Hunter's Friends Say Hollywood hijacked his funeral

Sterling GreenwoodBY STERLING GREENWOOD FOR "ASPEN'S WORST NEWSPAPER"

WOODY CREEK, Co., (Aug. 19, 2005) -- TODAY'S QUOTE: "I COME NOT TO BURY HUNTER THOMPSON, BUT TO PROCLAIM MY SPECIAL STATUS." DR. EDWARD MOHNS, PSYCHIATRIST, SAN DIEGO, ON LEARNING THAT ATTENDANCE OF TOMORROW'S MEMORIAL BLASTOFF OF THE GONZO AUTHOR'S ASHES WAS BY INVITATION ONLY.*

(I WROTE THIS IN WHAT HUNTER MIGHT DESCRIBE A TEETH-RATTLING DEADLINE FRENZY, RIDING SHOTGUN IN A BUMPY JEEP EN ROUTE TO ASPEN FROM HUNTER'S OWL FARM NEAR WOODY CREEK-- SO THE PROSE IS RAMBLING, JUMBLED.

I RECEIVED A 'LETTER,' SEVERAL DAYS AGO FROM ANITA THOMPSON, HUNTER'S WIDOW, BUT I HAVEN'T OPENED IT.

BETTER NOT TO KNOW IF IT'S AN INVITATION TO THE CEREMONIAL EXPLOSION AT OWL FARM OF HUNTER'S CREMATED REMAINS FROM A MAMMOTH DOUBLE-THUMBED FIST ATOP A TOWER TALLER THAN THE STATUTE OF LIBERTY.

THE TEMPTATION TO ATTEND MIGHT BE OVERWHELMING.

YOU SEE, I DECIDED SOME TIME AGO NOT TO ACCEPT ANY COURTESIES IN CONNECTION WITH THE EVENT -- SUCH AS AN INVITATION TO ATTEND IT -- THAT AREN'T EXTENDED TO JOURNALISTS GENERALLY. . PLUS, THE ACCEPTANCE OF AN INVITATION TO HUNTER'S FIERY SENDOFF FROM THE NEWLY-CONSTRUCTED $2.5 MILLION TOWER THAT JOHNNY DEPP PAID FOR COMES WITH THE IMPLICIT AGREEMENT NOT TO WRITE ABOUT THE GOINGS ON THERE ONCE INSIDE. A PR GUY TOLD ME THAT JUAN THOMPSON, HUNTER'S ADULT SON AND ONLY CHILD, CONSIDERS THE ELABORATE SENDOFF AS "MY FATHER'S FUNERAL."

MEANWHILE SOME LONGTIME LOCAL FRIENDS OF HUNTER'S ARE GETTING RESTIVE. THEY'RE WORRIED THEY MAY NOT RECEIVE ONE OF THE COVETED INVITATIONS.

I WENT TO WOODY CREEK TAVERN TODAY AND MET JOURNALISTS FROM ACROSS THE U.S. THE INTERESTING PARTIES TO INTERVIEW, THOUGH, WERE THE OLD FRIENDS OF HUNTER'S WHO CHECK THEIR MAILBOXES REGULARLY FOR AN INVITATION.

AND I INTERVIEWED OTHERS, TOO, BY PHONE WHO ARE NOT IN ASPEN NOW BUT ESTEEMED IN HUNTER'S LIFE AND WHO HAVEN'T BEEN INVITED EITHER. SUCH AS DAVE PRICE, FORMER EDITOR OF THE ASPEN TIMES AND NOW PUBLISHER OF THE PALO ALTO DAILY NEWS. .

PRICE HELD HUNTER'S HAND WHEN HUNTER GOT HIT IN EARLY 1990 WITH AN EIGHT-COUNT INDICTMENT INCLUDING CHARGES OF SEXUAL ASSAULT, POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES AND 'INCENDIARY DEVICES.

HUNTER WAS BESIDE HIMSELF WITH WORRY. HE OFFERED HEADLINE SUGGESTIONS TO PRICE SUCH AS , "LIFESTYLE POLICE RAID HOME OF CRAZED GONZO JOURNALIST; ELEVEN-HOUR SEARCH BY SIX TRAINED INVESTIGATORS YIELDS NOTHING BUT CRUMBS."

PRICE DIDN'T WANT TO USE SUCH A CRAZY HEADLINE SO HE PHONED ME IN TEXAS WHERE I WAS TENDING AN AILING ELDERLY RELATIVE.

'DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS?' PRICE SAID.

PRICE AND I WORKED UP "DA SNAGS THOMPSON IN SEX CASE." WHICH RAN IN THE ASPEN TIMES AND GOT REPRINTED IN "'SONGS OF THE DOOMED."

PRICE', THEN EDITOR OF THE ASPEN TIMES , CHAMPIONED HUNTER'S FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS. THIS WAS ONE FACTOR IN THE DA'S RETREAT FROM PROSECUTING THE CASE.

HUNTER SAID AT THE TIME HE WOULD FOREVER BE IN PRICE'S DEBT. PRICE WAS LISTED ON 'THE HONOR ROLL" IN "'SONGS OF THE DOOMED."

HUNTER HAD BEEN TERRIFIED AT THE PROSPECT OF SPENDING TIME IN A CAGE. IF HE HAD BEEN CONVICTED ON ALL CHARGES, HE COULD HAVE RECEIVED 44 YEARS.

BUT DAVE PRICE WON'T BE PRESENT AT HUNTER'S OWL FARM TOMORROW NIGHT FOR THE FESTIVITIES WITH JOHNNY DEPP, BILL MURRAY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES GEORGE MCGOVERN AND JOHN KERRY AND OTHERS OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS ILK.

PRICE WASN'T INVITED. .

MAYBE IF PRICE SHOWED AS A SURPRISE GUEST THEY'D LET HIM USE JACK NICHOLSON'S INVITATION. NICHOLSON SENT HIS REGRETS.

AWWWW, JACK! YOU GETTIN' TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT!

MAYBE THE CELEBS WHO TURNED DOWN THIS INVITATION IS NEWS IN ITSELF.

ONE LONGTIME LOCAL, A VERY CLOSE FRIEND OF HUNTER'S, SAID, "ANITA TOLD ME TO SHOW UP AT THE HOUSE AT 6 TOMORROW EVENING. AN INVITATIONIS SUPPOSED TO BE IN THE MAIL. MY UNDERSTANDING IS THAT ABOUT 100-150 GOT MAILED LATE. I'D FEEL STRANGE ABOUT JUST GOING TO THE GATE TO ASK A SECURITY GUARD IF IF MY NAME IS ON A LIST."

HUNTER, A COUNTER-CULTURE ICON, MIGHT WELL DESCRIBE SUCH SECURITY PERSONNEL AS "ARMED WHITE TRASH IN UNIFORMS."

HE MIGHT THREATEN NOT GO NEAR THE EXTRAVAGANZA--WHICH IS AS CLOSED AND ELITIST AS ANYTHING PRESIDENT NIXON EVER COOKED UP -- " WITHOUT A LONG CATTLE PROD."

BUT WHO KNOWS HOW HUNTER, A SELF-DESCRIBED DRUG FIEND AND MISFIT WOULD RESPOND TO HIS MEMORIAL?

PART OF HIS CHARM WAS UNPREDICTABILITY.

HUNTER JUST MIGHT REVEL IN TOMORROW'S CELEBRITY-STUDDED, PRIVATE EVENT.

AND WHY WOULDN'T HE? WHAT WITH ALL THE FRENZIED FANS GATHERED FROM ACROSS THE U.S. IN A PILGRIMAGE JUST TO SAY GOODBYE AND MAYBE GET A PEEK THROUGH THE FENCE AT THE PRIVATE GOINGS ON INSIDE. CAN YOU IMAGINE BOB WOODWARD RECEIVING SUCH A GOING-AWAY PARTY?

HUNTER MIGHT PREDICT THAT NO CONVENTIONAL JOURNALIST WILL EVER RECEIVE SUCH A "KINGHELL" SENDOFF.

JOURNALISTS WHO NEVER TOOK HIM SERIOUSLY. ONES HE MIGHT DISMISS AS "LAME YOYOS." OR "LUMPS OF WELL-DRESSED CLAY."

ONES THAT "CLUNG TO THAT PETRIFIED TIT THE CLASSIC PYRAMID LEAD."

"SENILE HACKS."

"WHERE TIME MAGAZINE LIVES. . .WAY OUT THERE ON THE PUZZLED MASTURBATING EDGE, PEERING THROUGH THE KEYHOLE AND SELLING WHAT THEY SEE TO THE WIDE WORLD OF CHAMBER OF COMMERCE VOYEURSWHO SUPPORT THE PUBLIC PRINTS."

WHEW!

