Monday, February 21, 2005

Rest in peace (If you can...): Hunter S. Thompson

Not a surprise I suppose. Probably more of a surprise that he made it into the new century without chewing on the end of a gun. I remember a Time Magazine article on HST from about ten, fifteen years ago where he set his Christmas tree on fire. I cannot remember if it was intentional or not (but it was surely done for the benefit of the poor writer there to interview him). One has to work hard to keep the myths alive.

I forgot to mention; the tree was still in his living room.

Once drug out into the snow, the tree was also shot several times for good measure.

That was a long time ago and I may be remembering it wrong, but it dosen’t matter. I like the way I remember it. I think, to HST, that would mean more than the reality behind the memory.

Years ago, before it died and was resurrected, the babble below used to live on my old Rubble web site.

I thought it would be a nice thing to repost.

Election 2000: Excerpts From My Journal
By A. F. Litt

November 10, 2000

There was a finally a lull this afternoon, the first one since the shit geared up on Tuesday afternoon, somewhere around 71 hours ago. Along with the lull, I’m having a serious internet outage at home. These two things together allow me to sit here at the neighborhood coffee house and to write this. Not necessarily an opportunity to change the subject in my mind, or to relax much, but at least it is a chance to catch my breath, to step away from my primary feed into the political junkie’s main vein- the raw AP news wire. That was when it was all over for me, finding a link into that damn wire. It was something like 36 hours ago, about five in the morning, eastern time. Suddenly, no more waiting for techies to cut and paste the latest numbers and stories onto their templates, no more waiting for someone to whisper the facts into a frazzled television anchor’s ear… Just the raw wire straight through my eye, straight into my brain. It was beautiful at first, but it became scary fast.

During an event like this election, the internet, to a politics junkie, is like locking a binging addict into a room filled with a year’s supply of booze and drugs and then telling them to go at it. And we’re not going anyplace for a while, not until Tuesday or Wednesday at the earliest… Maybe not for weeks, maybe not for months… And the longer it goes, the heavier the trip will be, the harder the actual comedown.

And I represent the worst of the bunch. I am a partisan political junkie. I’m the one who’s gone from straws to needles. I have a side, I have a stake, and I can loose. I’ve been here at the coffee house for about two hours now, and I’m already starting to get the shakes… What’s going on? What’s happening? What if I turned my back and my man went down while I wasn’t looking?

Almost caved a second ago. Almost called a friend to see if anything changed. I have my cell out on the table, just in case… Sometimes I don’t hear it ring when it is in my pocket.

Jesus. I’m a wreck. Sunken eyes from a three day life of short naps and a diet of junk food and coffee. I smell and the flies in this place keep buzzing me, but I’m sure that I look worse. No shower or shave since Tuesday morning… Still wearing the same clothes. Can’t even remember the last time I brushed my teeth or changed my socks. When that internet connection went down, I had no time for hygiene. If I did not escape before it came back on, I would have been trapped.

All I know is welcome to Italy, welcome to Yugoslavia, welcome to 1876… Politically, this country has been vivisected. For the first time in decades, we’ve seen where the lines are really drawn, and they are drawn 50/50 right down the middle. We now know for sure that there are equal numbers of “them” as there are of “us.” All it took was one election that lacked a truly compelling candidate to reveal where the party lines are drawn.

Ah. Just got the call… New numbers for the Washington State Senate race will be in soon. I must go.
-3:15 PM

No call on the Senate, but it closed to 3,000 votes from 14,000 or more. Went out with a friend. Been talking politics the whole time, but I have been so overloaded that it is hard for me to make sense of anything anymore. I’ll know what I’m trying to say, but it is difficult getting the meaning of what I’m trying to say across. I find it difficult caring about any conversation that is not political in nature.

There is an on again, off again lover of mine in the next room, but the mood, or the energy, is not there tonight. I’ve only slept for four hours in the last 36, and about the same goes for the previous 36. I’m running out of gas. I should be going home soon, but I suspect that I may not be.
-8:30 PM

Where did Gore think he was -- in some friendly Civics class? Hell no, he
was in Florida,
arguably the most Vicious & Corrupt state in the
Union. ... Not only that, but he was brazenly invading Florida, trying to steal
it from right under the noses of the whole Bush family. It was a bold move &
brilliantly done, in some ways -- but then so was Lee's decision to invade the
North & attack Gettysburg.

