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Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson at the Miami Book Fair International of 1988
Born Hunter Stockton Thompson
July 18, 1937(1937-07-18)
Louisville, Kentucky,
United States
Died February 20, 2005 (aged 67)
Woody Creek, Colorado,
United States
Occupation Journalist, author
Genres Gonzo journalism
Literary movement New Journalism
Notable work(s) Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

Hunter Stockton Thompson (July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005) was an American journalist and author, most famous for his roman à clef Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He is credited as the creator of Gonzo journalism, a style of reporting where reporters involve themselves in the action to such a degree that they become central figures of their stories. He is also known for his use of psychedelics, alcohol, firearms, and his iconoclastic contempt for authoritarianism.


Early years

Hunter Stockton Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the first of three sons to Jack Robert Thompson (1893 - July 3, 1952), an insurance adjuster and a World War I veteran, and Virginia Davidson Ray (1908–1998), a reference librarian. His parents met after being introduced by a mutual friend from Jack's fraternity in 1934, and married in 1935.[1]

The Thompson family resided in the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood of the Highlands in Louisville. Jack Thompson died of myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disease, on July 3, 1952, when Hunter was 14 years old, leaving three sons—Hunter, Davison, and James (February 2, 1949 – March 25, 1993)[2]—to be brought up by their mother. Contemporaries indicated that after Jack's death, Virginia became a "heavy drinker."[1][3]


Interested in sports and athletically inclined from a young age, Thompson joined Louisville's Castlewood Athletic Club, a sports club for teenagers that prepared them for high-school sports, where he excelled in baseball, though he never joined any sports teams in high school, where he was constantly in trouble.[1]

Thompson attended the I.N. Bloom Elementary School, and then Atherton High School, transferring to Louisville Male High School in 1952 following the death of his father. That same year he was accepted as a member of the Athenaeum Literary Association, a school-sponsored literary and social club that had been founded at Male High in 1862. Its members at the time, generally drawn from Louisville's wealthy upper-class families, included Porter Bibb, who became the first publisher of Rolling Stone.

As an Athenaeum member, Thompson contributed articles and helped edit the club's yearbook The Spectator; however, the group ejected Thompson from its membership in 1955, citing his legal problems.[1] Charged as an accessory to robbery after having been in a car with the person who committed the robbery, Thompson was sentenced to serve 60 days in Kentucky's Jefferson County Jail. He served 30 days of his sentence, and joined the U.S. Air Force a week after his release.[1]

Military career

Thompson did his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and later transferred to Scott Air Force Base in Illinois to study electronics. He applied to become a pilot but was rejected by the Air Force's aviation-cadet program. In 1956, he transferred to Eglin Air Force Base, near Pensacola, Florida. There he worked in the information-services department and became the sports editor of the base's newspaper, The Command Courier. In this capacity, he covered the Eglin Eagles, a base football team that included such future professional stars as Max McGee and Zeke Bratkowski. Thompson traveled with the team around the U.S., covering its games. In 1957, he also wrote a sports column anonymously for The Playground News, a local newspaper in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.[1]

Thompson left the Air Force in 1958 as an Airman First Class, having been recommended for an early honorable discharge by his commanding officer. "In summary, this airman, although talented, will not be guided by policy", Col. William S. Evans, chief of information services wrote to the Eglin personnel office. "Sometimes his rebel and superior attitude seems to rub off on other airmen staff members." Thompson claimed in a mock press release he wrote about the end of his duty to have been issued a "totally unclassifiable" status.[4]

Early journalism career

After the Air Force, he worked as sports editor for a newspaper in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania[5] before moving to New York City. There he attended Columbia University's School of General Studies part-time on the G.I. Bill, taking classes in short-story writing.[6]

Thompson's friends and letters from this period note he was an avid reader of the Beat Generation during his early years as a writer and that he associated himself with the Beat culture while living in New York City. He would later befriend such Beat authors as Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs.[7]

During this time he worked briefly for Time, as a copy boy for $51 a week. While working, he used a typewriter to copy F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms in order to learn about the writing styles of the authors. In 1959, Time fired him for insubordination.[6] Later that year, he worked as a reporter for The Middletown Daily Record in Middletown, New York. He was fired from this job after damaging an office candy machine and arguing with the owner of a local restaurant who happened to be an advertiser with the paper.[6]

In 1960 Thompson moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to take a job with the sporting magazine El Sportivo, which soon folded after his arrival. Thompson had first applied for a job with the Puerto Rico English-language daily The San Juan Star, but its managing editor, future novelist William J. Kennedy, declined Thompson's request. Nonetheless, the two became friends and after the demise of El Sportivo, Thompson worked as a stringer for the New York Herald Tribune and a few stateside papers on Caribbean issues with Kennedy working as his editor.[8] [9] After returning to the States, Hunter lived in California, working as a security guard and caretaker at the Big Sur Hot springs for an eight-month period in 1961, just before it became the Esalen Institute. While there, he was able to publish his first magazine feature in the nationally-distributed Rogue magazine on the artisan and bohemian culture of Big Sur. The unwanted publicity generated from the article got him fired from his job as a caretaker.

During this period, Thompson wrote two novels, Prince Jellyfish and The Rum Diary, and submitted many short stories to publishers with little success. The Rum Diary, which fictionalized Thompson's experiences in Puerto Rico, was eventually published in 1998, long after Thompson had become famous.

From May 1962 to May 1963, Thompson traveled to South America as a correspondent for a Dow Jones-owned weekly newspaper, the National Observer. In Brazil, he spent several months working also as a reporter on the Brazil Herald, the country's only English-language daily, published in Rio de Janeiro. His longtime girlfriend Sandra Dawn Conklin (aka Sandy Conklin Thompson, now Sondi Wright) later joined him in Rio.

Thompson and Conklin were married on May 19, 1963, shortly after they returned to the United States. They briefly relocated to Aspen, Colorado, and had one son, Juan Fitzgerald Thompson, born March 23, 1964. The couple conceived five more times together. Three of the pregnancies were miscarried, and the other two pregnancies produced infants who died shortly after birth. Hunter and Sandy divorced in 1980 but remained close friends until Thompson's death.

In 1964 the Thompson family then moved to Glen Ellen, California, where Thompson continued to write for the National Observer on an array of domestic subjects, including a story about his 1964 visit to Ketchum, Idaho, in order to investigate the reasons for Ernest Hemingway's suicide.[10] While working on the story, Thompson symbolically stole a pair of elk antlers hanging above the front door of Hemingway's cabin. Thompson and the editors at the Observer eventually had a falling out after the paper refused to print Thompson's review of Tom Wolfe's 1965 essay collection The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby,[11] and he moved to San Francisco, immersing himself in the drug and hippie culture that was taking root in the area. About this time he began writing for the Berkeley underground paper The Spyder.[12]

Hells Angels

In 1965, Carey McWilliams, editor of The Nation, offered Thompson the opportunity to write a story based on his experience with the California-based Hells Angels motorcycle gang. After The Nation published the article (May 17, 1965), Thompson received several book offers and spent the next year living and riding with the Hell's Angels. The relationship broke down when the bikers suspected that Thompson was only friends with them so he could make money from his writing. The gang demanded a share of the profits and after an argument at a party Thompson ended up with a savage beating, or "stomping" as the Angels referred to it. Random House published the hard cover Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs in 1966. A reviewer for The New York Times praised it as an "angry, knowledgeable, fascinating and excitedly written book", that shows the Hells Angels "not so much as dropouts from society but as total misfits, or unfits — emotionally, intellectually and educationally unfit to achieve the rewards, such as they are, that the contemporary social order offers." The reviewer also praised Thompson as a "spirited, witty, observant and original writer; his prose crackles like motorcycle exhaust."[13]

Following the success of Hells Angels, Thompson was able to publish articles in a number of well-known magazines during the late 1960s, including The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Pageant, and others. In the Times Magazine article, published in 1967, shortly before the "Summer of Love", and entitled "The Hashbury is the Capital of the Hippies", Thompson wrote in-depth about the Hippies of San Francisco, deriding a culture that began to lack the political convictions of the New Left and the artistic core of the Beats, instead becoming overrun with newcomers lacking any purpose other than obtaining drugs.[14] It was an observation on the 60s' counterculture that Thompson would further examine in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and other articles.

According to Thompson's letters and his later writings, at this time he planned to write a book called The Joint Chiefs about "the death of the American Dream." He used a $6,000 advance from Random House to travel on the 1968 Presidential campaign trail and attend the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago for research purposes. From his hotel room in Chicago, Thompson watched the clashes between police and protesters, which he wrote had a great effect on his political views. The planned book was never finished, but the theme of the death of the American dream would be carried over into his later work, and the contract with Random House was eventually fulfilled with the 1972 book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.[15]

Thompson also signed a deal with Ballantine Books in 1968 to write a satirical book called The Johnson File about Lyndon B. Johnson. A few weeks after the contract was signed, however, Johnson announced that he would not stand for re-election, and the deal was canceled.[15]

By late 1967, Thompson and his family moved back to Colorado and rented a house in Woody Creek, a small mountain hamlet outside Aspen. In early 1969, Thompson finally received a $15,000 royalty check for the paperback sales of Hells Angels and used two-thirds of the money for a down payment on a modest home and property where he would live for the rest of his life.[16] He named the house Owl Farm and often described it as his "fortified compound."

Middle years

In 1970 Thompson ran for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado, as part of a group of citizens running for local offices on the "Freak Power" ticket. The platform included promoting the decriminalization of drugs (for personal use only, not trafficking, as he disapproved of profiteering), tearing up the streets and turning them into grassy pedestrian malls, banning any building so tall as to obscure the view of the mountains, and renaming Aspen "Fat City" to deter investors. Thompson, having shaved his head, referred to his opponent as "my long-haired opponent", as the Republican candidate had a crew cut.

