Home / Blogcritics On Hunter S. Thompson: Lost Gonzo

Blogcritics On Hunter S. Thompson: Lost Gonzo

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

I am stunned and deeply saddened, but no one should be shocked that Hunter S. Thompson took his own life Sunday night with a gunshot at his Woody Creek, Colorado home.

What do you think “gonzo” means? It means fueled by adrenaline, drugs, riding an idea out until it dead-ends or flames out, it means writing and living with wreckless abandon, it means hoping you die before you get old – give or take a decade or two. It means Hunter S. Thompson alive, married, and writing for ESPN is just too weird to be true – and now it isn’t.

My 17 year-old son — exactly my age when the series began in ’75 — and I watched the two-hour special about the first five years of Saturday Night Live last night and that show did to television what Thompson did to writing: they used themselves and their experiences as the foundation of both narrative and a platform for biting, often slashing social commentary riding the rodeo bull of wired experience until the bell rang. This was very cool for those experiencing the fruits of this labor, and was surely a trip for those who lived it, but for some the bell never rang and they didn’t survive. When you live on the edge, odds are some are going to fall off.

I wonder if Thompson watched this show last night, and if so what affect did it have on him? Recall that SNL’s Bill Murray played Thompson in Where the Buffalo Roam. Who else has had both Murray and Johnny Depp (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) play them in film?

Of the most notorious celebrants of the la vida loca from the ’60s and ’70s, probably only Keith Richards’s longevity is a greater surprise than Thompson’s, and now Keith has no competition at all.

Thompson speaks for himself, here and here.

We have a wealth of thinking on the life and art of Hunter S. Thompson from both before and after the end:

Ashes to Ashes: Saying Good-bye to Hunter S. Thompson and Peter Jennings
I remember my father’s two-year transition into the world of respectability. He was promoted from beat-cop to detective. He quit smoking and drinking and bought some new suits. He did it for the family. We needed the money…
Posted to Culture by Eyebrow Esquire on August 20, 2005 06:01 AM

Thoughts on Hunter Thompson’s funeral
You fucker, you won. You went out on your own terms. How you did it, to me, was bullshit. With your son and grandson in the other room and your wife on the phone? What kind…
Posted to Culture by Lono on August 18, 2005 04:04 AM

Hunter’s Last Flight
In a fitting end to a life that skyrocketed through the stratosphere of reporting, Hunter S. Thompson’s friends and immediate family are gathering together to shoot his ashes out of a cannon. According to the article below these were…
Posted to Books by gypsyman on July 12, 2005 08:05 AM

Hunter S. Thompson: An Iconoclast for the Ages
Brief introductory explanatary note about title. I describe my blog thusly: “The rantings of a long haired iconoclast.” Periodically this word will pop up in my reviews or commentaries, as it forms such a large part of the…
Posted to Books by gypsyman on June 11, 2005 07:20 PM

Hunter S. Thompson: News and Updates
News on Hunter Thompson’s memorial We finally have some details about the August memorial: there will be no August (public) memorial. The plans for a public event have been formally scrapped by the family in favor of a smaller and more…
Posted to Culture by Lono on May 30, 2005 03:28 AM

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson Remembered by Former Presidents and Distinguished Writers
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson was not a shallow, selfish schmuck. Al Barger on Blogcritics.org leads with: “Hunter S Thompson was a shallow, selfish schmuck.” Then Mr. Barger quickly allows: “Now, he made some at least moderately valuable contribution to the…
Posted to Books by Thrasher on March 12, 2005 06:44 PM

Frank Rich weighs in on Hunter S. Thompson in a column to run Sunday in the print edition of The New York Times. It’s already on the Times website here. A sample: Read “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail…
Posted in Straight Up on March 4, 2005 11:11 AM

The item about Stephen Schwartz’s crackpot burial of Hunter S. Thompson continues to resonate: “I read his article on Thompson,” a Straight Up visitor writes. “It brought to mind the sound of an empty garbage can bouncing its way down…
Posted in Straight Up on March 3, 2005 11:24 AM

Hunter’s Last Word – Literally
Hunter S Thompson’s parting word – plot device or comment?
Posted in Blogcritics on March 3, 2005 12:09 AM

HST is dead—get over it
Hunter S. Thompson managed to fool the Leftists who clung on to him – if only they knew the truth about the “Good” Doctor.
Posted in Blogcritics on March 2, 2005 07:18 PM

Hunter Thompson and PJ O’Rourke: The limitations and influence of HST
Hunter S Thompson was a one trick pony. He did a fairly amusing trick, but it was pretty limited. It went something like this: Get journalistic assignment to cover a political campaign. Get really wasted on as many exotic chemicals…
Posted in Blogcritics on March 2, 2005 04:02 AM

Hunter S. Thompson’s eternal hell
An observation …
Posted in Blogcritics on February 28, 2005 11:46 PM

Shallow, selfish schmuck: Afterthoughts on Hunter S Thompson
Hunter S Thompson was a shallow, selfish schmuck. Now, Hunter Thompson made some at least moderately valuable contribution to the art of letters. His style was innovative, and highly readable. His adventures and rants were often more interesting than the…
Posted in Blogcritics on February 26, 2005 04:59 PM

Dead Gonzo: Glorification of Suicide?
As in life, there is a twlight blurring of the boundaries between Hunter S. Thompson as esteemed literary figure, and the actual person who lived on this earth. Even his family participates in the myth-making, buying into — at least…
Posted in Blogcritics on February 25, 2005 10:16 AM

