Sunday, February 20, 2005

RIP Hunter S. Thompson

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
According to his son, Hunter S. Thompson shot himself at his home in Aspen, Colorado today. The writer, raconteur, mentor to Johnny Depp, and godfather of gonzo journalism was 67 years old. For some reason, I wouldn't have pegged him the type to go that way. On the other hand, he lived his life with such abandon, I supposed it's fitting that he should go out with a bang. You never do know the demons folks are wrestling with.

ESPN's Page Two has an homage and links to the Doctor's first and last "Hey Rube" columns. His last column details a 3:30 a.m. phonecall to Bill Murray (who portrayed Thompson in the 1980 flick Where the Buffalo Roam) to tell him his newly invented sport, shotgun golf. On the other hand, I can't believe Rolling Stone doesn't even have a mention of Thompson's death on their homepage, especially considering all the writing he did for that mag. Very sad indeed. Guess that's what happens when you have a strictly controlled, marketing-oriented web site representing your mag. Guess you hafta get a "package" together, put it out there when it's been all scrutinized by the right marketing and legal folks and such. Aaaagh!

On a personal note, I guess I was never a rabid fan but more an entranced spectator of the Duke. He was such an iconoclast, and I'm sure that's what I found compelling about him.

Finally, here's a fitting quote often attributed to the old boy:
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "Wow! What a Ride!"
Update 2/22: MTV's Kurt Loder writes a decent, balanced obit, and includes this great Thompson quote which shows that even the Duke understood that booze and drugs alone do not a writer make:
One day you just don't appear at the El Adobe bar anymore: You shut the door, paint the windows black, rent an electric typewriter and become the monster you always were — the writer.
And Rolling Stone finally adds a piece--which they link to unobtrusively from their homepage. Better than nothing, I guess. . . . And finally (later today) they add their "package." Toldja.

Oh yeah, Christopher Hitchens offers this Thompson obit and manages to insert this subtle but lame dig in those who opposed the war in Iraq in the second sentence:
The meeting was to be enlivened by the announcement of the forcible annexation of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein, who would go on to trouble our tranquility for another 13 years.
Sorry, Hitch. Hussein wasn't troubling our tranquility for 13 years. On the other hand, this guy--you may have heard of him--Osama Bin Laden, he severely troubled our tranquility back in 2001. It's hard to believe that Hitchens has become such a one-string banjo that he has to insert a thumbs-up to the war in Iraq in an obituary for a guy he no doubt knows full well opposed said war.

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