Gonzo journalist – the inventor of Gonzo journalism, no less – anti-Nixon political commentator, NRA member, booze and drug advocate, and the man whose corpse got blasted out of a rocket: we all know something about Hunter S. Thompson. Here, then, in honour of one of our favourite free-wheeling, experimental, opinionated and, well, unusual writers, are a few less well known passions, which wonderfully showcase his eccentric genius.
Fast food lover
Thompson’s daily diet wasn’t what we’d call exemplary, or, indeed, legal, but contraband substances aside, he did have some pretty bizarre eating habits. According to E. Jean Carroll’s 1993 biography, Hunter: The Strange and Savage Life of Hunter S. Thompson, our man, who was something of a night-owl, would head to a tavern for his lunch at seven pm and devour, amongst other treats, two cheese burgers, two orders of fries, a plate of tomatoes, coleslaw, a taco salad, a double order of onion rings, carrot cake, ice-cream and bean fritters. We’re kinda tempted to try the bean fritters in his honour…
Night write owl
In keeping with the late lunch, Hunter wrote through the night, fuelled by booze, coffee, grapefruit, and cigarettes, not to mention the R-rated movies. He wrote from midnight through to six am before retiring to the hot-tub with champagne and fettuccini. So if you’re ever stuck figuring out your manuscript, try slipping around your schedule and slipping into the bath at dawn!
Wired for action
When Thompson was on staff at Rolling Stone he pretty much always hauled a fax machine around with him to file stories – often near illegible ones – at the last minute, and he called it the ‘mojo machine’. This is pre-internet, of course, and the gadgets certainly weren’t wireless: he claimed that he carried a fifty foot extension cord everywhere so that he could pul into a gas-station to file his copy: as long as there was a payphone in the vicinity and he had a fifty-cent piece to make the connection, he was sorted. And this was a guy actually ahead of the telecommunications game at the time…
A man of the people
He was definitely a battler when it came to politics. As well as being a fan of Che Guevera (turning up in Wayne Ewing’s 2003 documentary Breakfast With Hunter in several different Che t-shirts), Thompson, in various letters, compared Karl Marx to Thomas Jefferson and called the free enterprise system as ‘the single greatest evil in the history of human savagery.’ You might associate him with pro-gun campaigns, but Hunter spent a fair amount of his time fighting a left-of-centre fight…
We might remember him for his books and journalism, but Thompson was also a keen photographer, even if an amateur one. Since his death in 2005, his photos have gone on tour and have appeared in print in a book called, fairly predictably, Gonzo; they were documentary-style shots related to his non-fiction writings, self-portraits and still lifes, an ‘astonishingly good’ record of the sixties, according to the UK’s Observer newspaper, and just as worth checking out as his writing.