Dr. Hunter S. Thompson would have been 76 today.
In his honor, as is tradition, here are birthday words from Mr. Drew McKinney:
Has it been a year already? Of course it has, I can tell by simply gazing at a mirror. The hairline has, impossibly, receded even further back on my skull in a grand attempt to meet my neck. What little hair remains is a bit grayer, the creases in my face are a bit deeper, and the joints in my body make a bit more noise. And so much for aging gracefully. They lied to us about that part but what are we going to do about it? Those liars are already dead or dying and the energy we have left is better spent thinking about our own inevitable demise.
This time last year I was in the sticks of Georgia, sweltering in near triple-digit heat, watching the wells evaporate dry and wondering when it would all come to a fiery end as we inched our way to glorious spontaneous combustion. That fire never came though, we got through it and somehow between then and now I made my back to my favorite city, that fair maiden of the West, my old lover, San Francisco. The hellfire of Georgia has been replaced with a blanket of cold mist and I sit with a mug of green tea, bundled up in more layers than I have bones, contemplating the merits of powering up the space heater. Whatever happened to the July of my childhood?
San Francisco is an amazing city. It is somehow both inspiring and unpleasant, a place where the rich get richer and the dreams of peasants get crushed under thousand-dollar designer boots. The working class can no longer afford to live here and must be shuttled in by crowded bus or train to beg for pennies or the dregs of someone's Soy Latte. And yet... we all scratch and claw and bite and curse to stay here so there must be something about it.
The Good Doctor spent a fair amount of time here. His residence at 318 Parnassus isn't that far from where I am now and rumor has it that if you look closely you can still make out where the bullet holes were patched. From drunk stumbling in Haight Ashbury to drunk dancing in the Marina to drunk drinking South Of Market, Hunter had this town wired. He was equally at home writing in the offices of Rolling Stone or "managing" a gritty sex theater in the Tenderloin or partying with Hells Angels in Potrero Hill. It's said that Hunter knew the location of every motel ice machine in the city, the better to make his famous Chivas snowcones with, and I choose to believe it. The stories those ice machines must have.
Oh to have been in San Francisco during that time and with that man. I can totally imagine what it was like... roaring down Geary Boulevard to Point Lobos Avenue in a car with the top down, cold beers comfortably nestled between thighs, the remnants of a joint dangling from the ashtray, rock music blaring into the night. The ocean would come into view and Hunter would smile, flick his eyes to make sure I was cool with this and then he would floor the accelerator and we would be airborne, soaring through the air silent and weightless, flying off the cliff until we landed with a crashing thud on the beach below. He'd drain his beer and toss it into the waves, grab another from the six-pack and pop it open. "See," he would say, "nothing to worry about."
Happy Birthday, Doc.
HST in the car via Aspen Post. 318 Parnassus photo via psychedelicsister.blogspot.com. Thank you, Drew. Thank you, Hunter.