Monday, February 21, 2005

Q: What happens when a culture runs out of heroes?

A: It turns to its criminals for guidance and inspiration.

Hunter Thompson blew his brains out today. Two Beatles are down, Frank Zappa and Mr. Rogers are dead and now Hunter is gone. I am running out of heroes.

Yeah, you could consider Thompson dangerous, maybe criminally so. But, his writing was exquisite and his thinking was, in a peculiar way, sound.

I owe a lot of my writing style to his example. In fact, the only way that I know Hunter S. Thompson is through his writing-- never met the man or corresponded with him. For all I know he might be some weird, early experiment in artificial intelligence, some rickety old mainframe computer somewhere, programmed by a Berkeley grad student in the late sixties to output data that reads like journalism on drugs.

Yet, maybe that's all any of us really are, our output.

But, I digress.

Thompson was the last on my very short list of heroes regardless of the fact that I would feel most uncomfortable were either of my daughters to get in a car with him. Yet, I am grateful that I had a list of heroes and that he was on it. His death leaves a hole. What personality do I turn to now for guidance and inspiration? That which popular culture celebrates is mostly mundane, mostly unthoughtful, mostly cruel and mostly boring. Gotti is dead; Kobe is a shoe salesman; Shaq has no idea that the Parthenon is not a club, and the warrior class is starting to lack honor and soon to lack DNA. It's as if Superman has sold his cape and licensed the "S".

Our heroes are no longer Men and Women of Steel, refusing to needlessly kill even a harmless ant. They are kids and corporations. The Herculean choreography required in the NBA to get the ball up court in order to score was part of a grander dance, one that required years to learn. Now it terminates in the adolescent impatience of the dunk. The naughty freedom of illicit drugs induced the illusionary, maybe real experience of spiritual introspection and the perverse, vein swollen craving for an undefined, unattainable more. Now our Stuff is FDA approved, held in the grips of the pharmaceutical titans, alleviating depression and facilitating follicle restoration. We've removed the dots and have substituted nothing else to connect. Take away the promise of Nirvana or the inevitability of Lower East Side shooting galleries, then where do you go? Disneyland?

Dear deceased Doctor, such are the times that you have left behind, a little safer and a little more susceptible to sanguine deception now that you are gone. I will miss you. I will mourn you. Your words changed my life. I wish for you what I wish for myself. May our weird and sometimes tortured souls rest in eternal peace, with or without the bats.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just hope that his final wish is granted and all that is left of the earthly Raoul Duke is shot from a cannon and blasted out into the ether.

11:10 PM  

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