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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-21-2005, 06:50 AM Thread Starter
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Hunter S. Thompson Dead at 67

One of my favorite literary figures saw fit to remove himself from the public eye. Say it ain't so...

Hunter S. Thompson Dead at 67

Monday, February 21, 2005



ASPEN, Colo. — Hunter S. Thompson, the acerbic counterculture writer who popularized a new form of fictional journalism in books like "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," fatally shot himself Sunday night at his Aspen-area home, his son said. He was 67.

"Hunter prized his privacy and we ask that his friends and admirers respect that privacy as well as that of his family," Juan Thompson said in a statement released to the Aspen Daily News (search).

Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, a personal friend of Thompson, confirmed the death to the News. Sheriff's officials did not return calls to The Associated Press late Sunday.

Juan Thompson found his father's body. Thompson's wife, Anita, was not home at the time.

Besides the 1972 drug-hazed classic about Thompson's visit to Las Vegas, he also wrote "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72." The central character in those wild, sprawling satires was "Dr. Thompson," a snarling, drug- and alcohol-crazed observer and participant.

Thompson is credited with pioneering New Journalism — or, as he dubbed it, "gonzo journalism" — in which the writer made himself an essential component of the story. Much of his earliest work appeared in Rolling Stone magazine.

"Fiction is based on reality unless you're a fairy-tale artist," Thompson told the AP in 2003. "You have to get your knowledge of life from somewhere. You have to know the material you're writing about before you alter it."

An acute observer of the decadence and depravity in American life, Thompson also wrote such collections "Generation of Swine" and "Songs of the Doomed." His first ever novel, "The Rum Diary," written in 1959, was first published in 1998.

Thompson was a counterculture icon at the height of the Watergate era, and Richard Nixon once said he represented "that dark, venal, and incurably violent side of the American character."

Thompson also was the model for Gary Trudeau's balding "Uncle Duke" in the comic strip "Doonesbury" and was portrayed on screen by Johnny Depp in a film adaptation of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." (search)

Other books include "The Great Shark Hunt," "Hell's Angels" and "The Proud Highway." His most recent effort was "Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness."

His compound in Woody Creek, not far from Aspen, was almost as legendary as Thompson. He prized peacocks and weapons; in 2000, he accidentally shot and slightly wounded his assistant, Deborah Fuller, trying to chase a bear off his property.

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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-21-2005, 07:10 AM
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RE: Hunter S. Thompson Dead at 67

He was a great writter. It's too bad he's gone.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-21-2005, 08:06 AM
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RE: Hunter S. Thompson Dead at 67

A literary icon to many baby boomers... Actually, given his lifestyle, I'm surprised he lasted this long. I can only assume he grew weary of Fear and Loathing...

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-21-2005, 08:52 AM
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RE: Hunter S. Thompson Dead at 67

...was up late MB tinkering in the shop when NPR announced the news--still stunned and saddened.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-21-2005, 07:06 PM
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RE: Hunter S. Thompson Dead at 67

Quote:
GermanStar - 2/21/2005 10:06 AM

A literary icon to many baby boomers... Actually, given his lifestyle, I'm surprised he lasted this long. I can only assume he grew weary of Fear and Loathing...
I agree. That guy did a lot of dope. I am more surprised by the suicide than I am of his death. Any details on why he took his life?

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-21-2005, 07:13 PM
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RE: Hunter S. Thompson Dead at 67

None that I've heard. The 32 y/o wife is being tight lipped and asking for privacy. This is one of the better pieces I've seen:

Quote:
Thompson played by his own rules to the end

By CARLIN ROMANO

Philadelphia Inquirer


PHILADELPHIA - In the end, as always, the only editor Hunter S. Thompson could accept was himself.

True to his booze-bolstered, drug-fueled, gun-toting, risk-taking, controversy-packed writing career - in which he broke all the rules, declared new ones, then trashed those, too - the 67-year-old gonzo journalist and self-styled countercultural outlaw finished the story his way Sunday afternoon.

