“The voters are fed up with this orgy of dumbness and punishment. The electorate will demand a degenerate in the White House.” -Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter wrote that line back in 1987, long before The Donald slithered into the oval office, and even before Monica Lewinsky graduated from high school. He wrote extensively on the epidemic of evangelical debauchery that consumed the Bakkers and Jimmy Swaggert.
But who would’ve guessed back then, when Ronald Reagan was the gold standard of decency, that the Bible Belt voters would turn out in droves to elect a three-time two-timer pussy-grabbing reality TV star and real estate tycoon to the White House? In what PCP-infused nightmare would pious Americans equate Boss Tweet with Jesus Christ, the Savior?
In Warren Hinckle’s five hundred page homage, Who Killed Hunter S. Thompson?, no one actually answers the riddle of his death, and Thompson himself left no clues as to why he blew his brains out back on a cold February day in 2005. Armies of scribes, myself included, have speculated endlessly on his mental and physical state, but no one can say for sure.
As a world traveler, Hunter spent many a night in swank hotel rooms where he would seek inspiration from the Gideon Bible, and his favorite passages came from The Book of Revelations. Being accustomed to hellish visions and political intrigue, he could relate to its metaphorical meanderings and the threat of divine retribution for those who stood in the way of the Great Cleansing to come.
And Revelations is nothing if not a response to the monstrous reign of Nero and his persecution of the early Christians in first century Rome. Revenge is sweet, and the author of Revelations was counting on future generations to carry out His judgement on the deviants and unbelievers of some depraved future scenario.
So it has come to pass. In the short span of forty years, the evangelical community has ditched political purity for expediency. The man who wallowed in excess at every level and even said in public that he could murder a person on camera and still get elected proved that morality is in the eye of the beholder.
They cheered wildly when Trump the Redeemer threw them the Jerusalem bone, befuddling our Arab allies and setting the stage for the ultimate Hollywood blockbuster: Armageddon Now! Many fell to the ground, spinning around like Curly Howard and babbling in tongues when the Great Leader started lopping off heads of the multi-cultural beast known as the UN.
And if the definition some have ascribed to “gonzo” journalism is the act of inserting one’s self into the story and sometimes substituting allegory for actual facts, The Donald has truly morphed into the Gonzo Presidency. In his eyes, the world revolves around him, and his followers dote on every cryptic tweet. He attacks his adversaries head on, with little concern for decorum, decency or diplomacy.
So maybe Hunter experienced some kind of acid flashback in his final days, one that sent him careening through the wall of time into the future. Maybe he saw What Was To Come and couldn’t process it. The man who savaged Nixon may have seen the final fate of The American Dream he chased for most of his life, and couldn’t deal with the horror of it all.
“The Apocalypse finds men mad, or leaves them so.” – John Calvin
I must admit that I find no “riddle” to Mr. Thompson’s death. How else could the life of someone so defined by irreverence itself end but to be one of the million or so humans who take the lemming leap at the rate of one ever forty seconds? As he himself said, “The edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”
I’m hesitant to even offer an opinion on the subject because, along with never having been a big fan of his work, as he also so concisely explained, “A word to the wise is infuriating.”