Wednesday, February 23rd, 2005
Matt Welch has rounded up reminiscences of and tributes to about Hunter S. Thompson Hunter S. Thompson. Seems like lots of people met Thompson.
So here’s my contribution:
I spent some weeks in the summer of 1984 painting condos in Snowmass Colorado. One night I was in the Woody Creek Tavern, right up the road from Thompson’s cabin. There at the bar was the man himself, as always clad in shorts, white socks with his signature cigarette holder dangling from his clenched jaw.
I steeled my nerves and sidled over to express my admiration for his writing and ask for an autograph. Thompson scrawled on the back of a bar tab — “Thanks for scoring the smack in Grand Junction. The check is in the mail. HST” Or something like that.
So what is the signficance of this story? I was startled to learn Thompson’s obituary that he was 67. Only 67. This means that when I met him in September 1984, Thompson was then only 46 or 47, just a few short years older than I am today. (43 in two weeks.)
At the time I met him, Thomspon was a literary god from another age. He looked, but more importantly, seemed ancient to me, an Olympian who had fomented the grand era of new journalism. Was he really only twenty-something when he did all that amazing writing?
(Speaking of reminiscenses: floating somewhere out there is a great story about Thompson’s Hungarian translator, Andras B. Vagyvolgi, traveling to Colorado book in hand to meet HST in the late 1980s, knocking on the cabin door at 10PM, and then being forced to read the Hungarian translation until 3AM to a bug-eyed, inebriated, gun-waving Thompson.)