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 Thompson significantly redefined the very idea of journalism. He upturned all expectations of what journalists do, inserting himself and his hard-living rock and roll lifestyle into his stories to the point they sometimes almost seemed to be more about him than the nominal subjects. Along with the writing of Tom Wolfe, Thompson’s newly subjective expression became the basis of so-called “new journalism.”
Yet in his day, back in the 60s and 70s, he had some skill and craft at work that belied the half-conscious dope fiend he described in his stories. He wrote very good character sketches, and in fact told the actual stories in the midst of all the flava.
You wouldn’t likely see any sign of his impending suicide in the most recently published article, dated for February 15, a silly but pleasant little goof called
“Shotgun Golf with Bill Murray.”
Among his other adventures, his 1970 Freak Power ticket run for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado has been an especially entertaining inspiration to freak power candidates ever since.
Besides his writing, he provided the inspiration for Gary Trudeau’s best Doonesbury character, Uncle Duke. It’s even better that Thompson apparently HATED the Duke character, expressing the desire to do bodily harm to the author. This is, of course, how you would expect Duke to react. Uncle Duke’s biography HERE.
Surely the wicked Hunter S Thompson must go to hell for his sinful ways. In my own role as Dante, though, it probably wouldn’t be too harsh a punishment. Uncle Duke got his worst torment being stuck at home in Aspen- with John Denver as his next door neighbor. He could wake up every morning for all eternity to the strains of “Rocky Mountain High.” That’d learn him to kill himself.
“Uncle Duke has left the building” at More Things