1. #1
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    Default Gonzo Journalist Takes Own Life

    From the Associated Press:
    MSNBC.com
    Writer Hunter S. Thompson commits suicide
    'Fear and Loathing' author, 'gonzo journalism' pioneer was 67

    The Associated Press
    Updated: 12:04 p.m. ET Feb. 21, 2005

    DENVER - Hunter S. Thompson, the hard-living writer who inserted himself into his accounts of America’s underbelly and popularized a first-person form of journalism in books such as “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” has committed suicide.

    Thompson was found dead Sunday in his Aspen-area home of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, sheriff’s officials said. He was 67. Thompson’s wife, Anita, had gone out before the shooting and was not home at the time. His son, Juan, found the body.

    Thompson “took his life with a gunshot to the head,” the wife and son said in a statement released to the Aspen Daily News. The statement asked for privacy for Thompson’s family and, using the Latin term for Earth, added, “He stomped terra.”

    Neither the family statement nor Pitkin County sheriff’s officials said whether Thompson left a note. The sheriff and the county coroner did not immediately return telephone messages Monday.

    Besides the 1972 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.

    The rise of ‘gonzo journalism’
    Thompson is credited alongside Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese with helping pioneer New Journalism — or, as he dubbed his version, “gonzo journalism” — in which the writer made himself an essential component of the story.

    Thompson, whose early writings mostly appeared in Rolling Stone magazine, often portrayed himself as wildly intoxicated as he reported on such figures as Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

    “Fiction is based on reality unless you’re a fairy-tale artist,” Thompson told The Associated Press 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.”

    Thompson also wrote such collections as “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 once said Nixon represented “that dark, venal, and incurably violent side of the American character.”

    Thompson also was the model for Garry Trudeau’s balding “Uncle Duke” in the comic strip “Doonesbury.” He was portrayed on screen by Bill Murray in “Where The Buffalo Roam” and Johnny Depp in a film adaptation of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

    ‘We were somewhere around Barstow ...’
    That book, perhaps Thompson’s most famous, begins: “We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”

    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.”

    “He may have died relatively young but he made up for it in quality if not quantity of years,” Paul Krassner, the veteran radical journalist and one of Thompson’s former editors, told The Associated Press by phone from his Southern California home.

    “It was hard to say sometimes whether he was being provocative for its own sake or if he was just being drunk and stoned and irresponsible,” quipped Krassner, founder of the leftist publication The Realist and co-founder of the Youth International (YIPPIE) party.

    “But every editor that I know, myself included, was willing to accept a certain prima donna journalism in the demands he would make to cover a particular story,” he said. “They were willing to risk all of his irresponsible behavior in order to share his talent with their readers.”

    The writer’s 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 trying to chase a bear off his property.

    Born July 18, 1937, in Kentucky, Hunter Stocton Thompson served two years in the Air Force, where he was a newspaper sports editor. He later became a proud member of the National Rifle Association and almost was elected sheriff in Aspen in 1970 under the Freak Power Party banner.

    Larger-than-life persona
    Thompson’s heyday came in the 1970s, when his larger-than-life persona was gobbled up by magazines. His pieces were of legendary length and so was his appetite for adventure and trouble; his purported fights with Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner were rumored in many cases to hinge on expense accounts for stories that didn’t materialize.

    It was the content that raised eyebrows and tempers. His book on the 1972 presidential campaign involving, among others, Edmund Muskie, Hubert Humphrey and Nixon was famous for its scathing opinion.

    Working for Muskie, Thompson wrote, “was something like being locked in a rolling box car with a vicious 200-pound water rat.” Nixon and his “Barbie doll” family were “America’s answer to the monstrous Mr. Hyde. He speaks for the werewolf in us.”

    Humphrey? Of him, Thompson wrote: “There is no way to grasp what a shallow, contemptible and hopelessly dishonest old hack Hubert Humphrey is until you’ve followed him around for a while.”

    The approach won him praise among the masses as well as critical acclaim. Writing in The New York Times in 1973, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt worried Thompson might someday “lapse into good taste.”

    “That would be a shame, for while he doesn’t see America as Grandma Moses depicted it, or the way they painted it for us in civics class, he does in his own mad way betray a profound democratic concern for the polity,” he wrote. “And in its own mad way, it’s damned refreshing.”
    Please tell that I wasn't the only one who found his work both important and entertaining. He, along with Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese helped to memorialize the countercultures of the 60s and 70s; the scandals of the 80s and the cynicism of the 90s like no other generation of writers, living or dead.
    Thompson's book on the Hell's Angels was at the time, the most definitive work on the group and almost cost him his life.
    I bought the Rolling Stone just to read his articles. I read his books to get what I believed was the truth.
    He was a brilliant, brilliant writer; booze and drugs aside.
    Now; all's I've got is Opus!
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    Right there with ya, Chief.

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    "Hells Angels...A strange and terrible saga" is one of my all time favorite books. Hunter was crazy but he could write.. So just remember... "When the going gets weird , the weird go pro"
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    And congratulations on your 2000th post, Mike.
    How weird is that?
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    I agree completely. It is no great surprise that all great minds are troubled in some way or another.

