Friday, October 31, 2008

An Open Letter to Dr. Hunter S. Thompson on the Eve of an Obama Landslide

You gutless, dead, doom-drunk old addict! It's really too bad you took yourself out just after that second Bush win. I think you would have liked Obama. A Kentucky boy like you would have felt the significance of an African American president deep in your hillbilly heart. And you surely would have relished the savage stomping the GOP Greedheads are about to get. McCain is gonna be trounced as surely and as painfully as McGovern in '72. And the young black candidate who all the students are out marching for is gonna win by a mile. But that's what happens when you get so despairing that you can't even IMAGINE the world getting better. You don't get to stick around and see the fucking miracle that's just around the corner.

Sure, in early 2005 it looked like Rove's strategy for permanent Republican domination was working. How else could you explain such a lightweight human catastrophe with two failed wars and a demonstrable lack of comepetence getting RE-ELECTED? We were all pretty down. But not as far as you. When you drink that much it makes the downs WAY down. It fucks you up. Takes you out of the game. Makes you a clownish shadow of your glory days.

When Nixon died you wrote a scathing and tender obit. "Nixon gave no mercy and expected none. He was pure that way." So in that spirit let me give it to you straight, Hunter: Nixon lived out his natural alottment of days. He lived with the shame of what he'd done. He lived knowing the revulsion his name caused. Yet he found a way to carry on. But you - acid hero of a generation? You blew your fucking brains out and let your son find you. I hate to say it but in your one-man war against Richard Millhouse Nixon, Nixon wins.

Most if us who have hit the bottle too hard have come up with some baroque justifications: We need it to settle us. We need it for our image. For our sense of self. We need it for our work. We need it because we are sensitive and idealist and the world is a harsh and imperfect place. And when a talented drunk like you goes down it's easy for us to get all poetic and say that your heart was broken by the country going so far astray, or that you had imprisoned yourself in your bacchic reputation, but the truth is a bit simpler. You were a terminal alcoholic and a drug addict. It made you irreparably, clinically depressed. And you didn't get help for either condition. And you shot yourself. So you don't get to see this sweet, gorgeous, beautiful, glorious, perfect moment when all those sixties promises finally come true and the youth vote carries a decent, honourable man into the highest office in the USA. The kids - they're better organized now, Hunter. You thought McGovern had some hot shit students working for him? Man, you have no idea. You have no ideas at all now.

Hunter, Vegas showed us how to be secret agents in squaresville, and Campaign Trail '72 showed us how to approach politics and power without getting raped. I learned a lot from you about how to live outside - how to think outside, how a word can be used as a shiv. You were the sharpest of them all. But the biggest lesson I learned from you is that there's about as much fear and loathing in this world as you care to focus on. And that it can distract you from beauty and truth.


Julia said...

Well said.

Michelle said...

Very well put. I loved the last sentence the best.

C O said...

I just watched the Gonzo doc a week ago, and I was thinking the same thing: Fear and Loathing on the McCain/Palin Media Clusterfuck Campaign Trail would have been such an incisive and entertaining read.