Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson

By Jann Wenner and Corley Seymour.

This book is largely made up of anecdotes by a broad set of people that were in Hunter's circle to varying degrees over his life. Lots of reading and lots of detail not really required to draw what seem like the very clear conclusions -- the book lets to draw your own in general, which I appreciated. A summary:

  • Hunter was a lifetime alcoholic and drug addict. Pot, coke, LSD, uppers, downers ... basically everything. Typical breakfast was a bunch of normal food, plus 6 Heineken and the better part of a 5th of gin. During the day it was constant beer and Chivas with a lot of alcohol diversity mixed in with an equal opportunity smorgasbord of drugs. 
  • He was at some level, a "genius" in that "Hells Angles", "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" as books and a number of other columns from Rolling Stone are considered required reading, at least in the American left-wing canon. 
  • He was wired heavily into the American media left -- Rolling Stone, Saturday Night Live stars (Akroyd, Belushi, Murray), Don Johnson, Jack Nicholson, Johnny Depp, Jimmy Buffett, Sean Penn,  and many more.
  • The American media left and the political left are one in the same. The book contains comments on Hunter by McGovern, Carter, Gary Hart, John Kerry, James Carvelle (major Clinton operative), Pat Caddell (Democrat Pollster), Jack Germond (used to be on PBS panel show), Ed Bradley (CBS, 60min) and a number of others.
My major reactions to the book are really twofold. If one removes religion and the concept of an afterlife with some sort of judgement and "significantly bigger picture" from life, then Hunter's lifestyle of being drunk and stoned with a parade of early 20's women in his life is probably "the male optimum". As James Carville put it:
"And Hunter did something that none of us had the guts to do --- he led the kind of life that secretly all of us would like to have and had the guts to lead. To hell with the whole thing, just stay drunk and high and smoke and hang out and write outrageous things. He's never lived his life on anybody else's terms."
There is a nice picture in the book of the Rolling Stone political "Brain Trust", including Hunter, sitting around a table with Carville and Bill Clinton. We know that Bill Clinton lived as much of that life as he could get away with, as did Obama (he is VERY clear about that in his first book, in case you think I'm being unfair). 

Hunter essentially lived "the Democrat American Dream" -- drunk, stoned, a string of young women, complete irresponsibility and absolute and complete disdain for "anything Republican" ... Nixon, Reagan, Bush, religion, sobriety, responsibility, laws, values, etc.

The other major observation is how open the connections with the Democrats and media outlets that supposedly cover them as "journalists" really are. 

The idea that "Fox is biased" drives the left nuts. Meanwhile, the whole Hollywood, MSM, Democrat establishment have this completely incestuous, yet actually "open" if somebody just reads a few books or reads a few articles in their own mouthpieces. The general Democrat-Media nexus is sort of this totally open "wink-wink, nod-nod" collective. We know that Clinton LOVED to go to Hollywood and hang out with his pals, that lists and meetings of "how to get people on board with what Democrat X is doing" are common place. This book covers a couple such conclaves where the Rolling Stone was only one of the players -- NYT, NBC, CBS were also involved -- "getting the message across" was simply "the right thing to do".

In the Democrat mind, their "care for the little guy" is more than the equivalent of Christ dying on the cross for a Christian. Their moral superiority is so pervasive that it completely justifies virtually any act in their minds. The Democrats feel that "their care for the disadvantaged" and through their willingness to get "somebody else to pay" for the cost of that "caring" has completely absolved them from all past and future "sin". Christianity assumes "spiritual fruit" -- it assumes that redemption creates a response, a change that isn't grudging, but genuine. Democrat faith is faith that creates certainty (and supposedly happiness), while relying on the actions of others ("the rich") as it's agents, with it's "benefits" bestowed on others (the "poor").

While snorting enough coke, smoking enough pot, and drinking enough expensive booze to lift at least 100s if not thousands from poverty, Hunter always "cared for the little guy" -- and Hunter could tell that Nixon and Reagan didn't, so that made them 100% evil, and Hunter 100% good. A moral universe devoid of gray.

The fact that he lived 67 years, never drying out or going straight is a testimony to superhuman organ strength. I suppose I'll get to reading Hells Angles and "Vegas" at some point -- if only to improve my understanding of the liberal mind by another meager notch.

Very hard to recommend the book ... skim for names that you find to be interesting would be my recommendation if so inclined.

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