Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Monday, February 21, 2005 6:02 am

Hunter S. Thompson: RIP

Filed under: Sad,Salute! — Lex @ 6:02 am

Holy cow. Thompson committed suicide with a shotgun by shooting himself.

I’m not awake enough yet to be able to say anything coherent about this.

UPDATE: Like a lot of people, I first read “Hell’s Angels” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” when I was at an impressionable age — in my case, ninth grade, where my lab partner pressed them upon me (thanks, Julie!).

Unlike a lot of people, I don’t worship the ground Thompson walked on. His early work was full of the sexism that underlay a lot of the free-love generation’s ethos (Ginmar, newly returned from Iraq — welcome back, Ginmar! — has more to say on this), and his later work was pretty repetitive.

One of my favorite pieces was his take on the Pulitzer divorce case, which I recall reading in Rolling Stone. It had many admirable qualities, but I particularly remember two: his incisive description of Roxanne Pulitzer as “a woman who clearly liked to sleep late” (I think that is a direct quote) and his observation about servants: They will be the downfall of the wealthy because it’s hard to find one who’s smart enough to make the beds but not smart enough to wonder why they’re full of naked people every morning. (There are days, however, when I think such servants probably could be recruited in bulk from the White House press corps, and no, that’s not a Jeff Gannon joke.)

But if Thompson is remembered for nothing else, he’ll be remembered for his portrayal of Richard M. Nixon. The worst in Nixon brought out the best in Thompson, both in terms of his outrage and in terms of his love and devotion, never far below the surface no matter how cynical he acted, for the best that this country can represent. No one, not even Nixon’s friends and relatives, got Nixon the way Thompson did, and I suspect students of American history and politics will read Thompson’s work for as long as the field survives.

That said, I am horrified that he chose to commit suicide in such a messy way, leaving his wife and son to deal with the physical and psychic mess. I’ve learned not to judge people with suicidal tendencies too harshly — they’re sick by definition except, perhaps, for those facing painful, terminal illness — but his decision is, at best, horrible. It is not “fitting.” It is not romantic. In effect if not in intent, it is a permanent brutalization of those closest to him, and it will stain his legacy.

UPDATE, 2/22: OK, I guess I’ve gotten to the point where I’d rather laugh than cry, but Giblets says Hunter Thompson isn’t dead, he has only departed in search of bigger game. And I guess he’ll need the armament because whenever Emily follows on after him, she (agreeing w/me re HST’s chosen exit) fully intends to kick his butt.

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