Hey, folks. Quint here with a few late nods to some truly greatly loved people who have passed away recently. I'm sorry it's been late in coming, but I myself was put into a funk when I heard about Hunter S. Thompson's suicide. I discovered this gonzo genius with Terry Gilliam's adaptation of FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS. I have since read up on my Thompson and just love his style, his voice and his humor. I can't imagine what would drive him to suicide... he didn't seem the type to stop when there were still fights to be had, but no matter the circumstances the world has lost one of its best and most honest voices.
Herc did a bit on Hunter Thompson the day the news broke and we've had a lot of reader feedback. His death really struck a chord with the readers of this site. Before I post a reader's tribute to the man, I must talk about a couple other talented stars who died around the same time, but didn't get an obit.
I must confess being almost totally ignorant of the work of Sandra Dee, other than the image of the virginal blonde beauty that her name congers. That's why I was hoping Harry, Father Geek or Moriarty would write this one... While I'm not familiar with her work, it's clear from the mass of emails we've gotten a lot of you folks were. She was most famous for playing "Gidget", though I must give respect to anyone who'd be in a Lovecraft horror flick like THE DUNWICH HORROR. My best to her friends, family and fans.
Character actor Dan O'Herlihy also passed away last week. I remember him best as "The Old Man" in ROBOCOP 1 & 2, personally... ("Dick! You're fired!"), but most children of the '80s would probably either remember him as either Grig from THE LAST STARFIGHTER ("I've always wanted to fight a desperate battle against incredible odds!")... he rules in that flick... or as Andrew Packard in TWIN PEAKS, depending on your personality type. O'Herlihy goes back a long way, appearing in such classics as DEATHRACE 2000, 100 RIFLES (with the great Jim Brown and Burt Reynolds!!), FAIL-SAFE and THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1962) to name a few. You will be missed, sir.
And finally, we come back to Hunter. The day his death was made public, I had a viewing of his commentary on the Criterion FEAR AND LOATHING DVD in his honor. Already there's a hollow void where his voice was. I'll miss his work and his insight. Here's a submission we got from one reader on HST. It's not the sweet lullaby you'd want... it might even piss you off a little, but agree with it or not, I think Thompson himself would appreciate the below. Enjoy.
This piece may not be appropriote for your site, but you may enjoy it yourself. It is short, non-rambling, and honest.
HST.OBIT 1: Death of the Ginger Man
“People who claim to know jackrabbits will tell you they are primarily motivated by Fear, Stupidity, and Craziness. But I have spent enough time in jack rabbit country to know that most of them lead pretty dull lives; they are bored with their daily routines eat, fuck, sleep, hop around a bush now & then…no wonder some of them drift over the line into cheap thrills once in a while; there has to be a powerful adrenaline rush in crouching by the side of the road, waiting for the next set of headlights to come along, then streaking out of the bushes with split-second timing and making across to the other side just inches infront of the speeding front wheels.”
-Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Heroes don’t dot the landscape like they used to. The best of today’s breed often fail us in brutal and spectacular ways. One of my heroes lost his mother and in a grand moll freak-out of historical proportions threw it all away for a bad blow job from a fat chick with less self esteem than a high school girl watching “Dukes of Hazard” on a Friday night with her 10 year old brother and a half gallon of store brand Neapolitan. Another of my heroes decided to spend last Saturday night loafing around his house with the dogs, peacocks, and a shotgun.
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson used that shotgun to take his own life. Sure, it was his to take…or was it? While all of his admirers and detractors out here in the world play the intellectual parlor game of trying to figure out how and why; a man named Juan Thompson is dancing the black routine of funeral arrangements, press releases, and crushing personal grief. On the phone to hundreds of people his father called friends and to hundreds more who call themselves his father’s friends, Juan Thompson must be trying to get that last horrible image out of his head. His mind’s eye is not seeing Raoul Duke, Gene Skinner, Dr. Thompson, or any other manufactured persona- he’s seeing his Daddy self mutilated in a terrible, twisted way.