With polls showing him with a slight lead in a three-way race, Thompson appeared at Rolling Stone magazine headquarters in San Francisco with a six-pack of beer in hand and declared to editor Jann Wenner that he was about to be elected the next sheriff of Aspen, Colorado, and wished to write about the Freak Power movement.[17] Thus, Thompson's first article in Rolling Stone was published as The Battle of Aspen with the byline "By: Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (Candidate for Sheriff)." Despite the publicity, Thompson ended up narrowly losing the election. While actually carrying the city of Aspen, he garnered only 44% of the county-wide vote in what became a two-way race as the Republican candidate for sheriff agreed to withdraw from the contest a few days before the election in order to consolidate the anti-Thompson votes, in return for the Democrats withdrawing their candidate for county commissioner. Thompson later remarked that the Rolling Stone article mobilized his opposition far more than his supporters.[18]

Birth of Gonzo

Also in 1970, Thompson wrote an article entitled The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved for the short-lived new journalism magazine Scanlan's Monthly. Although it was not widely read at the time, the article is the first of Thompson's to use techniques of Gonzo journalism, a style he would later employ in almost every literary endeavor. The manic first-person subjectivity of the story was reportedly the result of sheer desperation; he was facing a looming deadline and started sending the magazine pages ripped out of his notebook. Ralph Steadman, who would later collaborate with Thompson on several projects, contributed expressionist pen-and-ink illustrations.

The first use of the word Gonzo to describe Thompson's work is credited to the journalist Bill Cardoso. Cardoso had first met Thompson on a bus full of journalists covering the 1968 New Hampshire primary. In 1970, Cardoso (who, by this time had become the editor of The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine) wrote to Thompson praising the "Kentucky Derby" piece in Scanlan's Monthly as a breakthrough: "This is it, this is pure Gonzo. If this is a start, keep rolling." Thompson took to the word right away, and according to illustrator Ralph Steadman said, "Okay, that's what I do. Gonzo."[19]

Thompson's first published use of the word Gonzo appears in a passage in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream: "Free Enterprise. The American Dream. Horatio Alger gone mad on drugs in Las Vegas. Do it now: pure Gonzo journalism."

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Thompson (left), with Oscar Acosta, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, 1971

The book for which Thompson gained most of his fame had its genesis during the research for Strange Rumblings in Aztlan, an exposé for Rolling Stone on the 1970 killing of the Mexican-American television journalist Rubén Salazar. Salazar had been shot in the head at close range with a tear gas canister fired by officers of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department during the National Chicano Moratorium March against the Vietnam War. One of Thompson's sources for the story was Oscar Zeta Acosta, a prominent Mexican-American activist and attorney. Finding it difficult to talk in the racially tense atmosphere of Los Angeles, Thompson and Acosta decided to travel to Las Vegas, Nevada, and take advantage of an assignment by Sports Illustrated to write a 250-word photograph caption on the Mint 400 motorcycle race held there.

What was to be a short caption quickly grew into something else entirely. Thompson first submitted to Sports Illustrated a manuscript of 2,500 words, which was, as he later wrote, "aggressively rejected." Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner was said to have liked "the first 20 or so jangled pages enough to take it seriously on its own terms and tentatively scheduled it for publication — which gave me the push I needed to keep working on it", Thompson later wrote.[20]

The result of the trip to Las Vegas became the 1972 book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas which first appeared in the November 1971 issues of Rolling Stone as a two-part series. It is written as a first-person account by a journalist named Raoul Duke on a trip to Las Vegas with Dr. Gonzo, his "300-pound Samoan attorney", to cover a narcotics officers' convention and the "fabulous Mint 400". During the trip, Duke and his companion (always referred to as "my attorney") become sidetracked by a search for the American Dream, with "...two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers [...] and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls."

Coming to terms with the failure of the 1960s countercultural movement is a major theme of the novel, and the book was greeted with considerable critical acclaim, including being heralded by the New York Times as "by far the best book yet written on the decade of dope".[21] "The Vegas Book", as Thompson referred to it, was a mainstream success and introduced his Gonzo journalism techniques to the masses.

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, 1972

Within the next year, Thompson wrote extensively for Rolling Stone while covering the election campaigns of President Richard Nixon and his unsuccessful opponent, Senator George McGovern. The articles were soon combined and published as Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. As the title suggests, Thompson spent nearly all of his time traveling the "campaign trail", focusing largely on the Democratic Party's primaries (Nixon, as an incumbent, performed little campaign work) in which McGovern competed with rival candidates Edmund Muskie and Hubert Humphrey. Thompson was an early supporter of McGovern, and it could be argued that his unflattering coverage of the rival campaigns in the increasingly widely read Rolling Stone played a role in the senator's nomination.

Thompson went on to become a fierce critic of Nixon, both during and after his presidency. After Nixon's death in 1994, Thompson famously described him in Rolling Stone as a man who "could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time" and said "his casket [should] have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. [He] was an evil man—evil in a way that only those who believe in the physical reality of the Devil can understand it."[22] The one passion they shared was a love of football, which is discussed in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72.

Thompson was to provide Rolling Stone similar coverage for the 1976 Presidential Campaign that would appear in a book published by the magazine. Reportedly, as Thompson was waiting for a $75,000 advance cheque to arrive, he learned that Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner had pulled the plug on the endeavor without telling Thompson.[17]

Wenner then asked Thompson to travel to Vietnam to report on what appeared to be the closing of the Vietnam War. Thompson accepted, and left for Saigon immediately. He arrived with the country in chaos, just as the United States was preparing to evacuate and other journalists were scrambling to find transportation out of the region. While there, Thompson learned that Wenner had pulled the plug on this excursion as well, and Thompson found himself in Vietnam without health insurance or additional financial support. Thompson's story about the fall of Saigon would not be published in Rolling Stone until ten years later.[17]

These two incidents severely strained the relationship between the author and the magazine, and Thompson contributed far less to the publication in later years.

Later years

The year 1980 marked both his divorce from Sandra Conklin and the release of Where the Buffalo Roam, a loose film adaptation of situations from Thompson's early 1970s work, with Bill Murray starring as the author. Murray would go on to become one of Thompson's only trusted friends[citation needed]. After the lukewarm reception of the film, Thompson temporarily relocated to Hawaii to work on a book, The Curse of Lono, a Gonzo-style account of a marathon held in that state. Extensively illustrated by Ralph Steadman, the piece first appeared in Running magazine in 1981 as "The Charge of the Weird Brigade" and was excerpted in Playboy in 1983.[23]

The Curse of Lono, with cover art by Ralph Steadman

On July 21, 1981, in Aspen, Colorado, Thompson was pulled over for running a stop sign at 2 a.m., and began to "rave" at a state trooper. He also refused to submit to intoxication tests. Consequently he was arrested, but the drunk-driving charges against him were later dropped.

In 1983, he covered the U.S. invasion of Grenada but would not discuss these experiences until the publication of Kingdom of Fear 20 years later. Later that year he authored a piece for Rolling Stone called "A Dog Took My Place", an exposé of the scandalous Roxanne Pulitzer divorce and what he termed the "Palm Beach lifestyle." The article contained dubious insinuations of bestiality (among other things) but was considered to be a return to proper form by many.

Shortly thereafter, Thompson accepted an advance to write about "couples pornography" for Playboy. As part of his research, in the spring of 1985 he spent evenings at the Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theater striptease club in San Francisco and his experience there eventually evolved into a full-length nonfiction novel tentatively titled The Night Manager. Neither the novel nor the article has been published.

At the behest of old friend and editor Warren Hinckle, Thompson became a media critic for the San Francisco Examiner from the mid-1980s until the end of that decade. Thompson's editor at the Examiner, David McCumber (who would write a Mitchell brothers biography not long after Jim Mitchell fatally shot his brother Art in 1991), was reportedly deeply disappointed in the quality of Thompson's Examiner columns.

In 1990 former porn director Gail Palmer visited Thompson's home in Woody Creek. She later accused him of sexual assault, claiming that he twisted her breast when she refused to join him in the hot tub. She also described cocaine use to authorities. A six person 11 hour search of Thompson's home turned up various kinds of drugs and a few sticks of dynamite.[24] All charges were dismissed after a pre-trial hearing. Thompson would later describe this experience at length in Kingdom of Fear.

By the early 1990s Thompson was said to be working on a novel called Polo Is My Life, which was briefly excerpted in Rolling Stone in 1994, and which Thompson himself described in 1996 as "...a sex book — you know, sex, drugs and rock and roll. It's about the manager of a sex theater who's forced to leave and flee to the mountains. He falls in love and gets in even more trouble than he was in the sex theater in San Francisco".[25] The novel was slated to be released by Random House in 1999, and was even assigned ISBN 0-679-40694-8, but was not published.

Thompson continued to contribute irregularly to Rolling Stone. "Fear and Loathing in Elko", published in 1992, was a well-received fictional rallying cry against Clarence Thomas, while "Mr. Bill's Neighborhood" was a largely non-fictional account of an interview with Bill Clinton in an Arkansas diner. Rather than embarking on the campaign trail as he had done in previous presidential elections, Thompson monitored the proceedings from cable television; Better Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie, his account of the 1992 Presidential Election campaign, is composed of reactionary faxes sent to Rolling Stone. A decade later, he contributed "Fear and Loathing, Campaign 2004"—an account of a road jaunt with John Kerry during his presidential campaign that would be Thompson's final magazine feature.

Thompson was named a Kentucky Colonel by the Governor of Kentucky in a December 1996 tribute ceremony where he also received keys to the city of Louisville.[26]

The Gonzo Papers

Despite publishing a novel and numerous newspaper and magazine articles, the majority of Thompson's literary output after the late 1970s took the form of a 4-volume series of books called The Gonzo Papers. Beginning with The Great Shark Hunt in 1979 and ending with Better Than Sex in 1994, the series is largely a collection of rare newspaper and magazine pieces from the pre-gonzo period, along with almost all of his Rolling Stone short pieces, excerpts from the Fear and Loathing... books, and so on.

