Want a public party for HST? Have it at your house!
July 13, 2005
Eadem mutata resurgo.(Though changed, I shall arise the same.) Epitaph of Jakob Bernoulli, Swiss pioneer of fluid dynamics and spiral mathematicsRegarding the blasting of Doc’s remains out of a cannon shaped like a gigantic Gonzo fist, at Owl Farm, in August …I was tempted to start this column with my favorite G.B. Shaw quote, “Americans are a little confused, they think everyone’s entitled to an opinion. That’s wrong – everyone’s entitled to a vote, people who know something are entitled to an opinion.” Unfortunately, I think I’ve already used that particular quote a time or two, so I decided not to. When you consider the neck of the woods I’m writing in, I guess I could pretty much start every column that way, so let’s just consider it a given from now on.The fact is, it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that everyone does have an opinion about Hunter Thompson’s funeral. Fan after fan, politicians, writers, commentators, and people who barely knew who the hell he was before his death, have all dug deep and found the minimum “two cents” to pitch in.It’s sort of true that Hunter had two careers, one as a serious writer and the other as a cultural icon. It’s definitely true that when he could capitalize on either one, he didn’t hesitate; a guy’s gotta make a living. So I’m told that this is why everyone gets to have an opinion about Hunter’s funeral.Now if you tell me that Hunter had to surrender a little privacy during his lifetime, as the downside of the fame that provided for him, I wouldn’t argue. Fair’s fair. I’m not so sure, however, that this extends to the man’s funeral, and I definitely don’t think that his family and friends owe anything to Hunter Thompson’s public – be it his adoring public, or the one that didn’t quite fancy him so much. For a while, there was some consideration being given to a public event, but the idea was eventually canned for good reasons that I won’t go into here. At the time, The Aspen Times editorialized about what a sensible decision this was. Great, the event was private and that should be the end of it. Unfortunately the names of Hunter’s celebrity friends that are being thrown around are making the whole thing a bit too sexy to be ignored. Instead of backing off, people are doing just the opposite.I got a call from The Denver Post recently. The gal wanted an update on “the event.” At least she wasn’t being judgmental, like some of the Aspen Times twerps have felt compelled to be, as of late. Anyway, she said that she had just spoken to one of our county commissioners who expressed some misgivings regarding the possibility of the Roaring Fork Valley becoming a Mecca for people who wanted to have their ashes blown out of cannons.My first response was to think, “See, this is what I’m talking about.” Of course with greater reflection, I decided that there were enough people in Woody Creek who’d be delighted to see a lot of Aspenites blown out of cannons while they’re still alive, to possibly make something like this a legitimate concern. Ultimately I’m confident that our elected officials will deal with this sort of thing on a case by case basis, as the need arises.A couple of Times reporters thought Hunter’s funeral should be counted as one of Aspen’s “bad ideas,” in a piece that countered a story about the recent Ideas Festival. I’ll look forward to noting their opinion on all of the funerals that occur in the Roaring Fork Valley from now on, as I assume that it’s a new Aspen Times policy to comment on private funerals. If it isn’t, perhaps a little clamming up might be in order. I think their objections lay in the opinion that the whole idea is excessive to begin with, and that no one who wasn’t as connected as Hunter would be allowed to do such a thing.The truth is that Don Johnson, a Woody Creek neighbor, for many years had a large private fireworks display every 5th of July, always with the proper permits. The same with neighbor Tom Klutznick. who had a massive display for his New Year’s Eve millennium celebration. No one took note of these events.As far as I know, the only say the sheriff’s department has had in all of these instances was in respect to forest fire danger: too high, no permit; low enough, blast away. As far as anything else goes, it’s a private thing, nobody’s business. By the way, if the forest fire danger is too high, Hunter will be sent off using compressed air. As for Hunter’s funeral being a bit over the top, it seems to me that we are living in a time when the concept of wretched excess has been purged from our collective consciousness. Look around you! Not to mention the fact that evil, lying, thieving, indicted CEOs are, right and left, doing things like throwing million-dollar birthday parties for their rat wives. Probably with money stolen from their company’s shareholders and employees. If Johnny Depp wants to spend a few bucks to throw a party to send off his friend in a manner he thinks Hunter would enjoy, then I say “Hoo-f***ing-ray!” The Republicans are certainly doing enough of it. There should more of this on our part. At least Johnny Depp’s doing it with his own damn money.If some of Hunter’s fans, people who’ve never laid eyes on him in the flesh, choose to be disgruntled because they haven’t been invited to his funeral, I guess I’m sorry. My only suggestion can be that if you really want a big old drunken, drugged-out orgy to commemorate Hunter’s life and death, then swell – HAVE IT AT YOUR HOUSE.