Friday Fives – basking in celebrity goodness edition

bono and i

What was your last interaction with a famous person?

Well, we have to mention my run in with Bono… even though it technically doesn’t count.  So, let’s start there.  I was in San Fran a fall or two ago for a very very big business conference (Dreamforce) and they had bought up the whole town.  Huey Lewis literally played right in the middle of the street they shut down.  Sean Penn was there to get into fights with hotel patrons, and they bought up the baseball stadium to have Green Day come and play for everyone for free.

As I was walking through one of the big conference thingies, I spotted Bono.  Not someone who looks like Bono, mind you, but motherfuckin Bono his goddamn self.  I love U2, and I love Bono.  Bono gets too much shit for being overexposed… and he IS… but he uses that literally to solve the world’s problems. I have seen them a lot, and I think they may be the best rock back in production right now. Not saying they are my favorite band, or that I saw them on their last tour.  BUT…if someone comes to America and wants to know what a big production of a great rock and roll band us… you give them U2.  Given that I was rubbin’ uglies with Huey Lewis, Billie Joe, and Sean Penn… it was not too much of a stretch to think I was within the same breathing air as his Bono-ness.

Shit, I already told this story, didn’t I?

Spoiler, it wasn’t Bono.  It was Pavel.  Pavel, btw, is a good dude.  I have corresponded with him.  I posted this anecdote on Facebook and my buddy Eddie had the greatest comment.  He said “you met the Pavel?  In person?  That is huge, and everyone knows ‘Bono’ is just a big Pavel impersonator!”

So… we can’t count that one, can we?  How about Dave Barry?  Up for a Dave Barry story?  We chatted about dogs, and he was thrilled I had not only a ‘regular dog’, but a ‘small emergency back up dog’ as well.  We were taking selfies and he looked at my blackberry (so yeah… that kinda dates me.  Maybe this was about ten years ago?) to see our pictures.  My wallpaper was my doggies, so we talked about that.  Am I boring you?  Why don’t you tell me your Dave Barry story?  Exactly.  I am CERTAINLY not telling you my Johnny Depp story.  Not with that attitude.  After I am done not telling you my Depp story, you will next NOT get to hear about hanging out with Ralph Steadman.

  • was that boring to you?  Did you want to tell your Dave Barry story?  How about your Johnny Depp story?  Do you have one?  Well, I do… and I ain’t sharing it now!

You know that girl in your elementary school class that was really obsessed with horses? What is she doing with her life now?

She married me, and we have horses.  It’s much less romantic than they showed in movies.  Our horses have saved exactly ZERO children almost swept away by ravaging flood waters.

What is the most pretentious hobby?

Playing guitar in a rock band?  Is that pretentious?  Or, maybe just sad and middle agey?  hmm. what else do I do?  Oooh, I like to collect aged books.  I would almost just a rather carefully thumb through a 125 year old first edition hard back than look at boobs.  ALMOST.

One day I will tell you the good story of the book I found at goodwill for a $1.  It was called ‘Presidents I Have Known’  How is that for pretentious?  Anyhow, I bought it because it was beautiful.  The book, I mean.  It was a well worn, a hard back, and  a first edition.  Plus, with a title that pompous… I simply had to have it.  This is book porn… especially for 25 cents!  THEN… I get it home and it is inscribed by some dude wishing some dude the best.  For shits and giggles (my fish) I googled the name.  The guy whom is it inscribed to was the wealthiest and most important guy in America at the time.  I wish I remember the name, but I don’t… and I ain’t at home.  And the guy who hand wrote the beautiful inscription was the author his damn self!

I guess you can scratch that ‘one day’ part above, since I mostly just told you that story.

Wait… are you asking my most pretentious hobby?  Or, just in general.  Guess what?  This questions is over now.  SHELVED for being unspecific.

… ok, I thought of something.  The most pretentious thing I can think of is being the prevost of a polo mallet museum.  Really, prevost of anything would do the trick.

What is your favorite debunked conspiracy

Hasn’t even conspiracy been debunked?  In fact, is that not the definition of ‘conspiracy’.  I would have to go with the moon landing.  People not only don’t believe we went there, but they are SUPER vested in their opinion.  At the end of the day, who cares?  Let’s say the govt did lie about the whole moon landing?  How EXACTLY does that impact your day to day life?  Even if the govt copped to it, and even apologized… would you get cheaper gas?  Or a month off rent?  Or a couple days off of work?  No.  So get over it.