    Another great, albeit twisted, mind a victim of itself.
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    Default Thanks !

    I didn't even notice Art... Now it's 2001...an Odyssey
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    AND the same year you became a member here.
    Spooky.
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    I assure you...this Gonzo journalist (hey, I do free lance writing for two local papers and had an article published in Firehouse Magazine's November 1992 issue) is doing okay...

    Hunter S. Thompson was more than a journalist... he was an inspiration for the Zonker Harris' Uncle Duke character in Doonesbury.

    Rest in peace, Hunter.. you beat your demons.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 02-23-2005 at 07:58 AM.
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    Talking Huh?................

    Originally posted by CaptainGonzo
    I assure you...this Gonzo journalist (hey, I do free lance writing for two local papers and had an article published in Firehouse Magazine's November 1992 issue) is doing okay...

    Free Lance writing? I do Free Lance Reading, does that count? And, if I may, HEY MIKE, Way to go there Bro. You're slipping up on us in the top 20.
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    Surprised he did not off himself years ago. After living with such self-demons, I am actually surprised he did it now, I mean if you are going to put up with the crap in your head for 67 years, what is another 20 before nature takes its own course?
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    Thompson wasn't the kind of guy that was going to slip into obscurity.
    I always pictured him like Cagney in the movie "White Heat", holding the cops at bay and screaming "Look at me now, Ma; top of the world".
    You watch. Journalism will taste like plain yogurt. Bland.
    Christ; I hope Updike can crank some more out. He's all we have left now.
    I wished to hell that I would have kept my Rolling Stones from the 70s.
    Time to go book buying. Maybe first editions! Oh honey; have you seen the check book?
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    It seems that he wants his remain fired from a cannon.
    Late Hunter S. Thompson wanted ashes to be fired from a cannon : friend

    LOS ANGELES (AFP) - US author Hunter S. Thompson, who committed suicide last weekend, wanted to exit this world in a style befitting his extraordinary life: being fired from a cannon, a friend revealed.

    The larger-than-life writer of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" stated in his will that he wanted his ashes to be fired out of a cannon following his funeral, plans for which have yet to be announced.

    "I believe he wanted to be shot out of a cannon," friend Troy Hooper told AFP.

    "I understand it's in his will," said Hooper, associate editor of the Aspen Daily News, based near the Colorado home where Thompson, 67, apparently shot himself on Sunday.

    "That's Hunter's style. That's how he would want it. He was a big fan of bonfires and explosions and anything that went bang and I'm sure he'd like to go bang as well," he said.

    Hooper, who became friends with father of "gonzo" journalism about five years before his death, cited reports that Thompson told his son, Juan, that his after-life ambition was to become cannon fodder -- literally.

    "That's exactly the kind of stuff he would say all the time," he said of one of the most important American literary figures of the 20th Century.

    It was Juan Thompson who found his father's body in his rural home in Woody Creek, near the ski resort of Aspen, after he apparently shot himself in the head on Sunday night.

    Hooper, who saw Thompson last week, said Thompson had been in pain following recent back surgery, following a hip replacement and after he broke his leg recently.

    But Thompson, famed for his LSD- and alcohol-fuelled literary exploits, did not seem "more distraught than usual" in the days before he died, Hooper said, adding that Thompson was "often either up or down."

    Sheriff's department investigators in Woody Creek, where Thompson lived for more than 40 years, said he appeared to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

    Thompson became a sharp-witted icon of 1960s counter-culture after the publications of "Fear and Loathing" in 1972 in which he pioneered "gonzo" journalism, in which the writer inserts himself and his personal views into the story.

    His work, written in the first person, hit a chord with America's youth at the height of the unpopular Vietnam and the social rebellion of the 1960s and 70s.

    Thompson described the birth of gonzo journalism in a 1974 interview with Playboy, saying he was covering the Kentucky Derby on deadline, but "I'd blown my mind, couldn't work."

    "So finally I just started jerking pages out of my notebook and numbering them and sending them to the printer. I was sure it was the last article I was ever going to do for anybody."

    Thompson rose to fame in 1966 with the publication of his book "Hell's Angels," the story of his infiltration of the then-feared Hell's Angels motorcycle gang, an adventure that got him savagely beaten.

    "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is the apocryphal tale of a wild, drug-fuelled weekend spent in the desert gambling hub of Las Vegas by protagonist Raoul Duke, a thinly-disguised version of Thompson.

    The adventure was recreated in a 1998 Hollywood film starring Johnny Depp.

    The stories of Thompson's heady experiences earned him a popular reputation as a wild-living, hard-drinking, LSD-crazed writer bent on self-destruction.

    His other works include "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72," a collection of articles he wrote for Rolling Stone magazine while covering the election campaigns of then-president Richard Nixon and his opponent, Senator George McGovern.
    Last edited by Steamer; 02-23-2005 at 01:21 PM.
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    Yeah; that's kinda how I figured it. The big bang!
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    I read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas years ago. I laughed my butt off that an incredible drug addict was sent to cover a convention of district attorneys/police. There was and still is incredible irony in that assignment.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

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