Anita Thompson discusses The Gonzo Way: A Celebration of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.
Anita Thompson explores the powerful legacy of her late husband in "The Gonzo Way: A Celebration of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson." Tom Wolfe once described Hunter S. Thompson as the finest comic writer of the 20th century. Thompson was this and more, an apt observer of the American scene for almost four decades, the founding father of "Gonzo Journalism", and an inspiration to many. Through his writings, he examined the loss of American innocence in the latter part of the last century and, as a "bull who carried his own china shop around with him", was never afraid to confront the truth head-on. With her own words and through interviews with those who knew him best, including Tom Wolfe, George McGovern, and Douglas Brinkley, Anita Thompson pays tribute to her late husband as a writer and as a citizen. With elegant prose and entertaining anecdotes, she reveals a Hunter Thompson who was much more than a mere embodiment of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. Whether it was studying the Book of Revelations, riding with the Hell's Angels, answering a cry for help in appealing a flawed conviction, or pulling crazy pranks on fiends, Thompson's passionate search for enjoyment and purpose is here- Cody's
Anita Thompson began working as Hunter's assistant in 1999; they married in 2003. She continues to work in Hunter's stead and lives on Owl Farm in Woody Creek outside of Aspen. She is the publisher of The Woody Creeker magazine.
Well, tonight we welcome Anita Thompson here to discuss her new book "The GonzoWay", a celebration of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Her book pays tribute to Hunter and hismany enjoyments and endeavors and without further adieu here is Ms. Thompson.Thanks so much for having me. It's it's really a pleasure and an honor to be here withyou guys today. So my favorite I don't if you can hear me or not. Can you hear meokay? Right, thanks.First I want to thank it's Cody's Bookstore in Berkeley. I haven't been in Berkeley inabout 15 years. Last time I was here I was a student at UCLA, CALPIRG, I was theChairperson for a group called CALPIRG; a student group and they send me up here torepresent UCLA and we had a lot of fun and we caused some trouble up here. It was fun.Any way I am just I assume that most people here know Hunter S. Thompson and knowhis work and that's why you are here. So I don't I am not going to get into a longhistory of Hunter because that is in the "The Gonzo Way". I just want to tell you a littlebit about myself and I will read a short portion from the intro to "The Gonzo Way" andthen open it up to some questions.And I actually I was born in Fort Collins, Colorado. And I was a student later at UCLA;working for the Sierra Club which is an environmental group started up here as you allprobably know and CALPIRG and I was very political and very angry and I was a veganand I wasn't having a lot of fun, so I took some time off to go ski in Aspen for a semester.And then what happened, I learnt to snowboard and I met Hunter Thompson. So I stayedin Aspen. And I learnt a lot from him. I started working for him in 1999 as his assistant;doing research and just helping him with all sorts of things that he needed and it was apleasure and I immediately fell in love with him. And I moved in 2000 and we did a lot ofwork together. Those of you who have followed his work probably know that he wrotemore in the last five years of his life than he did in the previous 15 years combined.A lot of that is thanks to George Bush. And I was honored and very happy to be workingwith him and he he took his work very seriously and had a lot of fun doing it until thevery end. And I do talk a lot about that in "The Gonzo Way". And the reason I actuallythe reason I wrote "The Gonzo Way" is because after Hunter died I got a lot of lettersfrom mainly young readers from around the country and around the world who felt a littlelost after Hunter had left and looked to me as if I had some sort of wisdom; which I didn'tfeel like I had the wisdom but I had the experience living with Hunter and being hiscompanion for five years. And I just I realized what was happening is that many peoplelooked at Hunter's lifestyle as the key to "The Gonzo Way" or as a ticket to ride; that ifthese readers could drink a bowl Wild Turkey and take a half a bowl of Dexedrine thatthey too could write like that. And I got boxes of letters of people trying to prove that.So I just I wanted to make sure that particularly young people understood thatHunter's writing didn't come from his lifestyle. It came from years and years and years ofpractice and dedication to the craft and to being a damn good investigator. And that's apart of what I talk about in here. So I am just going to read the first part. Oh good! Andalso I know we are competing with Barry Bonds tonight. I don't did anything happenhere I am not a big baseball fan, so I don't know what happened yet. Just start? Okay,well I do if we have time and if we are in the mood I will read a short passage from"Hey, Rube" collection of Hunter's column from ESPN where he talks about the newrules for baseball. And it's a short a really good column, so may be we will do that if wehave time. But okay, I am just going to read a little bit here and then open it up toquestions. And also I like to I see my girlfriend Liz Zaborowska back here. We went tohigh school together in Switzerland and I haven't seen her in years, so it's so nice to seeyou Liz. Okay.So the choice I faced after the shock of losing my husband was whether I was going to becrippled by his death or inspired by his life. What, you have in your hands is themanifestation of the effect he had on me. The seven lessons I have been fortunate enoughto learn from him and what I am willing to pass on. People often ask me what it was likebeing married to Hunter S. Thompson. And I reply with his own favorite self description.It was like living with a teenage girl trapped in the body of an elderly dope fiend. Hunterhad the energy, the vitality and the curiosity of a young girl. He also had the depth ofwisdom at his disposal that came with his age and experience and a keener eye thananyone I have met before or since. Hunter cultivated, carved, sharpened and polished hislife like a fine sparkling diamond. This book is about what I learnt from my husband, as Iwatched him craft his life and observe others crafting theirs. It is not always easy livingwith Hunter. It was not always living with Hunter. But I bought the ticket and took theride and I have been still riding the wave and I remain very grateful for those years Ispend with him. I was 25 years old when we met and a young 25 at that. Hunter knew itand brought me into the loop and I have never been the same. He turned out to be my bestfriend and my boss and my teacher all in one. He helped to see my own strengths andweaknesses and taught me to never ever try to be like anybody else, especially Hunter S.Thompson. Perhaps the most important lesson I learned from him was this, play hard,work hard, but always be yourself.If you are one of those who loved Hunter S. Thompson's show for it's decadence, it'scrazy debauchery on every level mixed with Wild Turkey, Dunhill's and multitudes ofuppers uppers and downers and screamers and laughers and high speed car rides withthe top down; hovering on the edge for the adrenalin rush. And if you are one of thosepeople who assume those sorts of things alone will enable you to live the Gonzo Way thisbook is not for you. If you are one of those people who just needs a few guns and bombsand a loaded pipe of hashish and friendships be damned this book is not for you either.There is a difference between the image in Hunter's works on your bookshelf and his truelife style which developed a life of it's own in this skewed public eye.Yes, Hunter's greatest work of art was his own life. And those aforementioned scenarioswith all their speeds, substances and forays to the edge were indeed part of his life andcertainly interesting. But they were hardly his whole story. And they may not be what youare all about, nor should you strive for them either. Hunter often said that he neveradvocated drugs, alcohol and craziness as a way of life for anyone else; although theycertainly worked for him. But there was so much more to him that not everybody grasped that.So that's basically the premises of my book. And it's geared toward those younger readersand young at heart readers who are a little confused as to the basics of Gonzo. So I amopening up to questions now. If anyone has something you would like to ask me I am open to that