RollingStone.com: Hunter S. Thompson Dies : News “The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter Thompson lived his life on the edge. He was a cat with nine lives who should have been dead years ago. It’s a shame really that the man who lived so notoriously for his recklessness would end up dying by something as weak and, even more significantly, as boring as a self inflicted gunshot wound. It reads so dry and plain and typical — and Hunter was anything but typical. The grave was hungry for Hunter and he knew it. I just wouldnt have expected him to cave in so easily.
Hunter was fiercely loved and powerfully hated by many. He was a crass, glib, self indulgent, wiry politically crazed writer who turned journalism on it’s head and helped define a new breed of personal expression shrouded in the legitimacy of a press credential. He somehow bamboozled his way into the high court of the fourth estate and then proceeded to piss all over the furniture. He was a character. He liked to play with guns and, oh yeah, did a lot of drugs along the way.
Hunter breathed a self destructive ethos. He abused his body and mind in very real and substantial ways. He lived his life by his own brand new set of rules and he documented it along the way for the rest of us to enjoy, warm at home in our safe living rooms. While at times it was difficult to discern what was really Hunter and what was really the Hunter S. Thompson show, that boy could god-damn write. And god-damn write he did. In addition to guns Hunter wrote about sports, and the Hells Angels, and Richard Nixon, and cocaine, and Mohammed Ali, and mescaline, and George Bush, and the Kentucky Derby and a whole Generation of Swine.
As recently as this last Fall Hunter reaffirmed his literary and journalistic relevancy with some fantastically insightful pieces on the US presidential election for Rolling Stone. In his lead story describing the presidential debate between Bush and Kerry Hunter opened with the salvo, “Armageddon came early for George Bush this year, and he was not ready for it.”
Hunter usually got away with writing what he did under the mantle of serious journalistic publications because early on there was usually a kernel of truth that could be found. And as time went on Hunter’s passion helped his editors overlook the basics tenants of even op-ed journalism. Hunter enjoyed taunting his editors in print and was usually given a fairly wide berth. Where others might be censored Hunter could speak his mind. He could say horrible things and call people horrible names and get away with it because he did it with style. He was the original. Once his street credibility was established with the liberal elite he was given a permanent free pass to say whatever he wanted, about whoever he wanted, whenever he wanted. He laid the foundation for people like Howard Stern and Johnny Knoxville. Hunter said what he thought and spoke his truth irrespective of the consequences.
“Did you see Bush on TV, trying to debate? Jesus, he talked like a donkey with no brains at all. The tide turned early, in Coral Gables, when Bush went belly up less than halfway through his first bout with Kerry, who hammered poor George into jelly. It was pitiful. . . . I almost felt sorry for him, until I heard someone call him “Mister President,” and then I felt ashamed.”
In the end it is a tragedy that our great lion, that larger than life beast of a man who savagely beat others with the pen, in the end couldn’t handle the fear or the drugs. I never would have expected Hunter to go like that. Anyone else sure — but not him. An accidental shooting? Yeah. Somebody else shooting him in self defense? Sure, I could imagine that too. Well, one things for sure, the world won’t have Hunter Thompson to god-damn kick around anymore. Here’s to you Doctor. It won’t be the same without you.
The London News Review has a fitting obituary.
Ed Bott has a post of his own and a collection of links on the whole mess.