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Thread started 08/20/05 8:14pm


Hunter S. Thompson sent off in fireworks!

of his own ashes.

By ERIN GARTNER, Associated Press Writer Sat Aug 20, 6:39 AM ET

DENVER - Firework shells carrying the sealed ashes of "gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thompson arrived in an armored truck at his mountain home as final preparations were being made for his star-studded farewell.

The shells were scheduled to be launched Saturday night from a 150-foot-tall monument erected behind Thompson's house in Woody Creek, just outside Aspen. The event will be private, open to about 250 invited guests including Thompson's longtime illustrator, Ralph Steadman, and actors Sean Penn and Johnny Depp.

"We haven't noticed a lot of curiosity seekers or pilgrims, but the buzz and the excitement is increasing every hour," family spokesman Matt Moseley said Friday. "People are coming into town, people invited to the event, and I've been getting calls from fans who'll say things like 'I'm coming in from Wisconsin with a case of Chivas.'"

The scotch whiskey was a favorite of Thompson's.

The counterculture writer fatally shot himself six months ago in his home at the age of 67. Friends and family have said Thompson was rundown by pain and physical problems including hip replacement surgery and a broken leg.

Thompson is credited with helping pioneer New Journalism — or, as he dubbed his version, "gonzo" journalism — in which the writer made himself an essential component of the story. His most famous work is "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," a wild, sprawling satire featuring "Dr. Thompson," a snarling, drug- and alcohol-crazed observer and participant.

His widow, Anita Thompson, 32, has said she plans to publish at least three new books of her late husband's unpublished letters and stories and is looking for a permanent archive for his works.

Anita Thompson has said she doesn't want Saturday's farewell to be a solemn event. She said the memorial will include some reminiscence, readings from Thompson's work and performances by both Lyle Lovett and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

She said Depp, who grew close to Thompson after portraying him in the 1998 film version of "Fear and Loathing," funded much of the celebration.

"We had talked a couple of times about his last wishes to be shot out of a cannon of his own design," Depp told The Associated Press last month. "All I'm doing is trying to make sure his last wish comes true. I just want to send my pal out the way he wants to go out."

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Reply #1 posted 08/20/05 8:19pm


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Reply #2 posted 08/21/05 8:26am


A bullet-riddled sign points the way to Woody Creek Tavern, a favorite Hunter S. Thompson haunt in Woody Creek, Colorado, August 19, 2005. Thompson's cremated ashes will be exploded in fireworks from a 150-feet tower on the Thompson property, near the town of Woody Creek, in a ceremony on August 20 to be attended by celebrities from all over the world. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

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Reply #3 posted 08/21/05 8:26am



what a genius.
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Reply #4 posted 08/21/05 10:59am



It goes down...

...or off might be more appropriate.

Gonzo Writer Thompson's Ashes Blast Off
Associated Press Writer

WOODY CREEK, Colo. - With a deafening boom, the ashes of Hunter S. Thompson were blown into the sky amid fireworks late Saturday as relatives and a star-studded crowd bid an irreverent farewell to the founder of "gonzo journalism."
As the ashes erupted from a tower, red, white, blue and green fireworks lit up the sky over Thompson's home near Aspen.

"I'll always remember where I was when Hunter was blown into the heavens," said Thompson's neighbor, Rita Sherman, who watched the spectacle from the deck of her house.

The 15-story tower was modeled after Thompson's logo: a clenched fist, made symmetrical with two thumbs, rising from the hilt of a dagger. It was built between his home and a tree-covered canyon wall, not far from a tent filled with merrymakers.

"He loved explosions," explained his wife, Anita Thompson.

The private celebration included actors Bill Murray and Johnny Depp, rock bands, blowup dolls and plenty of liquor to honor Thompson, who killed himself six months ago at the age of 67.

Security guards kept reporters and the public away from the compound as the 250 invited guests arrived, but Thompson's fans scouted the surrounding hills for the best view of the celebration.

"We just threw a gallon of Wild Turkey in the back and headed west," said Kevin Coy of Chester, W.Va., who drove more than 1,500 miles with a friend in hopes of seeing the celebration. "We came to pay our respects."

Thompson fatally shot himself in his kitchen Feb. 20, apparently despondent over his declining health. The memorial, however, was planned as a party, with readings and scheduled performances by both Lyle Lovett and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

The author's longtime illustrator, Ralph Steadman, and actor Sean Penn were on the invitation list, along with Depp, who portrayed Thompson in the 1998 movie version of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream," perhaps the writer's best-known work.

"Over the last few months I've learned that he really touched people more deeply than I had realized," said Thompson's son, Juan.

Thompson's longtime friend George Stranahan lamented the Hollywood-style production. "I am pretty sure it isn't how Hunter would have done it," he said. "But when your friends make a mistake you support them."