ANOTHER VERY CLOSE FRIEND OF HUNTER'S, LOCAL ARTIST TOM BENTON WHO GOES BACK MORE THAN FORTY YEARS WITH HUNTER (REMEMBER THE DOUBLE-THUMBED FIST ON TOM BENTON POSTERS)TOLD ME IN CLARK'S MARKET AT ASPEN RECENTLY:

"I WENT TO THE FIRST MEMORIAL (AT THE HOTEL JEROME) BUT LEFT WHEN THE HOLLYWOODS STARTED SPEAKING. ONE WOMAN SUMMED UP THE WAY I FEEL THE NEXT DAY MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE. . SHE SAID 'JOHNNY DEPP IS SMALLER THAN I HAD IMAGINED.' I SUPPOSE I'LL GO TO THE EVENT SATURDAY NIGHT, BUT I'M NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT."

HUNTER DIED OF AN APPARENTLY SELF-INFLICTED GUNSHOT LAST FEB 20. HE WAS ALONE IN HIS KITCHEN AT OWL FARM WHEN HE PULLED THE TRIGGER OF HIS BLUE-STEEL .45. HUNTER'S BROTHER, DAVISON THOMPSON SPOKE AT THE FIRST MEMORIAL AT THE HOTEL JEROME, ALONGWITH A HOST OF CELEBRITIES.

THE ASPEN FREE PRESS BROKE THE STORY OF THE SUICIDE ON THE STREET HERE WITH AN 'EXTRA,' WHICH APRES SKIERS SLUMPED ON BARSTOOLS READ IN STUNNED DISBELIEF ALL OVER TOWN.

READER RESPONSE TO THE 'EXTRA,' RIVALED OUR 'OJ IN ASPEN ISSUE A MONTH EARLIER WHEN I FOUND AN AFFABLE O.J. CURLED OVER A VIRGIN MARY IN THE LITTLE BAR ACROSS THE STREET FROM OUR OFFICE. O.J. WANTED SOME HORSERADISH FOR HIS DRINK. BUT THAT'S ANOTHER STORY. RIGHT? THE ASPEN FREE PRESS HAS ITS FAULTS BUT WE SURE AS HELL CAN GET HOT NEWS ON THE STREET IN LESS THAN TWENTY MINUTES. I'M GETTING OFF ON WHAT HUNTER WOULD CALL A DOUBLE COMPOUND TANGENT HERE. NOW BACK TO THE RANCH ER OWL FARM.

MEANWHILE, SOME ASPEN LOCALS HAVE PREDICTED THAT A LARGE CROWD WILL WALK THE 1.4 MILES FROM WOODY CREEK TAVERN TO OWL FARM TOMORROW NIGHT TO WITNESS THE SENDOFF AT THE GATE. SOME WHO PLAN TO MAKE THE WALK SAY THEY WERE THERE FOR HUNTER IN 1969, WHEN HE RAN FOR SHERIFF AND POLLED 40 PERCENT OF THE VOTE IN A THREE-WAY FIELD.

A SHORT DIGRESSION HERE.

REMEMBER THE RED ONION RIOT TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO THIS SUMMER?

A NEW OWNER OF THE ESTABLISHMENT WAS REPORTED TO HAVE SAID AFTER HE COMPLETED A PRICEY REMODEL OF ASPEN'S OLDEST BAR/RESTAURANT, "NOW THERE WON'T BE ANY RIFFRAFF DINING HERE."

A MOB OF SIXTY OR SEVENTY LOCALS LOUDLY PROCLAIMING TO BE "RIFF-RAFF," STORMED INTO THE THE RED ONION THE NIGHT OF ITS POST FACELIFT GRAND OPENING AND THREW CHERRY BOMBS AND BROKE GLASSES AND SMASHED TABLES AND OTHERWISE TERRIFIED UPSCALE PATRONS.

THEN THE RED ONION GOT BOYCOTTED AND WAS DUBBED 'THE DEAD ONION," UNTIL THE NEW OWNER SOLD HIS INTEREST.

SIGNS SPRUNG UP ALL OVER TOWN 'RIFFRAFF WELCOME.' THERE WAS EVEN A RIFFRAFF INC., ESTABLISHED. I'M GETTING OFF TRACK AGAIN.

OKAY, LET'S GO BACK TO WOODY CREEK. I DON'T DOUBT THAT SOMEONE TOMORROW NIGHT WILL ATTEMPT TO STOKE THE IRE OF THE LEFTOUTS WHO MAY FEEL THEY'VE BEEN DUBBED "RIFF-RAFF." MAYBE TRY AND STIR THEM TO AN INTENSITY SUFFICIENT TO SPARK A MASSIVE PARTY CRASH AT OWL FARM.

