©05 The Media Desk
[NOTE: Hunter Thompson took his own life yesterday, 20 February 2005. The Desk knew it had to write something as it had been compared to him on several occassions. Truth be told, the Desk was writing in the Thompson style before it knew who Thompson was. For many years, the Desk enjoyed several of Dr. Gonzo's books, but lately, it noticed that the edge had gone. But still, Thompson had made his mark, on both the Desk, and the world of literature. He will be missed.
thank you for your indulgence ]
You know someone had been success when they become a caricature of themselves and everybody recognizes it, and them, even long after they have lost a good deal of that inner fire that made them what they were in the beginning.
Such was the case with Hunter S. Thompson.
In the last few years his columns for ESPN's online magazine only had a few sparks of that fire or greatness, and even genius, that was evident in some of his earlier works.
His personal appearances, interviews, and releases made it clear he was in the twilight of his career.
Many said that his previous lifestyle of excess and his more recent habits- coming to somewhere around noon, later hold court at the ranch where he'd dispense wisdom and deal with whatever business needed accomplished, then food and drink and whatever else far into the wee hours of the morning- finally got to him and something had to give.
What gave is evident in the sporadic columns under the abrasive title of 'Hey Rube' for ESPN. For those who don't know, a "Rube" is an easy mark in the gambling world. The fool in the old adage 'A fool and his money are soon parted'. Thompson had been reduced to writing about the perils of high stake sports betting and various trials and tribulations of trying to maintain his own legend while living in self induced banishment to the Colorado hills.
Thompson's political coverage was legendary, his features for many mainstream magazines were some of the best journalism (you have to use the word although it really doesn't fit) they ever ran. At one time some of his writings were required reading in college courses that dealt with Politics and Current Affairs.
But as time wore on, he simply couldn't keep it up.
Thompson was a publicity junkie moreso than any chemicals he ever used. He couldn't just give a straight interview that was simply him answering questions or making statements. He had to inject multiple forced and hollow sounding "Ho ho"s and a few random screams so everybody would know who was being interviewed.
Recently the character based on him in 'Doonesbury', Uncle Duke, had been getting more and better press than Thompson himself. Especially after his last couple of books, collections of columns and letters, flopped. They were barely noticed, which meant, he was barely noticed.
And that had to be hard for him to swallow.
At one time Thompson was called "the least accurate yet most truthful" reporter that covered the 1972 campaign by Frank Mankiewicz, George McGovern's aide.
And so he was.