Monday, February 21, 2005

Hunter Thompson, Gonzo

"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 goddamn machine through his front window...flush the bugger out with an act of lunatic violence then soak him down with mace and run him naked down Main Street in Aspen...."
Hunter S. Thompson, August 1974

Hunter Thompson ended his life with his own shotgun yesterday, at age 67.

Hunter Thompson had no boundaries. He had no filters. He took his gut instincts, his intelligence, his emotions, and turned them into incredible stream-of-consciousness writing that was succinct, observant, rambling and vitriolic all at the same time.

He apparently lived like that, too. At least his writings reflected that sort of life; it would be hard to believe that this was all fiction, and he actually lived in a raised ranch in some boring suburb of Denver. He made no apologies for his drug and alcohol-driven binges, which became legendary in his Rolling Stone articles during the 1970's.

His writing could be violent. The paragraph above was written after Thompson watched Gerald Ford -- "that sold-out knucklehead refugee from a 1969 Mister Clean TV commercial" -- pardon Richard Nixon. In the "Author's Note" to his 1979 collection, "The Great Shark Hunt", Thompson wrote:

"...it 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..in an office with a tall glass door that leads out to a big terrace looking down on the The Plaza Fountain....and when I finish, the only fitting exit will be right straight off this terrace and into The Fountain, 28 stories below...
Nobody could follow that act."

News articles today call Thompson a counterculture author, a pioneer of new journalism, a fictional journalist, and the original 'gonzo journalist.' I don't know what all these terms mean. He was a prolific writer who wrote from the gut, who responded viscerally and emotionally to everything he absorbed. I don't know if he kept an online journal; blogging would seem a perfect format for his reactive writing. He wrote this way every day of his life; 30 years ago, he had to wait for the next issue of Rolling Stone to publish.

I wonder what Garry Trudeau does with Uncle Duke now?

Thompson on Jimmy Carter: "He could pass for a Fuller Brush man on any street in America..."

1 comment:

matthew said...

Hey Dave,
HST wrote periodically for ESPN.com PAGE 2. Most of the stuff was sports themed, if you can say themes apply to HST. . .
Anyway, they are there and they are very much HST.
A great writer who will be missed.

Matthew