HUNTER S.THOMPSON [1937-2005] Loathsome Secrets… Of a Star-Crossed Child… In the Final Days… Of the American Century… Whore that he was… That Hunter S.Thompson… For having the last laugh… Son-of-a-bitch… Bowing out like that… Just as the world ignites… Kapow!…
Posted in Blogcritics on February 24, 2005 07:17 AM

Dear Ralph, we killed like champions > Final Thoughts on HST
Hey all, this will probably be my last Hunter piece for a bit… at least here at Blogcritcs. The reason is because beginning any day now he will be on the cover of every magazine and a zillion writers and…
Posted in Blogcritics on February 24, 2005 03:16 AM

Gonzo Obits
Writers’ obituaries by other writers are normally very well-written. Besides chronicling/reminiscing about the deceased, they afford us a chance to appreciate the eulogizer’s own writing and life. Occasionally, as illustrated by Jan Herman, obits afford one final chance to drive…
Posted in Blogcritics on February 23, 2005 10:11 AM

As H.L. Mencken wrote, “It is the national custom to sentimentalize the dead.” By now you’ve probably seen Tom Wolfe on Hunter S. Thompson. If you haven’t, you should. It’s terrific. It was fast. And it doesn’t sentimentalize him. Wolfe…
Posted in Straight Up on February 22, 2005 02:47 PM

Hunter S. Thompson. The Savage Journey Ends
We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.
Posted in Blogcritics on February 22, 2005 11:52 AM

Hunter S. Thompson
Well, damn. HST was undoubtedly one of the strangest and most evocative writers that I’ve ever encountered. And one of the most alive. We are all the poorer for his loss. Here’s some brief words of wisdom from HST: “I…
Posted in Blogcritics on February 21, 2005 10:25 PM

Hunter S. Thompson: Soundtrack Where the Buffalo Roam
Where the Buffalo Roam (1980) A soundtrack with Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Neil Young has to be great, right? Well, the soundtrack is better than the film just for it’s eclectic song selection alone. But what…
Posted in Blogcritics on February 21, 2005 09:04 PM

Hunter S. Thompson – Writer
“That power of conviction is a hard thing for any writer to sustain, and especially so once he becomes aware of it. … It is not just a writer’s crisis, but they are the most obvious victims because the…
Posted in Blogcritics on February 21, 2005 05:51 PM

The suicide of Hunter S. Thompson is a huge, irreplaceable loss. A lot of people didn’t know of the Page 2 column he wrote on the Web for ESPN.com. But Hey, Rube was treasured by many of us who were…
Posted in Straight Up on February 21, 2005 03:52 PM

Hunter S. Thompson, Mahalo
Hunter S. Thompson came to prominence by writing about what is was like lead the life of a madman. He wrote about hallucinogenic drug-fueled antics and savagely insulted and/or threatened just about any figure of prominence that came into his…
Posted in Blogcritics on February 21, 2005 03:01 PM

Hunter S Thompson
My tribute to Thompson is this: Because I read Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail, I will never
Posted in Blogcritics on February 21, 2005 02:50 PM

The Doctor Is Out
Hunter S. Thompson is dead. Recalling good times with the good doctor – before the Big Darkness came.
Posted in Blogcritics on February 21, 2005 04:30 AM

HST Goes Into the Darkness
One of the great writers of our era, Hunter S. Thompson – dead on his own terms and at his own hand at 67.
Posted in Blogcritics on February 21, 2005 03:14 AM

Hunter Thompson, goddamn you!
Well, I just found out minutes ago that Hunter S Thompson is dead. This is terrible news for me because he was a god to me. I am sad and torn and will deal with this the way I deal…
Posted in Blogcritics on February 21, 2005 01:17 AM

Hunter S. Thompson – Dead At 67
A Great Loss…
Posted in Blogcritics on February 21, 2005 12:31 AM

Hunter S Thompson Suicide
Uncle Duke has checked out. Reports are coming in that 67 year old author Hunter S Thompson shot himself to death Sunday, February 20 at his home in Aspen, Colorado. [For local coverage from the Denver Post, CLICK HERE.] Hunter…
Posted in Blogcritics on February 20, 2005 11:58 PM

Hunter S. Thompson’s Hey Rube
In his latest collection of essays Hunter S. Thompson looks at sports and politics in his unique and head-spinning way and comes up with moments of both great insight and great confusion. The essays in Hey Rube are collected from…
Posted in Blogcritics on February 19, 2005 01:57 AM

The Blessed Reverend Repulski writes: “Dropped into the Albany town library and there noticed Hunter Thompson’s name on the current Rolling Stone cover. Guess what? He fell for the shoe-in Kerry jive too. Some forecasts are too painful to consider….
Posted in Straight Up on November 7, 2004 02:41 PM

Hunter S Thompson – still alive
Hey all, we often wait until a great talent is dead to stop and take a moment to appreciate their impact. I want to stop and talk about a great influence in my life and style while he is still…
Posted in Blogcritics Archives on August 13, 2004 03:58 AM

Hunter S. Thompson on Limbaugh
Did anyone know that Hunter S. Thompson writes a column over on ESPN.com’s Page 2? This week he discusses Monday Night Football, Rush Limbaugh, and other things in sports. Rush Limbaugh is a lame professional Swine and he makes a…
Posted in Blogcritics Archives on October 9, 2003 09:27 AM

Kingdom of Fear : Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century – Hunter Thompson
“We are few, but we speak with the power of many. We are strong like lonely bulls, but we are legion. Our code is gentle, but our justice is Certain – seeming Slow on some days, but slashing Fast on…
Posted in Blogcritics Archives on July 31, 2003 03:24 PM

