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Memo to Hunter S. Thompson

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Memo To Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter, oh Hunter, how dare you not be here for this one?

We need you, man. We need you bad. HUGE wheels are turning but our eyes are too weak to see what sort of Rube Goldberg device they are hooked up to. If this election season had come sooner or if you could’ve held out longer – I know it was almost three years ago but it seems like yesterday to me – you never would have grabbed that gun off the kitchen counter. You’d’ve roared back from the brink, Hunter and soared to new heights… fulminating in robes and a staff and a long white, beard. Yes – a good look for you. Maybe not.

This is going to be the grand-pappy of all elections, Hunter. All elections. First, the Super Bowl on Sunday where a quarterback – a former high-school catcher and sixth-round draft pick named Brady will go 19–0. That is, if he can dispatch a football gene-pool freak named Manning.  And then Super Tuesday will be upon us and the nation will be gripped with a fear similar to that accompanying a Martian landing. News anchors will hemorrhage under the strain and be gurneyed out on-air – never to be seen again. Strong men will run through the streets screaming like girls. And I’m not just talking about West Hollywood.

We are addled. After seven, mind-numbing years of The Boy Emperor we are like Zombies. We’ve been gaslighted, Hunter – gaslighted Zombies. Yes that’s it exactly. I seem to remember something about a war in Iraq and maybe getting our troops out someday but … maybe it was all a dream. I remember lots of khaki but the rest is a blur. It disappeared so slowly that I didn’t notice. It’s like the movie, Hunter, where Charles Boyer slowly drove Ingrid Bergman mad by turning down the gas a little every day and making her think she was going blind.

And if there happens to be, perchance, the occasional Iraq war article in the paper and if we can force ourselves to look at it, the words just bounce harmlessly off the retina or run down the page like mascara in the rain.

Speaking of Rube Goldberg, Hunter, the 24 hr. media have taken your long, plastic hallway - the place where thieves and pimps run free? That cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of journalism, as you called it? Well, it’s undergone a major remodel and they’ve poured a lot of money into it. There’s no way to get your head around it, Hunter and even if you could, it morphs and grows and mutates so quickly that it would only be for a brief moment in time.

I have watched it closely, Hunter, but it beggars human comprehension. I do know this: It seems to involve a series of large tunnels – the insides of which are similar to a funhouse or perhaps those old, indoor rides at Disneyland where you fly around in cars and there is no horizon. Anything that is written or said or done is vacuumed into one end of this contraption which is driven by powerful, diesel engines salvaged from old aircraft carriers. Then it ricochets around, growing in intensity in a series of chambers where the most outrageous or cheesy or humiliating or irritating things select themselves out in the way that sperm cells do. Then it goes into another tunnel where a miracle occurs: every story that comes out of it is equally true! Don’t even try to imagine the technology behind that, Hunter. And even if what comes out is patently false, it doesn’t matter because more bullshit is streaming from it every second so if you’re trying to figure out who said what or what really happened you’ve already missed the next news cycle.

Indeed. It is an alternate, anarchic environment, Hunter, this New World Order of media, and as you say, good men are dying there for no good reason. We are rudderless. The people cry out for a hero but there is none to answer the call. All we have is poor Howie Kurtzman who dutifully picks at and cauterizes a few of the lesser scabs on the cancerous body but is happy as long as he gets to have a Starbucks on his way home.

So it really hurts that you couldn’t've held out, my friend. I know your leg and hip were a mess and what with crutches and the ice building up on the steps of the cabin it must’ve really sucked. But I can’t help but wonder if your ego didn’t get in the way. You were a serious athlete in the day and I realize that mobility – sudden jukes and dangerous shifts in direction – were your bread and butter but couldn’t you have just cut off the damn leg and hired some crazed, Samoan journalism major to push your wheelchair around?

‘Cause get this, Hunter. Despite the Chicken Ranch-ization of the news, something amazing is happening. Reactionary forces are in disarray and fighting each other on the beaches even as they retreat. They are poised to fall like bark off a rotten tree. A wild-eyed senator named McCain who seems to have more than a little Captain Ahab in him is going to be the Republican nominee. Buy heavenly stock in shredders, Hunter because they can’t control him! And if, perchance, he is lucky enough to be elected, there goes their key to the executive washroom of power and the Georgetown pied-a-terre complete with leather boy and I do not mean a recliner.

And if that happens, Hunter, you won’t even need to make an appointment to see Vin Webber or Grover Norquist or Rove or Cheney. And when you do see them, they turn their pockets out and say – “Look, I got nothing… zilch. We’re gonna have to let the big boys handle this but you didn’t hear it from me.’”

And on the other side, Hunter, it’s going to be either Hillary Clinton or get this – some black dude named Barack. Or the both of them. And if it’s a Hillary/Obama ticket – and I think it will be – we could be looking at sixteen years of what’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding. Yes. Hillary (ladies first!) then President Obama. A well-tailored but hulking brute of a man destined to be the black Thomas Jefferson who will brook no tomfoolery from the likes of Turd Blossom and his pasty little friends. He will chase them down like animals and make them pick up roadside trash in florescent jumpsuits while Valerie Wilson rides shotgun and children throw slurpies from passing cars.

Of course that could never happen. But it’s sure fun to think about – at least until the hammer drops and thousands of Blackwater commandos are sent out with warrants signed by Chief Justice Roberts to restore order and roam the streets like cockroaches.

*Sigh* Bad craziness.

Remember that steep hill in Vegas you talked about Hunter? The one where if you looked with the right kind of eyes you could almost see the high-water mark – the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back?

Maybe maybe Hunter, just maybe… maybe that wave is coming back the other way.

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Gary Markowitz is a screenwriter and a political observer living in a canyon in Southern California

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