Tag Archives: HUNTER.S.THOMPSON

THE ‘UNCLE DUKE’ ACTION FIGURE THAT MADE HUNTER S. THOMPSON WANT TO ‘RIP OUT’ GARRY TRUDEAU’S LUNGS

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06.10.2016
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It was 1974 when Gary Trudeau debuted the newest member of his Doonesburycomic crew, “Uncle Duke,” to the world. And the man whom the character was based on, gun-toting Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson was not pleased. In an interview with High Times, Thompson recalled the moment he became aware of Uncle Duke.

It was a hot, nearly blazing day in Washington, and I was coming down the steps of the Supreme Court looking for somebody, Carl Wagner or somebody like that. I’d been inside the press section, and then all of a sudden I saw a crowd of people and I heard them saying, “Uncle Duke,” I heard the words Duke, Uncle; it didn’t seem to make any sense. I looked around, and I recognized people who were total strangers pointing at me and laughing. I had no idea what the fuck they were talking about. I had gotten out of the habit of reading funnies when I started reading the Times. I had no idea what this outburst meant…It was a weird experience, and as it happened I was sort of by myself up there on the stairs, and I thought: “What in the fuck madness is going on? Why am I being mocked by a gang of strangers and friends on the steps of the Supreme Court? Then I must have asked someone, and they told me that Uncle Duke had appeared in the Post that morning.

Thompson went on to say that “no one grows up wanting to be a cartoon character” and that if he ever caught up with Garry Trudeau, he would “rip his lungs out.” Whilethat never happened, in 1992 Trudeau published book called Action Figure!; The Life and Times of Doonesbury’s Uncle Duke that chronicled the misadventures of Uncle Duke that came with a five-inch action figure of dear Uncle Duke along with a martini glass, an Uzi, cigarette holder, a bottle of booze, and a chainsaw. While theDoonesbury creator has never been one to shy away from controversy, this bold move seemed rather suicidal or at the very least a very direct threat to the current location of Trudeau’s lungs. You can actually still find the book and its sneering Uncle Duke action figure on auction sites like eBay and on Amazon like I did. More images follow.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Watch Hunter S. Thompson exchanging gunfire with his neighbors over their cows

#hunter_S_thompson#action_figure#uncle_duke#garry_trudeau#beatnikhiway.com#ana_christy

EXCLUSIVE The father I feared, loathed – and loved: Hunter S Thompson’s son reveals a childhood with drink, drugs, guns, picnics and parties with Hells Angels and how he adored his ‘alcoholic, idealistic’ dad

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3376299/EXCLUSIVE-father-feared-loathed-loved-Hunter-S-Thompson-s-son-reveals-childhood-drink-drugs-guns-

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Hunter S. Thompson’s son shocker:

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Hunter S. Thompson’s son shocker: “Hunter was surprised and pleased that I actually grew up apparently sane”

Salon exclusive: Juan F. Thompson discusses Hunter’s wild times, suicide — and why he didn’t want his dad’s life

TOPICS: HUNTER S. THOMPSON, BOOKS, EDITOR’S PICKS, ,

Hunter S. Thompson's son shocker: "Hunter was surprised and pleased that I actually grew up apparently sane"(Credit: AP/Kathy Willens/Reuters/Rick Wilking/Photo montage by Salon)

When Conan O’Brien tried to get Hunter S. Thompson to appear on his talk show, the writer would only agree to a segment if they went to upstate New York to shoot guns and drink hard liquor. Featuring his most famous proclivities, firearms and whisky, it’s a classic Thompson moment, a television appearance dictated, like his life and like his death, entirely on his own terms. It’s an episode that adds to the Thompson myth, another treatment of him not as a person but as a persona—as a cultural icon whose behavior and success are so inextricably tied together that it’s impossible to understand one without the other. The way he lived was the way he wrote.

But, of course, Hunter wasn’t just a symbol of Gonzo journalism, and he wasn’t just a caricature of the ‘60s. He was a man—a flawed individual known for his bouts of extreme rage, for his unprovoked verbal eruptions, for his short days and long nights. Nobody experienced the unpredictable fits of anger more so than his only child. Arriving nearly a decade after Hunter’s suicide in February 2006, Juan F. Thompson’s new memoir, “Stories I Tell Myself,” details the long path of reconciliation between a father and a son. It’s a journey of love and forgiveness, how one learns to accept a person when there’s no hope for change. It’s a portrait of Hunter as a human being, funny and fearful pages filled with drunk, smoky evenings, famous friends and admirers, extensive travels and financial uncertainty.

Relying on his memory, on what he considers sometimes “treacherous” and “unfaithful” and “perfidious,” Juan shares the 41 enthralling and scary years he had with Hunter: living in Woody Creek, Colorado, in a house stockpiled with guns, where ammo was stored in the kitchen cabinets; riding, as a young boy, on the back of speeding motorcycles; leaving his family and home state behind for a lonely and isolating East Coast school (twice). He starts with his own birth and ends with Hunter’s exorbitant funeral, when his dad’s ashes were shot out of a cannon.

This interview took place over the phone. It has been lightly edited for concision and clarity.

Why write the book now? It’s been almost a decade since Hunter’s death.

I just wrote an essay for Powell’s Books, for the store’s newsletter, and the essay is about why it took me nine years to write this book. I started in 2006, and, well, it took nine years. Why now? Because it took me nine years to write the damn book (laughs).