I should note I can not write off all conspiracies as the work of loonies with too much spare time.  I am still actively wondering what the hell happened with the Kennedy assassination.  Like most Americans, I am settled about this much  – I am not sure what happened, but I am about 90% confident that the version they fed us as the truth is NOT what happened.  Even went to Dallas to see Dealey Plaza.  That was awesome, and you should go!

I guess what we can take away is if you believe in govt conspiracies you are a sad little man… UNLESS… you believe in the same ones I do.

What is your favorite random Wikipedia article?

Well, if it were my favorite, wouldn’t it not be random? This feels like entrapment.  This question is SHELVED for editorial negotiation!

Excuse me, Mr Steadman, but you are ruining my book

I found this book in the basement. Not sure why it was boxed up with old work stuff, but it was. I was VERY tickled to find this book. It is, in fact, probably my most treasured book, for reasons that will be revealed below.  This book pre-dates my listing of all the books I read.

After Hunter Thompson shot himself in 2005, there was a slew of books that came out, most of them great. All his good friends had a book in them, with their favorite Hunter Stories. His widow, Anita, wrote one. It’s ok. His best friend, though, was the sheriff of Aspen. Read that again. Hunter’s best friend was head cop in all of Aspen. He wrote a really terrific book of his favorite Hunter stories. It’s called ‘the Kitchen Diaries’. So, this book below (The Joke’s Over) was Ralph Steadman’s favorite Hunter stories. Ralph Steadman was Hunter’s artist. All of those amazing and iconic images from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas… that was all Ralph. They worked together for about 25 years.

Ralph is a wonderful man. When Hunter died, he paid off the Owl Farm property in Aspen for his widow (Anita).  This book is Ralph’s stories of his time with Hunter. He was in Denver doing a book tour and speaking engagement. Everybody who does Hunter Thompson related work comes to Denver. We are the closest metropolis to Aspen.  Over a few years, I went to many Hunter related events: books signings, films, speaking engagements, etc. Ralph’s event was super cool. There was a pre event at a local private club/bar/ tavern. Then, there was a bigger event at the Denver Post building downtown. For some reason, there was virtually no one at the pre-event. There was about ten people, all drinking. Hunter’s widow, Anita, was there, as was Hunter’s son, Juan.

I was just hanging out and chatting and drinking with all of them. It was amazing. I had brought my copy of the new Steadman book. It is a first edition hard back. If you were a book nerd like me, you would know how important that is. So, we are standing in a small circle while Ralph (Mr Steadman, to you) holds court. We are chatting and laughing like old pals – at least in my mind. After I had a few drinks in me, I sheepishly asked if he would sign my book. He smiled and took my book and opened it up to the title page, which is where books are always signed. The picture below is the two of them.  Hunter on the left and Ralph on the right.

Then… I watched him go all Ralph Steadman on it. He just started doodling in his super characteristic way. Then, he handed it back and started explaining it to me. He said that is wine and grapes. The creepy figure is Hunter, as detailed by his iconic cigarette holder. He was so nice and engaging. Can you believe this? I have a first edition hardback signed copy with original crazed art by the man himself. You ruined my book, Mr Steadman. God bless you, sir.

Allow me to explain what you are seeing.  The original page just had the title.  Not even the author’s name.  Everything else you see is Ralph’s ink drawing.

Ralph Steadman sketch 2007

Friday Fives – book edition

Last week was movies. This week its books.

1. What was the last book that you absolutely could not put down until you finished it? 

for this, I have to reference this.  I am such a book nut that I archive everything I read.  I started doing this years ago, noting down books as I read them.  Now that I have probably a hundred catalogued, I find it a very useful resource.  Plus, allow me cop to the fact that it is a bit pretentious.  It sounds like something Sting would do.  To me, Sting sets the bar for pretension.  But, it is practical.  I read a lot, about a book a month.  This helps me keep it straight in my mind, and go back to find authors that I loved.

Now, back to the question.  The last book that just rocked my world was an audiobook… so that could constitute cheating.  It was ‘Lamb’.  This was the most amazing book.  I believe it is one of the best and most important and amazing books ever written.  Note (again, Sting alert here) I have a degree in Literature, so I know of what I speak.  Lamb was amazing, life changing!  I put it up there with Alice in Wonderland.  If you are a reader here, then you know my devotion to that book.  If you are not a reader here, what are you doing reading here, huh?  You got some esplainin’ to do.

