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Posts for February 21, 2005

Gonzo death song

God motherfuckin’ damn! It’s like everyone I respect or admire in public life is dying these years. Hunter S Thompson was my favourite non-fiction writer. He was also the most interesting, the wildest, the freeest voice in American poltics — hell, in world politics.

Sure, no-one expected him to last even this long, but what business has got dying now, when the world needs him more than ever? And yes, he was a gun nut: but sometimes its good to know that some of the guns are on the side of right.

I always expected to hear that he’d died from one of his favourite things: you can’t die from writing 1; but I always thought it would come from booze, drugs or cars. Or more likely a mixtture of all three. Not guns. And not self-inflicted. Jesus. I expect that we’ll now hear that he suffered from depression, and all the excess was ‘self-medication’. I don’t know. But without the excess I doubt we’d have had the writer.

And what a writer. If I believed in religion I’d say he wrote like an angel; or that it was like his typewriter was wired straight into hades. Instead I’ll just say that he wrote like his life depended on it, and no-one else could touch the clarity and vision he could achieve.

It was always a kind of comfort to know that he was out there somewhere, pounding the keyboard of an IBM Selectric typewriter, Wild Turkey by his side, slapping page after page onto the mojo wire. No longer.

I guess the going got too weird even for that old pro.

1. Not directly. Not in a democracy. Not in America.2 Though watch out for conspiracy theories over the next weeks and months.
2. Warning: footnotes may contain traces of irony.