He shot himself to death - one bullet in the head from his handgun - in the kitchen of Owl Farm, his fortified compound in Woody Creek, Colo., eight miles northwest of Aspen. Juan Thompson, the writer's son by his first marriage, discovered his father's body, while the writer's second wife, Anita, 32, was out.

Some locals who knew the writer, a crusty National Rifle Association member who regularly clashed with neighbors over his wild shooting on his property, quickly had their say Monday.

"He was not going to age gracefully, he was going to go out with a bang," Louisa Davidson, wife of the local sheriff, told the Los Angeles Times. "He was tormented."

Aspen Daily News associate editor Troy Hooper, also a friend, told the Times that when he saw the "volatile" Thompson last week, the writer seemed "no more distraught than usual. He was often either up or down." But Hooper also reported that Thompson, already in pain from back surgery and an artificial hip, had broken his leg on a recent trip to Hawaii.

Celebrated by a '70s generation of "New Journalists" for masterpieces in their genre, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," and "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail, '72," Thompson famously hung out with Hell's Angels, savaged Richard Nixon, and became the most outrageous journalist of his time, his wild style showcased in Rolling Stone.

Thompson's best biographer, Peter Whitmer, in "When the Going Gets Weird" (1993), sized up Thompson as "the Gutenberg Bible of '60s excess ... a rock star trapped in the identity of a journalist." An early New York Times reviewer already spotted "a brain poised between brilliance and burnout." You couldn't confuse Thompson with anyone else - no one else combined the talent, bile and recklessness in such over-the-top quantities.

Thompson once said he didn't really know what "gonzo" meant. Whitmer describes it as writing with "the accelerator to the floor." It meant aggressive, subjective and expletives-undeleted reporting and writing, often accompanied by intoxicated or stoned off-the-page antics. A type of journalism done by almost no one except Thompson.

Thompson specialized in mega-length stories whose connective spine required ultrasound equipment to detect. Academic critics blandly characterized his approach as "first-person." It was more like "only person in the room" - the always ready-to-eviscerate "Dr. Thompson" (a self-bestowed title) full of vituperative sarcasm. To call Thompson "irreverent" was like calling Pope John Paul II religious. It fell short.

Recall one of Thompson's classic takes on Nixon: "He speaks for the Werewolf in us; the bully, the predatory shyster who turns into something unspeakable, full of claws and bleeding string-warts, on nights when the moon comes too close ... at the stroke of midnight in Washington, a drooling red-eyed beast with the legs of a man and the head of a giant hyena crawls out of its bedroom window in the south wing of the White House and leaps 50 feet down to the lawn ... ."

Admirers typically split between those who worshipped Thompson's jazzy, colloquial, in-everyone's-face prose and those who tired of his sentence-shtick, but appreciated his party-till-dawn appetites.

Thompson's wildness made him loopier than life. After Garry Trudeau caricatured him as Uncle Duke in "Doonesbury," and Johnny Depp played him in the film version of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," the image of "Dr. Thompson"_ the mythologized celebrity-journalist, '60s kook and indefatigable lecturer for $5,000 and a bottle of his beloved Wild Turkey - seemed to eclipse his work.

"I hate to advocate weird chemicals, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone," Thompson once famously said, "but they've always worked for me."

As the culture went Bonzo in the Reagan '80s, Thompson stayed gonzo, but without the same impact. He wrote essays, articles and fiction, collected his correspondence, and gathered them in large volumes.

A novel Thompson wrote in 1959," The Rum Diary," appeared in 1998, and his autobiography, "Kingdom of Fear," in 2003. Recently, he wrote a sports column, "Hey, Rube!," for ESPN.com., and collected some of them too in a book.

Yet much as Susan Sontag couldn't escape the impact of her influential essays of the 1960s, Thompson after the 1970s sometimes seemed to be baying at the moon after the train had passed.

Colleges invited him to campus with '60s survivors like Timothy Leary as time-capsule material, a blast-from-the-past for post-boomers. Thompson often played the role to the hilt: a bald, middle-aged hell-raiser in shorts, aloha shirts and sneakers, toking and drinking - more freak than prophet.

