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“How much do you value your freedom? Would you trade your freedom for some illusion of security? Freedom is something that dies unless it's used.” — Conversations With Hunter S. Thompson, pg. 192Neale Haynes/Getty Images
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"Live steady. Don't fuck around. Give anything weird a wide berth — including people. It's not worth it. I learned this the hard way, through brutal overindulgence." — Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72, pg. 24Al Seib/Getty Images
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"I haven't found a drug yet that can get you anywhere near as high as sitting at a desk writing, trying to imagine a story no matter how bizarre it is as much as going out and getting into the weirdness of reality and doing a little time on The Proud Highway." — Conversations with Hunter S. Thompson, pg. 97Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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"I've never hired people to figure out what I should do about my image. I always work the same way, and talk the same way, and I've been right enough that I stand by my record." — Conversations With Hunter S. Thompson, pg. 192Denise Truscello/Getty Images
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"I've had a couple moments where I've wished I never started drinking gin or that it was a terrible mistake to get into drugs, but I don't regret it." — Conversations With Hunter S. Thompson, pg. 186 Wikimedia Commons
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"The American government is the greatest enemy of freedom around the world that I can think of. And we keep waving that flag. Freedom, yes, these people are flag-suckers." — Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson, pg. 291Frank Mullen/Getty Images
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"George W. Bush does not speak for me or my son or my mother or my friends or the people I respect in this world." — Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child In the Final Days of the American CenturyPaul Harris/Getty Images
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"It's the civilians in the White House, the gang of thieving, just lobbyists for the military industrial complex, who are running the White House, and if to be against them is to be unpatriotic, then hell, call me a traitor." — Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson, pg. 290Paul Harris/Getty Images
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"We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world — bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are whores for power and oil with hate and fear in our hearts." — Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child In the Final Days of the American Century, pg. 66Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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"I will fight for your right to be weird — just as I know you will fight for mine.” — Better Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie, pg. 136Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images
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"When you talk about the '60s, you're talking about people who were scared out of their senses, trying to get the feeling for what the fuck was going on." — Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson, pg. 327KMazur/Getty Images
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"There is an ancient Celtic axiom that says 'Good people drink good beer.' Which is true, then as now. Just look around you in any public barroom and you will quickly see: Bad people drink bad beer. Think about it." — Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American DreamTwitter
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"America...just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable." — Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72Paul Harris/Getty Images
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"Maybe there is no Heaven. Or maybe this is all pure gibberish — a product of the demented imagination of a lazy drunken hillbilly with a heart full of hate who has found a way to live out where the real winds blow — to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whisky, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested... Res ipsa loquitur. Let the good times roll." — Generation of Swine: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist, Author's NoteWikimedia Commons
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"It's a strange world. Some people get rich and others eat shit and die." — Generation of Swine: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist, pg. 11Rose Hartman/Getty Images
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"Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men's reality. Weird heroes and mold-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of 'the rat race' is not yet final." — The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time, pg. 273Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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"From any direction you look at this country, everything that's happening is motivated by fear and terrorism and war." — Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson, pg. 341Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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"The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now — with somebody — and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives." — "Fear and Loathing in America," Sept. 12, 2001.Neale Haynes/Getty Images
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"Let's assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let's assume that you can't see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN — and here is the essence of all I've said — you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH. Naturally, it isn't as easy as it sounds. You've lived a relatively narrow life, a vertical rather than horizontal existence. So it isn't any too difficult to understand why you seem to feel the way you do. But a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance." — The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967, pg. 119Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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"The Edge...There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others — the living — are those who pushed their luck as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later. But the edge is still Out there. Or maybe it's In. The association of motorcycles with LSD is no accident of publicity. They are both a means to an end, to the place of definitions." — Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible SagaMichael Caulfield Archive/Contributor/Getty Images
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“1) Never trust a cop in a raincoat.
2) Beware of enthusiasm and of love, both are temporary and quick to sway.
