Better Than Sex (Page 2)
come from a long line of farmers, coal miners, holy roller preachers, musicians,
storytellers, and strong women. Sarah comes from a long line of farmers, mechanics,
coal miners, and strong Cherokee women. The people we met at The Woody Creek Tavern
were blue collar working class, poor, downtrodden, stubborn, strong-willed, independent,
resistant individuals who will not be told, by church or state or anyone else,
how to live their lives. They are American dissidents. Dissidence is not un-American.
Our country was born of dissidence. We dissented against our parent, England,
went our own way and formed a new country, the USA. Many people died in the process.
We fought for the right the freedom to dissent, the freedom to agree or disagree
with our government, with anyone, and not be punished for dissenting. The Declaration
of Independence, The Constitution, and The Bill of Rights are the most important
political documents ever conceived, written, and made into law. The pilgrims at
The Woody Creek Tavern understood all this. They live their lives accordingly
regardless of the consequences. So did Hunter S. Thompson. And Hunter went a step
further. He expressed his dissent in his life and his writing. His books became
best sellers. Hunter is popular all over the world. He was bold, courageous, outrageous
in ways many people are fearful of. But even more admire Hunter for having the
courage to be a beacon of what it means to be a true American, honest and independent.
He felt that adults should have the freedom to choose how they live their lives.
As long as you dont hurt anybody you should be able to do whatever you want.
Hunter used alcohol and drugs, excessively by most standards but not his own.
Everybody has a different tolerance level. Each person must discover what works
best for them. Truth is a pathless land. We should all have the freedom to find
our own individual truths.
was wrong. Besides the events Ive produced, Ive also presented over
4,000 readings of my own work round the world. I know how to read a crowd. The
vibrations at The Woody Creek Tavern were not good, they were terrible, gruesome.
And it wasnt just because folks were mourning Hunter. I saw right away it
was much more than that.
and I had a delicious meal. We had to sign an I.O.U. for our meal because they
dont take credit cards and we didnt have enough cash. We noticed that
several others were caught in the same predicament.
afternoon turned to evening the mood of the growing crowd darkened. There were
at least as many members of the world press as there were pilgrims. And nobody,
press or pilgrim, was having any luck getting on The List for The Big Party. Nobody
could even get on Hunters property to get a closeup view or photo of the
rarely seen such security. All Friday and Saturday security guards, dressed in
black, lined the road from Highway 82 outside Aspen, down across Woody Creek all
along Woody Creek Road for miles on each side of Hunters Owl Farm. Plus
security was arm to arm surrounding the property. We drove up to Owl Farm stopping
nearby for Sarah to take a photo of me at the Gonzoed mailbox with the Woody Creek
Road sign. To our astonishment a huge black SUV drove up to us and stopped. It
had GONZO POLICE signs on the sides. It was filled with sneering demon-faced thugs.
Sarah had already taken the photo so we walked back to our car. The Gonzo Police
drove away. I was astonished. Gonzo Police? Is this possible? Having Gonzo Police
patrol a Hunter Thompson party is like me having Poetry Police patrol one of my
48-hour non-stop music and poetry Insomniacathons. Its beyond absurd. Its
frightening! The negative energies my increasingly raw nerves were picking up
were taking me to a bad bad place.
spectacle. I have participated in a few glitterati spectacles but I have never
been a fan. I cant stand the phoney pomp and circumstance. Although this
was an attempt to honor one of the worlds greatest writers of all time,
a Kentucky rebel with a cause, it had turned into a glitterati rich and famous
spectacle much like The Kentucky Derby which Hunter decried in his The Kentucky
Derby is Decadent and Depraved, the piece that birthed Gonzo and forever
changed the face of journalism and creative non-fiction. The Blastoff still included
family and friends but the rich and famous exclusivity of the event had turned
its face ugly, it had grown horns. They were all there to be presented mint juleps
at the front tent: John Kerry, George McGovern, Johnny Depp, Bill Murray, Sean
Penn, Ralph Steadman, Lyle Lovett, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and so many more.
Kind words were said about Hunter, much alcohol was consumed, chandeliers glistened,
Japanese drummers drummed then Bob Dylans Mr. Tambourine Man,
Hunters favorite song, rang out over loudspeakers, followed by Spirit
In The Sky as the handsome statue was unveiled, spotlights reflected light
off clouds which rested just above the mountains, and Hunters ashes were
blown, with a spectacular light and pyrotechnics show, over his adored Owl Farm.
difference between The Hunter Blastoff and The Kentucky Derby is that the working
class, the poor, the downtrodden have access to The Derby via the infield. The
infielders can, if they want, actually fight through the mob to the fence and
see the majestic thoroughbreds fly by. The working class, the poor, the downtrodden,
the pilgrims who walked, hitchhiked, and drove old broken down vehicles for hundreds
and thousands of miles to be close as Hunters ashes were blasted across
his farm... well they were not allowed to watch to listen to witness to experience.
The event was too exclusive, too precious to even create an infield, to cordon
off an area and perhaps even, as part of the $2.5 million production cost, give
them boxed wine and potato chips or leftover cake and allow them to be close too
so they could also pay homage to their hero, the great Hunter S. Thompson. But
they didnt even get that.
Sarah and I drove up to the main entrance I was in terrible shape. My nerve-shattered
extra sensory perception was providing me the most positive glowing warmth while
enjoying this adventure with Sarah. But The Blastoff energy was having the opposite
effect. The darkness was swallowing me. I was nearly catatonic. Sarah and I have
spent our lives as members of and writing for the downtrodden, the beat, the poor,
the blue collar working class. In America today the gap between the rich and the
poor is greater than ever. I have chosen to be a warrior, a non-violent warrior,
against injustice. How could this be happening? What would Hunter think of this
spectacle? If Hunter had been assigned to cover The Hunter Blastoff he would have
turned and gone back to his hotel room to write The Real Story.
was overwhelmed by darkness, by the irony that these rich liberals, all of whom
condemn Bush for his excessive exclusivity, were being exclusive in the worse
possible Marie Antoinette/George Bush way.
pulled into the main entrance where security checked to see if you were on The
List. On the Owl Farm side of Woody Creek Road the see and be seen rich and famous
were in the grand tent drinking champagne toasts to their superior status and
wealth. On the other side of Woody Creek Road was the mass of pilgrims, and the
press, fenced off, forced to keep their distance from the spectacle. We were saddened
and sickened by the crude exclusivity of the scene. The energy was totally negative.
Pilgrims with hearts full of love and respect for Hunter were treated like second
class citizens, literally left out in the cold. As witnesses, Sarah and I, on
the verge of nausea, paused at the main entrance, turned, got in our car, with
cameras flashing, film crews filming, people yelled Look, Kentucky, plates!
We fled the scene not wanting to be part of the grotesque snobbery of the glitterati
morning, Sunday, August 21, 2005, we drove back to Owl Farm. Security was still
there. We stopped at the main gate and talked with Rich Gilmore, a friendly security
guard who promised to visit us in Kentucky. Many Kentuckians and others from other
states and countries asked us to say farewell to Hunter for them. We did. Many
people in Woody Creek yelled, waved, honked and even followed us because we were
the only people there with Kentucky plates. Hunters life and writing was
a continuous series of explosions. He died as he lived, explosion by gun, explosion
by cannon. Staring at the fist in the sky I raised a toast to Hunter, God
Bless You & Your Family Hunter, we will meet again. Then Sarah and I
drove 24 hours non-stop back to the state we love the most, Kentucky.