“Freedom is something that dies unless it’s used.” – Hunter S. Thompson
From the ages of 13 to 25 or so I had a subscription to Rolling Stone magazine, basically 1974 to 1986. My interests as a kid were music and sports so I also subscribed to Sports Illustrated. In the “good old days” the contents of Rolling Stone was 80% music and 20% national or international current events and the byline that appeared most frequently on these non-music articles was the legendary Hunter S. Thompson.
When I was growing up I didn’t want to be a fireman, or a pro-football player, I wanted to be Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. Unfortunately I had one itsy-bitsy problem, my guitar playing, at least as compared to Keith’s, sucked and my mother wouldn’t allow me to live the life of dirty, smelly, drug taking, alcohol drinking rockstar as a 14-year-old. Thanks Mom. So as I slowly let my aspirations of being a rock ‘n’ roll burnout slip through my calloused fingertips I began reading the other stuff, and in those early years that “other stuff” was written but Hunter S. Thompson.
Dr. Thompson, as he preferred to be called, wrote in a stream of consciousness that utilized both facts and fiction. Often times the line was severely blurred between the two but rarely was the point when you found it. He was known to use a hundred words to describe a situation when ten would do. His writing was imaginative and exhausting all at the same time. Entertaining without effort, insightful without knowing.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming Wow! What a Ride!” – Hunter S. Thompson
I would read his articles, letters and books searching for some relevant point and it seemed, at times, none was available or could not be found. But I would often return and reread whatever it was later and find what it was he wanted me to find, hidden among 500 unnecessary words, along a different path in a different universe than where I was orbiting.
“No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.” – Hunter S. Thompson
I often wonder how Dr. Thompson would react to today’s political environment. What would he have thought of Barack Obama? Donald Trump? The man who described Richard Nixon, after the former Presidents death, as a “liar and a quitter” who “should have been buried at sea” and as someone who would “shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time”. If you hadn’t guessed, he was not a fan of “Tricky Dicky”.
“Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run, but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.” – Hunter S. Thompson
When he committed suicide on February 20, 2005 the world got a little quieter and a little less chaotic, none of which are necessarily good. I liken his death to that of Robin Williams, another spaceman from some parallel universe. It is to easy for all of us to get caught up in the view of normality. That is the place where the truth hides and secrets lie. Hunter S. Thompson exposed both truths and secrets using an exhausting number of words, turns and twist to get us there whether we liked it or not.
“67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun – for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax – This won’t hurt.” – Hunter S. Thompson’s suicide note