Saturday, August 20, 2005

Garry, Gonzo, And Gunpowder: A Prelude

Today’s the day when they fire the late Hunter S. Thompson out of a cannon.

Didn’t he always seem shot out of a cannon, though?

Even though he appeared laconic, his mind seemed like it was going a million miles a minute with his mouth struggling to keep up. Thompson-speak was sometimes difficult to interpret, a streak of mumbled lightning that danced around one note, but prone to rising in volume at any moment.

At the same time his body would move in a series of minimalistic jerks as if, like an action figure, he only had a limited number of articulated points. He was a marionette of the American Dream, Edward R. Murrow on peyote, the conscience of a country that no longer appeared to care for conscience.

It was easy to caricature him – just ask Garry Trudeau. But behind the cartoon was a writer (always, a writer) who cared deeply about the fate of his country and who couldn’t bear to see it fall into the hands of the crooks, the swindlers, the liars, and the cheats. They kindled a righteous, patriotic anger in him that still burns today.

I can never think of that old bromide about a cynic being nothing but a fallen idealist without thinking of Hunter S. Thompson. He may have sounded cynical at times, but it didn’t take much scratching to see that it came from someone who felt we’d dropped the ball and could do better. As ridiculous as it sounds, I’ve often thought that Thompson simply couldn’t handle another 4 years of George W. Bush, not so much because he couldn’t handle what Bush would do, but because of what it said about us: if we had fallen so far as to re-elect someone who was so obviously a lying, incompetent scoundrel, what hope was left for us, really? Why go on? What flag is left to wave? What dream is worth fighting for? If stupidity, greed, and theft are the new ideals, where are we going? What argument is worth making? What hope has any currency?

Hey, he’d been through worse so maybe I’m all wet. But sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Kerry had won. Maybe it would have been the little ray of sunshine that would have encouraged him to stick around a little longer, just to see what happens. If it seems too much to suggest that an individual would make a decision about suicide based on a national election, it’s also true that we’re talking about someone who ate, drank, and snorted politics. He was as intimately connected to his country as any writer I can think of.

If there’s even an ounce of truth to this and we look at Thompson as the canary in the coal mine, we have good reason to mourn much more than a writer. We have reason to mourn a country, an indomitable spirit, a vision that failed.

I followed him around Boston one memorable evening, a tale we’ll save for next week, which we’ve entitled…

Next: It’s All About The Fear


Blogger Sngbrds7trumpets said...

Before I had any idea who the late gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson actually was a Philadelphia Free Library copy of "Hell's Angel's" had already been checked out and consumed in dog eared sound bites by my curious 10 year old mind.

Keep in mind that Ralph J. Gleason was yet to get underway with Rolling Stone magazine where Hunter's essay's would often splay across the pages accompanied by one graphic disaster or another.

Having read aloud for the sheer thrill of it to an audience of my parochial grade school buddy's, the segment about the famed motorcycle gang's yucky and despicably non-antiseptic initiation rites replete with the epitaph, "We're gonna make somebody a momma!" would alone be enough to draw your attention to Robert W. Getz blog of the day entry.

But then the inevitable took it's course; a nun, a so called Sister Of Mercy stomped across the recess parking lot to see what was the matter.

Indignant that she took the offending title away and horrified when it was ripped in half only to be vilified when Mom called St. Christopher's not a little bit hesitantly and promptly had the nominal retail cost of the paperback title promptly refunded for replacement to F.L.O.P..

What I did learn not only that day at school but in 12+ years of Catholic Education compounded with yet another 20+ employed for a faith based Hospital was this; politics killed Christ and in so doing, among other things died any interest in competatativeness.

Voting is fun but following and debating the aftermath just leaves me stone cold. We all pretty much know who is doing what to whom and we can pretty much guess why as well.

It's a self based planet but it's the only one we've got. We'll do better next time, 'nuff said.

Call me a Quaker but I am just as relieved that someone runs the refuse recycling business too. Just don't feel the need to get knee deep in the hoopla. But I sure am grateful on both accounts that someone does.

As to the circumstances and motivations for Hunter to take himself out is similarly his family's business and as a public figure, ours as well.

It was only very recently I am not too proud to say that I had learned that the writer suffered for his art in more ways than one, having been bludgeoned by the biker club as part and parcel of his natty research project that'd afford him a lifelong meal ticket as the journalist who truly flung himself into the middle of the action.

"I pity the fool" and if everyone from St. Paul to Descartes, Newton, Edgar Cayce, John Lennon to Willie Nelson and the Alcoholics Anonymous credo along with Jason Lee's hopefully comedic character on the upcoming NBC project, "My Name Is Earl" are correct about that crazy little thing called Karma I suppose we will all get, as a matter of course, not only a more detailed and pointed insight into any immolation, self inflicted or otherwise.

It's just a matter of the universe's own sweet time.

Robert, I still dug your essay and look forward to your um, stalking exploits next time. Paul Mick

Saturday, August 20, 2005 12:54:00 AM  
Blogger Count Screwloose said...

So pleased to see you here, Mr. M! Thoroughly enjoyed your note and hope you won't be a stranger round these parts.

You've reminded me that I used to own the original issues of Rolling Stone in which Fear and Loathing first appeared...


Saturday, August 20, 2005 11:16:00 PM  

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