[FoRK] Gonzo Suicide

Owen Byrne owen at permafrost.net
Mon Feb 21 04:00:36 PST 2005

I guess this should have been expected. Still sad though - I read his 
last column on espn.com

>   Author Hunter S. Thompson commits suicide
>       Journalist penned 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'
> *(CNN) -- Journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson, who unleashed the 
> concept of "gonzo journalism" in books like "Fear and Loathing in Las 
> Vegas," fatally shot himself in the head Sunday at his home near 
> Aspen, Colorado, police and his family said.*
> "On Feb. 20, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson took his life with a gunshot to 
> the head at his fortified compound in Woody Creek, Colo.," said a 
> statement issued by Thompson's son, Juan Thompson, to the Aspen Daily 
> News as reported by the Denver Post.
> "The family will shortly provide more information about memorial 
> service and media contacts. Hunter prized his privacy, and we ask that 
> his friends and admirers respect that privacy as well as that of his 
> family."
> A dispatcher for the Pitkin County Sheriff's Department confirmed 
> Thompson's death.
> Thompson, 67, was associated with the "New Journalism" movement of the 
> 1960s, in which writers took a more novelistic and personal approach 
> to their subjects. His account of a drug-fueled trip to cover a 
> district attorneys' anti-drug conference as a writer for Rolling Stone 
> magazine was the seed of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," perhaps his 
> best-known work.
> Subtitled "A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream," the 
> 1971 book included his lament on the passing of the 1960s and its 
> "sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil."
> "There was no point in fighting -- on our side or theirs," he wrote. 
> "We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and 
> beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a 
> steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes 
> you can almost see the high-water mark -- the place where the wave 
> finally broke and rolled back."
> In "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72," he described the 
> campaign leading to Richard Nixon's re-election as president with 
> terms like "brutal" and "depraved," speculating that Democratic Sen. 
> Ed Muskie was under the influence of an obscure African psychoactive 
> drug and bemoaned Nixon's looming victory by proclaiming, "Jesus, 
> where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to 
> become president?"
> Other works included "The Great Shark Hunt," a collection of 
> Watergate-era essays; "Generation of Swine," his lament on the youth 
> of the 1980s; and his account of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential win, 
> "Better than Sex." His lone novel, "The Rum Diaries," was published in 
> 1998, while a collection of letters, "The Proud Highway: The Saga of a 
> Desperate Southern Gentleman," came out in 1997.
> In recent years, he wrote a column for the sports network ESPN's Web 
> site. In his most recent piece, posted Feb. 15, he describes shooting 
> at golf balls like skeet with a friend near his longtime home -- he 
> called it "a fortified compound" -- outside Aspen.
> "The general reaction here is shock and dismay, because he was such a 
> figure in town," Aspen resident John Hoag told CNN. Still, Hoag said, 
> Thompson remained a private person. "The most news we heard from him 
> was when a pack of dogs killed his peacock, Atillah, and he broke his 
> leg in Hawaii last year."
> Thompson also was the model for the character of "Uncle Duke" in the 
> "Doonesbury" comic strip. But Thompson strongly disliked the 
> characterization, once telling an interviewer that he would set 
> "Doonesbury" creator Garry Trudeau on fire if the two ever met.
> In later years, however, Thompson said he had made peace with the 
> "Uncle Duke" portrayal.
> "I got used to it a long time ago," he told Freezerbox magazine in 
> 2003. "I used to be a little perturbed by it. It was a lot more 
> personal ... It no longer bothers me."
> In 1980, actor Bill Murray portrayed Thompson in the film "Where the 
> Buffalo Roam." And in 1998, the film "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" 
> was released, based on Thompson's book and starring Johnny Depp as the 
> journalist. A new film reportedly is in production based on Thompson's 
> novel "The Rum Diaries."
> The writer himself, Hoag said, will be missed. "There's no one in the 
> world these days who writes the truth ... as he seems to, to me," he 
> said. "He spoke to the world and said what people were afraid to say."

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