Hunter Thompson’s dead. Goddamn. There are maybe four or five “famous” people on earth whose passing I’ll truly mourn, and HST is one of them. He was a genius, a groundbreaker, a fucking American. Like any writer who wants to be worthy of his own profession, I first dove into HST’s stuff in high school–got blown away by the sheer POWER of his vision in Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas and Hell’s Angels. And a couple years back, I found an old copy of Rolling Stone from 1986 or so that had a piece Thompson wrote as a journalist in Saigon during the Vietnam War (“War Junkies” is one of the titles it’s run under, and it’s reprinted in Songs of the Doomed II), and sweet Jesus, Thompson made you feel like you were sitting right there beside the bombed-out pool in the shadow of a dessicated formerly-luxurious hotel, with the heat sticking close and death sticking even closer, jaded fellow journalists smirking glassy-eyed at you, and only a few glasses of Jack Daniels stood between you and total bug-out.
I even tried to chase down Thompson once, when I was living out in Colorado. Being young and stupid, I figured what the hell, I’d drive to Woody Creek and see if I could find the man. Couldn’t be that hard, could it? I located the Woody Creek Tavern, went in and shot some stick there but couldn’t get up the balls to ask the bartender if Thompson was coming in that night–I didn’t want to stink so badly of Desperate Acolyte. On my way out, though, I saw a framed sheet from a waiter’s notepad that read something along the lines of “I pledge never again to throw smoke bombs in the Woody Creek Tavern, Signed, Dr. Hunter S Thompson.” Beautiful. I later went out driving in the absolute primordial blue-black of a rural Colorado winter night looking for the gates to Thompson’s estate, and considering how well-armed and paranoid the man was, it’s probably a damn good thing I didn’t find it.
So…here’s to you, Hunter. We’ll try not to fuck things up too badly in your wake.