The real thing is so much more appealing |

The real thing is so much more appealing

Derek Franz
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Hunter S. Thompson recently “requested” me as a friend on Facebook.

Apparently he must have faked his death in order to spend more time on the latest Internet social-networking addiction.

Of course I was honored he would find my profile and ask for my acquaintance. And I was especially flattered to be included among his first 50 official Facebook “friends.” After all, the man’s writing was a big reason why I decided to pursue journalism instead of medicine.

Some people surely regard HST as a drug addled freak; others as an insightful genius with the balls to call things out as honestly as he could. In my opinion, the more you know about Hunter the less you’re able to categorize his personality. In one story he seems like the classic civil-rights-era hippie, yet in another he’s crashing choppers and clutching guns with the Hell’s Angels. He was simply his own. That is his quality that first inspired me at age 15 and for which I continue to strive.

Perhaps my connection with the character of Mr. Thompson also has something to do with the fact I have never quite fit in with my surroundings. I can hang with many groups, from low-class to high, but it’s evident I’m always an outcast to some degree. As a teenager it was torturous, but now it seems more like a key to freedom. Please allow me to take you on a flashback …

When I was about 6, I proudly sported a mullet. For those unfamiliar with the term, it is a hairstyle stereotyped with 1980s country music and gap-toothed men and women who kick faces in at drive-in movies for entertainment. The hair essentially looks like a buzz cut with a mane of rat tails flowing down the back. I even had shaved sideburns and racing stripes cut above the ears.

It was what several of the coolest boys at my school were wearing, and I think I remember sort of begging my parents to let me have one, too. It was hard to imagine that our strange little hillbilly town on the Front Range ” Lyons ” was not the center of the world. Besides, a culture that worshiped guns easily appealed to a boy with an air rifle and cow birds to shoot from the back porch.

During this time I also hated hippies and journalists, or at least as I understood them, which was according to how such characters were portrayed on TV. I believed they were nosy fanatics with nothing better to do than get in the way of progress, like idiot leeches that couldn’t see the big picture. I recall voicing my opinion on the matter at various times sitting around the television with the family.

“Those stupid hippie journalists!” I would say, repeating it louder to match my growing contempt.

My parents either never heard or always ignored the comments. In retrospect, I realize they were a bit closer to what some might regard as a “hippie” outlook on world affairs. After all, they voted for Bill Clinton and there had been a bumper sticker on our Toyota station wagon that read, “Nuclear weapons, may they rust in peace.”

And now what have I become? I’m a man with a journalism degree who picks up trash along Grand Avenue as I walk to work. I wear a T-shirt that reads, “May the forest be with you.” Sometimes I wear a bandanna to keep long hair out of my eyes. Other times I have a buzz-cut and kick around in army pants. I like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young as well as the Sex Pistols. Love is my religion but I also know how to throw knives and fire a 357. Above all, what I feel myself becoming is comfortable in my skin and I find it to be contagious to those around me.

Categories are imagined and they create barriers around precious truth. Each is its own and in that it is the same. I say don’t bother clinging to any one thing to define your life (snowboard/ski culture, I’m calling you out, with countless others). Shrug off the security blanket of image ” have the courage to embody honesty so you and I can get somewhere real.

Maybe that “real” place is the house of “gonzo,” built by HST, but frankly I don’t think it can exist with a name or definition. Which definitely rules out Facebook.

Sorry, “Hunter” ” I like your page, but I know you’re just a guy (or gal) with too much time on the hands. Keep it up, though, because, ironically, such a delusion provides a nice reminder to keep it real.

Derek Franz “preaches manifesto like a militant radical, is diligent but his greatest mistakes are grammatical …” (Buck 65 lyrics). He is more of a follower than a finder but you can find him at

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