BUT IT WON'T HAPPEN! THOSE I TALKED WITH WHO HAVEN'T BEEN INVITED TO THE MEMORIAL DON'T SEEM ANGRY. THEY SEEM HURT. AND BESIDES, HUNTER WAS A BROTHER.

BUT THERE IS GRUMBLING.

'THE PEOPLE PLANNING THE MEMORIAL WEREN'T IN THE TRENCHES WITH HUNTER WHEN HE SHAVED HIS HEAD AND RAN FOR SHERIFF," ONE GUY SAID AT THE TAVERN TODAY BETWEEN GULPS OF BEER. "ALL THIS EXCLUSIVITY IS VERY UNHUNTERLIKE," HE SAID. "HOLLYWOOD HAS HIJACKED HUNTER'S FUNERAL."

THE ASPEN FREE PRESS PLANS TO COVER HUNTER'S FUNERAL FROM ITS 'HUNTER AFFAIRS DESK,' TOMORROW AT WOODY CREEK TAVERN. LOOK FOR PERIODIC UPDATES HERE.

OF COURSE I PLAN TO DRINK BEER ALL AFTERNOON TOMORROW AND MAY GET DRUNK ENOUGH TO OPEN THE LETTER I RECEIVED FROM ANITA THOMPSON. IF IT IS AN INVITATION, INSTEAD OF A SIMPLE THANKS FOR CONDOLENCES ETC., I SENT IN THE WAKE OF THE FIRST MEMORIAL, I MIGHT CHUCK MY PRINCIPLES AND HOWL THROUGH THE GATES AT OWL FARM WITH THE REST OF THE MONIED MOB.

NAWWW, I WON'T! BUT WHY WOULDN'T IT BE AN INVITATION? SURE, I'M A DIRT BAG, BUT I KNEW HUNTER PRETTY WELL (SEE "A GENTLEMEN FOR JUSTICE LUNCHEON WITH HUNTER S. THOMPSON" AT WWW.ASPENFREEPRESS.COM). AND, BESIDES, IF THE DIRT BAGS HAD BEEN PROHIBITED FROM READING HUNTER'S BOOKS, HE WOULDN'T HAVE HAD ONE BESTSELLER.

AND IRONICALLY, ONE LOCAL GUY WHO SAYS HE RECEIVED WRITTEN INVITATION GOT BANNED FROM OWL FARM BY HUNTER YEARS AGO.

IN DEFENSE OF ANITA THOMPSON AND JUAN THOMPSON, ABOUT THE INVITATION CONTROVERSY, CRIMINAL ATTORNEY JOHN VANNESS, A CLOSE FRIEND OF HUNTER'S WHO HIMSELF HAS YET TO RECEIVE AN INVITATION IN THE MAIL, SAID, "ANITA DIDN'T KNOW A LOT OF HUNTER'S FRIENDS FROM BEFORE THEY GOT MARRIED (THEY MARRIED IN RECENT YEARS) AND JUAN WASN'T FAMILIAR WITH MANY OF HIS FATHER'S FRIENDS."

I DROVE VANNESS, WHO REPRESENTS NORML, OVER TO OWL FARM FRIDAY AFTERNOON WHERE WE WERE GREETED WARMLY BY ANITA WHO TOLD HIM, "I'LL SEE YOU TOMORROW NIGHT."( UPDATE -- BY LATE SATURDAY AFTERNOON, JUST HOURS BEFORE THE GATHERING AT OWL FARM VANNESS HADN'T RECEIVED A WRITTEN INVITATION, A WIDELY-PUBLICIZED REQUIREMENT FOR ATTENDING)

I FIND ALL THIS PASSING STRANGE ABOUT VANNESS BECAUSE WHEN HUNTER CELEBRATED HIS LAST BIRTHDAY HE CHOSE TWO MEN TO COME TO OWL FARM AND JOIN HIM FOR THE AFTERNOON: JOHN VANNESS AND ED BRADLEY OF "60 MINTUES."

WOULD HUNTER DEIGN TO COVER HIS OWN FUNERAL? I DOUBT IN THE MANNER ORGANIZERS WOULD LIKE. WHEN HUNTER WENT TO KETCHUM, IDAHO AFTER HEMINGWAY DIED, HE STOLE SOME ANTLERS MOUNTED ABOVE THE FRONT DOOR OF HEMINGWAY'S HOME.

