Hey all, this will probably be my last Hunter piece for a bit. The reason is because beginning any day now he will be on the cover of every magazine and a zillion writers and commentators will be telling you how influential he was. They will be telling you what his greatest works were, and how he shaped journalism as it is known today. As I mentioned in my last post, for me to do that would be to demean your personal experience and perception of him. So instead I’d like to share why he was so important to me, and some specifics about how things are going in Aspen right now.
I discovered Hunter in High School. I loved him for the same reasons I loved my other favorite authors; Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, William s Burroughs, Frank Zappa, and Charles Bukowski. I loved them because at the time I was a long haired hippy freak who loved literature and music and was very influential. I was in that ‘fuck corporate America’ phase where I thought anarchy was cool. You know, you went through the same phase too. Those folks mentioned above thought the same way… but they were grown ups! They were grown ups and they were famous! It completely validated my stupid existence. I thought for the longest time I was doomed to be a weird loner thinker guy with contempt for status quo. These guys showed me there are alternatives.
Around the time I was discovering this art, I realized most of these folks were dead. Burroughs was still alive (barely), Bukowski, Zappa, and HST. Well, they all died off and left me no role models. All except for Hunter. I love his writing because it isn’t just insightful, it’s FUN. Just about every word that comes out of his pen is a damn lie if not an exaggeration. I think I lived vicariously through him for that. For me he kept hope alive, and as I mentioned below he was one of the big reasons I chose to move to Colorado.
Details of what exactly happened and stuff:
At approx 5 pm Sunday evening Hunter called his wife Anita at the gym from home. She was working out and apparently the conversation was not out of the ordinary. He made no mention of any kind about suicide. At home with Hunter were his son, Juan, and Hunter’s grandchild (Juan’s child). Those two were in another room watching TV, and Hunter was in his kitchen. Shortly after his call with Anita ended he put a piston into his mouth and fired. He died immediately. Juan heard a thump of what he thought was ‘a big book falling’ and came to see what happened. There he discovered his father dead. There was never any question as to how Hunter died or who pulled the trigger. People who had seen or been with Hunter even that weekend said he did not appear out of sorts or unusually depressed. However, over the last few years he had discussed suicide on occasion as his body began to fail him.
In the last year he had major surgeries to his hip, leg, and spine. These left him in constant pain and mostly immobile. Hunter knew end times were coming, and didn’t want to die in a hospital without dignity and hooked up to machines… he had told people that over and over. Also interesting to note that one of Hunter’s major influences was Hemingway… who took his own life with a shotgun when he was 60.
Hunter was cremated in Glenwood Springs on Tuesday. His ashes were returned to the family who plan to somehow launch them out of a cannon over his ranch in Woody Creek. This will most likely be done in a private ceremony with family and close friends only on March 5th.
The family is expecting to do some kind of public event ‘in the spring’. I expect details to emerge on that in about a week or so.
I am going to suggest a couple of things you won’t see in all the articles that are about to be published. first off, my favorite book of his is “Curse of Lono” which is about him covering the Honolulu Marathon for ‘Running’ magazine back in 1980. I find it to be his best work. I also recommend buying ‘Breakfast with Hunter’ on DVD. It was just released last year and is a documentary done over the last five years. The reason why I say ‘buy’ instead of rent is because this DVD is mail order only through Wayne Ewing’s site www.breakfastwithhunter.com. Given present circumstances, it may be soon available for wide release now that everyone agrees how swell and important Hunter was. Of course, it is mail order only because before Hunter killed himself no one much cared how or what he was doing. I know the DVD wasn’t a huge release online either because when I ordered it, I got an e mail back from Wayne Ewing himself thanking me and saying it was on it’s way.
That is all for now. Remember, for all your Hunter Stockton Thompson online needs… I again refer you back to Christine’s bitchin’ and thorough site ‘The Great Thompson Hunt’. Even after this post is gone, her link will be on the left with all the others… just as it always has been.
Thanks for your kind words and wonderful remembrances. I hope you can stop in now and again here for a read.
*** Update 2/25 – Hunter’s widow, Anita, spoke today for the first time. She said that she was on the phone with Hunter when he did it. What kind of fucked up shit is that? And left himself dead to be found by his own son? He used to be my hero, now I think maybe he was just a narcissistic jerk.
I am a long time friend of Juan we went to the Aspen Community School together I have been using the blogs to try to send a message of love to him and the family but I know he is totally swamped because of the media attention at Owl farm and we need to let him know that we care for Him, Anita and the whole family in this time of tragedy while respecting his privacy
Let’s see if we can get the word out …
He was first the man….
He became the myth and legend
To me he was several people.
He was my best friend’s dad although he always called his dad Hunter
(At Juan’s wedding he said to a friend about me “Look there’s another little bastard I raised that turned out OK”)
He was Hunter S. Thompson retiring shy southerner who loved guns and his freedom
He was the Dr. Gonzo who we all know who would be in your face and try to kill you if you attempted to try to take away his guns, drugs, freedom, privacy and the god given right to go into an explosive tirade about it.
To be such a person required him to have a unique emotional support structure. These people now need our support, love and understanding in this time of grief.
Love the site (linked into it through Christine’s).
Also, I haven’t heard much mention of it but Hunter had a piece that was reprinted in “The Great Shark Hunt” titled “What Lured Hemingway to Ketchum?” In light of current circumstances I would encourage any major HST fan to give it a good look; I found it quite interesting.
I wish the family my sincere best. He will be missed.
HST supported a wrongly convicted person named Lisl Auman. He spoke at a few of her rallies over the past few years. You can check on that @ http://www.lisl.com With his support of this worthy cause, it just strengthened my respect for the man and the author. His last rally for her was a while ago, but my friend was kind enough to call me while he was speaking and let me listen in cause I was in Texas at the time. RIP HST, you will be missed.
The first news I read shortly after it happened quoted his wife as saying “He was tormented.” Haven’t seen that quote since.
A very good piece by Ralph Steadman at: http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/books/features/story.jsp?story=613513