m Celtic Cross Celtic Cross - Average Everyday Sane Psycho Supergoddess

February 21, 2005

RIP Doctor Gonzo

Today, I pay tribute to one of my favorite writers because yesterday, February 20, 2005, Hunter S. Thompson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. I really never expected that he would go this way, being such a brave and bold man. One can only imagine what prompted him to do such a thing.

Thompson, 67, was associated with the "New Journalism" movement of the 1960s, in which writers took a more novelistic and personal approach to their subjects. His account of a drug-fueled trip to cover a district attorneys' anti-drug conference as a writer for Rolling Stone magazine was the seed of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," perhaps his best-known work.

Subtitled "A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream," the 1971 book included his lament on the passing of the 1960s and its "sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil."

"There was no point in fighting -- on our side or theirs," he wrote. "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."

In "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72," he described the campaign leading to Richard Nixon's re-election as president with terms like "brutal" and "depraved," speculating that Democratic Sen. Ed Muskie was under the influence of an obscure African psychoactive drug and bemoaned Nixon's looming victory by proclaiming, "Jesus, where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to become president?"

Other works included "The Great Shark Hunt," a collection of Watergate-era essays; "Generation of Swine," his lament on the youth of the 1980s; and his account of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential win, "Better than Sex." His lone novel, "The Rum Diaries," was published in 1998, while a collection of letters, "The Proud Highway: The Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman," came out in 1997.

In recent years, he wrote a column for the sports network ESPN's Web site. In his most recent piece, posted February 15, he describes shooting at golf balls like skeet with a friend near his longtime home -- he called it "a fortified compound" -- outside Aspen.

Thompson was a private person. "The most news we heard from him was when a pack of dogs killed his peacock, Attila, and he broke his leg in Hawaii last year."
Thompson also was the model for the character of "Uncle Duke" in the "Doonesbury" comic strip. But Thompson strongly disliked the characterization, once telling an interviewer that he would set "Doonesbury" creator Garry Trudeau on fire if the two ever met.

In later years, however, Thompson said he had made peace with the "Uncle Duke" portrayal.

"I got used to it a long time ago," he told Freezerbox magazine in 2003. "I used to be a little perturbed by it. It was a lot more personal ... It no longer bothers me."
In 1980, actor Bill Murray portrayed Thompson in the film "Where the Buffalo Roam." And in 1998, the film "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" was released, based on Thompson's book and starring Johnny Depp as the journalist. A new film reportedly is in production based on Thompson's novel "The Rum Diaries."

The writer himself, Hoag said, will be missed. "There's no one in the world these days who writes the truth ... as he seems to, to me," he said. "He spoke to the world and said what people were afraid to say."

Hunter - Don't stop here! This is bat country!


At February 21, 2005 2:46 pm, Blogger el sid said...

that was a great eulogy, celti. he was one of my favorite writers, too, and now i'll never meet him, dammit. dammit. thanks for posting something about it. i knew there was something wrong in the air yesterday. i just knew it.

At February 21, 2005 4:00 pm, Blogger celestial blue said...

I called my friend at work today to break the bad news (ha! I accidentally typed "bat" news... how appropriate!).
I always feel deeply sad when someone commits suicide because I know how it feels to be that way...and I feel like it's sad when one of us can't make it. Coz I think many of us know how it feels to want to give up.
His talent and intriguing world view will be missed


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