I went to San Francisco to see "Gonzo - The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S Thompson" with my dear friend Jane, another HST fan. It felt like a sort of pilgrimage because Jane and I had driven two hours from home to sit in that theatre and pay homage to the genius that is Hunter.
I read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when I was a freshman in college. My first taste of Hunter. The wildness of the story held together with precise prose and blunt truths made an impact on my own writing and life. This was also the time I had discovered Dead Kennedies and was exploring punk. I was shaking off my small town immaturity and ideals, expanding my world view, and embracing that part of me that howled at the moon. My inner need for chaos was strummed by the writing of Hunter.
Since then, I've read most of his books and much of his writing, and his energy has stayed with me, imprinting on my concepts of art and politics. However, I have no illusions about him. My admiration is not romantic; he was a drug-addict, alcoholic, manic-depressive prone to violent outbursts and when he killed himself I was angry. It felt like a betrayal of everything he wrote. If only he'd had the courage to face the era of George Bush! What wondrous words he would have thrown at the White House!
The movie helped me understand a little better why he felt like he had to die. I saw the human behind the art, the troubled boy behind the angry man. I saw his goodness and compassion and I understood what drove him to ride that edge for so long. He lived his life peering over it until he finally lost the energy to hang on. Over he went, leaving behind his words and his ideas which will resonate forever.