Bush bashing gives way to Doctor dishing
August 2, 2005
We had an unusually large turnout of the Woody Creek Tavern’s Pissing and Moaning Society (PMS) about a week ago. The weather was ideal, so the boys gathered on the patio fairly early, well before the Tavern had officially opened and before the hordes of tourists had arrived on their rental bikes – and tourists on rental bikes is something we enjoy pissing and moaning about. Of course the morning began with some obligatory Bush bashing. George W.’s poll numbers continue to plummet, but you can’t point fingers at the PMS members for that drop in popularity. Most of us were highly suspicious of the man after the 2000 election and that fiasco in Florida.We rallied around him after 9/11 and his invasion of Afghanistan in search of Osama bin Laden, although we weren’t particularly encouraged when he claimed the United States would destroy Afghanistan’s ports. Afghanistan, for the record, is a land-locked nation. It has no ports! But George W. has always had a serious problem with “miss-speaking,” so that was easy enough to ignore.Then, without capturing bin Laden, he was off to Iraq, and that is when this administration really began creating a “truth deficit.” Of course the weapons of mass destruction and Iraq’s ties with terrorists are no longer mentioned, because apparently we didn’t go into Iraq to save the Middle East from a mad dictator; we did it all to spread the seeds of democracy. It would seem George W. and his associates not only don’t lie very well, they also have problems remembering what their original story was.Admittedly, this is pretty redundant stuff. Many columnists around the nation have said it all before, but bashing George W. is great fun. In fact, the PMS members established a committee to investigate the possibility of making “Bush Bashing” an official Olympic sport. It seems as if there has been more interest in that concept as George W.’s poll numbers continue to fall. Probably has something to do with that old axiom, “Kick ’em when they’re down!” But the PMS crowd didn’t spend much time on Bush because the scheduled memorial affair for Hunter S. Thompson pretty much has everyone’s attention in Woody Creek. His memorial is scheduled for August, and a huge tower from which the good Doctor’s ashes will be fired is being constructed at the far end of the meadow that stretches out behind his home. It already is incredibly tall and it isn’t close to being finished. As might be expected, some Woody Creek residents are concerned about the impact all of this will have on their little community. It has been reported that some 500 individuals will be invited to the memorial services and it is expected that a very large number of Hunter’s faithful fans may attempt to crash the party. But there seems to be general agreement in Woody Creek that this is a family affair and it is only appropriate for the rest of us to respect the wishes of his family, even if it means filling our little community with hundreds of outsiders for a day. But the PMS members didn’t seem very interested in discussing the memorial. Instead, as might be expected, they began reminiscing about the good Doctor himself. All of the PMS crew had known Hunter and some were fairly close friends, so everyone had a Hunter story. In truth there may be a million Hunter stories out there and it is unlikely we will ever be able to separate fact from fiction in their telling. If you knew Hunter, you surely have your own story – or, more likely, a collection of stories. They would include the bizarre events, weird conduct and perhaps even illegal activities, yet none would be told in a mean-spirited manner. It seemed as if everyone who had a story to offer up in our group ended it with a huge smile. It is good to know that Hunter still brings smiles to the faces of his friends.In the book “Fisher the Fixer,” about Freddie Fisher, another valley resident who in his day was as well-known locally as Hunter, Terese David was quoted as saying, “There are so many legends about Freddie nowadays that it’s hard to remember what’s true and what isn’t true. But the thing about Freddie is, they all COULD have been true.” Suffice it to say that the same could be applied to Hunter. And in an editorial in The Aspen Times remembering Freddie, publisher and editor Bil Dunaway ended his eulogy by writing, “Aspen will miss Freddie Fisher because there are no more like him.” Once again, the same can be said of Hunter.It was generally agreed among the PMS members that the Doctor was not just a brilliant writer, he was a nonconformist who took nonconformity to another level. Yet the stories I keep hearing about Hunter are not all focused on wacko behavior, or on guns, drugs and booze. Those are the stories that probably will endure, as is to be expected. They are, after all, the most entertaining.But as a couple of PMS members pointed out, the Doctor also had a soft side, a generous and giving side, particularly when it came to helping out his friends. It was a genuinely fine PMS gathering that day – we were able to bash Bush and his legion of deceivers and also spend a little time remembering a friend in a way I believe he would have appreciated. This is the 319th article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place where its best to have passed on if you wish to be spoken of fondly.