thompson
So long.

ESPN.com: Page 2 : Shotgun Golf with Bill Murray — This may be the last published piece by Hunter Thompson who apparently killed himself this last weekend. I can’t say I was pals with Thompson, but I knew him and chatted with him a lot when he was writing for the SF Examiner. Among other things I helped move him off the typewriter to computer assisted writing in the 1980’s. “OK, so computers are our friends then?” he once said to me. I think this was after he shot one.

Another comment I recall was that his primary literary influence was Faulkner. I don’t know who, if anyone, ever reported that. But once he told me I could see it in his writing.

He was an interesting fellow obviously tormented by all sorts of inner demons. Most remarkable, to me, was his attentiveness when you’d discuss your take on his writing. He seemed fascinated by anyone who didn’t seem to think his material was crummy. I get the suspician that this was because of editors. I used to hear them moan about his inability to meet deadlines and his style. Thus, over the years, he ended up at ESPN online instead of the New Yorker. Now he’ll be praised as a genius. But nobody will explain why, if he was such a genius, THEY never hired him.

Both Johnny Depp and Bill Murray played Thompson in movies and both were pretty near close to Thompson’s weird mumbling style of communication. Depp was probably closer. According to the local writers in San Francisco, Hunter was the great hope of the fiction community. The next stage after Hemingway kind of thing. Drugs and alcohol were blamed for this never happening. But that never stopped Hemingway or others before him. Thompson, along the way, just wasn’t interested enough to take his own importance seriously.

As an aside he used to hang out with all sorts of Washinton types and always claimed that G. Gordon Liddy was “Deepthroat.”

If you liked him I’m sure toasting with a tumbler of Chivas 12 would be appropriate.

related link:
The original HST Homepage. Hopefully it will remain intact for a while.
Excellent interview with HST in Salon.



  1. Martin says:

    THE CURSE OF LONO: REMEMBERING HUNTER

    It was a Monday when I heard news of Hunter Thompson’s suicide. He had ended it, like his hero Hemingway, with a shotgun blast, and so both writers died violently in their isolated mountain retreats. Both made the logical final step in their self-mythologising.
    Hunter, like Hemingway, was a life pugilist – an aggressive iconoclast driven to conquer physical and mental rings. And he succeeded, for a while. His self-styled “gonzo” journalism hurtled him to the front of the counter-cultural zeitgeist, from where he manned an unlikely career as renegade journalist. He was obsessed with the smoky world of Washington; it was an obsession that drove Hunter to explosive expressions of misanthropy, tones coloured by drugs.
    And the writing was genuinely funny, but some saw the Dorian Grey façade for what it was – a dynamic cartoon-like personality obscuring agonising levels of anxiety and mistrust, common symptoms of an encouraged misanthropy. Kurt Vonnegut noticed, however, and in his review of Thompson’s book Fear & Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72, wrote: “… the disease is fatal. There is no known cure. The most we can do for the poor devil, it seems to me, is to name his disease in his honour. From this moment on, let all who feel 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 Hunter Thompson’s disease. I don’t have it this morning. It comes and goes. This morning I don’t have Hunter Thompson’s disease”.
    Devastatingly portentous, Vonnegut anticipated Thompson’s succumbing to his own disease 33 years later.
    Ashamedly, in being spectator to Thompson’s tireless levels of myth-making, I became distracted from the poison in his veins – Thompson, the man, became inseparable from his grotesque and fantastical sketches of the American Condition. He was a super-freak, half-man, half-myth, a famous teller of tall tales about the Death of the American Dream. Now we suspect that the primal screams were real, of course they were real; we discover that the humorous mimicry of insanity wasn’t playacting and his famous gun-play, like Hemingway’s, is now appallingly significant.

    In 1964, then writing for the National Observer, a young Thompson set out for Ketchum, Idaho, to see for himself the death place of Hemingway. He wrote: “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 – 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 were the best of reasons, he ended it with a shotgun”.
    Thompson also wrote: “’Well,’ said Hemingway, ‘there’s just one thing I live by – that’s having the power of conviction and knowing what to leave out.’ He had said the same thing before, but whether he believed it in the winter of his years is another matter. There is good evidence that he was not always sure what to leave out, and very little evidence to show his power of conviction survived the war.”
    Thompson wrote his own epithet in this article, with its stresses on the power of conviction, and the trouble with losing it…

    Hunter had fed his myth well in the ‘60s, and was symbiotically supported afterwards by a curious press. But it was also during this early period that Hunter was at his peak – writing intelligent reportage on unprecedented cultural marks such as the Black Panther, the Hells Angels and Haight-Ashbury. Hunter had the correct ratio of photographic eye/intelligence/wit/ and drug-laced adventurism to produce culturally instructive writing. When he was good, he was very, very good, but with a man like Hunter, this delicate ratio was unlikely to last. There’s good evidence that Hunter’s writer’s stock was ruined by growing levels of anxiety and undiminished drug usage in later age.
    Hunter’s writing faltered and arguably hasn’t asserted any relevance for two decades. His last published piece was a hyper-frenetic and unfunny dialogue with Bill Murray, and his column writing for ESPN’s website were ghastly examples of unintentional self-parody.