By the late 1970s Thompson received complaints from critics, fans and friends that he was regurgitating his past glories without much new on his part;[27] these concerns are alluded to in the introduction of The Great Shark Hunt, where Thompson suggested that his "old self" committed suicide.

Perhaps in response to this, as well as the strained relationship with Rolling Stone, and the failure of his marriage, Thompson became more reclusive after 1980. He would often retreat to his compound in Woody Creek and reject assignments or refuse to complete them. Despite the dearth of new material, Wenner kept Thompson on the Rolling Stone masthead as chief of the "National Affairs Desk", a position he would hold until his death.

Fear and Loathing Redux

Thompson's work was popularized again with the 1998 release of the film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which opened to considerable fanfare. The novel was reprinted to coincide with the film, and Thompson's work was introduced to a new generation of readers.

Soon thereafter, Thompson's "long lost" novel The Rum Diary was published, as were the first two volumes of his collected letters, which were greeted with critical acclaim.

Thompson's next, and penultimate, collection, Kingdom of Fear, was a combination of new material, selected newspaper clippings, and some older works. Released in 2003, it was perceived by critics to be an angry, vitriolic commentary on the passing of the American Century and the state of affairs after the September 2001 attacks.

Hunter married Anita Bejmuk, his long-time assistant, on April 23, 2003.

Thompson ended his journalism career in the same way it had begun: writing about sports. Thompson penned a weekly column called "Hey, Rube" for's "Page 2". The column ran from 2000 to shortly before his death in 2005. Simon & Schuster bundled many of the columns from the first few years and released it in mid-2004 as Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness - Modern History from the Sports Desk.


Thompson died at his self-described "fortified compound" known as "Owl Farm" in Woody Creek, Colorado, at 5:42 p.m. on February 20, 2005, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Thompson's son (Juan), daughter-in-law (Jennifer Winkel Thompson) and grandson (Will Thompson) were visiting for the weekend at the time of his suicide. Will and Jennifer were in the adjacent room when they heard the gunshot. Mistaking the shot for the sound of a book falling, they continued with their activities for a few minutes before checking on him. The police report concerning his death stated that in a typewriter in front of Thompson, they found "a piece of paper carrying the date 'Feb 22 '05' and the single word 'counselor'."[28]

They reported to the press that they do not believe his suicide was out of desperation, but was a well-thought out act resulting from Thompson's many painful and chronic medical conditions. Thompson's wife, Anita, who was at a gym at the time of her husband's death, was on the phone with him when he ended his life.

What family and police describe as a suicide note was written by Thompson four days before his death, and left for his wife. It was later published by Rolling Stone. Titled "Football Season Is Over", it read:

"No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won't hurt."[29]

Artist and friend Ralph Steadman wrote:

"...He told me 25 years ago that he would feel real trapped if he didn't know that he could commit suicide at any moment. I don't know if that is brave or stupid or what, but it was inevitable. I think that the truth of what rings through all his writing is that he meant what he said. If that is entertainment to you, well, that's OK. If you think that it enlightened you, well, that's even better. If you wonder if he's gone to Heaven or Hell, rest assured he will check out them both, find out which one Richard Milhous Nixon went to — and go there. He could never stand being bored. But there must be Football too — and Peacocks..."[30]


On August 20, 2005, in a private ceremony, Thompson's ashes were fired from a cannon atop a 153-foot (47 m) tower of his own design (in the shape of a double-thumbed fist clutching a peyote button) to the tune of Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky" and Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man.[31] Red, white, blue, and green fireworks were launched along with his ashes. As the city of Aspen would not allow the cannon to remain for more than a month, the cannon has been dismantled and put into storage until a suitable permanent location can be found. According to his widow Anita, Thompson's funeral was financed by actor Johnny Depp, a close friend of Thompson. Depp told the Associated Press, "All I'm doing is trying to make sure his last wish comes true. I just want to send my pal out the way he wants to go out."[31]

Other famous attendees at the funeral included U.S. Senator John Kerry and former U.S. Senator George McGovern; 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley and Charlie Rose; actors Jack Nicholson, Bill Murray, Benicio del Toro, Sean Penn, and Josh Hartnett; singers Lyle Lovett, John Oates and numerous other friends. An estimated 280 people attended the funeral.

The plans for this monument were initially drawn by Thompson and Ralph Steadman and were shown as part of an Omnibus program on the BBC entitled Fear and Loathing in Gonzovision (1978). It is included as a special feature on the second disc of the 2003 Criterion Collection DVD release of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (labeled on the DVD as "Fear and Loathing on the Road to Hollywood"). The video footage of Steadman and Thompson drawing the plans and outdoor footage showing where he wanted the cannon constructed were planned prior to the unveiling of his cannon at the funeral.


Writing style

Thompson is often credited as the creator of Gonzo journalism, a style of writing that blurs distinctions between fiction and nonfiction. His work and style are considered to be a major part of the New Journalism literary movement of the 1960s and 1970s, which attempted to break free from the purely objective style of mainstream reportage of the time. Thompson almost always wrote in the first person, while extensively using his own experiences and emotions to color "the story" he was trying to follow. His writing aimed to be humorous, colorful and bizarre, and he often exaggerated events to be more entertaining.

The term Gonzo has since been applied in kind to numerous other forms of highly subjective artistic expression.

Despite his having personally described his work as "Gonzo", it fell to later observers to articulate what the phrase actually meant. While Thompson's approach clearly involved injecting himself as a participant in the events of the narrative, it also involved adding invented, metaphoric elements, thus creating, for the uninitiated reader, a seemingly confusing amalgam of facts and fiction notable for the deliberately blurred lines between one and the other. Thompson, in a 1974 Interview in Playboy addressed the issue himself, saying "Unlike Tom Wolfe or Gay Talese, I almost never try to reconstruct a story. They’re both much better reporters than I am, but then, I don’t think of myself as a reporter." Tom Wolfe would later describe Thompson's style as "...part journalism and part personal memoir admixed with powers of wild invention and wilder rhetoric."[32]

The majority of Thompson's most popular and acclaimed work appeared within the pages of Rolling Stone magazine. Along with Joe Eszterhas and David Felton, Thompson was instrumental in expanding the focus of the magazine past music criticism; indeed, Thompson was the only staff writer of the epoch never to contribute a music feature to the magazine. Nevertheless, his articles were always peppered with a wide array of pop music references ranging from Howlin' Wolf to Lou Reed. Armed with early fax machines wherever he went, he became notorious for haphazardly sending sometimes illegible material to the magazine's San Francisco offices as an issue was about to go to press.

Robert Love, Thompson's editor of 23 years at Rolling Stone, wrote that "the dividing line between fact and fancy rarely blurred, and we didn’t always use italics or some other typographical device to indicate the lurch into the fabulous. But if there were living, identifiable humans in a scene, we took certain steps....Hunter was close friends with many prominent Democrats, veterans of the ten or more presidential campaigns he covered, so when in doubt, we’d call the press secretary. 'People will believe almost any twisted kind of story about politicians or Washington,' he once said, and he was right."

Discerning the line between the fact and the fiction of Thompson's work presented a practical problem for editors and fact-checkers of his work. Love called fact-checking Thompson's work "one of the sketchiest occupations ever created in the publishing world", and "for the first-timer ... a trip through a journalistic fun house, where you didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t. You knew you had better learn enough about the subject at hand to know when the riff began and reality ended. Hunter was a stickler for numbers, for details like gross weight and model numbers, for lyrics and caliber, and there was no faking it."[33]


Thompson often used a blend of fiction and fact when portraying himself in his writing as well, sometimes using the name Raoul Duke as an author surrogate whom he generally described as a callous, erratic, self-destructive journalist who constantly drank alcohol and took hallucinogenic drugs. Fantasizing about causing bodily harm to others was also a characteristic in his work used to comedic effect and an example of his brand of humor.

In the late sixties, Thompson obtained his famous title of "Doctor" from the Universal Life Church.[34] He later preferred to be called Dr. Thompson, and his "alter-ego" Raoul Duke called himself a "doctor of journalism". Thompson was as fond of personae as W.C. Fields: besides "Raoul Duke", Thompson also toyed with the idea of taking the names "Jefferson Rank", "Gene Skinner", and "Sebastian Owl" for various purposes literary and non-literary, naming his "compound" in Woody Creek, Colorado, "Owl Farm" after the last of these.

A number of critics have commented that as he grew older the line that distinguished Thompson from his literary self became increasingly blurred.[35][36][37] Thompson himself admitted during a 1978 BBC interview that he sometimes felt pressured to live up to the fictional self that he had created, adding "I'm never sure which one people expect me to be. Very often, they conflict — most often, as a matter of fact. ...I'm leading a normal life and right along side me there is this myth, and it is growing and mushrooming and getting more and more warped. When I get invited to, say, speak at universities, I'm not sure if they are inviting Duke or Thompson. I'm not sure who to be."[38]

Thompson's writing style and eccentric persona gave him a cult following in both literary and drug circles, and his cult status expanded into broader areas after being twice portrayed in major motion pictures. Hence, both his writing style and persona have been widely imitated, and his likeness has even become a popular costume choice for Halloween.[39]

Political beliefs

In the documentary Breakfast With Hunter, Hunter S. Thompson is seen in several scenes wearing different Che Guevara t-shirts. Additionally, actor and friend Benicio del Toro has stated that Thompson kept a "big" picture of Che in his kitchen.[40]

Thompson wrote passionately on behalf of African American rights and the African American Civil Rights Movement.[41] He strongly criticised the dominance in American society of, what he called, "white power structures".[42] He was a proponent of the right to bear arms and privacy rights.[43] A member of the National Rifle Association,[44] Thompson was also co-creator of "The Fourth Amendment Foundation", an organization to assist victims in defending themselves against unwarranted search and seizure.[45]

Part of his work with The Fourth Amendment Foundation centered around support of Lisl Auman, a Colorado woman who was sentenced for life in 1997 under felony murder charges for the death of police officer Bruce VanderJagt, despite contradictory statements and dubious evidence. Thompson organized rallies, provided legal support, and co-wrote an article in the June 2004 issue of Vanity Fair, outlining the case. The Colorado Supreme Court eventually overturned Auman's sentence in March 2005, shortly after Thompson's death, and Auman is now free. Auman's supporters claim Thompson's support and publicity resulted in the successful appeal.[46]

Thompson was a firearms and explosives enthusiast (in his writing and in real life) and owned a vast collection of handguns, rifles, shotguns, and various automatic and semi-automatic weapons, along with numerous forms of gaseous crowd control and many other homemade devices.