Were you sorting through his archives and his letters? Nine years is a long time.

A combination of things. First of all, I’d never written a full-length book, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

None of us do.

(laughs) Yeah, my God, my God. Part of it was simply time, too. I got a rough draft done in about a year, but then I realized that was the easy part, getting words down on paper—the basic skeleton. The hard part was pulling all these scraps together into a single, unified and compelling story with an actual arc.

And it was also just really difficult writing about my dad and my past. Much harder than I thought it would be. I figured it would be fairly straightforward and easy to remember, but it was an emotional and taxing process—and not one that I ever looked forward to doing. So I would take long breaks. There were times when I probably didn’t look at the manuscript for six months, and then I’d finally come back to it, and you know, see new things. What I was just writing about in this Powell’s essay was how it turned out that I really did need all of that time. If I had finished this book in a year, it wouldn’t have been a very good book. It would have been pretty one-dimensional. I was grieving. It would have been focused on how much I missed my dad and all the things I had heard about him. And it took years for me to reflect upon his life to realize that I needed to tell more of the story—and be fair. And ultimately, at the end of the day, I loved him, and I respected him. That’s where I ended up. But that doesn’t mean—he did do a lot of rotten things.

“Stories I Tell Myself” opens with a confession that you constructed the memoir based on memories, which are oftentimes unreliable. Even the title is a reference to this idea. Specifically, as a child, you were in situations that most kids never experience. I’m thinking about when Hunter brought you and your mother, Sandy, to hang out with Ken Kesey and the Hell’s Angels. Or even Jimmy Buffett’s wedding, a celebration you would later learn was filled with all sorts of drugs. Since you were young when both of these events occurred, you have had to rely on other people’s testimonials, and I’d imagine your own perception of your own childhood changed when, as an adult, you would hear all of these stories. In that way, you, like so many others, had to mythologize Hunter. Was it challenging understanding your father as a man and not just a persona, or a symbol?

I think part of it was reconciling with my father as a writer, as this caricature, and as the guy I grew up with, as my father. There’s truth in all of them. But I really needed that distance from his death. And I don’t know if I used these exact words in the book, but for those people close to Hunter, there was a very strong sense of loyalty. You have to protect Hunter. You have to be loyal to him. That was an imperative, and that was my first instinct in writing the book. Of course, I’ll protect him.

Were people loyal to him because they respected him, or was there also an element of fear? You describe, growing up, you were always afraid of him, too?

I think it was more that you didn’t question it. Not so much fear, if he did something wrong you would get in trouble. It was that he needs protecting, and our job is to protect him. And that took a while to realize that doesn’t really—now that he’s dead, I don’t really need to follow that obligation. It’s really up to me, and what I believe is important to tell rather than what he would have wanted me to say if he were alive. And that’s a huge factor. It would have been extremely difficult for me to write this book, much less publish it, if he were alive.

What do you think his response would have been if he were alive?

He would have been—I think, it’s so hard to tell what Hunter actually thought—horrified and angry and embarrassed. Because he would have had to deal with the consequences of that knowledge. But I really think—he always expected me to be honest. Once he was dead, and he didn’t have to deal with it, I thought: yeah, tell the truth, don’t cover it up. And I’d be doing him a disservice. I’d be failing in my task, if I were to continue to try to protect him, as we had always done. It wouldn’t be real.

In your memoir, you refer to both your father and your mother as Hunter and Sandy, respectively. Did you call your father “Hunter” throughout his whole life, and not “Dad”? Did you call your mother “Sandy,” and not “Mom”?

Yes, and I have no idea why. As long as I can remember, I always called them that. And I can only imagine it was because that’s how they referred to themselves. It must have been. I don’t think as a 2-year-old I decided that I’d call him Hunter, instead of Dad. Why they made that decision, I have no clue.

You ended up, despite all the craziness, pretty tame. You have a pretty normal life. You live in Colorado, you work in IT. Was being normal, for lack of a better word, a way to rebel?

I think so. At the time, it certainly wasn’t conscious or deliberate. I think it was a reaction against the uncertainty of the craziness. First of all, Hunter was a freelance writer, so there was no guaranteed income. My mom’s full-time job was taking care of Hunter and me until the divorce. So that was definitely a part of it, the financial uncertainty.

But secondly, as a kid and as a teenager, I knew I did not want to live like my father did. For the most part, I rejected the drugs and the drinking. And I think just by my nature, I’m not like him. He was just born that way. He was just born to be Hunter. I don’t think there’s anything in his upbringing—I don’t think, had things been different, he would have ended up an insurance agent like his father. That wouldn’t have happened.

He was just wired that way.

Yes. He was totally just wired that way.

You write a lot about how Hunter was a paradoxical individual. You mention that “one of the most difficult paradoxes in Hunter’s character was the presence of both a strong, genuine caring for others, and a profound self-centeredness.” And that, it was “so ironic that as a father Hunter passed on so few traditions, yet he possessed these traditional reflexes that would show themselves unexpectedly.” When you didn’t shake someone’s hand, for instance, he got upset, even though you had never been instructed on good manners. Is this what made him so unpredictable? That you didn’t know where he stood on certain issues?

