Tuesday, February 22, 2005

THE LATE GREAT HUNTER S. James Lileks, Esq., the MacLeish of the Mall of America, thinks the late Hunter S. Thompson didn't do anything worthwhile after Hell's Angels: "It was all bile and spittle at the end, and it was hard to read the work without smelling the dank sweat of someone consumed by confusion, anger, sudden drunken certainties" etc. etc.

Here is something the Good Doctor wrote rather recently, while Mr. Lileks was shaking all Minneapolis with the thunder of his mediocrity:
There is an ever-growing appetite for Violence as Entertainment in this country -- especially among those in the 18-35 demographic that TV is targeting -- that something Dark & Disastrous is going to come of it. There is a good commercial reason why Fox just paid for TV rights to NASCAR, and it is exactly the same reason why every recently built racetrack from California to Maine is designed about 20 feet Wider than tracks were built in the old days, when it was physically impossible for more than three (3) cars to run side by side at 180 mph in the straightaway -- the new & Wider tracks have created the blood-curdling spectacle of four cars running fender-to-fender at top speed.

"It makes the racing vastly more Exciting," say the auto-sport czars. "It dramatically raises the Potential-Disaster factor & whips the fans into a frenzy."

Right. Blood & guts, bread & Circuses, human brains all over the asphalt. The people of Rome demanded more & more Death & Cruelty on their Sunday afternoons at the Coliseum -- until Nobody was left to Sacrifice. They ran out of Victims.

And so will the NFL, the NBA and NASCAR. That is what makes people nervous about the meaning of Dale Earnhardt's death. It is the American Dream run amok. Watch it & weep.
This was the allegedly enfeebled Thompson writing for ESPN in his declining years. The Fear and Loathing books, and the great essays for Rolling Stone, were also part of Thompson's journalistic work. Till he decided that it was all too much to bear he kept on producing, which is what journalists do. Purportedly as a man, and observably as a writer, he was one true, tough son of a bitch, and I will remember with gratitude his work long after I have forgotten my current anger at the mewling pipsqueaks who seek through their flimsy prattle to minimize him.

UPDATE. It's a sad reversal when the New York Post's farewell to HST turns out classier than that of Richard Brookhiser, whose normal function is to wrangle NRO's shit-ass punks when they stray too far from objective reality. "The druggie Jerry Lewis" doesn't even make sense. Tommy Chong -- now there's your druggie Jerry Lewis! Maybe Brookhiser has got into the blotter again.

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