November 16, 2007

Getting "Gonzo" With Hunter S. Thomspon

Most people come to know of/about Hunter S. Thompson through “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” either through the cult classic book or the film adaptation of the book. It is my experience that just about every single person who reads the book, instantly falls in love with and becomes enamored with HST.
Perhaps that person goes out and obtains his first book, “Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga” or they want to read his essays in “The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time.” There is even “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72,” which is the second book I read by HST.
I did not have any real interest in politics before reading the book that covered the 1972 Presidential election. He got close to George McGovern and tore into Richard Nixon whenever he could, always stoned, drunk and fearless. He also never strayed away from the virtues of that election year that he found littered on that campaign trail that criss-crossed America. I received more of an education on politics in that book than I have ever received anywhere else.
That’s the thing about HST, many people detract from his work because he indulged in copious amounts of drugs, and admits the drugs made him the writer who he is. This is also an essence of HST that attracts many readers to him.
It is fair to say HST has a large following. He was one of the leaders of New Journalism, a harsh critic of unfair laws whether it was locally in hometown of Boulder, Colo. or federal laws. When he wrote about American politics, everyone read it – from the hippies to college kids to his peer journalists to the political folks who ran the country.
There is a term which too many people believe HST coined, “Gonzo.” Doug Brinley, who worked closely with HST compiling his essays and letters, stated that the term comes from a 1960 song called “Gonzo,” by James Booker. HST friend Bill Cardoso came by HST’s place one night bringing over a cassette of the tune, which they played all night long. As the night dragged on into morning, Cardoso referred to HST as the “Gonzo man.” Cardoso later sent a note to HST in response to an article he wrote about the Kentucky Derby, calling it “pure Gonzo journalism.”
This information can be found in a recently published book, “Gonzo: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson,” by Jann Wenner and Corey Seymour. Wenner is the founder of Rolling Stone magazine. The book is a must have. I am not here writing about this book though, I am here to dote on another recently published book, simple titled, “Gonzo.”
If you are a dedicated Hunter S. Thompson aficionado, this book is fucking perfect. It is one of those books when you have no cash you put on your credit card that is near its limit already. It is one of those books you steal from Barnes and Noble or Borders because fuck them, you WANT this book.
It covers his life but after going through it a few times, you’ll want more, you'll NEED more.
The book is a collection of never before published personal photographs, notes, bumper stickers, drawings, manuscripts, certifications and so much more. There has not ever been anything else published that permitted the public to get beyond just the words of HST. This book opens that door.
The section on the mythic “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” contains notes he made on napkins, booklets on the dangers of narcotics from the national policemen’s drug conference he attended, copies of bills and flight receipts and new photos. Amazing!
One particular thing I loved was seeing the actual election booth button – a photo of the actually button that you would select when going into the voting booth – when he ran for Pitkin County Sheriff in Colorado in 1970. This book allows us the opportunity to actually step into HST’s world like we never have before.
There are awesome photos of the Hell’s Angels, a pic of him next to a huge marlin he caught while in Hawaii composing “The Curse of Lono” and Polaroid photos that Ralph Steadman drew on. His Air Force certificate is shown as well as his Doctor of Divinity certificate among many other personal documents. Readers can finally get into the mind, life and times of Hunter S. Thompson by reviewing the artifacts he has left us.
There are hardcover books you leave out so other people can see them and this is one of them.
For more information about "Gonzo," visit the publisher’s Web site at *posted by Dan

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