My first introduction to Hunter S. Thompson was such that I didn’t realize I was meeting him. It was through Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the movie starring Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro and directed by Terry Gilliam.
It was released in 1998 and, for those who don’t remember, was a box-office failure. We watched it when it was released on DVD, my brother and I on a Saturday night. I dissed the movie, it wasn’t my usual rom-com fare, and I was too young to really understand it. He loved it though. He was good, he didn’t give me stick for hanging out with him on a Saturday night, he knew I had nothing else to do. Shae is a great brother. Was then, still is today. He was eighteen months earlier than me. Mom wanted to get the kid business out of the way so had us as close together as she could.
At the time, I didn’t know the movie was an adaption of a book, so it took another three or four years to really actually meet Thompson. We were assigned the Rum Dairy in Uni (the first time I went). We read it in our final year, and it was about dealing with the fears of growing old. This is when it clicked. I became a Thompson fan. I go through author crushes. When I like a book, I usually go back and read everything the author has written. It’s like going through the cupboards of a friends – or seeing someone’s home when they’re not expecting visitors. The more you read of an author, the more you get a feel for them.
Rum Diary was written in the sixties but not published until 1998, when Johnny Depp found the manuscript in Thompson’s belongings. It’s official actors do make a difference in the world! It also made me love Depp (way before his role as Jack in pirates of the Caribbean when the whole world fell in love with him).
Thompson also wrote Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. This launched ‘Gonzo journalism’ where no objectivism is needed, and the author writes their views, emotions and are apart of the story.
Today is his birthday. In our literary class, our tutor a woman in her forties, who completed a PhD in poetry, led a Hunter S. Thompson discussion. The fresh out of High School kids couldn’t contribute a lot. But there was another mature aged student – a woman who seemed my age who had also read him. I think the tutor called her Jo.
Maybe next class, I’ll to wrangle a seat next to her. One of my goals is to make new friends. My ex and I had a lot of other couple friends. And now that we’ve divorced, we’ve both lost friendships. It’s weird to socialize with four couples and a divorcee. I think they worry that divorce is catching. So I sort of feel like I did in High School, friendless. I spent the last twelve years trying to murderer all traces of who I was in High School, and I feel like the divorce has sent me back in a full circle. Instead of:
‘Hi, I’m sixteen, overweight and a loser.’
I get to say:
‘Hi, I’m thirty, overweight, and a loser.’
Well, at least I haven’t had any pimple or acne outbreaks. So that’s progress, right?