Re: Hunter S. Thompson, R.I.P.
- Thanks to Larry and Brad for their contributions to HST's memory.
Mark Morford of the SF Gate/SF Chronicle also has an appreciation here:
Some highlights to whet your appetites...
"Forget the legacy thing. Forget the "this man single-handedly changed modern
journalism" thing. It's only partially true, anyway, given how the period when
Thompson nailed the political world to the wall and held a rusty Bowie knife to
its throat was nearly 30 years ago, long before the Internet and way before
Nipplegate and far before most cutely agitated bloggers were even born and back
when Dubya was just knee-high to a collegiate cocaine habit.
"Here's what needs to be said, what's worth lamenting most: there are no new
Thompsons. There are no new snarling fierce-eyed one-of-a-kind journalists
covering politics and the national agenda with such radical and nasty and
brilliant aplomb and with such an explicit and enthusiastic disregard for
standard journalistic rules and tropes, all via anything resembling a national
"In other words, while it's true what all the staid J-school chairs and
Thompson's fellow journalists are right now saying about how HST did indeed
blow the door open for a whole new breed of blast-furnace writers who merely
disguised themselves as journalists to get a goddamn press pass, tragically few
have dared follow HST through that door.
"There are no new journalistic radicals willing to take such a risky, careening
road to fame and glory. There is a tragic lack of HST-style fearlessness in
modern journalism. No, we don't need another Thompson per se; after all, the
man broke the mold. But we could definitely use a few more heavyweight writers
willing to take up arms, tattoo *iconoclast* on their tongues and scream their
defiance of all things decorous and punctual and grammatically decent."
"You might rightly ask, But is this what journalism really needs? Expletives
and guns and drugs? Don't we already have enough of that with the military and
Lynne Cheney and the Catholic Church?
"Shouldn't journalism, in the wake of so much bland me-too political coverage
and obvious liberal/conservative bias and corporate media consolidation and
your inability to click on any major media Web site right now and read anything
dramatically different than what any other major media Web site is offering
right now, strive for accuracy and respect and something akin to that most
elusive of slippery hammerheaded snakes, objective truth?
"To which I can only reply, you wish. Objective truth is, of course, the great
white myth of our time. It simply does not exist. The New York Times and Le
Monde and all those CNN/MSNBC/Fox ticker-tape newsfeeds scrolling across the
bottom of the TV like some sort of never-ending dribble of drool flowing forth
from the mouth of Dick Cheney's proctologist, we know this does not speak of
true reality. This is not How It Really Is. Or, rather, these media represent
only a fragment, a sliver, a whisper of darker and more complex and insidious
truths, far underneath."
"What we do know is, the door Thompson helped blow open is now nearly
completely sealed up again, spackled over with the fresh concrete of fear and
reinforced with iron bars and snide FCC regulations and heavily guarded by the
least accountable and most secretive and violent and warmongering government in
American history. The radical free speech HST embodied, the biting and
ferocious (and ultimately insightful and telling) interrogation of the various
thugs of government, this approach is no longer tolerated.
"Only the tiniest openings remain. Only the slimmest slivers of light eke
through. The era of raw open-mouthed bitingly hilarious New Journalism in major
media is giving way to one of fearful reportage and shrugging sameness and prim
adjective clauses sans wit or kick or rigid middle fingers, all undercut by the
uptight quasi-religious hypocrisy of the Right, worse than Nixon, worse than
Vietnam, worse than you want to imagine.
"So then. Do yourself a favor, reread "Fear and Loathing," flip through
"Generation of Swine," realize how relevant, hilarious, debauched, glorious,
sodden with crazed half-truths and drunken epiphanies and wicked observations
HST's observations still are. Wave high the flag of indignation. Scream the
need for more iconoclastic voices. And laugh your ass off. This much you can
"Oh yes, and make sure you do it all very, very stoned. Surely, the good doctor
would've wanted it that way."
Musing oh yes, in this age of "Jeff Gannon," the good doctor most assuredly
would've wanted it that way....