‘Gonzo’ fans beg to pay tribute to writer Thompson
When Hunter S. Thompson’s family members said they were planning “a frenzied and chaotic celebration of monumental proportions this summer in Aspen” to celebrate the author, many had their appetites whetted for some weirdness.
So when the family held a private party at the Hotel Jerome in March to commemorate the author’s life and announced that an invitation-only funeral would be held in August with no public event, more than one Gonzo fan was feeling excluded.
Letters have started trickling in to local papers bemoaning not just the lack of an event for non-Hollywood types, but questioning why the legions of Thompson fans have not expressed outrage at being barred.
Michael Petrovich, of San Diego, said he is a huge fan and would have traveled here to attend the celebration.
“There was a lot of talk about how (the family) can do their own thing. They already did their own thing at the Hotel Jerome,” he said. “So now it’s going to be another one of those private, invite-only things and exclude everybody else.”
Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, perhaps Thompson’s closest friend, said time constraints led to the cancellation of a public event this summer.
“Right now the compression of time and this event (in August) doesn’t allow the family to plan two things at once,” he said. “So they’re going to work on this, the actual funeral, and then next summer perhaps have a big symposium with Hunter scholars, some readings and some entertainment for as many people as whatever the venue can accommodate.”
Braudis said the author’s family is sensitive of the need for a public catharsis.
Corby Anderson of Emma said he came here partly because of the atmosphere instilled by Thompson.
“I moved to this valley, in part, not because of the Aspen idea, but because of the anti-Paepckes, Hunter S. Thompson, the Freak Power in the Rockies,” he said.
Anderson called for a singular event to celebrate Thompson’s genius and his impact on the valley. He proposed that a weekend be devoted to the author and his work.
“You have panels on GrassRoots TV with George Stranahan, Jann Wenner and Douglas Brinkley, you have concerts in the park, you have a Buttermilk event with (Ralph) Steadman on stage talking to the people,” he mused. “There’s no white smoke pouring from Owl Farm’s chimney to anoint the next Dr. Gonzo. This was a one-time thing.”
Petrovich said he was in favor of the original idea to let Gonzo-heads cavort in Woody Creek.
“I like what they had planned,” he said. “They were going to have somebody donate some land for people to camp on or hang out. It seemed like (the organizers) had some public support there.”
Anderson said Woody Creekers may have some trepidation in giving over their hamlet to drug-addled fans screaming quotations from Thompson’s books at all hours. But “I think the loyal fans and (others) affected by his work should have a chance to rejoice.
“I realize Woody Creek probably doesn’t want to be overrun with crazy, wild people. But then again, why not?”
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