Well, it finally happened. We all knew it would, there's no way it couldn't, but like anything else, it's always a surprise when it does.
One day when I lived in Aspen and happened to be hanging out with a few people inside the venerable Hunter S. Thompson's compound near Woody Creek, talking about drinking, driving, and music with the good Doctor, he said, "Hey, maybe, umm, I can get you something. What do you want?" I figured he was offering to make a drink, but then realized he was in fact pointing to a bowl full of various colored pills and herbs.
He lived his life on His Own Terms, and he died on His Own Terms.
The man had a passion for passion itself and a respect for those who lived by their passions. The few short times I spent with him have always been memories that I somehow wish were a bit more clear, but then I know he would have wanted them to be as hazy as possible.
What did I learn by meeting the father of Gonzo Journalism? Having a beer with him at the Woody Creek Tavern, a rather confusing conversation over hard alcohol at the Howling Wolf in Aspen, listening to him rant about people, places, topics that only he could put together in a way that made sense to the rest of us, these and other immersions into his world helped to validate my own experiences and existance because he lived as I live. Not the damaging lifestyle, but the pervasive idea that there is Something More Out There and somehow we've got to go get it.
I never think about the things I want to do in life, I just go out and do them. Maybe this is why I felt a connection to the man and why he allowed me into his world those few times. Hunter S. Thompson, Raoul Duke, Dr. Gonzo, he lived by doing, lived by his own rules, lived hard to the core. More hard core than most people can handle, more hard to the core than most people even want to imagine in their daily suffocating insulated lives.
But it's like this. What is life if not hard core? What is life if it doesn't feel like anything? What is life if you die in a rocking chair at age 99 and all you did was read about and watch other people's experiences? I'd rather fall to my death in the Pyranese by slipping on mountain goat poop on some canyon wall trail than die in my rocking chair after living a "safe" and "uneventful" life.
Hunter S. Thompson was a hero to me, but I'm not sad that he's gone, like I'm not sad that global warming is causing havoc around the world. There are geological eras, there are social eras, and eventually all eras come to an end.
The Good Doctor created an era, and now he has ended an era, and I'm just so damn lucky to have had the opportunity to not only be a part of it but to feel the sweat on the Doctor's hand when I shook it for the final time and left the Roaring Fork Valley back in 1998 because it was time to come back to the real world.
So to Duke, Doctor Gonzo, and Hunter, I don't know where you are now, but I bet you're turning things over and causing the kind of trouble that makes people question their own lives and realities. And I hope you're pissing them all off for simply telling it like it is.
That last savage journey awaits us all, and there's nothing we can do about, and now you're on it. So keep it Real, keep it Weird, and keep it Going. I'll see you there soon enough you depraved bastard.