Harold Bishop has a posse

The Rae St Institute > Blog archive > The Great What the Fuck Hunt

There are certain people you expect to die in a hospital, surrounded by family and friends, after a short illness, maybe a long and relatively healthy life.

There are certain people you expect to die alone in a nursing home, abandoned and forgotten by their jaded, far-flung children who haven't spoken to them for more than a decade.

And then there are certain people you expect to die in a blaze of glory; a flaming car wreck after missing a turn while getting head, knocking back a bottle of Wild Turkey.. tearing around winding clifftop roads at 90mph in an open-top cadillac.. all combined with a good 3 or 4 tabs of acid.

But Suicide?!

It seems ludicrous... but kinda makes sense at the same time.

The Good Doctor is dead.

For a primer if you only know Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, his last published column (albeit for that bastion of journalistic excellence ESPN) is a nice starting point.

Now see here's the thing... I've come across people who pooh-pooh him as being some drugfucked violent has-been whose writing "sucks", is "unoriginal" and "fueled by stupid behaviour". Being that most of these people aren't exactly, shall we say.. enthusiastic about the lifestyle he led (or at least wrote about leading..), the judgement is the old ad-hominem thing; it's based on what he does rather than what he writes. And it's just plain uninformed.

HST wasn't just about the drugs/booze/guns; simple fact is America happens to have just lost one of its most important alternative voices. Anyone who doesn't believe that should at least read Kingdom of Fear and his savage criticism of American political hypocrisy from pre-Nixon through Granada to 9/11 and its aftermath as an overview. The HST/Nixon love-hate thing is legendary, and Thompson's righteous mistrust for a flawed and corrupt system make for enlightening reading. Fear And Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 is one of the most cutting and important books on American Politics I've read.

But what's more important, and what sticks most in my mind about Thompson is the whole Gonzo ideal. It's not a drugs-booze-insanity thing, it's a basic concept about journalistic subjectivity. Before I even got into HST's stuff at all I shot footage for SKA TV at S11; compared my footage to what the media ran.. compared the media's voiceovers to the vision they were playing - if you watched the news with the sound off it was about police running amok with batons, if you turned the sound on it was about 'violent protestors'.

I'd always been somewhat suspicious of media, but this was the turning point. Mainstream journalism is by and large lazy, opinionated and uninformed, but presents itself as objective, factual, impartial and precise. This is a blatant fucking lie. The sooner journalists admit that their work is subjective and factually questionable, the better.

Wayne Dyer, from Channel 9's "award winning" S11 coverage crew, insulting people outside the casino.
Nobody is objective.

But it ain't gonna happen.

Nonetheless, that's what Gonzo is. That the journalist should be an integral part of the story, because nobody's writing is ever truly objective.

OR&MN uses his Google research to "debunk" well-founded science; hauls out strawmen to attack people based on stuff they didn't actually say; misrepresents situations so blatantly that a casual re-read, trying best to ignore the emotive language, can show the piece self-contradictory. When he does this the blogosphere goes nuts, and people pick his work apart (rightly fucking so). Partly because making enemies I'm absolutely convinced is his aim (gives him fodder for columns about how everyone hates him and he's some lone crusader, and pushes his readership into groupthink), but partly because he's claiming to be providing 'opinion' and thus his work is up for discussion, and not necessarily 'objective' or 'factual'.

When a sloppy staffer writes a piece where they get basic facts about something completely wrong (like, say, numbers of people at an event wrong by an order of magnitude), misrepresent the aims of an organisation or action because they're not actually researching, just assuming that what they think they know is close enough.. then they present this mish-mash as FACT, this is actually worse. More bullshit has flown into the pile, people read it, assume it's true, assimilate the information and move on. The whole fact-picking and shovelling through the claims doesn't happen.