Not so much that—he was just so volatile, and I think he became more so the older he got. As countless people will testify, he would erupt into a rage for the tiniest provocation. And that was really scary as a kid. And even as an adult, you don’t just get used to that. I learned to deal with it, I’d leave. But it was always uncomfortable, for sure.

Among swimming and watching movies, one ritual between you and Hunter was cleaning and shooting guns. He taught you how to respect the machines. They brought you together. What was it about firearms that produced such bonding moments?

I think it really could have been anything. But I enjoyed shooting guns, and obviously they were very important to Hunter. Cleaning guns needed to get done, in order to shoot them. It’s a manly kind of thing, and we shared the hobby. Without recognizing it, we probably seized on the opportunity: here’s something that we can do together, that can help connect us. So guns took on a greater importance because they provided a bonding ritual between us.

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Short documentary about Hunter S. Thompson in the 1980s

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Short documentary about Hunter S. Thompson in the 1980s

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Hunter S. Thompson: The Crazy Never Die- Restored

https://youtu.be/yq1QhZ-Ecaw

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“The Crazy Never Die” is a 30-minute, straight-to-video documentary from the late 1980s about Hunter S. Thompson in which we see the good Doctor on the loose at several speaking engagements, The Examiner newspaper, the infamous Mitchell Brothers’ O’Farrell Theater strip club where he was night manager, Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant, and inside the old Survival Research Laboratories compound!

Survival Research Labs’ director Mark Pauline told me: “This happened in 1987 around our ‘Delusions of Expediency’ show. I just remember that he was really stoned, and we basically tried to keep him from injuring himself or anyone else at the shop.”

Josh Roush lovingly restored a VHS tape of the documentary.

Much more in Roush’s post here: “AntiCurrent Video Archives Vol 4: Hunter S. Thompson- The Crazy Never Die

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Celebrating the life and death of the famed author of ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ with a bang

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Football Season Is Over: Hunter S. Thompson, 1937—2005

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Celebrating the life and death of the famed author of ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ with a bang

By | September 22, 2005

FEBRUARY WAS ALWAYS the cruelest month for Hunter S. Thompson. An avid NFL fan, Hunter traditionally embraced the Super Bowl in January as the high-water mark of his year. February, by contrast, was doldrums time. Nothing but monstrous blizzards, bad colds and the lackluster Denver Nuggets. This past February, with his health failing, Hunter was even more glum than usual. “This child’s getting old,” he muttered with stark regularity, an old-timey refrain that mountain-men used to utter when their trail-blazing days were over. Depressed and in physical pain from hip-replacement surgery, he started talking openly about suicide, polishing his .45-caliber pistol, his weapon of choice. He was trying to muster the courage to end it all.

Then, on February 16th, Hunter decided to leave a goodbye note. Scrawled in black marker, it was appropriately titled “Football Season Is Over.” Although he left the grim missive for Anita, his young wife, Hunter was really talking to himself. Here, published for the first time, are perhaps his final written words:

No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won’t hurt.

At the bottom of the page, Hunter drew a happy heart, the kind found on Valentine’s cards. Four days later, on February 20th, he committed suicide by firing his pistol into his mouth.

ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 20TH, SIX months to the day after Hunter died, many of his closest friends gathered in the high-ceiling lobby of the Hotel Jerome in Aspen. Since the mid-1960s, Hunter had used the hotel’s J-Bar as his boozy late-night office, its long out door swimming pool as his fitness club. Now, family and friends congregated here, waiting for a convoy of shuttle buses that would ferry them down the two-lane country road to Owl Farm, Hunter’s home in Woody Creek, to say goodbye.

As the hour approached, the Victorian hotel became a Gonzo way station. Reporters wandered about with spiral notebooks while Ralph Steadman and Bill Murray held court at the bar. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” Sen. John Kerry said as he boarded a shuttle, his arm around former Sen. George McGovern. “I met Humer in the days of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Then, last summer I offered him the vice-presidency in jest. He’s missed.”

Because Hunter had been a perpetual Peter Pan, accepting the bleak reality of his death came hard. Nobody coveted what his son, Juan, deemed “Dr. Phil closure.” Instead, his family and friends wanted to find a gallant, jubilant way to remember him. Luckily, Hunter provided them with a dramatic, ready-made funeral scheme first hatched nearly thirty years ago, a self-aggrandizing stunt guaranteed to launch his posthumous literary reputation skyward in a final blaze of triumphant glory. “Hunter wanted to be crazy and outrageous in death, just as he was in life,” composer David Amram said on the bus ride to Owl Farm. “Like a phoenix, he planned on rising from the ashes.”

Back in 1977, Hunter had asked Ralph Steadman — his brilliant illustrator and trusted sidekick — to draft a blueprint for a Gonzo Fist Memorial, his warped idea of a pyrotechnics-rigged mausoleum. The morbid notion had been preoccupying Hunter for a while. A few years before, he had asked his artist friend Paul Pascarella to design an official Gonzo logo: an iconic two-thumbed red fist clutching a peyote button, ensconced atop a dagger. Now, with a BBC crew in tow, Hunter and Ralph wandered into a Hollywood mortuary to inquire about transforming the Gonzo symbol into a full-fledged artillery cannon, 153 feet tall, capable of blasting his ashes into the atmosphere. It started out as a lark, but as they years passed, Hunter grew serious about the cannon concept, telling his family and friends it was his “one true wish.” He often spoke of how Mark Twain wanted to report on his own funeral, how France celebrated the death of Victor Hugo with a no-holds-barred parade and, more recently, how Timothy Leary had his ashes fired into space from Grand Canary Island via a rocket. But Hunter had a much grander farewell in mind. He wanted to trump his own suicide with a surefire, high-octane, sizzling Gonzo epilogue complete with a thunderous eight-piece Japanese drum band and a Buddhist reading and his ashes showering down on his lifelong friends while Bob Dylan wailed “Mr. Tambourine Man” from high-decibel speakers.