    I almost cried when I re-read Vonnegut’s review of Thompson. To me it revealed my gullibility in swallowing Hunter’s myth, blurring the human. It was also a myth which, for me, contained some vague sense that he was bullet-proof. Of course, nobody is, especially someone as sensitive as Hunter and so, for what he must have thought the best of reasons, he ended it with a shotgun.

  2. GBM says:

    To paraphrase the good Doctor…

    It marks the end of a Main Era. If you look westward to Woody Creek with the right kind of eyes, you can see the the high water mark where the wave began to roll back this weekend.

    I can see that was said before but it bears repeating.

    I’m sure the good Doctor had his reasons and who am I to question them. Like the rest, I at least have the advantage of experiencing a sharp mind, rapier-like wit and the necessarily savage political nature of a great writer. He was in the right place at the right time and we are all better for it.

    And while Sonny Barger, Oscar Acosta and Richard Nixon each bore their own personal feelings for HST, they at least had to respect him for telling it like it was. As a journalist, the one thing that never got in his way was journalism.

    Thanks, Hunter, for what you have bestowed upon us.

  3. Fred says:

    I want to thank everyone who wrote in to the site, and especially to John Dvorak for giving us an outlet in this sad time. I have been reading you for a good 20 years now in PC Magazine. I should have known you were an HST fan! I have gained great comfort from all of the submissions.

    I agree with the writer who said that this death leaves an impact much like the death of John Lennon. Another mentioned Jerry Garcia. Though no doubt that impact on me, a stranger, is nothing compared to the impact on HST’s immediate family and friends, for whom I have to mostly agree with Whitey that suicide is a big “fuck you,” a quitters way out. I want to believe that he had a good reason for doing it this way and time may prove an incurable illness, etc., etc. Or maybe it was the final, logical extension of what he’d been doing all those years, the final exploration.

    I was among those who, upon reading Fear And Loathing In LasVegas many years ago (It was many years ago, wasn’t it? Crikey!), were inspired to (at least try) to emulate Dr. Thompson’s writing and appetite for craziness. My attempts at the former didn’t get off the ground. At the latter, I succeeded in short bursts but never with the sustained intensity or superhuman stamina of the good doctor himself. In the end, I chose sobriety as my alternative lifestyle…

    Nonetheless, another big part of my youth has died. This time, it’s not (again) that part that holds the memory of a great artist and conscience of our times (which like Lennon, HST certainly was) and mourns its loss, or that part that holds bittersweet memories of communion and ecstasy (I still miss you every day, Jerry), but the part that used to drive together with me down a quiet residential street at 70 miles per hour, stoned and tripping and loaded screaming “Pass me another whippet, you fucking asshole,” and laughing hysterically the whole time – the part that got run over by a car on the strip in Ft. Lauderdale in ’86 and lived to walk away from it. You can’t say that I didn’t try, Hunter.

    But the most important point of all this, if it has any point, is that it would be terribly wrong not to acknowledge that the often crazed, though certainly brilliant and insightful nature of Dr. Thompson’s writing and life belied the deep humanity of the man. He really cared. You can see it especially in his political writing. And that is the point that will be missed by the mainstream pundits. He really cared. And in the end, in spite of the manner of his passing, I think perhaps that he cared too much, not too little. And that, as Bob Frost said, “has made all the difference.”

    RIP, you magnificent bastard.

  4. david lardner says:

    there’s been something wrong in the air for the past few days, know we know what.

  5. lucas says:

    “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 salute (that word is “salute,” goddamnit – and i guess i cant 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
    HST #2 R.I.P
    2/20/2005

  6. lucas says:

    Hunter S. Thompson is ALIVE !!! and WE are dead!!!

  7. sean says:

    The fat is in the fire. A part of me believes this may be an elaborate put-on. Slightly deflated but still ripe for popping.

