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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-21-2005, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
 
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Hunter S. Thompson dead at 67

'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' author takes own life
Monday, February 21, 2005 Posted: 12:31 PM EST (1731 GMT)


(CNN) -- Journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson, who unleashed the concept of "gonzo journalism" in books like "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," fatally shot himself in the head Sunday at his home near Aspen, Colorado, police and his family said.

"On February 20, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson took his life with a gunshot to the head at his fortified compound in Woody Creek, Colorado," said a statement issued by Thompson's son, Juan Thompson, to the Aspen Daily News.

"The family will shortly provide more information about memorial service and media contacts. Hunter prized his privacy, and we ask that his friends and admirers respect that privacy as well as that of his family."

A dispatcher for the Pitkin County Sheriff's Department confirmed Thompson's death.

Neither the family statement nor Pitkin County sheriff's officials said whether Thompson left a note, The Associated Press reported.

Thompson, 67, was associated with the "New Journalism" movement of the 1960s, in which writers -- most notably Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese -- took a more novelistic and personal approach to their subjects.

Thompson, who freely dropped cynical opinions and references to his drug and alcohol use into his stories, termed his style "gonzo journalism."

His account of a drug-fueled trip to cover a district attorneys' anti-drug conference as a writer for Rolling Stone magazine was the seed of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," perhaps his best-known work.

Subtitled "A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream," the 1971 book included his lament on the passing of the 1960s and its "sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil."

"There was no point in fighting -- on our side or theirs," he wrote. "We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark -- the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

In "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72," he described the campaign leading to Richard Nixon's re-election as president with terms like "brutal" and "depraved"; puckishly speculated that Democratic Sen. Ed Muskie -- the early front-runner, whose poor showing in the New Hampshire primary doomed his candidacy -- was under the influence of a psychoactive drug, Ibogaine; routinely mocked candidate and senator Hubert H. Humphrey ("the Hump"); and bemoaned Nixon's looming victory by proclaiming, "Jesus, where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to become president?"

CNN national correspondent Bruce Morton -- who covered the '72 campaign for CBS -- remembered Thompson as a bigger-than-life presence who wrote "good stuff."

"He'd perked the campaign plane or the campaign bus up a whole lot, he'd come out and say, had hey, weird stuff's going to happen, Hunter is here," Morton said on CNN's "American Morning." "He was also, it's fair to say, a very good writer. You read his stuff in Rolling Stone magazine, and maybe it wasn't what you've seen and maybe it wasn't what had happened, but by golly, it was good stuff and it was fun."

Morton also recalled the last time he heard from Thompson -- more than 30 years ago.

"The campaign was over, I think early 1973, and I got a phone call, saying the CIA has me, can you lend me 20 bucks," Morton said. "I said 20 bucks is no problem, but I don't think they'll let me in at Langley [Virginia, CIA headquarters].

"You just never knew with him. He was a free spirit and a gifted one."

Taking risks
There is no way to grasp what a shallow, contemptible and hopelessly dishonest old hack Hubert Humphrey is until you've followed him around for a while.
-- Hunter S. Thompson, from 'Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72'

Thompson's other works included "The Great Shark Hunt," a collection of Watergate-era essays; "Generation of Swine," his lament on the youth of the 1980s; and his account of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential win, "Better than Sex."

His lone novel, "The Rum Diaries," was written in 1959 and published in 1998, while a collection of letters, "The Proud Highway: The Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman," came out in 1997.

Hunter Stockton Thompson was born July 18, 1937, in Louisville, Kentucky. He served in the Air Force and was a newspaper sports editor. In 1966, he published "Hell's Angels," a fairly straightforward chronicle about the motorcycle gang, which Thompson had followed around for a year.

In 1970, he ran for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado, on a Freak Power Party platform of decriminalizing drugs. He lost in a tight race.

The peak of his fame came in the 1970s, when he contributed stories to a number of magazines.

His most notable client was Rolling Stone, where the dispatches that became "Campaign Trail" originally appeared. His battles with Rolling Stone founder Jann S. Wenner were legendary; his stories occasionally arrived on odd media, such as rolls of teletype paper, and Thompson's expense accounts were often challenged by the magazine. (Examples of Thompson's Rolling Stone work have been on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.)

"He may have died relatively young but he made up for it in quality if not quantity of years," Paul Krassner, the veteran radical journalist and one of Thompson's former editors, told The Associated Press by phone from his Southern California home.

"It was hard to say sometimes whether he was being provocative for its own sake or if he was just being drunk and stoned and irresponsible," quipped Krassner, founder of the leftist publication The Realist and co-founder of the Youth International (YIPPIE) party.

