Friday, October 21, 2005
Somedays, I Sure Miss Hunter S. Thompson
When I was a 16-year-old, cocky, little bastard thinking I had the world by the nuts because I was talking on the radio for a living and having my way with every girl that I met in the late 70's, a fellow DJ turned me on to "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and the wonderfully twisted view of the world expressed so eloquently perverse by Hunter S. Thompson. It wasn't until January of this year that I was able to identify and appreciate that single event as the one significant ingredient that created the complicated being I am today. For a man of some degree of remaining mental facilities, I'm somewhat embarrassed that I didn't recognize it sooner.
As I've lived my life the last 25 years or so, many of the people that I've gotten close to have driven themselves to the brink of madness trying to figure out what the fuck was wrong with me. Myself, I didn't think there was anything short circuiting, and if there was I didn't give a shit! I was being who I wanted to be, doing what I wanted to do and wringing every drop of experience I could out of life. I am a person that will do something just because nobody thinks it can or should be done. I'm addicted to causing people to laugh, or gasp in utter disbelief or shock. I write words just as I see them. Whatever it is that keeps most people from speaking without thinking of the repercussions of their words, I don't have, and if I did I'd have it removed. I've never been one to kiss ass because it was politically correct or the smart thing to do, and for that I am grateful, albeit often unemployed. My theory is that if everyone says what they think, there'd be a lot fewer misunderstandings.
It took me 25 years to realize the impact that Hunter S. Thompson had on my personal evolution. A month after I experienced that epiphany, that crazy, drunken, dope fiend impacted me again. In the past his impact has caused many unpleasant situations on my road trip through life, but none of them have stung like this final birdie he flipped the world. All the others have merely been part of an on-going education in humanity.
I am now however, feeling lost and alone, surrounded by a society that is blindly lost in the status quo. A society that has become too lazy to think for themselves, too needy of external validation to question what's wrong directly in front of them. This society is rapidly dissolving into what HST called "part of the downward spiral of dumbness" that if not reversed, will result in "a disaster of unthinkable proportions" negatively affecting democracy, civil liberties, human rights and global harmony. I was always sure that no matter how unconventional or radical I got, HST would have agreed with me, or at least defend my right to express my disgust!
Hunter S. Thompson was the person who let me know it was not only okay to question authority, but it was a responsibility as a patriot to ask the tough questions and share the ugly answers. His fear and loathing of the blatant abuse of power showed me that the pen is mightier than the sword, and he instilled in me a love of words and writing. He proved to the world that excessive amounts of drugs and/or alcohol did not always land a person in the gutter, or silence ones creative voice. Most importantly, I learned from his character, his direct and brutal honesty and the example he set, showing the world that a person can be exactly who they are meant to be, say what they truly believe, piss their adversaries off and still be loved, respected, admired, feared and loathed.
Although I'm usually a fairly competent writer, the words I'd usually express myself with have been missing since February 20th, 2005. While I've always thought of death as an experience to celebrate, the ultimate acid trip if you will, this caused an unfamiliar reaction. I feel sorry for myself because I lost the closest thing to an idol I've ever had. I'm pissed at the Godfather of Gonzo, but understand that he departed from this big blue marble the same way he lived on it... by his rules and no others. I hope that by putting these thoughts into cyberspace, I can begin to deal with his departure, and find my words again.
While I'm certain my thoughts are not totally unique to me, I'd like to think they partly are. I sure would have liked it if Hunter S. Thompson would have known the effect he had on me and that everything my future consists of will also be somehow affected by his influence. But how could he have ever known? I didn't figure it out until 10 months ago, 25 years after the fact. Thanks for the ride, Duke.