Pirates of the Caribbean: Fear and Loathing on the Seven Seas
Depp plays Captain Jack Sparrow as if Hunter S. Thompson himself was on a magical, pirate-infested acid trip.
Posted in Blogcritics Archives on July 19, 2003 10:40 PM

Gonzo Wedding
Hunter S. Thompson got married: Surprise surprise, eh? It was done with fine style and secrecy in order to avoid the craziness and drunken violence that local lawmen feared would inevitably have followed the ceremony. I know nothing about planning…
Posted in Blogcritics Archives on May 3, 2003 09:31 PM

Hunter S. Thompson and Other Youths Rally Against the War
Hunter S. Thompson has joined the poets in opposing possible war against Iraq. Given his ethos of retribution and reckless love affair with guns, I am surprised by his anti-war stance this time around. I hope it isn’t that his…
Posted in Blogcritics Archives on February 3, 2003 09:51 AM

Kingdom of Fear
First I removed the jacket so I wouldn’t have to look at Hunter Thompson’s naked ass everytime I picked up the book. The rear cover is adorned with a full body nude shot of the author carrying some kind of…
Posted in Blogcritics Archives on January 27, 2003 07:58 PM

Powered by

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • Eric Olsen

    with the “send-off” I thought I would put this up one more time.

    Jim C’s tribute is painfully poignant in retrospect

  • For another good piece on HST, check out the piece about his relationship with the illustrator Ralph Steadman at Design Observer by Michael Bierut: Fear and Loathing in Pen and Ink.

  • Eric Olsen


  • Geo

    He wasn’t that special. I’m surprized he didn’t bloodstain one of his precious .44 magnums. I wonder if it under the chin or some side shot. Why do I think things like this?

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Lee, fascinating stuff; Vik, I’m sure HST would be happy to know he translates well

  • Vik

    Le avvisaglie della Morte…
    Dì Hunter,
    no c’erano ancora di pagine da scrivere?
    di manie popolari contro cui inveire?
    di baaar donde sedersi e gustarsi una tequila nella penombra,
    o arrischiarsi a controllare come preparano la margarita,
    o ancora un altro viaggio all’inferno, ” Una Divina Commedia alla mescalina”,
    no mas?

    Another dead Hero.
    Hunter S, Thompson, R.I.P


  • Nice piece on Hunter Thomson.

    I knew the doctor for years and have assembled some memories at:-


  • Mitchell G. Culver

    Thompson wouldn’ta done it for Bush. He would never give his life for such a worthless curd of spoiled milk; no matter how far he took himself with everything else, I’d buy the pain and agony story before I ever thought George Bush would drive him to death, unless he expected a far greater and more loyal following than he actually had to take his example and either run with it, or use it as a martyr-claim to the throne of American politics. He was far too humble a soul for that to have happened. Res ipsa-n peace.

  • Dan

    Thompson finally did us all a favor. He had turned into a boring, sour, dopey old geezer. Obviously he couldn’t even stand himself. God, what a loser………

  • [Cross-posted to another post …]

    I suspected that he might have killed himself from the [sarcasm] ignamamy of living in Bush’s America.[/sarcasm] Ever since Bush got elected, it was downhill for him. I did genuinely like HST, not because I agreed with more than 1% of what he wrote, but because he was simply a very interesting character. Any guy so willing to be a guinea pig has, by proxy, to be interesting.

    But he was very self-indulgent and this was the final proof of it. Can you imagine killing yourself, doing this to your family, just because you cannot “endure” another four years of Bush? My oh my … any shreds of respect I had for HST just faded away.

  • Anyone who’s reading these terrible, soul-bearing journals must be at the least affected, saddened, confused, and/or empowered all at once by the news. Sunday was a weird day.
    The Doctor found me early on in life and has yet to let go. Thompson’s words have become a dependant substance, in their own right, because of their subtle, bastardly wisdom, because of the fearlessness and criticism that comes out of them so effectively, so flawlessly clear and effective.
    He grew old, though, as we tend to do. He was plagued by pain, plagued by abuse, plagued by his own vision, stuck in a battle between a world he despised and a world he longed for. With his own brand of terrorism he fought to keep it all at bay, or perhaps himself from the rest of it. He was as highly connected as journalists go, he loved football, he loved gambling and he loved guns. He loved Hemingway, he ended his life like Hemingway, with a gun, never enough Hemingway in Thompson. We, the young writers who secretly dream of following the Doctor, we, the proud ones who follow the Doctor, are as he would have been when Hemingway squirreled himself away in Idaho and ended his own Strange and Terrible Saga, way back before Hell’s Angels, in the time of Rum, when Thompson slipped off into the cradle of the Carribean to follow the great fisher-king, the old man of the Sea and America…Thompson gave himself – and there is no need for Christ analogies here, God doesn’t apply in these situations – Thompson gave himself as Hemingway gave up to him, a bitter, tired old man who’d long outlived his own reason for existence, and long deprived of anything feeling even remotely pure. When that happens, the only option is to find another world. He will be missed, hardly forgotten, perhaps far better known today. There were good obituaries and wire photos, they captured what the world might generally think of the man. He once said it was possible for anything to come across the press wire, and in the story of the twentieth century, he was one of the things you weren’t sure how to handle, so you took it at face value and decided it was good enough to print, to read, to try to understand, for whatever reason. It was strange, it was fun, and now it is done, done done.
    Goodbye, Dr. Thompson, thanks for all the fun.