Allow me to tell you a tiny bit more about Lamb that might shed light on the truly religious experience it had on me.  When I listened to it, I was driving by myself across the desert on Christmas day.  I had not slept in 4 days, so I was literally loopy.  Also, I am a recovering Catholic.  This means I believe in Jesus and most of his story, up until he died.  I do believe there was a Jesus.  I do believe he was a leader, and I do believe he was murdered for that.  I don’t believe he came back to life.

I didn’t mean to be listening to the fictionalized story of Christ on Christmas day.  Nor did I mean to be driving through the desert by myself whacked on sleep deprivation when I did.  Those are all just amazing co-incidences that made it a very seriously powerful experience for me.  You must read that book.  Religious or not.  It is incredibly thoughtful.  it is not satire, or humor.  It is at least as accurate as the Bible, and I am dead serious about that.  Both were written by men who were nowhere around when it happened.  At least Moore cops to it.

There you have it.  I have officially not written that much about a book (besides Alice in Wonderland) since college.

2. Do you have a difficult to read author/book that you really want to read/finish?

I did.  There have been many books I meant to finish.  Many books that felt embarrassed that I had not read or finished.  Finally, though, I realized life is too short to read boring books.  Here is an example – Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote ‘100 years of solitude‘.  It has been regarded by about every scholar as one of the greatest books ever written.  Entire college courses are taught on this book.  So, being as though I am a lit guy, I should read it.  I should know it.  I tried.  I really did.  a bunch of times.  Here is my educated literary analysis – holy fuck is it boring.  See, it is 500 pages.  So, your first 60 pages are just about setting the scene and introducing characters.  I couldn’t get past page 25 ever.  So, this book is shelved.  I am not even going to try anymore.

There is a really great article/infographic about this very topic.  Btw, full Sting disclosure here.  As much as I truly enjoy talking about books, I did not pick these questions.  These came from my editor, who is my close buddy who turned me on to blogging ten years ago.

3. If you had to pick a genre that your read as a favorite, what is it? 

non-fiction memoirs, and neurology.  I am a freelance neurologist.  Go ahead, google it.  Just kidding, you can’t.  I just made it up.  Ok, that was a little Stingy.  Allow me to explain that reference.  Sting put out a movie of him playing lute and discussing literature with guys with bears and tweed coats.  Doing those things doesn’t make you a douche, but putting out a movie of you doing those things sure does.

4. If you had to help someone who “doesn’t get into reading” what would you suggest to them to light their fire?

start light.  Comedians often write great and super funny books.  Here is one I read fairly recently.  it is really enjoyable, and super fluffy.  Also, I strongly recommend Alice in Wonderland.  it is not too long, amazingly well written, and totally absurd.  Here is an even better one.  This book, Animal Farm, is super entertaining, and incredibly thoughtful.  it is also so short you can read it one night.  Classes have been taught about this book, too.  Hell, Pink Floyd made an album about it.

5. What are you reading right now?

Nothing, actually.  I just finished this last week, and am in between books.  I am pretty sure I am going to get a couple books on Russian history.  For now, though, I am on brain vacation and just reading my magazines (Rolling Stone, Playboy, Popular Mechanics, and Psychology Today).  Both of the Russian history books are over 400 pages each.  I am a bit intimidated to get into something that thick and thinky, but it is a fascinating tale.  Like, if you asked anyone on Earth who the worst person in history is, most would agree Hitler.  Lemme tell you, when it comes to body count, no one comes CLOSE to Stalin.  Stalin makes Hitler look like a youth league volunteer for charity by comparison.

I go back and forth between really thinky stuff, and fluffy memoirs.  Oooh oooh!  I just thought of another great book you should read.  Adam Carolla has a couple terrific memoirs out.  I am a big fan of Carolla’s podcast, and listen almost daily.  Start with this one, and then do this one.

* since we are talking about books, and Alice in Wonderland, I have an update.  I finally scored the holy grail of books.  This is the book I have been wanting for 25 years.  It is scarce, and believed by many to have never even existed.  Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Ralph Steadman.  I haven’t even cracked it open yet.  I have too much on my plate to really lose myself in it like I want to.

Friday Fives

What story did you love reading as a child?