IF YOU'RE ONE OF THE LUCKY INVITEES, YOU CAN PROBABLY SEE THOSE SAME ANTLERS.

HUNTER" STOMPED ON THE TERRA" -- HE WAS A CLASSIC DIONYSIAN. I RELATE TO THE TYPE BECAUSE IF I CAN'T HAVE TOO MUCH OF A THING I DON'T WANT ANY OF IT.

HUNTER LIVED FREE, DROVE FAST, BINGED ON DRUGS AND GOT RICH AND FAMOUS WRITING ABOUT IT.

A SELF-TAUGHT JOURNALIST WHO NEVER WENT TO COLLEGE, HE CHAMPIONED THE UNDERDOG TO THE VERY END, MADE POWERFUL ENEMIES-- DOES A JOURNALIST DESERVE RESPECT WHO DOESN'T?

YET SOMEHOW THROUGH IT ALL HE MANAGED "TO 'STAY LOOSE AND WEIRD ON THE STREETS," UNTIL. . . UNTIL HE REACHED THE DEAD-END LONLINESS OF A MAN WHO MAKES HIS OWN RULES.

NO WAIT, WAIT. I'M LOSING IT. . THE "DEAD-END LONLINESS," PART IS WHAT HUNTER WROTE VERBATIM DECADES AGO IN A EULOGY TO HIS FRIEND, WRITER LIONEL OLAY, IN "THE ULTIMATE FREELANCER."

HUNTER -- PERHAPS DREADING HIS OWN DICEY FUTURE AS A FREELANCER -- WROTE SORROWFULLY THAT LIONEL DIED "WITHOUT MAKING MUCH OF A DENT."

HUNTER MADE MORE THAN A DENT.

HIS ASHES WILL LIGHT UP THE SKIES OVER WOODY CREEK TOMORROW NIGHT.

 

PS(I KNOW THIS SCREED IS A RAMBLING, CONVOLUTED MESS. SCREW IT! IT'SWHAT CAME OUT THIS SUNNY DAY ON THE JEEP RIDE BACK FROM OWL FARM. LOOK FOR STREET EDITIONS OF THE ASPEN FREE PRESS "ASPEN'S WORST NEWSPAPER.")

 

*THE MOST STIRRING EMAIL THE ASPEN FREE PRESS HAS RECEIVED ON THE SUBJECT OF WHETHER HUNTER WOULD COVER HIS OWN FUNERAL COMES FROM DR. EDWARD MOHNS, A PSYCHIATRIST, OF SAN DIEGO WHO RECEIVES TODAY'S ASPEN FREE PRESS "TONGUE IN CHEEK" AWARD FOR HIS "PROCLAIM MY SPECIAL STATUS," COMMENT MENTIONED ABOVE

DR MOHNS WRITES, "I THINK THAT IF THOMPSON AGREED TO COVER THE FUNERAL, HE AND HIS 300-LB SAMOAN ATTORNEY WOULD HAVE ARRIVED AT THE LAST MINUTE VIA TRESPASS, DRIVING A SUPERCHARGED 4WD VEHICLE BELCHING SMOKE, A 2000-WATT STEREO BLARING THE DEAD'S "SUGAR MAGNOLIA," OVER AND OVER AGAIN, AND WEARING WRAPAROUND DARK GLASSES AND CROSSED BANDOLIERS FULL OF .50 CAL. ROUNDS."

UPDATE: 2/21/05 THE DENVER POST -- ATTORNEY HAL HADDEN IS QUOTED IN CONNECTION WITH WHETHER HUNTER WOULD COVER HIS OWN FANCY SENDOFF BLAST INTO SPACE SATURDAY. "HE WOULD GET SOMEWHERE NEAR IT AND GO TO A BAR AND WRITE IT FROM THERE. IT'S THE KIND OF EVENT THAT HUNTER WOULD HAVE LOVED TO COVER BUT PROBABLY NEVER WOULD HAVE ATTENDED."

1981 Aspen DUI Hearing of Hunter S. Thompson click here -- Rocky Mountain News story by Sterling Greenwood

Hunter S. Thompson Shoots Himself to Death This Afternoon -. Aspen Free Press "Extra" street edition the day Hunter Thompson died 2/20./05.

Aspen Free Press photo -- Blastoff of Hunter S. Thompson cremated remains

End of the Affair with Hunter S. Thompson by Marisol Novak

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