Monday, February 21, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson - an American icon

Yesterday, a figure so much larger than life that during his own lifetime he became a part of American folklore killed himself. Hunter S. Thompson, gonzo journalist, radical individualist and inspiration for countless young journalists and writers, is no more.

Celebrities come and go, their deaths marked by newspaper obituaries that fade away with their memories. Hunter's death, while destined to go the way of other celebrity deaths, no matter how tragic or unexpected, has brought a moment of reflection to some of us who value free speech, freedom of action, and an America that is increasingly disappearing.

Hunter was not a modern man. There is no room in the modern world of computers, deadlines, rapid travel, uniformity, and globalization for one such as Hunter. He was an icon, a remnant of a previous generation, but not a part of that generation. He wasn't a Ken Kesey, or a Timothy Leary. He was uniquely himself, a juxtaposition of ideas and behaviors, combining guns with drugs and liberal ideology. Except that he had no ideology, except for his own.

The loss of Hunter S. Thompson is greater than the loss of a writer of his caliber. It is also the loss of a man who refused to fit inside a box - a man whose identity was always his and his alone, and to whom conventions and norms meant nothing. What we must take away from his legacy is the notion that it is okay to be who you chose to be, and that no one should be able to force us to be anyone other than ourselves. In his actions, Hunter made himself the ultimate American, daring to actualize our own dreams and desires - dreams that most of us are too afraid to act on.

Hunter S. Thompson is dead. His legacy, however, is not. As long as there are people who take to heart his writings and his antics, there will still be hope for rugged American individualism. A word of warning, however - many will see the need to emulate Hunter after his death - to do what he did - this is not what Hunter was about. We all have to find our own paths to invidualism and look to Hunter not as a model, but as a man who took this path farther than most of us ever will.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Stomach flu

You're probably wondering why I'm posting to this blog after such a long absence. Truth is, I should be at work, but I'm sick with a barfalicious stomach flu.

Nevertheless, I was heroic and made it to work for an hour to finish up a project for my boss. Some of my coworkers were stunned at my commitment and described me as a 'soldier for the Bible Cause.' Such praise.

On the way to and from work, I listened to Johnny Cash's album "At Folsom Prison." I still have chills down my spine just thinking about it. It's one of those albums that you listen to for the first time and it hits you like a ton of bricks - just makes you really aware of mortality and the human condition. There's something about his voice in the context of prison songs that is evocative of emotions I have never and probably will never experience.

In the meantime, I eat saltines and drink ginger ale and hope that my body will feel better soon.