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Hunter S. Thompson – Writer

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“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 function of art is supposedly to bring order out of chaos, a tall order even when the chaos is static, and a superhuman task in a time when chaos is multiplying.”

Hunter S. Thompson, “What lured Hemingway to Ketchum?

I was surprised at how affected I was at this news, seeing it on the front page of the newspaper this morning. HST inspired me to do many crazy things as a young man, and inspired me to write. He revealed the man behind the curtain in the sausage factory which passes for journalism in NorthAm. For the last decade he has been a puppet show, yet a potent reminder at how irrelevant journalism has become, a plastic shell which seems to convey information, like settling for the mask is enough.

At some point over the last 30 years, journalism became divorced from writing, and in the last five years, as the chaos has increased, become even more meaningless. There’s plenty of information, but no writing, no insight, no meaning.

Saying journalism has lost something is like saying soap operas lost a talent when Brando died or what jingle writers lost with Warren Zevon. But at least there is still the writing.

We have ways to make you talk /
You won’t like at all /
If you can’t run, walk /
If you can’t walk crawl /
But don’t look down /
It’s a long fall /

— You’re A Whole Different Person When You’re Scared (written by Warren Zevon & Hunter S. Thompson)

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About Jim Carruthers

  • TJ

    He made me a better writer just for having read him. He will be missed every day as I sit down to write.

  • Dave Cook

    Dr.Thompson’s passing brought forth another vast sigh…godamnit, all the good and perceptive ones are leaving us, and Neil Diamond is gonna live forever? WTF?? I guess it’s the supercharged atmosphere these guys live in daily…all I know is that for a while, a wicked guy took us to the edge of some very deep abyss and forced us to look down at the all the shrill wanking ugliness, pale lidless eyes blinking in hollow sockets, such malice and dreadful thoughts churning in pink subhuman crania..and while being terrified into fouling ourselves we also managed to laugh so hard the Gentleman Jack came out of our noses..
    I know we are all heading off into the great beyond at breakneck speed, I’m in no great hurry but I can hear the hounds bellowing behind me, great salivating beasts drooling foamy blood and gore and I’m not praying but in an almost casual trance I have to ask..will this bit player be next? and why? Doc, I’m gonna miss you, ya charming bastard, I want you to have a big rock candy mountain all your own….

  • >>Perhaps this age of Bush Jr struck the doctor as fundamentally more depressing. << Actually, reports from his lawyer indicate that among the various oral statements he made before checking out - he left no note, just talked to everyone about what to do when he was gone for a week - anyway, one of the things he specifically said was that despite reviling Bush and Co.,, they were specifically NOT one of the reasons for his decision. Strange that he'd even bother to mention it. Dave

  • I guess this is what the thugs are trying to say:

    I’ll give you black sensations up and down your spine
    If you’re into evil you’re a friend of mine
    See my white light flashing as I split the night
    ‘Cause if good’s on the left, then I’m stickin’ to the right

    Back in Black indeed.

  • Scott Badenoch

    Hunter, Your Life Was an Imperial Death March

    I know what you do, old Man. I’ve seen this Act before. You’ve taken us on that Ride one too many times. Now you sit on your High Horse wishing nothing but what you used to be. Here we are without you, old Man.

    I can see you in the red heat Cadillac: walking was your least favorite mode. I type about this bastard who told me Tales touted as Truth, and I walked no more.

    Taking away the thought of the Human, there was no concern for the manner in which hammers fell. There wasn’t even a re-reading. Hunter left his mark as it was.

    We watched him dance about death about life about neither. He never told anything he hadn’t conceived. Now, bereaved, we see that his Voice was the mission we’d tried to become for years. Himself and no other options.

    The mother fucker knew how to party. His idea of fun was two pints of rum intermixed with more illegals than one man would do in a lifetime. Swinging from sobriety as far as fucked-up would take him, Hunter blazed one hell of a trail.

    Following a Man hell bent on demanding only the most uncomfortable material from public recesses, I imagine that thinking is the least of one’s concern. While contemplating synonyms, the error factory churns up some material. Fear not. Here, it has stopped.

    Hunter, we all lost a fixture, one son-of-a-bitch with a keen sense of his own God-given right to be here.

  • dr tim walker

    We’re all wired into a survival trip thesedays, and even moreso now the good Doctor has departed. I am sure, however, that there are a few good souls to tend the light at the end of the tunnel. To prove to the people that run a withered democracy that they can’t have it all their own way; just as Nixon knew he would never be loved. HST nailed him as something venal, the heart of darkness in the American Dream. Perhaps this age of Bush Jr struck the doctor as fundamentally more depressing. An simple idiot child is not a worthy openent when compared with previous adversaries – those geniuses of the dark arts. Still, essentially HST had a decent faith in the ordinary heart and will have been assured that other will follow him. Someone striving for Total Coverage amongst what is truly the Generation Of Swine. The world is a little more grey and a little more joyless today. Dr Thompson gone, Zevon still mourned… Now a walk down the road to The Losers’ Club…

  • 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?

  • Bradley Laboe

    I will miss him … BIG HUG for Juan, Jen, Willam and Anita… who never be able to fill the hole left in there lives by the man in spite of the myth and legend attached to his life..

  • 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

    by the way Jim, nice tribute – I didn’t find out until I got in (late, it’s a holiday) this morning and I am surprised how powerfully it hit me also. I got kind of dizzy and felt a hole growing in my gut.

  • Eric Olsen

    “creative non-fiction” – that’s what it is

  • Maybe, if we’re lucky, HST’s death will remind us what journalism is at its best, what writing is at its best, what creative non-fiction is at its best.

    Thompson may be gone, but his writing will remain and remind and live on.