How one deals with the death of a loved one is a highly personalized affair. Some people weep for days; others take a hike in the woods or count rosary beads. The actor Johnny Depp, it turns out, is a charter member of the Direct Action School of Mourning. Depp and Hunter were home-boys. Both hail from Kentucky, and the two had become friends when Depp played Hunter’s alter ego Raoul Duke in the movie adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. One of Hunter’s great delights was getting Depp enshrined as an honorary Kentucky Colonel in 1996. From induction onward, Hunter always called him “Colonel Depp” — or sometimes just “the Colonel.” Since nothing could bring Hunter back to life, Depp decided to make his buddy’s 1977 death fantasy come true. “Fuck you, Hunter,” he joked one afternoon not long after Hunter died. “You want a Gonzo Cannon? We’ll give you a Gonzo Cannon.”

Following Hunter’s thirty-year-old blueprints, the Colonel commissioned a construction crew to build the cannon. Cost was not a factor. So what if the price tag was $2 million or $3 million? Depp’s recent hits Pirates of the Caribbean and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were financial grand slams, earning the forty-two-year-old actor enough money to buy his owns-land near the Bahamas. Doing it right for Hunter was all that mattered. “I loved him and wanted to make sure his last wish was fulfilled,” Depp says. ‘It’s that simple.” He galvanized Hunter’s inner circle to share his vision of building the most spectacularly weird monument ever erected for a writer. Without hesitation, both Anita and Juan signed up for the ash blast.

But greater Aspen has a notoriously hard-line building code. Pitkin County is NIMBY-land, a place where rich folks with $10 million alpine homes don’t want their scenic views obstructed by a giant day-glo peyote fist. Facing a political minefield, Depp dispatched his movieland troops to the Rockies, determined to construct a permanent monument for the Good Doctor. “There were a lot of community grumbles,” recalls Sheriff Bob Braudis. “Nobody minded a small cannon blast, but 153 feet tall? And permanent? That, quite naturally, raised eyebrows.”

So a compromise was struck. Depp could build his grandiose monument and his friend’s ashes could light up the Western sky in a fireworks orgy. But the memorial would have to be temporary. Two weeks only and down it would have to come. Faced with this reality check, most people would have resigned themselves to building a makeshift memorial, some tawdry papiermâché-like contraption modeled after a disposable Rose Bowl float. But Depp is not most people. “Our goal was to get everything right,” he says. “We wanted to respect the wishes of the people of Pitkin County. These were Hunter’s friends and neighbors. We wanted them to be part of the entire process.”

In early June, construction crews armed with jackhammers, buzz saws and humongous cranes arrived at Owl Farm. While engineers and security guards roamed the property around her, Anita focused on the guest list. Handsome invitations with a silver-foil dagger topped by a double-thumbed fist went out to a select group of family and friends. “Hunter had so many fans, and I wanted them all to come,” Anita says. “But reality dictated that we limit the event to 300 or 400 people.”

Slowly the program began to take shape. Juan would be master of ceremonies, introducing nine or ten of the people closest to Hunter to make brief five-minute eulogies. The tone was funeral-solemn — a wake — but expansive humor was naturally welcomed. Only mint juleps would be served for phase one. A full bar would open up after the eulogies. Music, of course, would be a big part of the evening; given Hunter’s preference for Kentucky bluegrass, Depp lined up Jimmy Ibbotson of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to play “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and Lyle Lovett and David Amram to orchestrate variations on “My Old Kentucky Home.”

Finally, there would be absolutely no cameras or tape recorders or working media allowed at the ceremony. (An exception was made for the New York Times.) “We didn’t see this as a media event,” Juan says. “It was a remembrance of Hunter. Our goodbye. We simply asked people to respect the family’s wishes.” Not everyone got the message. Three days before the event, a freelance photographer who was snooping around the area was run off by Ibbotson, a neighbor of Hunter’s, who fired off his shotgun for emphasis. “If you want to print the fact that neighbors are shooting at paparazzi, please do,” Ibbotson told the Aspen Times. “It might save us a little hassle on the day of the event.”

THE FESTIVITIES WERE SCHEDULED to begin at 7 P.M. As the shuttle buses approached Owl Farm, guests encountered a wall of frenzied fans, wildly waving Gonzo placards while toking on dope and mixing drinks. Virtually everyone claimed some connection to Hunter — be it a Utah book-seller or Honduran smuggler or Houston social maven or Pennsylvania hitchhiker. A few lost souls were even dressed like Hunter in Tilley hats and white Converse sneakers, smoking Dunhills from a cigarette holder. “Those folks weren’t in Woody Creek to rub elbows with glitterati,” said Gerry Goldstein, a close Hunter friend. “They came from far and wide to salute Hunter.”

