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Saturday, February 26, 2005
COCKBURN TO WILLIAMS: 'OWA TANA SIAM'

I must admit to being a bit nonplussed. The greatest problem in responding to irrationality is that it is, in fact, irrational. Having received a 'response' to yesterday's blog, "The Snarking of Hunter," let's see if we can put it in some kind of reasonable context.

Alexander Cockburn, cc'ing a letter sent to my old AVA OREGON! editor, and his editor of twenty-some years, Bruce Anderson, says this:

"Bruce, I remember the Hart Williams piece you did print, and also remember marveling at the time at the fact that it contained whole paragraphs, between quote marks, purporting to be things I said but never did. He made up most of my speech, showing what an apt disciple of HST he is. You'll recall that we twisted the dials on the amplifier but continued to get feedback until we finally turned it off."
The first thing that strikes me is that the 'argument' here is a) non-factual, and b) a non-sequitur. Non-factual in the sense that I never once wrote a story about Cockburn in AVA OREGON! In fact, until yesterday's blog, I have never said anything about Cockburn in print or correspondence during my entire lifetime, period. If you doubt that, my entire AVA OREGON! writings are archived here (click on the archive link at the right) and you will rapidly see that NO SUCH PIECE ever existed -- even though Cockburn states that he remembers the piece and 'marveling' at things I 'made up' about him.

That says a lot about credibility and observation, right up front, but thatÂ’s for later. The argumentum non sequiturum herein is that by appealing to the 'authority' of Bruce Anderson, Cockburn 'proves' that my metaphor is 'false': Dear Bruce, of course "you remember" the event the way I did, and "We twiddled the dials" together a long time.

[It's also, for those keeping score, the classical fallacy of the 'appeal to authority,' by implying that Cockburn has authoritative witnesses.]

But this isn't true, any more than the non-existent article that Bruce Anderson never published used the equally non-existent fake quotes that Cockburn 'remembers' so well.

I haven't commented thus far on the implicit ad hominem that I am 'a disciple' of Hunter S. Thompson -- an assertion I explicitly rejected a week ago on this blog in an entirely different context. My contention that Thompson was, in fact, an important author (by virtue of the endless testimonials of columnists as to their becoming writers because of Thompson) is unmentioned and unrefuted.

Probably because he can't. The accusation that I "made up" things he said, is, again, patently absurd, because no such article was ever written.

If, in fact, my quotations were false, then I provided a link to the original article so that the readers can check for themselves whether I was 'fair and balanced.' Good luck.

I have returned to my AVA OREGON! articles, and searched in vain for any mention of "Cockburn." There are two references to "CounterPunch," one of which is flattering and one of which is simply generically factual. Neither allude to Cockburn in any way.

[I've been a writer long enough to realize that the memory plays tricks on all of us, even those of us who are constantly being accosted by old friends saying "Hart, HOW did you remember that? You must remember EVERYTHING!" So I checked.]

Let's look at the portion where my (accurate) metaphor is purportedly false: "We twisted the dials" is a gross exaggeration. At the Vet's Club event, Cockburn walked over, turned ONE dial, couldn't figure out what was right (I remember precisely, since I was about to bolt from my seat to assist -- I'd used the PA the week before, you'll recall, and spent five years here in Eugene doing "instant mixes" of open mikes, so I know a little something about dealing with feedback) and jettisoned the microphone before I could half-rise in my chair.

Now, if you had to base your judgment on whether I was being accurate, or Cockburn, I would only remind you that he begins his little snit by 'remembering' an article that never existed! And remembers taking offense at "made up" quotes from that non-existent article!

But what has been 'refuted' even were he speaking truth? That my metaphor is less than accurate? The point that he'd rather throw away a perfectly good system so that he can scream about what HE wants seems to be reinforced by this latest snit. Therefore: I fearlessly stand by my metaphor.

The second reaction I have to his little snit is to the underhanded and craven manner of its approach. To 'backdoor' it as a letter to a mutual editor would seem to imply that I should be blackballed from the 'fraternity,' a rather transparent attack on me professionally. When one considers that Anderson is beholden to Cockburn, both as a friend/contributor to Anderson's paper for 20+ years, AND as Anderson's SOLE publisher at present, the underhandedness of this approach becomes apparent.