  • Steel

    I just found a lucid Hunter in the mid-fifties staking his claim to an unsecured life and all that goes with it: “Security”:


    Could this essay be the formal beginning of his subsequent madness, his first shot fired for others to hear, his declaration of war on those and theirs disturbing his America?

    Hunter fascinated me in my early and mid-twenties. A fellow political junkie, at the time his writing seemed to cleave meaning down to the bone. And it hurt. Viciously. They really do that? Really?

    But ten years hence, a little wiser and longer lived and Hunter’s madness seems just that: Mad. Paranoid. Angry. And almost Envious of Real Power, as if he wished he held an office from which he could wreak revenge on the common coward. (Wasn’t this part of his platform in his run for Sherriff on the Freak ticket?)

    So I was surprised to find the “Security” essay. It is so clear and crystalline, very unlike his other madder’n’addled observations. He channels Thoreau here: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”. A good reminder when feeling a little desparate, because misery loves company. If he felt desparate then at least he was loudly so.

    The irony of this essay is that according to his own definition his newest nemesis, Bush, is living rather than merely existing, and possesses “the only true courage: the kind which enables men to face the unknown regardless of the consequences.” Hunter’s scathing attacks post 9/11 (Bush et al as “Fascist Oil Nazis”) is just too simple, too facile, and too damn easy for a writer that saw Security so clearly fifty years ago. It is unoriginal, boring, and sounds like ananlysis from one whose head is so far up his ass that he’s eating a buffet served in 1968. It is also makes him too damn cozy with an enemy who would sooner burn his books and stone him in the public square, rather than celebrate his wacky weird wanton life as is happening here. And Hunter, if you’re logged on, you damn well know it. RIP.

  • Stephen Colet

    my close encounter
    The Red Sox, Gonzo, and Book Soup

    The rain fell upon the parched streets of Los Angeles on this October evening. The weather and the mood ugly. It had been 167 days since the last rainfall, just a drop in the bucket measuring back to the early dark days of the Bush regime. I had decided to forego Monday night football and baseball’s playoffs and make a pilgrimage to the West Hollywood Book Soup. Seeking inspiration, or at least clarity. I should have known better.
    We dodged murderous commuters in Humvees and Kingcab trucks and parked the Saturn on the hill, just before Sunset. Blake, my son and copilot, pointed to the sidewalk and shouted as we turned toward the oddly available parking spot, “Hey, that’s Elvis Costello.” I agreed. Having recognized the eyewear and silhouette peripherally. Cool, I thought, a good omen. It was time to make it to the store and buy a couple of copies of Hey Rube. Secure our chance for a guaranteed ticket (numbers 194 and 195) and get our books signed by Hunter S. Thompson, in what I knew was a rare L.A. appearance. The flyer from Book Soup clearly stated, only 205 numbers were guaranteed, and Hunter would only sign Hey Rube (this, among a long list of stranger draconian stipulations) so we were happy, nothing to bitch about. It had been close, another drive around the block, and we would have been out of luck.
    With two hours to kill, our spot assured, and some serious baseball on, we decided to bide our time across the street at the Red Rock, a restaurant-bar on Sunset Strip with a big-screen TV. Perfect, have a couple of beers; watch the rest of the Yankees and Red Sox game, then head over to a line growing in the light drizzle. We sat until a few minutes before 7 o’clock; the game went on and on. The Red Sox refused to die as it went into extra innings. It was time to leave, the signing was about to start.
    Frustrated that we didn’t get to see the end of the game, we headed across the street, opposite the billboard advertising Brian Wilson’s Smile, and took our place in the sprawl of anxious fans. The legions seemed restless and became more confused and unruly by the minute. By 7:30, the line had not moved at all. People just milling about, paging through their books and passing time with their own tales of book signings and celebrity sightings. Idle chatter that seemed just a bit edgy. Others, however, whiled away the minutes nipping flasks and becoming boisterous with drink. Still a few, becoming sloppy drunk in serious imitation of their guru. Meanwhile, the front of the line remained the same. No movement. Just frustrated patrons fondling their books and speculating why things were barely moving.
    We were tired of standing. Myself, restless with anticipation, shifting my weight from left to right, adjusting the shoulder strap on my bag. Then Blake, asking why he had to bear this burden of books and camera. It was all starting to seem like work. At least it wasn’t pouring rain. I glanced at my watch, wondering about the games. The last I heard the Yankees and Red Sox were in extra innings and the Astros and Cards tied. Worried about losing our place in line, we endured our sports-fix malcontent.
    Then the streetlights at the corner blinked off and a new darkness drew everyone’s attention. It interrupted all the contemplation and distraction. I heard a screech of tires on the slick street. A young mod-type wearing a tweed coat and purple tee yelled back from a spot just up ahead, “It’s him!”
    Heads turned, “Do you see it? The hat! He’s in there! That’s him!” It being the white cowboy Stetson that stuck out like a giant sour dill in a cheesecake. A white hat blinking, barely visible as the camera flashed. They were taking pictures, of us! Snapshots taken from a full-size, in your face, SUV. A black Cadillac Escalade, driven by, and loaded with young nubile nymphs. These smiling and now cooing bacchanals, a sort of snatch phalanx shielding its cargo.
    God Damn it! What the Fuck! I swore in silent jealousy.
    The monster Caddie paused before us, steps before the curb. It was when I heard some giggling, another camera flash and then brief silence, broken, by the wail of a banshee, a deep guttural wail, loud and clear, “BUSH IS GOING TO GET YOU ALL!”
    These words reverberated then froze still in the cool California air. I heard them more than once. The SUV suddenly sped away and turned to park behind Book Soup. The event had begun.
    That’s when things really started to get weird. Sights and sounds filtered through the misty rain.

