Monday, February 21, 2005

Rest In Peace, Doctor Gonzo

From the Denver Post:

Hunter S. Thompson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Woody Creek on Sunday night. He was 67.

Rest In Peace, Doctor Gonzo
this photo comes from the Denver Post as well...

I think about Hunter S. Thompson every day. I don't know him personally, but my concept of him speaks to me out loud. Whenever I'm tired and I want to sleepwalk through my own life, Hunter S. Thompson' blows some smoke in my ear and growls "get moving, you lazy little bastard."

Thompson was a hissing, spitting cobra to the life's mongoose of mediocrity--sometimes the mongoose attacked, but he always bit back like a motherfucker. His sad and sudden death leaves a terrifying vacuum in the annals of American discourse. At a time when relentless charismatic status quo-style mediocrity has the hearts and minds of the American public thumping in its greedy fists, we need a loud, profane voice to stab it to death...or at least ventilate some steam out of its suit.

Although I am not sure if he ever said it publicly, the blogging phenomenon must have tickled him to no end. Blogs are nothing more than pure Gonzo journalism at its finest: raw, ripped straight from the fingers of the writer and seared across public consciousness in a matter of seconds. The actual reality of a slavering pack of hungry journalistic pirahna-dogs, set to tear down any and all half-truths and phonies deeply rooted in any establishment anywhere...he must have seen some sort of beauty in that.

I learned to appreciate whiskey long before I could drink it, thanks to Thompson. Through Thompson's tremendous and prolific career I took my first baby steps towards throwing myself into any and all experiences I could find, and I learned to trust my guts with my writing through Thompson's ballsy prose. He might have had substance abuse problems and an ego bigger than a Colorado snowfall, but Doctor Gonzo had brass cojones the size of watermelons channeling straight through his heart and onto the page. To read any of his pages is to know the power of balls and soul working in tandem and at maximum efficiency.

Reading between Thompson's brilliant lines paints a different portrait, however. You'll see real paranoia, terror, and a fragile, nervous personality frayed by life lived too hard and too long on the fringes of sanity. Hunter S. Thompson is an exciting anti-hero in print, but the man behind the legend must have felt crushingly lonely, sad, and alienated from everyone on earth.

I'm going to part here with a bit of wisdom from Thompson's pages, but not from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas...let the "mainstream" media quote that to death all week. This passage from a letter to a friend in 1958, crystallizes what it is about Thompson that resonates most deeply within me:

"...a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choices made for him by circumstance.

So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and the see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life.

But you say, 'I don't know where to look; I don't know what to look for.' And there's the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don't know--is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice...

There is more to it than that-- no one HAS to do something he doesn't want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that's what you end up doing, by all means convince youself that you HAD to do it. You'll have lots of company."


At 8:54 PM, Blogger Chris Larry said...

Nice eulogy. I have been bummed all day........A true master on any grading scale.

At 4:06 AM, Anonymous ben shaffer said...

After I heard Hunter S Thompson died, I thought that sucks. And the second thing I thought was, I wonder what Jeff is going to say about it. Thanks for your words and that quote was really fucking awesome it hit the spot. I got a coffee cup of whiskey to toast to memories.

At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Doctor Gonzo said...

Excellent post. I'm a big fan of the movie though I haven't read many of his books ... yet.

At 11:29 PM, Blogger mike said...

To para-quote the late great Janis Ian, life is a banquette and most you mo--er f--kers are starving to death! Not so Hunter S Thompson.


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