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The savage journey

Note: Hunter S. Thompson is dead.

Journalism is like wine -- your level of understanding and appreciation is entirely up to you. Like wine you decide whether to simply drink it with dinner or savor its complexity and subtle nuances.

For those willing to consider journalism as more than a way to get news, the death of Hunter S. Thompson, the author of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and "Hells Angels", is significant. Probably no author in the last 250 years did as much for personal journalism, and that was when James Boswell, biographer of Samuel Johnson, wrote his "London Journal".

In the 1972, Thompson's "gonzo journalism" bored the first hole in the dike that 40 years later led to today's collapse of the cozy relationship between big journalism and major politicians. He took readers on the savage journey to the heart of the American dream.

Along with Ken Kesey, author of "One flew over the Cuckoo's Nest", and whose travels on the bus "Further" with the Merry Pranksters were the subject of Tom Wolfe's "Electric Koolaid Acid Test", Thompson's articles in "Rolling Stone", viciously illustrated by Ralph Steadman, did more to rid a generation of the numbing, poisonous, no-minded prudery lingering from the 1950s and represented by a docile press and the politics and practices of President Richard Milhous Nixon with his CREEP cronies.

The authors had an effect, not because Kesey or Thompson were right, but because they made readers realize that the establishment was wrong and, if the authors hadn't the answer, there had to be something else -- and YOU were responsible for finding it.

While Thompson and Kesey have both passed on, their work is left unfinished. Politically Correct News has mutated into something equally uninformative and useless as the incarnation Thompson lampooned and harpooned. Numbing, poisonous, no-minded prudery lingers. And YOU are still responsible for completing the savage journey to the heart of the American dream.

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This page was last updated: Monday, February 21, 2005 at 10:27:20 AM
Copyright 2014 Stephen B. Waters Weblog at: http://blogs.rny.com/sbw/
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