(And, of course, the implication that I am 'unworthy' of the notice of the 'great' Alexander Cockburn. I am to be obliquely accused of falsifying quotes -- a serious charge to those of us who take our reporting seriously. There: that put me in my place.)

Add to that the imputation of professional malfeasance: "He made up most of my speech, showing what an apt disciple of HST he is." Which is, again, a non-sequitur. The implication is that, since I "made up" the non-existent quotes in the non-existent article, this 'PROVES' that I am a "disciple" of Hunter S. Thompson is a backhanded attempt at painting the late HST and myself as liars, carefully lumped together in his evident contempt.

But who is lying here?

If you're going to snark the dead, you ought to be able to live with the consequences. Certainly there is nothing fair or reputable in his rather smarmy 'defense' of his original snark.

I know it seems a little like killing a gnat with a shotgun, but Mr. Cockburn has revealed much about his methods and his reasoning in these few words.

Frankly, I had a higher opinion of him before I received this letter. I did believe that his writing was motivated almost entirely by a self-righteousness that bespoke far too much omniscience with far too little proof of it, but at least, thought I, he is fairly good at exposing miscreants. Seeing this, I can't really cede him much credibility in either observing or reasoning.

Cockburn seems to be living in a fantasy land where facts are distorted to meet emotional ends, and that is certainly not journalism. And, worse, that failing is, in large part, what Cockburn accuses Hunter S. Thompson of. Which is why, I suppose, that we are expected to share his derision not merely of Thompson, but of myself as well -- for daring to criticize Cockburn's petty, jealous and misguided snarking of the late HST.

I guess the coward can't take on living authors; only dead ones.

So few words yet so many lies. I rest my case.

Quod erat demonstrandum.
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Friday, February 25, 2005

NU-KYOO-LAR PO-LIF-ERA-SHUN

It's February again: that month that not one announcer in a hundred seems to be able to pronounce.

Feb BROO ary. Got it? Not Feb BYOO wary.

Every year at this time, I find myself constantly correcting these "professionals" who, fundamentally, suck words in through their eyes and expel them via their cake holes. (The dancing eyebrows are optional, and only if your munificent puss is on the boob tube.)

This, from a nation that chuckles at the Dyslexic-In-Chief's continual mispronunciation of "nuclear." You would think that intellectual honesty, vague curiosity or SOMETHING would shame this shameless claque into pronouncing things correctly, if only as a matter of pride in professional competence.

I propose therefore, that NO ONE ever be given a job as a public announcer of any sort unless they can pass this simple sentence test correctly (OK, OK: phrase. Geez!)

February's nuclear espresso temperature statistics.

Ever notice how often these words are mispronounced?

  • "February" we've covered.

  • "Nuclear" is pronounced NU-clee-ar. Not NOO-kyoo-lar.

  • "Espresso" is usually mispronounced as EX-presso.

  • "Temperature" generally ends up as "temp-a-chure."

  • "Statistics" ends up as "satistics." (That lady on NPR drives me up the WALL with her continual mispronunciation! She also likes to pronounce "industrial" as "industrul.")

(And please note that I didn't use either "anesthesia" or "anesthesiologist." I'm keeping the bar reasonably low here.)

There are a whole lot more. And, I suppose that I'm in the minority here. You go on mispronouncing whatever you want. But if you're gonna make your LIVING in a business that ONLY asks you to PRONOUNCE words correctly, there's no excuse for this kind of slipshod, intellectually bankrupt blithering.

And that's my February sermon for this year.

Now, go and sin no more.

'Nuff said.

.

Thursday, February 24, 2005
THE SNARKING OF HUNTER

I haven't offered a soporific or sophomoric eulogy to Hunter S. Thompson herein, and I don't intend to. Why do what every other hack in cyberspace is guaranteed to do as surely as Pavlov's dog will drool when the bell rings?

I have, however, followed the ongoing glut of remembrances, snarks, idolizations, paeans and pains that have erupted with the death of one of our pre-eminent authors -- yes, Virginia, he WAS pre-eminent. How do I know? Because so many, -- the good, the bad and the pug-ugly -- have endlessly described how they got into writing because of Thompson's writing: some from "Las Vegas" some from "Hell's Angels" but a surprising number from Hunter's masterwork, FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL 1972.