The Gonzo style isn't sufficiently arrogant to claim objectivity. It is what it is on paper, that's all. Might be right, might not be, might be true, might not be, and here's what the journo thinks about it.
http://www.aintitcool.com/ - I'd classify this guy (and his collaborators) as Gonzo. Are the reviews quality journalism in an orthodox sense? No, not really. Would David Stratton be proud of one? Hell no. But it's storytelling. He's not claiming to be authoritatively or objectively ANYTHING, just telling you a story, which happens to also give an opinion on a movie.. but there's so much extraneous information there that you get a better reading of where the opinion is coming from than if he'd just slapped a bunch of stars on it or given it thumbs up/thumbs down. You're free to disagree with him, because you can see exactly where he's coming from. You're not free to disagree with a journo, because they only provide you with information backing up their claims; not the context in which the information was received, or an admission that they have an opinion which might distort their presentation, and what that opinion is.

Gonzo can never be mainstream because it's not EFFICIENT enough. Sad though it is, people WANT mX-style everything-in-two-paragraphs-or-less-or-I'm-going-over-there, because they're busy. Biggest problem (and the crux of the whole mediocracy we live in) is that they're busy having their time stolen by the wasted space out there in the media; people trying to sell them crap they don't need.. reality TV, advertorials pretending to be current affairs shows, magazines that are 90% advertising. Stuff has to be concise, and affirm some grand consumerist world-view. No Thought Required. Turn The Page For An Exclusive Offer On Window Frame Re-Galvanising And Plastic Surgery.

HST was the type who saw through the shit, and detested the shitstorm of crap pop culture and the Republican oligarchy. He was left-wing, but a member of the NRA. He was friends with Pat Buchanan, even though he admitted to vehemently disagreeing with most of what he believed. People like that are getting rarer, I think; with-us-or-against-us is becoming the norm in all kinds of arenas.

I'm friends with people who read OR&MN and AGREE with him. Yes, it's not always cosy, and yes, I find it insulting sometimes (ie getting a 5 minute diatribe about how 'hateful' John Butler is from someone whose opinion I generally trust - quoting Monkey Nuts almost verbatim), but people are more than a single belief, a single behavioural trait. I'm still friends with these people because life is bigger than that, THEY are bigger than that. Nobody is a simple straight-forward pigeon hole filler. I've met people who abstain from drink and drugs who are great people, and great fun; also people who abstain but are arrogant, rude, self-obsessed and not worth a moment of anyone's time. I've met heavy, heavy, heavy drug users who I'd trust with my life. I've also met occasional drinkers who I wouldn't leave alone in my house for fear of things going missing. Most of my friends are fairly hard-left wing, but I've met plenty of lefties who are pricks. I've also met fairly conservative people who I get on with. Nobody can be drawn down to a single trait and attacked unconditionally on it. Nothing is ever that simple.

All the media attention on HST I've seen so far (even Lateline used the words "drug-fuelled LSD-crazed writer, bent on self-destruction" several times) has been focused on hard drugs, and Gonzo as some kind of violent self-destructive excess. Gonzo isn't excess, it's just pure intellectual honesty; being fucking reasonable to your fellow human beings - admitting that everything you say is tainted by your own opinions and experience, and that everyone is fallible.

The news is bad today, in America and for America. There is nothing good or hopeful about it - except for Nazis, warmongers and rich greedheads - and it is getting worse and worse in logarithmic progressions since the fateful bombing of the World Trade Towers in New York. That will always be a festering low watermark in this nation's violent history, but it was not the official birthday of the end of the American Century.

No. That occurred on the night of the presidential election in the year 2000, when the nexus of power in this country shifted from Washington, D.C., to "the ranch" in Crawford, TX. The most disastrous day in American history was November 7, 2000. That was when the takeover happened, when the generals and cops and right-wing Jesus freaks seized control of the White House, the U.S. Treasury, and our Law Enforcement machinery.

So long to all that, eh? "Nothing will ever be the same again," the whorish new President said at the time. "As of now we are in the grip of a National Security Emergency that will last for the rest of our lives."

Fuck you, I quit. Mahalo.

         - Welcome to the Fourth Reich, Kingdom of Fear, HST

RIP Dr Thompson.


As an aside, just when you thought OR&MN's climate change denial was nutty... this guy is a genuine nutcase.

People who believe in global warming are part of a vast totalitarian conspiracy

"Any scientist who claims global warming is happening and caused by human activity is a pretend scientist."

On Tony Blair being controlled by an international sect:

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