"But every editor that I know, myself included, was willing to accept a certain prima donna journalism in the demands he would make to cover a particular story," he said. "They were willing to risk all of his irresponsible behavior in order to share his talent with their readers."

'Shock and dismay'
America's answer to the monstrous Mr. Hyde. He speaks for the werewolf in us.
-- Hunter S. Thompson on Richard M. Nixon

In recent years, Thompson wrote a column for the sports network ESPN's Web site. In his most recent piece, posted February 15, he describes shooting at golf balls like skeet with a friend near his longtime home -- he called it "a fortified compound" -- outside Aspen.

"The general reaction here is shock and dismay, because he was such a figure in town," Aspen resident John Hoag told CNN.

Still, Hoag said, Thompson remained a private person. "The most news we heard from him was when a pack of dogs killed his peacock, Attila, and he broke his leg in Hawaii last year."

Thompson also was the model for the character of "Uncle Duke" in the "Doonesbury" comic strip. But Thompson strongly disliked the characterization, once telling an interviewer that he would set "Doonesbury" creator Garry Trudeau on fire if the two ever met.

In later years, however, Thompson said he had made peace with the "Uncle Duke" portrayal.

"I got used to it a long time ago," he told Freezerbox magazine in 2003. "I used to be a little perturbed by it. It was a lot more personal ... It no longer bothers me."

In 1980, actor Bill Murray portrayed Thompson in the film "Where the Buffalo Roam." And in 1998, the film "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" was released, based on Thompson's book and starring Johnny Depp as the journalist. A new film reportedly is in production based on Thompson's novel "The Rum Diaries."

The writer himself, Hoag said, will be missed. "There's no one in the world these days who writes the truth ... as he seems to, to me," he said. "He spoke to the world and said what people were afraid to say."

___________________________

Sucks, but he was . Still, he was by far my favorite author of all time. RIP.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-21-2005, 01:57 PM Thread Starter
 
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You guys will like this.


Song of the Sausage Creature
by Hunter S. Thompson


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There are some things nobody needs in this world, and a bright-red, hunch-back, warp-speed 900cc cafe racer is one of them - but I want one anyway, and on some days I actually believe I need one. That is why they are dangerous.

Everybody has fast motorcycles these days. Some people go 150 miles an hour on two-lane blacktop roads, but not often. There are too many oncoming trucks and too many radar cops and too many stupid animals in the way. You have to be a little crazy to ride these super-torque high-speed crotch rockets anywhere except a racetrack - and even there, they will scare the whimpering **** out of you... There is, after all, not a pig's eye worth of differen between going head-on into a Peterbilt or sideways into the bleachers. On some days you get what you want, and on others, you get what you need.




When Cycle World called me to ask if I would road-test the new Harley Road King, I got uppity and said I'd rather have a Ducati superbike. It seemed like a chic decision at the time, and my friends on the superbike circuit got very excited. "Hot damn," they said. "We will take it to the track and blow the bastards away."

"Balls," I said. "Never mind the track. The track is for punks. We are Road People. We are Cafe Racers."

The Cafe Racer is a different breed, and we have our own situations. Pure speed in sixth gear on a 5000-foot straightaway is one thing, but pure speed in third gear on a gravel-strewn downhill ess-turn is quite another.

But we like it. A thoroughbred Cafe Racer will ride all night through a fog storm in freeway traffic to put himself into what somebody told him was the ugliest and tightest decreasing-radius turn since Genghis Khan invented the corkscrew.

Cafe Racing is mainly a matter of taste. It is an atavistic mentality, a peculiar mix of low style, high speed, pure dumbness, and overweening commitment to the Cafe Life and all its dangerous pleasures... I am a Cafe Racer myself, on some days - and it is one of my finest addictions.




I am not without scars on my brain and my body, but I can live with them. I still feel a shudder in my spine every time I see a picture of a Vincent Black Shadow, or when I walk into a public restroom and hear crippled men whispering about the terrifying Kawasaki Triple... I have visions of compound femur-fractures and large black men in white hospital suits holding me down on a gurney while a nurse called "Bess" sews the flaps of my scalp together with a stitching drill.




Ho, ho. Thank God for these flashbacks. The brain is such a wonderful instrument (until God sinks his teeth into it). Some people hear Tiny Tim singing when they go under, and some others hear the song of the Sausage Creature.




When the Ducati turned up in my driveway, nobody knew what to do with it. I was in New York, covering a polo tournament, and people had threatened my life. My lawyer said I should give myself up and enroll in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Other people said it had something to do with the polo crowd.

