Saturday, March 19, 2005


More than once I have been accused of using old material. Not so. Go to and I have published new stuff consistently. I just like to sit with it for a month or longer so I do not look like the utter jackass I am.

Here was last month's on the death of my mentor Dr. Hunter S. Thompson:

I’m still a bit in shock. He’s dead. The blessed good doctor of all things Gonzo is dead at the age of 67. Now it is time for all of his thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of his students, now writers themselves, to write about him. It’s part of how we will carry the loss of him.

First, God bless the San Francisco Chronicle for having the good sense to lead that day’s paper with Hunter as the lead instead of the mindless Bush-driven bullshit that ran on the front pages of all the other papers. No, the real story is Hunter Thompson, and he deserves, one last time, to eclipse the brutish and ugly power-mongers that feed us their ground-up slop, using the national news media like an endless chain of feeding troughs.

There was no one like him and there never will be. If you think so, you never read him. He was the Michael Jordan of Gonzo journalism. He changed the whole venue and game.

The bullet was just retirement because no one good enough has come forward.

People who hated him were legion as are those that loved him.

He taught me to be honest and not be afraid to point at the Emperor in all his imagined finery and call him a “pig-fucker”. He also made me laugh so damned hard and demonstrated the entire region that exists between straight journalism and the wonderful world of what might actually be perceived and written about.

It’s hard to imagine some of our new heroes if not for Hunter Thompson. People like David Sedaris, Anne Lamott, and Mike Morford, would probably not exist as they do without the good Doctor. How do I know? I see him in their writings. The Spirit of Hunter Thompson is upon them in one degree or another.

Just as Walker Percy taught me that Christian faith and sexuality were not opposed, but very closely related, so the Doctor taught me that words could transport you to whole other worlds and change the way people thought afterward.

The Good Doctor was, and will be, a drug that alters our state of perception.

For example, can anyone who has ever read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas ever walk into a casino again and not recall the infamous lounge scene?

I still cannot see a story about Jimmy Carter (who is also a hero of mine) without also remembering his shrewdness as reported by Thompson in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. Fucking funny shit, and I’m sure all of it happened (except for perhaps some of Thompson’s own antics.)

And that was the beauty of it. You had great reporting, and then the funniest travelogue to humanize the entire insanity.

Like Hemingway, his movement into old age would have been excruciating for a man who burned so brightly. The “spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”…until the weakened flesh begins to darken the spirit and madness begins to creep in like a plague.

The flesh was also weakened by the abuse of the body. As is so often the case with writers, Thompson ingested all manner of poisons on a regular basis. Had he taken even a tenth of what he reported in print he was lucky to make it to 50.

Why do writers and artists often drink? It is, at first, to loosen the iron grip the left hemisphere of the brain has on the right, which is the creative side. The “inner editor” of the left strangulates the creativity of the artistic right.

At first this really works, but later the effect is lessened, or if not, the body itself begins to suffer from the brain’s being bathed in drugs and alcohol.

There is usually a decline in the artist’s ability to produce at their earlier levels. You can see it in Hemingway, and some will see it in Thompson. I, for one, did not. I thought his last two pieces in Rolling Stone were classic Fear and Loathing material.

More later.

Mac Out.