Hunter, Still Missing You Now Going on 13 Years
(This) very piece, a very personal commentary, I won’t lie. I’ve dreaded writing this for years. I thought once that I could just forget; get completely distracted by some up and comer wanting to be a professional (disciplined) writer. Now, that would numb your skull. But I stayed the course; prayed sincerely about Hunter Thompson’s life, colorful career, and eventual passing. This really cut me—Hunter’s passing. More cutting than the passing of any of The Beatles. Now to talk about my writing idol: Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. //// My thanks, Kenneth. Dig?
Hunter Stockton Thompson, born, July 18, 1937, and SADLY passed, February 20, 2005. Please join me in Remembering that he SADLY passed. But hold on . . .Thompson did not die like you or I. My personal belief is that he looked out of his picture window in his living room in his fortified house on Owl Ranch, Woody Creek, Colorado, and simply decided to Take a Fade From Reality. That stuff about him and suicide was purely bunk. Even the most-prestigious (if I can use that adjective in describing a self-thinking journalist in 2017). Okay. I can be more graphic: Hogwash!
Thompson was was an American journalist, author, and the founder of the Gonzo Journalism Movement. In (my) wild, rebellious days: 1969-1972, (three lousy years) and I read that some so and so started a “Wild Pig Movement,” I was all in. No questions asked. If the following two statements: Gonzo Journalism was mechanically-chiseled by some laser nut wearing a pair of 1940 flight goggles, there would be nothing abnormal about the Laser Wizard or those two sentences. Dig?
Hunter was a romantic fool. And could be the nation’s biggest fools, but how would we know?--when he talked (many times) in riddles, his high IQ wouldn’t let one fumbling of word or phrase be born and if they were, we, the Common People would not have grasped it. Hunter, I apologize up there, for saying this but . . .”you were a man way ahead of his time.” Dig?
Notice, his being a romantic fool. He loved two wives--Anita Thompson, now, the best-selling author of The Gonzo Way, and wife to the late Hunter S. Thompson, who began working as his assistant in 1999. In 2000, she moved in and three years later they were wed. Today, she is the director of the Gonzo Foundation Owl Farm Blog. Thompson’s first wife, Sondi Wright, was married from 1963 until 1980—no flashy background was found about Wright. The same is said about Anita, Thompson’s second wife.
Hunter Thompson was everything that I wanted to be, and too afraid that I would stumble upon his keyboard prints in the process of laboring day and night to write in his shadow. Thompson did not know fear, but rather, I lived on it. I have not afforded myself the open door to let you be bored about my background—giving you, my friends and maybe a few rank strangers, why I feared my own shadow. Factually . . .my shadow was in better shape than I was at my peak: 18, that is sexually and physically. I might as well be blunt. God is all knowing and he knew this stunner of a fact eons ago.
Briefly, a parting word about me: I dreamed of writing “those” essays that Hunter would have been proud of—and been equally proud to take them to Rolling Stone himself. That alone would have made my life complete. I can easily imagine the scene: Thompson, with my essays in a brown folder, standing in the lobby of Rolling Stone. A pretty intern, “Amanda,” (wouldn’t you just know it) a pretty, wholesome blond from Kansas, says, “yes, sir, may I help you?” without looking up from her PC screen.
“I am, young lady, Hunter S. Thompson, and I am here to give these essays to your editors,” Thompson says and lights up another cigarette.
“Mr. Thompson? I do now know any Hunter S. Thompson. I am afraid that I will need you to wait on someone of higher management,” pretty “Amanda” says gushing.
“Fine. Just make sure that my friend, Kenneth, here, is treated with the same courtesies that Rolling Stone and its battery of editors showed me,” Thompson says and directs us to follow his lead to sit in the expensive high back leather chairs.
Soon, a team of top-notch editors enter the lobby and one of them, the older one, sees his friend, Hunter and a great friendship is renewed. Hunter pays back the graciousness and points the editors to where I am sitting and he introduces them to me.
From there . . .only God knows what I would say and where my life would go from that moment. After all, I am not that much of a dreamer, but a true realist.
And since I have met, in my opinion, The Greatest political wit and essay-writer, Hunter S. Thompson, This still fits into my “I Wish That I Had Met Category” . .. Otis Redding; Chris Farley; Andy Griffith; Hank Williams, Sr., and Jr., John F. Kennedy; Jimi Hendrix; Jim Morrison; Janis Joplin and Jim Croce who fit there perfectly as well. All of these Famous and Popular were flesh and blood. This is where my being similar to them starts and ends. Did you notice that Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, and Croce all had “Js” in their first name? I am talking about their initials, not their drug of choice: “Mary Jane.” This, boys and girls, was what us professional writers call a coincidence. If you learn all you can about the coincidence, yours is the world and the Hawaiian Islands are your playground. No writer, good, mediocre, or Hunter Thompson-like can write a word unless he/she acts like a sponge and soaks up all he can see and hear about those he/she meets and gets inspiration from them to write his/her next essay. It’s that simple.
