Began To Take Hold
“Mr. Thompson, he dead.”
Well, yes, it seems to be true. Hunter S. Thompson, the writer who compared Hubert Humphrey to “an eighty year old woman who'd just discovered speed” has put a bullet through his head at the age of 67. Rest In Peace Doctor.
What do we owe a man who would write such a line while covering a Presidential campaign for a national publication? True, Rolling Stone, but Rolling Stone was one of the few national publications worth reading during a time when Time and its ilk were whoring the Vietnam war.
Thompson: In a time of no clarity - in a time without sign posts, explanations, sanity, morality - your writing, uniquely your writing, made sense. There were politicos, freaks, fascists, proselytizers and preachers on every corner, an assassinated President in the White House followed by a man who, we later learn, fed soldier after soldier into a war he believed couldn't be won, followed by another who believed god knows what and used breaking and entering as a political tool.
We needed insight and language to match the madness, to shout out: “none of these fuckers are wearing any clothes”. You wrote then an epitaph for a time and a place for people of a certain age and disposition. I wonder now, almost forty years later, if it might not make a fitting epitaph for an entire generation:
“There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda.... You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning....
“And that, I think, was the handle - that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting - on our side or theirs. 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 - that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”
Still, as long as there are those of us alive who can remember, he will always be out there “somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”