A cardboard grab-bag for HST wannabes | AspenTimes.com

A cardboard grab-bag for HST wannabes

John Colson

Paul Conrad/Aspen Times Weekly

We get a lot of public relations ephemera here at The Aspen Times – stuff that’s meant to publicize some event, show, star, book, car, perfume or whatever – meaningful for a moment and then heaved onto the slag heap of history.

Some of it is what they call “over the top,” to be sure, such as the schwag advertising last summer’s Food & Wine Classic, which undoubtedly cost more than the national defense budgets of certain small nations.This one, though, was flat-out weird.The package was assembled to announce a Starz network special about the celebrities whose lives were touched, changed and charged by proximity to the late writer Hunter S. Thompson, who of course happened to live near Aspen.

The booty was all contained inside a cardboard replica of HST’s famed red IBM Selectric typewriter, the one Anita Thompson reportedly sent to Bob Dylan after the Good Doctor’s suicide in February 2005. Like a sarcophagus designed to hold a man’s riches during his trip to the next world, the box had cutout receptacles in which were nestled an assortment of items possibly meant to honor the dead, but more likely calculated to excite the acquisitive instincts of certain low collector types.The gear included a pair of yellow-lens sunglasses, reminiscent of the ones Thompson wore constantly; a white tennis hat, like the one Thompson often sported; a cigarette holder gripping a Dunhill filter cigarette; and a small poster of a Ralph Steadman portrait of the writer.Some might have felt honored by this collection of detritus, but Thompson himself probably would have recoiled from it as though a rattle wagged at one end. He would have dragged it out to the back 40 and shot it full of holes.

Also contained inside the cardboard sarcophagus were the usual press release and effusive moanings of starstruck ciphers. There was also a capsule biography and a statement from Steadman, HST’s illustrative alter ego and friend for more than 30 years, recalling the Doctor’s presentiments about his own demise more than 25 years earlier.In true sycophantic style, the Starz brochure is rife with quotes from the Doctor’s works, some detailing his frequent derision of Hollywood in general and television in particular – the very entities using his memory to suck off a few more millions in ad revenues before the trail goes cold and the dead can lie in real peace.In the interests of objective journalism, it should be noted that the show itself, which begins its run on Starz on Dec. 12, at 10 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time, is not bad. All that’s required for enjoyment is a stiff drink, a good smoke and a snort to alleviate the heavy dose of irony that’s bound to settle on your soul.