I hated reading when I was a kid.  Bored me to tears.  Would rather be out jumping stuff on my bike.  See, we didn’t have safety back then.  helmets, gloves, pads?  nope!

What remains to be your all-time favorite book?

Alice in Wonderland.  It is so incredibly well written, and such a fun read.  It is also incredibly timeless.  That book was written in 1863.  There is so much joy and silliness in those books (books > Alices Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass).

What book do you usually recommend to people?

Alice in Wonderland.  It’s very approachable.  You don’t have to be smart or clever or old to dig it.  It is as great a read to me as it might be to a little kid.

If you were a character in a book, who would you be?

Not Alice, I will tell you that.  That whole book is just really fucked up stuff happening to her.  It is terrible what happens.  She shrinks, grows, is put on trial, introduced to food (which she never gets to eat.  See, it is rude to eat anything you have been introduced to).  Everything that happens to her is completely out of her control.  Yet, she handles everything with grace and curiosity.  She is a champ, and we can all learn from her.

What do you think of all the movies from books?

Glad you asked.  Tim Burton has an adaptation of Alice coming to the theatres.  I am STOKED.  Only Tim Burton could properly capture the vision of the book.  Also, as I understand it, he has a unique take.  His story is about what happens when Alice returns to Wonderland as an adult.  That nevers happens in the books… so we are completely in Tim Burton’s hands on this.  I am good with that.

Final Final Thoughts on Hunter Thompson

ed. note: Today is Hunter’s funeral service in Aspen

You fucker, you won. You went out on your own terms. How you did it, to me, was bullshit. With your son and grandson in the other room and your wife on the phone? What kind of shit is that? Seriously, that was fucked up. Regardless, the more I have learned since your passing, I understand. You were a proud man who was beaten down by his own body. I am reminded of Salma Hayak as Frida Kahlo saying ‘when I die, I want you to burn this judas of a body that has betrayed me’. I didn’t know for months after your passing that you were confined to a wheelchair. I understand what you did and why you did it. I don’t agree, but I understand.

On the occasion of Hunter’s funeral celebration this weekend in Aspen, Colorado I wanted to say a few words.

I am sad you are gone. I am also angry, but that is more for obviously selfish reasons. Mostly, though, I am sad. I miss your incoherent and paranoid ramblings. Towards the end, I began to dismiss every story you told as a complete fabrication. Then, after you died people would pop up in publications (most notably Rolling Stone) and tell their ‘the first time I met Hunter’ stories… and sure enough the shit you wrote was real. Though a talented writer, was there a worst house or hotel guest in history than you? Probably not… Oh well, fuck them. They are swine and we will march on the road of their bones to glory.

So, I wanted to say goodbye. I can’t be at Owl Farm this weekend, they asked us not to come. Well, maybe next year. We aren’t invited to their elitist Hollywood party this year. Not sure if that is what you would have wanted. Anyhow, we will have our day to celebrate and grieve you. Bummer it can’t be this summer in Aspen, but I will respect your family. They better do something up there, otherwise they will just have 30 years of stalkers cruising around Woody Creek looking for closure.

I always wanted to meet you. You are the reason I moved to Colorado. You are the reason I go online only by the name Lono. People ask me why I go by Lono. I don’t bother with the whole Captain Cook or Hawaiian mythology. I simply say ‘Oh, it’s a Hunter Thompson reference.’ When I moved to Colorado from Northern Arizona about 10 years ago, I only had one place in the whole state of Colorado circled on the map. It was Woody Creek. I wasn’t moving to Woody Creek, I was moving to Denver. However, I always kept that circled atlas as a reminder of why I came here… to find you.

So, thanks for fucking that up. It’s ok, I got to see you speak in person in Boulder many years ago after Juan’s graduation. It was at the Fox Theatre and it was a classic Hunter evening. You were terribly late, wasted, rude, lucid, articulate, and hilarious. I even learned later that night you got arrested for attacking a theatre page with a fire extinguisher. Nice form! In college, Woody and I built a kegball league, I named it ‘Beer and Loathing’.