Thompson was also an ardent supporter of drug legalization and became known for his less-than-shy accounts of his own drug usage. He was an early supporter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and served on the group's advisory board for over 30 years until his death.[47] He told an interviewer in 1997 that drugs should be legalized "Across the board. It might be a little rough on some people for a while, but I think it's the only way to deal with drugs. Look at Prohibition: all it did was make a lot of criminals rich."[48]

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Thompson voiced skepticism regarding the official story on who was responsible for the attacks. He suggested to several interviewers that it may have been conducted by the U.S. Government or with the government's assistance.[49][50] In 2002, Thompson told a radio show host "You sort of wonder when something like that happens, well, who stands to benefit? Who had the opportunity and the motive? You just kind of look at these basic things [...] I saw that the US government was going to benefit, and the White House people, the Republican administration to take the mind of the public off the crashing economy. [...] And I have spent enough time on the inside of, well in the White House and you know, campaigns and I've known enough people who do these things, think this way, to know that the public version of the news or whatever event, is never really what happened."[50]

In 2004 Thompson, regarding politics, wrote: "Nixon was a professional politician, and I despised everything he stood for — but if he were running for president this year against the evil BushCheney gang, I would happily vote for him."[51]

Popular slogans

A slogan of Thompson's, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro", appears as a chapter heading in Kingdom of Fear. This quote is verified by an informational data base on Hunter S. Thompson which includes a list of other famous Hunter S. Thompson quotes including his famous sloganized prayer from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas "You better take care of me Lord, because if you don't you're gonna have me on your hands." He was also quoted as saying, "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me" along with "It never got weird enough for me." Another one of his favorite sayings, "Buy the ticket, take the ride", is easily applied to virtually all of his exploits. "Too weird to live, too rare to die", a phrase applied to Oscar Zeta Acosta (Thompson's attorney from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), has been widely used to characterize the "Good Doctor" posthumously. In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas he coined the term "bad craziness". He occasionally used the phrase, "There are many rooms in the mansion" in his non-fiction writings.

The Hawaiian word "mahalo" also frequently appears in Thompson's works and correspondence. Loosely translated, it means "may you be in divine breath" or "thank you". On more than one occasion, "mahalo" followed Thompson's usage of "buy the ticket, take the ride". "Mahalo" is sometimes replaced with the untranslatable Hebrew word "selah".


Thompson wrote many letters and they were his primary means of personal conversation. Thompson made carbon copies of all his letters, usually typed, a habit that began in his teenage years. His letters were sent to friends, public officials and reporters.

Some of his letters have begun to be published in a series of books called The Fear and Loathing Letters. The first volume, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman 1955 - 1967, is over 650 pages, while the second volume Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist passed 700. Douglas Brinkley, who edits the letter series, said that for every letter included, fifteen were cut. Brinkley estimated Thompson's own archive to contain over 20,000 letters. According to, the last of the three planned volumes of Thompson's letters was allegedly to be published on January 1, 2007 as The Mutineer: Rants, Ravings, and Missives from the Mountaintop 1977-2005. Anita Thompson has said on her blog that the collection will be released sometime in February. currently lists the publication date on its site as June 1, 2010.

Many biographies have been written about Thompson, although he did not write an autobiography himself. But his letters contained "asides" to "his biographers" that he assumed could be "reading in" on his collected letters. Some of these letters were already bundled into Thompson's Kingdom of Fear, though it is not considered an autobiography.


Accompanying the eccentric and colorful writing of Hunter Thompson, illustrations by British artist Ralph Steadman offer visual representations of the Gonzo style. Steadman and Thompson developed a close friendship, and often traveled together. Though his illustrations occur in most of Thompson's books, they are conspicuously featured in full page color in Thompson's The Curse of Lono, set in Hawaii.


Thompson was an avid amateur photographer throughout his life and his photos have been exhibited since his death at art galleries in the United States and United Kingdom. In late 2006, AMMO Books published a limited-edition 224 page collection of Thompson photos called GONZO, with an introduction by Johnny Depp. Thompson's snapshots were a combination of the subjects he was covering, stylized self-portraits, and artistic still life photos. The London Observer called the photos "astonishingly good" and that "Thompson's pictures remind us, brilliantly in every sense, of very real people, real colours".[52]


The film Where the Buffalo Roam (1980) depicts Thompson's attempts at writing stories for both the Super Bowl and the 1972 U.S. presidential election. It stars Bill Murray as Thompson and Peter Boyle as Thompson's attorney Oscar Acosta, referred to in the movie as Carl Lazlo, Esq.

The 1998 film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was directed by Monty Python veteran Terry Gilliam, and starred Johnny Depp (who moved into Hunter's basement to 'study' Thompson's persona before assuming his role in the film) as "Hunter Thompson/Raoul Duke" and Benicio del Toro as Oscar Acosta, referred to in the movie as "Dr. Gonzo". The film has achieved something of a cult following.

A film is currently in production based on Thompson's novel The Rum Diary. It is scheduled for a 2010 release, starring Johnny Depp as the main character, Paul Kemp. The novel's premise was inspired by Thompson's own experiences in Puerto Rico. Bruce Robinson is directing.


"Fear and Loathing on the Road to Hollywood" (1978) is an extended television profile by the BBC. It can be found on disc 2 of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" The Criterion Collection edition.

The Mitchell brothers, owners of the O'Farrell Theatre in San Francisco, made a documentary about Thompson in 1988 called Hunter S. Thompson: The Crazy Never Die.

Wayne Ewing created three documentaries about Thompson. The film Breakfast With Hunter (2003) was directed and edited by Ewing. It documents Thompson's work on the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, his arrest for drunk driving, and his subsequent fight with the court system. When I Die (2005) is a video chronicle of making Thompson's final farewell wishes a reality, and documents the send-off itself. Free Lisl: Fear and Loathing in Denver (2006) chronicles Thompson efforts in helping to free Lisl Auman who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the shooting of a police officer, a crime she didn't commit. All three films are only available online.[53]

In Come on Down: Searching for the American Dream[54] (2004) Thompson gives director Adamm Liley insight into the nature of the American Dream over drinks at the Woody Creek Tavern.

Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride: Hunter S. Thompson On Film (2006) was directed by Tom Thurman, written by Tom Marksbury, and produced by the Starz Entertainment Group. The original documentary features interviews with Thompson's inner circle of family and friends, but the thrust of the film focuses on the manner in which his life often overlapped with numerous Hollywood celebrities who became his close friends, such as Johnny Depp, Benicio del Toro, Bill Murray, Sean Penn, John Cusack, Thompson's wife Anita, son Juan, former Senators George McGovern and Gary Hart, writers Tom Wolfe and William F. Buckley, actors Gary Busey and Harry Dean Stanton, and the illustrator Ralph Steadman among others.

"Blasted!!! The Gonzo Patriots of Hunter S. Thompson" (2006), produced, directed, photographed and edited by Blue Kraning, is a documentary about the scores of fans who volunteered their privately-owned artillery to fire the ashes of the late author, Hunter S Thompson. Blasted!!! premiered at the 2006 Starz Denver International Film Festival, part of a tribute series to Hunter S. Thompson held at the Denver Press Club.

In 2008, Academy Award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Taxi to the Dark Side) wrote and directed a documentary on Thompson, entitled Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. The film premiered on January 20, 2008 at the Sundance Film Festival. Gibney uses intimate, never-before-seen home videos, interviews with friends, enemies and lovers, and clips from films adapted from Thompson's material to document his turbulent life.


GONZO: A Brutal Chrysalis is a one-man show about Hunter S.Thompson written by Paul Addis. Set in the writing den of Thompson's Woody Creek home, the show presents the life of Hunter during the years between 1968 and 1971. Addis played the role of Hunter during the show's original run until his arrest for the Burning Man early torching on August 28, 2007.[55]

Accolades and tributes

  • Author Tom Wolfe has called Thompson the greatest American comic writer of the 20th century.[56]
  • The 2006 documentary film Fuck, which features Hunter S Thompson commenting on the usage of that word, is dedicated to his memory.[57]
  • Thompson appeared on the cover of the 1,000th issue of Rolling Stone (May 18 - June 1, 2006) as a devil playing the guitar next to the two "L"'s in the word "Rolling". Johnny Depp also appeared on the cover.
  • The Thompson-inspired character Uncle Duke appears on a recurring basis in Doonesbury, the daily newspaper comic strip by Garry Trudeau. When the character was first introduced, Thompson protested, quoted in an interview as saying that he would set Trudeau on fire if the two ever met,[58] although it was reported that he liked the character in later years. Between March 7, 2005 (roughly two weeks after Thompson's suicide) and March 12, 2005, Doonesbury ran a tribute to Hunter, with Uncle Duke lamenting the death of the man he called his "inspiration." The first of these strips featured a panel with artwork similar to that of Ralph Steadman, and later strips featured various non sequiturs (with Duke variously transforming into a monster, melting, shrinking to the size of an empty drinking glass, or people around him turning into animals) which seemed to mirror some of the effects of hallucinogenic drugs described in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
  • Besides Uncle Duke, Thompson served as the inspiration for two other comic strip characters. Underground comix creator turned animation/cartooning historian Scott Shaw! used an anthropomorphic dog named "Pointer X. Toxin" in a number of his works. Matt Howarth has created a number of comic books in his "Bugtown" universe with a Thompson-inspired character named "Monseiuer Boche", as well as a musician named "Savage Henry", the name of a drug dealer (or "scag baron") mentioned in Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas.
  • Spider Jerusalem, the gonzo journalist protagonist of Warren Ellis's Transmetropolitan, is largely based on Thompson.
  • Adult Swim's animated series The Venture Bros. featured a character named Hunter Gathers (who looks and acts much like Thompson) employed by the fictional Office of Secret Intelligence as a trainer.[59][60]
  • Flying Dog Brewery is a self-proclaimed "gonzo brewery" started by Hunter's long time friend and neighbor George Stranahan. Flying Dog's Gonzo Imperial Porter is a tribute to Hunter. All the bottle labels are designed by Ralph Steadman.
  • Los Angeles based indie rock band Fat City Reprise's name is a tribute to Thompson's failed bid for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado in 1970.[61]
  • American heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold wrote their song Bat Country in tribute to Thompson. It was featured on their 2005 album City of Evil and uses the quote "He who makes a beast out of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man".



