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HST is dead—get over it

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Just when the eulogies are going a bit stale, it has come time for me to add my thoughts about the late Hunter S. Thompson.

The “Good Doctor” was, in his own way, an incredible writer. He did have a knack for getting a story. However, he wrote with such reckless abandon, tossing accuracy aside in the process, that he merged fact with fiction to the point where the lines between the two became blurred. It was if he was forcing you to believe every single thing you read. I’ve always thought it was strange how he kept pushing the limits and breaking the law, and yet somehow – incredibly – continued to get away with it. You thought to yourself, this guy must be God himself. He’s untouchable.

In short, he was a man who had a super-inflated opinion of himself. And, expressing this opinion in the more fictional accounts of his adventures/assignments, HST became legendary.

But, though excessive, his writing was interesting. It’s always fun to hear about someone’s adventures after they’ve rendered themselves nearly mentally ill from too much alcohol, amyl, marijuana, cocaine and acid. It was the acid that Thompson was especially fond of. And then actually trying to explain your worldview while in the throes of a come-down – this was the “bent appeal,” as HST would say himself, in his work. There was a good reason why Hunter’s work was referred to as “Gonzo” journalism.

HST had always been a Leftist. The more political views expressed in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas reflected his distrust of the Establishment, but it was the Nixon-bashing Fear and Loathing: on the Campaign Trail ’72 that appealed to liberal-Leftists everywhere. That book bestowed immediate anti-Establishment credentials on Thompson and made him a favorite of pinko cognoscenti everywhere.

Yet, though quite far to the Left, HST did have a love of firearms. And he was not afraid to use them. For instance, in Hell’s Angels, in describing his living arrangements at the time he first started hanging out with the biker gang, Thompson wrote, “For reasons that were never made clear, I blew out my back windows with five blasts of a 12-gauge shotgun, followed moments later by six rounds from a .44 Magnum. It was a prolonged outburst of heavy firing, drunken laughter and crashing glass.” Uhm … for reasons that were never made clear, Hunter? You were severely shit-faced! Seems pretty clear to me. (Incidentally, regarding Hell’s Angels, it is worth noting that in this 1965 book, Thompson first uses his trademark phrase “fear and loathing” (from Chapter 4 of “Making of the Menace”: “Here was Examiner, which had always viewed the Angels with fear and loathing …”)

This is just hinting at HST’s dark side. He was always a heavy drinker, and didn’t just take his frustrations out by shooting his back windows. In a revealing expose on Thompson in the February 27 issue of The Mail on Sunday (a British paper) by Sharon Churcher (I regret that I cannot find this article on-line, but if anyone doubts that this source exists, I’ll be more than happy to send you a photocopy), HST’s relationship with his wife is explored:

[T]hompson had met Sandy Dawn … They married in May 1963 and for the next 16 years, Sandy would be the victim of abuse and violence that drove her to alcoholism. Meanwhile, Thompson made little attempt to hide his dalliances with other women, including prostitutes.

The first time Thompson struck Sandy was while they were staying with a New York newspaper editor and his wife.

“I got into a conversation with the husband,” Sandy recalls. Hunter went to bed ahead of her. When she followed him, “all of a sudden, out of nowhere, came this really powerful punch across my face.”

Another time, they had drinks with a friend of Thompson’s, and his wife. “The wife has the worst racist,” Sandy says.

“I stated my admiration for the black race and when we got in the car, Hunter just screamed and hollered. He tried to push me out of the car while it was moving.”

Hmmm, seems like our hero to liberals everywhere was quite the racist. Churcher reveals more about that particular subject:

Thompson also resented black people. Gerald Tyrrell, a teenage friend, says: “There was a concrete culvert. Black dudes would be walking down there and we would ambush them. We had air guns and we’d shoot at them.”

Neville Blackemore, another friend, adds: “Hunter used to say, “Let’s go fight the niggers.”

Thompson’s racism was no folly of youth. In 1974, he was sent by Rolling Stone magazine to Zaire to cover the “Rumble in the Jungle” fight between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali. But he sold his tickets to buy drugs and said, “If you think I’ve come all this way to watch two niggers but the shit out of each other, you’ve got another thing coming.”

