Monday, February 21, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson, R.I.P.

The iconic writer and creator of 'gonzo' journalism is dead; he ended it all with a shot to his head. Thompson was an early hero of mine, believe it or not - I admired not so much his politics, but rather his stream-of-consciousness, say-or-do-anything, scattershot yet brilliant writing. 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' and 'Fear and Loathing on the Campiagn Trail '72' will remain his lasting works, though I also immensely enjoyed 'Hell's Angels'.

Thompson was a relic of a different time, in some ways better, in many ways much worse; he belongs to that much-mythologized time when Vietnam and Nixon were the consuming passions of the Left, when drugs were celebrated openly and done in mass quantities, when Rolling Stone actually had credibility and great writing. I quit buying Hunter's works, as they became increasingly self-parodic; he ranted and raved against the Reagan and Bush administrations as much as he did against Nixon, but the old magic was gone, for his audience, and I suspect, for him as well.

Still, he was a giant in his time; God knows what demons haunted him; he had essentially walled himself up in his Aspen home these last years, continuing to binge on drugs and alcohol, and pretending he was a younger man. Now, I guess, those demons caught up with him. Well, it was a good ride, eh, Hunter? Hope you find more peace in the next life than you did in this one...

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