Hunter S. Thompson: Stories And Quotes From The '70s Gonzo Journalist
Known for his seminal works like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Hell’s Angels, Hunter S. Thompson was a journalist (or "gonzo journalist") who was down for anything, and in this case anything should be taken literally. Hunter S. Thompson lived an extreme life full of drugs, booze, and guns, and he made no bones about it. Thompson gave off the impression that he was a mad man, but he just wanted to live his life the way he saw fit. Thompson may have been over the top, but he made life more interesting for everyone who knew him. He was definitely crazy, but the world is better for having him in it. These are some of the wildest stories from his very eventful life.
The Hunter S. Thompson diet
One of the first questions that E. Jean Carroll asked when writing her biography about Thompson was “how do you do it?” How can one man fill themselves with drugs and booze and actually finish some kind of work? Thompson broke down his daily schedule for her and it’s not for the faint of heart. It also might not even be for Thompson. This is what Thompson claimed his day was like:
3:00 p.m. rise
3:05 Chivas Regal with the morning papers, Dunhills
3:50 another glass of Chivas, Dunhill
4:05 first cup of coffee, Dunhill
4:16 orange juice, Dunhill
5:11 coffee, Dunhills
5:30 more ice in the Chivas
5:45 cocaine, etc., etc.
6:00 grass to take the edge off the day
7:05 Woody Creek Tavern for lunch-Heineken, two margaritas, coleslaw, a taco salad, a double order of fried onion rings, carrot cake, ice cream, a bean fritter, Dunhills, another Heineken, cocaine, and for the ride home, a snow cone (a glass of shredded ice over which is poured three or four jiggers of Chivas)
9:00 starts snorting cocaine seriously
10:00 drops acid
11:00 Chartreuse, cocaine, grass
11:30 cocaine, etc, etc.
12:00 midnight, Hunter S. Thompson is ready to write
12:05-6:00 a.m. Chartreuse, cocaine, grass, Chivas, coffee, Heineken, clove cigarettes, grapefruit, Dunhills, orange juice, gin, continuous pornographic movies.
6:00 the hot tub-champagne, Dove Bars, fettuccine Alfredo
It sounds like Thompson was messing with Carroll, but with everything we know about him it’s entirely possible that this was how he spent his days.
He turned his neighbor’s house into Swiss cheese
An avid gun nut, Hunter S. Thompson was never far from one of his trusty side arms. He not only liked to fire off his weapons for fun, but he used them to make a point. When multi-millionaire Floyd Watkins moved into a compound a few miles away from Thompson in Aspen and began ruining the local fauna and flora he immediately found himself on the gonzo journalist’s bad side.
Watkins went from threatening to have the town’s county board fired and replaced with people who were happy to do his bidding to threatening to kill anyone who messed with him, so Thompson started messing with him.
One night, Thompson drove to the Watkins estate and lit it up with a shotgun, a pistol, and an automatic rifle before he was chased off the property. When asked to explain himself, Thompson said that he was attacked by a giant porcupine and that he had to shoot at it with everything he had to save himself. Thompson turned over his automatic rifle for examination by the police, but it was so thoroughly destroyed that it was impossible to test for ballistics. No charges were filed against the author.
He almost drowned Bill Murray
Hunter S. Thompson wasn’t someone who was an easy hang. He drank a lot and he had a high tolerance for both drugs and shenanigans, so nights with the author were certain to get wild. When Bill Murray was prepping to play Thompson in the film Where The Buffalo Roam he spent a lot of time getting to know the madman of Colorado, and that meant getting on to his crazy wavelength.
One of the things that Murray and Thompson liked to do is get drunk and challenge one another to make insane escape attempts. Think Houdini but under the influence and seconds from death at all times. In one instance, Murray was duct taped to a chair and and pushed into a hotel pool. Murray didn’t have any way to cut out of the duct tape so Thompson had to dive in and save him.
He built a bomb with Johnny Depp on the first night they met
The next time an actor wanted to study Thompson for a role, the author didn’t try to kill him, but things could have gone wrong. Johnny Depp, who played Thompson in Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, traveled to Aspen to meet Thompson at his favorite bar and from there they traveled to Thompson’s home where Depp noticed a 12-gauge shotgun hanging on the wall. When Depp commented on the gun Thompson asked if he’d like to fire it, but then he had a great idea. Depp writes:
He said, ‘S**t, man, we must build a bomb!’ So we built this bomb out of propane tanks and nitroglycerin, took it out in his backyard, and he gave me first crack. I fired upon it from about 30 or 40 yards away, and I hit it square on, and the thing went into a monumental, amazing fireball about 80 feet in the air. I feel like that was my test, my rite of passage. From then on we were either inseparable or on the phone a lot.
Thompson had a specific collection of drugs that he ran with
When he was tasked by Sports Illustrated with writing a 250 word caption for the Mint 400, a motorcycle race taking place outside of Las Vegas, Thompson turned in something that was much longer, and not really about the race -- it was a generation defining look at the aftermath of ‘60s counter culture. Sports Illustrated turned the piece down, but Rolling Stone picked it up and allowed him to turn it into the lengthy Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
The section that he initially turned in broke down exactly what king of illicit substances Thompson was traveling with, even if he didn’t really need it. He writes:
Two bags of grass, 75 pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers . . . and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls… Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
He ran for Sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado
Hunter S. Thompson wasn’t a skier, but he loved living in Colorado because of its vast expanses of land and the way the countryside allowed him to do whatever he wanted. At the same time, his anything-goes attitude clashed with the conservative views of the local law enforcement, which lead Thompson to run for Sheriff of Pitkin County in 1970.
Thompson’s platform was far out, but fans of Thompson must have been pleased to see that even when he was campaigning to be the man he wasn’t turning into the man. The author said that if he was elected he would legalize every drug, tear up the streets and plant grass where there used to be asphalt, and he would outlaw buildings that obscured the nature beauty of Aspen.
Speaking of Aspen, Thompson planned on renaming it “Fat City” in order to keep land developers from moving and and ruining its natural beauty. When it came time to debate the local incumbent, Thompson shaved his head so he could refer to the conservative sheriff as “my long haired opponent,” making it clear that the whole thing was a stunt. Thompson didn’t want to be Sheriff any more than he wanted to stop drinking. Even so, when the race was said and done he was only four percent away from winning.
His ashes were fired out of a cannon
On February 20, 2005, Thompson committed suicide at his home, he was 67 years old. In his suicide note he wrote that he was getting old and tired. He said that he was no longer fun. In August of that year more than 200 of his friends gathered at his home where they fired his ashes from a 153-foot cannon under a full moon. According to former managers for Johnny Depp, the actor spent $3 million on getting the final send off to the gonzo journalist just right.