Updated: Feb 12, 2019
No famous artist has a free pass to be an asshole. But out of all of the crazies planted on this earth (myself included), Hunter S. Thompson has to be one of my favorites. Hunter is a difficult person to describe. Countless wild adjectives are frequently attached to his name. I like to think of him as a tornado of descriptors: atypical, passionate, psychotic, intoxicated, outrageous, and of course a writer. Definitely a category 5 when talking storms.
For those unfamiliar, Hunter is the author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hell’s Angels, The Rum Diary, and several other articles, letters, ect.
His rare rhetoric coined a new style of writing and a new word for the dictionaries: Gonzo. It's a first person journalistic style that intertwines imaginary chaos with sarcastic realism. Gonzo is blind to the edge it has leaped over for the average reader. But even in the outlandish waves of Gonzo, truths are revealed in its wake. Events are given personality and unbeknownst quirks are discovered. It’s a trip to say the least.
“He put himself into the picture and he became the story.” - William Kennedy (Gonzo)
Speaking of trips, Hunter had quite a few. Not only in the sense of being a traveling reporter either. He was a drug addict aficionado. While others carefully scale the slippery slope of narcotic experimentation, Hunter barreled head first down the rabbit hole. To understand the extent of his savagery, here is an excerpt from Jean Carroll’s biography on Mr. Gonzo’s daily routine:
3:00 p.m. rise
3:05 Chivas Regal with the morning papers, Dunhills
3:50 another glass of Chivas, Dunhill
4:05 first cup of coffee, Dunhill
4:16 orange juice, Dunhill
5:11 coffee, Dunhills
5:30 more ice in the Chivas
5:45 cocaine, etc., etc.
6:00 grass to take the edge off the day
7:05 Woody Creek Tavern for lunch-Heineken, two margaritas, coleslaw, a taco salad, a double order of fried onion rings, carrot cake, ice cream, a bean fritter, Dunhills, another Heineken, cocaine, and for the ride home, a snow cone (a glass of shredded ice over which is poured three or four jiggers of Chivas)
9:00 starts snorting cocaine seriously
10:00 drops acid
11:00 Chartreuse, cocaine, grass
11:30 cocaine, etc, etc.
12:00 midnight, Hunter S. Thompson is ready to write
12:05-6:00 a.m. Chartreuse, cocaine, grass, Chivas, coffee, Heineken, clove cigarettes, grapefruit, Dunhills, orange juice, gin, continuous pornographic movies.
6:00 the hot tub-champagne, Dove Bars, fettuccine Alfredo
Obviously this type of behavior caused him a lot of scrutiny, especially when he tried his hand in American politics. While running for the sheriff position in Aspen, Hunter was asked what his drug policy would be.
“Well, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. This is the only time I’ll talk about it. I do not like needle-injected drugs. I’m dead against them, and I won’t chew jimsonweed on the job. Other than that, I don’t want to hear anything about it.” - Hunter Thompson
Hunter was brutally honest in an unusual fashion. He was an open book that failed to shut. Although he wasn’t elected sheriff, his personality earned him insurmountable credibility and it was a close race.
His writing and political journalism consumed people. People loved reading about his wild adventures through the characters he created, but there was a clear divide amongst walking the same path in reality. Hunter was and still seems to be a counter culture icon. He made his own rules and lived ferociously free. His ability to carve his own path without compromising to social norms allowed him to live his truth. Although his truth was harsh, maybe even barbaric at times, it was a passionate expression of who he was.