the police did not let them come in to town to buy beer. Instead they had to go to a store on the outskirts of town were beer would be sold to them. The Angels were clearly part of the counterculture. But their behavior rightly places them into that category. When reporters would attempt to photograph the Angels they would start making out with each other, not because they were homosexual but because it added shock value. The Hell’s Angels were also involed in a very famous gang bang that occurred at a party on Kesey’s ranch that both Hunter Thompson and the Hell’s Angels attended. The woman openly invited the entire gang to have sex with her. Thompson watched as Angel after Angel proceeded to have sex with her. Later at that party the Angels convinced her ex boyfriend to have sex with her in front of them. During the 1960’s such sexual acts were socking. Even Hunter Thompson watched in disbelief.
In the beginning of the 1970’s Hunter S. Thompson took a trip to Las Vegas with his very large Semolina attorney to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race. He chronicled his journey in his novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Thompson, immediately after arriving in Las Vegas on LSD cannot handle the human biped reptiles he keeps seeing in the lobby of the hotel and casino. Thompson is making a social commentary about the people that infest Las Vegas. He is clearly trying to depict them as money hungry monsters trying to get rich quick. In the novel there are great illustrations of the acid induced hallucinations that he is referring to. In order to cope with the amount of phonies that infest Las Vegas Thompson and his attorney are constantly under the influence of at least some drug mixed with alcohol. Thompson clearly does not feel part of the culture he sees in Las Vegas, instead he flashes back to California in the mid 1960’s which he feels was the greatest place and time for him to be alive. He refers to California at that time as hiving so much energy with people coming together to do drug and work for social change within our society that he feels it would not last. They could have achieved anything and once the civil rights bill was passed and the Vietnam War was over people failed to stay together, which accounts for the down fall of the counterculture. The way he phrases makes the reader feel as if Thompson knew that it was bound to happen. To further exemplify the withdrawal from society Thompson completely destroys both of the very expensive and prestigious Cadillac convertibles that he rents solely for the trip. When he returns the “white shark” the boy working is in such sock that he cannot muster out any words and just takes the car back.
    Concerning the novel On the Road I found an excellent article titled “Buddha Writing” it depicts how Kerouac rejects the stability of the postwar America and embraces his “beat” life style. This article does a great job strengthening my argument as well as provides more insight to the beatnik life style as well as Dean’s rejection of the 1950’s culture. An article titled “Going Further with Tom Wolfe’s Heroes” does a good job characterizing Ken Kesey. It goes into detail about his motives and goals. If I can understand more about Kesey I will have a greater understanding about the Merry Pranksters. An article titled “Hell’s Angels the Illusion of Counterculture” describes how main stream the Hell’s Angels really were. Although I agree they were mainstream because of all of the media attention the received, I believe that because their motives were honest and rooted in counterculture. Concerning Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas a great article I located titled, “Trafficking Trips: Drugs and the Anti-Tourist Novels of Hunter S. Thompson and Alex Garland.” This article has great insight into when Thompson is flashing back to his paradise of the mid 1960’s in California. The article is very interesting and will help me a lot in pointing out Thompson’s form of gonzo journalism.

 

Bibliography
Banco, Lindsey Michael. "Trafficking Trips: Drugs and the Anti-Tourist Novels of Hunter S. Thompson and Alex Garland." Studies in Travel Writing 11, no. 2 (September 2007): 127-153. MLA International Bibliography, EBSCOhost (accessed March 26, 2009).
Kerouac, Jack. On the Road. New York: Penguin Books, 2003.
Konas, Gary. "Traveling 'Furthur' with Tom Wolfe's Heroes." Journal of Popular Culture 28, no. 3 (Winter 1994): 177-192. MLA International Bibliography, EBSCOhost (accessed March 26, 2009).
Thompson, Hunter. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas A Savage Journey to the Heart of
Thompson, Hunter. Hell’s Angels. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995.
the American Dream. New York: Vintage Books, 1998.
Wilson, Steve. "'Buddha Writing': The Author and the Search for Authenticity in Jack Kerouac's On the Road and The Subterraneans." Midwest Quarterly: A Journal of Contemporary Thought 40, no. 3 (Spring 1999): 302-315. MLA International Bibliography, EBSCOhost (accessed March 26, 2009).
Wolfe, Tom. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. New York: Picador, 1968.
Wood, John. "Hell's Angels and the Illusion of the Counterculture." Journal of Popular Culture 37, no. 2 (November 2003): 336-351. MLA International Bibliography, EBSCOhost (accessed March 26, 2009)

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.