Anita Thompson said Depp funded much of the celebration.

"We had talked a couple of times about his last wishes to be shot out of a cannon of his own design," Depp told The Associated Press last month. "All I'm doing is trying to make sure his last wish comes true. I just want to send my pal out the way he wants to go out."

Thompson is credited along with Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese with helping pioneer New Journalism - he dubbed his version "gonzo journalism" - in which the writer was an essential component of the story.

He often portrayed himself as wildly intoxicated as he reported on figures such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. At the height of the Watergate era, he said Richard Nixon represented "that dark, venal, and incurably violent side of the American character."

Besides the 1972 classic about Thompson's visit to Las Vegas - in which the central character was a snarling, drug- and alcohol-crazed observer and participant - he also wrote an expose on the Hell's Angels and "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72."

The Kentucky-born writer also was the model for Garry Trudeau's balding "Uncle Duke" in the comic strip "Doonesbury."

In now-chic Aspen, Thompson was an eccentricity: He proudly fired his guns whenever he wanted, let peacocks have the run of the land and ran for sheriff in 1970 under the Freak Power Party banner.

Composer David Amram, a friend of Thompson since the early 1960s, said Thompson had never expected to be successful taking on President Nixon during the Watergate era. "He thought he would be banned or put on an enemies' list," he said.

Thompson made himself the centerpiece of his stories "to show that a regular person could be in the midst of the craziness of the time," Amram said. "He was our historian."

After his suicide, one close acquaintance suggested Thompson did not want old age to dictate the circumstances of his death. Anita Thompson said no suicide note was left.

France countdown - T-Minus 4 days and counting. woot!

peace Tribal Disorder
[Edited 8/21/05 11:34am]
"Ya see, we're not interested in what you know...but what you are willing to learn. C'mon y'all."
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Reply #5 posted 08/21/05 1:16pm


Author Hunter S. Thompson's symbol, a clenched fist holding a peyote button, is seen on his mailbox near his Owl Farm property in Woody Creek, Colorado, August 19, 2005. Thompson's cremated ashes will be exploded in fireworks from the top of a 150-feet tower in a ceremony on August 20 to be attended by celebrities from all over the world. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

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Reply #6 posted 08/23/05 6:58pm



A detailed account from the Rocky Mountain News:

Writer lights up crowd in grand finale

By Jeff Kass, Rocky Mountain News

August 22, 2005


That was one of Hunter S. Thompson's favorite expressions and what he might have said Saturday night as his ashes - mixed with fireworks and shot over a 153-foot fist sculpture - sprinkled an awestruck crowd of close friends and family holding champagne glasses and seeped into the rustic property he called his "psychic anchor."

Thompson's ashes blasted off in three waves of red, white and blue at 8:45 p.m. as a crowd of about 400 gathered just outside a massive, tented bar raised for the occasion.

Fist symbols were projected into the sky like Batman logos, and a decorative peyote button embedded in the fist-shaped monument pulsed blue, orange, red and green.

Boulders surrounded the tower, and Thompson's "red shark" - a red Chevy convertible - was parked nearby. The passenger and driver seats were occupied by blow-up sex dolls. Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man, as the gonzo journalist had requested, played after his ashes were launched.

One guest noted that maybe only King Tut could have rivaled such a send-off. Although in the case of Saturday's event, it cost an estimated $2 million from the pockets of actor Johnny Depp, who had portrayed Thompson in a film and became his close friend.

"I really think this is the greatest celebration that anyone has ever thrown for anyone else," said Boston-based attorney George Tobia, a co-executor of Thompson's estate.

The guest list was ripped from the pages of Who's Who: television journalist Ed Bradley; presidential historian and official Thompson biographer Douglas Brinkley; Depp; actor Josh Hartnett; former Democratic presidential candidates John Kerry and George McGovern; singer Lyle Lovett; actor Bill Murray, who once portrayed Thompson; and Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner.

While the event was closed to the public, Brinkley, McGovern, widow Anita Thompson and others later went into Aspen to speak with fans who made pilgrimages from across the country.

Depp arrived at the J-Bar in the Hotel Jerome around 2 a.m. At that point, the bar closed, but continued to serve comped drinks as Depp, who portrayed Thompson in the movie version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, hobnobbed with the crowd.

The J-Bar, one of Thompson's old-time hangouts, was where most of the guests started their night with a shuttle to the writer's home about 15 minutes outside Aspen. Elegant white invitations with a silver foil dagger topped by a double-thumbed fist - Thompson's logo - had gone out in the weeks before. The invites also carried a quote from one of Thompson's books describing how his property was an anchor and "personal lighthouse."

The shuttle did not leave from the hotel lobby, but from the garage, which threw off many guests. Cell phones and cameras had to be left behind before entering the shuttle van. Guests had to show photo ID, and their names were cross-checked against a list.