As I chatted with some of these pilgrims — all in awe of the fifteen-story Gonzo tower standing across Woody Creek Road surrounded by a forested canyon wall — it dawned on me that Hunter had become the Patron Saint of Righteous Rage for the voiceless outcast. Like Jesse James or Billy the Kid, Hunter took on the Bad Boy persona of the average guy’s avenger. He wouldn’t take shit from uppity bosses or dishonest police or corrupt lawyers or phony agents like most of us do. With a fierce vengeance, he lashed out, creating chaos from the mundane, psychedelic sparks out of the terminally placid. Most of us would never drive our Jeep through plate-glass windows or whiff rotten cocaine in a Huddle House parkinglot … so Hunter did it for us. Mayhem was his calling.

And posterity was his obsession. Hunter spent his entire life in a childlike state, wailing like a rambunctious new-born for things like Equal Rights and Prison Reform. He wanted his legacy to be both literary and political. As the invited guests and family arrived, they walked up a flight of stairs — an elegant, gondola-shape pavilion on the hill above Owl Farm, constructed especially for the occasion. The décor was a luscious cross between a Deadwood-like brothel and a Vegas stage show circa 1970. One entrance to the Gonzo palace was adorned by large framed portraits of Hunter’s favorite authors — Hemingway, Faulkner. Conrad, Twain, Fitzgerald. A fine circular bar stood in the center, flanked by furniture draped in black cloth, to be unveiled after the eulogies. Stuffed peacocks and Chinese gongs and other assorted Hunter artifacts were scattered about, his apple-red convertible stuffed with blow-up dolls perched on a nearby knoll. “It was like entering an ancient temple,” says Curtis Robinson, a former editor at the Aspen Daily News. “It reminded me of how much Hunter looked like the Dalai Lama.”

Standing at the podium dressed in a tuxedo jacket, Juan Thompson called for testimonials from his father’s family and friends. Anita. wearing a silk shirt with hand-painted red poppies (Hunter’s favorite flower), sobbed her way through Coleridge’s epic poem “Kubla Khan.” Steadman gave a rambling, hilarious toast, reading some of Hunter’s lengthy faxes to him over the years, including one that demanded an immediate loan of $50,000 (“Keep your advice to yourself,” Hunter instructed, “and send the money”). Ed Bradley of CBS News described encountering Hunter’s work when he bought Rolling Stone at a military PX in Vietnam and eventually growing to trust the notoriously erratic writer enough to allow Hunter to shave his head with a Bic razor. Colleen Auerbach — the mother of Lisl Auman, a young Colorado woman who was being released from prison after Hunter raised questions about her case — read a letter from her daughter. “Hunter saved Lisl’s life,” Auerbach said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t thank him and wish him love.”

Jann S. Wenner, the founder and editor of this magazine, called Hunter “the DNA of ROLLING STONE.” He also commented on the scores of black-clad security officers patrolling the surrounding roads and woods. “Hunter liked to refer to Owl Farm as ‘my heavily fortified compound in the Rockies,”‘ Wenner noted. “Well, today that’s never been more true.”

George McGovern, whose campaign for president Hunter covered for ROLLING STONE, remembered him as “a man of deep goodness and justice and compassion and idealism.” Sheriff Braudis, a longtime friend, gave a heartfelt speech recounting how he had helped Hunter out of various jams over the years. He encouraged those present to keep Hunter’s wife and son and grandson in their thoughts before concluding, “Goodbye, Hunter… motherfucker.”

Juan gave the final ceremonial tribute to his father. “So here we go,” he said. “Let’s do this thing…. Let’s shout, let’s laugh, cry…. Let’s honor the great fallen warrior. Let us spread his ashes on our farm…. Let us celebrate power with power. The king is dead. Long live the king!”

The previous week, Anita had flown to Pennsylvania to deliver her husband’s remains — kept in an oak box draped with an American flag — to Zambelli Fireworks. The company loaded the ashes into ten mortar shells packed with gunpowder. Anita wrote “I love you” on each shell, which were then driven by armored car to Woody Creek and packed into the waiting cannon.

Now the moment had arrived. As “Spirit in the Sky” began blasting over the loudspeakers, even the handful of drunks in attendance sobered up. The massive drapery enfolding the monument was slowly pulled away, revealing the Gonzo fist at the top of the tower — two feet taller than the Statue of Liberty — a multicolored peyote button pulsating at its center. Ed Bastian, a close friend, read part of the sacred text of the Heart Sutra in Tibetan, and a troupe of Japanese drummers began a choreographed ritual. As the drums stopped, champagne flutes were passed around. Then, at 8:46 P.M., more than thirty fireworks rocketed high above Owl Farm, bursting in the night sky illuminated by a nearly full moon. The cannon atop the tower fired, and Hunter’s ashes fell over the assembled guests like gray snow, “Mr. Tambourine Man” blaring from the sound system on cue. Hunter was literally all around us now, a destroying angel whooping it up with one final Rebel Yell. I glanced at Hunter’s compatriots: Kerry looked curious, McGovern sad, Lovett silent. “I have never seen an event like this,” whispered Harry Dean Stanton. “And I’m old. Very old.” Afterward, when the moment came to sing “My Old Kentucky Home,” the performers discovered that no one knew the lyrics. George Tobia, Hunter’s friend and attorney, whipped out his cell phone and managed to find someone to pull the words off the Internet. Struggling to hear over the blare of the music, he wrote the lyrics out in longhand by the light of the moon. Lovett and Amram then took the stage to perform the song, with Depp on guitar and Hunter’s brother Davison on vocals.

