Monday, February 21, 2005

The man of another lifetime


I never met Hunter Thompson. Read just two or three of his books. But his death, by suicide, hits closer to home than any of the others this year that measure the quickening pace of salt draining through my own life's hour glass -- Johnny Carson, Ray Charles, John Raitt, Sandra Dee.

Thompson could split your sides by spitting in the eye of The Man, whomever that might be on a given day. He was the gonzo journalist who'd outrace a phalanx of cop cars in Las Vegas and then be waiting for them at the side of the road, beer in hand. The Gonzo man -- tuned in, pushed the pedal to the floor, and turned his readers on. He could write as fast and rhythmically as the speed and alcohol coarsing through his body. He was a thumb in the eye of corporate journalism, corporate politics (is there any other kind?), anyone who took themselves too seriously. He was Ken Kesey's McMurphy roving free outside the wards of the "Cuckoo's Nest," making life miserable for all the world's Nurse Ratcheds.

I don't know if I would have liked Hunter Thompson. But I loved his medium and, more often than not, his message. So if you're not familiar with his stuff, check out "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." Fasten your seat belt. Get ready for a wild ride.


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