“Buy the ticket, take the ride.”
-Dr Hunter S. Thompson
|"Gonzo Waltz" inks on bristol / 2009 [Print Shop]|
By his mid-twenties, there was no firearm, firework, fire alarm, or drug foreign to the good doctor in regards of his need to disrupt the status quo. He started getting serious about branding his own mode of chaos after being discharged from the Air Force in 1958. "In summary, this airman, although talented, will not be guided by policy", Col. William S. Evans, chief of information services wrote. "Sometimes his rebel and superior attitude seems to rub off on other airmen staff members." Little did they know within 15 years, Thompson’s work would influence an entire generation. Thompson wrote a mock press release about his discharge citing himself as “totally unclassifiable” and giving the world his first glimpse of Gonzo.
Where do you go after a stint at Columbia University and acquainting yourself with the entire core of the Beat Generation including Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, writing two books in Puerto Rico, and working at a magazine in Brazil all within a four year period?
|Detail from "One Flew East / One Flew West"|
The Nation answered this question when they offered Hunter the opportunity to write about The Hell’s Angels in 1965. Thompson got several book offers after the initial article, when he went undercover with the notorious motorcycle gang of California. With Hell’s Angels, Thompson invented Gonzo Journalism (where the writer immerses himself into his subject matter- to where he becomes the central figure of the story.) The book covers the writer’s initiation into the gang, his education of biking culture, building custom hogs, the hierarchy of the gang and their mamas, their drugs and their homemade wine. No substance and vice was left untouched by Thompson as he delved headfirst into what it is to live the life of a Hell’s Angel. The book only ends when Thompson takes a serious ass kicking from a few of the gang members (and is all too happy they let him live to write about it.)
Three years later, Thompson took a $6,000 advance from Random House and followed the Campaign trail of 1968. He crashed hotels and followed along until the end at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. He witnesses protesters clash with police but never quite translated enough to get a book to fulfill the contract with the publishing company. You see, he didn’t get involved enough to do what Thompson did best. In 1972 when Thompson barely made it to Sin City in a drug-induced stupor with a suitcase of narcotics to cover a dirt bike race, he became a legend (and fulfilled his contract with Random House by publishing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.)
“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.”
-Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
|Hunter S. Thompson giving Johnny Depp his haircut for the role.|
After Thompson’s timely suicide, Depp saw through with the financing of the most elaborate dedication of human remains in documented history as the author’s ashes were fired from a cannon atop a 153ft tower of his own design (in the shape of a double-thumbed fist clutching a peyote button- all in neon) to the tune of Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky" and Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" across a fireworks display. The Doctor got to take part in one last celebration of life which will echo on through the lore of his audience and friends who lent their open minds to his uniquely terrifying and triumphant voice. Thompson conquered the game and called all the shots, up until the last… and the odds were never on the house when he was driving.
In Memoriam 02/20/2011