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Monday, February 21, 2005

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» More Hunter Thompson Musings from TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime
The reminiscences and flashbacks for Hunter Thompson are flying around the web. Here are some sites, some articles, and some clips: HST on Conan O'Brian Conan: "You keep barrels of GUNPOWDER in your basement? What on earth for?" HST: "Well,... [Read More]

» Hunter Thompson is Dead from TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime
Journalist Hunter Thompson fatally shot himself tonight. Aspen Sheriff Bob Braudis, a close friend of Hunter's, has confirmed the sad news. He was found by his son, Juan Thompson. Family Spokesman Troy Hooper told the LA Times that "Thompson... [Read More]

» Hunter S. Thompson, 1937-2005 from Silent Lucidity
"Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas... with the music at top volume and at least a pint of eth... [Read More]

Comments

reg

A fitting obit from the man himself: "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, 'Wow! What a Ride!'"

Dennis Perrin

Nice obit, Marc. Working on my own, as are, I'm sure, dozens of scribblers who owe something to this man.

Was ready to go to bed (East Coast time) when I heard the news. Splashed cold water on my face and opened a bottle. My first true lit hero gone while slack-jawed nazis roam the terrain. HST would -- did -- understand.

rosedog

Thanks for writing the terrific obit, Marc, (particularly considering the speed with which you did it, post hydroplane.)

I too owe Hunter Thompson a debt beyond measure for blowing the doors off journalistic convention with violent and exquisite grace, showing the rest of us what was really possible.

With that in mind, two more Hunter S. quotes....

"Gonzo journalism is a style of reporting based on William Faulkner's idea that the best fiction is far more true than any kind of journalism -- and the best journalists have always known this. True gonzo reporting needs the talents of a master journalist, the eye of an artist/photographer and the heavy balls of an actor. Because the writer must be a participant in the scene, while he's writing it -- or at least taping it, or even sketching it. Or all three."

"Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men's reality. Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of the rat race is not yet final."

******
RIP, Hunter S.

Sleep, fly, rest: even the sea dies!

Marc Cooper

Yes.. even the sea dies.. I can attest to that. I drove up from the border today by the {very dead) Salton Sea and still can't get the stench out of my nostrils. Where's the Good Doctor when you need him?

Marc Cooper

Yes.. even the sea dies.. I can attest to that. I drove up from the border today by the {very dead) Salton Sea and still can't get the stench out of my nostrils. Where's the Good Doctor when you need him?

Mork

Even though it's been clear for a long time that he wasn't going to do anything again that came near the heights he reached in the 1960s and 70s, this news still feels like a kick in the guts. I knew we could count on you, Marc, to remember that HST was, before everything else, a first-rate prose stylist and reporter. More than that, he was a craftsman ... as the first volume of his letters showed, he worked like hell to become a good writer. It's the craft that gave his vision and indignation the platform to shine, not the other way around. It would be sad if he were to be remembered only as some sort of mythic court jester rather than as the artist he was and meant to be.

rosedog

Can't sleep. This really makes me so, so sad.

When I used to teach journalism at UCLA extension, at each class there’d be always be one or two enthusiastic little twits who imagined themselves to be Dr. Gonzo incarnate. When I handed back their first (inevitably dreadful) papers, I'd give them the lecture about having to master the rules of craft before you could break them, blah, blah, blah... and then I'd tell them how HST used to type out long passages from Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Dos Passos---type them over and over--- in order to understand the music in the writing.

My lecture was never that effective, but the Hunter S. factoid worked wonders.

I’ve just poured myself some Jack Daniels. Seems right.

rosedog

(didn't have any Wild Turkey)

GMRoper

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro"

Nothing HST (or any other author) ever said made more sense to me than that quote.

Apropos of absolutely nothing else, BrainyQuotes.com has the following information on Thompson:
Date of Birth:
7/18/1937
Year of Birth:
1939

Kinda encapsulates the "When the going gets...." doesn't it?

RIP

Woody

As a conservative, I was more than a little puzzled a few years ago when my son went to a Halloween party dressed up as Hunter Thompson, complete with a portable typewriter under his arm. He must have been hanging out with the wrong crowd for a conservative, because many of his young friends knew who he was supposed to be. Maybe it was a stage.

Anyway, there is one area that he covered that isn't mentioned above, and that is sports and gambling (as if the two were related.) I knew Thompson's writings on sports better than politics because that wasn't likely to drive me nuts.

At the bottom is a link to his articles for ESPN. These reveal some insight into his personality that Marc's links above may cover differently or not at all.

Notice the last article written just six days ago. It recounted Hunter Thompson's conversation with Bill Murray in which Thompson discussed his idea for a new sport called "Shotgun Golf." Maybe that idea and title was was prophetic about what was to occur or about what was in his mind. Certainly, the shotgun had to be sitting beside him when he had that vision--too handy for a weak moment.

Whether or not one agreed with his views, everyone can appreciate his talent and be saddened at his death. In particular, I want to pass my condolences to Marc and others who knew and admired Thompson and to whom he had positive influence on their lives.

