Monday, February 21, 2005

Gonzo Journalist Thompson Eats A Bullet

It Was Tasty, Too

It's hard to absorb, but I find that I hardly know anyone any more to whom I could remark about Hunter S. Thompson, creator of Gonzo journalism, being dead today at 67. Of course, I can't help but feel we should just be surprised that he made it this far.

I recall that all my first encounters with his writing were in Rolling Stone, those interminable articles about fear and loathing, about talking football with Richard Nixon in a limousine—the craziest man in America mistaken for a "real" journalist and allowed to travel knee to knee with a presidential candidate because Nixon only wanted to talk football right then! Bizarre…

There's lots of stories about guns, booze, and drugs, and if I knew them all, then like Hunter I'd have to retrieve some of my brain cells before I could begin to tell them. He was a weird character, yet he was supposed to be the reporter, not a character. Never mind. He wrote much of it down, I guess, and you could read that. He also may have been one of the first bloggers, for that matter. Not in the sense of the daily post, but in the sense of interjecting himself so much into what he reported that "being Objective" ceased to be an issue.

I'm not sure Thompson is the kind of writer who makes sense through the decades, but of course he's only been dead about 10 minutes, so how can we know? Since I lived through some of the times as he was writing it, he made perfect sense to me then. It's been a few years since I read any of his stuff, so I wouldn't know if he did or didn't have some overweening reason to snuff himself. But he's gone now—I guess some of the demons he used to see came to get him finally. Either that or else all those harried desk clerks (whose rooms he used to wreck) caught up with him.

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