  1. ^ a b c d e f Whitmer, Peter O. (1993). When The Going Gets Weird: The Twisted Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson (First Edition ed.). Hyperion. pp. 23–27. ISBN 1562828568. 
  2. ^ Find A Grave: James Garnet Thompson
  3. ^ Books by Hunter S. Thompson - biography and notes
  4. ^ Rolfsen, Jeff (February 21, 2005) Writer Hunter S. Thompson commits suicide. Air Force Times. . Retrieved February 22, 2007.
  5. ^ Thompson, Hunter (2002). Songs of the Doomed (Reprint Edition ed.). Simon and Schuster. pp. 29–32. ISBN 0743240995. 
  6. ^ a b c Thompson, Hunter (1998). Douglas Brinkley. ed. The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman (1st ed. ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 139. ISBN 0-345-37796-6. 
  7. ^ Wills, D. 'Hunter S. Thompson and the Beats', in Wills, D. (ed.) Beatdom Vol. 4 (Mauling Press: Dundee, 2009)
  8. ^ Hunter S. Thompson: "Proud Highway" NPR Interview 7 August 1997
  9. ^ New York State Writers Institute William Kennedy Biography.
  10. ^ Brinkley, Douglas (March 24, 2005) "Last Days at Owl Farm" Rolling Stone.
  11. ^ Brinkley, Douglas or Sadler, Shelby. Thompson, Hunter (2000). Douglas Brinkley. ed. Fear and Loathing in America (1st ed. ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 784. ISBN 0-684-87315-X.  Introduction to letter to Tom Wolfe, p.43.
  12. ^ Louison, Cole This is skag folks, pure skag: Hunter Thompson Buzzsaw Haircut'.' Retrieved October 12, 2006.
  13. ^ Fremont-Smith, Eliot (February 23, 1967) "Books of The Times; Motorcycle Misfits—Fiction and Fact." The New York Times, p.33.
  14. ^ Thompson, Hunter S. "The Hashbury Is the Capital of the Hippie", The New York Times Magazine May 17, 1967
  15. ^ a b Thompson, Hunter (2001). Fear and Loathing in America (2nd ed. ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 784. ISBN 978-0684873169. 
  16. ^ Thompson, Hunter (2006). Fear and Loathing in America (Paperback Edition. ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 784. ISBN 978-0684873169. 
  17. ^ a b c Anson, Robert Sam (December 10, 1976) Rolling Stone Pt. 2: Hunter Thompson Meets Fear and Loathing Face to Face New Times
  18. ^ Thompson, Hunter S. (2003) Kingdom of Fear Simon & Schuster. p.95.
  19. ^ Martin, Douglas, (March 16, 2006) Bill Cardoso, 68, Editor Who Coined 'Gonzo', Is Dead. The New York Times.
  20. ^ Thompson, Hunter (1979). The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (1st ed. ed.). Summit Books. pp. 105–109. ISBN 0-671-40046-0. 
  21. ^ Woods, Crawford (July 23, 1972) [1] The New York Times Book Review.
  22. ^ Thompson, Hunter S. (June 15, 1994) He Was A Crook Rolling Stone
  23. ^ The Great Thompson Hunt — Books — The Curse of Lono. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  24. ^ Aspen Journal; New Fear and Loathing: Gonzo Writer on Trial, The New York Times, May 22, 1990
  25. ^ Sara Nelson 1996 Interview with Hunter S. Thompson The Book Report
  26. ^ Whitehead, Ron. Hunter S. Thompson, Kentucky Colonel Reykjaviks Magazine March 11, 2005
  27. ^ {{{last}}}. Interview. The Great Thompson Hunt — HST & Friends — Rolling Stone College Papers 1980. 1999-04-14. Retrieved on 2009-07-13.
  28. ^ "Citizen Thompson — Police report of death scene reveals gonzo journalist's "rosebud"". The Smoking Gun. 2005-09-08. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  29. ^ Douglas Brinkley (2005-09-08). "Football Season Is Over Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's final note . . . Entering the no more fun zone". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  30. ^ Steadman, Ralph (February 2005). "Hunter S. Thompson 1937-2005". Retrieved March 19, 2005.
  31. ^ a b Hunter Thompson Blown Sky High
  32. ^ Wolfe, Tom (February 22, 2005) As Gonzo in Life as in His Work
  33. ^ Love, Robert. (May-June 2005) "A Technical Guide For Editing Gonzo". Columbia Journalism Review.. May-June 2005. Archived from the original on 2008-01-26. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  34. ^ "The Great Thompson Hunt — HST & Friends — Who Is (Dr.) Hunter S. Thompson?". Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  35. ^ Cohen, Rich "Gonzo Nights The New York Times April 17, 2005
  36. ^ Hart, Stephen Hunter S. Thompson The Opinion Mill December 26, 2005.
  37. ^ Clifford, Peggy A love song for Hunter S. Thompson Santa Monica Mirror'.' Retrieved March 28, 2007.
  38. ^ BBC 1978 Fear and Loathing in Gonzovision
  39. ^ hunter s thompson halloween
  40. ^ Hunter S Thompson: The Movie by Alex Gibney, The Sunday Times, December 14, 2008
  41. ^ Hunter S. Thompson, The Great Shark Hunt, (London 1980), page 43-51
  42. ^ Hunter S. Thompson, The Great Shark Hunt, (London 1980), page 44-50
  43. ^ Glassie, John Interview with Hunter S. Thompson Accessed Monday, March 5, 2007
  44. ^ Susman, Tina Writer's Death Shocks Friends Newsday February 22, 2005
  45. ^ Higgins, Matt THE GONZO KING An interview with Hunter S. Thompson High Times September 2, 2003.
  46. ^ Mosely, Matt. "Lisl Released From Tooley Hall" April 26, 2006
  47. ^ NORML 2007 Aspen Legal Seminar Afternoon Cookout at Owl Farm.
  48. ^ Far Gone Books Transcript of Hunter S. Thompson Interview
  49. ^ Bulger, Adam (March 9, 2004) Interview with Hunter S. Thompson Freezer Box Magazine
  50. ^ a b O'Regan, Mike. "Interview with Hunter S. Thompson". Archived from the original on 2008-02-03. , August 2002.
  51. ^ Fear and Loathing, Campaign 2004, Rolling Stone.
  52. ^ Ferguson, Euan Hunter Gets Captured By The Frame The Observer (London), February 4, 2007
  53. ^ Hunter Thompson Films
  54. ^
  55. ^ "A Fiery Q&A With Paul Addis, the Prankster Accused of Burning the Man". Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  56. ^ "As Gonzo in Life as in His Work: Hunter S. Thompson died as he lived." Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - Wall Street Journal, Opinion Journal.
  57. ^ "Fuck". Premiere. 2006-11-10. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  58. ^ "Hunter S. Thompson dead at 67". 2005-05-19. Archived from the original on 2008-03-16. 
  59. ^ Seymour, Corey (2007). Gonzo: the life of Hunter S. Thompson : an oral biography. Little, Brown. pp. 94, 116, 140. ISBN 9780316005272. 
  60. ^ "[adult swim] : Interactive Video Commentary — The Venture Bros. - ORB". Archived from the original on 2009-08-05. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  61. ^ South Philly Review Interview 2

External links

Legacy and obituaries

Source material


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

I consider myself a road man for the lords of karma.

Hunter S. Thompson (1937-07-182005-02-20) was an American journalist and author and was regarded by many as the author of the "greatest book on the dope decade" (The New York Times). He was known for his flamboyant writing style, known as Gonzo Journalism, which blurred the distinctions between writer and subject, fiction and non-fiction. Thompson died at his home in Woody Creek, Colorado, of what police officers stated was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

See also: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Film) (1998 movie)



