Worshippers of the wild and dissolute drug culture of the 1960s gathered at their temple in Woody Creek, Colo., on an August Saturday night to pay tribute to the booze-and-drug-soaked journalistic legend Hunter S. Thompson, exactly six months after he shot himself in the head in the middle of a phone call with his wife. It was, in a way, a perfect ending to symbolize Thompson's self-absorbed, self-destructive worldview. How pathetic is it that some people are actually celebrating this?
The next time you hear the biggest hearts in Hollywood railing against how the government or corporations waste millions of dollars on their "toys" rather than helping the poor, think of the Hunter Thompson memorial service. Actor Johnny Depp spent a reported $2 million constructing a giant tower (taller than the Statue of Liberty) to shoot Thompson's ashes into the sky with some very loud fireworks. The New York Times described it as "a rocket-like structure embedded with a dagger. It was crowned by Mr. Thompson's logo, a two-and-a-half-ton red fist with two thumbs and a psychedelic peyote button pulsating at its center, a Day-Glo sight visible for miles around." The Times respectfully called it the "complete canonization of Mr. Thompson."
Thompson devotees swarmed the area from across the country but were not allowed near the party. It didn't stop them from hailing Thompson as a prophet. "It's a pilgrimage of sorts," said one man who flew in from Wisconsin in a tuxedo he'd worn for four days straight. "This is the wailing wall of the freak kingdom."
Johnny Depp mumbled about how it was "nice to give a little something back." Depp played Thompson in the 1998 movie "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." (The opening line is: "We were somewhere around Barstow when the drugs began to take hold," followed by an inventory of all the hallucinogenic drugs and alcohol in the car.) Also present was actor Bill Murray, who also played a loopy Thompson in the 1980 movie "Where the Buffalo Roam." The fact that there were two studio movies devoted to this drug- and paranoia-fueled writer says a lot about Hollywood's odd eye of admiration.