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Monday, February 21, 2005

 
Hunter S. Thompson 1937-2005 -- I awoke at about 1:20 AM with a startling, breathless revelation from my wife: "There's something in here with us."

There wasn't, she was just having a nightmare that somehow crossed over into her waking life. It happens from time to time, she awakes with the certain knowledge that, well, whatever it is that she's sure of has come to pass. Last time, a month or so ago, our son was missing. He wasn't, of course, but she awoke from a dream quite sure of it, and demanding to know where he was. He was in his room, asleep, I assured her. She was just having a dream.

I wish this was a dream.

I awoke at about 1:20 AM and after assuring my wife that she was just dreaming about there being "something in here with us," (and frankly, that's not something you want to hear upon suddenly being awoken -- is there something in here with us?), I stumbled half-blind and half-awake to the bathroom (which is on a goddamned separate floor in this stupid frigging house -- thoughts I only have when being suddenly awoken like this,) and especially, and this is crucial, having to pee really, really bad.

All right, peeing completed there in the half-dark, a quick glimpse at the hamster cage there in the upstairs hall (what if it was the hamster that had made a nocturnal invasion of my wife's slumber? Nope, still there) and came downstairs. Checked quickly my e-mail, to see if any good news or letters from long-lost friends awaited. Two good pieces of news, much-needed virtual items had been secured by a friend and colleague. "Excellent, Smithers, excellent." I would have rubbed my hands together with glee, but I started poking around on blogs quickly, instead, Always checking the blogosphere, hate to miss the latest meme.

Ian Brill had the story. It kicked the shit right out of me, that headline: "The Gonzo Journalist is Gone." What? Fuck, WHAT?!?

What?

When asked from time to time -- and it's not very often, but it does happen -- when asked who my favourite authors are, who influenced my own writing, who do I read to replenish my batteries and jumpstart my heart and blah blah fucking BLAH -- yeah, The Doktor was pretty much at the head of the list. Oh, Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert both have written criticism that makes me ache with a feeling of unworthiness, Gary Groth and Kim Thompson's energy and dedication to good comics inspire me and Tom Spurgeon's writing about comics is just goddamned sublime -- but Hunter S. Thompson was the first writer that made me want to write.

Here I would love to write at length, in startlingly lucid and convincing prose, with only the occasional burst of profanity used to laser-like effectiveness, in grand homage to the man who in a sense was the Greatest Journalist Ever (and take that Edward R. Murrow!) -- I would love to do that. But I'm not even sure I can compose a sentence now, knowing what I know, feeling quite like I've been punched in the gut and kicked in the head and knowing that Herr Doktor left this sad, sick fucking world never seeing any brighter days ahead, never knowing if this dark cloud that has descended over our times will ever fucking lift. Hell, is this why he took his own life? Did he see the darkness and the lies and the blindness of a nation that he loved and find himself unable to process it all any further? Or did he just get drunk and high and mad and batty and trip over his shotgun? What the fuck, Doctor Thompson? What the fucking fuckity fuck FUCK?!?

The thought of suicide, it has been said, is something of a comfort for many people. It lies there at the back of our minds, a means of last resort, a get-out-of-jail-free card in the game of life.

I find nothing comforting in the thought that the demons of this world finally conquered perhaps my greatest hero in life. I find waking up from my wife's nightmare only to learn this horrific, awful news to be one shitty way to start the day. It makes me want to kick something, or hit something, or write something. And it scares me.

"There's something in here with us." That's what my wife said, as she woke me up from a sound sleep and tossed me out here into the world, where there's no room for Hunter S. Thompson anymore and so for whatever reason he took his own life, BANG, and by the way, there never would have been any goddamned Transmetropolitan at all if not for Thompson, goddamnit, so you should care. I know you don't, but you should.

"There's something in here with us."

Damn it. Was it Thompson? Was he in our room, scaring the hell out of my wife as she slept? Tearing through our ideaspace one last time on his way to hell, where, if there is any justice, he finally will be elected sheriff?

Good night, dear Doktor. Go to sleep. Your work is undone, yes, but we all, always, leave something unfinished. I wish I could say that someone is up to the task of finishing it for you, but, I don't think so. Just grab a handful of pills and a big bottle of something and go off to sleep.Try not to think about it:

"There's something in here with us."

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