  • The hippies, who had never really believed they were the wave of the future anyway, saw the election results as brutal confirmation of the futility of fighting the establishment on its own terms. There had to be a whole new scene, they said, and the only way to do it was to make the big move — either figuratively or literally — from Berkeley to the Haight-Ashbury, from pragmatism to mysticism, from politics to dope... The thrust is no longer for "change" or "progress" or "revolution," but merely to escape, to live on the far perimeter of a world that might have been.
    • "The Hashbury is the Capital of the Hippies" (May 1967); republished in Gonzo Papers, Vol. 1: The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (1979), pp 392-394
  • When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
    • "Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl" (Rolling Stone #155, February 28, 1974); republished in Gonzo Papers, Vol. 1: The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (1979), p 49
  • I feel the same way about disco as I do about herpes.
    • Speech given to the University of Colorado Student Union (1977-11-01)
  • In a nation run by swine, all pigs are upward-mobile and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: Not necessarily to Win, but mainly to keep from Losing Completely.
    • Gonzo Papers, Vol. 1: The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (1979)
  • I returned to the Holiday Inn — where they have a swimming pool and air-conditioned rooms — to consider the paradox of a nation that has given so much to those who preach the glories of rugged individualism from the security of countless corporate sinecures, and so little to that diminishing band of yesterday's refugees who still practice it, day by day, in a tough, rootless and sometimes witless style that most of us have long since been weaned away from.
    • Gonzo Papers, Vol. 1: The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (1979)
  • The only other important thing to be said about Fear & Loathing at this time is that it was fun to write, and that's rare — for me, at least, because I've always considered writing the most hateful kind of work. I suspect it's a bit like fucking — which is fun only for amateurs. Old whores don't do much giggling. Nothing is fun when you have to do it — over and over, again and again — or else you'll be evicted, and that gets old. So it's a rare goddamn trip for a locked-in, rent-paying writer to get into a gig that, even in retrospect, was a kinghell, highlife fuck-all from start to finish... and then to actually get paid for writing this kind of manic gibberish seems genuinely weird; like getting paid for kicking Agnew in the balls. So maybe there's hope. Or maybe I'm going mad... In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward mobile — and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: Not necessarily to Win, but mainly to keep from Losing Completely... The Swine are gearing down for a serious workout this time around... So much, then, for The Road — and for the last possibilities of running amok in Las Vegas... Well, at least, I'll know I was there, neck deep in the madness, before the deal went down, and I got so high and wild that I felt like a two-ton Manta ray jumping all the way across the Bay of Bengal.
    • Comments on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (1979), pp 109 - 110
  • There are times, however, and this is one of them, when even being right feels wrong. What do you say, for instance, about a generation that has been taught that rain is poison and sex is death? If making love might be fatal and if a cool spring breeze on any summer afternoon can turn a crystal blue lake into a puddle of black poison right in front of your eyes, there is not much left except TV and relentless masturbation. It's a strange world. Some people get rich and others eat shit and die. Who knows? If there is in fact, a heaven and a hell, all we know for sure is that hell will be a viciously overcrowded version of Phoenix — a clean well lighted place full of sunshine and bromides and fast cars where almost everybody seems vaguely happy, except those who know in their hearts what is missing... And being driven slowly and quietly into the kind of terminal craziness that comes with finally understanding that the one thing you want is not there. Missing. Back-ordered. No tengo. Vaya con dios. Grow up! Small is better. Take what you can get...
    • Gonzo Papers, Vol. 2: Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the '80s (1988)
  • Maybe there is no Heaven. Or maybe this is all pure gibberish — a product of the demented imagination of a lazy drunken hillbilly with a heart full of hate who has found a way to live out where the real winds blow — to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whisky, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested...
    Res ipsa loquitur. Let the good times roll.
    • Gonzo Papers, Vol. 2: Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the '80s (1988)
  • It is all well and good for children and acid freaks to still believe in Santa Claus — but it is still a profoundly morbid day for us working professionals. It is unsettling to know that one out of every twenty people you meet on Xmas will be dead this time next year... Some people can accept this, and some can't. That is why God made whiskey, and also why Wild Turkey comes in $300 shaped canisters during most of the Christmas season."
    • "Fear and Loathing in Elko" Rolling Stone (1992-01-23)
  • There is a huge body of evidence to support the notion that me and the police were put on this earth to do extremely different things and never to mingle professionally with each other, except at official functions, when we all wear ties and drink heavily and whoop it up like the natural, good-humored wild boys that we know in our hearts that we are..These occasions are rare, but they happen — despite the forked tongue of fate that has put us forever on different paths...
    • "Fear and Loathing in Elko" Rolling Stone (1992-01-23)
  • Suddenly I was tired of Lotterman;He was a phony and he didn't even know it. He was forever yapping about freedom of the press and keeping the paper going, but if he'd had a million dollars and all the freedom in the world he'd still put out a worthless newspaper because he wasn't smart enough to put out a good one. He was just another noisy little punk in the great legion of punks who marched between the banners of bigger and better men. Freedom, Truth, Honour- you could rattle off a hundred such words and behind every one of them would gather a thousand punks, pompous little farts, waving the banner with one hand and reaching under the table with the other.
    I stood up. "Ed," I said using his name for the first time, "I believe I'll quit."
  • Like most of the others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that my instincts were right. I shared a vagrant optimism that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles - a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other - that kept me going.
  • The city's frightening now. That's the basis of my reaction to Las Vegas. It's not the city I wrote about. It's not the same place at all. You'll notice that even the - what do you call them? - milestone or trademark casinos are now gone.
    • "30 years after FALILV: Hunter S. Thompson on Las Vegas Today'" Las Vegas City Life (2002-06-07)
  • Fiction is based on reality unless you're a fairy-tale artist, you have to get your knowledge of life from somewhere. You have to know the material you're writing about before you alter it.
  • But speaking of rules, you've been arrested dozens of times in your life. Specific incidents aside, what's common to these run-ins? Where do you stand vis-à-vis the law?
    "Goddammit. Yeah, I have. First, there's a huge difference between being arrested and being guilty. Second, see, the law changes and I don't. How I stand vis-à-vis the law at any given moment depends on the law. The law can change from state to state, from nation to nation, from city to city. I guess I have to go by a higher law. How's that? Yeah, I consider myself a road man for the lords of karma."
  • There was no time for scholarly details, and, besides, I have always believed that a man can fairly be judged by the standards and taste of his choices in matters of high-level plagiarism.

Hell's Angels (1966)

  • The hard core, the outlaw elite, were the Hell's Angels... wearing the winged death's-head on the back of their sleeveless jackets and packing their "mamas" behind them on big "chopped hogs." They rode with a fine unwashed arrogance, secure in their reputation as the rottenest motorcycle gang in the whole history of Christendom.
  • A man who has blown all his options can't afford the luxury of changing his ways. He has to capitalize on whatever he has left, and he can't afford to admit — no matter how often he's reminded of it — that every day of his life takes him farther and farther down a blind alley... Very few toads in this world are Prince Charmings in disguise. Most are simply toads... and they are going to stay that way... Toads don't make laws or change any basic structures, but one or two rooty insights can work powerful changes in the way they get through life. A toad who believes he got a raw deal before he even knew who was dealing will usually be sympathetic to the mean, vindictive ignorance that colors the Hell's Angels' view of humanity. There is not much mental distance between a feeling of having been screwed and the ethic of total retaliation, or at least the random revenge that comes with outraging the public decency.
  • Satan's Slaves, number three in the outlaw hierarchy, custom-bike specialists with a taste for the flesh of young dogs, flashy headbands and tender young blondes with lobotomy eyes.
  • Tiny hurts people. When he loses his temper he goes completely out of control and his huge body becomes a lethal weapon. It is difficult to see what role he might play in the Great Society.
  • But with the throttle screwed on, there is only the barest margin, and no room at all for mistakes. It has to be done right... and that's when the strange music starts, when you stretch your luck so far that fear becomes exhilaration and vibrates along your arms. You can barely see at a hundred; the tears blow back so fast that they vaporize before they get to your ears. The only sounds are the wind and a dull roar floating back from the mufflers. You watch the white line and try to lean with it... howling through a turn to the right, then to the left, and down the long hill to Pacifica... letting off now, watching for cops, but only until the next dark stretch and another few seconds on the edge... The Edge... There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others- the living- are those who pushed their luck as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later. But the edge is still Out there. Or maybe it's In. The association of motorcycles with LSD is no accident of publicity. They are both a means to an end, to the place of definitions.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)


Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72 (1973)

  • If the current polls are reliable... Nixon will be re-elected by a huge majority of Americans who feel he is not only more honest and more trustworthy than George McGovern, but also more likely to end the war in Vietnam. The polls also indicate that Nixon will get a comfortable majority of the Youth Vote. And that he might carry all fifty states... This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it — that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable. The tragedy of all this is that George McGovern, for all his mistakes... understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon. McGovern made some stupid mistakes, but in context they seem almost frivolous compared to the things Richard Nixon does every day of his life, on purpose... Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?
    • "September," from FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL '72 (Warner Books, 1973), pp 413–414
  • It was eerie, you'd walk out of the press room, through the lobby out of the elevators, into the bar... There'd be a huge crowd in the lobby and only one person talking and you'd hear this voice saying, 'The mood at the McGovern headquarters... is extremely solemn and shocked... one of shock and depression... right now... Illinois has just fallen... California is gone, New York is gone...' They'd read this list of disasters and you knew their faces and what they were saying was on TV screens all over the country... It was like a televised funeral... I was feeling depressed... And John Holum came in. I could see that he'd been crying... and... he's not the kind of person you'd expect to see walking around in public with tears all over his face... That was the only time McGovern cracked. For about a minute he broke down and... and... and couldn't talk for a few minutes. Then he got himself together... He was actually the coolest person in the place from then on. Other people were cracking all around... Stunned, wall-eyed... there was nothing to say... just a helluva shock... you know...a fantastic beating... I remember, when Agnew came on, throwing something at the television set. It was a beer can... That was the last flight of the Dakota Queen and also last flight of the Zoo Plane. It was the trip back to Washington from Sioux Falls, which borders on one of the worst trips I've ever taken in my life... Jesus Christ... it was easily the worst scene of the campaign... There was something... total... something very undermining about the McGovern defeat... There was a very unexplained kind of... ominous quality to it... weeping chaos. People you'd never expect to break down... stumbled off the plane in tears... It was such a shock to me that although I'd gone back to Washington to analyze... I saw how ripped up people were... I decided to hell with this... So I just went right around to the main terminal and got on another plane and went back to Colorado.
    • "November," in Fear And Loathing On The Campaign Trail '72 (1973), pp 450-457
  • The kids are turned off from politics, they say. Most of 'em don't even want to hear about it. All they want to do these days is lie around on waterbeds and smoke that goddamn marrywanna... yeah, and just between you and me Fred thats probably all for the best
  • Even that far-left radical bastard George S. McGovern — babbling a maddening litany of his most Far Out ideas — would be hard pressed to crank up a more than 30% animosity quotient.
  • The importance of Liking Yourself is a notion that fell heavily out of favour during the coptic, anti-ego frenzy of the acid era — but nobody guessed back then that the experiment might churn up this kind of hangover; a whole subculture of frightened illiterates with no faith in anything.
  • A nervous blonde nymphet who thought that politics was some kind of game played by old people, like bridge.
  • Anything that gets the adrenalin moving like a 440 volt blast in a copper bathtub is good for the reflexes and keeps the veins free of cholesterol... but too many adrenaline rushes in any given time span has the same effect on the nervous system as too many electro-shock treatments are said to have on the brain: after a while you start burning out the circuits. When a jackrabbit gets addicted to road-running, its only a matter of time before he gets smashed — and when a journalist turns into a politics junkie he will sooner or later start raving and babbling in print about things that only a person who has Been There can possibly understand.
  • So much for Objective Journalism. Don't bother to look for it here — not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.
  • There is nothing so unusual, they tell me, about coming back to your car and finding the radio aerial torn off, the windshield wipers bent up in the air like spaghetti, and all the windows smashed... for no particular reason except to make sure you know just exactly where it's at these days. Where indeed?
  • The massive, frustrated energies of a mainly young, disillusioned electorate that has long since abandoned the idea that we all have a duty to vote. This is like being told you have a duty to buy a new car, but you have to choose immediately between a Ford and a Chevy.
  • We've come to a point where every four years this national fever rises up — this hunger for the Saviour, the White Knight, the Man on Horseback — and whoever wins becomes so immensely powerful, like Nixon is now, that when you vote for President today you're talking about giving a man dictatorial power for four years. I think it might be better to have the President sort of like the King of England — or the Queen — and have the real business of the presidency conducted by... a City Manager-type, a Prime Minister, somebody who's directly answerable to Congress, rather than a person who moves all his friends into the White House and does whatever he wants for four years. The whole framework of the presidency is getting out of hand. It's come to the point where you almost can't run unless you can cause people to salivate and whip each other with big sticks. You almost have to be a rock star to get the kind of fever you need to survive in American politics.
  • The ugly fallout from the American Dream has been coming down on us at a pretty consistent rate since Sitting Bull's time-and the only real difference now, with Election Day '72 only a few weeks away, is that we seem to be on the verge of ratifying the fallout and forgetting the Dream itself.
  • Ed: Rip up the streets?
    HST: With jackhammers.
    Ed: With jackhammers?
  • Jesus man! You don't look for acid! Acid finds you when *it* thinks you're ready.