I could sit down here to write this obit and go at it with fingers blazing on the keyboard relating some tale of past debauchery embarked upon with encouragement from Hunter Thompson’s literary output. I could even blather on about how I spent last night on the phone talking to friends about the cruel twist while chugging down a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label Uncle Casey gave me for Christmas. It wouldn’t be Gonzo, though…and it wouldn’t be honest. I didn’t get my drink on in morbid celebration of the good Doctor’s legacy. Jumping into the bottle was done for the same reason Hunter stuck his toe in that pool in 1950’s Louisville and held his head under till the bubbles stopped in next century Aspen- I wanted to block out the pain while gaining some sloppy distance. See fellow pilgrims, perspective is a motherfucker. It was cocksuckers like me who helped to pull the fucking trigger. Every time we bought a book or went to a lecture and laughed at some drunken buffoonery we hammered nails in that man’s coffin. Every time we bought the ticket and took the ride we joined the lie. Sure, it’s romantic as hell to imagine the wild rebel, never tamed; his life a series of free choices made right up to and including the time and manner of his death. We can admire that because we enabled the event for our own bloody entertainment.
What if we hadn’t shown up for the geek show one year? What if the lady’s wigs and the Wild Turkey were met with disappointment and scorn instead of laughter and encouragement? Would Hunter have disappeared into his cabin only to reappear later clutching the serious literary manuscript he was capable of instead of jerking off year after year while the crowd hooted and hollered like a collective jack ass? Ok. So his literary legacy is real, but it was all created before he was 36. The man lived 31 more years without once more creating a single work that equaled his early achievements. Occasionally Hunter blasted off with something strong and clean, but mostly he just coasted along on good will and complete bullshit.
Why do we eat our heroes? Why do we chew the fuckers up and spit them out bones powdered, flesh purÃ©ed, and sad faces bleached white with stomach acid? Sitting here with a mean little hangover making my skull feel like it’s full of Brillo pads I wonder if in the cold darkness of last Saturday night Hunter Thompson did not kill himself. I wonder if Hunter Stockton Thompson from Louisville, Kentucky finally gathered up the balls to pull the trigger on Raoul Duke. Perhaps it was us, friends and enemies, who blasted Hunter Thompson years ago by encouraging his behavior with our laughter. Maybe our fingerprints are to be found on the trigger right next to Hunter’s. Right next to the greed-head developers that have turned his hill billy dream into a Nascar Dad nightmare. Right next to George W. Bush, whose soul crushing squeaker against John Kerry couldn’t have helped the situation.
I don’t believe in God, life after death, or any of that other pseudo mystical bullshit, so I will spare you any romantic musings of an afterlife filled with Wild Turkey, Owlsey Acid, and wild parties with Kesey, Acosta, Fitzgerald, and Poppa Hemingway himself. Fuck no. Hunter S. Thompson is now only a rapidly decomposing pile of cold flesh and brittle bones while a good man named Juan Thompson is left dealing with the great sinner’s final abomination. So it goes, Jackrabbit. We all eat our father’s sins in the end do we not? The broken promises, the crushed egos, and the legacy we cannot hope to live up to. If we do, by some blessing, manage to live up to or exceed our father’s achievements there is always something lurking in the dark recesses of our own brain pans that keep us subjugated and tied to the tree that daddy has planted.
Juan, Hoss…perhaps our mission is to let the tree fell itself and plant our own sapling in another part of the woods far away from the shadows of the older oaks or the twisted hollow carcasses of the fallen. Perhaps it is time to let the old warriors go onto the pyre and quit living in their past. It is time to take up our own spears and charge into the fray. Maybe Hunter saw it coming. Maybe that wave did crest in 1971 and the poor bastard spent the next 33 years flopping on the beach and gasping for air while us cowards contented ourselves to live through his petty rebellions ignoring the anguished cries for someone to come along and push the beast back in the goddamn water. All have sinned and come short of the glory…the best of us most of all.
Chad Nance, February 22, 2005
Winston Salem, NC