Feb 23, 2005

Hunter S. est mort

I first read "Fear and Loathing" age the age of 10. Then again in junior high school, high school and college. The drugs and alcohol were exotic, to be sure, but it was the utter mayhem and humor that hooked me. Although he became somewhat of a caricature in his later years, I think we'll miss such an explosive, deadly accurate social critic.

Here's what a close friend of mine had to say via email:
I was fortunate enough to hear Hunter S. Thompson speak in December 1984 at San Diego State. On his college tour, he would have a "host" from the school paper or journalism society meet him at the airport, escort him during the day, and then get him to the podium on time.

Our host approached the podium at about 8:15, and surveyed the crowd of 300. I remember that his hair was very tousled, that his tie was slightly undone. But what I remember most clearly that he was positively confused, as if he were watching himself from five miles away, finding it somewhat confusing but still fascinating. He looked at us, looked at the microphone, and just...stood there. For 60, 90 seconds. And then, "I'm just..." Another 90 second pause. You could have heard a pin drop. "...so" 10 seconds searching for the words "...fucked up right now". We all cheered him, and someone led him offstage. (To a cot? Tijuana? White Slavery?) I often wonder what happened between the 10:00 AM arrival of the plane and the 8:00 PM lecture.

Thompson surveyed all of this from behind a table. He had a microphone, many cigarettes and a bottle of Wild Turkey on ice. The day that had nearly killed our host had done nothing to him. He spoke for the next hour of his adventures, read from his work in progress and took questions from the crowd. He drank copiously. A friend from my dorm floor was so overwhelmed he just thanked Thompson three times instead of asking a question when it was his turn at the mike.

I remember feeling like that host at San Diego State when I got a hold of my uncle's copies of Fear and Loathing and Hell's Angels when I was thirteen. The right books at the right time-a mind bending experience.

I'd like to think that if it was 1972 and I was upstairs from Raoul Duke's party, I would have wandered down and joined the party instead of calling the front desk to complain. Probably wouldn't have, but I'd like to think so. What would you have done?

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