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Hunter S Thompson dies
February 20, 2005 8:34 PM   Subscribe

Hunter S Thompson commits suicide. Goodbye, the king of Gonzo Journalism. A timeline of his life is here. And some more here and of course here.
posted by bonaldi (530 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by jperkins at 8:35 PM on February 20, 2005


Jesus.
posted by goatdog at 8:36 PM on February 20, 2005


I am speechless.
posted by kuatto at 8:36 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by moonbird at 8:36 PM on February 20, 2005


Hunter Thompson was one of my biggest influences. My better half was just reading him for the first time.

Goodbye and thank you.
posted by jonmc at 8:37 PM on February 20, 2005


Fuck.

Thanks Hunter. You made America something special.

Should be noted that he always said he wanted to choose the time of his passing.
posted by Jimbob at 8:40 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by Hlewagast at 8:40 PM on February 20, 2005


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He will truly be missed. He is now where the buffalo roam...
posted by rooftop secrets at 8:40 PM on February 20, 2005


Echoing jonmc. A "celebrity" death hasn't hurt this much since December 1980.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:41 PM on February 20, 2005


What a massive loss to writing. But, like jimbob says, I'm sure he wanted to go with his boots on. Just recently I read a great piece of his in Vanity Fair? that made me see the fires still burned.
posted by bonaldi at 8:41 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by maniactown at 8:45 PM on February 20, 2005


Suicide is so stark and unyielding.

Thoughout all the shit that he saw over the years, he decides now is the time...

Optimism just took a terrible blow.
posted by kuatto at 8:45 PM on February 20, 2005


:-(
posted by quonsar at 8:45 PM on February 20, 2005


Whoa... man... what a way to go. This almost doesn't make sense, and yet rings true?

You'll be missed, HT.
posted by ontic at 8:47 PM on February 20, 2005


These are not good days for America.
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:48 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by notsnot at 8:48 PM on February 20, 2005


I know it's magical thinking, the ol' deaths come in threes bullshit, but -- John Raitt and Sandra Dee have left us, too.
posted by ScaryShrink at 8:48 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by box at 8:49 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by photoslob at 8:51 PM on February 20, 2005


I wish I had a tracer round to fire into tonights sky
via con Dios
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posted by hortense at 8:52 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by AlexReynolds at 8:54 PM on February 20, 2005


well, shit.
posted by trondant at 8:55 PM on February 20, 2005


This has scared me off from making any more FPPs for a while.

I am sad.
posted by PhatLobley at 8:55 PM on February 20, 2005


I remember reading a peice (20 years after the actual events) in Rolling Stone by Thompson on the Fall Of Saigon when I was 15 and being blown away by his kamikaze approach to journalism and life. He inspired many to imitate him, but only a selct few understood the substance behind the style.

I am going to get even drunker in your honor tonight, HST.
posted by jonmc at 8:55 PM on February 20, 2005



Empty-handed I entered the world

Barefoot I leave it.

My coming, my going --

Two simple happenings

That got entangled.

posted by kuatto at 8:55 PM on February 20, 2005


I just finished my scotch. And a little on the ground for Hunter S Thompson. Unforgettable fucking man.

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posted by blacklite at 8:56 PM on February 20, 2005


A sad day for journalism.

Wow, really unexpected.
posted by AMWKE at 8:56 PM on February 20, 2005


You rotten old bastard. What the fuck, man?
posted by majcher at 8:56 PM on February 20, 2005


Dr. Thompson and Mr. Nixon, together again. Here's HST's brilliant obituary of The Quitter.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:56 PM on February 20, 2005


With Cash, and now Thompson, gone -- what's the fucking point of being an American?

The list of living people I admire is growing smaller and smaller.
posted by Kloryne at 8:57 PM on February 20, 2005


I don't usually say, out loud, "Oh my God!", but I did when I saw this. This is very, very sad.
posted by yhbc at 8:58 PM on February 20, 2005


Holy fucking fuck.
posted by adampsyche at 8:58 PM on February 20, 2005


"And that, I think, was the handle---that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting---on our side or theirs. 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."

Farewell.
posted by muckster at 8:58 PM on February 20, 2005


I have always loved HST, and he will always hate me (or would have, if there is no afterlife) for this observation: lots of drugs and lots of guns are not a good combination.
posted by kozad at 9:00 PM on February 20, 2005


The list of living people I admire is growing smaller and smaller.

Ther are those (in all kinds of feilds, not just journalism) carring on HST's spirit: Jim Goad, Darius James, Adam Parfrey and countless others who's names escape me at the moment.
posted by jonmc at 9:00 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by jokeefe at 9:00 PM on February 20, 2005


RIP, you magnificent bastard.
posted by Succa at 9:01 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by mkhall at 9:02 PM on February 20, 2005


Shit.

He survived a thousand incidents that lesser men wouldn't have, and today he took control of his own destiny. I hope he had some peace towards the end. Salute.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:02 PM on February 20, 2005


The reason I am crying is that he was one of my main early influences as a writer. Not just his prose, but his life. I met him a couple times in the late 1980s, and I was already struck by what a wreck he'd become. (He tried to steal a bottle of Wild Turkey 101 I asked him to autograph.)

So he helped me become a writer, and he helped me shape my life. He helped me understand that the magic is not in the dope. It's in your head. If you get that crucial fact mixed up, then eventually the dope is running the show, can't work without it after all, and all you can do to pay the rum and cocaine bills is the work people offer you out of pity. If it wasn't for ESPN2, I don't know who'd put up with the non-writer he'd become.

God bless you, HST. I owe you. Whatever else happens, you were right: We'd be fools not to ride this strange torpedo out to the end.

As I was writing this, Neil Young came up on rotation and sang the Good Doctor goodbye:

Shelter me from the powder and the finger
Cover me with the thought that pulled the trigger
Just think of me as one you'd never figured
Would fade away so young
With so much left undone
Remember me to my love,
I know I'll miss her.

posted by sacre_bleu at 9:03 PM on February 20, 2005


Oh man. Just.....damn.
posted by TungstenChef at 9:03 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by evisceratordeath at 9:03 PM on February 20, 2005


Last year it was Spalding Gray, now this. Fuck. We're losing all our best lefties. Hunter, you gave it a good go; you stomped on the goddam terra. Thank you.
posted by squirrel at 9:04 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:04 PM on February 20, 2005


Of all the "celebrity" deaths, this one really hurt. knocked the wind out of me.

Now, of all times... I need hunter.

I'm at a loss.
posted by exlotuseater at 9:04 PM on February 20, 2005


Damn. I've been a Hunter fan for years even though I also curse him for thousands of crappy, unskilled writers that used his "gonzo journalism" tag as an excuse for bad writing.

Hunter could really write. And not just the rants and drug fueled prose he became infamous for. I was recently rereading the first book of his letters (when he was young) and it's amazing how developed his skill was at an early age. He meant a lot to me and I'm saddened to see him go. Especially in such a stupid way.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:06 PM on February 20, 2005


RIP, Hunter. The world still needs you.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:07 PM on February 20, 2005


I guess it was inevitable. I saw him on Charlie Rose a couple of years ago, he could hardly talk any more. I am surprised, however, he didn't find a more creative way to go - say, drop 50 hits of acid and crash a plane into the White House.
posted by fungible at 9:08 PM on February 20, 2005


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.

Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who
among us can be happy and proud of having this
innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine?
These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and
fooled by stupid 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 the 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.

-Hunter S. Thompson


You will be missed....

/Sigh
posted by EmoChild at 9:08 PM on February 20, 2005


I'll sip a scotch while reading the last column
posted by trinarian at 9:09 PM on February 20, 2005


This news startled me. Lordy. This is so bad.
posted by raysmj at 9:09 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by ..ooOOoo....ooOOoo.. at 9:09 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by brevator at 9:12 PM on February 20, 2005


fuck!
posted by growabrain at 9:12 PM on February 20, 2005


goddamn it NO!
posted by melissa may at 9:12 PM on February 20, 2005


recent stuff
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:13 PM on February 20, 2005


Source, Emo?
posted by squirrel at 9:14 PM on February 20, 2005


Goddammit. I always thought Hunter was a badass that wouldn't do something like this. On some level I've always thought of suicide as a giving up, or a shying away from your life and Thompson didn't seem like the kind of guy that would ever do that.

However, if you asked to describe him to a stranger, I'd call him the Hemingway of our generation, but then that's how Hemingway went too.

Fuck. I'm really saddened by this.
posted by mathowie at 9:14 PM on February 20, 2005


Oh. My. God.
posted by scody at 9:14 PM on February 20, 2005


Raise your glasses...

Here's to Hunter S. Thompson, none better, damn few as good.
posted by moonbird at 9:14 PM on February 20, 2005


Sad, sad day...I'm sorry for everything R~
posted by justgary at 9:14 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:15 PM on February 20, 2005


"What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped 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 the light at the end of the tunnel."

-Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
posted by sindark at 9:16 PM on February 20, 2005


Well, Stone Phillips might disagree, but one of the greats of journalism just left the room. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 is one of the most brilliantly on-target dissections of the press/politician/voter relationship ever written. It should be crammed down the throat, page by ripped-out page, of every "journalist" in the crop of frightened ass-lickers that is the current White House Press Corps.

The gonzo.org page about Thompson's direct relationship to Timothy Crouse's classic revealing look at the 1972 press, The Boys on the Bus, is worth reading in full, too.
posted by mediareport at 9:16 PM on February 20, 2005



There is a star, somewhere, for us all. Shine on Hunter.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 9:16 PM on February 20, 2005


Son of a fucking-- aw, fuck. This sucks.
posted by Scoo at 9:19 PM on February 20, 2005


He fuckin' shot himself. Motherfucker. . .Why'd you have to go and do a thing like that? Goddammit. . . Shit. That ruined my day. Motherfucker.
posted by Ndwright at 9:19 PM on February 20, 2005


I thought of Hemingway, too. It's an apt comparison, and now even more so.
posted by yhbc at 9:20 PM on February 20, 2005


Wow.

RIP, a great American.

And it's a very fitting way for the good doctor to go out. He will be sorely missed.
posted by xmutex at 9:20 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by madamjujujive at 9:21 PM on February 20, 2005


My favorite HST moment of recent years, in the immediate aftermath of Florida 2000:

"I knew better. Of course Bush would win Florida. Losing was out of the question. Here was the whole bloody Family laughing & hooting & sneering at the dumbness of the whole world on National TV.

The old man was the real tip-off. The leer on his face was almost frightening. It was like looking into the eyes of a tall hyena with a living sheep in its mouth. The sheep's fate was sealed, and so was Al Gore's. .."


bottoms up!
posted by dinsdale at 9:22 PM on February 20, 2005


At least he didn't fuck around in doing it. A straight shooter right to the end.
posted by mischief at 9:22 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by allaboutgeorge at 9:23 PM on February 20, 2005


"It was the death of fun, unreeling right in front of us, unraveling, withering, collapsing, draining away in the darkness life a handful of stolen mercury. Yep, the silver stuff goes suddenly, leaving only a glaze of poison on the skin."

HST, Kingdom of Fear
posted by jed at 9:23 PM on February 20, 2005


Suicide at 15 is tragic; at age 67, it seems somehow heroic. Surprised nobody's said this yet, but I suppose it's most likely out of respect. Which is nice, but something I'd imagine HST would have little patience for. So I'll just go ahead and say it, because it's as true for a bullet to the brain as it is for a blotter to the tounge...

Buy the ticket... Take the ride

Adios, amigo.
posted by idontlikewords at 9:23 PM on February 20, 2005


After re-reading the opening bit to The Great Shark Hunt, here's hoping this is a hoax.
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:24 PM on February 20, 2005


Welcome to the future of America. Welcome to Shotgun Golf.

So long and Mahalo.

Hunter.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:24 PM on February 20, 2005


Wow.

I actually got to peoplewatch HST once. In June 2003, I went to visit a friend in Vegas & she had a press pass for a CineVegas party at the Palm Casino pool in his honor. It was the first time he had been to Vegas since Fear & Loathing & he was appearing on behalf of the movie Breakfast with Hunter. He was supposed to speak on a panel at the film festival, but was nowhere to be found when the discussion occurred. Typical, he did show up at the party however (arriving in a wheelchair), allegedly stating that he didn't show up at the festival because he hurt his back having wild sex with his wife. (Mind you, rumor had it that he was in a wheelchair not due to any injury but because that pesky "need to walk" was getting in the way of his quality drinking time.)

The party for Hunter was one of the most surreal moments of my life (and that's saying a lot). Prior to Hunter's arrival at the party, I watched the crowd gathering, waiting for Hunter to show up... I saw Robin Leach interviewing Tony Curtis... Dennis Hopper and a newly face-lifted Darryl Hannah walking around the pool... and lots of other weirdly swiveling heads, all hoping to see HST. Then I heard whispers, saying that Hunter had wheeled in. I didn't see him at first. But about 15 minutes later I looked into the poolside tent next to me to find a grizzled Benecio Del Toro leaning on a walking stick while Hunter sat on top of a mini fridge or something, howling like a wolf. I just couldn't look away as he became more animated, spouting words I really couldn't understand a syllable of. Most interesting was watching the crowd of people around him, all desperately trying to soak up the moment even though they had no fucking clue what he was saying either. (There's a pretty good story about the HST CineVegas episode here, if you're interested.)

Yep, he was an unusual guy. And it seems to me that this was the way he would've most wanted to leave the world, by his own hand. RIP.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:26 PM on February 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


What the fuck...
posted by Quartermass at 9:26 PM on February 20, 2005


As a biker and writer, I cannot believe this shit. I am profoundly hurt by this news. You gave alot to me! I'll miss you.

Not period, ellipsis. ...
Your fucking craziness will live on. I'm sorry it hurt so bad.
posted by snsranch at 9:26 PM on February 20, 2005


PG, that comment made me smile for the first time since I heard this news. Cheers.
posted by Jimbob at 9:27 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by luriete at 9:27 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by salad spork at 9:29 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by stevis at 9:29 PM on February 20, 2005


Any idea why? He couldn't have been to happy about GWB, given his oppinion of nixon.
posted by delmoi at 9:29 PM on February 20, 2005


Now we'll find out that he was Deep Throat. That would be somehow perfect.
posted by goatdog at 9:32 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by solistrato at 9:32 PM on February 20, 2005


Well, shit.

This really hurts.
posted by Vidiot at 9:33 PM on February 20, 2005


"There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die."
posted by newton at 9:33 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by flabdablet at 9:34 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by mr.marx at 9:34 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by dhartung at 9:34 PM on February 20, 2005


ciao.
posted by foot at 9:36 PM on February 20, 2005


I remember his Nixon obit too, and how much a stir it caused. That was when I first heard of him.

When Fear and Loathing was released in the theaters, I bought a copy of the book during my lunch break the day I was going to go see the movie and read the first few pages. It was so good, I ended up keeping it in my lap the rest of the afternoon and read the whole thing before I left for the movie. Damn damn damn, this is sad news.
posted by beaverd at 9:37 PM on February 20, 2005


Perhaps he found what he came here for, but the odds are huge that he didn't. He was an old, sick and very troubled man, and the illusion of peace and contentment was not for him - not even when his friends came up from Cuba and played bullfight with him in the Tram. So finally, and for what he must have thought the best of reasons, he ended it with a shotgun.

TGSH P373.
posted by emf at 9:37 PM on February 20, 2005


Author's Note

But before we get to The Work, as it were, I want to make sure I know how to cope with this elegant typewriter — (and, yes, it appears that I do) — so why not make this quick list of my life's work and then get the hell out of town on the 11:05 to Denver? Indeed. Why not?

But for just a moment I'd like to say, for the permanent record, that is a very strange feeling to be a 40-year-old American writer in this century and sitting alone in this huge building on Fifth Avenue in New York at one o'clock in the morning on the night before Christmas Eve, 2000 miles from home, and compiling a table of contents for a book of my own Collected Works in an office with a tall glass door that leads out to a big terrrace looking down on The Plaza Fountain.

Very strange.

I feel like I might as well be sitting up here carving the words for my own tombstone... and when I finish, the only fitting exit will be right straight off this fucking terrace and into The Fountain, 28 stories below and at least 200 yards out in the air and across Fifth Avenue.