Compare that attitude with his sympathetic account of Ali’s struggle against the government over refusing to serve in Vietnam in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: “I turned to the sports page and saw a small item about Muhammad Ali; his case was before the Supreme Court, his final appeal. He’d been sentenced to five years in prison for refusing to kill “slopes.” Hunter wrote that in 1971. Three years later, his admiration for Ali seemed to have waned considerably.

Wife-beating and disrespecting women. Racism. Could it get any worse for the Left’s favorite author? It sure can. We can add homophobia to the list. Churcher writes:

Thompson detested homosexuals too. Again, he resorted to violence. In 1960, while staying in California, he discovered some hot springs were used as a meeting place for gays.

According to [Paul] Perry (author of Fear and Loathing: The Strange and Terrible Saga of Hunter S. Thompson), Hunter began stalking them with a club, threatening them. Then he and two friends took an alsatian and two Doberman Pinschers to a hill overlooking the springs. There were about 40 gay men bathing, many of them naked. Perry says: “Hunter growled, ‘Party’s over!’ He pulled a .44 Magnum and fired a shot into the air. Then men charged down the hill with the dogs lunging.”

We get some further insight into HST’s attitude toward gays in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: “We wound up at a place called The Blig Flip about halfway downtown … and we drank off a pot of watery “Golden West” coffee and watched four boozed-up cowboy types kick a faggot half to death between the pinball machines. “The action never stops in this town,” said my attorney as we shuffled out to the car.” No mention of how wrong and despicable that beating was. No remorse demonstrated on behalf of the “faggot.” Just a matter-of-fact, very nonchalant account of his witnessing of a gay bashing. True, that was at least 15 years before Gay Liberation got absorbed into mainstream liberalism – but you can tell Thompson actually enjoyed the violent scene.

In 1990, Thompson was tried for a third-degree sexual assault on a female reporter, Gail Palmer-Slater, who had sought an interview with him. He was also tried for possession of LSD, cocaine, marijuana and explosives that investigators found while searching his house on a warrant. Thompson denied the assault charge, insisting that Palmer-Slater actually worked in the sex industry, selling lingerie. Palmer-Slater charged Thompson with grabbing her breasts and punching her after she refused to hold the interview in the hot tub. In Songs of the Doomed, Gonzo Papers Volume 3, Hunter rails against the charges: “The only mention of drug use in this case comes from a browbeaten female witness who was drunk at the time and dopey with fear and booze and bad nerves. This is a Fourth Amendment case. It is not about sex or drugs or violence. It is about police power.” Yet, the Fourth Amendment clearly states that no warrants shall be issued except for probable cause. Knowing Thompson’s history, I’d say that was all the probable cause investigators needed.

So there you are. The man whose death every liberal-Leftist mourned was the very vision of what they consider repugnant. Care to shed any more tears for the “Good” Doctor?

HST was entertaining, no doubt about it. For instance, he had me crying tears of mirth during one story in The Great Shark Hunt where he recounts the time he and an associate were flying back to the U.S. from South America with many various drugs left in their cache. Thompson declared that there was one thing he’d never done and never intended to do – bring drugs in through customs. And he didn’t want to waste them either. That’s right: They gobbled every single one of them one the plane. And if they acted a bit strange, they’d pass it off as having drank too much. “It’s no crime to come back into the country drunk,” Thompson convinced his friend.

But it’s becoming ever more clear that HST invented “gonzo journalism” because he could never have fit into the conventional world of journalism. He always got his story and somehow managed through all his run-on sentences and abuse of punctuation to communicate the point. But does that excuse his massive self-indulgence and considerable prejudices?

HST referred to himself, in several of his writings, as a freak. No argument there. Now he’s a dead freak. As liberals were so keen to tell us when Ronald Reagan died, time to move on.

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About Nightdragon

  • Mike

    Fuck you, true Hunter S. Thompson fans will never get over his death!

  • HW Saxton

    Nothing to get all worked up about Mike,
    the author is just as entitled to his
    opinions about Hunter S.Thompson as you
    are to yours.

    Instead of the eloquent reply, maybe you
    should take a little more time & effort
    to state YOUR views on why his writing
    does not suck in your opinion.

    But: “Fuck You!!!!!!!” will always gets
    the point across in a pinch.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    HST was a great writer. But he wasn’t a good man.

    He was very influential, but did he use that influence to better the world? Or just to better himself?