But the snarks have aerosol'ed their clueless graffiti on the cinderblock back wall of history. I suppose the most prominent of which would be Alexander Cockburn, who occupies the same ground politically, seemingly, that the creators of "South Park" occupy in humor: he is, increasingly, a professional contrarian.

Naturally, since everyone is lauding HST, Cockburn must snark HST, and snoot sniffily about how "trivial" HST's contribution was, and how pathetic his politics were (from his website counterpunch.com Feb 23.):

"Overall, Thompson's political perceptions weren't that interesting except for occasional bitter flashes ..."

And, Cockburn insists, Edward Abbey was a much better writer than Thompson (politically, of course, since Cockburn's raison d'etre is his own contrarian politics, defined almost exclusively by negation, it would seem):

"When it came to sex and stimulation of the synapses by agents other than drugs or booze or violent imagery Thompson was silent, unlike Abbey who loved women. Thompson wrote for the guys, at a pitch so frenzied, so over-the-top in its hyperbolic momentum that often enough it reminded me of the squeakier variant of the same style developed by his Herald-Trib stable mate and exponent of the "New Journalism", Tom Wolf. In their respective stylistic uniforms they always seemed hysterically frightened of normalcy, particularly in the shape of girls, so keenly appreciated by Abbey."


We leave aside the over-the-top hyperbolic prose of Cockburn as the pot lecturing the kettle and turn to the "meat" of this accusation:

In other words, because Hunter S. Thompson didn't focus on the soft mucosa, he is not worth reading. This offers a more intriguing pipeline into the brain of Alexander Cockburn than into the mind of HST, of course.

Since here's as good a place as any, I must confess that during the entire run of AVA OREGON! I was EXTREMELY uncomfortable about sharing a masthead and magazine with Mr. Cockburn. Here is what I wrote about Alexander Cockburn (in an unpublished piece that I never got 'round to finishing), if only to contrast his "social activism" with HST's, which the ASPEN TIMES wrote about in explicit terms that the discerning reader (i.e. me) had figured out from the asides already written about Hunter's hometown exploits in Aspen.

On Political Reform (unfinished piece 12-12-04)

Recently, I attended an event at the Veteran's Club in Eugene, featuring two nationally-known columnists. The Vet has an adequate public address system: I know this personally, having spoken to a packed house not a week earlier using the selfsame microphone and PA.

The first speaker was getting some feedback, but, rather than adjust the sound -- a minor twisting of, at most, two dials -- or his own volume, he, instead, turned off the microphone and lowered it to the floor. "I don't need it," quoth he, and proceeded to bellow his message: self-righteously holding both political parties in disdain, he solemnly intoned a plague on both houses.

It is an apt metaphor for the current state of politics, especially as it applies to the microcosm of Oregon. There are two ways of fixing a broken system: one can make the adjustments that repair perfectly viable mechanisms that have, until recently, served the needs of the people well. Or, as in the case of the speaker, derisively cast all aside and shout impotently. I prefer the former course of action ....
The speakers referred to were Alexander Cockburn and his partner and ofttimes amanuensis, Jeffrey Sinclair.

And the metaphor finishes with this: In his years in Aspen, the TIMES reveals, HST changed the political climate -- much for the better. A neighbor noted elsewhere that Hunter demanded that everyone play fair, play by the rules. Ironically, this piece came out on the same snarky day as Cockburn's snit:

Hunter S. Thompson's local legacy
An Aspen Times
Editorial
February 23, 2005

"While the rest of the world remembers those and other Thompsonisms, including his insatiable appetite for drugs and alcohol, we here in the Roaring Fork Valley have a little more to think about. For Hunter S. Thompson played a vital role in shaping this community and setting standards in government that are still in place today. [...] Hunter S. Thompson had a big hand in the way people in Aspen and Pitkin County view their community and their ability to affect it. It may well be his most important legacy, at least for those of us in the Roaring Fork Valley."
And that's the point. Whatever HST's hyperbolic writing may have inspired or not inspired, and whether he was "burned out" over the last 20 years of his life, he made a difference in his own hometown. In other words, he didn't toss the microphone arrogantly to the stage because he couldn't make it work right. He not only used the microphone, but improved it right in his own backyard.

