The Duke has left the building

“The Edge…there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”
Woke up this morning with high fever and serious caffeine withdrawal symptoms, and heard that Hunter S Thompson hadshot himself. Still no coffee, and the Babu is currently teetotalling, so there’s no decent way to mourn Raoul Duke. (Someone give me a Harley, a road trip and an unlimited expense account so I can pay my respects.)
In his last column for ESPN, Hunter S Thompson invented Shotgun Golf:
“HST: “I’ve called you for some consulting advice on how to launch it. We’ve actually already launched it. Last spring, the Sheriff and I played a game outside in the yard here. He had my Ping Beryllium 9-iron, and I had his shotgun, and about 100 yards away, we had a linoleum green and a flag set up. He was pitching toward the green. And I was standing about 10 feet away from him, with the alley-sweeper. And my objective was to blow his ball off course, like a clay pigeon.”
BILL: (Laughs.)
HST: “It didn’t work at first. The birdshot I was using was too small. But double-aught buck finally worked for sure. And it was fun.”‘
For the handful of you out there who never discovered gonzo journalism, Litkicks has a pretty comprehensive profile that covers Thompson’s early career.
He believed in the value of paranoia, and sometimes, who knows, maybe he was right. In this 2003 interview with Salon, he said:
“Civil liberties are black and white issues. I don’t think people think far enough to see the ramifications. The PATRIOT Act was a dagger in the heart, really, of even the concept of a democratic government that is free, equal and just. There are a lot more concentration camps right now than Guantanamo Bay. But they’re not marked. Now, every jail, every bush-league cop can run a concentration camp. It amounts to a military and police takeover, I think.”
Thompson wasn’t pleased when Trudeau immortalised him in Doonesbury as Duke, but denied threatening to cause the cartoonist grievous bodily harm. On the other hand…”I might shit on Trudo’s chest, is that a crime?” he once asked.
The High Lord of Inner Space had imagined a spectacular end to his life–he felt something like a high-speed motorcycle accident would be most appropriate. And whatever you make of his life, he did end it as he’d plotted it.

One comment

  1. He stabbed me once — Hunter Thompson, I mean. It was some years ago, at the Barnes & Noble at Union Square in NYC where I’d been pulled along by another graduate writing student to listen to the Duke read from ‘The Rum Diaries’. The place was full, and quite a few in the crowd were sporting Hawaiian shirts and Ray Ban Aviators. I happened to be standing way back, near the entrance, and because of this had a ringside view of the man as he entered with his entourage. He looked, well, decidedly under the influence. And then it happened. As he neared me, he pulled out a small, plastic knife — one of child’s toys with retractable blades — and began to “stab” people with it, myself included. With a few maniacal laughs, he passed on. Unfortunately, I don’t recall much of what transpired at the reading after that.

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