3) If asked if you care about the world's problems, look deep into the eyes of he who asks, he will never ask you again.
4) Never give your real name.
5) If ever asked to look at yourself, don't look.
6) Never do anything the person standing in front of you can't understand.
7) Never create anything, it will be misinterpreted, it will chain you and follow you for the rest of your life." — Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American DreamDenise Truscello/Getty Images
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"I miss Nixon. Compared to these Nazis we have in the White House now, Richard Nixon was a flaming liberal." — Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness, pg. 234Paul Harris/Getty Images
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"You know, it haunts me that I never pursued the 'who killed Kennedy' story. I believe it's the one story I consider a failure. Yeah, I failed, and now the assumption is that obedience is normal — the president is king." — Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson, pg. 327Newsday LLC/Getty Images
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"If we believed all the brutal, frat-boy threats coming out of the White House, we would be dead before Sunday. It is pure and savage terrorism reminiscent of Nazi Germany." — "Domestic Terrorism at the Super Bowl," Feb. 11, 2002.Bettmann/Getty Images
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"Objective journalism is one of the main reasons American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long. You can't be objective about Nixon." — The Atlantic interview, Aug. 26., 1997.JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Contributor/Getty Images
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"I knew a Buddhist once, and I've hated myself ever since. The whole thing was a failure." — Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American CenturyMichael Ochs Archives/Stringer/Getty Images
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"I have no taste for either poverty or honest labor, so writing is the only recourse left for me." — The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer/Getty Images
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"No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride...and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well...maybe chalk it off to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get eaten. It's all in Kesey's Bible....The Far Side of Reality." — Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American DreamMatthew Naythons/Getty Images
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"Yesterday's weirdness is tomorrow's reason why." — The Curse of LonoPaul Harris/Getty Images
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"I went to the Democratic Convention as a journalist, and returned a raving beast." — as quoted in "The Doctor Is In" by Curtis Wilkie in The Boston Globe Magazine, Feb. 7, 1988.
Paul Harris/Getty Images
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"I would feel real trapped in this life if I didn't know I could commit suicide at any time." — as quoted by friend and collaborator Ralph Steadman in "Farewell Hunter" on ESPNPaul Harris/Getty Images
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"We've raised several generations of stupid people. Ignorant and stupid. And I really can't understand that. Hell, it happened so fast." — Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson, pg. 341Paul Harris/Getty Images
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"In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity." — Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American DreamNeale Haynes/Getty Images
The Good Doctor Is In: 33 Quotes From Hunter S. Thompson That Are Just What You Needed Today
"Too weird to live, too rare to die." That's how Hunter S. Thompson described a character in his second classic, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, though fans of the infamous journalist would agree that the monicker fits the Good Doctor himself all too well.
Since Thompson's suicide in 2005, the prolific American writer has attained mythological status in the corridors of pop- and counter-culture.
His origin story itself — a mischievous Louisville, Kentucky boy who had the choice between jail and joining the Air Force as a writer — was the perfect foundation for that legend.
Thompson's nose for important stories made him a figurative Candide of the 1960s and 70s, always present at the right place in the right time to serve as our political stenographer. He never failed to enmesh himself in the situation, either.
In that sense, he virtually unleashed a whole new form of literary reporting in the form of Gonzo Journalism — a more participatory form of Tom Wolfe's New Journalism, in which the writer isn't merely part of the story, but influences and drives it forward too.
FlickrThompson got into trouble with the law as a youth and had the choice between jail or time in the Air Force. He chose the latter and there he started his writing career.
Ultimately, Thompson was a lover of all things fast, unusual, and explosive. Whether that be a lifestyle, the people he surrounded himself with, or actual bombs and firearms.
He was beloved by politicians desperate for honesty, celebrities tired of Hollywood fakery, and impotent men trapped as bystanders in their own lives.
The 33 Hunter S. Thompson quotes above serve as a reminder of just how freewheeling and idealistic the 20th century's wildest wild man was.
