War is Peace - Freedom is Slavery - Ignorance is Strength

Monday, February 21, 2005


It will hit all the papers tommorow, and I just ran across it in my insomnia driven browse through the current headlines.

Hunter Thompson shot and killed himself.

Obviously I admire the man. Most of what I write is a cheap knock off of his style and prose.

I can't say that I am sad, but I am circuspect.

About a year ago in Phoenix, I was sitting at a bus stop in downtown Tempe - the Phoenix suburb where ASU is located - reading one of Thompson's books.

A twitchy, and slightly crazy middle aged man asked me what I was reading, and I told him it was "The Great Shark Hunt," a compilation of Hunter Thompson's magazine articles from the sixties and early seventies.

The man, whose name I don't remember, proceeded to launch into a lengthy and twacked out rant about how he had seen Thompson speak in the seventies, and how Thompson had shown up dishelved, and told the crowd - in essence - to fuck off and go do something better with their time than sit and listen to a fool like him.

This man, a street musician who gave lessons in guitar and flute, (he gave me his business card) proceeded to compare Thomson's style and philosophy to Ginsburg's (or maybe it was Kerouac, or some other period luminary) in a decidedly negative light. Apparently the unreformed hippie in him was unable accept the nihilism, and surrender to human falibility that Hunter embodied. Maybe that is why he was still a street musician.

Speaking in fast and crookedly rythmic phrases, the man meandered through this subject until his bus came, and just before he boarded, he paused, and then said to me - in a matter-of-fact tone - "You would have to be a horse to live like that - all the drugs and booze he did. You try that, and it will kill you."

Right now, I can't really argue that point.

I can't say that people will look back at Thompson's life and admire him for his accomplishments. Admire him for squandering his talent, for selling out, for turning into a hack and pedling horse shit under his good name, long after he gave up on himself and his work.

It is the fallacy of unachieved redemption that makes death, and especially suicide, so poignant. The myth of a satisfied life, which could have been achieved, if only the deceased had just had a bit more time.

Hunter S. Thompson did not leave the legacy of promise fullfilled, goals accomplished, or obstables surmounted. All he left was a rotted and broken corpse that is a monument to the folly and fallibility of even the most talented and brilliant among us.

This may give us pause, but it would be wrong to believe that it could have happened any other way.

maybe it isn't that thompson failed, maybe it's just that people like him can't win.

reading The Great Shark Hunt has given me a horrible sense of deja vu. when he wrote, of Nixon's reelection "i doubt if there were more than a few dozen people... who really understood what that cheap, demented little facist punk had in mind for his Four More Years. ...The systemic destruction of everything this country claims to stand for, except the rights of the rich to put saddles on the backs of the poor and use public funds to build jails for anyone who complained about it" he might as easily have been writing about Dubya.

hell, i wasn't around for Nixon, but if i had been, like he was, and had to watch the same tsumani of bullshit racing in to destroy the hopes and beliefs of all but the facists and the idiots i would have put a gun to my head too...

whatever his failings, he was a voice crying in the wilderness... he served well.

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