Depp, bouncing on his heels, had a wicked grin on his face. He — along with Juan and Anita — had a right to celebrate. They had bucked the tiger and won. Every body knew the tower and its ghostly beacon were temporary. But for the moment Hunter’s family and friends indulged in a well-earned collective pride. They, better than anyone, knew that Hunter was no saint. Far from it. Not even close. At times, in fact, his veins seemed to fill with snake blood. But he was always bursting with kinetic passion and an indomitable prankster vision. Somehow it was hard to mourn his wildly vibrant sixty-seven years with a one-ton Gonzo fist in the sky and Lovett onstage singing “If I Had a Pony” and raw oysters and Gonzo-emblazoned chocolates being handed out like Halloween candy. The party lasted until dawn, with Bill Murray cutting a fine figure on the pavilion’s dance floor and others serenading an inflatable sex doll until the sun finally rose and fatigue settled in and everybody drifted out of Owl Farm full as ticks from food and booze.

As I left the farm with George McGovern and Anita Thompson to deliver a tape of the ceremony to an Aspen bar where hundreds of Hunter’s fans were convened, we stared out the bus window, and there it was, from three miles down the valley — the green orgiastic fist, lighting up the mountain. Jay Gatsby’s green light at the end of the pier had moved west to Hunter S. Thompson Territory. It glowed in the darkness like a long-ago lighthouse on loan from Haight-Ashbury, blinking a sentimental farewell, a bizarre hallucinogenic symbol soon to flicker out forever.

Suddenly, the shuttle bus grew hushed. You could hear the wheels humming down the lonesome Colorado blacktop road. Our transport had become as solemn as an empty church. No human murmurs or casual asides, just stony silence. As the highway turned sharply right, putting the phantasmagoric Gonzo fist out of view, the collective fear of everyone on board was that we had all entered the No More Fun Zone. The Green Light was temporary. The sorcerer was truly gone. The ashes had settled, and only the dark shadow of the valley remained.

From The Archives Issue 983: September 22, 2005

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/football-season-is-over-20050922#ixzz3k1twQ85s
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Hunter S. Thompson on Outlaws | Blank on Blank | PBS Digital Studios

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About That Time #Hunter S. Thompson Joined Hells Angels, For Journalism

Edgy animation memorializes Studs Terkel’s interview with the great Hunter S. Thompson.

Hunter S. Thompson on Outlaws | Blank on Blank | PBS Digital Studios

https://youtu.be/P3QoKqEHS8s

Few figures rank above Studs Terkel and Hunter S. Thompson in the pantheon of American journalism greats. So what, exactly, could be better than Terkel interviewing Thompson? Oh, that’s right: Terkel interviewing Thompson about his time studying the Hells Angels.

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Not to mention a wry cartoon animation of the interview from the PBS web series “Blank on Blank,” which debuted Tuesday. The old-school illustrations capture Thompson’s self-deprecating yet hardbitten tone, as he reveals details about his time with the Hells Angels, and lessons he learned from getting repeatedly “stomped.”

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Terkel conducted a radio interview with Thompson in 1967, as Thompson was poised to take off as a superstar of gonzo journalism. He had just written Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga, a book that stemmed from a breakout article he’d contributed to The Nation magazine.

“Hunter Thompson, our guest, is a new kind of journalist,” Terkel said upon introducing him. “The journalist who is not detached […] in fact he was almost an honorary member, or a dishonored member of the the Oakland Hells Angels.”

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Thompson speaks sympathetically about the Hells Angels, without whitewashing their violent predilections. “I think the Angels came out of World War Two,” he posits to Terkel. “This whole kind of alienated, violent, subculture of people wandering around looking for either an opportunity, or if not an opportunity then vengeance for not getting an opportunity.”

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Though he ruefully recalls falling victim to “bylaw number 10 or 11 […] ‘When an Angel punches a non-Angel all other Angels will participate'” — apparently he once made the fatal mistake of giving a member a hard time for beating his wife — Thompson even sees himself in the frustrated bikers. He confesses to a tendency toward throwing “beer bottles into bar mirrors” and admits enjoying the visceral rush he found in speeding down the highway on a powerful motorcycle.

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Thompson only sped down the open road with the Hells Angels for around a year, but he told Terkel he learned about broader society during that time. “I wouldn’t just call Hells Angels in Oakland the only violent part of our society,” he said. “The Angels reflect not only the lower segments of the society but the higher, where violence takes a much more sophisticated and respectable form.”

He wasn’t just referring to easy marks, like political wheeler and dealer Lyndon B. Johnson, whom he named as having great Hells Angel potential. “I learned a lot about myself just writing about the Angels,” he admitted. “I was seeing a very ugly side of myself a lot of times.”

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In the mid-Sixties, gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson spent about a year with the world’s most notorious biker gang to write the book Hell’s Angels, which came out in 1967. He spoke with radio broadcaster Studs Terkel that year for an interview that PBS has now animated whimsically for its Blank on Blank series.

“The Angels claim that they don’t look for trouble,” Thompson said in the interview. “They just try to live peaceful lives and be left alone, but on the other hand they go out and put themselves into situations deliberately and constantly that are either going to humiliate somebody else or cause them to avoid humiliation by fighting.”

