Favorite Installation Artists

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hunter S. Thompson

This is not a guy who set good examples.  He had bad personal habits, abused drugs and alcohol, smoked like a chimney, amassed a far from sterling work ethic and couldn't play well with others.  Exasperating, fanciful, incredibly talented, free with opinions, light on facts.  He took a lot of babysitting.  The James Dean of journalism.  He did have.... ability and attitude.

Thompson hailed from Louisville, Kentucky, just an hour and a half from where I grew up in Indiana.  A southern gentleman.  His name was always familiar to me, more as an example of what not to do with my life.  And I was impressionable; just on my way to college.   But by then he was working at Rolling Stone and so he passed from being the transgressor to just plain cool.  Rolling Stone for crying out loud!  The arbiter of all things cool in the 60's and beyond.

His writing style was referred to as "Gonzo Journalism", a first person narrative that took a sharp left turn from objective reality into, well, not so factual entertainment.  It was a great read.  He wrote well and often.  The list of his accomplishments is truly impressive. Yet, the only steady commitment he maintained was an unrelenting hatred for Richard Nixon and George W. Bush.  Wow, what's a gal to do? I fell in love.

Life came careening to an end, suicide, in 2005 after health issues.    But throughout his life, in addition to his other writing duties, he wrote over 20,000 letters and kept carbons. These became the basis of "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas"  a bible of the 60's counterculture, and "Fear and Loathing On The Campaign Trail '72".  The rest of the letters have been compiled and are due out in early 2011.  I'll be in line.

Bill Murray portrayed Thompson in "Where The Buffalos Roam".  It was a hit.  He may not have been the best idea of a journalist, or a writer, even with that amazing ability.  But there was no one like him.  I keep thinking the world we have now is just full of aluminum siding.  No real identity, no style, certainly no individuals are left.  Real characters are nearly extinct.  We all face a watered down life of something that was once authentic.  Another reason I loved Hunter S. Thompson.

Here is Thompson's job request to the Vancouver Sun.  The man was asking for a job, yet he hated authority figures.

"By the time you get this letter, I'll have gotten hold of some of the recent issues of The Sun.  Unless it looks totally worthless, I'll let my offer stand.  And don't think my arrogance is unintentional; it's just that I'd rather offend you now than after I started working for you.

I didn't make myself clear to the last man I worked for until after I took the job.  It was as if the Marquis de Sade had suddenly found himself working for Billy Graham.  The man despised me, of course, and I had nothing but contempt for him and everything he stood for.  If you asked him, he'd tell you that I'm "not very likable, hate people, just want to be alone and feel too superior to mingle with the average person".  (That's a direct quote from the memo he sent to the publisher.)

Nothing beats having good references"


Did he get the job?  Look it up.  Along the way, you're going to run into someone real.

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