This blog is officially "retired," but my other blog,
"The Lair of the Silver Fox," is still open for business!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, 1937-2005, R.I.P.

As a writer, I'll readily admit that I've had days like this, too.

Writer Hunter Thompson has, from all evidence, shot himself to death. I find this to be quite sad, of course, but (considering that I never met the man) not altogether surprising. Anyone who's read at least one of his books or articles should have gleaned something innately self-destructive about him. If you saw the film "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," you know what I mean.

Much of his work seemed to glorify illicit drug use. His own drug use, primarily. He was nobody's role model, at least not purposely.

By the way, he was also the inspiration for Doonesbury's "Uncle Duke." (And HST reportedly wasn't too thrilled that Trudeau was "profiting from his image.") I had to mention this somewhere, because the obituaries I've read so far (and I know I've missed many of them!) haven't mentioned it, surprisingly! (Update, 2/27/05: As expected, there have been several mentions of the Thompson/Duke connection since my original posting, but I wrote this paragraph very soon after the news of HST's death hit the internet.)

He was a man whose influence as the father of "gonzo journalism" was far-reaching. There's no telling how many writers and/or journalists were inspired by him (I'm speaking stylistically, rather than talking about the above-mentioned drug use!), although there were also many "serious" journalists who disdained Thompson's approach.

That approach was the aforementioned "gonzo journalism." A simplistic definition of that would be that gonzo journalism is the result of the writer's injecting himself into the story, to the point of becoming a major character in said story! Often, the line between "truth in reporting" and fiction will be subtly -- or not so subtly -- blurred. The results can be incredibly entertaining... or somewhat self-indulgent. Or both. And as a writer who's often based much of my own fiction on the most basic autobiographical elements, I can identify with that.

In fact, if I can be allowed an uncharacteristically brief aside, I should mention that the closest I ever got to the "gonzo" approach was about ten years ago, when I plunked myself down in the middle of some sleazy and somewhat dangerous people in order to research material for a proposed series of stories. Remind me to tell you about it sometime... but not now.

For now, let me just say that the best tribute one writer can give another is to suggest that when you leave my page, you begin searching for links to Thompson's many works, either to familiarize yourself with his unique talents, or re-familiarize yourself with his writings. In other words, I'm not trying to impress you with my writing this go-round. Instead, look for Thompson's; his writing will probably give you a kick in the pants.

And for those who think that the picture I chose is in bad taste, considering the details of Thompson's unfortunate demise... Well, in this case, that's kinda the point. And I hope he's watching. I think he'd approve.

Thanks for your time.

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