It Seems That the New York Times Has Gone Bat----: Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? Weblogging
We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like "I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive…." And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: "Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?" Then it was quiet again. My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest, to facilitate the tanning process. "What the hell are you yelling about?" he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses. "Never mind," I said. "It's your turn to drive." I hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.
When queried by James Fallows about this--was Hunter S. Thompson really dive-bombed by a flock of huge bats?--Hugo Lindgren, editor of the New York Times Magazine responded:
It is well-known that there are flocks of bats in the deserts of the American Southwest. Did the author's personal recollection represent an accurate picture of what he experienced during his drive? Well, only he can attest to his own experience. But he did provide receipts and took notes to back up his account. And his recollection, when run by a bat expert, did seem entirely plausible to him. While some of the author's language may have been imprecise, his recollection of his experience was consistent with recollections of passengers in similar bat-strafing incidents. Naturally, not every detail matches everybody else's experience. Surely even people on that car would remember it differently. The story was about the personal experience of a fearful moment. The author did not present himself as an authority in bat behavior. He only reported what he heard and felt, which is consistent with the magazine's "Lives" page, where the account was published.