So, if Cockburn wants to continue snarking, more power to him.

Fundamentally, that's what he does, and it is his only means of making a living, so it would seem cruel to suggest depriving him of his solitary skill and means of livelihood. Nothing is ever good enough for old Alex, and that's fine. But I doubt that you could point to a single writer he's inspired to enter this profession. And I seriously doubt that you would find that the residents of his hometown think that his presence has profoundly impacted the quality of their lives.

So, chalk some of his snitfulness up to sour grapes. But ...

It is not in talking the talk, but in walking the walk, and one of the writers profiled herein has done that. So perhaps you ought not to merely take HST at his word (fun though those words are) but look for a moment at what he actually did, aside from the PEOPLE magazine gossipy dross and hoo-haw that jettisons substance for grotesquerie.

And don't toss the microphone on the ground just because you can't figure out how to use it. You might see if there's anyone in the audience who can help you. Because EVERYONE benefits that way. And at home, HST was an exceptional local citizen, whether his politics were or "weren't that interesting" in a "South Park" sort of way.

So, you can pick your poison. I'll ignore the purple prose of both HST and Cockburn and look at what they did before actually deciding. Cheers.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2005
A RETROACTIVE PROMOTION

Silly me. I didn't appreciate the retroactive promotion that the WEEKLY gave me when they decided to appoint me the "former chief of the Lane County Democrats," in the February 17 issue. (see earlier blog entry).

I looked it up in the archives, and sure enough, it had appeared, as if by a temporal anomaly created by a passing time traveler.

I'd like to thank the traveler for his contribution, and wish him well in his future dealings with the Morlocks.


Zowie.
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Tuesday, February 22, 2005
THE CROSS-EYED BEAR: PARANOIA & HEMINGWAY

Well, it's nice to know that a FEW people have gotten it since I first wrote about it almost 20 years ago in THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. Huh? What?

The old canard that Hemingway committed suicide because he was "paranoid." It's been resurrected because of the death of Hunter S. Thompson, also via gunshot.

A couple of websites actually note what I'm about to tell you. Most don't. Most repeat what I'm about to poke fun at, chastise, eviscerate, take your pick:

Writing in the WASHINGTON POST, writer Henry Allen states in his article "Prose laureate of the Age of Paranoia -- Thompson was stalked by doom but his writing was beacon of truth" (2/21) :

"Or he was playing out the last moves of the Hemingway game -- the paranoid, shock-treated Hemingway who ended up with his doctor one day, crying because he said that he couldn't write anymore, he just couldn't write. "

Another victim of Hotchner. "Hotch," as he was/is known, wrote what only he could, as a confidante of Ernest Hemingway and his last wife, Mary, in Hemingway's final days. Unfortunately, because of that 1950's mentality, and the ubiquity of Hotchner's book, PAPA, a million writers and Hemingway fans formed the unfortunate opinion that Hemingway was a) paranoid and b) pathetic.

[Hotchner is one of those unfortunate sorts of fellows who befriend the famous and become their bosom buddies. He was last seen brewing up salad dressings with Paul Newman for "Newman's Own" which you can buy at your local supermarket. Look for the one with the acknowledgement to Hotch on it. ]

According to PAPA, Hemingway was becoming increasingly "paranoid." He and Mary were worried about him, but when confronted, Hemingway patiently explained that he was being followed by the FBI. Why? Because the American volunteers he'd known in the Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War had often been Communists, and because he'd never been shy about stating that anybody would be better than Batista in Cuba, EVEN Castro. And so, Hemingway explained, the FBI was following him.

Once, in a Ketchum bar, he walked over to two unobtrusive fellows and bought them a drink. They nervously left.

Mary and Hotch agreed: Hemingway was old and sick, and obviously paranoid. The US Government wouldn't spy on the most famous living American writer! Ridiculous.

So they packed Hemingway off to the Mayo Clinic, where the best doctors in the world instantly confirmed Hemingway's "paranoia" (for the same reasons) and proceeded to burn out the priceless brain of the Nobel Laureate in Literature with electro-shock treatment.

Unfortunately, in 1987, under a Freedom of Information Act request, it was revealed that Hemingway WAS, in fact, under surveillance, for the very reasons stated.

