When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

From this article at villagevoice.com: Gonzo Salutes Hunter S. Thompson’s Substance

“In a nation of frightened dullards, there is always a sorry shortage of outlaws, and those few who make the grade are always welcome.” So wrote Hunter S. Thompson of the Hells Angels after riding with California’s motor-psycho Mongol hordes in the mid-1960s, a feat of embedded journalism that left him mauled, marked, and famous. But the sentence’s true subject—as with so much of what Thompson wrote in the years after his nervy, electric Angels book—is its author.

Alex Gibney’s Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson makes the familiar case that Thompson’s notoriety eventually capsized his career, well before his long-foretold suicide in 2005. Over a quick scan of Thompson’s personal effects (whiskey bottles; a note that cautions: “Never call 911!”), unseen jurors hand down the verdict: “He’d lost that gonzo edge . . . ” But while the evidence of his spotty post-1970s work is hard to refute, Gonzo proves what a vapid, overvalued commodity edginess is, championing Thompson’s best work for brass-tacks insight more than brass-balled outrage.

“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.” Like the rest of the movie’s narration, the words are Thompson’s, read by Johnny Depp in the voice he mastered for Terry Gilliam’s movie version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: a clenched murmur through grinding teeth. Thompson’s authorial voice had a hardboiled Beat-poet sprawl—Howl by way of Hemingway—which became more pronounced over the years, especially once (like the drugs outside of Barstow) the concept of “gonzo” began to take hold.

Read the rest of the article here.

I would also like to say that I’m glad this film is happening. I’ve always appreciated that there was a lot more to Thompson than his crazy-shithead persona. Especially as he approached the last years of his life, he seemed to have a kind of a wizardly perspective. Inflamed but not agitated. Anyway, yes. It’ll be nice to know that there will be a film out there that depicts him as a thoughtful, sensible, visionary man.


About R. Spacely

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