To your credit, you never sold out. Your work pretty much kept getting worse, and certainly more scattered. That’s ok though, it happens to everyone. You still kept your spark though, and touched everyone along the way. When I say ‘you never sold out’, that means a lot to me. Most great icons seem to end up doing car commercials or schilling apple computers. You could have, and it would have been great:

Hi, I’m Hunter Thompson. When I am winding down Woody Creek canyon at 80 mph in the middle of the night with the headlights off and a head full of acid and bourbon… I drive a fucking Cadillac. Lemme tell you something, Bubba… one of those jap cars isn’t going to hold you in one piece when you pull a John Denver and go smackin’ into a forest liquored up to the teets. No sir, you need a big ass Red Shark and a topless blond too. Take it from me, Hunter Thompson.

In passing, I have some requests. I’d like to visit Owl Farm one day. I won’t touch anything, and would actually be happy to drive up the driveway without getting shot at, and park. Then, I will go. I’d like to see ‘Polo is my Life’ finally get published. This sex book has been at least 10 years in the making. I know that because I got to ask you that question 8 years ago and you fed me some bullshit about it being published. I know there was a piece in RS with that title… but that isn’t. We are men of action, Hunter, and lies do not become us. In fact, isn’t ‘Polo is my Life’ the reason that Palmer Slater came over and the whole lawsuit thing started?
by the way, nice touch on that. I found the article. Here is what they found on their marathon search:

  • suspected drug paraphernalia
    suspicious white powder
    pills
    a few ounces marijuana
    a few sticks of dynamite
    a jar of mushrooms
    a tape labeled ‘child porn’
    39 hits of LSD*****

Normally, I would hyperlink this to a reference. However, this is from a hard copy of actual newspaper – from the actual saved article I have. Sunday, May 6th 1990 – Arizona Republic.

That isn’t what is great, though. After reading you for 20 years, that is about what I expected. What is great is that you got all those charges dropped and went scot-free. I mean, I think we all feel the sexual assault charge was bullshit. Also, we understand the warrant then becomes somewhat unjustified… but seriously:

how the fuck did you get caught with cocaine, pot, pills, acid, and dynamite… and walk free? In fact, you probably had the balls to demand it all back since it was seized illegally. You were fucking nuts, and I think that is why I worshipped you. I lived vicariously through your bad judgment and good friends.

So go live well. We’ll take care of your peacocks, and Juan will take care of the shattered family left behind. Anita made a point about not selling the Owl Farm******. Good! Let’s make it a Hunter Thompson museum. I know Brinkley has probably a thousand pounds of material of yours he is working through. The Owl Farm is the best character in all your books, like the same Rocky Mountains were in Aspen’s other famous talent – John Denver.
You are missed, and I wish you well. Don’t worry, I’m listening to Mr. Tambourine Man and sipping whiskey… you asshole. Take care.

**** udates – the fun part about the search is he was found innocent, and the search totally illegal.  So, they had to return all or most of the stuff they found

****** the wonderful and amazing Ralph Steadman paid off the mortgage on Owl Farm for Anita.  So, it would always stay in the family, and hopefully be preserved

#flickr_badge_source_txt {padding:0; font: 11px Arial, Helvetica, Sans serif; color:#666666;}
#flickr_badge_icon {display:block !important; margin:0 !important; border: 1px solid rgb(0, 0, 0) !important;}
#flickr_icon_td {padding:0 5px 0 0 !important;}
.flickr_badge_image {text-align:center !important;}
.flickr_badge_image img {border: 1px solid black !important;}
#flickr_www {display:block; padding:0 10px 0 10px !important; font: 11px Arial, Helvetica, Sans serif !important; color:#3993ff !important;}
#flickr_badge_uber_wrapper a:hover,
#flickr_badge_uber_wrapper a:link,
#flickr_badge_uber_wrapper a:active,
#flickr_badge_uber_wrapper a:visited {text-decoration:none !important; background:inherit !important;color:#3993ff;}
#flickr_badge_wrapper {}
#flickr_badge_source {padding:0 !important; font: 11px Arial, Helvetica, Sans serif !important; color:#666666 !important;}

www.flickr.com

“There’s a train leaving nightly called ‘when all is said and done’, keep me in your heart for a while”

– Warren Zevon

*** updates are now flying in as we are just a handful of hours away from Saturday’s sunset service. I will be posing links here throughout the weekend.

Here are some decent details about the service, and some words from his widow, Anita.

The cannon is en route to Woody Creek from the fireworks company, who has prepared half of Hunter’s ashes into an explosive device.

