Dr. Hunter Stockton Thompson was a champion of fun. If he is remembered at all, it is through exaggerated shades of his personality. Bill Murray in Where the Buffalo Roam, and Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas are examples of this. Although these are hilarious depictions of the man himself, he was more complex than just an extreme dope fiend.
“Drugs usually enhance or strengthen my perceptions and reactions, for good or ill. They’ve given me the resilience to withstand repeated shocks to my innocence gland. The brutal realities of politics alone would probably be intolerable without drugs,” he said.
Politics was one of his favourite things to write about. Hunter was fist and foremost a patriot for all that was good and decent in the American heart. He was a warrior for maintaining the rights and freedoms assured to him at birth.
Hunter ran for sheriff of Aspen, which was his first real trip into politics. His team created a third party ticket, and called themselves Freak Power. The platform was original, to say the least:
1) Sod the streets and once done, rip up the street networks, and create a network of “delivery alleys”.
2) Change the name Aspen to Fat City. This would prevent greed heads, land-rapers and other human jackals from capitalizing on the name Aspen.
3) The sheriff and his deputies should never be armed in public.
Despite this platform, Hunter lost by a slim margin, only because of the left and the right splitting the votes.
Why would such a writer want to become a sheriff?
I would suggest it had something to do with watching the best minds of his generation being murdered in public. The Kennedys would scar Hunter’s mind for the rest of his life, in the form of Nixon:
“It is Nixon himself who represents that dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character almost every other country in the world has learned to fear and despise.”
Another watershed moment would be the Chicago riots at the Democratic Convention in 1968. His experiences there would be so traumatizing that he, a man who didn’t cry, could not talk about it without weeping uncontrollably.
His next dabble in politics was the Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trial ‘72. In it, Thompson let the pages fly off of his typewriter as the campaign was in full swing. Presidential candidate George McGovern said, “It was really rather remarkable the foresight he had as to what was going to happen.”
In The Darkest Figure in Politics, Frank Mankiewicz reviewed Hunter’s book as, “The most accurate and least factual account of the campaign”.
So I guess that brings us to the end, Bubba.
In the article, ‘Where Were You When The Fun Stopped’ Thompson describes the confusion of Sept. 12, 2001:
“There was no laughter tonight, only the sounds of doom and death and failure.”
In the coming years of the Bush Administration, combined with constant health problems, Hunter became depressed.
“This goofy child president actually makes Nixon look like a good guy,” he said.
He had always hinted at “going out like Hemmingway” but most friends didn’t take him seriously.
Hunter committed suicide on February 20, 2005.
In the words of Col. Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness: “The Horror! The Horror!
“Exterminate all the brutes!”
His cremated ashes were shot out of a cannon in the shape of Hunter’s gonzo fist, which had two thumbs and was holding a peyote button. It was paid for by Johnny Depp.
Res Ipsa Loquitur.