But he went on to question their desire for peace, explaining that one of the gang’s bylaws stipulated that “when an Angel punches a non-Angel, all other Angels will participate.” He also said that he was on the receiving end of their wrath. “All during this stomping, I could see the guy who had originally teed off on me that just out of nowhere, with no warning, circling around with a rock [that] must have weighed about 20 pounds,” the journalist said. “I tried to keep my eyes on him because I didn’t want to have my skull fractured.”

Later in the interview, Thompson confided that, like the Angels’ claims, he was then trying to keep a peaceful existence – for his own safety. “I keep my mouth shut now,” he said. “I’ve turned into a professional coward.”

The year Hell’s Angels hit bookstore shelves, the first issue of Rolling Stone also came out. Thompson would go on to become one of the magazine’s most venerated contributors, penning “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” and covering everything from the Nixon-McGovern presidential campaigns in 1972 to Bill Clinton 20 years later for the magazine. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2005. An online archive of his Rolling Stone writing is available here.

Blank on Blank animates archival interviews with musicians, actors and other notable people. Recent installments have included Joni Mitchell, Michael Jackson, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Tupac Shakur and Jim Morrison.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/see-hunter-s-thompson-talk-hells-angels-in-newly-animated-interview-20150728#ixzz3hPHTeXzX
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

A Letter from #Hunter S. Thompson that Changed My Life

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A Letter from Hunter S. #Thompson that Changed My Life

Posted On 25 Jun 2015
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Hunter S. Thompson

Roughly 57 years ago, a 22-year-old Hunter S. Thompson wrote a letter to a friend that had asked him for advice. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like a big deal – 57 years ago letters were just how people communicated. What stands out to me is the fact that Thompson wrote this letter way before anyone really knew who he was. The letter, in my opinion, is a pure statement of faith, written by one of the most influential writers of our time, solely for the purpose of helping his friend. I know the letter wasn’t written to me, but I still read it like it was.

April 22, 1958
57 Perry Street
New York City

Dear Hume,

You ask advice: ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do! For to give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal — to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.

I am not a fool, but I respect your sincerity in asking my advice. I ask you though, in listening to what I say, to remember that all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another. I do not see life through your eyes, nor you through mine. If I were to attempt to give you specific advice, it would be too much like the blind leading the blind.

“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles … ” (Shakespeare)

And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect — between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming.

But why not float if you have no goal? That is another question. It is unquestionably better to enjoy the floating than to swim in uncertainty. So how does a man find a goal? Not a castle in the stars, but a real and tangible thing. How can a man be sure he’s not after the “big rock candy mountain,” the enticing sugar-candy goal that has little taste and no substance?

The answer — and, in a sense, the tragedy of life — is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you. Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.

So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?

The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals, anyway. It would take reams of paper to develop this subject to fulfillment. God only knows how many books have been written on “the meaning of man” and that sort of thing, and god only knows how many people have pondered the subject. (I use the term “god only knows” purely as an expression.) There’s very little sense in my trying to give it up to you in the proverbial nutshell, because I’m the first to admit my absolute lack of qualifications for reducing the meaning of life to one or two paragraphs.

I’m going to steer clear of the word “existentialism,” but you might keep it in mind as a key of sorts. You might also try something called “Being and Nothingness” by Jean-Paul Sartre, and another little thing called “Existentialism: From Dostoyevsky to Sartre.” These are merely suggestions. If you’re genuinely satisfied with what you are and what you’re doing, then give those books a wide berth. (Let sleeping dogs lie.) But back to the answer. As I said, to put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.

But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or doctors — but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires — including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.

As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal), he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).

In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life — the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.

Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN — and here is the essence of all I’ve said — you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.

Naturally, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ve lived a relatively narrow life, a vertical rather than a horizontal existence. So it isn’t any too difficult to understand why you seem to feel the way you do. But a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.

So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life. But you say, “I don’t know where to look; I don’t know what to look for.”

And there’s the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don’t know — is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice.

If I don’t call this to a halt, I’m going to find myself writing a book. I hope it’s not as confusing as it looks at first glance. Keep in mind, of course, that this is MY WAY of looking at things. I happen to think that it’s pretty generally applicable, but you may not. Each of us has to create our own credo — this merely happens to be mine.

If any part of it doesn’t seem to make sense, by all means call it to my attention. I’m not trying to send you out “on the road” in search of Valhalla, but merely pointing out that it is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by life as you know it. There is more to it than that — no one HAS to do something he doesn’t want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that’s what you wind up doing, by all means convince yourself that you HAD to do it. You’ll have lots of company.

And that’s it for now. Until I hear from you again, I remain,

your friend,

Hunter

Books Hunter S. Thompson Thinks You Should Read

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Books Hunter S. Thompson Thinks You Should Read

No fear or loathing here. These are the books that the good doctor personally suggested to his friends and family.

“I don’t advocate drugs and whiskey and violence and rock and roll, but they’ve always been good to me.”

The quip above, written by Hunter S. Thompson for Playboy shortly before his death in 2005, captures what many readers best knew him for and still remember. Beginning with the publication of Hell’s Angels in 1966, rising with “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved” in 1970 and reaching its zenith in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the second part of which was published by Rolling Stone 43 years ago this month, Thompson forged a lasting persona for himself as an outlaw journalist. It was astonishingly successful — his books, film adaptations and general cultural influence are all testaments to that — but it came largely at the expense of his first love: novel-writing.