Don't believe me? It's right there on the FBI website: http://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex/ernesthemingway.htm

Go read it for yourself. There's about 10 megs in 3 .pdf files, and about 100 pages of Xeroxed stuff of widely varying quality, and a LOT of blacked out passages. It's an astonishing amalgam of idiocy, gossip, slander and trash. Including a letter from (NOTE: [CENSORED] means blacked out.)

[CENSORED] Edgar [CENSORED] to Mary Hemingway in 1964. (Admitting not at all any FBI complicity, by the by. Acting the innocent defender of liberty. Jesus we were fucking naive in those days weren't we?).

WHO THE FUCK DID THE FBI think we'd think the letter was from. G. Edgar Hammerstein? T. Edgar Bokelian? Z. Edgar Fuckenwitt? Good God.

Here's an excerpt from page 15, of Part III:

"He is seriously ill, both physically and mentally, and at one time the doctors were considering giving him electro-shock therapy treatments. [CENSORED] Mayo Clinic, advised to eliminate contacts and newsmen, the Clinic had suggested that Mr. HEMINGWAY register under the alias GEORGE SEVIER. [CENSORED] stated that Mr. HEMINGWAY is now worried about his registering under an assumed name, and is concerned about an FBI investigation. [CENSORED] stated that inasmuch as this worry was interfering with his treatments of Mr. HEMINGWAY, he desired authorization to tell HEMINGWAY that the FBI was not concerned with his registering under an assumed name [CENSORED] was advised that there was no objection."

(Like we couldn't figure out that it was Hemingway's friggin' DOCTOR! ) There's a SHITLOAD more.

The point being that, if you are diagnosed as "paranoid" because you state that you are under surveillance by the FBI and you ARE under surveillance by the FBI, does that mean that you ought to have your BRAIN burned out?

Because that's what they did.

And to this day, assholes like Henry Allen (it's a real snark on Thompson, that article) "knowingly" misdiagnose Hemingway based on Mary Hemingway and Hotchner's astonishing act of disloyalty.

Think about it: the TOP shamans in the world of 1959 decided to FRY the living brains of the world's greatest writer ... Because he was right that Hoover's minions were tailing him.

Given what they did to Hemingway, what chance do YOU have, bucko?

I've tried to get anyone interested in this little piece of historical detective work ever since I happened to re-read Hotchner's book in the SAME week in 1987 that the FBI declassified the Hemingway files.

But still the canard remains. The opinion formed with insufficient facts continues to hang on like a bad case of athlete's foot, and no amount of Lamasil can seem to eradicate it.

Yeah, Hemingway was sick. And, no one mentions that EVERYTHING he'd acquired in his life was locked away from him in Cuba, in the Finca Vigia, which Eisenhower wouldn't let him return to, although Castro was happy to accept the old man of the Sea, and has done his level best to preserve the Finca these many years.

[NOTE: Right now, eaten by termites, and walls covered in mold, it needs $2 million in repairs, which US donors have easily raised, BUT the Bush Administration won't allow it. Might prop up that Castro regime by increasing tourism. So Hemingway's life will continue to rot, thanks to our buddies, the US Government. Do you think he'll ever do enough penance? I mean, he's dead almost 45 years now.]

He'd been in a plane crash in Africa the previous year. Yeah, he was sick. But PARANOID? I don't think so. "Paranoid" means, according to my American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Ed, 2000:
1. Relating to, characteristic of, or affected with paranoia. 2. Exhibiting or
characterized by extreme and irrational fear or distrust of others: a paranoid
suspicion that the phone might be bugged.

Get that? IRRATIONAL fear or distrust. It it's RATIONAL, it ain't paranoia, kiddies. And I am very tired of hearing about "paranoid" Hemingway, when he was right, and WE burned out his fucking BRAINS, folks!! GOT THAT? He was rational and not paranoid, but THEY were idiots, so they applied electrical SHOCKS to his brain. Barbarism. But the canard survives to this day, and it's time to lay it to rest, once and for all.

I have always believed that Hemingway took his life, rather than be turned into a vegetable by his "friends." What would you do? Quit slandering him, and look at the fact that we are most assuredly NOT as enlightened as we'd like to believe. Today's Hemingway may well be being betrayed in a similar manner by his loved and trusted associates as I type this.