Gore was Doomed in Florida, and he knew it about halfway through Election night. The TV wizards had already given the state & its 25 precious Electoral Votes to Gore, which gave him an early lead and caused wild rejoicing in Democratic headquarters all over the country.

My own immediate reaction was bafflement & surprise, and I think I
almost believed it. ... But not really. The more I brooded on it, the more I was
troubled by waves of Queasiness & shudders of Gnawing Doubt. I felt nervous
& vaguely confused, as if I had just heard a dog speak perfect English for
30 or 40 seconds. That will get your attention, for sure. ... Some people get
permanently de-stabilized by it: Nothing they see with their own eyes will ever
look quite the same to them again. As in ‘I know that the object I'm looking at
is an Egg -- but I also know that if it talks to me like a person, it is not an

-Hunter S. Thompson
Hey, Rube! Page 2

November 14, 2000

Once again it is afternoon at the coffee house. Once again the Senate numbers coming in this afternoon may be definitive. Since the last time I wrote, my internet connection has remained down, but that’s fine. I’ve reached burn out. I’m sick of it. But I am fascinated by the process, the two lawsuits so far, the four or five vote sway in New Mexico… Four or five votes! I am sick of the pundits. The Republicans appealing to their convenient definitions of common sense, the Democrats with their sound arguments that, I admit, do make them sound like they’re whining…

Having the internet down has been a good thing. It made me realize that it has become my primary form of escapism. The election is dominating, but the internet captures me in other ways as well. It is just so compelling to an information junkie like myself. If I want information, I have it in seconds. From election results to sports statistics to an actress’ age. Last night, I really missed it. Nothing exciting on television, and no net to geek out on. No wonder I’ve been reading so little since I had my high-speed connection installed. It wasn’t that I was burned out on reading, or that I was more into writing my own novel instead of reading someone else’s, it was that my attention span was short.

Anyway, some wild swings through Decision 2000…

Friday: So jazzed up that I can’t talk about anything other than the election. The constitution is pulled out twice… Once, early on, by a friend of mine who’s currently studying to be a paralegal, and then again, much later, at a party, the hostess digs her old copy from college out…

Saturday: Burned out as all hell. Sleep most of the day. I decline an invitation to go out that evening, happy to just sit at home, alone, watching bad TV. Notice that there were lawsuits filed, but happy that there is nothing new expected until Monday.

Sunday: Afternoon at the symphony. The Seahawks win their second in a row. Life feels vaguely optimistic. Later on, I have a couple of beers with an old friend of mine who grew up in East Africa. He points out that the election reminds him of the politics back where he came from, before he escaped the revolution. We speak at length about the nature of happiness, my friend doing most of the talking, probably sensing that it is a topic I needed to meditate on that evening.

Monday: Up early to see the results of the hand counting lawsuit. It is thrown out of court, mostly over jurisdictional issues. I spend the day in a deep funk, having much to do with myself, little to do with the election. Sleep a lot. Spend the night watching TV shows that I used to like but that I don’t enjoy anymore. Re-read articles in an 18 month old magazine. Fall asleep around 6:30 AM.

Tuesday: Up occasionally to see the results of the second lawsuit. Both sides make offers to stop the suits, but much more negotiation is necessary. The ruling opens the door for some high nastiness, essentially putting control of the Presidency in the hands of Bush minions. Despite that, I feel better, over all… Wander out for coffee, escaping my room for a bit.

I think I am catching a cold. Once again, the flies are buzzing me. Perhaps it is not a hygiene issue.

November 15, 2000

The headline on today’s paper says Bush by 300, but there is also the phrase I am sick of, “It’s still just too close to call.” Along with that, we still don’t know who our Senator is. I’m hungry and I’m sick. Having a drink, numbing up a bit, wanting to be out of my apartment, but not wanting to be here.

