I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity, to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”
—Hunter S. Thompson
While I’m sure that the entire (un)civilized world already knows this, self-styled Gonzo Journalist Hunter S. Thompson (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) has apparently shot himself in the head on Feb 21, 2005 at the ripe young age of 67. Personally I find myself a tad behind the curve on this one. I recall seeing an image of Thompson on TV the other night, as I was dozing in front of my set, and then thinking about looking him up on the Net when I got into work the next day.
I have to admit, that I was quite taken aback by the news. Truth to tell, I’m not entirely certain if I ever actually read anything that Hunter wrote, but I can’t seem to shake this deep-seated sense of loss over his untimely death (yea, even if it was at his own hand). He was arguably my generation’s drug-addled Jack Kerouac by way of Dr. Timothy Leary (whom I met once or thrice and after talking to him at length, found him to be the most lucid man I had ever met).
Yeah, sure, Hunter was a full-on Nutball and angry as all Hell, but I can’t help but to feel that we all as a generation, as a culture, and yes as a country are poorer for our loss of him as a free thinker in today’s society. Hunter’s influence can be felt throughout our everyday lives (hey, you think that blogging would be this country’s number one participatory/spectator sport if he hadn’t invented gonzo journalism a generation ago?). He the inspiration for the character Duke in Doonsbury,and oh Hell, let’s point to Gonzo from the Muppets of all places, and say I’ve proven my point.
Hunter’s books (including Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail, Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness–Modern History from the Sports Desk) have helped shape not only a generation of minds, but of journalists as well. He was portrayed in film by both Bill Murray in Where the Buffalo Roam (1980) and by Johhny Depp in Fear and Lothing in Las Vegas (1998). And, on a purely personal level, when my wife was pregnant with our second child, had it been a boy, the baby would have been named Hunter.
I don’t know why Hunter would have shot himself (he loved guns, and apparently loved to get drunk, stoned, and high and shoot them off on his Colorado property. He wrote for Time, Rolling Stone, and numerous other publications. He was that wild man wizard that lives inside all of us yet most of us never allow to roam free.
So here is to Hunter S. Thompson, a true American original and quite possibly the only one of his kind. I personally can’t help but to observe that (as Bill Graham once said about the Grateful Dead) “He may not be the best at what he does, but he’s the only one that does what he does.” At any rate, how can you not simply love the guy that said…
“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
—Hunter S. Thompson
Tonight I’m-a gonna have myself a two-fingered shot of 25-year-old Uncle Jack as I toast the memory Hunter. Give ’em Hell Hunter, wherever you wind up!