OK?

NOT paranoid = Hemingway.

NOT educated or authoritative = Henry Allen.

Got it? Good. Now ...

Requiescat in Pace Ernest. Ditto Hunter.

And fuck you Henry Allen: Before you shoot off your big mouth next time, take the fucking time to get your goddamn facts straight.

Expect a lot more of this brain-dead crap in the daze to come. (sic)

Somebody's got to take a minute to fact-check history. Since nobody else is doing it, I guess I ought to. And that's the cross I'd bear.

Er, the Cross-Eyed Bear.

.

NO ZEN ZAYU MOOR

Meantime, back at the real world, the major media have basically aped the same three bits of information over and over again. I checked CNN and MSNBC last night, but HST's death was far enough under the radar that I signed off on both after the first nauseating set of commercials; no mention on the teasers.

The three bits? 1. HST committed suicide with a gun. 2. HST was 67 years old. 3. HST was the popularizer of a form of journalism that asdfdlkj aopi m,umblemumnble.

Sic. (They truly have no idea.)

Instead, sober-faced and clueless, the "major news media" reported without the slightest hint of irony that Dubya was chiding Russian President Vladimir Putin for "backsliding on democracy."

Somewhere in heaven, Hunter S. Thompson is laughing so hard that his wings are molting.

So, I went to his website, www.gonzo.org and was greeted by a "dead" page, with a statement from his widow and stripped of links (well, there are some to news stories).

Since I realized that they hadn't had time to take down the site, I poked around a little backstage and found the original web-page masked behind the linkless grief page.

You can find it at: http://www.gonzo.org/hst/index.html

I guess I hadn't realized how hard I was taking this: not because HST's immortal soul is this that or the other, but for the simple, selfish fact that I want him BACK, goddamit!

Just reread his 1964 piece from THE NATIONAL OBSERVER on tracking Hemingway's ghost in Ketchum. Eerie stuff. It was in the HST collection that Simon & Schuster sent reviewers when HST's HEY RUBE collection was released last summer: three paperbacks, including THE GREAT SHARK HUNT and two others that are upstairs and whose titles I can't quote accurately without running up to check them.

Tough luck. I don't love you that much.

Jayne and I were talking about it last night: I have always admired HST's work, have always felt that ONLY HST should be allowed to write gonzo, and have NEVER embraced anything remotely resembling that style. I'm a throwback, an atavistic return to modernism, to logical positivism, to knowable truths and third-person journalism.

I've been trying to figure out how to tell the story of the corrupt back-room politics of the Democratic Party of Oregon, but I can't figure out how to separate myself from the narrative, and I suppose I wouldn't have ANY problem with it, were I a "New Journalist." But I ain't.

HST was sui generis, but a generation of hacks will have to churn out reams of hideous auctorial horror to prove the veracity of the proposition. Heck, they've already got a great head start.

I originally reviewed "THE GREAT SHARK HUNT" in HUSTLER magazine in 1980. When and if I can find the review, I'll post it here. I have no idea what I said, but I'm sure that it was brilliant and prescient.

Yeah. Right. Sure.
Monday, February 21, 2005
THE PAPER OF RECORD V. THE REST OF THE WORLD

OK. While I'm downloading the coverage on HST's death (and don't kid yourselves, there's DAMN little reporting left. The AP or REUTERS story is in paper after paper, over and over again, in the echo machine that the mainstream press has become), I ran across the NEW YORK SLIMES (sic) obit, claiming that HST was 65 ("July 18, 1939") writes Michelle O'Donnell in that snooty NYT style of newsier-than-thou.

"Hunter S. Thompson, 65, Author, Commits Suicide
By MICHELLE O'DONNELL
Published: February 21, 2005

"Hunter S. Thompson, the maverick journalist and author whose savage chronicling of the underbelly of American life and politics embodied a new kind of nonfiction writing he called "gonzo journalism," died yesterday in Colorado. Tricia Louthis, of the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office, said Mr. Thompson had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Woody Creek, Colo., yesterday afternoon. He was 65."

She also writes: "Mr. Thompson influenced a generation of writers who saw in his pioneering first-person, at times over-the-top writing style."