Generation of Swine (1988)

  • The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.
    • Originally published in the San Francisco Examiner (4 November 1985), this is often quoted as concluding with the statement "There's also a negative side." Research by David Emery, in Your Guide to Urban Legends indicates that these words, however were not included by Thompson himself in the published version.
  • It's a strange world. Some people get rich and others eat shit and die.
  • It was Saturday night in America, and I felt like a native son.

The Curse of Lono (1983)

  • How many times had he stood calmly back there on the duckboards and listened to respectable-looking people talk about raping the hotel penguins?

The Rum Diary (1998)

  • At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles – a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other – that kept me going.
  • The scene I had just witnessed brought back a lot of memories – not of things I have done but of things I have failed to do, wasted hours and frustrated moments and opportunities forever lost because time had eaten so much of my life and I would never get it back.
  • I had come to regard him as a loner with no real past and a future so vague there was no sense talking about it.
  • Disgusting as he usually was , on rare occasions he showed flashes of stagnant intelligence. But his brain was so rotted with drink and dissolute living that whenever he put it to work it behaved like an old engine that had gone haywire from being dipped in lard.
  • What passed for society was a loud, giddy whirl of thieves and pretentious hustlers, a dull sideshow full of quacks and clowns and philistines with gimp mentalities.
  • By the time we got to the street, I could see the first rays of the sun, a cool pink glow in the eastern sky. The fact that I’d spent all night in a cell and a courtroom made that morning one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. There was a peace and brightness about it, a chilly Caribbean dawn after a night in a filthy jail. I looked out at the ships and the sea beyond them, and I felt crazy to ne free with a whole day ahead of me.

Then I realized I would sleep most of the day, and my excitement disappeared.

  • “I like this place” he said with a grin “I like to sit up here and look down at the beach and think of all the good things I could do with a Luger”

- Sala

  • If I had a Luger, I thought, I could drill the bastards. I leaned on one elbow and pointed a finger at the window, seeing what kind of shot I would get. Perfect. There was just enough light in the street for a good silhouette. I knew it would happen quickly, I’d have no choice: just pull the trigger and go deaf from the terrible noise, a frenzy of screaming and scratching followed by a ghastly thump of a body knocked back and down to the sidewalk.
  • It was the kind of town that made you feel like Humphrey Bogart: you came in on a bumpy little plan, and, for some mysterious reason, got a private room with a balcony overlooking the town and the harbor; then you sat there and drank until something happened. I felt a tremendous difference between me and everything real.
  • I sat there for a long time, and thought about a lot of things. Foremost among them was the suspicion that my strange and ungovernable instincts might do me in before I had a chance to get rich. No matter how much I wanted those things that I needed money to buy, there was some devilish current pushing me off in another direction- toward anarchy poverty and craziness. That maddening delusion that a man can lead a decent life without hiring himself out as a Judas goat.
  • The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong , but to those who see it coming and jump aside.
  • Sometimes at dusk, when you were trying to relax and not think of the general stagnation, the Garbage God would gather a handful of those chocked-off morning hopes and dangle them somewhere just out of reach; they would hand in the breeze and make a sound like delicate glass bells, reminding you of something you never quite got hold of, and never would.

Welcome to the Big Darkness (July, 2003)

  • When I went into the clinic last April 30, George Bush was about 50 points ahead of his closest Democratic opponent in next year's Presidential Election. When I finally escaped from the horrible place, less than three weeks late, Bush's job-approval ratings had been cut in half — and even down into single digits, in some states — and the Republican Party was panicked and on the run. It was a staggering reversal in a very short time, even shorter than it took for his equally crooked father to drop from 93 percent approval, down to as low as 43 percent and even 41 percent in the last doomed days of the first doomed Bush Administration. After that, he was Bill Clinton's punching bag.
  • Richard Nixon could tell us a lot about peaking too early. He was a master of it, because it beat him every time. He never learned and neither did Bush the Elder.
  • But wow! This goofy child president we have on our hands now. He is demonstrably a fool and a failure, and this is only the summer of '03. By the summer of 2004, he might not even be living in the White House. Gone, gone, like the snows of yesteryear.
  • The Rumsfeld-Cheney axis has self-destructed right in front of our eyes, along with the once-proud Perle-Wolfowitz bund that is turning to wax. They somehow managed to blow it all, like a gang of kids on a looting spree, between January and July, or even less. It is genuinely incredible. The U.S. Treasury is empty, we are losing that stupid, fraudulent chickencrap War in Iraq, and every country in the world except a handful of Corrupt Brits despises us. We are losers, and that is the one unforgiveable sin in America.

Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century (2004)

  • Morality is temporary, wisdom is permanent.
  • Paranoia is just another word for ignorance.
  • I shit on the chest of Fun.
  • Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of fuel. Sentimental people call it inspiration, but what they really mean is fuel. I have always needed fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.
  • I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.
  • The only difference between the Sane and the Insane, is IN and yet within this world, the Sane have the power to have the Insane locked up.
  • All political power comes from the barrel of either guns, pussy, or opium pipes, and people seem to like it that way.
  • We are like pygmies lost in a maze of haze. We are not at war, we are having a nervous breakdown,again.
  • I understand that fear is my friend, but not always. Never turn your back on fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed.
  • The only ones left with any confidence at all are the New Dumb. It is the beginning of the end of our world as we knew it. Doom is the operative ethic.
  • We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world, a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us. No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we'll kill you. Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having all this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid little rich kids like George Bush? They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks. They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us; they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis. And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck them.
  • Now, years later, I still have trouble when I think about Chicago ('68). That week at the Convention changed everything I'd ever taken for granted about this country and my place in it... Everytime I tried to tell somebody what happened in Chicago I began crying , and it took me years to understand why... Chicago was the End of the Sixties, for me.
  • It was wonderful, a stunning happy ending to what began as just another tragic rock & roll story, as if Bob Dylan had been arrested in Miami for jacking off in a seedy little XXX theater while stroking the spine of a fat young boy.
  • I was also drunk, crazy and heavily armed at all times. People trembled and cursed when I came into a public room and started screaming in German.

