I didn't know him or of him. And if I’m being frank, it wasn't until a few years ago he made his debut, hitching a ride on my mental roller coaster. I remember hearing of a famous author and journalist “offing” himself back 2005 down in Colorado. It was all over the damn news, Hunter S. Thomson dead at 67 of a self inflicted gunshot wound. I didn't give him much of a fleeting thought, shame I know. I sorta feel bad now, not that he would have given a shit, I’d bet bottle on that.
Let me keep astounding you with my honesty on the matter. Huh. Seemed the persistent fuck, kept showing up here and there over the years, in random articles and blurbs, circles of conventional conversations lined with pecker head wannabes; Their voices filling my mind with senseless rhetoric. Seemed no one knew shit about Hunter S. Thompson, that I knew of, hell… I didn’t either.
Zoom to 2016. I have a friend now, a writer, his name is Rick, he writes for the Weekly here in town; a pretty popular counterculture publication here in Eugene Or. Since I’ve known him, Hunter has been on my mind. Bits of his life and story lay on the forefront of my thoughts and I’m now a photographer, occasionally taking a dive in the photo journalist arena; go figure. The next step; to me was pretty damn obvious and drink worthy.
“Hey miss, lets get a round for my friends”
“…mam, you’re alone”?
“doesn't matter, I’ll have the fried pickles too and git’em fried extra hard”
Okay back to reality…
I needed to get with Rick and turn the idea into a project. Him being an avid fan himself of Thompson, solidified the idea even more.
I wanted to know more about Hunter, why was he seeping through the crevices of my mind and what the hell… am I going to do with this project? No answer came. Thoughts of “I cant use this shit” joined the Mariachi band inside my mind; settling in for a dance… and here we fuckin go again. More research was needed and caffeine.
I knew doing deeper research on this Loovull native, was going to be intense and weighty. It was. The more I delved into his life, the more I began to notice parallels in my own. I started to understand his frustrations and perspectives in his raw communication style, the parallels in my own life seemed almost too indicative of his closely manicured story telling surrounding politics, drugs and his work. The long and short of it..I could relate.
…hold on there’s more on this honeysuckle. Thompson would often take on a fictitious front man sorta role in his writing. Most of the time and quite near the end some spoke of how hard it was for him to give the audience what they wanted, the real Hunter or his alter ego. Although there have been many) his favorite fictional character/narrator, Raul Duke added a first person character conversation within his work. A piece within a piece.
Now I’m not saying I’m an expert through what have I researched, truth is I am not. I will never be able to cover in one project or several, the contributions and artistic value Thompson spread all over our nation like shit on shingle, ( hold the dairy) during his reign.
…and I suppose we all could use an alter ego at some point, a place to go in our mind to become someone else for a minute or a lifetime. An escape. Knowing what I do about Thompson only brought up more questions than answers for me.
Who the hell did his audience crave anyway? What character did his fans attach themselves to ? The real Thompson or the protagonist? Between the two puddles it seemed to me no one knew, not even the master of Gonzo himself could unravel the mystery.
Subject: Rick Levin of the Eugene Weekly, Eugene Or.