Unfotunately for Ms. O'Donnell's generation of writers, HST also wrote sentences that parsed.

"... who saw in his pioneering first-person, at times over-the-top writing style."

Saw ... what? Isn't there supposed to be an object to refer that phrase?

Anyway, the insult of writing ungrammatically about the passing of a great writer was undoubtedly inadvertent, the result not of malice, but of incompetence.

This is what every OTHER paper in the universe is saying:

NYT: "Hunter Stockton Thompson was born in Louisville, Ky, on July 18, 1939, the son of an insurance agent." (= 65)

REUTERS: "He was 67."

AP*: "He was 67."

[* Catherin Tsai writing from Denver, which will be reporter behind the "AP" tag seen in thousands of US newspapers and other world news outlets in days to come]

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE (which HST wrote for) : "Thompson was 67."

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: "`Gonzo' writer Thompson kills self at 67"

SEATTLE POST INTELLIGENCER: "Hunter Stockton Thompson was born in Louisville, Ky., on July 18, 1937, the son of an insurance agent."

THE DENVER POST (considered "local news") : "He was 67, family members said. " and "Born: July 18, 1937, in Louisville, Ky."

THE FINANCIAL TIMES OF LONDON: "He was 67."

BBC NEWS: "Thompson's son, Juan, found his body. He said the 67-year-old shot himself."

THE NEW YORK POST: "Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, a close friend of Thompson, 67, confirmed the death to the Aspen Daily News. "

(although, they erroniously report "Thompson was born in 1939 in Kentucky and started his career in journalism as a sportswriter at Eglin Air Force Base, where he served in the late 1950s." This is mathematically corrupt, and probably cribbed from the NY TIMES)

Al-JAZEERA: "He was 67."

So, jeepers, which "professional" journalism claque is right?

Those sooper dooper New York Times assholes, or the rest of the world's news media? Hmm.

65 or 67? Inquiring minds want to know.

Feh.
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A REALLY SHITTY DAY

Hunter S. Thompson is reportedly dead.

What a horrible day! First Gidget (Sandra Dee) and now Doctor Gonzo.

Shit. Let's hope that it's another HST goof. Read the piece from Reuters. Based on the internal evidence, faking his own death isn't something that I'd put beyond the good Doctor. I sure as hell hope so.

HST captured my feelings about writing perfectly in one of his essays on "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas" :

"I've always considered writing the most hateful kind of work. I suspect it's a bit like fucking, which is only fun for amateurs. Old whores don't do much giggling." (Hunter S. Thompson, on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)

What a screwed up world, where Bush & Cheney thrive, but Hunter S. Thompson and Sandra Dee expire.

Shit. .

Well, I'm not doing much giggling.

********

'Gonzo' Godfather Hunter S. Thompson Kills HimselfMon Feb 21, 2005 04:47 AM ET By Kevin Krolicki

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hunter S. Thompson, a renegade journalist whose "gonzo" style threw out any pretense at objectivity and established the hard-living writer as a counter-culture icon, fatally shot himself at his Colorado home on Sunday night, police said. He was 67.

Thompson's son, Juan, released a statement saying he had found his father dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head at the writer's Owl Creek farm near Aspen.

Thompson, famed for such adrenaline-packed narratives as "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," turned his drug and alcohol-fueled clashes with authority into a central theme of his work, challenging the quieter norms of established journalism in the process.

He also cultivated an aura of recklessness, starting with the blurb on his book "Hell's Angels," in which he called himself "an avid reader, a relentless drinker and a fine hand with a .44 Magnum."

A longtime gun enthusiast, Thompson had a shooting range on his property.

"Hunter prized his privacy and we ask that his friends and admirers respect that privacy as well as that of his family," said the statement released on behalf of Juan and Thompson's wife, Anita.
By his heyday in the 1970s, Thompson had distilled his style of invective-laced, outlaw journalism into a slogan: "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," adapted from a two-part article written for Rolling Stone magazine in late 1971, chronicled Thompson's drug-fueled misadventures in Las Vegas while ostensibly covering a motorcycle race in the desert.

'WRITER OF SIGNIFICANCE'

The book established Hunter as a cult celebrity and became the basis for a 1998 Hollywood adaptation, starring Johnny Depp as Thompson's alter-ego, Raoul Duke.

