Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Hunter Thompson What A Man

Some of you may have heard of Hunter Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hell's Angels, and all the rest. He was famous as the King of Gonzo journalism, and though he shot himself in 2005 he lives on in myth and legend, "We can't stop here, this is bat country!" Uh huh, quite, and Hell's Angels is great too, but consider this, from American Digest:

Warren (Hinckle, Scanlan's) liked to drink and spend other people’s money on himself and writers. Naturally, such a honey pot was going to attract Hunter Thompson.
Thompson liked to drink, snort coke, and spend other people’s money on articles he might or might not write. Sometimes the small staff working with me and the larger staff working the con with Warren at Scanlan’s would decide to drink together. We liked to drink at our bar of choice up at the end of the alley, Andre’s.
And so one night, when Hunter was in town, we all went up to Andre’s for a non-stop night of drinking.
Andre was an elegant French-Canadian who ran an elegant bar and restaurant. He was old-school and could mix any drink anyone could name and it was always perfect. He was polished, polite, and a good listener. But he was a pro and usually knew when you’d had enough. Then he politely asked you to leave. If you ignored him, he had a very large mallet with a three-foot handle behind the bar and you didn’t ignore that.
So there we were, eight or ten of us I think, hanging around and drinking with “Hunter S. Thompson, man!” And, as they would, Warren and Hunter got into a drinking contest — sort of like watching a match between Ali and Frazier in their prime.
It went on and on long past the point where I could or would keep up. It was getting late and Andre announced to the assembled cross-eyed drunks, that he was giving us our last round. The regulars took him at his word, but Hunter had to push the envelope. Except with Andre there was no envelope. Just a polite, “Non.”
The next thing I know there’s a gun in Hunter’s hand and three rounds into the ceiling of the bar. (Did I mention that there were apartments where people were sleeping above the bar?)
Then I think there was a blur of Andre, in suit and tie, coming over the bar with the mallet. Then more blurs and everybody is out on the street dragging a semi-conscious Hunter back down the alley mumbling something about getting his gun back. After that I don’t remember much and, frankly, haven’t thought all that much about Thompson in the nearly 50 years that have intervened.
Later Hunter left this Earth  in the same way that he lived — gun-crazy, thoughtless, self-obsessed and selfish to the last second. A gunshot suicide at home, leaving his wife and son to discover and deal with his ruined corpse and clean up the room.
What a man.

Whoa, what a damning obit, and Vanderleun tells a good story, shooting right in the X-Ring of a crew of boozy hacks. But consider this. HST managed to fire off a few rounds and guess what, no one called the police, it was handled the right way, with a mallet, by old school Andre.

Such was, apparently, the '70s and we've clearly lost a lot, the flawed gonzo genius of Hunter Thompson and perhaps more to the point, the greatness of Andre. We're a smaller world for that.

Your Old Pal,



Infidel de Manahatta said...

It's been decades since I read Fear and Loathing. At the time I remember finding it very funny. I wonder if I reread it would I still think it's funny or would I find myself sympathizing with Hunter's targets?

LSP said...

Same here, Infidel, and his writing seemed to get increasingly incoherent as he tried to live up to his Vegas image...

That said, I read Hells Angels again a few years back and perhaps that still stands up. Of course he was pretty fresh at that point.

Vanderleun's damning!

Kid said...

Yea, an interesting character and we did stuff in the 70's that I'd never think of doing today.

Fredd said...

Hunter Thompson was a classic sociopath, no more or less so than Charlie Manson. He just had a better public relations firm.

LSP said...

Kid, I remember practicing skeet, well logs thrown the air..., with my uncle in Denton TX in the early '70s. Right up by the university to boot. Couldn't do that now.

LSP said...

But Fredd, he also wrote better than Manson, to be fair. Mostly.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Read a story about him attending the Kentucky Derby with the intent of macing the governor. He couldn't get close enough. Afterwards, riding away in a car, he maced the driver.

LSP said...

I know, WSF, The Kentucky Derby story left me pretty cold. Part of the problem, I think, was that he felt he had to live into his fictional character. Hey, I can get that, but hardly a recipe for good living and his end belied it. Of course he'd prob violently disagree over drinks at the compound, but still.