A libertarian who shared many of the left's enemies, Thompson didn't fit easily into evolving cultural slots as America fast-forwarded. His political act didn't age well.

Which leaves, as it should, what's on the page. Christopher Buckley wrote that reading Thompson was "like using gasoline for aftershave." And so Thompson faces the same test as Tom Wolfe: Can a brilliant, hyperbolic style that rings for a couple of generations endure once its hip expressions lose currency, as they usually do faster than less colorful stuff?

One suspects Thompson the political journalist will fade. To future readers, 1970s politics will grow as distant as 1870s politics. As a literary figure, though, Thompson is likely to last as a giant of stream-of-addled-consciousness memoir. Both "Fear and Loathing" books - perched at a peculiar angle to the nonjournalistic work of kindred spirits such as Henry Miller, William Burroughs and Kathy Acker - remain explosions of cockeyed insight.

Critic John Leonard, speaking from the left, once described Thompson as "in the late 1960s, our point guard, our official crazy, patrolling the edge."

On Sunday, he leaped over it.

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-25-2005, 11:30 AM
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RE: Hunter S. Thompson Dead at 67

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) - Although journalist Hunter S. Thompson's wife wasn't home at the time of his suicide, she heard him take his own life over the phone.

"I was on the phone with him, he set the receiver down and he did it. I heard the clicking of the gun," says Anita Thompson, reports the Aspen Daily News. Even after she heard an unidentified muffled noise, she remained on the line. "I was waiting for him to get back on the phone," she said.

They had been discussing her returning home from the health club on Sunday, Feb. 20 when Hunter S. Thompson merely set down the phone without saying goodbye and shot himself.

According to earlier reports, his son Juan Thompson heard the sound and rushed to the kitchen to discover his father dead. The "gonzo" journalist died in his Aspen, Colo. home at the age of 67.

Anita Thompson says that even though nobody knew he was going to commit suicide that day, he'd been discussing the prospect in recent months.

"He wanted to leave on top of his game. I wish I could have been more supportive of his decision," she said. "It was a problem for us."

The writer even issued written and verbal instructions regarding his unpublished works, his assets and the disposal of his body. Douglas Brinkley, a historian and spokesperson for the Thompson family claims that the journalist always wanted his ashes shot from a cannon.

Hunter S. Thompson is best known for his first-person style of writing that revealed his alcohol- and drug-fueled adventures while reporting on events ranging from bike races to political campaigns. His works include "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" -- which was made into a movie starring Johnny Depp -- "Hell's Angels," "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72," "The Proud Highway" and "Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness."

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-25-2005, 11:53 AM
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RE: Hunter S. Thompson Dead at 67

"George Bush, the man who appeals to the werewolf in all of us"
-HST

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-25-2005, 02:59 PM
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RE: Hunter S. Thompson Dead at 67

His brain was fried anyway. His choice... No surprise to me. Wonder he lasted that long without OD, crashing his car, getting shot, or major prison time. You spend that much time fucking up you brain... Drugs=DEATH[xx(][xx(]

"I have spent MOST of the money I have made in my life on expensive women, expensive cars, and expensive drugs. The rest I just wasted." S-KLASSE8, "Belief in the supernatural, reflects a failure in the imagination." - Edward Abbey "Give me a firm place to stand, and I will move the Earth." - Archimedes - 1979 (fully restored) 450SLC - 1989 (fully restored)420SEL - "S CLASS STYLE - S CLASS ATTITUDE"
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-25-2005, 05:50 PM
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RE: Hunter S. Thompson Dead at 67

Quote:
S-KLASSE8 - 2/26/2005 9:59 PM

His brain was fried anyway. His choice... No surprise to me. Wonder he lasted that long without OD, crashing his car, getting shot, or major prison time. You spend that much time fucking up you brain... Drugs=DEATH[xx(][xx(]
So what. Like the man said 'no one here gets out alive' life=death. HST contributed more to civilisation than any of us are likely to. What's you legacy to future generations? His is art.
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