Nobody could follow that act.

Not even me... and in fact the only way I can deal with this eerie situation at all is to make a conscious decision that I have already lived and finished the life I planned to live — (13 years longer, in fact) — and everything from now on will be A New Life, a different thing, a gig that ends tonight and starts tomorrow morning.

So if I decide to leap for The Fountain when I finish this memo, I want to make one thing perfectly clear — I would genuinely love to make that leap, and if I don't I will always consider it a mistake and a failed opportunity, one of the very few serious mistakes of my First Life that is now ending.

But what the hell? I probably won't do it (for all the wrong reasons), and I'll probably finish this table of contents and go home for Christmas and then have to live for 100 more years with all this goddamn gibberish I'm lashing together.

But, Jesus, it would be a wonderful way to go out... and if I do it you bastards are going to owe me a king-hell 44-gun salutr (that word is "salute," goddamnit — and I guess I can't work this elegant typewriter as well as I thought I could)...

But you know I could, if I had just a little more time.

Right?

Yes.

HST #1, R.I.P.
12/23/77
The Great Shark Hunt
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:38 PM on February 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


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posted by jeribus at 9:38 PM on February 20, 2005


I used to work with a guy who got to interview Hunter once. He said it was the strangest hour of his life- not only the way Hunter would digress, ramble, and come back on topic with a brilliant insight, but just being inside the guy's house to begin with.

One of the more interesting bits from the story was that my coworker finally asked Hunter to autograph a book he had on it, and Hunter said sure. He then took the book from my coworker outside, set it up on a table, and blew a hole in it with one of his many guns.

And that was his autograph.
posted by xmutex at 9:38 PM on February 20, 2005


This really feels to me like the death of an era. I don't feel like reading any more "news".
posted by thanatogenous at 9:38 PM on February 20, 2005


F
posted by shoepal at 9:38 PM on February 20, 2005


Dammit.

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posted by 40 Watt at 9:39 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by mantid at 9:40 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by fillsthepews at 9:40 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:41 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by subgenius at 9:41 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by WillieD at 9:41 PM on February 20, 2005


Yes, this...
The old man was the real tip-off. The leer on his face was almost frightening. It was like looking into the eyes of a tall hyena with a living sheep in its mouth. The sheep's fate was sealed, and so was Al Gore's. .." was a laugh out loud line, I read it for my daughter. She saw Fear And Loathing Friday night. We were talking about him today, and I mentioned that she should read that book, that Thompson was too special to see a second hand version...The world just became much smaller.
posted by Oyéah at 9:43 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by squidlarkin at 9:44 PM on February 20, 2005


HST on Hemingway, after visiting Ketchum, Idaho:

Standing on a corner in the middle of Ketchum it is easy to see the connection Hemingway must have made between this place and those he had known in the good years. Aside from the brute beauty of the mountains, he must have recognized an atavistic distinctness in the people that piqued his sense of dramatic possibilities. It is a raw and peaceful little village, especially in the off season with neither winter skies not summer fisherman to dilute the image. Only the main street is paved; most of the others are no more than dirt and gravel tracks that seem at times to run right through front yards.

From such a vantage point a man tends to feel it is not so difficult, after all, to see the world clear and as a whole. Like many another writer, Hemingway did his best work when he felt he was standing on something solid-- like an Idaho mountainside, or a sense of conviction.

Perhaps he found what he came here for, but the odds are huge that he didn't. He was an old, sick, and very troubled man, and the illusion of peace and contentment was not enough for him-- not even when his friends came up from Cuba and played bullfight with him in the Tram. And finally, and for what he must have thought the best of reasons, he ended it with a shotgun.

posted by jokeefe at 9:46 PM on February 20, 2005


I sit here obsessively clicking Refresh to watch everyone's comments, and I think back to reading Angel Stomp Future by Warren Ellis earlier tonight, which was just a mutation of Transmetropolitan, which in and of itself was a strain of the HST virus, and I think back to the copy of Fear and Loathing on DVD that I almost randomly bought yesterday.

And then I look at this giant glass of whiskey that I wasn't planning on drinking about an hour or so ago.

.
posted by one.louder.ash! at 9:46 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by myopicman at 9:49 PM on February 20, 2005


emf, I see you and I both went to the same piece. Yes.
posted by jokeefe at 9:49 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by Rumple at 9:50 PM on February 20, 2005


I feel like my favorite teacher just killed himself.
posted by fenriq at 9:51 PM on February 20, 2005


Godspeed and rest in peace, big guy.
posted by Coherence Panda at 9:52 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by honeydew at 9:55 PM on February 20, 2005


Just like with Spalding, I know I'm going to cry about this at some point. If I lived where I could, I would go outside and shoot at... something. A drink will have to do for now.

If there is any justice, he is somewhere kicking the shit out of Nixon right now.
posted by -t at 9:55 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by sciatica at 9:56 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by drezdn at 9:56 PM on February 20, 2005


ah man. this sucks ... for us. i bet he's a happy happy man at one with the cosmos on the other hand.
posted by specialk420 at 9:57 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by mr_roboto at 9:58 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by Igor XA at 9:59 PM on February 20, 2005


My one and only hero.

The peak of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read.

Rest in peace.
You will be missed.
posted by Espoo2 at 9:59 PM on February 20, 2005


*sees bats*

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posted by readymade at 9:59 PM on February 20, 2005


The wiki says he was in a fortified compound. Does anyone know why?
posted by Jim Jones at 10:00 PM on February 20, 2005


i could never imagine what could possibly kill him.
i guess by your own will is the only way a superhuman can go
posted by Espoo2 at 10:01 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by sp dinsmoor at 10:02 PM on February 20, 2005


The wiki says he was in a fortified compound. Does anyone know why?

The Fear. The Fear.
posted by AlexReynolds at 10:02 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by afroblanca at 10:02 PM on February 20, 2005


Crap.
posted by orthogonality at 10:02 PM on February 20, 2005



posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:03 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by arha at 10:05 PM on February 20, 2005


By this time the drink was beginning to cut the acid and my hallucinations were down to a tolerable level. The room service waiter had a vaguely reptilian cast to his features, but I was no longer seeing huge pterodactyls lumbering around the corridors in pools of fresh blood.

The only problem now was a gigantic neon sign outside the window, blocking our view of the mountains - millions of colored balls running around a very complicated track, strange symbols & filigree, giving off a loud hum.

"Look outside," I said.

"Why?"

"There's a big .. . machine in the sky, . . . some kind of electric snake . . . coming straight at us."

"Shoot it," said my attorney.

"Not yet," I said. "I want to study its habits."


----

The world makes a little less sense, now.
posted by bright cold day at 10:06 PM on February 20, 2005


RIP HST
posted by rxreed at 10:07 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by Darkman at 10:07 PM on February 20, 2005


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posted by juv3nal at 10:08 PM on February 20, 2005


Fuck. Shit. Goddammit! Can't bring myself to eulogize him with a period.
posted by furiousthought at 10:09 PM on February 20, 2005


no
posted by punkbitch at 10:10 PM on February 20, 2005


Wow mefites, this was just some tough news. It's hard losing someone you care for, and so much harder losing them to suicide. Fare thee well Hunter, you cool mother fucker.
posted by snsranch at 10:13 PM on February 20, 2005


About 6 years ago I was working for a company that really pissed me off, especially the way it went about firing people (zero notice, escorted from the building (under guard if necessary)).

It was the only job I've ever quit (which explains a lot, if you think about it).

The last thing I did was email the following company wide:

"Indeed. And so much for wisdom. The business is full of smart fools who
won't learn, and on some days I am one of them. I have gone down with
more ships than Captain Ahab - and usually for honorable reasons - but I
am getting tired of it, and I am getting especially tired of getting out
on these seas with dumb bastards who punch holes in the bottom of the
boat and call it smart."

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
"Songs of The Doomed"
posted by Relay at 10:13 PM on February 20, 2005


Belly full of cheap gin and right ear deaf from gunfire.

RIP Hunter. The saga off the doomed suckfish reaches its conclusion too soon.
posted by VanRoosta at 10:14 PM on February 20, 2005


When I die, I hope I go wherever the good doctor is now.
posted by jesourie at 10:15 PM on February 20, 2005


Here's to flipping the big off switch yourself. I'm sad that he's gone, and glad that he went the way he wanted to go. Nobody makes it out of here alive...

RIP, HST.
posted by foozleface at 10:16 PM on February 20, 2005


I feel kicked in the gut. Fuck. I haven't felt quite this hopeless and sad since election night. Another light in the dark, snuffed out. Why?
posted by apis mellifera at 10:16 PM on February 20, 2005


That's the way to go though: all at once and under your own control. None of that doubled-over-from-arthritis, tired-from-two- quadruple-bypasses, barely-able-to-change-your-own-diaper, ain't-recognized-your-kids-in-six-years shit. I had to salute the man with a stiff whiskey and then splatter some Woodford Reserve on the carpet.

Yes, an era is over. It had ended by 1989 when Abbie Hoffman killed himself. This is what was left in the back of the Crisper drawer.
posted by davy at 10:18 PM on February 20, 2005


Totally fucking unexpected. He was the only uber-celeb in unjustly convicted Lisl Auman's corner. More here.

He wrote a long piece in Vanity Fair last May or June entitled "Prisoner of Denver", which is of course, as per everything by Vanity Fair, not online.

But what a bummer bit of news this is period. I wonder if the doc just gave him word he only had so long to live. If there was one man who I couldn't imagine putting himself through any kind of long term treatment, it would be Thompson.
posted by crasspastor at 10:18 PM on February 20, 2005


I have to wonder if having a literal whore playing a fake-journalist in the White House sent old Hunter over the edge. Maybe things got too weird, even for him.
posted by AlexReynolds at 10:22 PM on February 20, 2005


Yes, nothing could ever bring Hunter down.

It is very sad news, but, I suppose, the only proper way.

He was always in control, and I can't see him letting something like cancer or old age ever beat him. It wasn't in him to lose.

I think he won.
posted by Espoo2 at 10:22 PM on February 20, 2005


I also just bought Breakfast with Hunter about 2 weeks ago. Pretty good documentary and a small peek at the real man behind the legend.
posted by Espoo2 at 10:24 PM on February 20, 2005


For some reason, I feel strangely affected by this. The only other celebrity death that upset me nearly as much was when I found out that Joe Strummer died. Hunter S. Thompson was a titan of words, a true journalist who saw things as they were (as anyone who's read the Great Shark Hunt can attest). To find out he's gone by his own hands in these times when we truly need a hero strangles the heart.
posted by drezdn at 10:26 PM on February 20, 2005


.
posted by goddam at 10:27 PM on February 20, 2005


.
posted by soi-disant at 10:30 PM on February 20, 2005


.
posted by RavinDave at 10:31 PM on February 20, 2005


.
posted by HSWilson at 10:34 PM on February 20, 2005


in these times when we truly need a hero

Be your own goddamn hero.

Hunter may have grown tired or despondent or whatever (and who can ever tell why a particular person decides to pull the plug prematurely?), but he's given us more than enough fuel to keep going ourselves.

So keep going, dammit.
posted by mediareport at 10:34 PM on February 20, 2005


I'm going to black out my blog for the week in memory of him. Maybe just post bits from his books. I didn't actually think that I was going to cry because of this but I did. I'm so profoundly saddened by this. One of our generation's greatest warriors and heroes has gone down.
posted by fenriq at 10:35 PM on February 20, 2005


.
posted by squeak at 10:36 PM on February 20, 2005


What a pathetic, cowardly end. Fuck you, Hunter.
posted by notmydesk at 10:37 PM on February 20, 2005


.
posted by frecklefaerie at 10:39 PM on February 20, 2005


What a complete fuck this is. What a ruin.

Drinking seems appropriate, but only because none of us are anywhere close to who he was. If we were, we'd all be dropping heroic doses of acid and firing off incredible automatic weapons. Also, drinking a lot more.
posted by Luther Blissett at 10:39 PM on February 20, 2005


notmydesk:

If there ever was someone who wasn't a coward, it was HST.

So fuck off.
posted by Espoo2 at 10:42 PM on February 20, 2005


Late to the wake but HST I salut you with a tip of my single malt. crap
posted by arse_hat at 10:43 PM on February 20, 2005


chivas on crushed ice, anyone?
posted by Espoo2 at 10:45 PM on February 20, 2005


.
posted by freedryk at 10:46 PM on February 20, 2005


old potrero and water. solid cubes. cheers, arse_hat and Espoo2.
posted by one.louder.ash! at 10:49 PM on February 20, 2005


What a pathetic, cowardly end.

Feel better now? There, there, we know it's tough to deal with suicide, so go ahead and let the anger out, screaming "Fuck you" in a room crowded with friends of the deceased. Sure, what the hell, it's fine, as long as *you* feel better.
posted by mediareport at 10:52 PM on February 20, 2005


When I found "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" in 1971 at an all night Peoples Drug store book rack in Roanoke Virginia; I knew I was not alone. He was always at the head of the class but never graduated to sobriety. I am really gonna miss him.
posted by Rancid Badger at 10:53 PM on February 20, 2005


Goddamnit. If only Bill Murray had taken him up on the shotgun golf. If only his friend John Kerry, who brought five copies of Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail to him to sign had kicked a little more electorate ass. If only they changed the name of Boulder, CO to Fat Head City as he suggested. If only "when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro" was true...

I have no words for the things that the writing, the existence of HST means to me. I think whisky, ether and Curse of Lono are the only way out of these blues.

When your hero dies, what are you left with?

And how the hell will Doonsbury react to this one? Uncle Duke can't outlive HST.

Between the suicides and the upcoming RUM DIARIES, will HST suddenly be whitewashed, cannonized and resold as saint?

I feel like taking up drinking. Or ether. Or adrenachrome.
posted by Gucky at 10:54 PM on February 20, 2005


Espoo2:
Hey, I'm pissed off, here.
posted by notmydesk at 10:55 PM on February 20, 2005


Aw, man.

Shit, man.
posted by S.C. at 11:02 PM on February 20, 2005


Out of Makers Mark. Into the Evan Williams. There is not enough whiskey in the world to blunt the hurt.
posted by sacre_bleu at 11:05 PM on February 20, 2005


 
!

posted by gsb at 11:05 PM on February 20, 2005


.
posted by jabo at 11:05 PM on February 20, 2005


*sigh*


.
posted by immer geradeaus at 11:06 PM on February 20, 2005


This isn't a time to be stupid, saying stupid things. Plant your period, pay your repects or shut the fuck up!

Thompson was like a Dad to me for a long time.

The fact that this is one of the longest threads I've ever seen here on the blue eases my pain just a little bit. Thank God for him and thank God that so many care.
posted by snsranch at 11:08 PM on February 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


.
posted by mwhybark at 11:09 PM on February 20, 2005


FUCK!
posted by teferi at 11:09 PM on February 20, 2005


Plant your period, pay your repects or shut the fuck up!

Indeed. Flaming obituary threads is Fark schtick.
posted by S.C. at 11:11 PM on February 20, 2005


.
posted by zinc saucier at 11:14 PM on February 20, 2005


What is the secret code to know when certan 'someone died' theads are 'obituary threads' and others aren't?
posted by HTuttle at 11:16 PM on February 20, 2005


Jesus. Jesus christ.

The world is suddenly a lot less cool.
posted by ZaphodB at 11:16 PM on February 20, 2005


I am not all that well-acquainted with Mr. Thompson's work, but I'd like to share a couple of memories:
- "Fear and loathing in Las Vegas". I read this on vacation in Vegas (where else?) I've seen the movie several times before picking up the book, and still it blew me away. What an amazing, surreal, truthful exploration of the amazing, surreal, falseful place that is Vegas. The day after I finished it, I rented a car, drove it into desert and walked for miles and miles in valley of fire. I was living the American Dream.
- "Fear and loathing on campaign trail". For reasons that are no longer clear to me (if, indeed, there ever were any), I packed this book along on my trekking trip through Turkey. I still recall the cheap paperback print pages jumping in eyes on the overnight buses, the bulge it made in the back pocket of my backpack, the raw press photographs in the days before staged teleconferences. It was sheer brilliance.

My hat is off to you, HST. Thank you for everything I've read, and everything I will read.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 11:20 PM on February 20, 2005


.
posted by wolftrouble at 11:21 PM on February 20, 2005


"What is the secret code to know when certan 'someone died' theads are 'obituary threads' and others aren't?"

