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when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro

Feb. 20th, 2008 | 12:39 am
mood: awakeintense
music: "Mr. Tambourine Man" -Bob Dylan

Football Season is Over - "No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won't hurt."

July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005

"He told me 25 years ago that he would feel real trapped if he didn't know that he could commit suicide at any moment. I don't know if that is brave or stupid or what, but it was inevitable." -Ralph Steadman

I read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when I was 17 years old and in the midst of my own phase of experimenting with altered states of mind. I fell in love with Hunter immediately. He was harsh, blunt, untamed, rebellious and honest. At that point in my life, I could identify most with this aspect of him. The chaos and craziness, the social defiance, the individuality that he was never afraid shove in everyone's face - whether they liked it or not.

"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."

As I matured, my "relationship" with Hunter evolved, and I was drawn to his other ideas and qualities - the things that are easy to miss if you never look past the drugs and craziness. And its these things that have really shaped my unconditional love for him. It's his insight and his philosophy. His genuine view of human nature and individuality. His innate cynicism but refusal to let go of those idealistic visions that also lie within each of us. The eloquent way in which he was able to articulate these thoughts always astounded me. But more importantly, his words gave me a feeling of empathy and connection that I have trouble finding with any living human being.

Like most others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles - a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other - that kept me going."

Suicide is traditionally viewed as an act of weakness and selfishness, but Thompson's plan was carefully calculated and done less as an act of desperation than a confirmation of willpower and recognition of the limits of the human body and mind. Thompson not only tested those limits, but transcended them. Despite his seemingly out of control lifestyle, he was always startlingly in control of everything, even his own death.

Thompson's entire life and career revolved around exercising his free will, rebelling against rules and laws that he thought were absurd and irrational, and leaving a lasting mark everywhere he went. In a way, his suicide represented just that. He was unhappy and he didn't want to live anymore, and to him it was as simple as that. He would die the same way that he lived: by his own rules.

I think that the truth of what rings through all his writing is that he meant what he said. If that is entertainment to you, well, that's OK. If you think that it enlightened you, well, that's even better. If you wonder if he's gone to Heaven or Hell — rest assured he will check out them both, find out which one Richard Milhous Nixon went to — and go there. He could never stand being bored. But there must be Football too — and Peacocks..." -Ralph Steadman

I always say that Hunter S. Thompson is the greatest love of my life - at least thus far. It's because every time I look at him, every time I read his words, every time I talk about him, I feel like a part of me is being illuminated. It's a part of me that is often condemned to the dark depths of my soul, and needs to be accessed every once in a while to remind me of what it means to truly be human and to reassure me that I am not alone in this world. To wake me up and reveal to me that hope and joy still exist, no matter how shitty this world may seem.

There are times, however, and this is one of them, when even being right feels wrong. What do you say, for instance, about a generation that has been taught that rain is poison and sex is death? If making love might be fatal and if a cool spring breeze on any summer afternoon can turn a crystal blue lake into a puddle of black poison right in front of your eyes, there is not much left except TV and relentless masturbation. It's a strange world. Some people get rich and others eat shit and die. Who knows? If there is in fact, a heaven and a hell, all we know for sure is that hell will be a viciously overcrowded version of Phoenix a clean well lighted place full of sunshine and bromides and fast cars where almost everybody seems vaguely happy, except those who know in their hearts what is missing... And being driven slowly and quietly into the kind of terminal craziness that comes with finally understanding that the one thing you want is not there. Missing. Back-ordered. No tengo. Vaya con dios. Grow up! Small is better. Take what you can get...

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