This one is about a golden ticket found inside a special brew batch of Flying Dog’s porter that was brewed in honor of Hunter. One bottle label contains a ticket to Saturday’s service.

*** Just added Thursday night – PICTURES OF THE CANNON! I told you people I would get them. Sorry, these aren’t good but obviously security is very tight. I’ll have better pictures after Saturday’s service (I hope).

updated Friday – HST and his ‘Snow Leopards’

Updated Saturday afternoon, another picture of the gonzo fist cannon.

update Saturday evening – it is done. Hunter’s ashes were sent into the sky in a brilliant pyro display… and yes, I have pictures.

Hunter S Thompson – RIP

* updated 5.29.2013 – see bottomPosted by Hello

Well, I just found out minutes ago that Hunter S Thompson is dead. This is terrible news for me because he was a god to me. I am sad and torn and will deal with this the way I deal with everything – writing to you about it.

Really, no one can be surprised by news of Hunter’s death. Hunter lived a long a very crazy life… you know that. What is a freakish surprise to me is the news is it was a suicide. What the fuck is that about, Hunter? It seems a cowardly way to go for such a brave and fearless man. For the last month I have been reading his last tome ‘Kingdom of Fear’. I was on the web writing about Hunter on Blogcritics this afternoon (before I knew about his death). It was just today… about 6 hours ago I typed his very line “Hunter Thompson is the greatest living American writer”.

Lemme tell you about my attachment and love of HST. If you have a working browser (like Mozilla) you have seen a black fist that says ‘Gonzo’ on the left under the links. That was an homage to Hunter for my site. In college, I had vanity plates on my Honda that said ‘Lono’. This is a Hunter Thompson reference as well. Hunter is one of the reasons I moved to Colorado, seriously. I wanted to meet him, and knew eventually I would make my way to Woody Creek Tavern for an unpleasent drunken exchange with the man. In fact, if you could see that Atlas we used to drive to Colorado about 9 years ago… there is only one pen mark on the Colorado page. I circled Woody Creek to show my wife where Hunter lived, and where we would subsequently be stalking.

I am pleased to say I did get to finally see him in person. A year or two after we moved here he did a speaking engagement at the Fox Theatre in Boulder. It was a classic Hunter experience, and I was able to ask him a question personally. I’d have to say I am somewhere in the ‘denial’ stage still about this news. I keep refreshing my google news search engine every few minutes hoping to see the word ‘hoax’ somewhere. It hasn’t happened yet. There will be a million pages and writings dedicated to Hunter over the coming weeks and months. However, there is only one good internet site dedicated to Hunter for years, it is Christine’s ‘Great Thompson Hunt’ and that is where you should go for pictures and articles and news.

You see my sig file and e mail address? They are the name ‘Lono’. I own that name in almost every domain over the years (ATT, Us West, MSN, Hotmail, & Mindspring). This is all a reference to one of Hunter’s greatest books ‘The Curse of Lono’. I am sure I will have more to say about this, much much more. For now, at 11 pm Colorado time, the news has only been public for about an hour. The details are chillingly few: Hunter Thompson found dead of apparent self inflicted gunshot wounds, found by his son Juan.

You all know about Roy if you are here often enough. This is what Roy wrote to the group this evening about this news: This is sad and a loss I put equal to the death of John Lennon. So perhaps you can see why Roy and I are so close. In fact, I just remember Hunter is the REASON I met Roy. Roy had one of the good doctor’s books at his desk at work and it caught my eye. Knowing anyone who reads Hunter is good people, we struck up a conversation. If it weren’t for that book, I probably wouldn’t know or subsequently care about my very good friend Roy.

PT 2, written about an hour (and three drinks) later

The last piece I wrote about Hunter was ironically titled ‘Hunter S Thompson, still alive‘ That was back in August. I knew one day Hunter would be gone and we’d all sit and talk about how great he was. I didn’t want to wait until he was dead for people to appreciate him… so I reached out. Hunter was like Jerry Garcia, you just know neither was ever going to live out a full life to old age. I miss them both so much.

I also want to say this. We all knew Hunter could go any day. What I expected was a headline like this “Gonzo journalist shot by police after consuming hundreds of hits of LSD and attempting to paint murals on Aspen police cars” or something cool and strange like that. I guess I wanted an Easy Rider type ending… a martyr who fought to the end.