Passphrase: "[P]ay your respects or shut the fuck up!"
posted by AlexReynolds at 11:23 PM on February 20, 2005


Fuck, this a sad day for journalism. Hunter Thompson, you will be missed.

He must have felt the weasels were closing in.

Godspeed to the Good Doctor; he went out with his boots on.

Buy the ticket, take the ride. Mahalo.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:23 PM on February 20, 2005


HTuttle: by the 150+ threads universally expressing utter dismay.
posted by bright cold day at 11:24 PM on February 20, 2005


Thompson, you giant pussy.

Since my health went into the crapper about ten years ago, I've had a rough time reading whole books; I've probably been averaging around two a year. The Great Shark Hunt was one of the last serious books I read before things went south. This was before I'd even heard of Noam Chomsky; I guess you could say Thompson introduced me to left wing political prose. And made me feel pretty good about being a malcontent at a time when I didn't feel very good about much of anything.

Fucking pussy.
posted by Clay201 at 11:26 PM on February 20, 2005


In response to the beefwits: it should be apparent that this man commanded massive respect among a great number of Mefites. This is a thread to honor a legend, not hunger for attention.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:27 PM on February 20, 2005


I'm sure that the Doctor must have been seriously physically sick, and looking at the end of his life in a nursing home, intensive care or ending it without that pain and loss of dignity. I don't think anything else except the breakdown of his body would have caused him to do this. He will be sorely missed. When Burroughs died he said that he was the only one left. Now there are none.
posted by singingfish at 11:27 PM on February 20, 2005


Of course, raging at him for deliberately leaving this void in the heart of American journalism, completely acceptable. I must say I feel angry at this moment.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:29 PM on February 20, 2005


.

(Digs up anything alcoholic and mindbending...)
posted by Samizdata at 11:29 PM on February 20, 2005


Fuck

Im glad that im not alone in my utter shock at this news. At first, the idea of an accomplished man killing himself at 67 disgusted me, and i still want to learn more of the circumstances surrounding this, but fuck, i guess he went out like he was supposed to. Tonight was the first night of my brief hiatus from marijuana, and man-oh-man did this news have a sobering effect. I had some tequila and spilled a bit in honor of the great gonzo doctor. I read that shotgun golf article the other day, and I have to say, the man probably got a little too trigger-happy at the end. Fuck im sad.
posted by Kifer85 at 11:30 PM on February 20, 2005


"Old elephants limp off to the hills to die; old Americans go out to the highway and drive themselves to death with huge cars." -- HST, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Like a lot of other people, I paid for lessons in order to get my car license, but it was reading HST that taught me how to drive.
posted by Ritchie at 11:30 PM on February 20, 2005


.
posted by First Post at 11:31 PM on February 20, 2005


.
posted by sninky-chan at 11:32 PM on February 20, 2005


.
posted by Skygazer at 11:34 PM on February 20, 2005


Plant your period, pay your repects or shut the fuck up!

it should be apparent that this man commanded massive respect among a great number of Mefites. This is a thread to honor a legend, not hunger for attention.


He commanded massive respect from me, too. I greatly admired his life and work. Why do you think I'm so pissed off at him for his blowing his brains out?

Anyway, sorry for expressing my actual feelings. I fully retract them. Here's a period instead:

.
posted by notmydesk at 11:35 PM on February 20, 2005


My teacher recommended that I read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas just this week. I will. The impressive length of this thread is encouraging. I'm sad I can't say goodbye to someone I never knew. Now he's dead, sure. But gone, never. I'm going to discover him tomorrow.
posted by jessicool at 11:37 PM on February 20, 2005


I'm drinking Lagavulin tonight. I wanted something that tastes like tears.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

posted by Vidiot at 11:42 PM on February 20, 2005


.
posted by Matching Mole at 12:23 AM on February 21, 2005


Goddamn. What a bummer.
posted by nearlife at 12:25 AM on February 21, 2005


I wonder if he did it listening to White Rabbit, "at that fantastic note when the white rabbit bites it's own head off"?
posted by Espoo2 at 12:34 AM on February 21, 2005


Plant your period, pay your repects or shut the fuck up!

snsranch, it's exactly that kind of emotional fascism that Thompson fought so hard against his entire life, be it in politics, entertainment, sports, or the personal lives of the people he cared about.

No MeFi obit thread worth its pulpy ashes hasn't had some back-and-forth about the legacy of the deceased. So if you're still reading: say your piece, read other people's opinions, respect them for what they are, and if you can't handle that, then maybe this isn't the place for you.
posted by chicobangs at 12:34 AM on February 21, 2005 [1 favorite]


Reaction to a suicide on a message board falls under pretty predictable lines, and sub-lines:

- Discussion about the person who has died
- - Positive memories, rememberances
- - Negative memories, rememberances
- Discussion about the act of suicide
- - Distaste, negative reaction to suicide
- - Grudging, positive reaction to suicide

There's little interrelational stuff that happens, as well, for example, people who fall under "act - negative" going after "positive memories", and everyone jumping on "act - positive", so on.

I wish I knew a good solution to calm down these meta-discussions that end up mucking up a very emotional thread. The only way I can think of is to start two separate threads: one on the person, one on the act, and then hope people "get it".

I won't pollute this discussion farther with my opinions, other than to say they have been stated very well in a number of messages in this thread.
posted by jscott at 12:36 AM on February 21, 2005


On the eve of President's Day -- sure to be the top story when the sun does finally rise.

Regardless of the reasons (there's probably a mote of truth in each of our speculations), I find the timing ... noteworthy.

RIP, good doctor.
posted by damn yankee at 12:39 AM on February 21, 2005


well, fuck. that's the end of something sprawling and incoherent and altogether grand.

.
posted by ubersturm at 12:41 AM on February 21, 2005


I can directly attribute a good chunk of my desire to learn to write to Hunter Thompson. Looking at a lot of my early stuff, I can see his influence. Fuck, I don't even know what to say.

I find myself hoping there's a suicide note that hasn't been found yet.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 12:44 AM on February 21, 2005


By pure coincidence, I spent an hour or so this afternoon looking online for information about the third volume of his letters, if and when it was due to be published. My hunch is that Hunter, who never expected to make it to 30, much less 65 years old, knew something that we yet don't. His obsessive curating of his own epistolary legacy is evidence enough of a deep need to control his own footprints, and I'll wager that the bullet he administered was a corrective to a fate that the Lords of Karma, whom he faithfully served, had otherwise apportioned for him.

And somewhere, in that fortified Colorado compound, I bet that third volume of letters sits waiting for publication. If we're lucky, the last one will be addressed to us, the faithful.

RIP, HST
posted by uhnyuftz at 1:02 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by AloneOssifer at 1:03 AM on February 21, 2005


Damn.
posted by ken_devon at 1:03 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by philosophistry at 1:23 AM on February 21, 2005


Where Were You When The Fun Stopped?
HST's favorite songs. I'll be listening to most of these tomorrow, as I drink Tequila and rage against The Dying of The American Dream.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:25 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by hampton at 1:26 AM on February 21, 2005


The canary just keeled over.
posted by telstar at 1:30 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by jlbartosa at 1:34 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by Down10 at 1:45 AM on February 21, 2005


Not sure where I stand on this one. The man was in pretty much constant physical pain for the last several years (bad back, general systems failure). Seems like he went on his own terms.

Spalding Gray's suicide left me much sadder. Gray was mentally ill. He finally succumbed to the darkness that he had battled all of his life. He was hopeless. I would like to think that Hunter made a clear-eyed (relatively, anyway) choice.

R.I.P.
posted by Optamystic at 1:46 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by cindileper at 1:47 AM on February 21, 2005


What Optamystic said. RIP HST.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:48 AM on February 21, 2005


God damn, I'm going to miss you, Hunter. This one hit damned hard.

Some of my favorite quotes. Absolutely nobody could combine utter degradation with sheer beauty the way the good Doctor could. RIP.
posted by smeger at 1:53 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by entropy at 1:59 AM on February 21, 2005


On Richard Nixon:
MEMO FROM THE NATIONAL AFFAIRS DESK

DATE: MAY 1, 1994

FROM: DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON

SUBJECT: THE DEATH OF RICHARD NIXON:

NOTES ON THE PASSING OF AN AMERICAN MONSTER....HE WAS A LIAR ND A QUITTER, AND HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN BURIED AT SEA. ...BUT HE WAS, AFTER ALL, THE PRESIDENT.

"And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is becoming the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit and a cage of
every unclean and hateful bird."--REVELATION 18:2

Richard Nixon is gone now and I am poorer for it. He was the real thing--a political monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy. He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time. He lied to his friends and betrayed the trust of his family. Not even Gerald Ford, the unhappy ex-president who pardoned Nixon and kept him out of prison, was immune to the evil fallout. Ford, who believes strongly in Heaven and Hell, has told more than one of his celebrity golf partners that I know Iwill go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon."

I have had my own bloody relationship with Nixon for many years, but I am not worried about it landing me in hell with him. I have already been there with that bastard, andI am a better person for it. Nixon had the unique ability to make his enemies seem honorable, and we developed a keen sense of fraternity. Some of my best friends have hatedNixon all their lives. My mother hates Nixon, my son hates Nixon, I hate Nixon, and this hatred has brought us together.

Nixon laughed when I told him this. "Don't worry," he said. "I, too, am a family man, and we feel the same way about you."
What a phenomenon HST was.
posted by crasspastor at 2:15 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by mek at 2:35 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by afu at 2:43 AM on February 21, 2005 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Jawn at 2:44 AM on February 21, 2005


What did he say, something like "If you stood on a hill and looked through the right pair of eyes you could almost see the spot where the wave (i.e. the sixties) broke..."

A giant talent. I think I'll go re-read Hell's Angels as it is my favorite.
posted by fixedgear at 2:55 AM on February 21, 2005


Fuck.
posted by davebushe at 3:22 AM on February 21, 2005


.


While it may have been shocking in its timing, and perhaps in the lack of poetic insanity in the method, is HST's suicide all that surprising? Would any of us ever have thought that he'd die quietly in bed?

Whatever his reasons, he went as he chose. RIP, HST.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:26 AM on February 21, 2005


.

ching ching
posted by lacus at 3:30 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by effwerd at 3:41 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by TedW at 3:42 AM on February 21, 2005


When I heard this news as I was driving into work last night I was dumbfounded. After thinking about it, I'm not that sad any more. He choose his time to exit stage left after he had an insane life that few could even hope of having. I do think he could have picked a better method, like say standing on top of his gunpowder keg and shooting flares at it.
posted by pemdasi at 3:43 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by erisfree at 3:53 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by n o i s e s at 3:54 AM on February 21, 2005


Saw him speak in Eugene, Oregon about 15 years ago. He was a disheveled, incoherent mess, but it was still a thrill. Leaving the hotel I passed Ken Kesey's magic bus parked out front (on the first stage of its drive across country to the Smithsonian) and got a peak of the 60's counterculture perched around a table playing cards. RIP you drunk fool.
posted by jalexei at 3:57 AM on February 21, 2005


Hunter has been my hero since I was thirteen or so, when I first read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He taught me that you could be a drugged up agressive freak and still have something worthwhile to say.

Wish I had some guns, and some stronger drugs, but I'll smoke a couple fat ones for you tonight HST.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:58 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by chmmr at 4:03 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by makonan at 4:07 AM on February 21, 2005


He knew he was going to die. What would you do?

I can see his books on my shelf from where I sit, but didn't we all know this was a matter of time.
posted by theatrical matriarch at 4:11 AM on February 21, 2005


this sucks

.
posted by pyramid termite at 4:27 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by purephase at 4:32 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by matteo at 4:38 AM on February 21, 2005


My Hunter-influenced story:
First read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas at age 17 or so, proceeded to read it many times over the next few years (as well as everything else he wrote). In college a friend of mine and I were driving across country to California and stopped off in Las Vegas to experience the city like Hunter had. (Knowing full well that it would be a pale imitation- which was sorta the point).

We stayed at the Circus Circus hotel and stumbled into the casino floor looking for the tightrope walkers and flying wolverines. To our amazement (this was twenty years after the book was published) the carousel bar so evocatively described in the book was still there. We took a seat as our senses began to expand. As the carousel slowly revolved over the casino floor, it was just as he described, below us the gamblers were staring vacantly into the slots as they threw away quarter after quarter. Above them the trapeze artists performed in their entertainment vacuum.

I'm not sure which one of us started it, but we began to drop our own quarters onto the casino floor from above and then watch to see who picked them up. It became this bizarre game as we soaked in the strange behavior of our fellow humans. The rest of the night involved paranoid clowns and jackalopes, we got up as early as we could the next day and got the hell out of dodge.

RIP.
posted by jeremias at 4:42 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by gleuschk at 4:48 AM on February 21, 2005


Oh no. :(
posted by dabitch at 4:51 AM on February 21, 2005


Indulge yourself in fear and loathing a bit more today and see what the freepers are saying about this.

Buy the ticket, take the ride.
posted by Espoo2 at 4:52 AM on February 21, 2005


I loved the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

I wish I knew Thompson's works better. Luckily for all of us, they will long outlive his oft-tested body.

I just ordered 5 of his books on powells.com and had a swig of gin.

RIP, HST.
posted by gohlkus at 4:55 AM on February 21, 2005


Why all the sadness. He did it his way. Good on him for going out on his own terms.
posted by twistedonion at 4:58 AM on February 21, 2005


No point in mentioning these bats, I thought. Poor bastard will see them soon enough.
posted by tizzie at 5:04 AM on February 21, 2005


Fun story: A guy I know was acquainted with the good doctor, and visited him at his compound on occasion. He grew increasingly used to Hunter's abject madness, and eventually figured he knew how to handle the old man.

On the afternoon of one particular visit, he parked his car and began walking toward the house as usual, but was puzzled to find that his approach wasn't greeted by the usual slew of Dobermans. He was put off enough that, for most of his walk, he didn't notice the whiffs of dust coming up in small plumes around his feet. I'm not sure if it was the weapon's report or the sound of a ricochet or something entirely else that clued him in, but at some point he became suddenly aware that Hunter was standing on the roof. Firing at him, with a rifle.

So of course he started running, and of course Hunter started laughing like a demon and firing all that much more. My friend leapt into his car, got the motor running, and peeled away in sheer terror. As he floored it, and the compound receded, and he began to feel slightly safer, a smallish tree off to the left of the road exploded(!) and sprayed his car with wood and ash.

He panicked, sped up, and drove harder, nearly too scared even to look behind him. In retrospect, maybe it would have been better not to look at all. In his rearview mirror stood Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, triumphant atop his roof. A bottle of god-knows-what in one hand, and a goddamn bazooka slung across his shoulder.
posted by Luther Blissett at 5:09 AM on February 21, 2005 [9 favorites]


This is a great thread.
And what optamystic said.
posted by mdn at 5:15 AM on February 21, 2005


.

(jonmc, when my wife told me the news you were the first person I thought of. Damn, jonmc's going to be even more pissed than I am, I thought. Then I cursed.)
posted by languagehat at 5:24 AM on February 21, 2005


His was the first work that really spoke to my 13-14 year old anger and clear-eyed disappointment with the world. Reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was an enormous eye-opener-- reading Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail showed me the way. For good or for ill, I do still believe that American political life is all circus-freak bullshit and our country is drowning in loonies and unknowing nazis.

Thanks, Hunter, and goodbye. Good for you for making your choice and leaving on your terms.
posted by miss tea at 5:26 AM on February 21, 2005



.

We all owe HST a great debt for fighting for us as hard as he could for all of those years. Who will take care of us now?
posted by lilboo at 5:29 AM on February 21, 2005


What awful news. I can't imagine getting through the next three years and eleven months without him.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here lies he where he long'd to be,
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the Hunter home from the hill.

posted by Zonker at 5:33 AM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:42 AM on February 21, 2005


God this SUCKS!


Here's what he wrote, so clear-eyed amid the madness, on Sept 12 2001:

The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now -- with somebody -- and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.


Here's his column anticipating a Kerry presidency.

