Monday, February 21, 2005
A Lonely Hunter
It's one in the morning on February 21st, 2005 and the news has just come over the wires. Hunter S. Thompson has died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The world of new journalism has in fact ended not with a wimper but, sadly enough, with a gunshot.
Hunter S. Thompson was someone I looked up to. He was one of the old heroes, along with Kerouac and Hemingway, that most men come to hold dear when they first fall in love with writing and highways. The kind of idol you find when you're up late at night with like-minded friends trying to break Dylan Thomas' record of seventeen whiskeys in a row.
So here's to you hunter. You made paranoia a sexy necessity and taught us to make ourselves the only part of the story not too exaggerated to recognize. You rode us along with the Hell's Angels while Sonny Barger made his case, and left us in a hotel room with a teenage runaway who just wanted to give Barbara Streisand a painting. You let us talk football with Richard Nixon and shared cocktail with us on the beaches of Puerto Rico. Your death, like that of the other old heroes, begs the same old questions: Who can be surprised? Is self-destructiveness tied to genius? Is it really better to burn out? The answers to these questions don't matter though. These questions will always be around. You've answered them for yourself and taken the proud highway from Woody Creek to parts unknown-leaving us here with fond memories of another dead hero.