The motorcycle business was the last straw. It had to be the work of my enemies, or people who wanted to hurt me. It was the vilest kind of bait, and they knew I would go for it.

Of course. You want to cripple the bastard? Send him a 130-mph cafe-racer. And include some license plates, he'll think it's a streetbike. He's queer for anything fast.

Whis is true. I have been a connoisseur of fast motorcycles all my life. I bought a brand-new 650 BSA Lightning when it was billed as "the fastest motorcycle ever tested by Hot Rod magazine." I have ridden a 500-pound Vincent through traffic on the Ventura Freeway with burning oil on my legs and run the Kawa 750 Triple through Beverly Hills at night with a head full of acid... I have ridden with Sonny Barger and smoked weed in biker bars with Jack Nicholson, Grace Slick, Ron Zigler and my infamous old friend, Ken Kesey, a legendary Cafe Racer.

Some people will tell you that slow is good - and it may be, on some days - but I am here to tell you that fast is better. I've always believed this, in spite of the trouble it's caused me. Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba....

So when I got back from New York and found a fiery red rocket-style bike in my garage, I realized I was back in the road-testing business.

The brand-new Ducati 900 Campione del Mundo Desmodue Supersport double-barreled magnum Cafe Racer filled me with feelings of lust every time I looked at it. Others felt the same way. My garage quickly became a magnet for drooling superbike groupies. They quarreled and bitched at each other about who would be the first to help me evaluate my new toy... And I did, of course, need a certain spectrum of opinions, besides my own, to properly judge this motorcycle. The Woody Creek Perverse Environmental Testing Facility is a long way from Daytona or even top-fuel challenge-sprints on the Pacific Coast Highway, where teams of big-bore Kawasakis and Yamahas are said to race head-on against each other in death-defying games of "chicken" at 100 miles an hour....

No. Not everybody who buys a high-dollar torque-brute yearns to go out in a ball of fire on a public street in L.A. Some of us are decent people who want to stay out of the emergency room, but still blast through neo-gridlock traffic in residential districts whenever we feel like it... For that we need Fine Machinery.

Which we had - no doubt about that. The Ducati people in New Jersey had opted, for some reasons of their own, to send me the 900ss-sp for testing - rather than their 916 crazy-fast, state-of-the-art superbike track-racer. It was far too fast, they said - and prohibitively expensive - to farm out for testing to a gang of half-mad Colorado cowboys who think they're world-class Cafe Racers.

The Ducati 900 is a finely engineered machine. My neighbors called it beautiful and admired its racing lines. The nasty little bugger looked like it was going 90 miles an hour when it was standing still in my garage.

Taking it on the road, though, was a genuinely terrifying experience. I had no sense of speed until I was going 90 and coming up fast on a bunch of pickup trucks going into a wet curve along the river. I went for both brakes, but only the front one worked, and I almost went end over end. I was out of control staring at the tailpipe of a U.S. Mail truck, still stabbing frantically at my rear brake pedal, which I just couldn't find... I am too tall for these new-age roadracers; they are not built for any rider taller than five-nine, and the rearset brake pedal was not where I thought it would be. Mid-size Italian pimps who like to race from one cafe to another on the boulevards of Rome in a flat-line prone position might like this, but I do not.

I was hunched over the tank like a person diving into a pool that got emptied yesterday. Whacko! Bashed on the concrete bottom, flesh ripped off, a Sausage Creature with no teeth, ****ed-up for the rest of its life.




We all love Torque, and some of us have taken it straight over the high side from time to time - and there is always Pain in that... But there is also Fun, the deadly element, and Fun is what you get when you screw this monster on. BOOM! Instant take-off, no screeching or squawking around like a fool with your teeth clamping down on our tongue and your mind completely empty of everything but fear.

No. This bugger digs right in and shoots you straight down the pipe, for good or ill.

On my first take-off, I hit second gear and went through the speed limit on a two-lane blacktop highway full of ranch traffic. By the time I went up to third, I was going 75 and the tach was barely above 4000 rpm....

And that's when it got its second wind. From 4000 to 6000 in third will take you from 75 mph to 95 in two seconds - and after that, Bubba, you still have fourth, fifth, and sixth. Ho, ho.

I never got to sixth gear, and I didn't get deep into fifth. This is a shameful admission for a full-bore Cafe Racer, but let me tell you something, old sport: This motorcycle is simply too ******* fast to ride at speed in any kind of normal road traffic unless you're ready to go straight down the centerline with your nuts on fire and a silent scream in your throat.