    Hey people! Check it out! There is no 1966 in the book! There is nooooo fucking 1966 in the book! Open it up, check it out! It’s the truth!
    The book is 246 pages long. But that is beside the point.
    This particularly wasted fucking Rube was waiting in line with his friends, Tecate and Jack Daniels.
    And I broke ranks to walk up the street to a sidewalk bistro with a TV visible from the sidewalk. The Red Sox had won. It was after eight o’clock and there was still no movement in the line. I guessed that Gonzo was watching the game and things would finally begin now that it was over. I was partly right. The two of us moved forward stealthily, taking cuts in line, passing the drunken and stoned. We were closer to the front but unfortunately the front held as stubbornly as the Bush lies on the war. We stood poised in front of no man’s land when the Book Soup messengers started their routine.
    A shell-shocked duo of lower-level employees appeared, charged with event spin. A kinda good cop, bad cop thing, good news-bad news, spiced with swirling crowd rumors that were now fueled with liquor and smoke.
    “We need a single file line….and line up by numbers,” pronounced hopefully by the Ms. Sunny representing Book Soup. She was speaking through a megaphone. This was pure vaudeville. Course, chances of a single-file line by numbers with this mob was about as likely as getting a Humvee dealership in Amish country. Wasn’t going to happen.
    Meanwhile, sirens were blaring on Sunset Boulevard, with a hook and ladder company and paramedics barreling through the intersection. This definitely wasn’t Woody Creek, first-rain fatalities were notorious on L.A. streets as the oil-soaked asphalt and pavement bled to the surface.
    Eventually, the first of the line moved forward, about a half dozen entered the store. Soon afterwards, Book Soup’s version of Dr. Doom came out for an update. This time there was no megaphone. The diminutive meister of event relations with the spiked hair and beady eyes bellowed in a voice that belied his stature. “WE DON’T KNOW WHERE HE IS RIGHT NOW, HE’S LEFT THE ROOM, WE DON’T KNOW WHERE HE WENT!” “SOMETHING IS WRONG!”
    Back at the front, conversations turned surly, mean-spirited. Only the first third of the crowd had heard the doomsayer. The drunken book-minion with the Broncos jersey, the one so obsessed with 1966, was trying to pick up on a slender, beautiful blue-eyed charmer dressed in black leather and wearing an over-sized foppy maroon hat. She was smoking a cigarette placed in a silver holder. It was not the authoress Patt Morrison, but it might as well have been. She smartly spurned his teetering advances (the Rube had nearly fallen numerous times and was now about to go head over heels into the brick planter she was sitting on the edge of) with a curt, “GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE, ASSHOLE!”
    Apparently the vibe was spreading. Across the street, in front of the Red Rock, two Rubes were pummeling each other with bad intent. Some people apparently were pissed the Red Sox had won.
    Ms Calm appeared again to soothe the nervous. A megaphone squawked and burped just before the muffled sound of the hired Ms Soother, “We will not close the store until he leaves” “We are going to stay open as long as he is here to sign books” “He did not feel well and left to get some air for a bit, but he is now back in the signing room”
    Finally, word from an actual signee. A punchy, shaggy, grey-haired dude, clutching his book, sighing, “Man….it was great…..I was there when he went out to have a smoke…..HE WAS SMOKIN A DOOBIE OUTSIDE!….He’s talking to everyone…..but ….but…..I don’t know….he doesn’t look good…I don’t think he’s going to make it…he looks sick….he can hardly sign…he’ll never sign all these books…they have to keep telling him to continue writing his name on the page…..he keeps stopping…he don’t look good!”
    Well, so much for the staid literary world of high-browed authors with gold Cartier pens. What the hell, this wasn’t Mary Higgins Clark behind a table of books.
    Another report, this time from a petite young Asian woman in an oversized Fear and Loathing sweatshirt, “I went out back….there’s a bunch of people there…they must be starting their post signing party early…I saw Benicio Del Toro….I swear he winked at me” “Yeah….sure,” was the incredulous reply from her friend, “you thought it so hard you willed it to happen…sure, he was looking right at you and he winked at you.” “I’ll bet Johnny Depp smiled and said hi too,” she laughed.
    The stories were getting stranger and the mood even darker. It was ten o’ clock. We hadn’t moved at all. I wondered about what craziness could have taken place earlier, across the street at the Viper Club. Who knew. Something definitely was happening out back of Book Soup. Problem was, the front of the store was the same. No book patrons returning with signed books.
    The first word of calamity came from the trickle of people quick-stepping it along a narrow path that led from behind Book Soup and along the news stand that fronted Sunset Boulevard. The news was disheartening, he left. “He’s gone” “Took off” “Drove out of the parking lot” “Gone.” Then came the official word, a confirmation from the young lady who was in charge of crowd stroking. “Mr. (now it was Mr.) Thompson has left, he got sick and could not continue, he has left the store, there will be no more books signed.”
    “Fuck you bitch!” it was the Bronco guy’s friend, another sloppy drunken rube, yelling at the young lady who just called him a fag. “Fuck you, you ugly bitch!” were the parting shots of this gawky book lover in an overcoat as he slammed his bottle of Anchor Steam Beer to the pavement.
    Nobody had yet cleaned up the vomit near the rear door of the signing room. Gonzo did in fact take ill and leave. I bemoaned this lost chance at a puke-stained scribbled signature on my copy of The Rube.
    Considering the grueling length of the book-signing ordeal and the ultimate letdown, the response was pretty timid. There were a few cries of frustration and disappointment, “You Pussy! You Pussy!…no not you (as he looked at the Book Soup spokeswoman) Him! “Fuckin Pussy! This was said just before this Hunter Thompson aficionado teetered forward, only to be caught by Dr. Doom escaping contact with the hard cement. Another whimpering, “ They send you? You? Low-level employees out to give us this information?”
    Doom replied weakly, “Hey, this was after all Hunter Thompson….I mean, come on.” The line for refunds started up and seemed to be moving briskly.
    We left with our books and a story worthy of the Gonzo journalist. As we drove home, I couldn’t help to think about the words I’d heard from the back of the SUV.
    Over the years I had met a President and his wife, a 60’s music icon and a two-time heavyweight champion of the world, enduring long lines with book and camera in hand, for a once in a lifetime chance to meet history and leave, with a signed book and a photograph as proof. I should have known meeting George Foreman, Brian Wilson, and the Carters would not prep me for a close encounter with Hunter S. Thompson. Not in these ominous times. This was not your typical book signing, it was more like waiting for Jim Morrison to jump from the roof of the Roxy theater or for Janis Joplin to fall from the stage. It was an event of ignoble excess befitting the infamous Gonzo journalist. The mystery of gigonzo proportion is, of course – exactly how the hell does the pied piper of extreme indulgence continue his journey of fear and loathing?
    I guess it doesn’t matter. The truth is Hunter Thompson speaks with the same clarity today (strangely as an ESPN columnist), about the same echoes of doom and darkness that haunt America.
    I should have known. A book signing with Hunter S. Thompson is not for the faint of heart, it is a bloodsport. I left with a sense of doom. I felt like a rube. Driving home with a parking ticket fluttering on the windshield wiper, going home only to be awakened in the middle of the night by my son, who was chasing a bat around the living room. It was not a dream. It was real, fear and loathing lives!