Here's his take on campaign 2004.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:42 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by dmd at 5:47 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by hypersloth at 5:49 AM on February 21, 2005


Like most everybody else I was fully turned on when I discovered Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas at age 17. The wild-eyed writing was fuel for my late night motorbike and chemical experiments.

I couldn't believe anyone was able to write like that AND stay out of jail !

It was fantastic to introduce his writings to others - like initiating them into a sacred, secret, underground movement. He was the natural beacon around which the misfits, leftists, square pegs, anarchists, dopeheads and party animals buzzed. A cultural icon.

I suppose there's the other thought - accidental death??

Cheers Mr Thompson. My 20's + 30's would never have been so twisted and debauched if not for you.

RIP
posted by peacay at 5:50 AM on February 21, 2005


Wow. I'm totally at a loss. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas changed my life. I was 19 and had just joined the Air Force and moved to Vegas when I read it. I was shy and introverted, mostly afraid of life and conflict and this book inspired me to go out and really live. I still read that book once a year and it's like I'm reading it for the 1st time. My wife always asks if I'm reading "that book" again because of the big grin on my face and loud laughter coming from my office. A true force of nature, I miss you already.
posted by white_devil at 5:50 AM on February 21, 2005


Shit.

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posted by cedar at 5:53 AM on February 21, 2005


Damn. That sucks. I read the campaign 2004 stuff during the election and loved it. Would I be too cynical to believe that he blamed Bush? Just a little? HST you will be sorely missed. it'll be a long while before we see his kind again.
posted by Balisong at 5:54 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by scottq at 5:56 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by rhizome23 at 6:05 AM on February 21, 2005


So sad; thanks for the good times, Hunter!
posted by carter at 6:06 AM on February 21, 2005


As long as this thread has more comments than the Paris thread, we'll do alright.
posted by thejoshu at 6:06 AM on February 21, 2005


Yeah, I consider myself a road man for the lords of karma.

RIP.
posted by naomi at 6:07 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by brheavy at 6:09 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by safetyfork at 6:10 AM on February 21, 2005


What a drag to wake up to. And I'm reading this with CNN in front of me showing GWB speaking to the Europeans. Fear and Loving, indeed.

RIP, Dude.
posted by mmahaffie at 6:11 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by Gimpson at 6:11 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by uncleozzy at 6:14 AM on February 21, 2005


Luther Blissett: Goddamned fucking wonderful. I wish he'd taken a few shots at me before he checked out. Would've paid for the spent ammunition, too.
posted by unsupervised at 6:18 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by dflemingdotorg at 6:19 AM on February 21, 2005


Fuck. It's 9:30 in the morning and I'm out of rum. But What Would HST Do?

Improvise
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:26 AM on February 21, 2005


Wow. I typed "fear and loving" above? It's a slip. It's Freudian. But WTF does it mean?
posted by mmahaffie at 6:28 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by infidelpants at 6:31 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by tarnish at 6:37 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:38 AM on February 21, 2005


Quoted in the Rum Diary:

My rider of the bright eyes,
What happened you yesterday?
I thought you in my heart,
When I brought you your fine clothes,
A man the world could not slay.
- Dark Eileen O'Connell, 1773


I wouldn't have given up my horse either.
posted by snarfodox at 6:41 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by Mcable at 6:42 AM on February 21, 2005


I can't help but think, this dark morning, of Yeats's epitaph on Jonathan Swift. I'm sorry that "Hunter" doesn't scan in this --

SWIFT has sailed into his rest;
Savage indignation there
Cannot lacerate his breast.
Imitate him if you dare,
World-besotted traveller; he
Served human liberty.

posted by BT at 6:46 AM on February 21, 2005


FUCK.
posted by COBRA! at 6:46 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by SisterHavana at 6:49 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by JoanArkham at 6:58 AM on February 21, 2005


Rest in peace, Hunter. You changed my life.

"Death before dishonor. Drugs before lunch."
-- Motto of the Aspen Gun and Drug Club, circa 1972
posted by enrevanche at 6:59 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by Grod at 7:00 AM on February 21, 2005


Aaaand the more I think about it, the second-best way to commemorate him (after the Wild Turkey wears off) is to grab a copy of The Proud Highway, the first collected volume of his letters. It's amazing; it reads like an epistolary novel, and you get to watch this genius just sort of will himself into greatness. It's probably the most inspiring book I've ever read, actually-- any kid who says they want to be a writer should be strapped down, hooked up with Clockwork Orange-stye eyelid clamps and forced to read.
posted by COBRA! at 7:01 AM on February 21, 2005


i·ro·ny (i'r?-ne, i'?r-) pronunciation
n., pl. -nies.

1. fawning sycophant displays of reverence regarding the demise of someone whose entire life was devoted to being nonsycophantic and irreverent.
posted by HTuttle at 7:01 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by leftcoastbob at 7:07 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by theinsectsarewaiting at 7:08 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by dontrememberthis at 7:08 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by jmgorman at 7:09 AM on February 21, 2005


did he leave a note? ... do we KNOW it was suicide?
posted by specialk420 at 7:10 AM on February 21, 2005


Anyone in Chicago, send me an email I plan on listening to some audio bootlegs of the Good Doctor and sipping some Wild Turkey...
posted by mrs.pants at 7:11 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by tr33hggr at 7:11 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by kcds at 7:14 AM on February 21, 2005


This was always going to be about drug or violence-induced death.
You can't get to 80 still shouting "I'm f***ing kick-ass, you wanna say different?" with a swagger.

I never really "got" Thompson, his books were so full of excess, degradation and, ultimately, personal satisfaction that they inhabited a netherworld of self-parody and fantasism for me. Even his prosaic stuff could be frighteningly surreal and I never understood the difference between the extraordinary situations and the extraordinary effects of his narcotic thrusts.
Still, he was distinctive.

Given a second chance and some guidance, I'm sure he would have considered pemdasi's solution favourably.


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posted by NinjaPirate at 7:15 AM on February 21, 2005


My father is the same age as HST and was just diagnosed with a terminal illness at christmas. We had a very lucid conversation about this sort of thing last month when I went to see him. I can see why the good doctor would make this choice.

Hunter, you bastard. Thank you for telling the truth.
posted by whatnot at 7:17 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by cows of industry at 7:20 AM on February 21, 2005


His legacy was up and rather than live the life he loved, that he could no longer live, he left. And now is not the time to be idle, now is the time to realize that this he is gone because he could no longer help us, and it's time to fucking help ourselves.
posted by nTeleKy at 7:22 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by Numenorian at 7:25 AM on February 21, 2005


Some Hunter torrents.
posted by muckster at 7:27 AM on February 21, 2005


Hunter always said that when he was done saying anything important, he would take the next exit off the train. Which is what he did. Good for him.

But damn, what a blow to those of us who loved him. The first time I met Hunter, I was tripping blue balls...and my memory (which may not be representative of reality) was that he and I talked for hours about the weirdest damn stuff. (It was probably about 15 minutes in real time...but hours and hours in acid time... heh.) When I started coming down a few hours later, I saw that he'd sent a bottle of booze and for some unknown reason, a plate of calamari. To this day, I still can't see calamari without a little flashback to Boulder.

I hope, whenever I go, I get to see Hunter on the other side, poking people with sticks. So long pal...I'll miss you.
posted by dejah420 at 7:28 AM on February 21, 2005


So Hunter was Deep Throat !
posted by R. Mutt at 7:37 AM on February 21, 2005


If I may quote a wise friend:

"Instead of mourning, take a minute to figure out why the fuck we haven't bothered replacing half of our dead heroes. Instead of mourning."
posted by Eideteker at 7:45 AM on February 21, 2005


Raise hell up in heaven, Hunter.
posted by Loudmax at 7:45 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by PurplePorpoise at 7:45 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by slackdog at 7:46 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot at 7:52 AM on February 21, 2005


February 20, 2005: The day it finally got weird enough.

A blazing arc of his own creation and all we did was watch in awe. Perhaps that is all we could do.
posted by Fezboy! at 7:53 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by mygothlaundry at 7:54 AM on February 21, 2005


Salon's special section, with audio from the Paris Review interview [via GreenCine].
posted by muckster at 7:54 AM on February 21, 2005


That is how it works in the victory business. You see it every time. The Weak will suck up to the Strong, for fear of losing their jobs and their money and all the fickle power they wielded only twenty-four hours ago. It is like suddenly losing your wife and your home in a vagrant poker game, then having to go on the road with whoremongers and beg for your dinner in public....
There are no rules in the passing lane. Only losers play fair, and all winners have blood on their hands.


Thanks for the wisdom shared. Fare thee well, Dr. Thompson.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 7:56 AM on February 21, 2005


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Death bridges to places life cannot reach? I hope he found out.
posted by manicroom at 7:57 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by furtive at 8:03 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by BaxterG4 at 8:17 AM on February 21, 2005


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A sad day.
posted by shawnj at 8:23 AM on February 21, 2005


Fuck. Just....fuck.

And yet, I can't imagine any other way for him to go. Gods of their time do not quietly slip away; at least, they shouldn't.

Slow day at work. I'll read what I can online, go home, and raise a glass of Scotch to the oul bastard.
posted by kalimac at 8:24 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by interrupt at 8:25 AM on February 21, 2005


/me pours one out

"We're in bat country."
posted by interrupt at 8:26 AM on February 21, 2005


(Apparently, the site with the torrent links I posted requires registration & isn't taking new members. I was logged in & didn't realize. Apologies. Perhaps we can figure out a way to free them?)
posted by muckster at 8:27 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by heatherann at 8:33 AM on February 21, 2005


I'm torn between respecting the way he chose to end it, and just plain feeling sorry for myself and everyone else for whom a brilliant voice was silenced.

He wouldn't give a shit how I felt about it either way. Cheers.
posted by Miss Bitchy Pants at 8:39 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by psmealey at 8:40 AM on February 21, 2005


Hunter S Thompson commits suicide.

My God. A headline like a punch in the gut.

We finally see, perhaps, the vulnerability, the troubled or depressed psyche behind Thompson's crazed gonzo behavior.

I remember feeling this way when Brautigan shot himself, although his suicide was not really surprising at all, unlike HST's. Legs feel weak. Better sit down.

Goodbye, Duke.
posted by Shane at 8:40 AM on February 21, 2005


For good or for ill, I do still believe that American political life is all circus-freak bullshit and our country is drowning in loonies and unknowing nazis.

Thanks, Hunter, and goodbye. Good for you for making your choice and leaving on your terms


Amen, miss tea.

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posted by jennababy at 8:43 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by malocchio at 8:43 AM on February 21, 2005


I went to rollingstone.com, somehow hoping for a word of comfort, of news, of regret, hoping for a word.

Instead, I'm greeted by the news that Green Day has Conquered The World, a list of top music world earners, and a chance to download ringtones for Grammy nominated songs.

No wonder he left us. After all, what was left of his old world?

Enjoy the ride, HST. I hope the drugs are more potent in the afterlife.
posted by anastasiav at 8:44 AM on February 21, 2005


Clay201 - since my own health went to the crapper a few years back, I realized you can't put a price tag on other peoples' despair. Through that experience, it dawned on me that I wouldn't wish suffering &/or death on anyone, as it's enough to experience that firsthand.

So either shit, or stay off the pot, as others have noted. Keep your snap judgements to yourself.

Oh, yeah - this lil' dot's for the Curse of Lono:

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posted by Smart Dalek at 8:45 AM on February 21, 2005


I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone.... but they've always worked for me. -HST

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posted by togdon at 8:54 AM on February 21, 2005


My favorite Freeper comment:
This guy couldn't handle but one year in the Air Force, as a sports reporter, and in Florida no less. What a loser.
posted by Vidiot at 8:54 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by Polonius at 8:56 AM on February 21, 2005


anastasiav, I just wrote a letter to the editors at Rolling Stone and complained. How utterly shameful of them to ignore this.

Vidiot, no offense but if I wanted to read some jerk's hateful thoughts, I'd have gone over there myself.
posted by fenriq at 9:01 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:06 AM on February 21, 2005


Given his lifestyle, if the quantities of tobacco, alcohol and drugs he reported were anywhere near the truth, how much longer would he have lived?

Be that as it may. . .



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posted by Danf at 9:10 AM on February 21, 2005


Where, where to now, now that one who wrote our lore and captured who we are is gone?

One that bridged the (not so) old days of 60s, when the fight was as fresh and desperate as we were, with these new and terrible days George W. Bush, ca. 2005, has passed when we needed him most.

Who, who will be our loadstone?

Who, who now, will point to our failings while simultaneously pointing our way forward?

Find them, and find our way we must, for failure and capitulation is not in our nature, nor is it an option.

Of all the things that HST has written, this was always my favorite (indeed, I think it's the best writing since Fitzgerald):


Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run … but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant….

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I aimed the big 650 Lightening across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder's jacket … booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) … but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that….

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda…. You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning….

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. 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—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson, ©1971



Hunter S. Thompson knew when things were going, when they were happening, when they were moving, and, more than any other writer, he knew when things were at an end.

And that, I think, is the handle, the difference with us (the "left") and them. We take our heroes as they are, warts and all, and the "new"-conservatives, they only seem to like their heroes as cardboard cutouts that read well from the pre-approved script.

I'd do without a thousand Ronald Reagans if this country could have one Hunter S. Thompson.

Sorry for the long post, but I'm having a lot of trouble getting my mind wrapped around this.

Selah.
posted by Relay at 9:16 AM on February 21, 2005


If I'm not mistaken, this guy wrote one of the most moronic articles I've ever read in my life, on the benefits of smoking. Completely moronic - lacked any semblance of logic or reasoning.
posted by odinsdream at 9:20 AM on February 21, 2005


Please, please correct me if I'm wrong.
posted by odinsdream at 9:22 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by blackturtleneck at 9:28 AM on February 21, 2005


things seem bleak now. we lost Abbie to Bush I and Hunter to Bush II. where are our coyotes when we need them?

.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:30 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by bashos_frog at 9:31 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by medialyte at 9:31 AM on February 21, 2005


*cranks the Allman Brothers' Mountain Jam*

*raises glass (in my case imaginary, but I'm sure the good doctor would understand)*

My father loved Hunter Thompson. And I grew up with that voice-- those juicy, twisty, adjective-laden sentences, the worldview, the hilarity, the lasersharp bravura language of his best paragraphs. His description of Humphrey as looking like a "potato with mange". The opening of F & L in Las Vegas... the drugs taking hold. "If I followed my better instincts right now, I would put this typewriter in the Volvo and drive to the home of the nearest politician-- any politician-- and hurl the goddam machine through his front window." And of course: "Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?" And those are just the scraps that immediately come to mind.

I read Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail maybe a dozen times as a teenager, knowing that somewhere out there was not just a writer hammering those words together, but an audience which read and cheered them: a whole readership who was tuned in, and angry, and understood the bullshit they were being fed. And partly because of that I knew that I didn't have to believe what I was being told to think, either.

And, like I said, my father adored HST. So in a way this is like another little bit of the world-- my father's world-- falling off into the sea. My father once when he was drunk actually tried to get HST's number from Aspen information and call him. It was ludicrous. But I sure hope that he's getting a chance to buy Thompson a drink right now, in the great bar of the afterlife. Yeah, a bit emotional right now.
posted by jokeefe at 9:34 AM on February 21, 2005


Congratulations, HST!

I'm certain he offed himself with good reason. Not the sort of guy to take death by chance.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:41 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by peteash10 at 9:43 AM on February 21, 2005


Time to break out the Laphroiag...

My memories of Hunter start with being 19, lying in bed naked mind partially gone from one of my first acid trips, recently freed myself from the bonds of the Baptists, and my girlfriend introduced me to "Fear and Loathing" by reading it to me in that state. She was a sort of incarnation of him, and I always think of her when I read him. She led me through my own personal re-enactment of the '60s, deep in the wilderness of 1988.

Now they're both gone and I miss them terribly.
posted by pandaharma at 9:46 AM on February 21, 2005 [1 favorite]


Coincidentally, if you go to the Doonesbury site right now, there's an odd animation of Uncle Duke dancing around.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:46 AM on February 21, 2005


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May you rest in Peace Hunter. To choose your own fate was fitting.
posted by Dean Keaton at 9:48 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by Shrike at 9:59 AM on February 21, 2005


Here's hoping he's fathered a thousand blogger voices that will help fill a bit of the void.
posted by yerfatma at 9:59 AM on February 21, 2005


"Given his lifestyle, if the quantities of tobacco, alcohol and drugs he reported were anywhere near the truth, how much longer would he have lived?"