Some woman just screamed out, “I want the president who’s going to bring back drinks for under three dollars! I’m voting for David Letterman.” I should never have left my room tonight.
The Republicans are appealing the decision on the hand counts. The Democrats are trying to get all of their lawsuits (12 or so, counting their own and those filed by Democratic voters) sent straight through to the Florida Supreme Court.

Just a memory. The morning after election day, NBC changed their election logo from Decision 2000 to Indecision 2000. By noon, their sleep deprivation must have worn off, their professionalism kicked back in, and they switched back. Perhaps they realized that Comedy Central’s coverage operates under the Indecision 2000 flag? Who knows?

That’s all for now.

November 16, 2000

Sick. Duh. Volumes of bloody snot.

Kathleen Harris, the republican Secretary of State in Florida, is refusing to accept any election totals not turned in by Tuesday, and the lawsuits are flying. People seem to be polarizing. An interesting poll – If the election were held today, who would you vote for now? The results: 47% Bush, 47% Gore. The people who voted for one are demonizing the others.

Another split is there too. Those who still care and those who just hope that someone tells them who won when it is over so they don’t look silly if the subject comes up. Those of us in the first group, 10 years from now, we’ll still remember the details about Kathleen Harris, Jeb Bush, butterfly ballots, and dimpled, pregnant chads. The others, they’ll need to be reminded that the 2000 election was the wiggy one.

I don’t know which side I’d rather be on at this point. I know more about Florida politics now than I’ve ever wanted to know. But now I’m hooked, and it is too late for me to turn back.

My sinuses feel like one of those overfilled water balloons that explode before you ever get within reach of your target, but that can’t be the only source of my headaches.

It is no accident that this vicious mess has come to a head in Florida. I
know the state well. Florida has been very good to me in many wild &
beautiful ways that still make my whole body hum when I think about them. ... I
know Tallahassee & I know Palm Beach. I have run amok in Naples &
suffered terrible boat crashes in the waters off Miami & the treacherous
channels of Key West. ... I have run aground at midnight on sandbars far out in
the ocean; I have lost control of my boat in many posh marinas & been
rescued at sea by the Coast Guard so often that they came to recognize my voice
on the short-wave radio. I have known great happiness in Florida & I still
have a certain love for it.

But I also know it to be the most corrupt & profoundly degenerate state in the Union. So many of its elected officials are so openly For Sale that politics in Florida is more like an auction than a democratic process. Its Congressmen have been jailed for Felony Fraud & its Senators have routinely committed more heinous crimes than Richard Nixon was ever accused of. ... More murders & rapes go unreported in Florida each year than in Corsica & Sicily combined. The state has no Income Tax & essentially no Law. Its cities are ruled by Depraved sots & its Universities are snake-pits of cheating & random sex in Public. The libraries are filled with Beer-Drunkards looking for Skull sessions & beautiful girls who are
proud & Eager to oblige them. Oral sex is more common on the streets of Miami in the daylight hours than anywhere else in America.

-Hunter S. Thompson
Hey, Rube! Page 2

November 19, 2000

Been bad sick the last few days. Laid in bed whimpering and moaning all day Saturday, then blew a slug sized mass out of my sinuses and felt a little better. The Florida State Supremes will be making their ruling on the recounts tomorrow, I believe… We’ll know a little more then.

As far as the news goes at this point, I hate to admit that I am much more interested in the comedy of the situation now than I am in the moment by moment facts. Half skipped a friend’s show at the bar down stairs from my place last night so I could watch Saturday Night Live. Mostly skipped because I am still too sick to move.

There is little decent and nothing good in the world right now… My life has been nothing if not a reflection of this over the last few weeks.

By all accounts, Al and Joe have won the popular vote at this point, but if they win the Presidency, there will be no electoral reform, and of course the same goes for Dubbya and Dick. If it goes to the Democrats, abolishing the Electoral College would play about as well as Ford’s pardon of Nixon, and if the Republicans win they are not going to abolish the check and balance that got them into the office in the first place. That would be admitting that the job actually belonged to Gore. There will be no new constitutional amendments going through Congress in 2001.

