Rolling Stone catalogs memories of late Hunter S. Thompson
Rolling Stone magazine’s expansive effort to detail the “life force” that was Hunter S. Thompson hits newsstands today.The magazine, which published his seminal “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” in two parts in consecutive issues in 1971 and kept him on the masthead for nearly four decades, devotes 33 pages to the legendary Woody Creek author. Founder and Editor in Chief Jann Wenner writes about the first time he met Thompson: “He was thirty-three, stood six-three, shaved bald, dark glasses, smoking, carrying two six-packs of beer; he sat down, slowly unpacked a leather satchel full of ‘travel necessities’ onto my desk – mainly hardware, like flashlights, a siren, knives, boxes of cigarettes and filters, whiskey, corkscrews, flares – and didn’t leave for three hours.”Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, who edited Thompson’s books of letters, writes a mesmerizing article titled “The Final Days at Owl Farm.” There are also plenty of photos and a touching, melancholic farewell painting from longtime friend and collaborator Ralph Steadman.
Perhaps most entertaining are the snippets of remembrances that Rolling Stone procured from those who were actually close to him. These are not people who say, in the words of Deputy Managing Editor Will Dana, ” ‘I snorted cocaine once with Hunter in 1978 and, boy, it changed my life.’ We got about 40 of those unsolicited three or four days after he died,” he said yesterday.Instead, the tributes are from people such as Dr. Robert Geiger, who sheltered Thompson, his first wife, Sandy, and son Juan when they were evicted in 1965 in Sonoma, Calif. Nixon aide Pat Buchanan writes of vicious, Wild Turkey-laden arguments over communism lasting until dawn. Steadman gives a truly hilarious account of Thompson helping the artist overcome seasickness.Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, possibly the author’s closest friend, writes that “Hunter was always a very important member of my family here.”
The issue, which kept getting “bigger and bigger,” Dana said, also has a United States president recalling how Hunter threatened his press secretary. In Jimmy Carter’s short piece, he says some of the subjects Thompson brought up were “discomforting.”Longtime Aspenite Jack Nicholson uses a bit of his space to plug a potential fund-raiser involving Thompson, himself and the Aspen Music Festival and School. Finally, there are the memories from a son and a wife. Juan Thompson’s essay is a tearful, brief exploration on a complex relationship, as is Anita Thompson’s farewell letter.
And the same could be said of the Rolling Stone issue itself.”I thought it came out pretty great,” Dana said. “It just was obvious that we had to do something big.” Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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