Monday, February 21, 2005

Hunter S Thompson: 1937 - 2005

"Legendary US author Hunter S Thompson, a sharp-witted icon of the 1960s counter-culture, has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound..."
Gonzo Journalist Hunter S Thompson Dies - ABC Online

Celebrated Author Had Style of his Own - ESPN.com News Services

Hunter S Thompson Commits Suicide - BBC World

Hunter S Thompson 1937 - 2005 - AntiWar.com Weblog


"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 light-headed; 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?'"
Fear and Lothing in Las Vegas - Flamingo Press, 1971

My mate Patrick introduced me to Hunter S Thompson around ten years ago. I still remember sitting down and reading those opening lines to Fear and Loathing for the first time. I can't remember exactly where and when, but the effect was undeniable. For a young man looking at the world for the first time without the spectacles of religion it was an incredible window into another world. That it had been written a year after I was born only served to strengthen its appeal.

"The sporting editors had also given me $300 in cash, most of which was already spent on extremely dangerous drugs. The trunk of the car looked like a mobile police narcotics lab... Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can"

Did it change my attitudes towards drugs? Maybe slightly, but not enough to get me into it. Did it all happen as written? Nope. Not the point. Written like that, in the first person, especially the more subjective writing, gave an incredible insight to a mind that was at once looked at the world savagely yet poignantly.

"What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped to create ... a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody - or at least some force - is tending that Light at the end of the tunnel."

"We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark -- the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."


That's what made it so beautiful to read. In among the most amazing drug fuelled rants and chemically created black humour were these quotes that seemed to hit the mark. Most of it was downbeat, pessemistic and even fatalistic, but that never stopped Raoul Duke and his Samoan Attorney, Dr Gonzo, from searching for the "American Dream."

"Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits - a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage."

I've always enjoyed reading Hunter Thompson. Even a week ago he was still filing stories such as this one from ESPN.com's Page 2.
"Shotgun Golf with Bill Murray"
It's this kind of writing, constanly disheveled and unbalanced, never afraid to make his true feelings on a subject known, that has inspired me. I could never become a journalist. If I did I'd want to write like Thompson and that's not what they teach, or even what's expected anymore . He had a style all of his own and I'm glad that he was given an opportunity to write it all down for people like me to read.

"It is very important to learn, early in life, that you can beat City Hall, and that You can change the System. You might be beaten and gassed by Police a few times, before you succeed -- but that stuff goes with the territory."

"I don't know the percentage of the Internet that's valid, do you? Jesus, it's scary."
Atlantic Monthly interview, Aug. 26, 1997

"The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason."
Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the '80s

That he has apparantly taken his own life I find shocking and disappointing. It was only recently that he married his personal assistant Anita, and was enjoying life. Again, it just goes to show that you can't see inside a person, only what they are willing to let you see.

Fear and Loathing Campaign 2004 - Rolling Stone Magazine

1976 Interview with 2JJ - Triple J

Hunter S Thompson Wiki Quotes
- Wikipedia

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

More importantly I bring this quote;
"We'd be fools not to ride this strange torpedo to the end."
Fear and Lothing in Las Vegas

It was the very quotable motto for me and my bud Colin on that incredible New Year's Eve of '97 when we drove my white Toyota LiteAce van to five parties in succession, I met my wife-to-be Ellen, and saw in the new sunrise from Mt Glorious.

Hunter Thompson, thank you for your life and inspiration. Thank you for your gift and for sharing it with the world. And God help Heaven's newsletter.

Mahalo

2 comments:

Colin Smith said...

"We'd be fools not to ride this strange torpedo to the end."

"Indeed! We must do it!"

Wow man, I didn't know that that was the night you met Ellen. Talk about fateful.

Leonard King said...

Yep. We met at the McCauley (sp?) party after midnight, right before we took off to Mt Glorious to see the sun come up. After that it took a while to figure out who she was and how I could go out with her (thanks to Ivan/Vanya for that one) but the rest is history.
:-)