Balances and checks… Checks and balances… This last month has put a lot in perspective for me. All the clutter is starting to make sense. Personally, I’ve been through some up times, been through some down times, looking at my own strengths and weaknesses, trying to develop a solid course of action… I’ve been through these cycles before, and it’s productive to recognize these things, but not to dwell on them… But like always, when one’s sense of perspective returns, you are always left wondering “Why was I worried about that?”

November 21, 2000

Strange, strange day.

And let’s be grateful that there’s no Presidential recount in the State of Washington, which appears to bring the ballots in by Pony Express and then let
them age in oak casks for a month or two before they’re ready to be sampled.

-Gail Colins
New York Times Op-Ed Columnist
November 21, 2000

November 28, 2000

Last Wednesday was an odd one. I just returned from the trip that was supposed to begin that day, but did not commence until Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, instead. I have much to write about, but I am almost too tired to write now. Long day ahead tomorrow, so I’ll throw down a random jumble of thoughts and hope that they make some sort of sense…

Last Wednesday, I was supposed to take a bus from Seattle to Moses Lake, Washington, about 200 miles east of here, so I could spend the holiday with my Grandmother and other family members in a small town of 150 people called Hartline. This town is about an hour’s drive north of where the bus was supposed to let me off. Not to be redundant, just to be clear… The plan was to ride the ‘hound 200 miles into the middle of nowhere, turn left, and then go an hour beyond nowhere.

Unfortunately the only bus I could catch would drop me off in Moses Lake around 11 PM. The thought of my Grandmother driving for an hour through the wintery night on those icy roads did not sound good, plus I was still getting over my illness and wasn’t sure if I’d be up for driving the midnight drive back to Hartline myself. All in all, it sounded like way to much opportunity for my Grandmother to lose control of the car, skid into the sagebrush, and to not be found until the morning.

So I changed my travel plans.

Skip to Friday when, after sitting in a truck stop in the middle of nowhere for several hours, I got a call from a sheriff’s deputy informing me that my Grandmother, in the middle of the afternoon, lost control of her car and skidded off the road into the sagebrush. She was all right, the car is still being diagnosed… What I learned later is that while the back country roads were clear and dry that wintery Wednesday night, they were sacked in by eight inches of snow by Friday afternoon.

Just because a plan looks good on paper, it doesn’t mean a damn thing when confronted with reality. At least it was in the afternoon and she wasn’t stranded out there in the middle of the night.

Politically it’s strange country out there. It’s God-fearing and conservative. For the younger voters, it’s solid Bush (Shrub) Country. On the flip side, Hartline is about 20 miles south of the Grand Coulee Dam. This small town of wheat farmers was pretty much saved back in the day by the Dam and the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project. My Grandmother is about as rabid of a Roosevelt/New Deal Democrat as you’ll ever find. I’m sure she’s not the only one around there.

About the last thing I expected to find out there, considering these things, was a Nader voter, but there he was… My Grandmother’s friend and his son, both Nader voters. He chuckled and said that in his town, Almira, about 10 miles away, a whisker’s length larger than Hartline, there were three Nader votes published in the precinct’s results. They couldn’t figure out who the third vote came from. Still, the news channel of choice was Fox News Channel, and The O’Reilly Factor was watched too often for my comfort. Balanced coverage my ass.

Still, if it weren’t for the deadlocked numbers going into November 7th, I might have voted for Ralph myself. Where Grandma’s friend had the wherewithal to say, essentially, “they both suck, I’m going over here,” my concerns about an election just like this one led me to vote for Gore. Not only to vote for Gore, but to convince several Naderites to pull the donkey lever as well. In the end, in Washington State, the margin of victory was enough than we all should have voted for Nader. Still, despite my current doubts, I have to remember that Gore was my man in the race, and he has been since 1992 when, after Bill’s victory speech, I got half a Seattle University dorm chanting "Gore 2000, Gore 2000…"

Quite different from the first few days, weeks even, of this thing, there is no longer the constant stream of new news and information to be had. Now there is the semi-daily kernel of new information that is manipulated, twisted, pressurized, carbonated, dosed with artificial colors and flavors, and then sprayed, through the media, out over the public. The news these days might as well be covering Coke and Pepsi’s most recent feints and dodges in the cola wars as they are politics. You know who is going to say what about what. I was sick of it a while back, I’m nauseated by it now. But I’m a junkie. I still watch. Even if it’s O’Reilly.

