Of Moose and Milk

Fear and Loathing in Canada
April 14, 2010, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Art | Tags: , , , ,

There are very few people in this world that I can say I unconditionally look up to and admire. My parents, for their tireless efforts to keep a little bastard like me in line; Tom Waits, for his reprehensible “classy sleaze” that not another soul in the universe will ever be able to emulate, and his ability to demonstrate the views and aspirations of the proletariat without seeming pretentious; Gord Downie, for his sheer Canadian-ness; my girlfriend, Shelby, for a variety of reasons which she knows all about, but also because she’s downright wonderful and has the brains to prove it ; and most of all, the late Dr. Hunter Stockton Thompson, father of gonzo journalism and one of the greatest writers ever to walk the earth. His unapologetic views on the twisted values and corrupted fundamentals of American culture, and especially the American government, never cease to amaze me, and the only negative thing I can say about Thompson is that the crazy bastard shot himself before he got around to writing more books or articles for interested folks like myself to read.

I’ve read several of Thompson’s works, including his two most famous novels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Rum Diary, and I am currently working my way through the first volume of his collected works of journalism, The Gonzo Papers, Volume 1: The Great Shark Hunt; it is, of course, my favourite of his works thus far, since it best showcases his iconoclastic “gonzo” style and his general contempt for the global “Establishment”. Each article becomes more depraved than its predecessor, and Thompson’s drug-fueled rants about the evils of the American dream and the perilous actions of the Nixon administration have sucked me in, twisted my mind around, torn me a new asshole and swiftly kicked me in it, giving me an entirely new outlook on both American politics and the idea of politics in general.

Thompson didn’t just rave like a lunatic about the horrors of American governance ; he was also a freelance writer for a variety of publications throughout his life, including newspapers throughout the United States and Central and South America and a variety of major magazines, such as Rolling Stone. He was also, as you may have guessed, very politically active, running for several elections of various types, including his famous campaign to become sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado, in which his platform, called “Freak Power”, included such interesting points as renaming Aspen “Fat City”, decriminalizing drugs on the whole, and the demolishing of all roads in order to encourage pedestrianism.

Thompson resided in a fortified compound , which he named “Owl Farm”, near Aspen for the latter portion of his life. There, he worked on all manner of journalistic pursuits,  including a number of articles for Rolling Stone, a slew of novels (most of which were never published), and several compilations of his works. He enjoyed a number of recreational pursuits, in particular the use of a variety of firearms. On February 20, 2005, Thompson took his own life using one of his beloved handguns- police reports state that in front of him was a typewriter with a single piece of paper, bearing the phrase “Feb 22 ’05- counsellor”. He left a suicide note, found several days later. Addressed to his wife and titled “Football Season is Over”, it read as follows:

“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.”

You, the reader, are, in all likelihood, currently wondering, “How can he support such a raving lunatic?” The truth is, I don’t look up to Thompson for his beliefs ; in fact, I don’t even look up to him for his persona. I look up to him for his methods , and his attitude ; his unflinching stance against his personal evils. Hunter S. Thompson stood resolute in the face of the Nixon administration, the editors of Rolling Stone, the people of Aspen, and the entirety of US popular culture simply because he believed that it was the best way to do things. His ferocious writing style, his open embracement of the counter-culture, his incredibly scathing views on a wide variety of topics, and even his own death were, and are, completely adverse to what is deemed acceptable, but Thompson simply didn’t give a fuck, even when he felt “The Fear” and began to doubt everything and everyone, including himself. And if you ask me, that’s a very badass way to live .

Dr. Hunter S. ThompsonLife should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming– “Wow! What a Ride!” — Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (1927-2005)