  8. Jim Murray says:

    Hunter was the Hemingway and Thoreau of our generation –
    his honesty and vision will not be duplicated in our lifetime.
    I saw him speak at U Lowell in the 70’s, Jug of wine on the table,
    students hanging on every word, feeding off his intellect.
    He talked about how he admired Castro, yet appreciated the fact our American way of life allowed guys like him to speak in public. A true Patriot. Looks like the sixties are really over. He will be missed. It’s too sad. My condolences to family and friends.

    “Better to be shot out of a cannon than squeezed out of a tube” HST

    Jim Murray

  9. Hoki says:

    I’m a 1/2 Maori New Zealander living in London currently bummed at the passing of one of the few great Americans to ever be. Currently all thats going thru my head is this –

    Lyrics to the song ‘Suicide is Painless’

    Through early morning fog I see
    visions of the things to be
    the pains that are withheld for me
    I realize and I can see…

    [REFRAIN]:
    that suicide is painless
    It brings on many changes
    and I can take or leave it if I please.

    I try to find a way to make
    all our little joys relate
    without that ever-present hate
    but now I know that it’s too late, and…

    [REFRAIN]

    The game of life is hard to play
    I’m gonna lose it anyway
    The losing card I’ll someday lay
    so this is all I have to say.

    [REFRAIN]

    The only way to win is cheat
    And lay it down before I’m beat
    and to another give my seat
    for that’s the only painless feat.

    [REFRAIN]

    The sword of time will pierce our skins
    It doesn’t hurt when it begins
    But as it works its way on in
    The pain grows stronger…watch it grin, but…

    [REFRAIN]

    A brave man once requested me
    to answer questions that are key
    is it to be or not to be
    and I replied ‘oh why ask me?’

    [REFRAIN]

    ‘Cause suicide is painless
    it brings on many changes
    and I can take or leave it if I please.
    …and you can do the same thing if you please.

    The world has lost a remarkable talent which, when fuelled by anything legal or illegal, gave us an insight into whatever the fuck he felt was needed. Don Gonzo – Doc Thompson RIP – wherever u r , keep giving ’em shit!!

  10. Chrissie Roth says:

    I never knew Hunter Thompson, only by his works, which have intrigued me for the few short years I’ve been on this planet.

    Many will miss him, his bold journalism, his interesting and honest letters. With the passing of Hunter Thompson, also comes with the passing of an era.

    I feel great loss.

    My thoughts are with his friends and family,

    RIP Hunter, you will never be forgotten.

    Chrissie

  11. mattLy says:

    hunter s. thompson…

    he will live on forever in my mind, so many good memories, even though i never got to meet him i hope he is in a better place…….. buy the ticket, take the ride

  12. I’ve only read and seen “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” but from what I knew of Hunter he was someone I would have loved to hang out with. He was brilliant and eccentric and he had balls. My kind of guy. My boyfriend was a lot more into him and had read more of his stuff. He actually dressed up as Hunter a couple of Halloweens ago. He had this crazy dream of us road tripping to Aspen and meeting Hunter and showing him our writings. Last night my boyfriend drank Cape Cods in honor of the man. We watched “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and laughed our asses off.

  13. Joe says:

    “I damn well intend to keep on living the way I think I should…”

    I can’t imagine what was going on in the Good Doctor’s head that made him do what he did, but I hope it is all better now.

    Lots of people say suicide is cowardly and right now I couldn’t agree more. How can one whose voice reached so many leave us at a time of such despair? Four more years of GW is hard to swallow, but come on Hunter. If you wanted to die why not pump yourself full of drugs and booze and drive that convertible of yours right through the White House gates. You’d be shot for sure but at least you’d have said something in doing so.

    RIP
    It won’t ever be the same without you….

  14. Rachael says:

    After all, all he demanded was his right to shine.

  15. Holly says:

    Too wierd to live, too rare to die.
    Or so I thought.
    I haven’t slept since my boyfriend called me at 3:30 am Monday to tell me they just broke the news on the Art Bell show. I flip-flopped between denial and panic for the first 24 hours. Now, I’ve settled into a general sadness.
    I am a student of journalism, and Thompson is one of my main influences. He was a hero to me.
    I doubt that his shoes will ever be filled.

    Rest In Peace, Hunter.

  16. Al Brown says:

    It seems the time came for Hunter to join Oscar, and raise hell and make things interesting in the beyond. Maybe now the situation will have finally gotten weird enough for him. Can you picture it? Two raving lunatics, driving full barrel down the hwy. in a monster caddy picking up hitchikers, and scaring the bujeezes out of them. Or maybe they’re tossing back a drink in their version of the dasiy duck (where they met)
    I just found it odd that not one single solitary person or news source has made the connection in public to two men who shared sso much together and made up their own history. Both lived and died and created something the world wont soon forget.