  • http://ageofreason.mu.nu Tom

    If HST led a normal life with a wife, 2.5 kids, a dog, and a small manicured suburban lawn the press wouldn’t have been gushing over him. It’s because of his excesses, his abuse of every drug, and hatred of mainstream America that so many in the media loved him so dearly.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Wow all these unoriginal replies match the agenda-filled nothingness of the post.

    Is there such a word as “staler?” Cause you’re there infant.

  • Eric Olsen

    I think this is a very well-written and measured account of the relationship between the writer and the person, from the point of view of an admirer of the writing. I’m not convinced there is a left-right angle to this at all, but I find the rest of it very perceptive

  • Bill

    Hunter’s brother was diagnosed with AIDS in 1989 or 1990. As for his views on race, you have to read all of his work. If you’re surprised that a young man in 1940-50s Louisville, Ky., had rascist views, well, then you’re a terminal moron. But like many folks, HST grew out of his youthful experience. Read what he had to say about Thurgood Marshall.

    HST was no liberal. He held libertarian views, and had nearly as much venom for the craven Left as his did the Right. He was a political persuasion unto himself.

    The man had personal flaws. That doesn’t detract from his accomplishments. If we’re going to weigh the value of all writers based on their personal lives, we’re going to be left with little literature of value.

    If you’re a Leftist brimming with disappointment, get the fuck over it. HST was what he was. He’s going to be remember through his books and movies long after sneering bloggers mentally jerking off on the sidelines of obscurity.

  • jud

    What another failed tabloid reporter, who has nothing worthwhile to say. Just another parasite who lives on the talents of others. HINT: try to get yourself some orginal material. And quit picking on the dead. But despite all the efforts to discredit Hunter, GONZO lives on, and on, and on.

  • http://www.rodneywelch.blogspot.com/ Rodney Welch

    Mark Edward Manning isn’t making sense.

    “The man whose death every liberal-Leftist mourned was the very vision of what they consider repugnant.”

    Which Left-Liberals are we talking about here? Tom Wolfe and Tucker Carlson, who all but canonized him? Or MTV’s Kurt Loder, whose article was comparatively dispassionate? Or traditional liberals like Jimmy Breslin and Sidney Zion, who knew Thompson well and thought the reaction to his death was much ado about not much?

    Thompson was a hero to writers and will likely always be — particularly among journalists, who realize early on that a story can be objectively and accurately reported and completely wrong at the same time. He turned it completely around; he could write factual bullshit that was true in spirit.

    This is, I think, the only kind of hero Thompson cared to be: a hero of the imagination. He certainly would have preferred that to being some kind of saint of the left. As Bill notes above, Thompson took great delight in liberal-bashing: Johnson, Humphrey, Muskie, etc. There was one time, I recall, when he attended the unveiling of a portrait of Dean Rusk and asked who the artist didn’t paint the bastard with blood on his hands.

    He didn’t hide his use of the “n word”; it floats freely through several of his pieces — although, personally, I was quite willing to chalk that up to drugs or irony or the possibility that he was doing Tarantino before Tarantino was cool.

    Thompson wasn’t a saint, and I think that’s why people miss him so much. He tried to get as much of himself into his writing as he could — and that’s dangerous. He didn’t present himself as a harmless, banal little putz who followed the rules and believed all the right things. He was fearless.

  • Eric Olsen

    very well said Rodney, but while he may have been fearless a a writer, from what I can tell from a distance, he was a very fearful person, hence all the running from reality, blusterr and bravado. Adn his last act certainly confirms that scenario

  • http://www.rodneywelch.blogspot.com/ Rodney Welch

    I don’t see it that way; I think there was a genuine fuck-you, take-it-or-leave-it ballsiness to him, you know? Call it adolescent or immature or psychotic, but it wasn’t timid and I don’t think it was false bravado. The thing that’s interesting to me in these days after his death is all the people coming forward saying how much his outrageous behaviour WASN’T an act.

    Recall, I’m strictly anti-suicide, so any reason for doing that is a bad reason. You can credibly argue that it was cowardly, but I think the suicide was mainly reflective of his life in its weird spantaneity, and the fact that he attacked a nagging problem with a gun.