When aimed in the right direction at high speed, though, it has unnatural capabilities. This I unwittingly discovered as I made my approach to a sharp turn across some railroad tracks, saw that I was going waytoo fast and that my only chance was to veer right and screw it on totally, in a desperate attempt to leapfrog the curve by going airborne.

It was a bold and reckless move, but it was necessary. And it worked: I felt like Evel Knievel as I soared across the tracks with the rain in my eyes and my jaws clamped together in fear. I tried to spit down on the tracks as I passed them, but my mouth was too dry... I landed hard on the edge of the road and lost my grip for a moment as the Ducati began fishtailing crazily into oncoming traffic. For two or three seconds I came face to face with the Sausage Creature....

But somehow the brute straightened out. I passed a schoolbus on the right and got the bike under control long enough to gear down and pull off into an abandoned gravel driveway where I stopped and turned off the engine. My hands had seized up like claws and the rest of my body was numb. I felt nauseous and I cried for my mama, but nobody heard, then I wnet into a trance for 30 or 40 seconds until I was finally able to light a cigarette and calm down enough to ride home. I was too hysterical to shift gears, so I went the whole way in first at 40 miles an hour.




Whoops! What am I saying? Tall stories, ho, ho... We are motorcycle people; we walk tall and we laugh at whatever's funny. We **** on the chests of the Weird....

But when we ride very fast motorcycles, we ride with immaculate sanity. We might abuse a substance here and there, but only when it's right. The final measure of any rider's skill is the inverse ratio of his preferred Travelling Speed to the number of bad scars on his body. It is that simple: If you ride fast and crash, you are a bad rider. And if you are a bad rider, you should not ride motorcycles.

The emergence of the superbike has heightened this equation drastically. Motorcycle technology has made such a great leap forward. Take the Ducati. You want optimum cruising speed on this bugger? Try 90mph in fifth at 5500 rpm - and just then, you see a bull moose in the middle of the road. WHACKO. Meet the Sausage Creature.

Or maybe not: The Ducati 900 is so finely engineered and balanced and torqued that you *can* do 90 mph in fifth through a 35-mph zone and get away with it. The bike is not just fast - it is *extremely* quick and responsive, and it *will* do amazing things... It is like riding a Vincent Black Shadow, which would outrun an F-86 jet fighter on the take-off runway, but at the end, the F-86 would go airborne and the Vincent would not, and there was no point in trying to turn it. WHAMO! The Sausage Creature strikes again.

There is a fundamental difference, however, between the old Vincents and the new breed of superbikes. If you rode the Black Shadow at top speed for any length of time, you would almost certainly die. That is why there are not many life members of the Vincent Black Shadow Society. The Vincent was like a bullet that went straight; the Ducati is like the magic bullet in Dallas that went sideways and hit JFK and the Governor of Texas at the same time.

It was impossible. But so was my terrifying sideways leap across the railroad tracks on the 900sp. The bike did it easily with the grace of a fleeing tomcat. The landing was so easy I remember thinking, goddamnit, if I had screwed it on a little more I could have gone alot farther.

Maybe this is the new Cafe Racer macho. My bike is so much faster than yours that I dare you to ride it, you lame little turd. Do you have the balls to ride this BOTTOMLESS PIT OF TORQUE?

That is the attitude of the new-age superbike freak, and I am one of them. On some days they are about the most fun you can have with your clothes on. The Vincent just killed you a lot faster than a superbike will. A fool couldn't ride the Vincent Black Shadow more than once, but a fool can ride a Ducati 900 many times, and it will always be a bloodcurdling kind of fun. That is the Curse of Speed which has plagued me all my life. I am a slave to it. On my tombstone they will carve, "IT NEVER GOT FAST ENOUGH FOR ME."

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-21-2005, 06:41 PM
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Classic man... classic...

Bummer, he will be missed by many.

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-21-2005, 06:49 PM
 
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That guy lived like a rockstar. I made sure I caught His column on espn.com as much as could.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-22-2005, 10:24 AM
 
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He sure was a bizarre person.....
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-23-2005, 05:31 PM
 
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Hunter S. Thompson once said: "I'm not going to recommend massive quantities of alcohol and illegal drugs, random violence, or cheap, meaningless sex to anyone else. But they've always worked for me."
Enough said.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-23-2005, 05:49 PM
 
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That is sweet
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-24-2005, 12:06 PM
 
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Never heard of him.. Next...
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-24-2005, 12:17 PM Thread Starter
 
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You're 3 years older than me, how in the hell is that possible. He's one of the best authors in the past century.
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