From Louisville To Gonzo Journalist
Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky on July 18, 1937. According to Rolling Stone — the magazine he arguably single-handedly turned into a respected political publication — he worked as a journalist in Puerto Rico before moving to San Francisco.
His first published novel, Hell's Angels, showed only glimpses of what was to become his standard form of reporting. He infused himself into the feared biker gang's inner circles by gaining their trust and made a name for himself nationwide with the subsequent 1966 book.
Wikimedia CommonsReporting for Rolling Stone in 1970 on the killing of a Mexican-American in Los Angeles during an anti-Vietnam demonstration led Thompson to a fortuitous meeting with Oscar Zeta Acosta, a prominent Mexican-American lawyer.
Not everyone was pleased with this book, however. Members of the gang assaulted Thompson for publishing things they claimed were untrue.
Thompson ran for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado before writing the American classic, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas — and nearly won, too.
Running on a "freak power" ticket that aimed to rid the Rockies of the old guard and reduce penalties for harmless drug offenses, Thompson became somewhat of a local celebrity.
To his initial glee and eventual chagrin, his drug-filled Las Vegas-based novel only further turned him into a caricature.
Rolling Stone co-founder Jann S. Wenner would later recall how similar Thompson was to his literary alias, Raoul Duke.
John Cusack recalls Thompson's strange invitation to play 'Shotgun Golf' and relays some classic Hunter S. Thompson quotes.
"He stood six-three, shaved bald, dark glasses, smoking, carrying two six-packs of beer; he sat down, slowly unpacked a leather satchel full of travel necessities onto my desk — mainly hardware, flashlights, a siren, boxes of cigarettes, flares — and didn't leave for three hours." — Jann S. Wenner
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas became Thompson's defining novel, though his political reporting for Rolling Stone, namely Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, was arguably more important at the time.
Thompson became the toast of the town, schmoozing with celebrities like Johnny Depp and Dennis Hopper, and serving as the freak hermit entombed on his Woody Creek ranch in Colorado.
Johnny Depp on his relationship with Hunter S. Thompson.
Thompson was infamous for staying up late and calling friends and various contacts for spur-of-the-moment assignments.
Depp, for instance, was no stranger to Thompson's behavior, having lived with him while preparing to portray Thompson's protagonist in the film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
"You'd get a call in the middle of the night saying, 'When can you meet me in Cuba? I need you in Havana, man, I'm going to do a piece down there and we're going to go as Rolling Stone correspondents.' When Hunter made a request like that, you made it happen. Hunter wanted to interview Castro, but we never got through to him, so the story turned into our adventures down there. He referred to me as 'Ray, my bodyguard.' It was wonderful — just me and Hunter prowling around Havana, going to these various restaurants or homes that you're not supposed to go and eat at, but you're invited. It was totally ludicrous and surreal." — Johnny Depp
To be clear, Thompson was an extremely passionate, hard-working journalist. He certainly enjoyed a cornucopia of substances and wild fun — but he took nothing more seriously than he did his writing and political awareness.
Football Season Is Over: The Death Of Hunter Thompson
In the end, Thompson shot himself through the mouth with a .45-caliber gun while working at home. He always said he'd feel trapped in life if he couldn't leave on his own terms.
In a sense, his suicide was less tragic to some than it was earned. His note, nonetheless, is ravaged with melancholy.
"67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won't hurt." — From Hunter S. Thompson's suicide note titled 'Football Season is Over.'
His ashes were shot out of colossal cannon in the form of a Gonzo fist like he always wanted and even helped design in the 1970s.
According to The Guardian, friends like Johnny Depp helped foot the bill. Depp spent around $3 million for his late friend's final wish.
The ceremony was less of a dour mourning than it was an opportunity to let loose and celebrate. And that, fortunately for all of us, was the spirit Hunter S. Thompson meant to leave behind.