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22 February 2005

The Doctor is Dead

Hunter S. Thompson, one of my great heroes is dead from an apparent suicide. With a gun, which is appropriate, because he loved his guns a lot, and he famously said that he would feel really trapped in life if he didn't know that he could commit suicide at any time he chose. So I guess this was the time. He also said he never expected to live past 30, and he was a respectable 67, and in far better health than he had any right to be, the old devil.
The following are some excerpts from the obituary for HST in The Independent:

Hunter S. Thompson in 2003 summed up his life thus: "I was a notorious best-selling author of weird and brutal books and also a widely feared newspaper columnist . . . I was also drunk, crazy and heavily armed at all times."
His heyday was the Seventies when every magazine around wanted to use him. He set up home in Woody Creek, near Aspen, Colorado, in a "writer's compound". In 1970 he was almost elected sheriff in Aspen under the Freak Power Party banner but in subsequent decades became increasingly reclusive, surrounded by peacocks and guns. His books were mostly collections of his journalism. They included: The Great Shark Hunt: strange tales from a strange time (1979); The Curse of Lono (illustrated by Ralph Steadman, 1983); Generation of Swine: tales of shame and degradation in the '80s (1988); Songs of the Doomed: more notes on the death of the American Dream (1990); Silk Road: thirty-three years in the passing lane (1990); Better than Sex: confessions of a political junkie (1993); and The Proud Highway: the saga of a desperate southern gentleman, 1955-1967 (1997).
Thompson was the model for Garry Trudeau's balding "Uncle Duke" in the comic strip "Doonesbury". In 1980 the film Where the Buffalo Roam, based on Thompson's coverage of the Super Bowl and the 1972 presidential elections, had Bill Murray playing the good doctor of gonzo journalism. Later, in 1998, Johnny Depp played him in Terry Gilliam's film version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
As the years went on, Thompson's provocative insights into American society and politics sometimes veered into hectoring and invective. However, on occasion, he still kept his bite. In a 1994 Rolling Stone obituary of Richard Nixon he famously described the former President as "a liar, a quitter and a bastard. A cheap crook and a merciless war criminal."

Another kindred spirit gone.

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