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The Strange and Weird Saga of Hunter Thompson

The life and death of Hunter S. Thompson

The Strange and Weird Saga of Hunter Thompson
photo by Jody Emmer

On February 21, 2014 it will officially be nine years since the outlaw journalist; Hunter S Thompson committed suicide in his Colorado home with a handgun.  He led a strange and magical life very much influenced by the 60’s generation.  Thompson was well known for his unorthodox methods and extreme drug use.  He invented the journalism style “stream of consciousness” which is a method of writing while living in the moment.

His best known book is “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the heart of The American Dream” it was turned into a film with Johnny Depp playing Thompson and it was directed by Terry Gilliam.  The book is basically about Hunter and his psychotic, lawyer side kick played by Benicio Del Toro going to Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race but then ending up at a DEA convention while under the influence of Ether and being at the convention with a trunk load full of illegal drugs (and not getting caught).

According to The New York Times writer Joe Klein who wrote about Thompson’s life in November 2007  had this to say, “Thompson was able to get away with such nonsense, and with his flagrant drug use, because he had befriended the local sheriff, who had an elastic sense of justice when it came to literary perps. Indeed, about the only person in this book who successfully confronts Hunter about his behavior is — amazingly — Bill Clinton, a fellow not known for public confrontations. But at a meeting in Little Rock, just after Clinton was nominated in 1992, Thompson braces the president-to-be with a question about the Fourth Amendment and drug searches. “He leaned back and did one of these long windup Hunter kind of things where everybody is supposed to be amused by it all, and Clinton wasn’t going to have any of it,” Wenner recalls. “Clinton came back with this really tough, aggressive answer involving his Brother Roger’s cocaine problem and how he had seen the horrors and destruction of drugs.”

It should be noted that Bill Clinton, James Carville and Hunter Thompson all worked on the McGovern campaign in 1972 and then all three went on to work for the Bill Clinton Campaign in 1992.

Also from the New York Times, “I never had any doubt that at some point he was going to commit suicide,” recalls his son, Juan. Old age is a difficult concept for a perpetual adolescent. Hemingway couldn’t handle it, and Hunter went out the same way, though more elegantly: with a pistol rather than a shotgun. His best work was pretty much complete by the time I met him” With Hunter it was never a question of if he was going to kill himself it was more like when?

He was an eccentric person and an even more extravagant writer.  He lived with the Hell’s Angels in California for about 18 months while writing a book about them.  He worshipped Earnest Hemingway he once copied one of his books word for word to learn how to write a book in the same style.  He was a dedicated writer and a quirky individual.  I doubt we will ever see anything quite like him ever again.


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