  • Stephen Colet

    The loss of Hunter S. Thompson will always unfortunately be measured against the insipid contemporary reflections on the American psyche. In these days of political extremism – when civil liberties are under threat, and contrary voices are ever-the-more dimmed – undaunted voices of honest criticism and social commentary are needed more than ever. To the end, Hunter S. Thompson not only gave us the most entertaining ongoing commentary of America’s political-social-economic experience, he steered us to the depth of America’s heart and soul. Ultimately, sounding a horn and shining a spotlight into the darkness where no one dared. The King is dead, long live the King.

  • Stephen Colet

    The loss of Hunter S. Thompson will always unfortunately be measured against the insipid contemporary reflections on the American psyche. In these days of political extremism – when civil liberties are under threat, and contrary voices are ever-the-more dimmed – undaunted voices of honest criticism and social commentary are needed more than ever. To the end, Hunter S. Thompson not only gave us the most entertaining ongoing commentary of America’s political-social-economic experience, he steered us to the depth of America’s heart and soul. Ultimately, sounding a horn and shining a spotlight into the darkness where no one dared. The King is dead, long live the King.

  • david hume

    It didn’t have to be this way. It didn’t have to be suicide, or what some are calling pre-emptive self-determination, PSD. Hunter could have died a natural death, old age setting in, like Arthur Miller on tubes, or Allen Ginsberg from cancer, or any other kind of long, natural death, or even he coulda been killed in car accident.

    Does it matter how he died? Game over. HST is gone.

    Like many people have said elsewhere, I don’t think he will be remembered the way Mark Twain or William Faulkner or Joseph Heller-22 or Hemingway. In 50 years, Hunter will be nobody. He only survived this long because of the counter culture celebrity conciousness. And drugs.

    The guy was a scoundrel. What did he ever do for America? He hated America, stole from her, gave nothing back in return, except his drug addled venom and bile. Really. What is the big deal here?

    Another junkie is dead. So what.

  • Deb – I think you’re reaching. Don’t you think if anyone would have gotten to Thompson, it would have been Nixon?

  • Deborah

    Hey, is there anyone out there except me who thinks that Hunter S Thompson did not commit suicide? I think the lng reach of the Bushies had something to do with silencing this man who couldn’t be silenced any other way.

  • Adam

    The world is now as shocked and confused as your whole life was. Now that you’re gone whose to laugh at the yokels in politics, primetime television, or the other trivial bullshit in life. You really don’t know how much I’ll miss you Hunter. Your thoughts and ideas have molded me into the young writer I had so aspired to be. So now, dreary-eyed, 3 fingers of bourbon and half a joint ease my weary head down to my pillow, cursing and sobbing. Mahalo….

  • Pete Christensen

    The passing of an influence causes me to pause and take inventory of the event, and the person whose life so struck me. Often, I will go to the books or other works by the dead icon.

    So I really shouldn’t have been surprised when I paged through this “Author’s Note” tipping off “The Great Shark Hunt”.

    He starts by describing a Christmas night, working on a book, contemplating his last day on earth…

    “So if I decide to leap for The Fountain when I finish this memo, I want to make one thing perfectly clear–I would genuinely love to make that leap, and if I don’t I will always consider it a mistake and a failed opportunity, one of the very few serious mistakes of my First Life that is now ending.”

    “But what the hell? I probably won’t do it (for all the wrong reasons), and I’ll probably finish this table of contents and go home for Christmas and then have to live for 100 more years with all this goddamn gibberish I’m lashing together.”