The most interesting news I heard over there, I must admit, is that the Seattle Sonics finally dumped Paul Westphal as their coach. Better than that, even, they replaced him with Nate Mc Millan. Got rid of the loser, put in the guy who has been the real leader of the team for years, while in uniform, long before the Sonics management and owner ever decided to drop a consistently winning, though flawed, coach for Mr. Skippy the bootlicker.

God. I can’t even write about sports without it reminding me of the current political situation. Still, it makes me wonder if maybe we, as a nation, should have given Nader, the cool but unproven new face, a closer look. Nate came out and led the Sonics to some immediate, impressive victories. Mr. Sonic, in his new role, in charge of the whole show, is kicking some ass.

December 4, 2000

The last month, or the last month of the first year? Really, how can we be expected to choose a President when we can’t even tell time?

Three dreams of the mountain. Reading too much Dante here recently. Watch where you are going. Look out! Look out! There may be dragons ahead. The boat with wings for a sail is pushed on towards some distant, impossible shore, carrying its cargo of the near damned…

I quit smoking last Friday. Or, I started the quitting process. Forgive my babbling, my head is not so clear.

Long scribbles of half lies and nearly full truths, but how do dreams end? Perhaps all dreams are but one dream, a single other place of existence that we spend a few hours in each night, whether we remember our time there or not.

There is a girl sitting behind me obsessing on coasts. “I’m so west coast. Every bone in me is west coast. And when I go back east, I try to pretend that I am from the east coast, but it doesn’t work, and that’s why I want to move to L.A.” She has a high, chirpy, barky voice and resembles a character out of my book, which I must say is not a flattering comparison for her. She’s probably 22 or so, and is very liquored up, whining about a meeting she has tomorrow morning at a quarter to eight. It is nearly midnight now.

I think that there may be some truth in the thought that we get the government that we deserve.

December 7, 2000

Bored, but not… Stuff to do, but time for slack… It is good.

Just got a call from a woman I had a fling with a couple years ago. Odd. We’ve been seeing each other around here and there recently, and I’m starting to think that whole thing might gear up into another swing through old times, so to speak, but who knows? My life seems to be crawling with former lovers and other old faces and names from the past here recently. Seems like a theme for the times.

I’ve been feeling pretty good about things the last few days. An interesting note… The better I feel about my own life, the less I care about the still unresolved election. It’s a good day, a good week. Last week, there was tear gas in the streets, but that is becoming a common occurrence here in Seattle. Hell, pretty soon we’ll all be immune to that crap anyway, and they’ll have to develop stronger, more effective crowd control agents. Or maybe the mayor and the police will learn how not to do things like turning a peaceful celebration of the WTO anniversary into another excuse for a “riot.” I guess we all celebrate things in our own ways.

But it’s a good day. A good week, I think. Tired today. Been running around downtown and back all day, and used up all my energy. Maybe it’s a good day because I quit quitting smoking today. Maybe I’m tired because I lost that battle yet again.

December 8, 2000

Ack… It looked like it would be over this weekend. Now it is wide open again. The Florida Supremes, in a four to three vote, have ordered a recount of the “undervote” ballots for the entire state… It looks like there will be no resolution by Dec. 12, so the Legislature will vote in their own electors. Gore will probably have his own slate by then, saying he only needs something like 164 votes to win now.

A month ago, I just wanted it over on election day, no matter who won. Then I wanted it to keep going…

Now I just want a nap.

There was one exact moment, in fact, when I knew for sure that Al Gore would
Never be President of the United States, no matter what the experts were saying
-- and that was when the whole Bush family suddenly appeared on TV and openly
scoffed at the idea of Gore winning Florida. It was Nonsense, said the Candidate, Utter nonsense. ... Anybody who believed Bush had lost Florida was a Fool. The Media, all of them, were Liars & Dunces or treacherous whores trying to sabotage his victory.