On politics and politicians

  • There is no way to grasp what a shallow, contemptible and hopelessly dishonest old hack Hubert Humphrey is until you've followed him around for a while.
  • We disagree so violently on almost everything that it's a real pleasure to drink with him. If nothing else, he's absolutely honest in his lunacy — and I've found, during my admittedly limited experience in political reporting, that power & honesty very rarely coincide.
    • About Pat Buchanan in a letter to Garry Wills (1973-10-17); published in Fear and Loathing in America (2000) :ISBN 0-686-87315-X)
  • 'Bill Clinton does not inhale marijuana, right? You bet. Like I chew on LSD but I don't swallow it.
  • There was one exact moment, in fact, when I knew for sure that Al Gore would never be President of the United States, no matter what the experts were saying — and that was when the whole Bush family suddenly appeared on TV and openly scoffed at the idea of Gore winning Florida. It was Nonsense, said the Candidate, Utter nonsense. . . Anybody who believed Bush had lost Florida was a Fool. The Media, all of them, were Liars & Dunces or treacherous whores trying to sabotage his victory. . . Here was the whole bloody Family laughing & hooting & sneering at the dumbness of the whole world on National TV. The old man was the real tip-off. The leer on his face was almost frightening. It was like looking into the eyes of a tall hyena with a living sheep in its mouth. The sheep's fate was sealed, and so was Al Gore's.
  • The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now — with somebody — and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.
  • It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy... We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. Who knows?
  • This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed — for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush. All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and that he, the goofy child-President, has been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it Now.
  • The last half of the 20th century will seem like a wild party for rich kids, compared to what's coming now. The party's over, folks. . . [Censorship of the news] is a given in wartime, along with massive campaigns of deliberately-planted "Dis-information". That is routine behavior in Wartime — for all countries and all combatants — and it makes life difficult for people who value real news.
  • This blizzard of mind-warping war propaganda out of Washington is building up steam. Monday is Anthrax, Tuesday is Bankruptcy, Friday is Child-Rape, Thursday is Bomb-scares, etc., etc., etc... If we believed all the brutal, frat-boy threats coming out of the White House, we would be dead before Sunday. It is pure and savage terrorism reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
    • "Domestic terrorism at the Super Bowl" (2002-02-11)
  • It ain't much, but it's the only weapon we have against the Greedheads.
    • On voting, in "My 49er Habit" (2002-11-4) published in Hey Rube
  • I had a soft spot in my heart for Ronald Reagan, if only because he was a sportswriter in his youth, and also because his wife gave the best head in Hollywood.
    • published in Hey Rube
  • We are turning into a nation of whimpering slaves to Fear — fear of war, fear of poverty, fear of random terrorism, fear of getting down-sized or fired because of the plunging economy, fear of getting evicted for bad debts, or suddenly getting locked up in a military detention camp on vague charges of being a Terrorist sympathizer.
  • It is hard to ignore the prima facie dumbness that got us bogged down in this nasty war in the first place. This is not going to be like Daddy's War, old sport. He actually won, and he still got run out of the White House nine months later.. . The whole thing sucks. It was wrong from the start, and it is getting wronger by the hour.
  • Three journalists have died in Baghdad... American troops are killing journalists in a profoundly foreign country, under cover of a war being fought for savage, greed-crazed reasons that most of them couldn't explain or even understand.
  • What the hell is going on here? How could this once-proud nation have changed so much, so drastically, in only a little more than two years. In what seems like the blink of an eye, this George Bush has brought us from a prosperous nation at peace to a broke nation at war.
  • But wow! This goofy child president we have on our hands now. He is demonstrably a fool and a failure, and this is only the summer of '03. The American nation is in the worst condition I can remember in my lifetime, and our prospects for the immediate future are even worse. . . The Bush family must be very proud of themselves today, but I am not. Big Darkness, soon come. Take my word for it.
  • The utter collapse of this Profoundly criminal Bush conspiracy will come none too soon for people like me... The massive plundering of the U.S. Treasury and all its resources has been almost on a scale that is criminally insane, and has literally destroyed the lives of millions of American people and American families. Exactly. You and me, sport — we are the ones who are going to suffer, and suffer massively. This is going to be just like the Book of Revelation said it was going to be — the end of the world as we knew it.
  • I had a truly horrible dream last night. . . [Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mike Tyson and I] were on our way to a TV studio for a debate about his long-time working friendship with the powerful Bush family from Texas and how it might affect the next Bush presidency when The Terminator seizes power in Sacramento and tries to hand over the state's 54 electoral votes by election day in 2004. That is the basic plan behind Schwarzenegger running. He doesn't want to be Governor, he just wants the electoral votes to go to Bush this time.
  • Why are we seeing George Bush on TV every two hours for nine or ten days at a time, like some kind of mutated Mr. Rogers clone? Something is dangerously wrong in any country where a monumentally-failed backwoods politician can scare our national TV networks so totally that they will give him anything he wants.
  • I have never had much faith in our embattled child President's decision-making powers... I know that is not what you want to hear/read at this time, especially if you happen to be serving in the doomsday mess that is currently the U.S. Army.
  • I take no pleasure in being Right in my dark predictions about the fate of our military intervention in the heart of the Muslim world. It is immensely depressing to me. Nobody likes to be betting against the Home team.
  • If we get chased out of Iraq with our tail between our legs, that will be the fifth consecutive Third-world country with no hint of a Navy or an Air Force to have whipped us in the past 40 years.
    • "Am I Turning Into a Pervert?" (2003-11-18)
  • This is no time for the "leader of the free world" to be falling asleep at massively-popular sporting events. . .Was [Bush] drunk? Does he fear the sight of an uncovered nipple? Was he lying? Does he believe in his heart that there are more evangelical Christians in this country than football fans and sex-crazed yoyos with unstable minds? Is he really as dumb as he looks and acts? These are all unsatisfactory questions at a time like this.
  • Is it possible that he has already abandoned all hope of getting re-elected? Or does he plan to cancel the Election altogether by declaring a national military emergency with terrorists closing in from all sides, leaving him with no choice but to launch a huge bomb immediately?. . . Desperate men do desperate things, and stupid men do stupid things. We are in for a desperately stupid summer.
    • "Bush's Disturbing Sleeping Disorder" (2004-02-18)
  • For myself, I would much prefer to be stuck with Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament, than stuck with George Bush in the White House. It is the difference between losing your wallet at a cock fight and losing all your credit cards forever, along with your job and your house and your ability to earn enough money to pay off your sports-gambling debts or even a six-pack on game day. . .
    • "What's Better Than the Tournament?' (2004-03-18)
  • The 2004 presidential election will be a matter of life or death for the whole nation. We are sick today, and we will be even sicker tomorrow if this wretched half-bright swine of a president gets re-elected in November.
    • "The Big Finale Was a Big Disappointment" (2004-04-06)
  • Not even the foulest atrocities of Adolf Hitler ever shocked me so badly as these Abu Ghraib photographs did.
    • "Let's Go to the Olympics!" (2004-05-18)
      • (Later edited to read "These horrifying digital snapshots of the American dream in action on foreign soil are worse than anything even I could have expected.") Drudge Report (2004-05-24)
  • These horrifying digital snapshots of the American dream in action on foreign soil are worse than anything even I could have expected. I have been in this business a long time and I have seen many staggering things, but this one is over the line. Now I am really ashamed to carry an American passport.
  • Bush is a natural-born loser with a filthy-rich daddy who pimped his son out to rich oil-mongers. He hates music, football and sex, in no particular order, and he is no fun at all.
  • Today, the Panzer-like Bush machine controls all three branches of our federal government, the first time that has happened since Calvin Coolidge was in the White House. And that makes it just about impossible to mount any kind of Congressional investigation of a firmly-entrenched president like George Bush. The time has come to get deeply into football. It is the only thing we have left that ain't fixed.

On Nixon

  • Richard Nixon has never been one of my favorite people anyway. For years I've regarded his existence as a monument to all the rancid genes and broken chromosomes that corrupt the possibilities of the American Dream; he was a foul caricature of himself, a man with no soul, no inner convictions, with the integrity of a hyena and the style of a poison toad. The Nixon I remembered was absolutely humorless; I couldn't imagine him laughing at anything except maybe a paraplegic who wanted to vote Democratic but couldn't quite reach the lever on the voting machine.
    • Pageant (July 1968)
  • What we are looking at on all our TV sets is a man who finally, after 24 years of frenzied effort, became the President of the United States with a personal salary of $200,000 a year and an unlimited expense account including a fleet of private helicopters, jetliners, armored cars, personal mansions and estates on both coasts and control over a budget beyond the wildest dream of King Midas . . . and all the dumb bastard can show us, after five years of total freedom to do anything he wants with all this power, is a shattered national economy, disastrous defeat in a war we could have ended four years ago on far better terms than he finally came around to, and a hand-picked personal staff put together through five years of screening, whose collective criminal record will blow the minds of high-school American History students for the next 100 years.
  • Jesus! How much more of this cheap-jack bullshit can we be expected to take from that stupid little gunsel? Who gives a fuck if he's lonely and depressed down there in San Clemente? If there were any such thing as true justice in this world, his rancid carcass would be somewhere down around Easter Island right now, in the belly of a hammerhead shark.
    • Reacting to a Washington Post article on Nixon's life after resignation. Rolling Stone #171 (1974-10-10)
  • He was a crook.
    • Title of essay on Richard Nixon, Source: Rolling Stone (June 1994) [1] [2]
  • Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism — which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place. He looked so good on paper that you could almost vote for him sight unseen. He seemed so all-American, so much like Horatio Alger, that he was able to slip through the cracks of Objective Journalism. You had to get Subjective to see Nixon clearly, and the shock of recognition was often painful.
  • He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time.
    • Rolling Stone (June 1994)
  • If the right people had been in charge of Nixon's funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning. Even his funeral was illegal. He was queer in the deepest way. His body should have been burned in a trash bin.
    • Rolling Stone (June 1994)
  • It is Nixon himself who represents that dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character that almost every country in the world has learned to fear and despise. Our Barbie-doll president, with his Barbie-doll wife and his boxful of Barbie-doll children is also America's answer to the monstrous Mr. Hyde. He speaks for the Werewolf in us.
    • Rolling Stone (June 1994)
  • Nixon will be remembered as a classic case of a smart man shitting in his own nest. But he also shit in our nests, and that was the crime that history will burn on his memory like a brand. By disgracing and degrading the Presidency of the United States, by fleeing the White House like a diseased cur, Richard Nixon broke the heart of the American Dream.
    • Rolling Stone (June 1994)


  • I went to the Democratic Convention as a journalist, and returned a cold-blooded revolutionary.(referring to the 1968 convention in Chicago]])
    • Literal quote appearing in the editors note of Fear and Loathing in America, by Douglas Brinkley (ISBN 0747553459, p.xvi)
    • An alternate quote is "I went to the Democratic Convention as a journalist, and returned a raving beast."[3]

“I unfortunately proved what I set out to prove, and it was more a political point than a local election, and I think the original reason was to prove it to myself, that the American Dream really is fucked.” after losing the local election for sheriff

Suicide note

  • Football seasons over. No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won't hurt.

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Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson (July 18, 1937February 20, 2005) was an American writer.

He was known for a unique style of writing which he called Gonzo Journalism, where the writer writes about himself trying to write about what was happening around him. He was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky and spent most of his adult life on his ranch in Colorado. His main topic was the health of the American Dream.


His books include:

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