    “But, Jesus, it would be a wonderful way to go out…and if I do it you bastards are going to owe me a king-hell 44-gun salute (that word is “salute,” goddamnit–and I guess I can’t work this elegant typewriter as well as I thought I could)…

    “But you know I could, if I had just a little more time.”



    HST #1, R.I.P.

    I lift my Manhattan to you Doc, may you find peace in the beyond



    He´s dead! OK! This is a sign for us who thought to be alive.
    Gonzo could be more than the duke ever recognized. Let´s do it the Gonzo way!

  • Eric Olsen

    oh, and it appears now that this happened Sunday afternoon, so he wasn’t around to watch the SNL special

  • Eric Olsen

    MC, are you saying I characterized his death as a “final, decadent call for attention” in the story, or someone did here in the comments, or just people in general? It was not my intent to do that.

    Aaman, Thanks to you!

  • MC

    From what I understand, Mr. Thompson was bipolar. I think that characterizing his death as a final, decadent call for attention is as absurd as it is insensitive. Yes, he lived wildly; many of us do. But if he was bipolar as has been so widely speculated, then perhaps it is better to say, thank you Hunter, for all the enlightenment. I am sorry you had to suffer for so many years.

  • Neat torrents, and great roundup, Eric

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Eric, Doug and Knight, very interesting and fitting that one man’s death, by suicide at that, has brought out so much good writing and deep thinking. It really might give him a chuckle or two.

  • Knight of Rose Croix

    Let me explain why the good Doktor is still very much alive.

    He achieved stardom decades ago by breaking out of a tired and constricted form of journalism. He and a number of others trailblazed a path called the New Journalism.

    What they did then differs little from what we see today in New Media: a break from the predictable and ideologically stunted media that distrusts new voices.

    In reading all the media obits today, I was struck by how all of them focused on HST’s drug use, his foul language and shocking behavior, etc. Granted it’s all true, but it’s a shame that he’s remembered for such pointless antics.

    I choose to ignore the drugs and craziness now because as I got older I saw he’d become a caricature of himself, unable to grow, to keep up with change in our culture.

    He was not the greatest American writer, but he was, at one particular period, the right man for the right job.

    How many of us can claim the same?

  • Doug Cunningham


    By Doug Cunningham

    Those goddamned giant bats are viscious bastards this morning, dive-bombing mercilessly into my brain, relentlessly harassing and screeching into my soul as they beat their wings, furiously triggering the worst nightmares I’ve ever had. Trapped in this bizarre agony, a horror show plays across my consciousness on this foul, gray February Monday. Images of a Gollum-like mentally and morally misshapen shrub of a human being claiming to be “President of the United States” lecturing Europe on “values” and “freedom” flash strobe-like across my mind as the awful news pierces the macabe political performance flickering across my TV screen. Wretching from the very thought of such a gruesome spectacle, the blood of tens of thousands war victims washes up around me as mindless TV news anchors sputter inanities behind botox smiles through blinding bleached-white teeth that reflect only the banality of their worthless “journalism”.

    The good doctor is dead. The Shark Hunt is over. Fear and Loathing looms larger than at any time in history and Hunter S. Thompson’s shining light on the path of truth has been shot out forever.

    Jesus! What a kick in the balls! What a torturous, brutal blow to the solar plexus of consciousness! Hoping for hallucination, the reality nonetheless seeps in. It’s finally gotten weird enough for me.

    There is no justice in a world where neo-cons flourish and Gonzo’s godfather snuffs out his life. Hunter lived life his way, though, and apparently ended it his way, too. The electric energy and laser-like explosive power of his words will reverberate against the halls of power forever. Generations of swine to come will be exposed and assaulted by those words, by that Gonzo consciousness that will unmask them for what they are.

    We are on the edge of a socio-political /cultural desert and the drugs aren’t taking hold. If Richard Nixon represented the darkly venal and incurably violent heart of America, then George W. Bush is the deformed bastard child of perverse religiosity that magnifies that violent venality and blesses it with demonically twisted “righteousness”. Manifest destiny indeed…

    We are all standing by the urinal with the leader of the free world as he mutters “Fuck the poor.” Hunter Thompson was the menacing outlaw Doberman of a journalist always threatening to lunge straight for the crotch of the Nixons of this world. His life is over but his spirit still soars above the wreckage of our political and social landscape, even as the vultures of the right circle over the remains of the New Deal ,the Great Society and the counterculture.

    The freedom and truth expressed in the writings of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson dwarf the Big Lies of the Talibush. And Thompson was no sixties relic. That gunshot he fired doesn’t blow away his lifetime of courageous, outrageous rage against the machine.

    Standing in this valley of doom with the dark clouds rolling in around me I can see that high-water mark on the western horizon where the great wave of counterculture rebellion crested and rolled back, Hunter. I can see it. But I can also smell the rising tide of resistance that has just begun to build. I can feel the first faint tremors beneath my feet that will soon bring down the walls of Jericho and it was your horn that made the first and deepest cracks in that wall.

    Gonzo forever!

    Doug Cunningham

  • Eric – Great tying in of HST to the SNL special from last night. I watched it as well, and was really reminded of what made the show so great and special in the first place: it was edgy, different, strange, risky… and always entertaining (or at least watchable).

    Hunter S. Thompson was all of those things and had a special gift with the written word. Along with Jack Kerouac and Tom Wolfe, I place the three writers among the most influential for me as a writer and the way in which I view the world.