They were strong words and people said he was Bluffing. But I knew better. Of course Bush would win Florida. Losing was out of the question. Here was the whole bloody Family laughing & hooting & sneering at the dumbness of the whole world on National TV.

The old man was the real tip-off. The leer on his face was almost frightening. It
was like looking into the eyes of a tall hyena with a living sheep in its mouth. The sheep's fate was sealed, and so was Al Gore's. ... Everything since then has been political flotsam & Gibberish…

There are rumors in Washington that Gore's most trusted advisors have sealed him off so completely that he still firmly believes he Won. ... Which is True, on some scorecards, but so what? Those cards don't count... George W. Bush is our President now, and you better start getting used to it. He didn't actually steal the White House from Al Gore, he just brutally wrestled it away from him in the darkness of one swampy Florida night. He got mugged, and the local Cops don't give a damn...

Bush is an Unhappy winner. He will be beaten like a rat in a waste-basket & he will age 14 years in the next Four.

The Bush family has already Corrupted the Presidency & the U.S. Supreme Court.
Millions of Americans will never again be Confident that their vote will be
counted in any election. All we need now is the squalid Spectacle of Jeb Bush on
TV, saying ‘I am Not a Crook.’

-Hunter S. Thompson
Hey, Rube! Page 2

December 13, 2000

The end? Tonight’s probably the night. It’s cold and it’s been snowing off and on all day. Gore’s speech is at six, Bush’s at seven. Not completely unexpected, but it is still shitty.

Personally, I think Gore should formally suspend all of his campaign activities but not formerly withdraw until after the electoral college has had it’s say. There is, with having won the popular vote, a chance that the college will have the three unloyal electors he needs to win. It would be a fine line, though. He should not appear to be lobbying them. He has the rest of us for that.

Still, a full concession at this point is understandable. Who really would want the job any more? A one term lame duck outing at the best. More important to the history books than to the people. I still think Gore would be more effective, and I doubt that Bush has the character to look anything but a fool in the job. I’m betting he gets straight out of the gate whimpering and whining tonight. Or even worse. We’ll see.

Soon I can go home. I need a good night’s sleep.

Damn, I knew this would happen. Someone just turned the channel. Only the politics junkies here are still interested. Most people, now that they know the winner, are more interested in the basketball game than they are in seeing either one of these faces any more. Not for another four years at least. That could be scary. No one keeping an eye on Dubbya and Dick? I just got a chill.

Gore’s Speech… A full concession. Expects the Electoral College to ratify Bush on the 18th. All but declared his candidacy for 2004.

Bush’s Speech… Pulled out some notes from an old campaign stump speech. Way to be one of them there good doing uniters…

Jesus, I’m going home to bed. Wake me in four years. Until then, slap a sticker on my forehead that reads, “Don’t blame America, we voted for Gore.”

In light of these events… America is canceled.

-Weekend Update,
Saturday Night Live

OK. That horrible farce is Over now. Everybody can Relax and get back to
sports ... unless you happen to live in Tennessee. Because when Al Gore says he
"will spend some time in Tennessee, mending fences" ... well, ho ho. I would
feel very nervous if I lived down the road from the Ol' Gore place in Carthage
right now.

When hill people start talking about ‘mending fences’ just after suffering a brutal public beating, they are not thinking about pounding nails into wooden posts. They are already cooking up a punishment down there tonight.

It will be more savage than the Hatfields & McCoys when the Boss gets home for the holidays. Some of his neighbors are already Doomed, and others will flee the state in a long caravan going south to Florida for Xmas. Many will have dead animals stuffed down their chimneys, or get burned out by mysterious fires. Thousands of government jobs will be terminated and fancy farms will go on the block for a dime on the dollar. That is how big-time Politics works, in the South or anywhere else. When you Cross a still-powerful Loser, you'd better leave town when you can see him coming.

-Hunter S. Thompson
Hey, Rube! Page 2


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