Noel Davila. “Singer/songwriter, blogger, music journalist, poet… Noel Dávila sits amongst a breed of artists who find the need to be working on something creative at all times, whether it involves playing an instrument or not. He works as a freelance journalist and provides commercial music and jingles for an array of different projects.”
Duke The Spook by Noel Davila.
Hunter S. Thompson’s motivations for creating Raoul Duke – occasional surrogate writer and alter ego – are greatlyvaried. What was he trying to hide? Was the fear and loathing that overwhelming? Many questions arise, butthere aren’t many clear answers. What is clear, however, is the fact that whenever Duke was included in Hunter’s writing, a work of genius would inevitably ensue. It’s no wonder then, that to this day, Raoul Duke is still listed amongst Rolling Stone’s staff in every issue of the magazine – this nearly 5 years after the good Doctor’s impetuous check-out.
From the first mentions of Duke in Air Force articles in the late 1950s, to his inclusion in Hell’s Angels; from the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, to a decompression chamber in Miami – Raoul Duke has been a constant presence in many of Hunter’s distinctive works. Described occasionally as a “sports writer friend”, Duke and his inescapable, drug-fueled antics have been at the forefront of some of Hunter’s best writing, including the classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Necessity being the mother of invention, Hunter used Duke as a means to break the old rules, and push forward his own form of factual and fictional reporting known as Gonzo journalism.
Raoul Duke was constantly mentioned in the letters of Fear and Loathing in America, and at one point, Hunter entertained the idea of writing ‘The First Fictional Documentary Novel’ titled Hey Rube! The Memoirs of Raoul Duke…. Around 1968 Hunter began research for a book on the American Dream that would eventually become Las Vegas. The idea was that Duke, like Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, would illustrate what Hunter perceived to be the death of the American Dream. Curiously enough, Hunter admitted to his editor at Random House that he was not on drugs while in Las Vegas, but rather used his drug memories to enhance Duke’s reality within the book, and properly document the ‘Savage Journey to the heart of the American Dream’.
Initially used to protect his identity, the name Raoul Duke eventually became an albatross around Hunter’s neck. The Duke myth grew to the point that Hunter was trapped by the persona he’d created: “When I get invited to universities to speak, I’m not sure who they’re inviting, Duke or Thompson…”. His ‘ghost writer’ became a double-edged sword that pushed its creator so far that he was unable, or unwilling, to turn back.
The world Hunter created with Raoul Duke was one of possibility mixed with excess and adventure, which yielded astounding results. Many of Hunter’s readers have lived vicariously through him, and we’ll continue to do so through his writing. Every issue of Rolling Stone magazine – in which the good Doctor’s name is printed at the bottom of the staff list – makes it seem as if Hunter is still among us in one way or another, compelling us with his words, one page at a time.
Noel Davila. His site is http://www.noeldavila.net/