Hunter S Thompson on Oscar Zeta Acosta
Oscar Zeta Acosta – despite any claims to the contrary – was a dangerous thug who lived every day of his life as a stalking monument to the notion that a man with a greed for the Truth should expect no mercy and give none….
When the great scorer comes to write against Oscar’s name, one of the first few lines in the Ledger will note that he usually lacked the courage of his consistently monstrous convictions. There was more mercy, madness, dignity, and generosity in that overweight, overworked and always overindulged brown cannonball of a body than most of us will meet in any human package even three times Oscar’s size for the rest of our lives – which are all running noticeably leaner on the high side, since that rotten fat spic disappeared.
By the time I first met him, in the summer of 1967, he was long past what he called his “puppy love trip with The Law. ” It had gone the same way as his earlier missionary zeal, and after the one year of casework at an East Oakland “poverty law center, “he was ready to dump Holmes and Brandeis for Huey Newton and a Black Panther style of dealing with the laws and courts of America.
When he came booming into a bar called Daisy Duck in Aspen and announced that he was the trouble we’d all been waiting for, he was definitely into the politics of confrontation – and on all fronts: in the bars or the courts or even the streets, if necessary.
Oscar was not into serious street-fighting, but he was hell on wheels in a bar brawl. Any combination of a 250-pound Mexican and LSD-25 is a potentially terminal menace for anything it can reach – but when the alleged Mexican is in fact a profoundly angry Chicano lawyer with no fear at all of anything that walks on less than three legs and a de facto suicidal conviction that he will die at the age of thirty-three-just like Jesus Christ – you have a serious piece of work on your hands. Specially if the bastard is already thirty-three and a half years old with a head full of Sandoz acid, a loaded.357 Magnum in his belt, a hatchet-wielding Chicano bodyguard on his elbow at all times, and a disconcerting habit of projectile-vomiting geysers of pure red blood off the front porch every thirty or forty minutes, or whenever his malignant ulcer can’t handle any more raw tequila.
This was the Brown Buffalo in the still crazed flower of his prime – a man, indeed, for all seasons. And it was somewhere in the middle of his thirty-third year, in fact, when he came out to Colorado – with his faithful bodyguard Frank – to rest for a while after his grueling campaign for sheriff of Los Angeles County, which he lost by a million or so votes. But in defeat, Oscar managed to create an instant political base for himself in the vast Chicano barrio of East Los Angeles- where even the most conservative of the old-line “Mexican-Americans” were suddenly calling themselves “Chicanos” and getting their first taste of tear gas at “La Raza” demonstrations, which Oscar was quickly learning to use as a fire and brimstone forum to feature himself as the main spokesman for a mushrooming “Brown Power” movement that the LAPD called more dangerous than the Black Panthers.
The weird grapevine will not wither for the lack of bulletins, warnings, and other twisted rumors of the latest Brown Buffalo sightings. He will be seen at least once in Calcutta, buying nine-year-old girls out of cages on the White Slave Market … and also in Houston, tending bar at a roadhouse on South Main that was once the Blue Fox … or perhaps once again on the midnight run to Bimini: standing tall on his own hind legs in the cockpit of a fifty-foot black cigarette boat with a silver Uzi in one hand and a magnum of smack in the other, always running ninety miles an hour with no lights and howling Old Testament gibberish at the top of his bleeding lungs….
It might even come to pass that he will suddenly appear on my porch in Woody Creek on some moonless night when the peacocks are screeching with lust …. Maybe so, and that is one ghost who will always be welcome in this house, even with a head full of acid and a chain of bull maggots around his neck.
Yeah, that’s him, folks – my boy, my brother, my partner in too many crimes. Oscar Zeta Acosta. Stand back. He is gone now, but even his memory stirs up winds that will blow heavy cars off the road. He was a monster, a true child of the century – faster than Bo Jackson and crazier than Neal Cassady…When the Brown Buffalo disappeared, we all lost one of those high notes that we will never hear again. Oscar was one of God’s own prototypes-a high-powered mutant of some kind who was never even considered for mass production. He was too weird to live and too rare to die….