  17. Jon C. Allen says:

    Two kinds of people in this world…those that THIRST to stir the pot and those that just can’t quite bring themselves to even consider picking up the paddle.

    It’s all quite an oddity of the human condition, this “death” thing. I’m never quite sure how seriously to take it. It makes complete sense to me that anyone who lived life on their own uniquely rationally mad terms would also choose to cash out their chips the same way. Certainly, the right to do so was earned longed ago, no explaination needed. If indeed the real measure of a human being is how/if/why they are remembered once they’re gone, and for how long that memory is celebrated, then the expiration date The Doctor gave himself is no more than a period at the end of last paragraph of the book of his life, not the title of the chapter.

    My first thought was that of Kesey. I really don’t know if the two might ever have met, but they certainly had a lot in common. In the “big picture” idea, anyway. Thompson stirred the pot with the help of bullets and bourbon, Kesey with day-glo paint and the freak parade, but still…what propelled them both was to experience the fleeting glimpse of life at full throttle, at least every once in a while. Maybe another way of putting it would be “as often as circumstance would allow”.

    And to wake people UP!!!

    It was an easily understood credo: Get involved. Dive in. Fuck blind faith. Get off your ass. Be physically prepared to back up each and every word that comes out of your mouth if need be, lest you lay yourself bare to be regarded as another sheep in the flock. Have the wherewithall, summon the courage, find the kahunas to at least once, grab the comet by the tail and hold on as long as you can. Maybe it’ll kill you, maybe not. But at least as you stand at the Pearly Gates, you can look ’em square in the eye.

    Maybe it’s the only thing that’ll get you in. Ha. Wouldn’t that be sumpthin’? If that’s what really happens, if only the ones who ever dared grab the comet’s tail are deemed worthy, and God is wearing an aviators cap and goggles, handing you a ticket for the next ride….

    No sweat, Doc. See you soon…

  18. Zenfrog says:

    The death of Hunter S. Thompson finally lays to rest the last true great American hero. He was a patriot and a pioneer to the end, a champion of freedom, one of the few who dared to confront not only the naked emperor, but showed us all that we too had no clothes. His words served as a looking glass that saw beneath the ugly exterior of terra, only to find the inside was even uglier and more nauseating than one could image.

    When life gave him lemons, he filled them with cyanide and fired them back with a deadly barrage of words and a defiant cry to never be taken alive by the swine of the earth. Unfortunately, his last stand against the kingdom of fear ended with a .44 caliber to his own head. Most people who knew the man and his works always imagined him going over the edge in a Vincent Black Shadow or a monster Caddy while White Rabbit peaked on the radio; naked, laughing hysterically, accompanied by an automatic rifle, a case of dynamite, and filled with enough booze and psychedelics to take down an elephant.

    His trailblazing search for the American dream propelled a disenchanted multitude of drug addicts and truth seekers to lead their own journeys down the road of excess. Some found what they were looking for, others succumbed to the fatal notion that the American dream was dead and buried. The truth was, the American dream didn’t really die when that beautiful, golden wave of the 60’s broke and rolled back; it simply became catatonic, surviving on feeding tubes and life support. On February 20, 2005, Thompson finally pulled the plug.

  19. Teag Reimann says:

    It’s a rare public figure whose passing I mourn. Hunter knew what was best for us, he could tell us the truth that we could not see for ourselves.

    “You’d better take care of me, Lord… because if you don’t you’re going to have me on your hands.”

    I suppose he and his maker were finally ready for each other.

    RIP Hunter

  20. gurlandian says:

    thank you.

  21. xxx says:

    HST
    He drove fast and took chances….

  22. Saturnine says:

    A huge loss, no real surprise but a huge loss. I don’t think another person will ever come close to filling his shoes.

  23. I searched and found for my satisfaction that Hunter wanted to go out on his own terms and was at peace with his spirit. As many who have been working with him for the past decades he came to the realization that there was no answer for the madness that we face and have fought all of our waking adult lives. There is no winning against the encroaching dumbness, gathering madness, and raving deceits. It is consuming the planet without regard for elevated conciousness and progressive awareness. The planet has been plagued by 100 years of the Bush/Rockefeller madness and the death has been slow and painful in coming. Hunter was just tired of the observance of his drowned dreams of the planet that he obviously loved so much as to sacrifice himself over the course of his entire life as an adult to change. His was not an act of violence but more a sensitive outcry of a lone wolf who gave it his all and and sacrificed everything for the planet he labored to save.