Well, seeing as he shot himself, I don't really see that it would make a difference. Then again, maybe he'd live to 84 and die sad, lonely and unknown. Maybe he'd have killed himself a long time ago, or maybe he'd be producing great works for another 20 years. Whatever the case, they were part of him and what he was and what he stood for wouldn't be the same without them. Hunter S Thompson without drugs is like George W Bush without war.
posted by nTeleKy at 10:00 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by JT at 10:04 AM on February 21, 2005


Vale, man.
posted by Drexen at 10:12 AM on February 21, 2005


Life isn't as simple as this - and nobody knew that more than the good doctor - but if I had to list just one reason why I do what I do for a living (I write, mostly for magazines), I would answer: Hunter S. Thompson. Nothing he wrote was ordinary, and few in the history of literature have come close to him in terms of pure mad momentum, and unless and until Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas is taught in schools alongside Gatsby and Huck Finn and understood to be the ferocious, despairing cri de coeur of a true American hero, America has failed the good doctor, and his assertion that the American Dream died with Nixon remains uncontested.

And that said, I refuse to believe that in the end Thompson gave in to despair or doom or even the everpresent Fear. I think he saw the end of the tunnel coming up fast, and decided he wanted to get there the same way he'd taken the rest of the ride: full-tilt, pedal-to-the-metal, wide awake and half-crazy and beholden to no one.

"There are lots of ways to practice the art of journalism, and one of them is to use your art like a hammer to destroy the right people - who are almost always your enemies, for one reason or another, and who usually deserve to be crippled because they are wrong.

This is a dangerous notion, and few professional journalists will endorse it - calling it 'vengeful' and 'primitive' and 'perverse' regardless of how often they might do the same thing themselves. 'That kind of stuff is opinion,' they say, 'and the reader is cheated if it's not labeled as opinion.'

Well . . . maybe so. Maybe Tom Paine cheated his readers and Mark Twain was a devious fraud with no morals at all who used journalism for his own foul ends. . . . And maybe H.L. Mencken should have been locked up for trying to pass off his opinions on gullible readers as normal 'objective journalism.'

Mencken scorned such criticism as the jabbering of dumb yahoos - especially when it came from world-famous (U.S.) presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, who called Mencken 'a disgrace to journalism' and 'so genetically twisted that he couldn't even write a straight item for the obituary page.'

Unfortunately for Bryan, he died before Mencken did - and he paid a terrible price for it, when H.L. wrote his obituary in the American Mercury. It was, and remains, one of the most hideous things ever written about a dead man in the history of American letters, and I remember being shocked when I first read it - thinking, Ye gods, this is evil. I had learned in school that Bryan was a genuine hero of history, but after reading Mencken's brutal obit, I knew in my heart that he was, in truth, a monster.

It was clearly opinion - no doubt about that - but I believed it then and I believe it now. Bryan was a dumb brute and a raving charlatan who argued desperately in court that a male is not a mammal and thought anybody who disagreed with him should go to prison. His shadow hung over the White House for decades, and he was worshipped by millions. I shudder to know that most of my friends from high school still think he was a great man.

Mencken understood that politics - as used in journalism - was the art of controlling his environment, and he made no apologies for it. In my case, using what politely might be called 'advocacy journalism,' I've used reporting as a weapon to affect political situations that bear down on my environment.

It worked for Pat Buchanan.

And it almost worked for me."

- Hunter S. Thompson, Better Than Sex (1994)

Mahalo, Doctor Thompson.
posted by gompa at 10:15 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by dogmatic at 10:19 AM on February 21, 2005


I wonder if he left a note.

Goodbye, Dr. Thompson.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:21 AM on February 21, 2005


The 60's/70's had HST taking drugs risks, we have Jackass.

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posted by asok at 10:23 AM on February 21, 2005


The guy was a addict and a genius. I love his resilience, his ability to maintain his criticism at full volume year after year. From my own experience with angry addicts, I fear that the addiction and the resilience are interrelated. It is uncomfortable to be so angry for so long. Surely booze and other substances mask the discomfort, as well as generating their own tendencies toward anger. It's something we've seen with other great artists: madness or addiction, or both, limiting the impact of social marginalization, and facilitating access to creativity, vision, and righteousness. The social marginalization can even facilitate the artists' drive, with madness or addiction transmuting disconnection into persecution. I believe that we as a culture benefit from having artists and firebrands around. The question of personal cost is tricky. Do we lose artists in rehab, through medication? Do artists have access to rehab and medication? I have a friend who doesn't want to be happy, who says that his discomfort with the world feels authentic. I know that when I am not depressed, I am more resilient to the slings and arrows. Surely that resilience, the absence of extended meditation on the sorrows, limits my ability to address them. Well, Hunter, goodbye. You have my thanks and my sorrow for your pain.
posted by manduca at 10:28 AM on February 21, 2005


For the record:

Mencken's obituary of William Jennings Bryan

And Thompson's obituary of Richard M. Nixon

posted by gompa at 10:28 AM on February 21, 2005


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That trip to San Felipe wouldn't have been the same without the good doctor riding shotgun in the bookbag. Damn, damn, damn.
posted by RakDaddy at 10:30 AM on February 21, 2005


squirrel, i was curious about emochild's quote too. it's from his 2003 book "Kingdom of Fear," at least according to http://www.tripzine.com/articles.asp?id=condolences and http://www.davidcogswell.com/Reviews/ThompsonReturns.html
posted by manduca at 10:30 AM on February 21, 2005


Here's where I say something that I'll probably get attacked for, but oh well. All of these people talking about Hunter S. Thompson's death as though their world is ending has just kind of brought up an old wound with me I guess. First off, let me preface my comments so you understand where I'm coming from. Please bear with me.

I went to college with a man I loved a great deal who was obsessed with Hunter S. Thompson. We were in journalism together and he wanted to BE Hunter S. Thompson. Just pure, unadulterated idolatry going on. As I saw this man spiral into alcoholism and drugs, he used Hunter as his role model for what a "great journalist who lives outside of the box" does. I wanted to understand HST's appeal to this man I cared so much for, and so I read quite a bit of his stuff. Due to his alcoholism, I never dated this man & we lost touch until about 4 years ago after his divorce when he assured me he had put all of that behind him. He hadn't. Even 20 years later & with two children looking up to him, this man is still an alcoholic, still wearing & clinging to bits of Hunter S. Thompson as his idea of the real man and great journalist he aspires to be. I finally had to give up on having anything to do with this man two years ago, because I realized he was beyond my hope. Watching his behavior has been one of the heartbreaks of my life, to be frank.

I am no expert on HST... as I said in an earlier post, I had the unsettling experience of watching Hunter scream like a wolf while sitting on top of a mini-fridge once, and I did read quite a bit of his stuff in college. IMHO, Hunter S. Thompson had interesting ideas, pushed a lot of buttons that perhaps needed (or perhaps didn't need) pushing, and was a unique voice who did everything he could to made the most of his vices, but that's all I can really say about him. He liked to be dangerous, and he was in more ways than he meant to be. Just like Charles Bukowski, Hunter was a testosterone-loaded figure who to many men it feels cool to idolize, but in the end to seriously idolize him is anything BUT cool. To emulate Hunter S. Thompson is to live your life as a raging asshole. This is why on Bukowski's grave he wrote simply "Don't Try."

I'm sorry when anyone dies, but IMHO Hunter S. Thompson was a supremely fucked up human being. I saw first hand that his influence inspired other people to believe being fucked up in their own lives would be glamorous. It isn't. I pulled enough vodka bottles from my friend's hand while he was vomiting blood to be able to say that with confidence. On a positive note, I can say this... I made a vow to never do drugs or become an alcoholic myself after watching what rock bottom looks like for someone else. So I do owe Hunter S. Thompson something, indirectly.

Seriously, rather than being surprised he's dead, you should all be surprised he lived this long. Not to mention that he pointed guns at everything he could find, so OF COURSE HE SHOT HIMSELF!!! Honestly, it was an easy guess that he would go this way.

Ok, I'm done. Thanks for listening. I know most of you won't agree with me, but I feel better for getting it out.

posted by miss lynnster at 10:31 AM on February 21, 2005 [1 favorite]


This makes me so sad. Hunter - if you're out there: thank you for teaching me how to write.
posted by Man O' Straw at 10:32 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by verisimilitude at 10:35 AM on February 21, 2005


I don't think anything else except the breakdown of his body would have caused him to do this.

Doesn't compute for me. When I listen to the vital mirth in his last column, and then see this, I don't think it was the same vital gutsy person who did it. I think it was a wound in the mind, the enemy, and not the perfect expression, of the Hunter Thompson we loved.
posted by Zurishaddai at 10:37 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by Miko at 10:42 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by codger at 10:43 AM on February 21, 2005


Miss Lynnster. . . thank you for sharing that. . . .and I had a similar experience with Bukowski. . .

I think that celebrities are made to be enjoyed from afar and not to be known, or emulated. . .
posted by Danf at 10:50 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by Toecutter at 10:52 AM on February 21, 2005


I've read a great deal of Thompson's work, and enjoyed it, and I'm neither a raging alcoholic nor an addict. My glasses are much smaller than Thompson's ever were, my shades are of the wrap-around sort. I still have a full head of hair in my late thirties which I refuse to shave off. I quit smoking six years ag, and never would've used the cigarette holder when I did. Finally, I don't own a single gun or rifle.

I'm sorry, miss linxter, I find media glorification of celebrity deplorable too (and Thompson cooperated with its own glorification or caricaturing too much, probably, although his own work often did make him sound unpleasant and he often deplored his celebrity), but I think something was wrong with your friend in the first place.
posted by raysmj at 10:53 AM on February 21, 2005


miss lynnster, rather.
posted by raysmj at 10:54 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by Leege at 10:56 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by ahimsakid at 10:57 AM on February 21, 2005


Damn, I couldn't believe this. Nobody's said anything yet about why Hunter decided to off himself - was he suffering health problems, I wonder?

I know the year just got started, but I have a feeling that I'm going to be affected by this celebrity death the most. HST wasn't just some 60's relic or a colorful character out of many that you'd read about in magazines. I didn't just glance through his books or articles in the library. He was one of the first writers I ever read that had an emotional effect on me.

I first read Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 when I was in high school, right around the time I was starting to see if I could become a writer. Here was someone who was funny, savage, satiric and bold all at once, but someone with a deep emotional core. HST knew something bad was going on in the world, and he did his best to document it in his own style, despite of (or because of) his personal eccentricities. Looking back, I think he was one of the first writers I ever experienced who had such a personal, unique style, you didn't even have to read the author's credit to know it was him.

I learned about having an author's voice from him, but I also think he reinforced my love for politics, both as the game it can become and the deadly serious business of running people's lives. HST knew politics had both of those aspects, and showed the inherent humor in that clash between absurdity and seriousness.

I've recently questioned whether I should have gone into the journalism profession, which I've wondered a lot since I haven't worked full-time for the past two years. But I don't regret ever being a writer, and the fact that HST is gone now might be an omen to go in a new direction with my writing life. I just hope he's in a better place.
posted by Leege at 11:00 AM on February 21, 2005


. . . . . .. . . . . . ......... . . . ... . . . . . .. . . .godamnit.
posted by cavalier at 11:02 AM on February 21, 2005


RIP, HST.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:03 AM on February 21, 2005


miss lynnster --

I'm pretty sure Thompson himself would've wanted a discussion of his death to be no-holds-barred, so vent away - but don't expect your assertions to go uncontested.

For what it's worth, it sounds like your friend used Thompson as a rationalization for his own addictions, which is your friend's problem, not the good doctor's. It sounds like your friend also fundamentally misunderstood what made Thompson great (which is not uncommon). He was a great writer and a fascinating public figure (I won't speak for his private life) because he was such a fiercely independent and relentlessly honest storyteller with a unique and deeply idiosyncratic point of view and a prodigious inborn talent for writing. His alcoholism and drug use had as much to do with his genius as it did Hemingway's or Rimbaud's or Van Gogh's.

Drugs (booze included) will not in themselves make you a better artist, and abusing them will in the long run always make you worse, but some find them to be helpful catalysts on occasion and in moderation. There's a reason much of Thompson's best work was completed before he turned 40, and he knew it. (As he basically admits here.)

Your friend's problems, as I'm sure you know, ran way deeper than his admiration for a particular writer.

posted by gompa at 11:07 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by nile_red at 11:07 AM on February 21, 2005


From Mencken's obituary of Bryan:
The President of the United States doesn't believe that the earth is square, and that witches should be put to death, and that Jonah swallowed the whale. The Golden Text is not painted weekly on the White House wall, and there is no need to keep ambassadors waiting while Pastor Simpson, of Smithville, prays for rain in the Blue Room. We have escaped something--by a narrow margin, but still safely.
No comment.

miss lynnster, HST wasn't responsible for your friend being fucked up. He wouldn't want to be either idolized or blamed for the behavior of fools who idolized him. He did his thing; all we can do is try to do ours.

On preview: what gompa said.

posted by languagehat at 11:16 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by Outlawyr at 11:18 AM on February 21, 2005


Miss Lynnster: Your friend may have obsessed on HST because he was an alcoholic. Alcoholics will use absolutely any excuse, rationale, hero, or justification to keep on drinking. HST had absolutely nothing to do with your friend's problem; nor did you, or the family, or anyone else. Alcoholism is a disease. You cannot become an alcoholic by setting out to emulate a Hunter S. Thompson -- or any other alcoholic, for that matter.

If there were no HST, your friend could have said he drank because of the example of one of hundreds of other writers, or because of soul-crushing boredom, or because of chronic pain, or because of marriage problems, or whatever. There are thousands of writers and journalists who were profoundly influenced by HST and yet are functional. In no way do I mean to be insensitive about your experience, just want to point out that it makes little sense to blame HST for anyone else's use of intoxicants.

HST had major, major substance abuse problems, of course. And all the scotch-swilling we're seeing here, in memoriam, is a fine way to pay tribute for those who want to do it. Many remember HST as a rebel who wrote frankly and directly about drugs and broke a lot of rules. But he was much more than just a wild man, a grown-up Holden Caulfield. He was an absolutely brilliant, smart, original writer. He watched our public figures like a hawk, made them accountable, called a spade a spade, and made current affairs interesting to people who would otherwise tune them right out. He was a profound social critic who gave no quarter to anyone displaying hipocrisy.

Many great writers and thinkers have been self-destructive; that alone is no reason either to admire them or to denigrate them. Nor is sobriety, in itself, a reason to call a mediocre writer great. What counts is the content. Thompson was a gifted, passionate writer and a very important cultural voice during the latter third of the 20th century. That's what I'm here to memorialize. I close with a couple of quotes.
I have stolen more quotes and thoughts and purely elegant little starbursts of writing from the Book of Revelation than anything else in the English language.. . because l love the wild power of the language and the purity of the madness that governs it and makes it music."

"Most smart people tend to feel queasy when the conversation turns to things like 'certain death' and 'total failure' and the idea of a 'doomed generation'. But not me. I am comfortable with these themes. Any conversation that can make smart people confront a mix of Death, Doom and Failure with a straight face is probably worth listening in on"

posted by Miko at 11:24 AM on February 21, 2005


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posted by Duncan at 11:38 AM on February 21, 2005


RIP

A case where the road of excess did indeed lead to a palace of intoxicated wisdom.
posted by talos at 11:40 AM on February 21, 2005


Well, as far as Miss Lynnster's friend is concerned, I think that speaks more to a problem of artists in the 20th century in general that HST specifically.

As it turns out, my father-in-law is an artist (and most of my friends are too (I am not)), and he's a hell of a nice guy.

Friendly, long term, stable marriage (until mom-in-law died a month ago), a whole bunch of nice children, own a house, all that stuff.

He always took issue with the assumption that a lot of people now make, that if you're an artist in the modern world, then you have to be a full time jerk as well.

There's a bunch of people out there that do significant work that are quite nice (Frank Stella for example).

But when you get right down to it, will people remember Jackson Pollock because of his paintings, or because of his drinking and poor driving skills?

