When the going gets weird, there’s always room for thoughtful reminders of Hunter S. Thompson.
It started for us with an item in the Aspen Daily News. The writer’s widow Anita Thompson bemoaned the media’s recent batting around of a sum allegedly paid by actor Johnny Depp to cover the costs of her late husband’s posthumous sendoff, stressing that security was a primary concern. She also hinted that the amount encompassed a meditation labyrinth on the property, painstaking ecological preservation measures and that the actor remains fully invested in other ways:
Depp also purchased Hunter’s original manuscripts and, eventually, Hunter’s archive. The purchase is not mentioned in the [legal] counterclaim filing. According to totallygonzo.org, it included some 800 boxes of letters, unpublished material and artifacts. Anita Thompson, who declined to say how much Depp paid for the material, said the actor plans on one day making them available to scholars in a university setting.
Then came a feature in The Denver Post by John Wenzel, who covers strands related to Anita’s long-gestating plans to open a museum dedicated to Thompson at the Woody Creek compound she still occupies. For the article, Wenzel connected with someone featured in the seminal tome Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:
At one point in the book, Thompson attends the National District Attorneys Association’s Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs for Rolling Stone magazine–an event at which Thompson, ‘in the grip of a potentially terminal drug episode’ and ostensibly on the lam, is surrounded by stone-faced cops. The passage is one of Thompson’s best, peppered with his blend of dark humor, paranoia and social commentary.
“I flew out to Las Vegas with him for that from Aspen,” said Gary Wall, 75, a former Aspen police officer and, later, Vail police chief, who befriended Thompson during the writer’s run for Pitkin County sheriff in 1970 (immortalized in the Rolling Stone article “The Battle of Aspen”). “I was the angry guy checking into the room in front of him in line (in the book), and I went out drinking with him, Oscar Acosta (Thompson’s attorney, a.k.a. Dr. Gonzo) and deputy DA Jimmy Moore that night.”
Wall’s recollections of the conference, as well as other events he witnessed with Thompson through the years, differ significantly from Thompson’s accounts. But that doesn’t surprise Wall, ‘the first cop Hunter ever called,’ given the partly fictionalized nature of Thompson’s writing.
“He gave me a copy of Fear and Loathing and wrote in red ink on a couple of pages, which my son wants when I croak,” Wall said. “Next time I saw him in Aspen, I said, ‘I read your book. That’s not the same kind of things I remember!’ And he said, ‘Yeah, but you weren’t on the same trip I was on.’”
Wall says Thompson never talked the way he wrote. Finally, The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Juan F. Thompson (pictured), who speculates how Trump may have compelled dad and, in so doing, recalls a line from Thompson’s coverage of George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign:
“It’s in the article he wrote the day after Nixon won re-election, that line ‘maybe we are just a country of 220 million used car salesmen,'” said Juan. “And I have thought had he been alive to see Trump elected, I wondered could he have borne it? The depth of that betrayal of sanity and reason. And the on the other hand, it might have energized him and led to some great writing. Still, he’d be enraged.”
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