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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

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