Will people remember Hunter S. Thompson because of his written work, or because he (heavily) imbibed in _____________ (oh, I dunno, I'll fill in the blank with 'ether').
posted by Relay at 11:46 AM on February 21, 2005


badda-bing
posted by pwedza at 11:59 AM on February 21, 2005


Like Yelling At Nothing, specialk and Civil_Disobedient I wonder if there was a suicide note.... I don't know why but I can't compute this one as a suicide.
posted by dabitch at 12:00 PM on February 21, 2005


raysmj, I missed where I stated that everyone who reads Hunter S. Thompson turns into a raging alcoholic & brandishes weapons. I was telling a story of someone IN PARTICULAR that I knew, and I was sharing my personal emotions which stemmed from that experience. That man was my introduction to Hunter S. Thompson so obviously he was the memory which stood out to me. It's not a story I've told anyone so honestly before, and I prefaced by saying I was expecting to be attacked by people here & ended it by saying that I figured other people wouldn't relate to it.

Yes, there was no doubt something wrong with my friend. But we all have our own demons & some people are simply more impressionable than others. He saw something powerful & strong in Hunter that he wanted in himself, Hunter's self-esteem seemed invincable to him. My friend was not unique to idolize Hunter S. Thompson or Charles Bukowski in too literal a fashion, however, and so I was simply stating this. If either man were alive, they would tell you that themselves. It was a point of contention for Bukowski who had people sleeping on his lawn and showing up at his door to drink with him on a regular basis. He hated these people, he'd yell "get your own fucking style!" at them & slam the door. Thus his choice of tombstone I quoted earlier. (I know this stuff about Bukowski because a friend of mine knew him well through his work with a poetry magazine way back when.)

My troubled friend aside, even reading his works & watching his lunatic ranting in person didn't make HST my PERSONAL cup of tea, which is fine. Whether or not I'm on the love train, I respect all of your opinions & other people's love for a man and his work. My post was meant to take nothing from your opinions nor to state that all HST fans are like my friend. I was just sharing my own personal experience & thoughts. So I'll say it again... I DO NOT NEED AND HAVE NEVER EXPECTED ANYONE HERE TO AGREE WITH ME. It was difficult for me to share the story about my friend openly -- I guess I just needed to get it off my chest. So please take that for what it was worth, that was all I expected or could've hoped for. Thanks.

posted by miss lynnster at 12:04 PM on February 21, 2005


FWIW, there's a nice interview done by Marty Beckerman who idolized and writes similarly to Hunter Thompson.

I grew up on Hunter and can't imagine another person like him. A sad day indeed.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:04 PM on February 21, 2005


Godo points, relay. It's true that the stereotype of the out-of-control artiste is a bit of a curse for the vast majority of artists, who do hold their lives together quite well. Since artists (including freelance writers) are essentially self-employed, you have to be able to handle your life in order to survive. Ever since the Romantic era, though, we've been saddled with the image of the tortured, highly emotional, bipolar, temperamental, supersensitive artist. And that's been all tied up with substances for two hundred years, at least. The intoxicants, of course, changed with the times -- opium, absinthe, laughing gas, whiskey, weed, pills, mushrooms, acid, coke, etc.

Since the Enlightment, when the Church and its gentry stopped being the dominant patrons and caretakers of artists, Western culture has not really created social roles for artists within the mainstream. I think that's why the Romantics espoused the idea that to be a true artist, you had to completely oppose all mainstream morals, behaviors, and ethics. The pursuit of art simply did not fit within business, academics, or church life any more. So it was an liminal, outsider profession, unless you were like a Sargent, who sought private patronage and built up a customer class for which you produced essentially decorative works. I think that's how the crazy-artist idea came about. But it's certainly not very useful now that a variety of personal lifedstyle choices, at least among the middle and upper classes, are seen as normal.

And for every artist who is a brilliant success despite his or her substance abuse, there are likely dozens more whose talent was destroyed and ideas buried by addiction, depression, and/or too-early death. I'm not sure why we have a need to think that an artistic temperament always entails uncrontrolled behavior.

At times I wonder if people like Thompson weren't even exploiting that stereotype a bit. Here's something from Which brings us back to the topic at hand.

Something I was just reading in a recent essay on Thompson vs. freepers: "Just how drug addled and out of touch is Hunter S. Thompson? Sifting through past columns, it’s easy to see why Freepers don’t care for him. Far from being incoherent and wrong, he’s often quite lucid and right. And, even when he’s not, as an ESPN editor concluded at the start of one column: "The opinions voiced below are those of the infamous Doctor Thompson and are absolutely not the views of this network or the editors. That is free journalism." "
posted by Miko at 12:05 PM on February 21, 2005


Good points, Relay. It's true that the stereotype of the out-of-control artiste is a bit of a curse for the vast majority of artists, who do hold their lives together quite well. Since artists (including freelance writers) are essentially self-employed, you have to be able to handle your life in order to survive. Ever since the Romantic era, though, we've been saddled with the image of the tortured, highly emotional, bipolar, temperamental, supersensitive artist. And that's been all tied up with substances for two hundred years, at least. The intoxicants, of course, changed with the times -- opium, absinthe, laughing gas, whiskey, weed, pills, mushrooms, acid, coke, etc.

Since the Enlightment, when the Church and its gentry stopped being the dominant patrons and caretakers of artists, Western culture has not really created social roles for artists within the mainstream. I think that's why the Romantics espoused the idea that to be a true artist, you had to completely oppose all mainstream morals, behaviors, and ethics. The pursuit of art simply did not fit within business, academics, or church life any more. So it was an liminal, outsider profession, unless you were like a Sargent, who sought private patronage and built up a customer class for which you produced essentially decorative works. I think that's how the crazy-artist idea came about. But it's certainly not very useful now that a variety of personal lifedstyle choices, at least among the middle and upper classes, are seen as normal.

And for every artist who is a brilliant success despite his or her substance abuse, there are likely dozens more whose talent was destroyed and ideas buried by addiction, depression, and/or too-early death. I'm not sure why we have a need to think that an artistic temperament always entails uncrontrolled behavior.

At times I wonder if people like Thompson weren't even exploiting that stereotype a bit. Here's something from Which brings us back to the topic at hand.

Something I was just reading in a recent essay on Thompson vs. freepers: "Just how drug addled and out of touch is Hunter S. Thompson? Sifting through past columns, it’s easy to see why Freepers don’t care for him. Far from being incoherent and wrong, he’s often quite lucid and right. And, even when he’s not, as an ESPN editor concluded at the start of one column: "The opinions voiced below are those of the infamous Doctor Thompson and are absolutely not the views of this network or the editors. That is free journalism." "
posted by Miko at 12:06 PM on February 21, 2005


his assertion that the American Dream died with Nixon remains uncontested

Huh? It's contested, or rather, ignored, all the time. Remember It's Morning in America? Certainly his boy Kerry fed into the line no less than our current Lords and Masters.

I see a lot of people who were inspired by the man at a young and impressionable age. That sounds about right. He's always struck me as a writer for the young and passionate. Anyone out there come to him in middle age?
posted by IndigoJones at 12:06 PM on February 21, 2005


No one should try to emulate HST. He was never even considered for mass production.
posted by brevator at 12:12 PM on February 21, 2005


It was in the heat of deadline that gonzo journalism was born while he was writing a story about the Kentucky Derby for Scanlan's magazine, he recounted years later in an interview in Playboy magazine. "I'd blown my mind, couldn't work," he told Playboy. "So finally I just started jerking pages out of my notebook and numbering them and sending them to the printer. I was sure it was the last article I was ever going to do for anybody."

Instead, he said, the story drew raves and he was inundated with letters and phone calls from people calling it "a breakthrough in journalism," an experience he likened to "falling down an elevator shaft and landing in a pool of mermaids."
--Michelle O'Donnel
posted by semmi at 12:16 PM on February 21, 2005


Ouch. A great, explosive writer, and at the end of a day, just another human trying to get through it all. I can't help sounding trite. I just feel sad.
posted by RokkitNite at 12:17 PM on February 21, 2005


a good salon article , here.
posted by Espoo2 at 12:22 PM on February 21, 2005


And so the wave recedes a bit further.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 12:23 PM on February 21, 2005


He will indeed be missed. R.I.P.
posted by MmmKlunk at 12:25 PM on February 21, 2005


his assertion that the American Dream died with Nixon remains uncontested

Huh? It's contested, or rather, ignored, all the time. Remember It's Morning in America? Certainly his boy Kerry fed into the line no less than our current Lords and Masters.


Allow me to rephrase: Thompson's assertion that the American Dream died with Nixon has not been successfully contested.
posted by gompa at 12:25 PM on February 21, 2005


I guess I just needed to get it off my chest.

Venting negatively about the newly dead to "just get something off my chest" is tacky, miss lynster. I'll leave it to others to decide if that makes it more or less appropriate for this thread (rather than, say, the next one that comes up about creativity and drugs).
posted by mediareport at 12:25 PM on February 21, 2005


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posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:25 PM on February 21, 2005


miss lynster: You didn't come right out and say that - and I believe I did say that Thompson might have exploited in his own caricaturing too much. But any intelligent enough person could tell, I think, that Thompson's life sounded dark and unpleasant, and his tone was often such. Plenty of great artists and people whose work I've admired in some way, in any case, have led unpleasant lives and been assholes on more than a few occasions. Hunter has nothing on Miles Davis, for instance, but I still love listening to Miles (and in his case, I *do* like his fashion sense, from certain periods, and even see it worth adapting. The baggy era, though, no).

I do think it's narrow-minded to blame an artist for all of one person's troubles, however, especially when the artist in question just died. His loss is being mourned here.
posted by raysmj at 12:32 PM on February 21, 2005


Venting negatively about the newly dead to "just get something off my chest" is tacky, miss lynster.

Fair enough. What's your take on his Nixon obit?
posted by IndigoJones at 12:33 PM on February 21, 2005


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posted by hampton at 12:34 PM on February 21, 2005


can we quit with the lynster trolling and get back to the rememberance please. ^_^
posted by cavalier at 12:36 PM on February 21, 2005


What's your take on his Nixon obit?

Did you miss the second sentence there, Indigo? But to answer your question, "Brilliantly, scathingly tacky."
posted by mediareport at 12:37 PM on February 21, 2005


I so loved the Nixon obit. It was the last great thing he wrong, that I came across. And it was what I tried to make clear to students in a PoliSci class I taught this morning. He was the guy most students only know from the Johnny Depp screen version. What he deserves to be remembered for is his sociological and political reportage (which was praised across the board - I even vaguely remember Larry Speakes, the Reagan press guy, singling out Hunter for praise once). The rest was a sideshow.
posted by raysmj at 12:43 PM on February 21, 2005


Well, "Fear in Loathing in Las Vegas" is an exception to that rule, maybe, but I see that many people on here and other sites single out the crest-of-the-wave section for praise. No accident there.
posted by raysmj at 12:47 PM on February 21, 2005


My first post was a respectful RIP thing. I waited many, many hours to make my second post. I do not, however, believe people should only be allowed to say good things of the dead just because they're dead. I personally prefer to remember people on a whole for who they were & what they meant to you, both good and bad.

I especially don't think Hunter S. Thompson would want people to only remember the good of him, since his vices & demons were what he thrived upon. Those vices & "negative" traits were a good part of what made him infamous & appealing to many of his fans in the first place.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:52 PM on February 21, 2005


Wasn't trying to troll, I was just expressing something different. I'm done.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:54 PM on February 21, 2005


Sure, the man had been dehydrated since 1971; he needed electrolytes and proteins and Thorazine and antidepressants and probably something for his ailing joints because he probably had no cartilage in his knees or hips at all, and a whole host of other difficulties that comes of applying a lifelong scorched-earth policy to your mind and body. Thompson was old, and life had finally become sufficiently uncomfortable for him to check out.
posted by Espoo2 at 12:57 PM on February 21, 2005


Mediareport, greetings.

I saw it. Just didn't see it as bearing on what I had to say, which was a mild tease on the irony of the situation, i.e., criticizing someone for doing nothing more than the recently deceased had done. A mild tease, as I say, for which I hope you will forgive me.

My point was to stand up for Miss L (not that she needs my help), whose original observation, that Mr H was an unfortunate, even catastrophic influence for her friend, was couched in pretty respectful terms. Lot of blaming the victim in the responses, I thought, which seemed a little unfair as well. Were his influences solely benign? Are anyone's?
posted by IndigoJones at 12:58 PM on February 21, 2005


The Johnson quote in front of Fear & Loathing in Vegas still sums him up quite well: "He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man."

Also, I think the label "writer" fits much better than "journalist." One of my favorites of his is The Rum Diary.
posted by muckster at 1:01 PM on February 21, 2005


R.I.P. HST.

I think the best representations of what Thompson was as a great reporter and writer can be found in "The Great Shark Hunt" -- his reportage from Latin America, along with the pieces on Jean-Claude Killy and the murdered Hispanic journalist, for starters. Not much of the Dr. Gonzo stuff there, and while I love "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (I once spent 45 minutes in a college seminar arguing that the underlying theme of it is reinforcement of the Protestant work ethic), too many people have used it as a template for excess without understanding the intelligence and ability that were behind it.
posted by AJaffe at 1:10 PM on February 21, 2005


"There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die."

Raoul Duke.

HST, RIP
posted by somnambulist at 1:13 PM on February 21, 2005


I've been hearing a lot about how Thompson was the first practitioner of "new journalism."

As a young journalism student, I was captivated by the NJ style. But I never did like the participant-observer stuff. And I found HST boring. Perhaps I am too square, preferring the likes of Didion and later practitioners like Tracy Kidder. Or maybe I'm just too New English. All of that said, the use of techniques more common in fiction was liberating. And HST was a big part of that.

R.I.P.
posted by Cassford at 1:15 PM on February 21, 2005


argh, bad HTML. Apologies. I've been hearing a lot about how Thompson was one of the first practitioners of "new journalism."

As a young journalism student, I was captivated by the NJ style. But I never did like the participant-observer stuff. And I found HST boring. Perhaps I am too square, preferring the likes of Didion and later practitioners like Tracy Kidder. Or maybe I'm just too New English. All of that said, the use of techniques more common in fiction was liberating. And HST was a big part of that.

R.I.P.
posted by Cassford at 1:17 PM on February 21, 2005


I've been hearing a lot about how Thompson was one of the first practitioners of new journalism.

As a young journalism student, I was captivated by the NJ style. But I never did like the participant-observer stuff. And I found HST boring. Perhaps I am too square, preferring the likes of Didion and later practitioners like Tracy Kidder. Or maybe I'm just too New English. All of that said, the use of techniques more common in fiction was liberating. And HST was a big part of that.

R.I.P.
posted by Cassford at 1:19 PM on February 21, 2005


In memorium I will drive with extremely over-inflated tires this week.
posted by jasn at 1:21 PM on February 21, 2005


He said that his first gonzo article was what he thought would be his last. And it was huge. He likened the experience to falling down an elevator and landing in a pool of mermaids. His last column (talking with Bill Murray at 3:33 AM about combining skeet shooting with golf...well, it was great. The terra will miss his stomping.
posted by Oyster at 1:22 PM on February 21, 2005


Strange that for the death of a writer, words seem entirely inadequate.

.
posted by cosmonik at 1:23 PM on February 21, 2005


If any of us could find a way to cheat death, it would have been Hunter S. Thompson. Ah, shit, we're all gonna die.
posted by eatitlive at 1:25 PM on February 21, 2005


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posted by Edible Energy at 1:28 PM on February 21, 2005


As of 1:49 PST, 2/21/05, the good Doctor is still dead.
posted by xmutex at 1:46 PM on February 21, 2005


Well, shoot. The other day, I called him a dick, and here he had to die and make me feel like a dick.

At the end of a man's life, more perspective is in order. He was on the other side from me in almost everything; he seemed to me to embody the self-destruction of a generation. But there was a lot of love in the man, and that's what set him apart. That's why he was sometimes above it, and why there were times when he realized what was going on more than anyone else around him.

And, hell, let's face it: he was a damned good writer.

*raises glass*
posted by koeselitz at 1:52 PM on February 21, 2005


427 comments or thereabouts.
What's the record?

