Yoga Asana, Scotch Whiskey, and Amplified Living A Love Letter/Eulogy for Dr. Hunter S. Thompson By Dar Vander Hoop, 2005
I blame this sentimental blathering on the swift and concise suicide of Dr. Hunter S Thompson. He once told me he thought he’d die quickly from something akin to an unexpected breeze wafting in through a back door ... “Poof” gone; something fast; almost clean; but not quite. Suicide by gun to head is never that clean. Post mortem we’re reading reams about Hunter’s resume and political writings, and obsession with firearms. I decided to address his manliness and polemics with women, deliberately leaving the other job to the men. Forgive me.
Hunter S. Thompson was one of the sexiest men alive. I know that sounds preposterous as I choke out a giggle uttering it, but talk to the women who loved him; if they’ll speak to you. And the sex itself is not what earns him this honor-- of sorts. Hunter was able to bring out primal male-female polarity in an ingenious and natural way. Actually he called forth the more abandoned everyone I suspect. I’ve yet to meet a man who came close to what Hunter had in that area. Like a wild cave man, I just wanted to be dragged into his lair by the hair, bear down, make babies, and live in the service of my man. I love you Hunter S. Thompson. My heart cracks open in the vacuum of your absence. There are other women remembering the magic and the mystery, and the genius of your chivalrous side as well. I know they too are enriched as well as wounded by your darker side. I honor my sisters, and nod to each of them in great respect and understanding.
Returning from a late afternoon movie with my son, last Saturday, Feb.19, I suddenly found myself thinking about Hunter. Out of the blue and 20-plus years into the future, I began to crave a shot of whiskey or scotch. Making a bee-line, (as my son vehemently objected,) to a local Irish Pub a mile from my home, I climbed up onto a chair at the bar, not bothering to remove my coat or scarf; and as if possessed, and ordered a shot of GlennFiddich. Savoring the taste, and especially the odor of a fine scotch, I was comforted and perplexed. My son busied himself at the video games as I descended deeper into thought, sniffing into my cocktail. Hunter always seemed to be holding a glass of ice, drenched in whiskey or scotch, always something strong and most certainly expensive. Required for his personal, “on the road” travel kit was always a fresh bottle of Wild Turkey.
Driving home from the pub, I decided to pull in at the corner liquor store in order to find that bottle of GlenFiddich which Hunter and I shared as we celebrated out “doomed love affair,” as he named it. In explanation for lingering in the aisle and handling the various bottles, I began to tell the story of this “Hunter person” to my 12-year-old boy. I looked over the expensive stuff at the store, and ended up choosing a less expensive bottle. Klee (pronounced Clay) was somewhat interested, but tugged on my arm and said he really wanted to go home. Little did I know that 24 hours later I’d begin this story in detail, as a eulogy. This cheaper version of booze I placed on the top of my refrigerator where it rests right now. I opened it for a whiff, nothing more. Whatever possessed me to buy this item on this particular day, before Hunter’s death, falls under the category of “Metaphysical”...That’s all I can say.
I’m feeling old and sad this winter afternoon as I take post with my laptop on the outskirts of Madison, Wisconsin, at some spanking new-mall named Greenway Station; alluding to nature, or something rugged or pastoral. I’m supposed to find solace in this blasphemous distortion of the American landscape, and I try to.... The Colorado-themed restaurant, with its intensely mediocre food and thick wood pillars, are designed by our brightest graduates, to comfort, as the global corporate blob rolls through and gobbles every American city, swallowing the local soul and replacing it with the glossy replicas. Yet, in the enormous shadow of my once having tasted the real thing, shacked up with Hunter S.Thompson in that infamous compound, in Woody Creek, the winter of 1979, I’m being force-fed piped-in, “boomer music,” and type away all the truths I can pull forth. My cell phone placed, face up, near the edge of the shiny new wood table-- just in case mutual friends call to weep and blabber about his suicide. I feel embarrassed to be sitting here in Middle America, having become such a demographic; such a dead beat.
My love affair with Hunter began in the living room of film director, Bob Rafelson’s Aspen home the winter of 1977. I was a sprite; maybe 25. It began with my hearing a distinct tinkling of ice in a glass, as Bob announced his “crazy” friend Hunter was coming up the stairs. This Hunter had been in Zaire, Africa, covering the Mohammed Ali fight there and was about to entertain Bob and his company with all the hideous details and horrors: A fight, by the way, he is rumored to have spent doing laps for 12 hours in a hotel pool.... A drink in hand and heading towards a couch, I thought, he must have been drinking and driving...Me on the other hand had just arrived the day before and was suffering altitude sickness. As Hunter told Mohammad Ali stories, I nodded out on a chair, eyelids too heavy to study his formidable presence or hear his wild tales.
Hunter was the human who got five times the juice the rest of us got, and thrice the wattage. Our Creator must have stepped out to answer a prayer or something, forgetting that little hunter-soul was still hooked to the juice. Being in his presence, for better and for worse, was an altered state. Friends grew accustomed to Hunter’s absolute weirdness. He possessed fluidity and buoyancy in what might be thought of as the choppy sea of three-dimensional life. Hunter’s joints were infused with some fine oil denied the rest of us mortals, always swaying, just above perception in perpetual motion like certain animations. Those knobby knees remained slightly bent, and exposed in all seasons. I loved to “perform Hunter” for others who didn’t know him: embodying his stance, his mumbling. He had a “hum” about him. It’s hard to describe, but he seemed so highly tuned, that just under perception, he vibrated higher. I’ll miss that sonofabitch; his voice and the menagerie of odd-ball sounds; yelps and screeches he made like jungle animals and birds. He endlessly argued with inanimate objects, “You bastard...!” He’d yelp to a pen, and then hurl it against a wall, jump up and stomp it to death. His voice composed a cacophony of deep and strangely garbled sounds that became one of his many trademarks...
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