By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

February is always a bad month for TV sports. Football is gone, basketball is plodding along in the annual midseason doldrums and baseball is not even mentioned. It is a good time for building fires, reading books, watching movies and cranking up random sex with the neighbors.

Not even pigs will come out of their pens in February. They would rather stay inside & wallow around in their own excrement than venture out in the bitter cold for a breath of fresh air.

The human animal needs a Good Reason to get out of bed on a wretched morning in February. Nothing is moving out there on the icy streets except drunk drivers, desperate criminals & people who don't have the imagination to call in sick for work. Hell, there are plenty of good reasons to wake up sick this time of year: The flu, Ague Fever, shin splints, Chicken pox, projectile-vomiting, Rickets -- even Black Hairy Tongue Disease, which is extremely contagious.

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It is not enough to be merely in real pain or suffering from a Nervous Breakdown. That is not Contagious, and Contagious is what you need. It has to be something that even the Boss might catch & die from. Mad Cow Disease is big in the news right now, and people are deathly afraid of it. I have seen people go rigid with Fear at the sight of a brain damaged cow with wild eyes staggering crazily around in circles with its legs caving in and its spine seizing up & its hooves lashing out in the air.

"Yes sir," I like to tell people, "and it's spreading to Humans now. One wrong hamburger is all it takes. There's NO CURE, and it spreads like wildfire. You can kill five or six people just by talking to them."

You won't have to worry about having to show up for work, once they hear you saying you have Mad Cow disease. It's a guaranteed excuse for not showing up at Work or anywhere else. And nobody is going to come around checking on you, either. Never in hell. You will be lucky if yr. neighbors don't nail yr. doors shut and burn yr. house down.

Luckily, I am not afflicted with Mad Cow -- or any of the others, either, as far as I know. (Knock on wood for that, eh?) You bet. I am healthy as I need to be, these days. But I am rarely without access to my trusty Pathologies text. It is a bulky book, very awkward to carry around, but I can open it to just about any page & find three good reasons for Not doing anything at all. Check it out.

I could not attend the XFL game in New Jersey last weekend, for instance, because I have better sense than to fly 2,000 miles in an airtight aluminum tube full of circulating germs, viruses & deadly killer parasites from every country in the world. Even the pilots are Sick in most planes, and at least One passenger will be coughing up Ebola spittle or contaminating the Lavatories with some kind of lice or microscopic vermin. Only a fool would run that kind of risk for a stupid little football game.

Or a stupid Big basketball game, for that matter. God only knows what people who went to the NBA All-Star game in Washington came down with. The game itself was enough to make most people sick, and nevermind that the final score was close. It was brazenly Fake basketball, far more bogus than anything the XFL put on TV. ... At least the XFL players were making an honest effort on every play, and that is a hell of a lot more than can be said of the dismal NBA spectacle. For three long Long quarters it was a goof-off mockery of itself. Only the final nine minutes were worth watching. (Only the last three, really), but by that time I had long since switched away to watch the news & "60 Minutes."

The Allen Iverson Show is not going to be enough to save the NBA from sinking out of sight in the TV ratings -- not unless the doomed league can coax more than Nine minutes a game out of their insanely overpaid "stars." ... The fan base will continue to shrink, as more & more fans catch on to the morbid "fact" that the last nine minutes of Any NBA game are the only part of it worth watching ... Once the advertisers catch on, they will flee the scene like rats down a pipe into darkness. Not even the sleaze-mongers at Fox will pay big money to televise a dull & diminished NBA product.

I am more than just a Serious basketball fan. I am a life-long Addict. I was addicted from birth, in fact, because I was born in Kentucky and I learned, early on, that Habitual Domination was a natural way of life. The first time I managed to pick up a basketball I knew I was destined to lead the University of Kentucky to another National championship. ... Even now, so many years later, I still believe Kentucky will go undefeated in March & win everything.

But that is another story, and we will save it for later. Meanwhile, I will be watching the ACC, the PAC-10 and the SEC. That is where the basketball action is happening now -- not in the NBA, where not much will happen until the Playoffs start in late April.


Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's books include Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, The Proud Highway, Better Than Sex and The Rum Diary. His new book, Fear and Loathing in America, has just been released. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," appears each Monday on Page 2.