AJaffe: agreed.
posted by peacay at 1:53 PM on February 21, 2005


Now that the initial shock has worn off, I find myself fighting back tears every time an HST obit turns up on my car radio.

Tears not for the Doctor, but for a world that no longer has room for such a beast.

Fuck you, American gun culture.
posted by flabdablet at 2:29 PM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by vitia at 2:35 PM on February 21, 2005


Guy on the radio this afternoon was playing Nevermind in its entirety because, as he noted, it would have been Kurt Cobain's 38th birthday yesterday.

It's been quite the haunted weekend for me, for other reasons as well. I think I'll take a walk.
posted by jokeefe at 2:36 PM on February 21, 2005


i hate to derail again, but lynster, i was saying, for the people to stop trolling you, not the other way around. ^_^

Tonight is Wild Turkey and Breakfast with Hunter, snabbing the only copy available at the local chiq-art-rental house. sorry central floridians!
posted by cavalier at 2:46 PM on February 21, 2005


Anyone out there come to him in middle age?
Well, I introduced the mid-forties, engineering professor husband of a friend of mine to F&L a few years ago, and it broke our friendship.
And today I introduced my Dad to F&L. I had to tell him that besides he, there has been no single bigger influence on my life. To which my Dad replied; 'Fuck, well I'm glad it wasn't all my fault'.
.

posted by punilux at 2:54 PM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by fatbobsmith at 3:00 PM on February 21, 2005


I was shocked at first to hear of his death, but somehow it didn't surprise me much to learn that it was his at his own hand. I even said to myself, "He probably had this in mind every time he touched a shotgun." I'm not sure if I selfishly wish he'd stuck around for more priceless stuff like the shotgun golf and the other sports pieces or if I envy him the nerve to pull the trigger.
posted by alumshubby at 3:04 PM on February 21, 2005


Hunter,

You demonstrated that a draconian christian upbringing was shallow and vacant.

You were an inspiration for many debauched benders, myself knowing full well that however far I went, whatever chemicals I ingested, you had always done one better.

.
posted by vaportrail at 3:07 PM on February 21, 2005


Punilux-

I think I might like your father.

And thank you AJaffe for the Great Shark Hunt recommendation. I've never been able to get into F&L and only nibbled the edges elsewhere, generally with some bewilderment over, well, reactions like those above. GSH sounds interesting, I will track it down.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:10 PM on February 21, 2005


I can't recall the death of a single public figure in the last 45 years that has hit me this hard. This feels more like a tragedy of national or international proportions, but that's probably just me.

My hope is that in picking his moment, he managed to show up wherever he's landed when they least expected him. It would be totally in character for him to make 'em deal with him on his terms.

Mahalo, Doc.
posted by nonliteral at 3:11 PM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by vomitous at 3:42 PM on February 21, 2005


Allow some speculation. I believe he must have had the cancer or some other terminal malfunction. He doesn't seem the type to commit suicide for any but practical reasons. As nuts as his writing and adventures were, they never struck me as depressive. If anything, they were full of life to the point of near bursting.

The world is a smaller place without him.
posted by vomitous at 3:47 PM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by anthill at 3:50 PM on February 21, 2005


Amazing how a thread about a once-relevant journalist/writer could garner so much support and acknowledgment, while countless anonymous lives who choose suicide go unnoticed and unrecognized every day.

Recognize the hundreds who die every day. Recognize that suicide is the second leading cause of death amonst teens, who have their entire lives ahead of them. And recognize that while Thompson's death is tragic, it's hardly a surprise.

People are in pain. Instead of recognizing them in a thread after their death with a stupid dot, let's try and recognize and better appreciate those we have in our lives today. Now. And maybe reach out to someone in need, who needs the energy you spent in reading or replying to this thread to save their life...
posted by docjohn at 3:51 PM on February 21, 2005


On advice of my Samoan attorney I'm having a gin this evening. RIP Hunter.
posted by jimmythefish at 4:09 PM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by stinkycheese at 4:13 PM on February 21, 2005


Hunter Thompson was an important American cultural figure, and it's hardly a waste of time to discuss his death, given the importance of culture to any nation's society and the individuals who must somehow exist and try to thrive within it. No person's an island, all that.
posted by raysmj at 4:24 PM on February 21, 2005


Hope it wasn't because he bet the farm on Dale Jr. winning the 500...
posted by tatnasty at 4:29 PM on February 21, 2005


Did I say it was a waste of time? Nope, just energy better spent on folks who actually care, are still alive and want to continue living.... Put your dots to use.
posted by docjohn at 4:33 PM on February 21, 2005


oh my.

RIP HST..
posted by moift at 4:49 PM on February 21, 2005


For all you know, plenty of people here might already do what you're advising. Telling us, meanwhile, how "better" spend our time was an inherently condescending and holier-than-thou thing to do, whether you meant that way or not.
posted by raysmj at 4:53 PM on February 21, 2005


docjohn

We're here to collectively remember someone who made a difference in our lives.

Many of us do contribute to society.

Please go away.
posted by vaportrail at 4:53 PM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by Miss Beth at 4:53 PM on February 21, 2005


Yeah doc, take your teens and shove it. I'd gladly waste a thousand emo cutters for a foot of HST.

<-- belligerent Wild Turkey talking
posted by cavalier at 4:56 PM on February 21, 2005


miss lynster's comment about her friend that emulated hunter s thompson reminded me of my mid 70's college days, where a writer for the college paper emulated him by writing a column where he took "the great white shark" out to local bars in the grand rapids area ... it was a total waste of course ... i was to meet this wannabe at one of those parties where it seemed the goal of everyone, including myself, was personal obliberation ... he had the best dope in the place and shared it, sitting sphinx-like with compulsive coolness, telling me to "taste, taste" as if it was some kind of vintage wine ... there was something vaguely creepy about his being possibly one of the most wasted people there and still acting with a severe need to simulate sobriety and control

i hope for his sake he grew out of it ... and aside from the tragedy of people trying to live other people's destructive myths, i think hst is another example of a man who made a myth for himself and damaged his talent and life trying to live up to it, much like neal cassidy did ... there was a usefulness to his rage, his fear and loathing of the american nightmare, at one time ... but, as i'm sure he knew, it became less useful as time went on ... anger and wild rebellion is not enough ... these days, we need something more

it's a shame ... but his time was past ... and it's my belief that someone like william vollmann expresses the kind of journalism we need for these times
posted by pyramid termite at 4:59 PM on February 21, 2005


Did I say it was a waste of time? Nope, just energy better spent on folks who actually care

Aw, crap. I really want to ignore this one, but I just can't let this stand. It's the exact kind of sanctimonious bullshit the good doctor fought against his whole life. It has to be rebutted.

What you need to recognize, docjohn, is that Thompson cared. Who knows how many despairing young people found solace in his work at a time in their lives when they felt the kind of loneliness that leads to oblivion baying at their door, but I know I was one. I would be a lesser person than I became if I'd never been inspired by his work, and the world is a smaller place with his passing, and it's rude beyond measure for you to saunter in here to tell me that I'm wasting my time mourning his death.

That's why we're all here, now, mourning at 446 comments long and counting. Because he cared, and because what he cared for is under relentless attack in this bullshit era in which we find ourselves. Tomorrow, when I'm done mourning, I'll try to live my life a little more passionately and make my work a little more true in his honour, and I will hope that in these ways I provide comfort to the people I care about, and your suggestion that my mourning detracts from that is the worst kind of presumptuous bullshit.

And now, so some good will come of this little exchange, here is Kurt Vonnegut, from his review of Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72:

"From this moment on, let all those who feel that Americans can be as easily led to beauty as to ugliness, to truth as to public relations, to joy as to bitterness, be said to be suffering from Hunter Thompson's disease."
posted by gompa at 5:01 PM on February 21, 2005


Amazing how a thread about a once-relevant journalist/writer could garner so much support and acknowledgment, while countless anonymous lives who choose suicide go unnoticed and unrecognized every day.

Really, I've had friends, not so famous, off themselves and I pay them my respects. Sorry I didn't post this on MetaFilter but I'm sure it wouldn't garner the same support since they weren't Hunter S. Thompson.

People are in pain. Instead of recognizing them in a thread after their death with a stupid dot, let's try and recognize and better appreciate those we have in our lives today. Now. And maybe reach out to someone in need, who needs the energy you spent in reading or replying to this thread to save their life...

Docjohn. Please spare me/us the melodramatics. Suicide is nothing new to 99% of the readers here. The only thing missing from your "message" is a rapping spokesbeast. The thread is in relation to Hunter S. Thompson, an American icon. I'm sure in your world, the energy I just used in typing this, three people killed themselves and I should feel like shit. Right?

Coming in here and trying to smack-down people for posting a dot is sky-high arrogance.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 5:02 PM on February 21, 2005


I just found this today--I don't want to read anything else on the internet for a while.
posted by PuppyCat at 5:04 PM on February 21, 2005


Not to make light, but I just wanted to say that there are nearly four times as many comments in this thread than in the Paris Hilton one (as of this writing), so there may be hope for us after all.

[this is sad]
posted by davejay at 5:16 PM on February 21, 2005


I didn't mean it in a holier-than-thou manner and sorry it was taken that way... but when I see so much attention paid to one life (any life, celebrity, poet, writer, scientist, researcher, teacher, you name it), I worry we're focusing on the wrong things. HST blazed trails, and his life should be remembered for how much he caused us all to think in a way that was way different than anything that came before him. But his was no more, nor no less valuable than the hundreds of lives lost to suicide every day. And for those who also recently took their lives, I only wish we all would remember them with as much enthusiasm and passion.

Nevermind.... as suggested, I'll go away.... the comment about losing a thousand teens' life is just too much (wild turkey notwithstanding...). Yes, we've all lost friends and family to suicide, but I would think the fact that we lose people close to us and nobody seems to notice or care until someone 'famous' does so, well, that's what upsets me, sorry.
posted by docjohn at 5:17 PM on February 21, 2005


“Rapping Spokesbeast…” AHAHAHAHAHAHA!

But seriously – I created my membership to this site and paid my fee specifically to comment on this thread, and I know I’m coming in very late. Indeed, I may never speak on MeFi again, for all my Five Dollars.
I have read very little of The Man’s work, and listened to almost none of his spoken word recordings (incoherent as they tend to be) but I am compelled to have my say, after reading this thread up to this point and weeping like a child as I have not wept since the death of Wellstone.
Truly he was a giant on his own terms, and his abandonment of courtesey and civility in favor of unvarnished Truth (as he saw it) and his talent for slashing, badgerlike, at the heart of hypocrisy, is part of what made all of us here love him.
There is no doubt that he was human, and had his flaws. He was no role model, but rather an inspiration, and I have no regret in mourning his passing for all his excesses. As many a better writer has remarked before me, he was unique, and necessary, and his like will never be seen again in our lifetimes.
That said, his death brought me at least one blessing – never before I read H. L. Menken’s piece did I realize the parallels between W.J Bryant and our current president.

HST RIP. And damn the rat-bastards to Hell.

"...That's why God made Dachshunds."
posted by BigLankyBastard at 5:31 PM on February 21, 2005


.

Boo. I couild say more but it's been said already. Very sad. A friend actually came over to my house and told me. Quite surreal.
posted by bdave at 5:34 PM on February 21, 2005


docjohn ... the suicides of ordinary people have been discussed here in many different threads ... you're welcome to find a link that deals with this issue and do an fpp about it ... so please stop acting as though our attention to hst somehow means we are blind to others and their tragedies

biglankybastards ... indeed, bush is much like bryant
posted by pyramid termite at 5:38 PM on February 21, 2005


Looks like he had another very recent collaboration with Ralph Steadman.

I have a copy of Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Steadman -- now if only it were a retelling of Alice in Wonderland by HST, illustrated by Steadman ...
posted by macadamiaranch at 5:39 PM on February 21, 2005


*sniff*

Man ...
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 5:48 PM on February 21, 2005


That fucking bastard ...
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 5:50 PM on February 21, 2005


i haven't felt this bad about an author's death since douglas adams died, and probably won't feel this bad again until vonnegut goes.
posted by joedan at 6:06 PM on February 21, 2005


Ralph Steadman in The Independent
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:37 PM on February 21, 2005


Overheard in our household, upon hearing the news:

"I blame the Republicans."

"Badgers don't fight fair, Bubba. That's why God made dachshunds." Our dachshund says amen to that.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:47 PM on February 21, 2005


Damn.

Damn, damn, damn!

I hope you are in a better place, Hunter. Thanks for the ride.

RIP.
posted by mosk at 6:56 PM on February 21, 2005


BigLankyBastard, I hope you'll stick around. Five bucks is five bucks, you know. You'll want to get your money's worth.
posted by jokeefe at 7:20 PM on February 21, 2005


Thank you miss lynnster.

And thank you muckster for this:
"He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man."

I know virtually nothing about him, but it appears that he got off on humiliating people. Humiliating people in writing is one thing... It is a refreshing contrast to the din of flowery bullshit. To fire a weapon at a guest is the act of a bully, it is contemptible.

I am reminded of The Comedian, from Watchmen. Making a beast of oneself may be artistically necessary, but it is in no way heroic.

How dare you idolize him!
I do too...

The firing rifle at guest story was fucking hilarious!
posted by Chuckles at 7:30 PM on February 21, 2005


A Vollman obit for HST is something I'd like to see.
posted by mwhybark at 7:31 PM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by Ken McE at 7:48 PM on February 21, 2005


We took out the Tequila and talked about how he helped us perceive the world beneath us (and above) in a way we'd never see. All we could think was, "NO NO NO". Sadness, confusion (some disgust on my part - suicide pisses me off), but most of all, a reason to spend time going back and appreciating a great great writer.

.
posted by ValveAnnex at 8:04 PM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by me3dia at 8:22 PM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by oliver_crunk at 8:31 PM on February 21, 2005


I was away with friends this weekend without media access and just heard this afternoon.

I am a 45 year old who grew up on the good Doctor. He was a social critic of the highest caliber and a writer with few peers.

I think the fact that he has been grouped with Twain and Vonnegut and Brautigan and Mencken by those who have visited says it all.

Mahalo, HST.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:10 PM on February 21, 2005


This turned up a bit ago on Yahoo news

Two things stand out:

Mike Cleverly, a neighbor and longtime friend: "he's the last person in the world I would have expected to kill himself. I would have been less surprised if he had shot me." Heh.

Also -- " Hayes said she was present when a drunken Thompson fired three shots into a copy of one of his books and gave it to a friend, saying, "This is your autographed copy."
xmutex, does that sound familiar?
posted by anastasiav at 9:40 PM on February 21, 2005


i would think that a man like Thompson would expect people to question his reasons for taking his own life. And I would think that he would expect many people to call him a coward for it. I think ultimately, a man of such strength and character would expect others to call him on bullshit if they think they saw it.

Whether it was cowardice, bravado, or courage, he is still gone. We have lost a true icon. More than anyone I can think of, he played his life by his own set of rules, and ended it the same way.

My deepest respects to him, and my deepest sympathy to his family.
posted by braksandwich at 9:54 PM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by Bradley at 10:05 PM on February 21, 2005


R.I.P.
posted by dontoine at 10:21 PM on February 21, 2005


.
posted by jba at 10:48 PM on February 21, 2005


Bummer.

I found this torrent of his. I have no idea what it is exactly as I'm just starting the download, but I'm guessing he is speaking about this and that. Here's the setlist:

1. The Book of Revelations, The War in Iraq, Friendly Fire
2. The Four Horsemen, The Kuwaiti Royal Family, Stomping George Bush
3. Iran Contra Hearings, George and Maggie in Woody Creek, Saddam Hussein
4. Press Coverage of the War, The Difference Between Baghdad and Saigon, A Four-Line Phone
5. Criticism of Peter Arnett
6. Bill Murray and Neil Young, Libel, Kitty Dukakis, Doug Wilder
7. Presidential Candidates of the Democratic Party, Richard Nixon, The War Against Drugs
8. How Much of "F&L" is True, Islamic Fundamentalists, The Iraqi People, Saturation Bombing
9. Dan Quayle and the Gender Gap, Where Were You When the Fun Stopped?, Ken Kesey, LSD
10. The Character of Kemp, Favorite Firearm, The Existence of God, Rolling Stone
11. Jann Wenner, Pat Buchanan, Expelled for Rape, Football
12. NORML, Marijuana
13. Gail Palmer-Slater Rape Case
14. Today's Pig Is Tomorrow's Bacon, You Can Beat City Hall, One Last Question

If anyone wants this but has problems with registration at this site, email me and we'll see what we can do.
posted by LouReedsSon at 11:14 PM on February 21, 2005


A thought a "period" wasn't enough, so I wrote this:

HST, RIP

En la Tierra, conduciendo
En el maletero saltan
De un lado a otro
Las pastillas
Son para antes de la comida.

