Hunter S. Thompson was an annoying, roughhousing miscreant who never grew up. Though I never shared his penchant for guns and mass quantities of drugs and alcohol, I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't for HST and my fascination with both his talent for slinging words and his strikingly original brand of journalism.
I was first introduced to HST by a guy in college whose morning meals consisted of Cheerios topped with Miller Lite. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was the first bit of HST I ingested. While I think this was his most well-crafted piece of work, his letters to friends, bosses and family members are near poetic and always full of the gusto and insanity for which HST is known.
I later became a reporter after graduating from college and moving from Florida to New York to Oregon to Florida. While the small-town paper for which I worked would not have allowed any hint of "gonzo" in my stories, his penchant for digging beneath the surface and his unwavering defense of "the truth" kept me on the straight and narrow - telling the stories that needed to be told (in the way they needed to be told) even with a mayor, a city attorney, a police chief and a sheriff breathing down my back every time I wrote something they didn't like, which was often.
I once wrote a letter to HST at his Owl Creek compound. In gonzo style, I invited the bum to come live with me in my dorm at Florida State University. FSU had just been named "party school of the year." I figured we had an image to uphold, and I told Hunter that I needed his help to do it. My offer was sincere, but I never heard back from him. Perhaps he gets invitations like that every day. Perhaps he was scared. Whatever the case, I like to think that he either read it and laughed or thumbtacked it to a tree and shot it full of holes.
You are gone but not forgotten, Hunter S. Thompson. A part of you will always live on in me.