Although readers today associate Thompson most with his drug-and-booze-fueled antics, he was in fact a committed literary stylist, especially early on. As a child growing up in Louisville in the ‘50s, he would type out his favorite novels, particularly The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises, over and over again to get a feel for the words. This aspiration, melded with his initially frustrated writing career, made Thompson a harsh literary critic, if not a bit of a dick. An example:

“I have tonight begun reading a stupid, shitty book by Kerouac called Big Sur, and I would give a ball to wake up tomorrow on some empty ridge with a herd of beatniks grazing in the clearing about 200 yards below the house. And then to squat with the big boomer and feel it on my shoulder with the smell of grease and powder and, later, a little blood.”

That comes from a letter by Thompson to a friend in 1962. Throughout his personal correspondence (published during his lifetime in two volumes,) Thompson digs into contemporary writers and classics with his trademark venom, but he also occasionally recommends a book to an acquaintance — and then he gushes.

These are a few of the reads Thompson recommended before Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, before he had become an outlaw journalist, back when he was just a desperate Southern gentleman:


Down and Out in Paris and LondonDown and Out in Paris and London
by George Orwell

To Knopf Editor Angus Cameron:

“Fiction is a bridge to the truth that journalism can’t reach. Facts are lies when they’re added up, and the only kind of journalism I can pay much attention to is something like Down and Out in Paris and London. …But in order to write that kind of punch-out stuff you have to add up the facts in your own fuzzy way, and to hell with the hired swine who use adding machines.”

The FountainheadThe Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

To high school friend Joe Bell:

“To say what I thought of The Fountainhead would take me more pages than I like to think I’d stoop to boring someone with. I think it’s enough to say that I think it’s everything you said it was and more. Naturally, I intend to read Atlas Shrugged. If it’s half as good as Rand’s first effort, I won’t be disappointed.”

Down and Out in Paris and LondonThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

To Knopf Editor Angus Cameron:

“If history professors in this country had any sense they would tout the book as a capsule cram course in the American Dream. I think it is the most American novel ever written. I remember coming across it in a bookstore in Rio de Janeiro; the title in Portuguese was O Grande Gatsby, and it was a fantastic thing to read it in that weird language and know that futility of the translation. If Fitzgerald had been a Brazilian he’d have had that country dancing to words instead of music.”

The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline BabyThe Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby by Tom Wolfe

To the author, Wolfe:

“I owe the National Observer in Washington a bit of money for stories paid and never written while I was working for them out here, and the way we decided I’d work it off was book reviews, of my own choosing. Yours was one; they sent it to me and I wrote this review, which they won’t print. I called the editor (the kulture [SIC] editor) the other day from the middle of a Hell’s Angels rally at Bass lake and he said he was sorry and he agreed with me etc. but that there was a “feeling” around the office about giving you a good review. … Anyway, here’s the review, and if it does you any good in the head to know that it caused the final severance of relations between myself and the Observer, then at least it will do somebody some good. As for myself I am joining the Hell’s Angels and figure I should have done it six years ago.”

Lie Down in DarknessLie Down in Darkness by William Styron

To Viking Editor Robert D. Ballou:

“Last week I read two fairly recent first novels — Acrobat Admits (Harold Grossman), and After Long Silence (Robert Gutwillig) — and saw enough mistakes to make me look long and hard at mine [Prince Jellyfish]. Although I’m already sure the Thompson effort will be better than those two, I’m looking forward to the day that I can say it will be better than Lie Down in Darkness. When that day comes, I will put my manuscript in a box and send it to you.”

The OutsiderThe Outsider by Colin Wilson

To his mother, Virginia Thompson:

“As a parting note — I suggest that you get hold of a book called The Outsider by Colin Wilson. I had intended to go into a detailed explanation of what I have found out about myself in the past year or so, but find that I am too tired. However, after reading that book, you may come closer to understanding just what lies ahead for your Hunter-named son. I had just begun to doubt some of my strongest convictions when I stumbled upon that book. But rather than being wrong, I think that I just don’t express my rightness correctly.”

Singular ManSingular Man by J. P. Donleavy

To freelance journalist Lionel Olay:

“Now that you’ve taken personal journalism about as far as it can go, why don’t you read Singular Man and then get back to the real work? … I’m not dumping on you, old sport — just giving the needle. I just wish to shit I had somebody within 500 miles capable of giving me one. It took Donleavy’s book to make me see what a fog I’ve been in.”

World of SexThe World of Sex by Henry Miller

To Norman Mailer in 1961:

“This little black book of Miller’s is something you might like. If not, or if you already have it, by all means send it back. I don’t mind giving it away, but I’d hate to see it wasted.”

To Mailer in ‘65:

“Somewhere in late 1961 or so I sent you a grey, paperbound copy of Henry Miller’s The World of Sex, one of 1000 copies printed “for friends of Henry Miller,” in 1941. You never acknowledged it, which didn’t show much in the way of what California people call “class,” but which was understandable in that I recall issuing some physical threats along with the presentation of what they now tell me is a collector’s item. … And so be it. I hope you have the book and are guarding it closely. In your old age you can sell it for whatever currency is in use at the time.”

For more reading recommendations from the good doctor, check out both his collections of letters: The Proud Highway and Fear and Loathing in America.

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