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July 29, 2007

The Gonzo Way book signings

Anita Thompson will be having a book signing for The Gonzo Way, at the Tattered Cover bookstore in Historic Lower Downtown Denver this Wednesday, August 1st at 7:30PM.

Additional scheduled Tour Dates (subject to change, more dates to follow):

  • Monday, Aug 6th, 7PM at The Booksmith in San Francisco, CA
  • Tuesday, Aug 7th, 7PM at Cody’s Books in Berkley, CA
  • Thursday, Aug 9th, 7PM at Book Soup in West Hollywood, CA
  • Sunday, September 13th (rescheduled from Aug 16th), 7PM at Olsson’s in Washington, DC

-Peter B

July 18, 2007

Sweet 70

 Happy Birthday Hunter.
Hunter is 70 this morning. It’s a big round number that I wish my spirits were high enough to celebrate properly. People say that time heals, which is true I guess. But on days like today, it is clear that no amount of time in the Universe will ever fill this void. 
The Woody Creek Valley was covered with dark menacing clouds yesterday — cracking thunder, pouring rain in the mid afternoon that lasted most of the night. My German Shepherd Athena, was trembling from every rumble.  Yes rain is necessary, but with Hunter’s birthday coming up, all we wanted was the sun.
Why am I being so grim? You’re right. It’s time to lighten up.  So early this morning, as I always do when I get this way, I reached for some HST words. And behold, the skies are blue again – in the real sense of the word BLUE. So I’m happy to report that by the time I finished reading from Campaign Trail, and reading the first email of the day from my beloved Ralph, the sun did indeed come out. The lawn is drying, and the sopping delphiniums are coming back to life. Even the birds are singing again. Athena has been in and out of the dog door all morning with tail wagging and a huge smile on her face. Hot damn.
I chose this passage from Campaign Trail because I had been dipping into it to celebrate George McGovern’s birthday in Washington last weekend. You may have read the Hill report and various blogs that I was  “no show” for McGovern’s B-day. Not true. I escaped my darling captors and got directions from the senator and made his birthday lunch the following day — which turned out to be a proper and lovely celebration. Gary Hart, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, and many others spoke. It was very moving, and it made me remember how important truth is in journalism. Seeing Hunter’s ’72 campaign colleagues together in the same room again was a sight to see.  And I’m very happy to celebrate the birthdays of two great men this week. Hunter’s body isn’t here today, but here are some of his words about journalism and his essence:
Objective journalism is a hard thing to come by these days. We all yearn for it, but who can point the way?  The only man who comes to mind, right offhand, is my good friend and colleague on the Sports Desk, Raoul Duke.  Most journalists only talk about objectivity, but Dr. Duke grabs it straight by the fucking throat.  You will be hard pressed to find any argument, among professionals, on the question of Dr. Duke’s objectivity.
            As for mine… well, my doctor says it swole up and busted about ten years ago.  The only thing I ever saw that come close to Objective Journalism was a closed-circuit TV setup that watched shoplifters in the General Store at Woody Creek, Colorado.  I always admired that machine, but I noticed that nobody paid much attention to it until one of those known, heavy, out-front shoplifters came into the place…but when that happened, everybody got so excited that the thief had to do something quick, like buy a green Popsicle or a can of Coors and out of the place immediately.
            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.
         Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing On The Campaign Trail ‘72
So there we have it. Speaking of Journalism, Troy Hooper of the Aspen Daily News has asked me to be the guest editor for Hunter’s birthday, so I happily agreed. The issue will run on Saturday the 21st. Ralph Steadman will be on the cover, Walter Isaacson, and others will be contributors. I’ll be including a cut-out card to put in your wallet with the things to do and not do while talking to the police.  A long time ago, Hunter wrote the phone number of his lawyer Hal Haddon on a small yellow card for me to always keep in my wallet. So, I’ve asked Hal if he could help me come up with a list of legal wisdom for you (hope he agrees!). Consider it a birthday present – you never know when you’ll need it.
The Aspen Daily News issue will coincide with an  HST symposium at the Aspen Institute. I’m looking forward to attending. Two years ago, I was aggressively pursuing this Aspen Institute symposium to happen around Hunter’s memorial canon night. I was worried that Hunter’s image was becoming too Hollywood.  But Gerry Goldstein and others were kind enough to spend a lot of time talking me out of doing the symposium so soon after Hunter’s death. Two years later, they have organized the lovely Hunter event with Hunter’s adult son, Juan and the Aspen Institute. They were absolutely right to do it now. So thank you gentlemen.  It’s the perfect time, sweet Hunter.
Until next time, your friend,
Anita Thompson

July 09, 2007

The American Dream

Hi, Natalia Here. A few days ago, The New York Times published a piece on the rising rate of naturalizations of citizens, and covered some July 4th ceremonies, including a group of 1,000 people that got naturalized at Disney World.  Anita was terrified that this was written in passing as if nobody even noticed that instead of a courthouse, people were gathering to start their lives as American citizens at Disney World of all places.  This prompted her to mention some letters that Hunter wrote to Jim Silberman in the 70’s concerning the American Dream, and more specifically the death thereof. He was trying to put a focus to this concept in order to make it into a book, and was having a hard time doing so.  He ended up drawing a lot from his experiences in order to find inspiration. I’ve included a quote from one of the letters:

What kind of bullshit, delusions or common ego-disease had cast me in this weird role—as a mescaline-addled campaign manager for a 29-year-old Texas lawyer & dope-smoking bike freak in a Rocky Mountain ski resort? I  gave it a lot of thought that night—while we waited for the ward-tallies—and finally I traced it back to that night in September, 1960, when I quit my expatriate-hitch-hiker’s role long enough to climb down from a freeway in Oregon and watch the first Kennedy-Nixon debate on TV in a tiny village near Salem. That was when I first understood that the world of Ike and Nixon was vulnerable… and that Nixon, along with all the rotting bullshit he stood for, might conceivably be beaten. I was 21 then, and it had never occurred to me that politics in America had anything to do with human beings.


Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in America



July 04, 2007


Happy Fourth of July. Yep, Happy Independence Day.  My cocktail of choice this year is officially the mojito. We have been doing serious research on it.

Anyway, below is the Declaration of Independence to have on your desktop and or blackberry.  Why not.  Read it to a young person (or old person). Since there might not be a Bill of Rights anymore when school children are our age, at least they can remember the Dec of Independence. Right? The last line almost makes me cry: It proves Hunter’s law that "We is the most  important word in Politics."  

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


Until next time, your friend, thinking about Thomas Jefferson and the other 55 men who signed on that July 4th, 1776 day,

Anita Thompson 

July 03, 2007

Bad Craziness

Hello again,

    This is Natalia delivering your Hunter quote for today.  Anita will be checking in tomorrow with the Declaration of Independence.

    This quote was chosen not only because it is a hilarious part of a hilarious story, but because it showcases Hunter’s unique narrative style and sense of humor as well as the scope and potential for bad craziness at Owl Farm.

     Hunter’s friend Cromwell had been hit in the face by a 20 pound owl while riding his motorcycle and crashed into a barn filled with chickens, hay and barrels of gasoline. The spark from his cigar had set the gas on fire and caused the barn to explode. After the Sheriff extinguished both Cromwell and the chicken clutching desperately to his back, Cromwell sat in the house in a mellow state of shock until his mood began to turn:

    It was Terrifying. We watched helplessly as he grasped and clawed at the top of his head, which was beginning to blister and bleed. The room was heavy with a stench of burning hair.
…The situation was getting out of control.
    Cromwell was a huge and dangerous man, even when he was happy—but with him in a frenzy of Fear and Rage, we knew it was out of the question to try to deal with him physically.
    I saw my friend Curtis trying to wrestle a giant Red fire Extinguisher off a hook on the wall. “No!” I yelled. “Not that!” I knew it was a high-powered A, B, C, & D-type FX that would fill the whole room with a cloud of white glue. So I quickly reached over and gave Cromwell a sharp jolt between the shoulder blades with my 200,000 volt PowerMax cattle prod. And that was that.
    He collapsed in a coma and said nothing for 20 minutes. It might have seemed cruel and unusual, but we knew at the time that it had to be done, and he would thank us for it later.    

Hunter S. Thompson, Hey Rube



July 02, 2007

Lovely Owl Farm Intern

Hi. If you didn’t see yesterday’s New York Times front cover, grab it. You’ll see, in full color, what’s at the center of the Supreme Court’s shift to the Right:  Justice Kennedy.  He has been in the majority of every ruling. He seems to be the most powerful man in the country right now. Too bad he isn’t a real Kennedy. He is more like a Kennedy with a small k.  Very depressing. But he’s there and causing trouble.  This reminds me of the constitutional revolution of 1937, only the opposite. I just learned about the constitutional revolution of 1937 last semester, and it made me realize just how important the Supreme Court  can be — and just how dangerous it is now.

  In the meantime, I want to introduce you to the lovely Owl Farm intern, Natalia Detko.  I invited her to try out as an intern after a recommendation from bright young professor, Audrey Sprenger. She’s doing a great job already. In addition to making sure we get daily wisdom posted for you, she will be helping me with a collection of interviews spanning 40 years of Hunter’s life (following the good work of another Owl Farm intern named Brandon Wennerd, who is now writing a story for the Woody Creeker). She’ll be helping me with that and several other projects as well. I’ll keep you posted.



Hello! As a new arrival to Owl  Farm and the blog of the same name, I thought I’d write a few sentences introducing myself and include a quote of Hunter’s that has stayed with me and influenced the choices that I believe have inadvertently led me here.  I’m a Politics major going into my senior year at the State University of New York at Potsdam, where professor Audrey Sprenger first approached me about the possibility of coming here for the Summer.  I arrived in Denver on the 29th, gladder than hell to be done with the turbulent plane ride, and was picked up by senior intern Liz. The drive to Woody Creek was one of the most scenic in my experience and I was again floored by the landscape surrounding the Farm. I can definitely get used to this.

Now for the quote:

A friend of Hunter’s wrote him asking for career advice, and after explaining that asking someone for such counsel is a dangerous thing and that he can only explain his own philosophy, Hunter summarized his views as follows:

As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal) he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).

-Hunter S. Thompson, April 22, 1958, Proud Highway.

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