Friday, February 25, 2005

red sasquatch

Hunter S. Thompson blew his head off this week. As Johnny Mother said, "Good."

Johnny Mother says a lot of crazy shit, but this time I agree with him. Thompson died like a samurai, like a Roman centurion, he was a rare kind of human and so it is fitting he died in the manner of the ancients. An endangered way of life.

"He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man."
- Dr. Johnson

I don't know who Dr. Johnson is, but Thompson liked this quote enough to start "Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas" with it. It is a phrase with many meanings, a quality that Thompson no doubt was aware of and as a hardcore drug abuser must have appealed to him immensley. "Las Vegas" is one of the better commentaries on Vietnam, in my opinion. Thompson wanted to call it "The Death of the American Dream" and if he had more people would understand what he was saying. One of the more moving parts of the book is when Thompson is peaking on acid and standing in the lounge of a Las Vegas hotel. He believes the floor is covered in blood and that everyone in the lounge is really a huge reptillian monster. Nothing has ever come close to describing the horror people like Thompson felt watching America shamelessly lay waste to Southeast Asia under some crazy delusion that it was saving these lands from tyranny, at the same time places like Vegas were mass producing all that is ugly and stupid in modern culture, squandering the spiritual and physical wealth of the "Great Experiment" on selfish, ignorant bullshit.

Freak Power

Thompson ran for sherriff of Aspen, Colorado in the early 1970's under the banner of the Freak Power movement. The idea of Freak Power was to run brutally honest campaigns rather than watered-down, "we can win if we say this" ones. Freak Power was a promising experiment, yielding surprising support, and even a couple of wins, mostly on the basis that the campaigns were run by politically sophisticated individuals like Thompson. The honesty factor was important, Thompson knew that rightwing honesty had revealed similar levels of support, George Wallace was his example, and Ross Perot would be another from the 1990's. One of the great things about the Freak Power movement is that it had class, it had the style of not taking itself seriously yet being deadly serious. But the greatest thing about the Freak Power campaigns was that they really tried to win on honesty, with all the drive of a big-money, forked-tongue campaign. His Freak Power run for Sherriff was on a platform of driving the industrialists and the parasites out of town and the public humiliation of drug dealers who sold bad shit.

So the Red Sasquatch is gone, his spirit has wandered off into the snows of the Rocky Mountains, and some nights one might hear out there the sound of .357 magnum hitting a gong, or the flash of a cocaine-inspired bomb far off on the peaks. Thompson understood the possibility of real freedom, and the bland irony of clinging to an ideology, right, left, secular or religious. So yeah, that is all. Get back to work, you.