I shouldn't be reading Hunter Thompson this week.
I should be reading something hopeful. Last week, during the Republican National Convention, I read "The Soul of an Octopus" by Sy Montgomery. During a four-day stretch in Cleveland that cast doubt on the future of the human race, I felt lifted up by Montgomery's book. Not so much for humanity but for the Octopoda. Humans may not be smart enough to grok octopus intelligence. Octopus may be sending secret signals to each other, laughing at the coming destruction of the human species and rejoicing about the advent of WaterWorld, when octopus will rule and they will ponder humans on display in undersea terrariums. "I wonder what that human will do if we poke it with a stick?" And the human recoils in pain. "Ouch," says one of my descendants, living his life in a plastic bubble, ogled all day by members of the master race.
See what I mean? Off I go in a dark Thompson-like tangent. Can't seem to stay on task. Unlike Dr. Gonzo, I'm as sober as an American can be. My drug of choice is craft beer, made by Millennials in breweries that look like old Nazi ball-bearing factories. They gradually ratchet up the ABV in brews such as Wyoming's own Melvin 2x4 DIPA (9.9%) to render Baby Boomers docile as lambs and to take over the world or at least parts of the Rocky Mountain West.
If you add to my regimen a slew of heart medications and a few for depression and an ICD that beams my every move to Master Control, you can see that I am a fully compromised human being. A liberal automaton. A Hillbot.
Only writing allows me to occasionally come out of my crustacean-like shell.
Hunter Thompson caused me to look at the world differently. I cannot explain it.
I can duplicate Gonzo but it's not the same as Thompson's. He had a brand. I bet he would hate me saying that. Having a brand these days is all the rage. Hunter's was capital G Gonzo. His brand was so strong that he could become a character in the comics and everybody knew who it was. You can try to duplicate one of the author's famous rants but it wouldn't be the same.
But I do want to point out that Thompson had a gift. I can't explain it. You have to read it. And it was best to read it "as it happened" on the pages of Rolling Stone. You had to be there, as the saying goes. Thompson could put you on the scene. Hell's Angels. Vegas. Caribbean shark hunt, Kentucky Derby, Aspen politics. The spectacle -- marked by wretched excess at every turn -- of American life. As the sixties unfolded, so did a new writing style. He was in the middle of it.
You can detect some of Thompson's dark humor in the writing of Matt Taibbi in RS. Bloggers get into the act but snarky isn't gonzo.
On that note, check out some of my columns from the 2008 DNC by going here and here and even here. It was a grand experiment, embedding bloggers with their DNC delegations in Denver. Not certain how many of my fellow bloggers are still at it. I am haphazard at best, spending as much blogging time with personal issues as I do on politics. I covered politics consistently in '08, including time at the DNC, and won a scholarship to Netroots Nation in Minneapolis in 2011. I was a sporadic contributor to Daily Kos. At the same time, I had a full-time writing/editing job and another passion writing short fiction. And a family. To do it correctly, you need to devote time and energy to the pursuit. Might have been my heart attack of 2012/2013, a jolt to the widowmaker so severe that it spanned two calendar years. Changed my brain-paths and priorities.
And I'm still here.