ESPN Hunter Thompson Archive
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/archive?columnist=hunter_s._thompson&root=page2


Jay Byrd

Here's another cultural icon who passed away recently:
http://www.sfbayview.com/021605/ossiedavis021605.shtml

Not that you would have known it from the American press. Maybe that's what people mean by "colorblind" -- blind to the culture of color, unless it's a cult or someone on death row or otherwise criminal. Perhaps this has something to do with it:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27067-2005Jan21.html

Jay Byrd

Jesus Hated Bald Pussy
By Hunter S. Thompson
From "Kingdom Of Fear "
2003

Let's face it, the yo-yo president of the U.S.A. knows nothing. He is a dunce. He does what he is told to do, says what he is told to say, poses the way he is told to pose. He is a fool.

No. Nonsense. The president cannot be a Fool. Not at this moment in time, when the last living vestiges of the American Dream are on the line. This is not the time to have a bogus rich kid in charge of the White House.

Which is, after all, our house. That is our headquarters, it is where the heart of America lives. So if the president lies and acts giddy about other people's lives, if he wantonly and stupidly endorses mass murder by definition, a loud and meaningless animal with no functional intelligence and no balls.

To say this goofy child president is looking more and more like Richard Nixon in the summer of 1974 would be a flagrant insult to Nixon.

Whoops! Did I say that? Is it even vaguely possible that some New Age Republican whore-beast of a false president could actually make Richard Nixon look like a Liberal?

The capacity of these vicious assholes we elected to be in charge of our lives for four years to commit terminal damage to our lives and our souls and our loved ones is far beyond Nixon's. Shit! Nixon was the creator of many of the once-proud historical landmarks that these dumb bastards are savagely destroying now: the Clean Air Act of 1970; Campaign Finance Reform; the endangered species act; a Real-Politik dialogue with China; and on and on.

The prevailing quality of life in America-by any accepted methods of measuring-was inarguably freer and more politically open under Nixon than it is today in this evil year of our Lord 2002.

The Boss was a certified monster who deserved to be impeached and banished. He was a truthless creature of former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, a foul human monument to corruption and depravity on a scale that dwarfs any other public official in American history. But Nixon was at least smart enough to understand why so many honorable patriotic U.S. citizens despised him. He was a Liar. The truth was not in him.

Nixon believed, as he said many times, that if the president of the United States does it, it can't be illegal. But Nixon never understood the much higher and meaner truth of Bob Dylan's warning that "To live outside the law you must be honest."

The difference between an outlaw and a war criminal is the difference between a pedophile and a Pederast: The pedophile is a person who thinks about sexual behavior with children, and the Pederast does these things. He lays hands on innocent children, he penetrates them and changes their lives forever.

Being the object of a pedophile's warped affections is a Routine feature of growing up in America, and being a victim of a Pederast's crazed "love" is part of dying. Innocence is no longer an option. Once penetrated, the child becomes a Queer in his own mind, and that is not much different than murder.

Richard Nixon crossed the line when he began murdering foreigners in the name of "family values"- and George Bush crossed it when he sneaked into office and began killing brown skinned children in the name of Jesus and the American people.

When Muhammad Ali declined to be drafted and forced to kill "gooks" in Vietnam he said, "I ain't got nothin' against them Viet Cong. No Cong ever called me Nigger."
I agreed with him, according to my own personal ethics and values. He was right.

If we all had a dash of Muhammad Ali's eloquent courage, this country and the world would be a better place today because of it. Okay. That's it for now. Read it and weep....See you tomorrow, folks. You haven't heard the last of me. I am the one who speaks for the spirit of freedom and decency in you. Shit. Somebody has to do it.
We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world-a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us... No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we'll kill you.

Well, shit on that dumbness. George W. Bush does not speak for me or my son or my mother or my friends or the people I respect in this world. We didn't vote for these cheap, greedy little killers who speak for America today- and we will not vote for them again in 2002. Or 2004. Or ever.

Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having all this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid little rich kids like George Bush? They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill "gooks". They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character. They are racists and hate mongers among us-they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis. And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck them.

Jay Byrd

More of Dr. Thompson's own words. A pity we didn't see much of this at the time.

http://www.commondreams.org/views04/1028-29.htm

...

"Four more years of George Bush will be like four more years of syphilis," the famed author said yesterday at a hastily called press conference near his home in Woody Creek, Colorado.

"Only a fool or a sucker would vote for a dangerous loser like Bush. He hates everything we stand for, and he knows we will vote against him in November." Thompson, well known for the eerie accuracy of his political instincts, went on to denounce Ralph Nader as "a worthless Judas goat with no moral compass."

"I endorsed John Kerry a long time ago," he said, "and I will do everything in my power, short of roaming the streets with a meat hammer, to help him be the next president of the United States."

Which is true. I said all those things, and I will say them again. Of course I will vote for John Kerry. I have known him for 30 years as a good man with a brave heart - which is more than even the President's friends will tell you about George W Bush, who is also an old acquaintance from the white-knuckle days of yesteryear. He is hated all over the world, including large parts of Texas, and he is taking us all down with him. Bush is a natural-born loser with a filthy-rich daddy who pimped his son out to rich oil-mongers. He hates music, football and sex, and he is no fun at all.

