Bombs (sic) Bursting in Air

Hunter S. Thompson's farewell a great, sordid letdown

News reports relayed to me from various friends seem to run in an identical Party Line that read like this AP item: "With a deafening boom, the ashes of Hunter S. Thompson were blown into the sky amid fireworks late Saturday, as relatives and a star-studded crowd bid an irreverent farewell to the founder of 'gonzo journalism.' " My wife read me this and I asked her, for reasons of my own, if they had capitalized the J in journalism. Her answer: "Neither the G nor the J." See what I mean? If you're saying yes, yeah you fuckin' right! If it's no, well, think about it; it'll come to you. I hope.

I'm sorry to be redundant, but I take no, that's NO, joy in giving you this news: Two weeks ago I was on the Alabama Gulf Coast with my four- and three-year-old grandsons, and I shot off $15 worth of Black Cat bottle rockets that was a better show. They say Johnny Depp, bless his heart, coughed up most of the reported $2.5 million "the event" cost. He got screwed. By my best calculations, I figure "they" spent $2.499 million on the booze for the party, and the Zambellis had to make do with the leftover.

As I stood out there on 82 for an hour waiting for a finale that had already happened, I thought of two young guys I had met at the Woody Creek Tavern, who had driven from north Washington State for "the event": Chad, a toned athletic Park Service Ranger candidate, and his charmingly dissolute cousin Sean. Sean, on a dare, had eaten all the psychedelic mushrooms they had with them as Chad drove through Utah. "Except for digging a few cloud formations," Sean said, "all I did was sweat and worry about Mormons." The last time I saw him before zero hour, Sean was steady drinking rough alcohol and chasing it with reefer. And I couldn't help but believe that Sean and his kin were the ones putting the grin on Hunter's face. And I couldn't help but think that "the event" would have made him bull goose loony.

Owl Farm, Woody Creek, Colorado: August 20, 2005
photo: Aaron J. Crabb
Owl Farm, Woody Creek, Colorado: August 20, 2005

To close on a personal note, Hunter: This is the shittiest place I have ever been in my miserable fucking life, and that includes the DMZ and Port-au-Prince in 1994. So long, pal. Stay on the Sunnyside.

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