|Pop Culture Gadabout|
Tuesday, February 22, 2005 |
( 2/22/2005 08:32:00 AM ) Bill S.
WHEN R.I.P. DOESN'T SEEM ADEQUATE – Perhaps the most amazing thing about Hunter S. Thompson's death after so many years of well-documented self-destructiveness is the simple fact that he lived as long as he did. If you'd asked any of his admirers in the early days to predict when the guy should have shuffled off this mortal coil, few would've wagered that he'd make it into the 21st Century. Yet he did, even if it was to ultimately take himself out of this world by his own hand.
To a young journalism student – and member of an underground newspaper cooperative in the seventies – Thompson (along with his Bizarro journo twin, Tom Wolfe) represented a model of vibrant, personalized reportage that too many of us attempted to ape. It was an answer to the dry-boned writing that was being held up in journalism classes as the ideal, and its appeal was immediate. At his best, Thompson was the kind of writer who inspired you to read choice passages out loud – even if there was no one else in the room. His prose stomped all over the floor and demanded that you take notice, gawdammit!
I personally stopped paying fervid attention to the man, though, sometime in the eighties. I think, for me, the beginning of the end was a piece Thompson wrote for Rolling Stone back when Jimmy Carter was running for president (it lauded a speech that the presidential candidate gave without really giving much of the substance of that speech). I no longer sought the man's writing, though those articles that I'd happen upon still showed plenty of hard-earned piss-&-vinegar. My indifference was my loss, I suspect: reading Roy Edroso's rejoinder to a Jim Lileks post mortem, it's clear that Thompson still had some great rabble-writing in him. Too bad we won't get to read any more. . .