The service officially began at 6 p.m. Stepping onto Thompson's 42-acre property, guests walked past massive red, yellow and black banners with the writer's logo. On the banner flipsides were photos of Thompson throwing a football, smoking and in his car.

Trays of mint juleps - a nod to Thompson's Kentucky roots - greeted visitors who walked up a stairway and into the bar area. A portrait-sized photo of Thompson holding a dagger was surrounded by images of the most influential writers in his life, such as Joseph Conrad and Mark Twain.

The funeral was essentially in two parts. The more solemn chapter came first, and during that time, except for the juleps, the bar served no alcohol. For about two hours, family and friends served up eulogies from a clear plastic podium.

Among the first speakers was widow Anita Thompson who, through her sobs, read aloud Thompson's favorite poem, Kubla Khan by Samuel Coleridge. But, in her former husband's spirit, she ended with a bit of a prank, pulling out a disposable camera and taking pictures of the crowd.

Like others, Bradley talked of how he still fought the urge to drive to Thompson's house when in the neighborhood, the tears he still had and how he had trusted Thompson.

Bradley spoke of a plane flight with Thompson to pick up a Porsche: Thompson arrived at the airport in 1993 with one minute to go and set his glass of Chivas on the X-ray security conveyer belt as if other passengers did the same. At the dealership, Thompson asked for more whiskey. Still, Bradley let Thompson drive the Porsche - which coincidentally, he said, had been damaged Saturday - part of the way home.

Bradley and Thompson agreed that the $40 Bradley once paid to have his head shaved was too much. So Thompson did the job the next time, using Chanel cream and bag of disposable razors. Thompson would make three strokes with each razor, then toss it in the trash. Bradley's head did not emerge with a single nick or cut.

Along more political lines, McGovern recognized Kerry in the audience and said the crowd would be calling him President Kerry if the last election hadn't been rigged. Then again, he said, that might not be the case if the election before that hadn't been rigged, too, and Al Gore had won.

McGovern recounted how the back cover of Thompson's book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail: '72 jokingly noted that McGovern asked Thompson to be the vice presidential candidate. But McGovern himself joked Saturday that might have helped.

McGovern recalled that Thompson had always rued not going to Bermuda for a weekend getaway with McGovern's wife. She told McGovern before the funeral she regretted that, too.

Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, one of Thompson's closest friends, said he knew of Thompson's other regrets, but they were too devious to recount. "You'd all faint," he said.

Braudis referenced the commemoration for Thompson at the Hotel Jerome in March after his Feb. 20 suicide when Braudis started his speech saying, "The pope only got one funeral."

Lisl Auman's mother, Colleen Auerbach, also spoke and credited Thompson's crusade for saving her daughter's life. A judge today will consider sending Auman to a halfway house, dropping her sentence of life in prison without parole for her role in the 1997 killing of Denver police officer Bruce VanderJagt.

Artist Ralph Steadman, a longtime collaborator, also spoke at the funeral as history both replayed and was realized before the crowd.

It was Steadman who drew up the original plans for the fist monument and went with Thompson to a Hollywood funeral home in 1977 where the two were filmed proposing the idea to a slightly befuddled, straight-laced mortuary man.

Part of the documentary was filmed on Thompson's property - in the same area were people stood Saturday night - and played on a large screen shortly before the launch.

Depp made few remarks. He joked about the security and that he had sneaked in a camera. Depp noted that, simply put, the elaborate funeral was in place because it was in line with Thompson's wishes. Depp stood by Thompson's only son, Juan Thompson, as the ashes shot into the air.

Later, Depp played guitar with Lyle Lovett and Jimmy Ibbotson of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Depp also is from Kentucky, and the group sang My Old Kentucky Home.

The speeches in the tent ended as Juan Thompson declared, "The king is dead. Long live the king."

With the blast off, a more celebratory tone took place as the bar began serving Thompson's favorite drinks. Cloth covering some furniture was removed, revealing a massive replica of Thompson's kitchen office where he worked, including a refrigerator.

At 3 a.m. Sunday, about 75 guests remained.

Earlier Saturday, friends and family discussed Thompson and his legacy. Well-known Denver attorney Hal Haddon, an executor of Thomp-son's estate, said the writer would have covered the event like he did the Mint 400 off-road race in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

"He would get near it, and then go to a bar," Haddon said.

Then he used another favorite Hunter Thompson expression to try and capture what the author would say about the event.

"I think he would have said, 'Hot damn, that's me,' " Haddon said.

Copyright 2005, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.

a psychotic is someone who just figured out what's going on
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Reply #7 posted 08/23/05 9:44pm


Damn! Johnny Depp dropped 2mil for his send off?!? Shit. Hunter's worth it.
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