I remember seeing HST when I was at UCLA, studying journalism, more than 30 years ago. It was just after Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail had come out. The book, and Hunter’s amazing voice, had a huge impact on me.
Many, many years later, I was on a Ziff-Davis junket in Aspen and our small group ran into Hunter while we were out snowmobiling. He was driving a convertible Cadillac, with a gorgeous woman sitting next to him. When he saw us, he pulled out a rifle and waved it around, muttering all the while about needing to get down a bet on that day’s NFL playoff game. We retreated, quietly, and someone in our group called 911.
A couple days later, I was at a hotel in New York when my publisher’s assistant called and told me that a deputy from the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office wanted to speak with me about the incident. He asked if I had ever felt threatened. I said no, I honestly didn’t. He wasn’t pointing the gun at us, just waving it around.
I asked the deputy if he had to investigate cases like this very often. He paused for almost a minute and finally said, “Well, Hunter is Hunter.”
Hunter, you’ll be missed.
Here are some additional remembrances for your reading pleasure:
Digby, Hullabaloo: “For some of us of a certain age, Hunter S. Thompson was our muse, our godfather, our Shakespeare.”
Ken Layne, Highways West: “Hunter S. Thompson stood about 10,000 feet tall and wrote in the rare and invented language of a furious romantic poet monster. He was a San Francisco newspaper columnist, Rocky Mountain troubadour, hipster hero, national political sensation, insightful reporter of the Los Angeles barrio and Las Vegas strip, southern gentleman and an inspiration to untold thousands of writers, outdoorsmen, artists and sheriffs of the Modern American West.”
Newdonkey: “…at his peak, he was without peer as a improvisational writer on subjects ranging from politics to drugs to pro football, to–well, to nearly every subject touching on his tortured vision of the American Dream. Any blogger who hasn’t read Thompson is arguably missing the originator of the medium’s distinctive style, long before the internet.Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, his brilliant account of the 1972 presidential campaign, reads a lot more like a long series of blog posts than any kind of print journalism report.”
Steve Gilliard: “…he was an inspiriation to two generations of writers. Everyone with some bent towards journalism reads his work and tries to emulate his style, which is impossible to do, because it was his. But his spirit and his moral sense are something which will draw young journalists in the way Jackson Pollock still pulls young painters and Groucho Marx inspires comics. Thompson knew what was right and wrong in a way that is almost gone from journalism today, he knew who got the sharp end of the stick and who didn’t.
Marc Orchant, The Office Weblog: “… it’s not really much of a surprise that he was an influence on so many of us.”
Ron Beasley, Middle Earth Journal: “… this guy really had a profound impact on my life and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was one of the first books I read that has stayed with me all through my life.”
Russell Beattie: “Eventually I decided to do other things, and never really got the hang of that extreme decadence a Gonzo journalism lifestyle would’ve required. But that dream is still out there.”
David Pescovitz, Boing Boing: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” – Hunter S. Thompson
Norbizness: “I hope he willed his stash to John Ashcroft.”
Giblets, Fafblog: “Don’t believe their filthy lies. Giblets saw the Good Doctor with his own two eyes just a few hours ago, heading north in the White Whale. He said he was headed up to heaven to shoot God. ‘The great bastard’s in season and it’s long overdue,” the Godfather of Gonzo said as he dusted off his elephant gun. ‘I have full reason to believe they will award me both the head and the tail. Expect me back by the apocalypse.’”
Tena, First Draft: “I hope Hunter’s afterlife is full of beautiful women who will ride topless in his convertible down all the mountain roads.”
Approximately Perfect: “I’m gonna have to get a quart of Wild Turkey on my way home.”
Jerome Armstrong, My DD: “I’ve not yet read Thompson’s most recent effort, Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and The Downward Spiral of Dumbness. But On the Campaign Trail ’72 remains one of the best ‘campaign beat’ books ever written.”
Gawker: “The better parts of us are trying to remember the work instead of the insane, over-the-top persona—which isn’t easy to do, since Hunter S. Thompson without his insane, over-the-top persona is like Superman without his super powers.”
William Gibson: “You made me come closer to pissing myself than any writer who ever lived.”
Corey Pein, Columbia Journalism Review: “Whatever you think of his opinions, Thompson’s honesty is something all writers could stand to emulate — even inverted-pyramid traditionalists who fear the royal ‘I,’ and straight shooters who might look at a man with such a chemical diet and wonder whether he could possibly be human. But for it all, Thompson was, as his partner Ralph Steadman accurately depicted, a man among reptiles. A loaded and freakish and lonely man, but a man still.”
And finally, Hunter’s last column: “Where is Richard Nixon now that we finally need him?”