Hunter S. Thompson chose to leave this world on Feb. 20, 2005, at the age of 67.  --  This belated oraison funèbre by Becky Burgwin, a retired writer living in Pittsburgh, PA, was written about a month after his death, but it bears rereading.[1]  --  Her thesis:  However manic, Thompson was an extraordinarily, almost preternaturally clear-sighted man who never really recovered from the re-election of George W. Bush in November 2004.  --  As best as I can determine, it was first published on Mar. 19, 2005, the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq....


By Becky Burgwin

** The Suicide of Hunter S. Thompson . . .The Worst News Yet **

Op-Ed News
March 19, 2005 (?)

Let me just go on the record as saying that I wouldn’t have lasted Three Days in the company of Hunter S. Thompson. I would have been frantically wending my way down Woody Creek canyon with one eye closed in search of some place to come down from even the smallest amount of recreational substances I’d taken in dangerous combination with one or more of the many highly volatile personalities that were always around back then when such substances were being taken . . . to some place peaceful . . . preferably with no doors or windows and certainly no phones or fax machines.

There’s absolutely no question that the best minds of our generation were visited upon us by men and women who, in any other time, might have been locked up for safe keeping. Thank god, they were taken care of by far heartier souls than I and thusly enabled to wreak their magic upon us all. They were the ones who helped us believe that in spite of the war and the ineptitude of our current rulers, there was indeed more than a passing chance that we would see peace on earth in our lifetime. And the even better part . . . we’d all be living totally Gonzo lives . . . well, except me, of course, who would be holed up in some out of the way little cottage that I could retreat to when the going got rough.

As Hunter himself put it in Rolling Stone magazine in 2004: “We were angry and righteous in those days and there were millions of us. We kicked two chief executives out of the White House because they were stupid warmongers. We conquered Lyndon Johnson and we stomped Richard Nixon -- which wise people said was impossible, but so what? It was fun. We were warriors then and our tribe was strong like a river.” "Hogs in the Passing Lane," Rolling Stone, 2004.

I left out part of that quote. . . . The part where he says, “That river is still running.” You see, it’s my belief that it’s not. Not since Dec. 1980 when John Lennon was murdered. Not since Aug. 1995 when Jerry Garcia died. And certainly not since Feb. 20, 2005 when Hunter S. Thompson decided he’d seen enough and put a gun in his mouth. Cause, you know . . . we REALLY need you guys right now. I’m not kidding. The Dream . . . it’s getting kinda fuzzy and hard to see. . . . There’s not enough light in the world to power the projector anymore and we could really use some Gonzo Journalism, Righteous Music, and Acts of Astounding Generosity.

That’s why when I read that Hunter Thompson had gone into a slump after the 2004 election that he never really recovered from, I was alarmed. I’m the one who collapses all quavery in pique and paranoia . . . not the guys like Hunter. I mean, Hunter Thompson intimidates Jack Nicholson for chrissakes. And he could always go outside in 2 feet of snow at 3 o’clock in the morning and shoot his IMB Selectric typewriter or blow up his phone if things looked a little bleak. Not Hunter S. Thompson. The guy was super-human. And maybe we all counted on him too much like we did Jerry Garcia so that death was the only way out but NOT NOW!!!

On September 12, 2001, Hunter S. Thompson wrote: “The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or in any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are at War now -- with somebody -- and we will stay At War with that mysterious enemy for the rest of our lives. It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides. It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy. . . . We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereeens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. . . . Victory is not guaranteed -- for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush. . . . He will declare a National Security Emergency and clamp down Hard on Everybody, no matter where they live or why. If the guilty won’t hold up their hands and confess, he and the Generals will ferret them out by force. . . . He is in for a profoundly difficult job -- armed as he is with no credible Military Intelligence, no witnesses, and only the ghost of Bin Laden to blame for the tragedy.”

The man was a genius. Even during the sit-in-front-of-your television-with-a-bath towel-in-your-lap-to-catch-the-tears phase of the Tragedy of 9/11, he could articulate with his dead on, take-no-prisoners accuracy. . . . What had Just Happened. . . . What our president was going to do about What had Just Happened and What it meant for the Future of our Planet . . . his Dream . . . our Dream . . . my Dream . . . godammit . . . everybody’s fuckin’ Dream. And they say he was never the same after that.

I truly believe that in spite of news that reads like something out of the Berlin Daily Record of 1933. . . . The “architect of the Iraq war” has just been appointed to head the World Bank . . . oh . . . and . . . let’s see . . . The brains behind the widespread torture of American prisoners has been given the highest legal appointment in the free world . . . and wait, there’s more. . . . Our country’s only remaining pristine wilderness will soon be invaded by a bunch of oil derricks. . . . Yes, in spite of this small but grotesque sampling of news that would have wreaked havoc in the old days but is met with quiet resignation today . . . Hunter S. Thompson’s suicide is a dark and foreboding omen.

One of the last things written by Hunter in 2003 reads, “I am surprised and embarrassed to be a part of the first American generation to leave the country in far worse shape than it was when we first came into it. Our highway system is crumbling, our police are dishonest, our children are poor, our vaunted Social Security . . . has been looted and neglected and destroyed by the same gang of ignorant, greed-crazed bastards who brought us Viet Nam, Afghanistan, the disastrous Gaza strip and ignominious defeat all over the world. . . . Our armies will never again be No. 1, and our children will drink filthy water for the rest of their lives. . . . Big Darkness, Soon Come.”

Planet Under Attack, Hunter Gone. . . . Big Sadness, Soon Come.