  • http://nightdragon.diaryland.com Mark Edward Manning

    Tom: “It’s because of his excesses, his abuse of every drug, and hatred of mainstream America that so many in the media loved him so dearly.”

    Exactly.

    Bill: “[HST] had nearly as much venom for the craven Left as his did the Right.”

    That was never made clear in his writings. The only liberals he ever bad-mouthed were the “cold-war liberals” of Hubert Humphrey and Lyndon Johnson. I remember, in The Great Shark Hunt, HST writing about a soiree that the Democrats in Jimmy Carter’s entourage (during Carter’s ’76 primaries) were going to hold for Dean Rusk and Hunter refused to participate, and couldn’t understand at all why, because Rusk was a “warmonger.” Hunter based all his venom upon those who fought or directed any war for any reason. Some of that sentiment is understandable, but I get the distinct feeling the HST would have spat in Gen. MacArthur’s face … and that is not the sort of man that I will ever put in a good light.

  • http://www.rodneywelch.blogspot.com/ Rodney Welch

    I wouldn’t spit in MacArthur’s face, but I always love reading about how President Truman showed the arrogant S.O.B. who’s the boss.

  • http://sbc Dale Bottoms

    Good old Dr. Thompson, always shooting his mouth off.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    “Good old Dr. Thompson, always shooting his mouth off.”

    Punny!

  • Cpt. Willard

    Mike, you dick. WE don’t care about yours or any other num nut view on The Doc. WE will continue to shed tears, drink beers and beat queers (only those who bad mouth The Doc). If you were my wife Mike, I’d beat you senseless then share you with my BLACK friends. It’s something to think about Mike, WE’LL be watching you.

  • Cpt. Willard

    Mike, Mark, same bastard, you know who I mean. We’lll still be watching you.

  • Aaron

    History forgives those who write well.

    Hunter S. Thompson wrote well.

  • http://nightdragon.diaryland.com Mark Edward Manning

    Cpt. Willard, I salute you!

  • Willy

    It is amazing to me how many people there are in this world that are capable of crafting a readable sentence, but incapable of recognizing an original thought. You entirely miss the point of a writer like HST. Was he a perfect politically correct caring man that shoudl be respected by people like you for his fairness and respect for all human beings regardless of their lifestyle choices? No. Was he quick to condemn those who did not share the view that all people are created equal and to stand up for their right for them every opportunity he had? No. And the way he did none of theos things are what made him brilliant. Fuck the politically correct always compassionate, fair and balanced, all Men are created view of life. That is not life. That is bullshit. Art is long and life is short and YOUR success if VERY far off my friend. Keep it up with the narrow minded everything is fixable mentality. You are doomed to a life of late night musings on rarely read websites. HST was a genius who kept us laughing and thinking, oftne times to ourselves so we woudl not be judged by the phonies like you and yours. He was human and flawed like you and I. The key difference was he had something original to say, unlike you … you obsequious dung beetle. – res ipsa loqutur.

  • Shark

    Because of Manning’s insatiable hard-on for “Liberals”, he’s decided to trot out all the horrible activities from HST’s personal life.

    Like we give a flying fuck what some motard with a modem thinks of one of the greatest writers of the late 20th century.

    Just wanna add my “dittos” to all other contributors who took the time to articulately explain why Manning is a dick.

  • Shark

    BEST LINES OF THE DAY (and an explicit indication of the extent of HST’s influence)

    BILL: “If we’re going to weigh the value of all writers based on their personal lives, we’re going to be left with little literature of value.”

    WILLY: “You are doomed to a life of late night musings on rarely read websites.”

    CAPT. WILLARD: “If you were my wife Mike, I’d beat you senseless then share you with my BLACK friends.”

    You should be so original, Manning.

  • http://www.morethings.com/senate Al Barger

    Rodney [comment 9]- NO, GODDAMIT: he could write factual bullshit that was true in spirit. What you’re saying is that it doesn’t matter that he’s lying, cause he’s saying what we already know is true, ie what we WANT to believe.

    Write a novel with fictional characters, and you can say whatever you want. If you’re publishing non-fiction NEWS articles, then you don’t get to make up the facts.

    By what standard do you propose to judge “truth” if you start by discounting the necessity of judging based on actual facts on the ground?

