Maximus eulogizes Hunter S. Thompson, the original gonzo journalist, who took his own life yesterday:
Did an idealist’s heart beat somewhere beneath the cynicism verging on nihilism? I suspect so. His dissipated lifestyle seemed to be as much about self-medication as about self-indulgence. And only a thwarted idealist could be filled with such righteous rage against the villainy of three generations of corrupt politicos.
He was more than a little deranged, but so are all great prophets, who rant and rave to rouse their slumbering nations.
Was his terminal act one of despair at the ever-steeper decline of America? We may never know. But here’s something from his final article for Rolling Stone last October. If you know how intensely Thompson hated Nixon, this passage is telling.
Richard Nixon looks like a flaming liberal today, compared to a golem like George Bush. Indeed. Where is Richard Nixon now that we finally need him?
If Nixon were running for president today, he would be seen as a “liberal” candidate, and he would probably win. He was a crook and a bungler, but what the hell? Nixon was a barrel of laughs compared to this gang of thugs from the Halliburton petroleum organization who are running the White House today — and who will be running it this time next year, if we (the once-proud, once-loved and widely respected “American people”) don’t rise up like wounded warriors and whack those lying petroleum pimps out of the White House on November 2nd.
Nixon hated running for president during football season, but he did it anyway. Nixon was a professional politician, and I despised everything he stood for — but if he were running for president this year against the evil Bush-Cheney gang, I would happily vote for him.
It’s unclear what Thompson’s reasons were — the family didn’t mention a suicide note — but if blog reports are to be believed, he may or may not have been drinking very heavily lately.
You can read his most recent ESPN columns here. But those hold not a candle to his best work. If you’ve never read his books, now would be a good time to start.