El agujero
Excavado en el árido suelo
Donde la vida solo penetra un palmo
Cuadrado, de lado perfecto
No se puede ver.

¿Está cerca?
¿Qué importa?
Allá vamos!
Setenta, ochenta, noventa!
Cien polvorientas millas a la hora

En un momento,
El bramido del asfalto
Que muerde las gomas
Cesa
Todo queda en calma

Como el coyote
Suspendemos el momento
Para mirar a los lados
Cuadrados, perfectos
Y caemos

El agujero es más profundo
Más negro
Más cuadrado
Más vacío
De lo que hubiera imaginado

Hace frío
¿Es que está muerto su vientre?
Nada ronca golpeándose
Solo se oye el silbido
Del aire en las aletas

Abajo, abajo
No hay luz al final
Solo caída sin referencias
La negrura
Está aguijoneada de luces
posted by samelborp at 4:19 AM on February 22, 2005


Kind of late, I know, but here's the right-wing take on Dr. Thompson. Surprisingly enough, it's not all that positive.

/R.I.P., doc
posted by Stonewall Jackson at 6:31 AM on February 22, 2005


Thanks for the link, anastasiav. What a perfect quote: "I would have been less surprised if he had shot me."

Great thread (especially now that docjohn has taken his leave).

On preview: And thanks for your link, Stonewall. What an idiot that Ruse character is:
But the funny thing is that most of our memories come not from his work or even from him but from the seeming dead-on impression of Thompson by Bill Murray in the movie Where the Buffalo Roam, a period piece cobbled together from Thompson's most famous books, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.
I never even heard of Where the Buffalo Roam, and I'll buy Ruse a bottle of Chivas if he can step outside his office and find even one person on the street who formed memories of Thompson from it.

Also, he can't spell ("It is the weeist of hours") and his Latin sucks ("Requiescat in pace, dude"—if you're talking to the person you want to rest in peace, you have to say "requiescas"). So much for the glories of a Columbia education.
posted by languagehat at 6:47 AM on February 22, 2005


Never mind that he got the key phrase wrong -- it's "When the going gets WEIRD, the weird turn pro."
posted by AJaffe at 7:08 AM on February 22, 2005


Man, if that NRO person isn't the definition of square I don't know what is. He reminds me of the man in Terry Gilliam's brilliant adaptation of F&L who finds Raoul in the men's room with a dude licking lsd off his sleeve and can't deal.

02/22 still dead. To try and spin the linkage in a more positive direction, I watched Breakfast with Hunter last night, which consists of a lot of Huner footage from 96-2000 or so. Great way to say goodnight to the man, though I hope Wayne can cut the cost down now that so many people will want to see it..
posted by cavalier at 7:27 AM on February 22, 2005


Hunter, I've been doing that all morning. The t is for tribute!
posted by cavalier at 7:28 AM on February 22, 2005


languagehat, don't ruin the fun -- I mean, the National Review asks some asshole from the Catholic League for the Celebration of Life (or whatever that GOP front's name is) to write about Thompson, I was afraid the result was going to be even more embarrassing for them.

"They are the racists and hate mongers among us -- they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis", said the good Doctor about people like Ruse and Celebration of Life leaguers and the National Review.

of course that guy is still bitter about Thompson. all that toxic piss HST poured down Ruse's throat must have left a pretty bitter taste in Ruse's mouth.
posted by matteo at 7:56 AM on February 22, 2005


oh, yeah -- and Ruse's Latin is almost as lame as his English
posted by matteo at 7:57 AM on February 22, 2005


Reading "tributes" from people who don't know or like the man they're commemorating is just another way to drive blood pressure up. I remember watching Andy Rooney's take on Kurt Cobain's death years ago and it nearly made me want to throttle the old curmudgeon.

I do love reading about people's personal interactions with him. He was a giant among us.
posted by fenriq at 8:25 AM on February 22, 2005


.
posted by badger_flammable at 9:51 AM on February 22, 2005


You know, in a weird, ironic sort of way, that NRO piece is a perfect tribute to Thompson.

Think about it. Some boring, talentless, uptight putz who was a functionary at Rolling Stone during its moribund, Tom-Cruise-on-the-cover mid-eighties slump decides, for one time in his milquetoast life, "to stay until the end of the end wherever that might lead," by which he means he decided to attach himself to the good doctor's chaotic lifeforce like a parasite for an evening, so as to acquire a ribald anecdote with which to titillate the other Rotarians the next time they all got a little crazy on Coors Light after the regional conference.

And then, after the good doctor shuffles off this mortal coil, our NRO hero uses his one and only stroll on the somewhat wild side to condemn the very life (and lifestyle) he'd so eagerly and voyeuristically indulged in. And he does so in the (digital) pages of the official mouthpiece for the joyless, quasi-fascist ideology Thompson dedicated his entire life to destroying.

And - best of all - the putz does it badly. Not only does he mess up the Latin and the good doctor's easily factchecked catchphrase, he repeatedly makes a mess of his own grammar! "All sorts of memories come conjuring up"; "seeming dead-on impression"; "his work is not now still terribly well-known"; "doing every manner of substance" - this guy can't even do a passable job in his role of square! He can't even please the rule-loving, language-hating Eats, Shoots & Leaves crowd!

He's a failure on all fronts - a towering monument to all that Thompson feared and loathed, and a paramount example of why Thompson was right to fear and loathe these pathetic, dispassionate putzes in the first place!

Mahalo again, doc. Even in death you've found a way to separate the honourable and righteous from the scum.
posted by gompa at 10:40 AM on February 22, 2005


*adds gompa as a contact*
posted by matteo at 11:56 AM on February 22, 2005


Here's to a life well lived.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:12 PM on February 22, 2005


He was the trickster, he was.

This is something like my fifth or sixth post in this thread, so I'll bow out now, but I'd like to thank all the Mefites who posted their thoughts and feelings and memories here. It's been good, good reading. Salut.
posted by jokeefe at 12:38 PM on February 22, 2005


.
posted by redneck_zionist at 1:29 PM on February 22, 2005


This is not over! That bastard thought he could titty twist his enemies with this I Dead routine! Wrong move, Bucko, last laugh is defered to the living. I made a deal with his son Juan, I traded shares in Iranian seafood interests for HST dead body. We have a bunch of drug-addled Burning Man-NASA types who are gonna rig'em up like a Christmas tree and replace everything with robotics and voice-activated commands. I'll keep him under glass in the no-so-living room, on the front of the case a faux wood panel with big huge red button that says "Drink me" and when you push it the robo-HST will swing a Wild Turkey, and his eyes will roll back and smoke shoots out his ears. For BBQs, I'll wheel that bastard out and have him do duets with the animatronic corpse of Tiny Tim. We will dance around them throwing empty Heinken bottles at their faces. It will be GLORIOUS and fitting!

I considered having it perform fellatio on the cardboard cutout of Nixon I have mounted above my bed. He taught me that laughing at the death of my enemies is a sign of respect, however, I gave up lashing out in anger years ago.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:59 PM on February 22, 2005


Damn. I was away from the net for a couple of days on vacation and I swear there was no mention of this in the media. I guess the death of Sandra Dee was more important. Assholes.
posted by tommasz at 3:14 PM on February 22, 2005


I swear there was no mention of this in the media.
Nobody likes to talk about the black sheep of the media family.

Also details emerge about the cause of his demise. He was not doing so well health-wise.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:49 PM on February 22, 2005


Milton, thanks for the update on his health, like many others, I'd suspected that his health was an issue though a broken leg and hip surgery seems hardly worth eating a .45 over. But then, that's why he was Hunter and I'm just another failed pretender.
posted by fenriq at 4:44 PM on February 22, 2005


Yeah, I noted the 45 auto, he had to go out big. A bullet of such caliber at point blank would have left a disturbing 'shock' for who ever found him. Not to be tacky or ill humored, but I think a 9mm would have left less of graphic mess for his wife and son to find.

As for his health, at that age the body simply doesn't heal like it used to, pain can be chronic and emotionally numbing. Also with so many years of drug use and massive endorphin crashes, the metabolism would likely render any reasonable pain killers useless.

'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.' -HST

The night I found out what that SOB did, I gathered at Lucky13 in SF and had a round of Wild Turkeys with friends. I proposed a toast, "To HST, who taught me sometimes an outlaw is the last honest man."
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 5:17 PM on February 22, 2005


"Honest officer, had I known my health stood in jeopardy I would never have lit one."
posted by Pressed Rat at 5:56 PM on February 22, 2005


Why is the family refusing to confirm or deny that he left a note? I'm honestly curious, as I can't imagine a reason for deliberately keeping that particular issue unresolved. My assumption, given Thompson's "obsessive curating" of his legacy, is, "Of course he left a note."

But I remain mystified as to why the family wouldn't answer that one.
posted by mediareport at 6:46 PM on February 22, 2005


But I remain mystified as to why the family wouldn't answer that one.

It may have been only addressed to the family, HST could have added asked them not to discuss it, also you're married to or the son of HST you damn well know the media are swine, fuck 'em and keep your mouth shut. Also to acknowledge it is to invite massive speculation as to it's contents or for muckraking tabloids to start slipping $100 to forensic investigators hoping they'll leak it.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 6:55 PM on February 22, 2005


Ah, the Denver Post's in-depth coverage adds this informative bit:

Tobia [Thompson's lawyer of 15 years] said his client and friend didn't leave a suicide note, only obscure directions he had issued to friends and family in recent days. "This was definitely not spur of the moment," said Tobia, who plans to fly to Colorado today. "He arranged to have things dealt with, and he wanted his family close by, but he didn't want anyone to know - he didn't want anyone to try to stop him."

Tobia said he didn't know of anything specific that led to Thompson's suicide but noted the two had discussed it in the past.

He did say that the decision had nothing to do with the re- election of George W. Bush or the current trend in national politics, which provided a certain grist for Thompson's mill. Nor did the writer have any significant financial problems. With his land, archives, royalties and other valuable, Tobia said, Thompson's estate is worth millions of dollars. The best explanation, perhaps, is that in recent months Thompson had chronic pain from back surgery and an artificial hip.

posted by mediareport at 7:02 PM on February 22, 2005


And, for archival purposes at this point, I guess, this from the NY Post:

"Gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thompson told his son he wanted "a great funeral — I want my ashes shot out of a cannon," before he walked into his kitchen and shot himself in the head, a close friend of the legendary writer said yesterday...Hinckle's account of how Thompson, 67, killed himself came from a mutual friend who spoke to Thompson's son, Juan, shortly after the shocking suicide Sunday night.

Juan, his wife and their young son were at the hard-living writer's Woody Creek, Colo., house — which is well-stocked with firearms — while Thompson's wife, Anita, was at an Aspen gym. "He's [Thompson] talking about a funeral, great funeral. Typical Hunter ranting, nothing out of the ordinary about that," Hinckle told The Post. "And then he walked into the next room . . . and pow."

Asked if Thompson — whose drug and booze consumption was as prodigious as his prose — was intoxicated at the time, Hinckle said he did not know, but added, "If he were, it would be nothing unusual. He was intoxicated all the time." Joe DiDalvo of the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office refused to comment about its probe into the suicide but when asked about Hinckle's account said, "I have no evidence that is reliable."

Thompson's biographer, E. Jean Carroll, said the writer had recently "been putting his stuff in order" to prepare for his death, "so this was not an accident."

"For the last six months, Hunter has been in a lot of pain, physical pain," said Carroll, adding that spinal surgery and hip-related ailments had put the strapping, athletic author in a wheelchair at times.

Carroll noted that as a young man, Thompson had written about the last days of one of his literary heroes, Ernest Hemingway, and concluded that Hemingway had shot himself to death at age 61 because he was worn out and tired of being in pain. She believes Thompson reached the same point in his own life. He recently had even begun joking to friends that he considered himself "an elderly dope fiend living out in the wilderness."

"You shouldn't feel bad for Hunter. This is what he wanted, so I'm not as upset," Carroll said.

posted by mediareport at 7:22 PM on February 22, 2005


I wanted to write something meaningful here, but I'm still half in denial. So...

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posted by Ruki at 8:16 PM on February 22, 2005


Hunter was a big influence on my early writing, and probably me in general. One of my first pieces - Hunter Goes to the Bank - for a humour magazine was pirated around the web for a while. My tiny tribute to a great writer. He will be missed.
posted by jbielby at 11:19 PM on February 22, 2005


Well, as bullshit and corny as it may sound, I actually got to crying tonight. Shit. Hunter's leaving us here without anything to love (hint: Jefferson Airplane) is not a good sign. But I felt better knowing that HST is where he wants to be. G'night Hunter, I got a lot of mileage out of your words. A few hundred comments back, someone mentioned Neil Young's "Powderfinger". Strangely appropriate.
posted by telstar at 3:25 AM on February 23, 2005


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posted by Eidolon at 7:03 AM on February 23, 2005


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posted by docgonzo at 7:28 AM on February 23, 2005


I poured expensive goddamn whisky on the ground on Sunday night. I poured more of it in myself of course,
because the Doctor half raised me and he didn't raise no fool.

I'm weak enough to be strong enough for the drink and the drugs but I'm not taking out the guns, although he deserves it. A clip of FMJ run through a TV on top of a pile of crushed Buicks at the dump, the squeal of tires, a breaking bottle.

Thanks Hunter. All my love.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:45 AM on February 23, 2005


The optimal, best-case scenario is the ashes will be shot out of a cannon

Other arrangements were pending.

Fly far and wide, man.. Infect us all!!
posted by Balisong at 10:04 AM on February 23, 2005


Nice little appreciation here of all places.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:50 AM on February 23, 2005


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posted by taumeson at 1:01 PM on February 23, 2005


No, this can't end with a dot:

"We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws."

Hunter S Thompson
posted by Relay at 6:47 PM on February 23, 2005


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posted by graventy at 6:36 AM on February 24, 2005


What? No! We can't stop here! This is bat country!

Raoul Duke
posted by Relay at 9:07 AM on February 24, 2005


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posted by Merik at 11:26 AM on February 24, 2005


The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.

Hunter S. Thompson
posted by Relay at 12:46 PM on February 24, 2005


Hunter has spared everyone the experience of him withering away, and perhaps losing his mental faculties. I don't view his death as tragedy or a cop-out.
posted by VP_Admin at 12:58 AM on February 25, 2005


Some great touching post-hoc links..
Loving Farewell and this one which willl likely expire shortly based on that URL...


observations from widow.. who said Hunter went out very "clean" i.e. no damage to face.. and that she was able to hold him and look at him. He was cremated with his reading glasses, a lock of her hair, seersucker suit... man I'm sad again.
posted by cavalier at 9:02 AM on February 25, 2005


..... bussiness is a cruel and shallow money trench,a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free,and good men die like dogs. for no good reason
posted by hortense at 4:32 PM on February 25, 2005


HA!

"I don't know the percentage of the Internet that's valid, do you?  Jesus, it's scary."

— Hunter S. Thompson, Atlantic Monthly interview, Aug. 26, 1997
posted by Relay at 9:08 PM on February 25, 2005


Did you all catch that he fired the shot during a phone conversation with his wife, while his grandchild was in the house? Pretty thoughtful.
posted by NortonDC at 12:52 AM on February 26, 2005


Fear and Loathing in the Mystery Machine
Excerpts from the never-aired 1973 Scooby Doo episode with guest star Hunter S. Thompson

posted by amberglow at 9:17 AM on February 27, 2005


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posted by WestCoaster at 11:31 AM on February 28, 2005


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posted by xammerboy at 6:37 PM on February 28, 2005


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posted by jacobsee at 1:48 PM on March 16, 2005


"O Ghost, O Lost, Lost and Gone, O Ghost, come back again."



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posted by jaronson at 10:54 AM on March 20, 2005


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