Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005)
Hunter S. Thompson was a great observer of life. He was a genius and a maniac, and I discovered his writings at a very early age. He was a journalist and an author. He loved words, he loved guns, and he loved drugs. He was, by many peoples standards, the king of self-indulgence. - But it didn't start out that way.
He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of an insurance agent. He attended public school as a child and entered the air force after a run in with the law, only to receive a dishonorable discharge in 1958 for what was widely considered outrageous behavior. It seemed his superiors felt his disregard for military dress, as well as authority, were too much of a negative influence on the other men.
Hunter was resourceful and he began to do what had always come easy for him, so he took a job as a sports reporter on the base, then moved onto a small newspaper in New York.
After being fired from that job, as well as a job with TIME magazine, he moved south to Puerto Rico, where he wrote briefly for a bowling magazine. He spent his free time on the beach, drinking rum and smoking weed.
Thompson returned to the states in 1960 and traveled to California, where he settled in Big Sur. He wrote his first novel there, but it was never published. Over the next few years he bounced around the globe, writing for the Dow Jones-owned, The National Observer, but he quit when they refused to let him write about the Free Speech Movement in Berkley, California.
By 1965, Hunter found himself in San Francisco, at the height of the hippie movement, indulging in the excess of the Haight Ashbury counterculture. It was the beginning of change, and society was awakening to a world of pacifism, free love, and LSD.
The dawn of a new era was fast approaching and Hunter was at the center of it all. He was working as a free-lance writer when his big break came. It was in the form of a story about the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, written for a magazine called The Nation, that drew him critical acclaim, as well as serious attention from publishers.
It was at this point that Hunter introduced the world to what he described as "Gonzo" journalism.
Created almost entirely by accident and desperation, Gonzo journalism became Hunters trademark as a last minute impulsive decision to involve himself in the action of the story to such a degree that he would become a main figure in his own reporting. He subscribed to William Faulkner's theory that the best kind of fiction is better than any kind of journalism.
No example of this is greater than his literary masterpiece entitled, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, an article that was first published in Rolling Stone magazine in 1972. It was a groundbreaking piece of work that offered a rambling account of a drug filled weekend in Vegas between Thompson himself and his attorney, as they set out to cover a motorcycle race and a law enforcement convention in the desert.
"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs begin to take hold," that was the opening sentence of the book that first caught my attention, and set in motion the initial urgings that would send me down the torturous path that only a struggling writer could know.
I found myself intoxicated by his words and the power of his honesty. He offered a non apologetic alternative to the standard writings of his time. He was a bold rebel, standing on the threshhold of a great adventure, with a spirit that soared high above the clouds.
Hunter inspired me to be myself and to be honest in my writing. He scorched his mark deep into the memory of a million people. He is missed.
Hunter S. Thompson's Suicide Note
Football Season is Over
"No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun-for anybody. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax-This won't hurt."
After he wrote this note he slid a .45 into his mouth and pulled the trigger