Ghosts of Tim Leary and Hunter Thompson

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ghosts of Tim Leary and Hunter Thompson
Freedom vs. Authority under the 40-foot pulsating rainbow vagina
by Joe Bageant

Everything Americans think they know, they learned from a televised morality play. It's all theater. You root for some good guy and boo some bad guy. You pick your own, but you dance to the tune of the men running the show. It's mind control, pure and simple, and if there is an American immune to it, then he is probably living in a snow cave somewhere in Alaska.
— Gypsy Joe Hess (1919-1988), prospector, self-educated philosopher and horse trader

In my ragged assed 40 years of writing, I've been lucky enough — or sometimes unlucky enough — to meet and write about many of America's "somebodies," mostly vapid asshole movie and TV stars and rock musicians. When I was young, so-called "media journalism" then was just what it is now, what we called "starfucking", and amounted to writing PR for media corporations in "music journals" of the time. But we covered a few worthwhile iconic figures in the mix as well — the kind that stick around in the background of one's thinking forever. At my age now, I find a lot of them are dying off, the Hunter Thompsons, Susan Sontags, Ken Keseys and Kurt Vonneguts. However, I have a self-imposed policy not to eulogize them because the hundreds of sentimental Internet tributes that flourish upon their deaths somehow seem ghoulish, and because it is a universal truth that we writers will do anything for an audience, and celebrity death is one of the easiest ways to attract one.
"Is this the office of Hunter Thompson Productions?"

"Yeah. You want to murder a horse tonight?"


This 61-year old bright eyed ex-Harvard psychologist bouncing around in white Nikes and a pinstriped shirt did not strike me as burned out at all. I'd covered Fleetwood Mac a bit earlier, and believe me, compared to Stevie Nix, Leary was not even slightly crispy around the edges.

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