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Hunter S. Thompson



JULY 18, 1937 - FEBRUARY 20, 2005


I can hear the jackals, or are they hyenas?

Yes, there they are, the yellow, long-headed bastards...
not even social carnivores, these scavengers will rip up the man's legacy, indeed
...if they can get to his flesh before the brain-eating baboons make camp --- quiet!
I hear them!

That mofuque could write, turn a phrase, dangle a participle, split an infinitive with the best of them.

Poor macho bastard spent his life trying to get over that boring Ohio River town, 'Louisvile', (the bithplace of Tom Cruise and last refuge of Rick Pitino), and Louisville was where he was born. The Louisville thing is what made him so mean. He was a hyper masculine type, as the academics like to say, hypermasculine and proud of it.


Firing his weapons and small artillery pieces on his range at Woody Creek Colorado. A regular Algonquin Round Table in the Alps. Fierce parties where one never slept -- except during lunch and dinner -- and what did it get him?

After his undoing the brain eating baboons took the wheel of the land yacht,
that giant black cadillac of a legacy got ditched in the Laurel Canyon ravine in a 10.9 split.

OBSCENITY, ANGER and DRUGS, that was the class-act pyramid lead of the New York Times obituary...

George McGovern's campaign manager Gary Hart followed Hunter's political ideas, if not his plans. Hunter was the man whispering with Warren Beatty in the corner when the Parallax was first Viewed -- and the good guys still had a chance. His piece on Jimmy Carter at Law Day in Athens Georgia 1975 sent one obscure hillbilly to the White House, and his take on Richard Nixon put him on the chopper home to San Clemente ....and HST was the first columnist known to fax in a story, he called it the mojo wire and he loved it. Holed up in hotel, behind deadline and feeding the MOJO WIRE...what a trip that guy was...

There is a reason Hunter S. Thompson was the most respected, feared and widely read honcho at the ROLLING STONE. His puzzled hunch, casual insight and forced reflection at deadline was better than ten sissy-man attempts at structure and hip irony. He could write better on a fifth of liquor than George Will could after church. He constructed realities, tore them down, veered down to the bar, told a joke, scared you and brought you all back home for chinese...

Now Hunter S. Thompson had a journalism degree from Columbia.
He wrote for Scanlan's on their South-Central America beat, after doing the Sports.
Scanlan's columns show a mature, dignified, graceful, and focused foreign policy mind, a cultural moderator at his best, a commentator both interesting and well researched. By 1964 Hunter S. Thompson was an immutable columnist, a natural writer, a twentieth century prose artist. He could have stopped there and been syndicated, celebrated and given wealth, like Marvin and Bernard Kalb---
But no, something happened on the way to the news office. The year of our lord 1966 saw the credentialed doctor roaring across the Golden Gate bridge at dawn, with a dancing babe on the back of his bike, with no helmet, on the shiny wet streets.

ThE EDGE CREPT SO CLOSE to Hunter S. Thompson he could taste it, like rust on plated silver. The edge was where the Fillmore dance bands and their extended circle of friends brought to Hunter Thompson, a hypermasculine man from the Ohio River state of Kentucky, an epiphany. Wearing his aviators (actually they were shooting glasses) and the lamb fleece vest, chinos and white sneakers, FDR lucky strikes and a beer, he set out to tell the truth, at any cost, after mixing with Jerry and Jorma, Ken Kesey and Tom Wolfe...

He saw the bright Kirlian corona of hypocrisy shining around the 1967 Hell's Angels, saw the uneasy relationship of the anti-war "flower" people and the outlaw bikers (captured at Altamont in Let It Bleed) and this BIKER thing really grossed him out. He tried the Kesey / Ginsburg peace ovation approach with the Hell's Angels for about thirty seconds. He stayed with them and stayed with them and stayed with them until he got hurt. Sonny Barger and Tiny came at him with chairs and pool cues when they saw what he had written --- and this gave him nightmares for about the next twenty years and five books. "Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga" showed his writing style. His power, control, ease and clarity of motion, succinct diction, all there in the King's English, mofuque ... in black and white and technicolor ...

HIS BRAIN FRIED like eggs on a skillet, he took on the most well known Campaign Trail assignment in American Political history, and made the ZOO PLANE a real place for one brief shining instant. He partied with the Secret Service and stashed his Wild Turkey 101 in their trunk, next to their rifles and riot gear. He would slip out of the press room and end up smoking a joint with the janitor in the toilet, where he found out THE GREAT POLITICAL TRUTH OF THE MOMENT.... and of course he predicted the whole Nixon thing, and Hunter hated the toads.

With the "Great Shark Hunt" the columns and letters which mark his last phase began to be published. The adventures. Holed up in the Florida Keys near an airstrip in a motel just to get the real feel of coke smuggling angst, he captured the tension, the unpredictable and feral side of his fellow man.

Posting a regular weekly piece in the San Francisco chronicle we sat at the coffee shops and taverns on the Haight Ashbury and read about his lack of interest, his disgust, his existential "Why?" and realized we had changed; he had changed us..........

I could go on but we should leave it at that, about twenty years back,
back in the day, with him posting columns and raising hell.


THAT SCREECHING and thrashing I hear is the troop of baboons, the social carnivores and scavenging hyenas have arrived.
Oh, look, one has hit him with a scrap of dung, and the other has found the entrails....CAZART!

David Shanet Clark, M.Ed.