Goddamn, today marks the day that Hunter S. Thompson blasted out of this mortal coil. Why am I still sober?
Seven years ago today, word came down from the mountains that Thompson had taken his own life. I was stunned, but the feeling soon passed and was replaced by a deep melancholy. Anyone with more than a passing knowledge of the man knew that his health and writing were not what they once were, and I was far more than a casual fan. What’s more, the references to suicide were scattered here and there in his work. Like this observation, from the “Author’s Note” that launches The Great Shark Hunt:
I feel like I might as well be sitting up here carving the words for my own tombstone… and when I finish, the only fitting exit will be right straight off this fucking terrace and into The Fountain, 28 stories below and at least 200 yards out in the air and across Fifth Avenue.
Nobody could follow that act.
Nobody indeed. And I almost hate to pay tribute to the man in a blog that often ponders over-consumption, for too many people think only of the booze & drugs persona and miss the truly fine writing that he left. But what the hell — we can do both, eh? Crack open a copy of Hell’s Angels, or Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72, or the classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or any of his other works. Then raise a glass — or two, or three — of fine bourbon. Because goddamnit, nobody can write like this:
This is the main advantage of ether: it makes you behave like the village drunkard in some early Irish novel… total loss of all basic motor skills: blurred vision, no balance, numb tongue — severance of all connection between the body and the brain. Which is interesting, because the brain continues to function more or less normally… you can actually watch yourself behaving in this terrible way, but you can’t control it
You approach the turnstiles leading into the Circus-Circus and you know that when you get there, you have to give the man two dollars or he won’t let you inside… but when you get there, everything goes wrong: you misjudge the distance to the turnstile and slam against it, bounce off and grab hold of an old woman to keep from falling, some angry Rotarian shoves you and you think, What’s happening here? What’s going on? Then you hear yourself mumbling: “Dogs fucked the Pope, no fault of mine. Watch out!… Why money? My name is Brinks; I was born… born? Get sheep over side… women and children to armored car… orders from Captain Zeep.”