Ten years ago today, Hunter S. Thompson put one of his many guns into his mouth (in this case a .45 caliber automatic) and blew out the back of his bald head in the confines of his snowy Colorado compound.
His suicide note was surprisingly brief considering the writer’s prolific talent. It read as follows:
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.
He titled the note “Football Season Is Over,” an allusion to the fact that the Super Bowl had concluded two weeks prior (coincidentally the Patriots won that one, too) and his favorite sport would not resume until September. I reckon Thompson was disenchanted with the prospect of facing another seven months without anything to look forward to.
The world lost a lunatic that day, but it also lost a talented writer and a soul courageous enough to stand up for what he believed in. Thompson was one of the last true patriots and also one of the last true individualists–he was a man who ultimately didn’t give a shit what anyone else thought, and he was entirely true to himself. Nothing could keep him from speaking his mind, and he never shied away from calling a spade a spade–never hesitated for a moment from telling it like it is, embracing his convictions and calling out the pigs and the fascists for who and what they were. I shudder to think what kind of a force he could have been in the last decade–what kind of a voice he could have been, especially to the affectless youth yearning for something to rail against. In our modern age of languid losers, H.S.T. could have been the voice we needed to get the listless to become listful. There simply can’t be a revolution without voices like Thompson’s, railing against the injustices of the world and calling the fuckers out for their actions. They just don’t make ’em like that any more, and this country (and this world, for that matter) is worse off for it.
Maybe there is no Heaven. Or maybe this is all pure gibberish—a product of the demented imagination of a lazy drunken hillbilly with a heart full of hate who has found a way to live out where the real winds blow—to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whisky, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested . . . Res ipsa loquitur. Let the good times roll.
Six months after his death, a wild party was held in the guise of a funeral for Thompson. The guest list was a who’s who of friends of Hunter, including old politicos like George McGovern and John Kerry and Hollywood A-listers like Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, and Bill Murray. The funeral was more or less drawn up according to Thompson’s own specs–he had detailed exactly how he wanted to go out, which is to say his ashes were stuffed into mortar shells and fired out of the top of a giant Gonzo fist monument amongst fireworks and rock and roll.
H.S.T.’s crazy ass funeral
I do want to make it clear that I am in no way glossing over or glorifying Thompson’s suicide. While I did describe the man as courageous, I don’t believe his suicide was a courageous action. Ultimately, one must accept that there’s very little courage in killing oneself, and I’d like to think Thompson understood that much. But there’s also something to be said for living (or dying) on one’s own terms, and I think Thompson understood that as well. There’s no denying that he sure as hell did both.
I’ll be enjoying a bottle of Wild Turkey in his honor tonight–I’ve got nowhere to be tomorrow, anyway. God bless 101 proof whiskey, and God bless the memory of that madman, Hunter S. Thompson.