    I’m sad that Thompson is gone, but there’s a lot of great things, great stories, great moments to remember and hold onto.

    By the way: I found HST’s ESPN column to be one of the best and looniest sorta-best-kept-secrets on the Net. Each one was a loopy ride, and I tried to read it whenever I got the chance.

    Finally: I don’t think the Fear and Loathing film did HST as Writer justice. Depp looked great and the performances were neat/disturbing, but I found the experience like the ickiest dope trip I never took. There was very little of the manic energy turned hilarious freaked out aside-rich turbulent word-storm that comes across in HST’s best passages.

    Great writer, I pay tribute to thee.

    Eric Berlin
    Dumpster Bust: Miracles from Mind Trash

  • Eric Olsen

    I’m not nearly as pessimistic about the nation or the times as Thompson or horhay, but very nice tribute nonetheless

  • horhay

    How weird can it get before you just can’t take it anymore?

    HST. Dr. Gonzo. I think we all knew he was going to go out with a bang. Maybe he didn’t like the way he was aging? Maybe he felt like no one was listening? Some of us were, and we still are. Hunter, you made a difference. You shovelled through all the bullshit, and actually found a way to break down politics to us. You brought out the truth, even if it was risky. You had the courage to say and write things most of us would be paranoid for the rest of our lives.

    It must have been discouraging to see these arrogant neo-fascists emerge from right under our feet, taking control of our country. I know it pisses me off. But now we really need you, Hunter. I know that’s selfish of me, but too many of our allies are disappearing.

    In this foul year of our Lord, 2005, we are off to a bad start. Half of America voted for the lunatic, retarded, cowboy and his metal-hearted corporate greedhead wizard of oz. Now you’ve left us. Bad craziness, indeed.

    You said the American century is over, and man did it end abruptly. Now it is painfully obvious that America is a hoax. This empire is crumbling and el presidente says we need to bring democracy to Iraq, Iran, etc. So what happened to our so-called democracy? It’s infuriating. One can see why Dr. Gonzo just couldn’t take it anymore. The world is going to be different without you and your writing. You had the balls to write just about anything.

    I love how you would go into such detail about politics or history or whatever, and then go on these incredible tangents. You were one of the greatest literary talents of our times. Sometimes we could barely understand what you were saying. Your writing was always enlightening, honest, and succinct. You were a genius. I wish more of us had told you these things while you were still in this world. Hunter, you will be missed. My condolences to your family and friends. Peace………..

  • Eric Olsen

    my problem with Fear and Loathing was Depp didn’t seem to be able to muster the manic comic energy that is the most appealing aspect of Thompson as a personality. I’ll have to check it out again

    I’ll have to scare up WTBR again too, haven’t seen it in years. I liked it better than the critics at the time, who hated it. But I do not recall it as a classic.

  • “Where The Buffalo Roam”, I saw that with my mum, (no wait, that “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, she liked the light show).

    “Where the Buffalo Roam” was a mess, but the recent Critereon re-issue of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is amazing. It totally captures the decent into ugliness, and they made Toby Maguire shave his head!

    Plus HST shaved Depp’s head, so it is head shaving all around.

    Even Neil Young somewhat distanced himself from the soundtrack to “Where The Buffalo Roam”.

  • gonzo marx

    “when the going gets weird, the weird turn Pro” HST

    the Curse of Lono is finally fufilled…the greedheads and swine can rejoice…i can almost hear the Tin Man with his gravelly chortle pulling his hand out of the Shrub’s ass for a second so he can squirt some Iraqi’s blood onto the corners of his rusted mouth, enabling that shark like smile….fuck them…i refuse to allow this Horror to drown me in the Kingdom of Fear

    a giant has fallen in the Wilderness…none of the “legit” Citizens will do more than a token Notice…but the freaks,the outlaws,the strange, the thinkers, the Doomed….they will notice.

    among the Tribe of the Weird there will be much Lamenting and consuming of peyote buttons as we Spirit Walk and rail against the gods as to why our Shaman has been taken from U.S.

    the gods won’t Answer, of course…they never do, and now there is one less Voice to put our muddied feet on the Path…one less Visionary to rub our noses in the fact that the Emperor is ALWAYS naked…you can almost hear the cackling from Hell as Nixon jerks off violently in small souled glee…

    when most of the hippies that had tuned in,turned on and dropped out shed their tye dye clothes for the yuppie suits and BMW’s of Reagan’s 80’s…becoming the fascist neo-Cons, epitome of all they had railed against, Hunter stood firm on the slippery muck of Principle and Truth…spewing the Words that helped tear away the Veil of Corporate propaganda and hauling us out of the rut induced by cowardly, politically correct, right-think.

    he was not the kind of man that burst thru a concrete wall spitting dust and looking good doing it, he was more the guy who watched that Freak consume the room, and then picked up all the loose change on the floor after the bar fight…but he always “stomped on the terra”, leaving indelible boot prints on the necks of our Spirits as he gnawed on the Skull of Truth with his very own teeth.

    so wash down that mescaline with a quart of Wild Turkey, spark a joint and wait for it all to kick in…give the good Doctor the mother of all Wakes that he deserves….

    me…i’ll be wondering who is going to feed the mojo-wire with the flotsam of America’s id, and wailing and gnashing my teeth in the realization that half a continent away in the quiet snows of Owl Farm the peacocks are crying….


  • Eric Olsen

    so how does anyone feel about either of the HST movies, Where the Buffalo Roam, or Fear and Loathing?

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks all for the really great work on HST – touching, perceptive, meaningful, soem great writing – much appreciated!