Sunday 6 November 2011

Hunter S. Thompson, Johnny Depp, and rum

I'll admit that I haven't read a single book by Hunter S. Thompson, but there's been a quote of his that has stuck with me the past few years:
'Too weird to live, too rare to die.'
It pretty much fits me perfectly! To myself and to many others, I can be classed as a pretty off-beat person who doesn't really fit in with certain moulds. And up until yesterday when I was watching Johnny Depp promote his new film on The Graham Norton Show – The Rum Diary based on the novel by Thompson – I found out just how much this one quote represented Thompson himself. Have any of you heard about the author's last moments and his funeral? If you haven't, this extract from Wikipedia might astound you:
Thompson died at his self-described "fortified compound" known as "Owl Farm" in Woody Creek, Colorado, at 5:42 p.m. on February 20, 2005, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

What family and police describe as a suicide note was written by Thompson four days before his death, and left for his wife. It was later published by Rolling Stone in the September issue #983. Titled "Football Season Is Over", it read:

"No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won't hurt."

Artist and friend Ralph Steadman wrote:

"...He told me 25 years ago that he would feel real trapped if he didn't know that he could commit suicide at any moment. I don't know if that is brave or stupid or what, but it was inevitable. I think that the truth of what rings through all his writing is that he meant what he said. If that is entertainment to you, well, that's OK. If you think that it enlightened you, well, that's even better. If you wonder if he's gone to Heaven or Hell, rest assured he will check out them both, find out which one Richard Milhous Nixon went to — and go there. He could never stand being bored. But there must be Football too — and Peacocks..."

On August 20, 2005, in a private ceremony, Thompson's ashes were fired from a cannon atop a 153-foot (47 m) tower of his own design (in the shape of a double-thumbed fist clutching a peyote button - originally used in Hunter S. Thompson's 1970 campaign for sheriff of Aspen, Colorado. It has become a symbol of Thompson and gonzo journalism as a whole) to the tune of Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky" and Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man." Red, white, blue, and green fireworks were launched along with his ashes. As the city of Aspen would not allow the cannon to remain for more than a month, the cannon has been dismantled and put into storage until a suitable permanent location can be found. According to his widow Anita, Thompson's funeral was financed by actor Johnny Depp, a close friend of Thompson.

I think that funeral ceremony can be classed under one of the most bizzare and ingenious send offs in the history of mankind! Just how awesome is that?! Johnny Depp said to Graham Norton on his show that 'he probably thought that I would be the only one crazy enough to carry out his last wishes'!

Now after reading and hearing about Thompson, I want to find out more about him. And a good way into that is to, of course, read his books. I'm going to start reading The Rum Diary sometime this week so I can go and see the film and not feel guilty about not having read the book first! There's another interesting story about the manuscript to this film, as well. Apparently, as Johnny Depp again told Graham Norton, Thompson had written The Rum Diary in the late 50's/early 60's but had never got the book published. It wasn't until Johnny discovered the manuscript a few years ago and encouraged the author to get it printed that it actually make it to the shelves. Those two were a pretty remarkable fit, weren't they? So, seeing as I'm a huge Johnny Depp fan and am now completely intrigued by Mr. Thompson, I must see this film and fast! Then it'll probably be Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for me afterwards.

Seriously, why has it taken me so long to find all this stuff out?! Better than never though.

Any Thompson S. Hunter fans out there that can share some interesting and perhaps bizarre facts?