Thompson's refracted coverage of the Super Bowl and the 1972 presidential race also inspired the 1980 movie "Where the Buffalo Roam," with Bill Murray as the self-proclaimed doctor of gonzo journalism.

He was also caricatured as "Uncle Duke" in the comic strip Doonesbury, right down to his signature aviator glasses and cigarette holder.

Although Thompson's later work got mixed reviews, critics credited him with pioneering a style of invective-laced and hyperbolic political commentary that was uniquely American.

A 1994 essay in Rolling Stone written as an obituary for former President Richard Nixon was typical. At a time when many commentators offered a more generous re-assessment of Nixon's legacy, Thompson called him "a liar, a quitter and a bastard. A cheap crook and a merciless war criminal."

"I think Thompson has remained a writer of significance, because, essentially a satirist, he has displayed an utter contempt for power -- political power, financial power, even showbiz juice," novelist Paul Theroux wrote in 2003.

Raised in a middle-class family in Louisville, Kentucky, Thompson's father died when he was 14, and by 18 he had been jailed for his part in a robbery.

After a stint in the Air Force working as a sports editor, he became a foreign correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune in Puerto Rico.

In 1965, Thompson broke through with an article about the Hell's Angels that he turned into a critically hailed book.

It was his association with Rolling Stone that turned both into literary icons -- even though Thompson initially considered the upstart San Francisco-based magazine "a bunch of faggots and hippies."

(Additional reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver)

And a very different take from Al-Jazeera:

Author Hunter Thompson found dead
Monday 21 February 2005 8:25 AM GMT

Hunter Thompson, the leading American journalist and author, has has died at his Colorado home, in what police say could have been a suicide. He was 67.

Thompson was found shot dead at his home outside the ski resort of Aspen on Sunday night, police said.

"We do have confirmation that Hunter Thompson was found dead this evening of an apparent self-inflicted wound," said Tricia Louthis, spokeswoman for the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office.

Thompson's son, Juan, released a family statement to the Aspen Daily News saying: "Hunter prized his privacy and we ask that his friends and admirers respect that privacy as well as that of his family."

His 1971 book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, adapted from an article written for Rolling Stone magazine, chronicled Thompson's drug-hazed misadventures in Las Vegas while covering a motorcycle race.The book established Hunter as a cult celebrity and became the basis for a 1998 Hollywood adaptation, starring Johnny Depp as Thompson's alter-ego, Raoul Duke.Gonzo journalismThompson made his drug and alcohol-fuelled antics and clashes with the authorities the central theme of his work, challenging the conventions of traditional journalism and creating a larger-than-life outlaw persona for himself along the way.

He dubbed his style of writing "gonzo" journalism and was commonly known as the godfather of that brand of journalism.

He was famous for distrusting power all his life and he believed George Bush's administration had "manufactured" the Iraqi threat for its own political gain as well as the economic gain of what he called the "oligarchy", website salon.com said.He also criticised the American people for not exercising their right to vote, the website said.

"The oligarchy doesn't need an educated public. And maybe the nation does prefer tyranny," he was quoted as saying. "I think that's what worries me."Nationwide nervous breakdownHe was quoted as saying 9/11 had caused a "nationwide nervous breakdown" and "let the Bush crowd loot the country and savage American democracy", according to an interview published by salon.com in February 2003.Thompson, who regarded himself as a patriot, said civil liberties had been compromised for what he called "the illusion of security".

That, he said was "a disaster of unthinkable proportions" and "part of the downward spiral of dumbness" he believed was plaguing the country.
[sidebar]"The oligarchy doesn't need an educated public. And
maybe the [American] nation does prefer tyranny"
- Hunter Thompson
**********

You can find this article at:

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/67D36E3F-9D1E-4E17-8938-5624B812897C.htm

Like I said: I hope it's a great HST hoax. Because right now, of all the American writers we've got, we really NEED him the most.

In a completely unrelated (or IS it?) story, George Dubya and Laura the Librarian are currently, conveniently in Europe -- conveniently, that is, if they needed, for instance, an alibi.
Here's another Thompson quote:
"We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world - bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are whores for power and oil with hate and fear in our hearts." (Hunter S. Thompson, on America)
.
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