The Father of Gonzo Journalism has officially left the building. Hunter S. Thompson was found dead by his son from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound on Sunday Night. After living a life of reckless abandon, it perhaps seems fitting for Hunter to go out this way, perhaps not. But there wasn't anything remotely normal about Hunter, and as sad as it is, I highly doubt this comes as that much of a shock to anyone. Thompson had a flare for the dramatic, and as his novels attest, was no stranger to mind alterations. Many people, myself included, were quite amazed he was actually still alive, much the way one wonders how Keith Richards is still alive. His appetite for drugs and booze was legendary, and his ability to describe the mindset of someone tripping their asses off was unprecedented.
There have been numerous reactions to his passing. Tim Blair lists a few of them, Stephen over at Hog On Ice has his take.
Captain Mojo over at Chicago Boyz brings up the often overlooked aspect of Hunter, and that was his commentary on the failure of the hippie generation to accomplish anything other than get wasted and annoy conservatives.
Even for those who have never been particularly interested in wild times and substance abuse, he is a unique chronicler of mid-20th century American history. As well as being a constant assault on conservative values, much of Thompson’s works are bitter recollections and critiques of the failures and weakness of the counter culture. His excesses are, intentionally or not, as much a warning as a celebration.
If you want to know why the hippie generation has become so bitter and reactionary, just read the famous "high-water mark" quote from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. His "doomed generation" was the flower power generation collapsed on its own worthlessness. In his middle works, even conservative thinkers can gain profitable insight into the self-destruction of 60’s idealism, and see the progress of the 67’ers into obsolescence and the emergence of a more sinister and violent left in their wake.
I became a huge Hunter fan during college, after reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He was somewhat of a hero of mine for years, especially during the *cough* experimental stages in my life. I used to wish that I could spend a weekend at Hunters place in Colorado and get tanked while discussing politics. But Hunter definitely seemed to float further and further towards the deep end in his autumn years. And I became less and less interested in the counter culture and the experiments thereof. I immensely enjoyed his novel released in 1998, The Rum Diaries, and I do hope they follow through with the movie.
There will never be another Hunter S. Thompson. Requiescant in Pace Hunter....
"I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me."
Hunter S. Thompson