Song of the Sausage Creature

Entry 9 | 25 March 2012 | 09:49

Rhetorical Précis:

In “Song of the Sausage Creature,” Hunter S. Thompson chronicles his time as a reviewer for the bone shattering 1995 Ducati 900c super-bike. (1) Nearly half of the article is dedicated to the author’s own past experiences with extremely fast motorcycles, as well as a profile of the sorts of drivers who would be interested in a bike such as the Ducati; eventually, Thompson praises the bike’s performance and handling, (inter-spliced with more of his own frightening anecdotes of the motoring world) at one point describing a particularly daring jump over a set of railroad tracks as “with the grace of a fleeing tomcat”. (2) Thompson’s addiction to speed, an integral theme in this review, speaks volumes to the always present dangers of thrill seeking, as well as the pleasure that oftentimes accompanies them. As a proper review, Thompson’s fixation on his own gory accolades in the biking world takes away from the information role that reviews often fill; however, his insane style mimics the equally deranged semblance of both the Ducati 900c and those wishing to buy one.

Reaction: 

I have always had a lukewarm interest in motorcycles, and reading “Song of the Sausage Creature” makes me cling even more tightly to the automotive world where sturdy roofs and siding, the only thing keeping my skin on my body rather than on the asphalt, abound. I am also not new to the art of reviews for things with transmissions. Although Thompson’s piece was entertaining, it consisted more of him rattling off story after macabre story of himself dancing with the devil whilst seated comfortably upon a fire-breathing engine. His ego may have gotten in the way of his writing in this instance; his incessant need to either shock the readers with his nonchalant brushes with death or his desire to prove to the world that he is experienced enough to write such a review with ridiculous tales of his near-demise is exhausting. Even Top Gear, the BBC car variety show whose promotional posters usually feature more fire than the cars themselves, can deliver reviews that scrutinize more than just the performance of the car. Styling and price point did not receive any attention in Thompson’s review.  A bike might unleash the fury of a thousand raving pythons, negotiate turns with the grace of a peregrine falcon and mold perfectly into the rider’s frame, but if one cannot afford it, what’s the point? Furthermore, if the bike looks like a circus freak, some buyers may turn the other way. For column writing, shenanigans can be tolerated, and sometimes appreciated. A column that disguises itself as a review isn’t fooling anyone.

(1) Thompson, Hunter S. “Song of the Sausage Creature,” Cycle World: (Mar. 1995): 70-73. http://totallygonzo.org/gonzowriting/rare-   articles/

Scroll down to “Song of the Sausage Creature – Hutner S. Thompson (Cycle World Mar. 1995)” to view the full article.

(2) Ibid., 73.

4 thoughts on “Song of the Sausage Creature

  1. I have to agree completely. It’s one thing to put a couple instances of your experience with motorcycles, but when the whole article is about you, that takes away from the premise. Pricing and style are very important things to know. If it costs too much, no one will buy it. If it’s ugly, no one will buy it. Staying on topic would be a good thing for Thompson to work on if he was still alive.

  2. I am sorry but you are missing the point entirely here. This is a perfect example of Thompson’s Gonzo Journalism where the central focus of the article is once again on himself, despite it apparently being about reviewing the Ducati. Thompson was no more a motorcycle reviewer than he was an astronaut, most of his major Gonzo articles are in the same manner as this, including his infamous Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which was supposed to be about him covering the Mint 400 Motorcycle Race. Which of course in the end barely even registers in the book, with Thompson himself admittiing that he missed the end of the race and didn’t even know who won.

    So what I am trying to point out here is that you should not approach this article as being a motorcycle review, that is just a convenient excuse for Thompson to write about his love of speed and hence his attraction to motorcycles.

    • Thanks again for the input, and I understand what you are saying about Thompson’s style; it demolishes the boundaries that most writers stay within. I am not so much of a fan of motorcycles as I am of automotives, but, even so, reading this particular article was a little annoying to me simply because I expect reviews, regardless of the writer’s style, to cover a certain range of topics. However, now I understand Thompson’s style a bit more, so thanks for that. Do you know if anyone else who wrote for Cycle World in the 1990’s emulated this particular style?

  3. No, Thompson’s style was pretty much unique and due to being known as a “Gonzo Journalist” he probably was given carte blanche to break a lot of rules that other journalists were not permitted to do so. I believe that Cycle World gave Thompson a Ducati to review knowing full well that they were not exactly going to get that from him. At the time however, any magazine that managed to extract an article from Thompson was pretty much guaranteed massive publicity for pulling off a coup of sorts.

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