    Mike

  24. Tob says:

    Mike Jordan – I like your take on this. I can barely stand it myself..but if you cant take it at a heavily fortified compound..is it just a head trip?? Could the mind be playing tricks??even one as briliant and rare as the original hope diamond?They used to declare people legally insane after 6 trips..Are we all damaged and in an alternate reality?like “A Beautiful Mind”?

  25. Tob – Hunter was a man of the people and what you say is maybe the key to what gave him the awareness that the long trip had come to an end. Hunter was a man of the people and like all writers, never really was sure that anybody was listening to what he was saying. I read an interviewer the other day who said that Hunter repeatedly wanted to know what the interviewer felt of his writing. He required feedback and reassurance and with his increasingly situationally imposed isolation he got incrementally less over the later years of his life. Such is fame. He was a deeply insecure man from the start and the fortification at Woody Creek made spontaneous social interaction increasingly rare.

    In an interview on August 29, 2002 with a radio journalist for Radio National Australia, he predicted the Iraq invasion thinking that it would take place 9/11/2002. In that interview he also thought that Maureen Doud was the only national American journalist who was actually writing about the unthinkable thuggery that was being planned by the Bush administration. “Boy it really is lonely out here…” he says.

    I believe that for him the final round came with the electronic voting frauds in 2002 and 2004. In the Australian interview in 2002 he mentioned that the vote was the only actual means of change that was available to people. With the success of fraudulent electronic voting schemes and the idea of perennial Republican victories beyond the event horizon of even HIS ‘doors of perception’ he realized that to live on the planet any longer was only to bring increased pain and suffering to him and that maybe there was somewhere else he might want to explore.

    Mike

  26. A. MacKenzie says:

    He had all the momentum; He was riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave until it came to and end on the sandy beaches of his own hand. It is a good thing that his waves water will last forever, being pulled out by the next wave leaving a lasting impression on the world forever. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was the first book I ever read from cover to cover. It showed me that there was entertainment outside that evil box of glass and plastic. His writing made me laugh out loud, made my mind think from all angles, and made me want to read more and more. I have experimented with drugs myself and it takes a really strong person to not let them ruin you life. I can’t say if the Duke was crazy from the extensive amounts of drugs he consumed or if it was from the realizations of what this world is developing into. It is very unfortunate that there will be no more page 2 columns, or novels, or wise words from this truly inspirational writer. RIP HST.

  27. rog says:

    HST is gone,and that is a shame,but all men must die(then comes judgement) , he was a tormented soul that spoke to tormented and longing souls . He had a GOD given talent to be sure, did he use it in a manor that the maker found pleasing ? i sure hope so, in your more honest moments you gotta ask yourself where is he now? , can we believe he is in a better place and why? . because WE enjoyed his written word ,because of his intelligence, his insight. i don’t know about anyone else but i don’t think that ‘s how the triple beam weights out our final worth.we are just passing through here folks, i have to say in my later years, thank GOD i have come to put more faith in the writings of the first centuries then in the 20th ,that;s me . i liked his writings for what they are and were, and in my younger years my appetite, not unlike his were for things of this world, ah ,but not anymore , i’ve set my sites on higher ground. he will be missed and rightly so ,but if you been around for any length of time you understand thats the way it goes, instead of surmissing how his works and the man will be remembered ,it seems to me the more important question is where you gonna be in a hundered years and why? food for thought later

  28. Tim Renick says:

    We should run his hat,cigarette holder, glasses and a gun along w/ a bottle of Chivas in the next Presidential election….’our’ candidate would surely have more to say than any stooge that the Republican swine could run against him…..RIP HST….tell Zevon, Townes Van Zandt, George Harrison, etc. ‘Hello’ for the rest of us…

    Deepest and Warmest regards for the Thompson family.

  29. James Summers USN says:

    This thing we call life is that much more drab and empty without you Doc. I feel more vulnerable now than ever. i used to take comfort in knowing Hunter was roaming the countryside with a head full of acid and armed with high-powered weaponry.
    May the lords of Karma look favorably upon you. See you when i get there!

  30. El Pinche Gabacho says:

    Hunter, man, you made our college days tolerable by describing the world as it truly was. The world has since become even worse, but you will no longer cheer us with your saeve indignatio.
    So we will have to supply it now ourselves.


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