"Wait! We can't stop here! This
is BAT COUNTRY!"
Hunter S. Thompson.
July 18, 1936 - Feb. 20, 2005
By William Bertram
people simply refuse to die of old age or 'natural causes' or slip into that
final holding pattern of unconsciousness and fade away slowly in some anonymous
vegetative state, no matter how many times they'd been there before by their
own design. Hunter S. Thompson had only one boarding pass to the hereafter that
was stamped LONG before that first single-celled critter took his first hit of
fermented, steaming pond scum and decided to evolve accordingly. Old 'Duke'
left us with the same manner of savage innocence and barbaric honesty that his
talented mind had always used to traverse the longest and loneliest of
intellectual and emotional highways upon this earth while somehow managing to
find some 'Off-roads' that went even 'farther.'
He welcomed us all to a world of insane sociopolitical clarity, occasionally via a Pandora of chemical initiations where he still clearly saw that Liberty and Justice were falling like old growth timber. He showed us with a marksmen's precision the tragic irony of our leaders constant folly and criminal contempt for us all while begging us to elect them for their virtues, and probably never realized that just being himself was the sacred mother's milk of his own journalistic survival. He sometimes navigated impossibly vast hallucinatory realms while still lucidly warning us of the angry old men with shiny, smiling faces who were trying to convince us all of how painless and justified their final assault on our freedoms would be.
And like the neon-paisley Eagle he always was, wrapped in a burning American flag and flying sideways at lightspeed with a holstered gun under one wing and a bottle of Chivas Regal strapped under the other, he dared to forever speak his rambling and articulate prose until it finally hit it's mark and often turned our apathy and jaded curiosity into a giggling virgin whose ignorance became further deflowered with every word he spoke.
He was a hero to all vulnerable, socially clumsy, and freethinking artists with a determination to create at least one masterpiece for every billion brain cells they destroyed. An icon of what not to do, but yet how to do it extremely well, no matter how demanding and infuriating the inspiration finally became. He wasn't a man you couldn't really embrace with any semblance of rational meaning, and he generally despised Bambi-eyed admirers. He didn't care if you hated or liked him, respected and agreed with him, or even wanted to see him convicted for all those crimes against himself. You were likely 'full of shit' and a 'communist' whether you adored him or not. (I'd guess I might feel a bit safer on a small desert island with Henry Miller than with Hunter Thompson, but not when is came down to having plenty to eat.)
He was a world away, and breed and a half apart, and FAR removed from anything we will ever know again in terms of the written, journalistic word. He gave terrifying flashbacks and giant reptiles in leisure suits a certain credibility they never had previously and earned the respect of all those who also flirted with dreams of dying in a "flaming car crash"....But alas, he departed in a sad and yet perhaps fitting manner, and NOT at the hands of some 'do-gooder' zealot, or a hail of police gun fire, and VERY thankfully not in some sterile and stinking hospital bed that still reeked of a thousand other sufferings. He put his affairs in order and bid us all as dignified a farewell as he felt he was able, and courageously exited the stage before his body betrayed him any further. He may not have denied the Reaper his final due, but he DID grab the reigns of the damn horse in mid-gallop and will undoubtedly ride that beast until 'The Light' becomes an agreeable climate where firing ranges exist in abundance, and editors don't.
The world feels emptier today, and very much like someone I had always trusted to guard my back has now fallen, and that somehow, I will never be quite as safe without him in the world, screaming at the New-World-Order-Mothership to "Fuck off and die!" while telling the rest of us; "Call on God, but row away from the rocks." I doubt that he will ever truly 'Rest in Peace', But I am certain that he has likely already found God's private stock, and a raging fire place in front of which to sip it while pondering the rest of his blessed eternity.