These famous guys and one girl, were so famous that any of them at any given time--could just show up at some out-of-the-way Holiday Inn Express (in Sante Fe, NM), and get comped for a week’s lodging, restaurant included. I would bet you $63,400.00 in cash and let you choose any celebrity, and let me drive up to that Holiday Inn Express in Sante Fe, NM, if it does exist . . . and watch your choice of celebrities walk to the Front Desk and let “Nick,” a college student working his way through the University of New Mexico, (Yaay, Aztecs!) say, (“You are NAME of CELEBRITY! You CAN STAY HERE a WEEK, RESTAURANT INCLUDED . . . and win it all while laughing like Frank Gorshin, The Riddler, did on the Batman TV show on ABC. I miss him. Do you feel lucky, punk? Dig?
You see what happens when you or I, and above is my proof, that when writing is done about Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, the mind goes away with colorful wishes that never come to fruition and the temptation to “fudge”on some of the facts is always there. I was seriously amazed with the first things that I ever read from Thompson—The Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, was a sheer masterpiece of masterpieces—Hell’s Angels is another masterpiece. One of his essays told (and I am sure that some apprentice who Thompson paid him a hefty amount of cash) about how Thompson medicates himself before writing about a contracted topic. You should read the booze and drugs he took BEFORE he touched one key of his typewriter. Simply out there without a compass. Me? I could never write one sentence with those influences and I am not knocking Thompson. I loved him. Still do.
I loved the things that (some) people posted on YouTube about Thompson who was being interviewed on BBC about his book: Hell’s Angels, and before Thompson and the host could get rolling into good talk . . . one of the Main Angels drove up on his motorcycle. The audience went wild. But I asked myself, if it were the bike or HT that caused the audience to go wild? Both the bike and the rider, were very intimidating, all but Thompson who just lit a cigarette and stared at Skip Workman, the Hell’s Angel, who waited until the audience calmed down, and said, “where’s my case of beer?” Thompson chuckled, but Workman did not show the least sign of a smile. What Hell’s Angel does?
The “where’s my beer?” dig was from Hunter Thompson agreeing to give him and his Hell’s Angels Oakland Chapter a few cases of beer for allowing Thompson to ride and live with them to get some inside information about (a) book that he was going to write and told the Angels that, “if I do not live my subject—I cannot write it,” in Typical Thompson smooth-as-Chinese-silk fashion.
And watching Workman who was just (a) guy, a Hell’s Angel, but have you ever got drunk enough to be confident enough to walk yourself into your favorite biker bar, find the leader, Skip Workman, sto a fist-fight? Get a life, brother. Workman was the last remaining Hell’s Angel in Oakland, CA, and loved to punch-out cops—before punching cops was a felony. I would say that this guy was TOUGH. Best to do your best to make friends with him FAST. The dividends might save your life.
The late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson was never afraid to ride any car, motorcycle, or speed-boat until the speedometer’s little hand had disappeared. Speed to Thompson, was like adrenaline that he could touch and feel. Fearless, that best describes Thompson about more than speed and machines. He also had a fascination about guns—and rifles and loved to shoot at targets and sometimes, he shot-up a bunch of his book, Hell’s Angels, to “autograph” the books with his .44 Magnum. And when guns were not a turn-on for Thompson, he went for creating explosions-the bigger and louder the better. My opinion may not mean much, but I feel that Thompson lived for the danger of living, not dying.
I have several personal regrets regarding Hunter S. Thompson, a literary genius:
“Now I can only dream that I would one day, meet Thompson and hear the answers to his questions and theories about Immortality; War; and Would LSD Kill a Human Being, and if The Human Died, When Would He/She Know it?”
“Now I can only dream about going for a ride in one of his classic cars or maybe a motorcycle, but I know how the ride would be: WIDE-OPEN and throwing all caution to the wind.”
And if Thompson were to swerve from any of his own way of doing things, that would not be the REAL Hunter S. Thompson---for although it was just what I read about him, and really didn’t know him that well at all, the ONE thing that I did know about him was . . .He was NO hypocrite. He was Hunter Thompson every day of his colorful, wild, really intelligent, and exciting life.
© 2018 Kenneth Avery