  • Steve Mitchell

    To Captain Willard and his fans,

    I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings but Hunter Thompson was just an aging anti-establishment redneck (as you openly seem to be Cpt Willard). Yes, he was original (probably more so for commercial reasons) and yes he could write a good limerick with interesting anecdotes but he hardly seemed
    “liberal” – a liberal wouldn’t be part of the NRA to start with…

    From a younger generation’s standpoint Hunter S. Thompson was always much more of a Libertarian self-styled redneck. He was unique and undoubtedly acted according to his own moral code but that doesn’t make him a liberal in any sense (Libertarian’s are anti-war too). His advocacy of the use of drugs and alcohol, may have made him seem liberal in the 1960’s but by the 2000’s, just left him seeming stuck in adolescence.

    I would say that he killed himself to rekindle a final moment of self-styled glory in a fading horizon. It was a classic way for him to go out. He liked the limelight and this was his final blast. Quite literally.

    If he killed himself because of a despairing and fore-boding view of the post-September 11th future that seems amazingly narrow and self-absorbed. And that may just be an indication of who he was and what he really stood for…

  • http://nightdragon.diaryland.com Mark Edward Manning

    So what you’re saying, Shark, is that it’s OK to be a racist, a wife-beater and a homophobe as long as you can claim to have put the most negative spin on Nixon and then Bush Jr.

    Now I know where you really stand. Good job.

  • Cptn. Willard

    Hi folks,

    Look, WE loved the guy, some of us really felt that HE WAS our voice, and that voice is gone now. So naturally SOME of US will get upset when someone tries to bring up negative points about Doc. But thats what America WAS all about, freedom to speak your mind, including you Mark. It’s crucial for you younger people to look past the drugs and booze and negativity stories that are and will be pushed on the public. Dig deep into his work, make the connections. DON’T FOLLOW LIKE SHEEP. I’m 37 and I wonder what some of you younger generations really know about truth and lies. Never accept anything at face value, you might get cheated either way. In the months and years to come let us (the fans)keep his memory alive by digging as deep as we can into anything that reeks of lies and deceit, and bring the truth to light. The man or woman who does nothing when something wrong has been commited is as guilty as those who commit the crime. Hunter did NOT sit by, he fought so we would see the light. Don’t waste your time.

  • http://nightdragon.diaryland.com Mark Edward Manning

    Cptn. Williard: “I wonder what some of you younger generations really know about truth and lies.”

    Captain, I’m 35: I’m only two years younger than you. We are from the same generation, so my point of view is hardly that of a jaded youth.

  • Christine

    yes yes, hunter was flawed as fuck. but it’s no surprise that he has somewhat been built up to be “larger than life”. so many people enjoy his writings and they don’t want to see past some of his truely fucked up features. but think about it, what popular figures DON’T have flaws like these. hell even GHANDI was kind of a bastard in a way, he deeply hated his wife and disowned his son for marrying into a different caste or someshit. now maybe comparing hunter to ghandi isn’t the best way to get a point across but that’s what i thought of first. if you dig deeply enough you can find out terrible things about ANYONE, so maybe we can turn that around so his great writing can outweigh his character flaws.

  • Cpt. Willard

    Mr Mark I wasnt directing that towards you. Indeed you are of my generation. I see you had a liking for Ronny Raygun? My cousin is the same way. He was a Ranger on stand by in the skies over Iran, poised to parachute in on a second rescue attempt. It was scrapped however but to this day my cousin will still claim Reagan as his own. I myself share the same star sign as Reagan. It’s a small world after all.

  • Kostja Schibrowski

    “HST was a great writer. But he wasn’t a good man.”

    Well, most people don’t have either quality.

  • http://www.chiodos.com Chatty Kathy

    Well, considering that HST’s best friend was the late Ed Bradley (yes, THAT Ed Bradley, 60 Minutes’ Ed Bradley), who last time I looked was black, that kinda shoots big fat holes in your “he was a racist his whole adult life” theory, eh?

    And yes, as someone else has already mentioned, Hunter was a big, big admirer of Thurgood Marshall, who he credited with helping him to jettison the racism he grew up with as a white Southern child.

    That being said, HST couldn’t ditch all the habits of a lifetime. He and various black rappers both used the N-bomb for shock effect as well as to point out the attitudes of a not-inconsiderate portion of White America, as shown by the GOP’s adoption of the racist “Southern Strategy”.