Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Hunter S. Thompson, July 18, 1937 to February 20, 2005

Most of what follows was originally in an email to friends that I sent last year.

When he was alive and writing (and kicking) Hunter S. Thompson was renowned for his preternatural gifts in political prophesy (as you may be aware). If I could guess at his largest professional frustration I would say it was society's steadfast refusal to heed his warnings. Two years ago today, he shot himself. On September 12, 2001, HST wrote the following:
The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now -- with somebody -- and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.

It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides. It will be guerrilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy. Osama bin Laden may be a primitive "figurehead" -- or even dead, for all we know -- but whoever put those All-American jet planes loaded with All-American fuel into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon did it with chilling precision and accuracy. The second one was a dead-on bullseye. Straight into the middle of the skyscraper.

Nothing -- even George Bush's $350 billion "Star Wars" missile defense system -- could have prevented Tuesday's attack, and it cost next to nothing to pull off. Fewer than 20 unarmed Suicide soldiers from some apparently primitive country somewhere on the other side of the world took out the World Trade Center and half the Pentagon with three quick and costless strikes on one day. The efficiency of it was terrifying.

We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. Who knows? Not even the Generals in what remains of the Pentagon or the New York papers calling for WAR seem to know who did it or where to look for them.

This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed -- for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush. All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and that he, the goofy child-President, has been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it Now.
Pretty smart guy, that Hunter. Pretty damn smart. Later, he wrote this:
We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world-a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil , but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us...No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we'll kill you.

Well, shit on that dumbness. George W. Bush does not speak for me or my son or my mother or my friends or the people I respect in this world. We didn't vote for these cheap, greedy little killers who speak for America today-and we will not vote for them again in 2002. Or 2004. Or ever.

Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having all this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking halfwits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid little rich kids like George Bush?

They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammed Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks. They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character. They are the racists and the hate mongers among us-they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis.

And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck them.
A Turkish production company has made a movie set in Iran where the hero Turks get all hero-y by besting the evil Americans. We have become the movie Nazis to the rest of the world. Now, when the free world needs a villain to beat up on for entertainment, they don't look to Russia, or China, or the Germans, or the Japanese, or the British. Now, we're the automatic assholes. And not just in their movies, but in their lives as well. Smart guy, that Hunter.
We are the Nazis in this game and I don't like it. I am embarrassed and I am pissed off. I mean to say something. I think a lot of people in this country agree with me...we'll see what happens to me if I get my head cut off next week -- it is always unknown or bushy-haired strangers who commit suicide right afterwards with no witnesses.
HST, January 2003.

"We are the Nazis in this game." Yes, you too. All of us. Everywhere we go for the rest of our lives, we'll trail the shame and blood of this President behind us. It will be the brand on your forehead the moment you open your mouth in another country: American Here. People won't see the Statue of Liberty or the boats of D-Day or the Great Society or the City on a Hill or the Berlin Airlift. They'll see Baghdad in flames (except for the Oil Ministry) and the dead points of dark in W's pupils as he stumbles drunkly through yet another glib slogan that ends in jets and troops and bombs and sorry there's just no more money for the Veteran's Administration or FEMA or anything but Star Wars and trips to Mars and this endless, pointless war.

Three days before he killed himself, Hunter wrote a suicide note titled "Football Season is Over."
No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun -- for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax -- This won't hurt.

His body was betraying him -- that is known. I don't know if Thompson finally decided not to live through shameful days. I don't know if he ran out of energy, finally, at the end of a long road. I don't know if he suffered early deterioration due to his life-long chemical abuse (which was legion).

I just hope I can channel enough of his mojo to make it through the rest of my own epoch, with a similar steadfast chip on my shoulder.
Here you can read The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved, the first of Hunter's works to fully embody his Gonzo Journalism, a style he adopted for the rest of his career. Douglas Brinkley's Rolling Stone obit is here.


deadissue said...

The Kentucky Derby article is a great one indeed. I always have 'The Great Shark Hunt' in close proximity, as the notion will strike me to revisit Carter's Law Day speech, Hunter's interview of Ali...the total immersion in so-called 'voices in the know' today can rattle the senses to the point where the only potential remedy is a visit to the good doctor. His words following 9/11 and as Iraq was turned into hell on earth, I found myself struck by the incredible impact his writing had on me, as the urge to pump all of it full of shotgun holes was always there, yet subdued by American life, the paper, the TV...

I don't think Hunter ever ran into this kind of a problem.

I've got some copies of Q&A sessions from the late 70s, early 80s he gave on college campuses. I can mail them to you if you're interested. Also, here's some transcription of his work on deadissue, I believe that I have 'The Police Chief' and 'How the South Was Settled'...time to go look:


...guess I never finished typing in the police chief...it's overdue (deadissue readers must become acquainted with the nutcracker flail)

Anonymous said...

Wow, It makes me sad. I don't want it to be true nor do I want to feel like our military deaths and victories are useless. Except to drag our own names involuntaraly through the mud. I most definitly do not want to feel like I was "duped" I have to walk a line of ignoring my own deeply rooted beliefs perhaps even allowing myself to be fooled and making the right clear headed descions. Too many of us our mearly foot soldiers trying to stay in our own lane. I have a distinction of being able to say I have stood in certain places as history was happening. I have seen a great number of faces affected first hand by the happenings of modern day. I am forever saddened and forever moved. I have a great deal of respect for Hunter. He had a talented way of thinking and wordsmith. However in my current line of proffession I have alot of drug addicts call me alot of names I hardly ever listen. PSDM