* update 5.29.2013

I see a ton of recent interest in this piece, so I thought I would update what we know about the whole incident.  It was a suicide, and it was pre-medidated. I believe it was pre-medidated because the week before, he asked Bob Braudis to come and remove all the dynamite from his property.  There was also a suicide note and a half.  On his typewriter when he shot himself was the single word typed out ‘counselor’.  I can’t pretend to know what that means.  Later, though, we found what clearly appears to be a suicide note.  It is called ‘football season is over’ and is copied here in it’s entirety.

“Football Season is Over

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.”

Here is where things get strange, though.  The night before, he called Ralph Steadman and left a long and rambling message (which is par) about a project.  He wasn’t speaking in generalities, though.  He described to Ralph a specific piece of art he wanted done on GW Bush.  What is also strange is who was around.  When Hunter shot himself, his son Juan, and his grandson (Juan’s kid) were in the house.  They heard the shot.  Juan described it as ‘a bookshelf falling’, initially thinking nothing was amiss. What is also strange is he had his wife, Anita, on the phone when he did it.

There have also been stories about Hunter and Anita being on the rocks when this happened.  Some have also said there is a battle for the estate, and the will was changed or set to be changed away from Anita’s name.  It would not suprise me if their marriage was on the rocks.  Hunter was psychotic and mean, and I would not be surprised if he had a strong mysoginistic side.  I do not believe the family is at war.  if they were, it would be Juan vs Anita.  After Hunter died, I spent time with them both, and I saw absolutely no signs of any kind of battle.  One would also imagine the battle would be over money.  There was no money.  Hunter couldn’t save, and remember he hadn’t done much great writing in 25 years.  His legendary ranch wasn’t even paid off.  Raplh Steadman was kind enough to do that after he passed, and basically handed it to Anita (this is just my understanding and perception, but I believe it to be true).  Anita still works part time carrying on the Gonzo name in publishing and keeping up the estate.  She also opened a ‘Gonzo Store’ online that sells HST goods.  So, obviously she has not been sued out of the family.  Having not heard online from Anita in several months (her website has been down for some time), I reached out to Ralph Steadman (via Facebook, isn’t technology great) and he replied Anita is fine and still engaged in the business of HST.

Again, this proves to me there is no rift in the Thompson family.  If there was, I would absolutely assume that Ralph would side with Juan, who he watched grow up.

There is also the business of the ‘Gonzo Foundation’.  It has a website, but hasn’t done anything or been updated in at least a year.  Something tells me that Anita has dropped out of being Hunter Thompson’s widow for a bit.  I expect she will be back.

In the interest of fairness, there is a small and bizarre movement of people who believed Hunter was killed by those friendly to the Bush world for his criticism of the Bush govt.  I can tell you I don’t believe with a single cell in my body this is true.  I can’t imagine the Bushies were terrified of the ramblings of an ‘elderly dope fiend’ (this is how Hunter referred to himself) who wrote about shotgun golf for ESPN.  By the way, great piece, and one of his last.  Read it here.

There is a good bit of unreleased HST materials to be accounted for.  Most famously is the book ‘Polo is my Life’.  Hunter was working on that on and off for at least a decade before he died.  I am not sure if that will ever see the light of day.  I personally talked to Anita on a couple of occasions and offered to edit it and help put it together.  I never heard back from her, but imagine many crazies offered the same thing… I don’t know.  She did give me what I thought was her personal email, but I later found out it was a decently public one that you could find online with ten minutes of google work.  Johnny Depp bought up all of Hunter’s unfinished work and scraps and donated it all to a University.  I forgot which one.

In closing, the most hopeful thing for me is that Anita said she wanted to open up Owl Farm to the public.  I know she hasn’t changed or touched anything since he was alive.  At least, she hadn’t as of a couple of years ago.  One of the big reasons I moved to Colorado was to make it to Owl Farm.  So, eventually that will come true.  Right?

So, why did he do it?  He was in terrible physical shape and confined to a wheelchair.  His body was deteroriated from age and drugs and alcohol, and he was keenly aware the fun was over.

I might clarify I am (sadly) in no formal way connected with the family or authorized to speak on anyone’s behalf.  I am simple the biggest HST fan.  When Hunter passed, I was living (as I still do) in Denver.  So, I got to go to a TON of events they had memorializing Hunter, doing film junkets, etc.

*** yet another update.  This was written shortly after.   I had some time to process.