23 February 2005

Dr. Duke Swallows a Shotgun




How The Gonzo Pirate Will Report Back on Death
by Timothy Rogan 22 February 2005, New York NY
Appearing originally in TWEED

Hunter S Thompson was the most unique and singularly chaotic voices in American journalism. He leaves behind not only a family and a stunning body of work, but also a legacy of revolution inside the medium he’d redefine.


Slipping off into the ether usually means some fall to irrelevance, some sort of disappearing act from significance to nothing—never accounted for, never recovered—and who’d try? Who cares?

I could type and print and slip off reams of paper and ink and fall into the ether on a dime without notice or care—I’m not Hunter Thompson. Hunter Thompson though, inhaled ether prodigiously, ingesting it stuffed up his nose, carrying it to his lungs and his brain. He ate it and ate it and ate it. Hunter Thompson owned ether, consumed it. He owned irrelevance, he consumed it. Gonzo journalism was Method acting—Hunter was Marlon Brando. Gonzo journalism was punk rock—Hunter was Johnny Ramone. Gonzo journalism was a final great change of whole cloth in the act of a modern medium.

One has to wonder how badly Hunter wanted to write what it felt like to take some of his beloved cold steel gunmetal and press it against his old scraggly skin, what the alloys or what-have-you reacted to as they squee-geed against various chemicals seeping and poring and wafting from his face. He loved guns and he loved shooting them. One has to wonder how much he loved guns then, how much he loved shooting guns then, how much he treasured being able to take the last exit off himself before Vegas, get away. “We can’t stay here—this is BAT country.” I bet he wanted to shoot himself and then report back on it, like he was infinitely more beholden to his always-regenerative craft than he was to any pain he had. But he couldn’t—and he knew it—which speaks worlds to that kind of pain he had. It was bigger than the craft.

I read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas at the same single second I was precisely supposed to, no seconds longer, no seconds earlier. I remember a shorter tale he recalled in a collected works in which he claimed to have grabbed a sack of lye and thrown it at someone. That was it.

We all want creativity, we all want some sort of mellifluous expurgation of new thought, new ideas. Hunter S Thompson never paused from that. His every belched thought grabbed the ankle off the leg of the body of the journalistic ideal and threw it forward, ushering it step upon step: The Rum Diary—step—Fear and Loathing in Washington—step—Hey, Rube—step—Generation Swine—step. He was able to make a journalist part of the story, to make himself and his collection of the story part of how the story was to be reported. Nothing about the experience of reporting was left unturned: inaccuracies, drugs, fucking, sleep, crime, guns, guns, guns. I hear they made a movie about it.

There’s a passage in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a book that literally turned my brain over in my head, making me, for the first time want to be elbow deep in drugs and irresponsibility—something I was too pussy to actually ever do. More importantly, it made me want to create, but to try, in creating, at least something new and fucking different. Don’t just talk, you see. Mumble... Anyway, the damned passage:

“There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. 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.”

Hunter Thompson was 67, born in 1937 and died in Aspen, CO.

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3 Comments:

I will miss him ... BIG HUG for Juan, Jen, Willam and Anita… who will never be able to fill the hole left in there lives by the man in spite of the myth and legend attached to his life..

I am a long time friend of Juan we went to the Aspen Community School together I have been using the blogs to try to send a message of love to him and the family but I know he is totally swamped because of the media attention at Owl farm and we need to let him know that we care for Him, Anita and the whole family in this time of tragedy while respecting his privacy

Let's see if we can get the word out ...
He was first the MAN….
He became the myth and legend
To me he was several people.
He was my best friend’s dad although he always called his dad Hunter
(At Juan’s wedding he said to a friend about me “Look there’s another little bastard I raised that turned out OK”)
He was Hunter S. Thompson retiring shy southerner who loved guns and his freedom
And
He was the Dr. Gonzo who we all know who would be in your face and try to kill you if you attempted to try to take away his guns, drugs, freedom, privacy and the god given right to go into an explosive tirade about it.

To be such a person required him to have a unique emotional support structure. These people now need our support, love and understanding in this time of grief.

Bradley Laboe

By Blogger wangateur, at 2/23/2005 2:51 AM  

Thanks a lot for sharing that Bradley. Hunter was amazing. He'll be missed and, sadly, there's no one even remotely qualified to fill his space.

By Blogger BS Memorial, at 2/23/2005 10:09 AM  

Nice article in TWEED Timmy!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/25/2005 3:16 PM  

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