I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, but I won't make that mistake again. The joke is over for Nader. He was funny once, but now he belongs to the dead. Nader is a fool, as is anybody who votes for him in November - with the obvious exception of professional Republicans who have paid big money to turn him into a world-famous Judas goat. Nader is so desperate that he's paying homeless people to gather signatures to get him on the ballot. In Pennsylvania, the petitions he submitted contained tens of thousands of phony signatures, including Fred Flintstone, Mickey Mouse and John Kerry. A judge dumped Ralph from the ballot there, calling it "the most deceitful and fraudulent exercise ever perpetrated upon this court".

...

Andrew

I know it sounds trite, but underneath HST's cynicism there was an awful lot of idealism. Here's what he wrote last May (before ESPN.com edited it):

"The long-dreaded 2004 Olympics in Greece will be the ultimate crossroads for sports and politics in this new and vicious century. The recent photos of cruelty at the Abu Ghraib all-american prison in Baghdad have taken care of that.

"Yes, sir. We have taken the bull by the horns on this one, sports fans. are worse than anything even I could have expected. I have been in this business a long time and I have seen many staggering things, but this one is over the line. Now I am really ashamed to carry an American passport. Not even the foulest atrocities of Adolf Hitler ever shocked me so badly as these photographs did."

The state of the world the last few years must have broken his heart.

too many steves

Not even the foulest atrocities of Adolf Hitler shocked him so badly as the Abu Ghraib photographs?

Not even this: http://www.liberator.net/articles/TremblayFrancois/pic-Holocaust.jpg ?

Did you choose this quote to besmirch him on the day after he died and people, like Marc, are paying him tribute?

billd

"master the rules of craft before you could break them".

So true. I loved his early pre-gonzo reporting as much as the later stuff. I had never paid attention to the Kentucky Derby until I read his reports of it. He had incredible insight into whatever he was covering.

Woody

ESPN just reversed pages 1 & 2 of Hunter Thompson's archive on its web site, so my link above is changed. Here's the new link to Thompson's more recent articles and the last one on "Shotgun Golf."
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/archive?columnist=hunter_s._thompson&root=page1

Andrew just quoted Thompson as writing, "Now I am really ashamed to carry an American passport." That to me is sad because it indicates that he didn't distinguish his country, which presumably he loved, from the actions of its leaders with whom he disagreed.

Still, he was a great spokesman for your side and the loss of his barbs is a loss to those who enjoyed his writings and to those who didn't enjoy the comments but were provoked to think about his views.

reg

"Not even the foulest atrocities of Adolf Hitler shocked him so badly as the Abu Ghraib photographs?"

Maybe cuz he'd never paid a dime of taxes to Hitler and the guys who ran Auschwitz didn't live down the street. Of course, any attempt to parse the "logic" of a single sentence in the fevered rush of Hunter Thompson's prose is like trying to hum a Miles Davis solo for somebody.

too many steves

How true, how true. But it does really stand out, doesn't it? Or am I just overly sympathetic to the programmatic rounding up and murder of millions of civilians by Hitler and insufficiently bothered by the abuse at Abu Ghraib?

reg

Woody, I've thrown many stones in your direction and most of them were, I believe, well deserved. But I appreciate your grace and goodwill on this one. Thompson was an American original, more emblematic of all of us here who are, to some degree, off our version of the deep end than of any political ideology. It might be chauvinistic as hell to say it, but I can't imagine any other country on earth spitting up this not-so-lovable lunatic and - mostly - loving him so much. His passions mattered as much as his demons. He didn't put a cap on them. He was the most dangerous kind of idealist - disabused of all ideals but still refusing to toss them aside and simply shut up. You couldn't believe a word he wrote because too much of it was true. He was the irrepresible kid from The Emporer's New Clothes, grown up with a taste for drugs and guns and a publisher's advance. The impossible Love Child of A.J.Liebling and Lenny Bruce. The loud, insolent drunken bastard who wasn't invited to the party and spits in the hostess' eye before he stumbles home in a stupor. If he hadn't been so damned talented, he'd have long ago been thrown into prison or a mental hospital. He ended up as an icon of iconoclasm and I doubt there was any way for the sonofabitch to grow old gracefully.

My wife and I have got a sweet seventeen-year old kid who's hurting today because a crazy old man in Colorado killed himself. Of everything that's been quoted here, my favorite HST and the best epitaph is the one offered by rosedog. "Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility..."

reg

Thanks Dennis...

Marc Davidson

Woody, a person can be ashamed of his country for somethings just as he can be proud of it for others. This seeming contradiction seems to be problematic for those who embrace the "my country, right or wrong" position.
"That to me is sad because it indicates that he didn't distinguish his country, which presumably he loved, from the actions of its leaders with whom he disagreed." Remember, this is a democracy; we elect our leaders and hence are responsible for their actions.

another steve

Yeah, you got to watch out for the "cruel faggots," especially the ballet dancer serial killers.

wil

I have to agree, Marc - what is with this crazy L.A. whether? It's like we're living that scene out of "The Day After Tommorrow." I keep waiting for the Capital Records building to go flying by.

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