Monday, February 21, 2005

To those attempting to explain Hunter S. Thompson's importance via drug jokes: Shut the f**k up

A number of e-mails have come in regarding Hunter S. Thompson. He will be missed. People are sharing their private thoughts. However, there are 71 e-mails complaining about coverage -- radio coverage. I haven't heard it so I can't speak directly of indivual persons who may or may not have made distasteful remarks. If this applies to someone you heard making 'jokes,' it's aimed at them. If this doesn't apply to anyone you've heard, then I'm not speaking to them.

But those playing Beevis & Butthead ("heh-heh, he took drugs!") can shut the f**k up, in my opinion. Earlier e-mails today asked about Hunter S. Thompson's book The Boys on the Bus. I don't know what was said on air on that program (as soon as I heard of the death, I was reading the obit online at the Times and focusing on that) or how it was said, but if it was implied by anyone that he wrote The Boys on the Bus, they mispoke.

Timothy Crouse, another writer who worked for Rolling Stone, wrote that (excellent) book. People who don't read Rolling Stone probably shouldn't talk about it on air. No one has to read it, but don't present yourself as a mini-expert on the topic when you don't know what you're speaking of. Attribution of a book title is not the end of the world. It is a sign that people may not know the details of things they are talking about.

And that's apparently happening quite a bit, in far worse forms. So let me note something for radio voices, especially those who fancy themselves comedians: shut the f**k up. We're all glad that you saw the DVD with Johnny Depp playing Thompson. And when you rent Winona's full DVD collection, we're sure you'll feel prepared to launch into an elaborate discussion on the finer points of the novel Little Women. But you still won't know what you're talking about.

Except for two years (one year in the eighties, one in the nineties), I (to speak for me) have read every issue of Rolling Stone. (When I got a subscription in elementary school and an uncle gifted me with all his back copies -- he'd read from the start.) So when I get an e-mail outraged over a comedian's uninformed remarks, I understand the community member's anger. You don't have to be a reader of Rolling Stone to be upset over the passing of Hunter S. Thompson, but, as Keesha points out, if you were "it's like a death in the family."

Let me repeat, if you have nothing to say, if you're "research," such as it is, is based upon the fact that you saw or heard of Johnny Depp playing Thompson in a movie, shut the f**ck up.

There are a number of us who take this death very hard. And we don't need your silly jokes about drugs or your half-assed remarks based on . . . Well, I don't know what they are based on, but looking at what's quoted in the e-mails, you don't know what you're talking about so you should just find another topic to address.

When Arthur Miller died, Laura Flanders (on her first show after the death was announced) noted that she didn't want to hear any right-wingers trying to distort his writing. She noted that in very powerful terms and you could tell how important Miller's work was to her.

Members feel the same way about Hunter S. Thompson: his life, his writing, his memory -- we don't want it distorted in your attempts to bring the house down. I am furious that some people apparently think this is the occassion for morning-drive-time-radio jokes. That disgusts me.

The excuse that you were trying to be funny (if it were offered) doesn't wash.

You are uninformed and you need to find another topic. You disgrace not only yourselves but also the memory of Hunter S. Thompson.

His death is not the time to work out your personal issues towards guns or drugs or to rework your old club material. It's cheap and it's tacky. There's no excuse for that.

Speaking for me alone, as someone who valued Hunter S. Thompson's writing for his topics, for his writing style, for his love of words and for the honesty he attempted to put on the page, I am offended by your reported remarks. And if you are of the left, or claim to be, I am embarrassed by and for you right now.

Marcia: And after they has their sh*ts and giggles over his drug use, they note in passing that his family has asked for some privacy. And they don't seem to grasp any irony in their transition or how disgusting, and unfunny, their jokes were.

Lloyd: They could have read from his writing, done that at least. Instead we get, "You know, I think he once might have maybe compared Bush to . . ."

When you're in the might stage, you're probably addressing a topic you don't need to be addressing today. Do it tomorrow, if you must. But a lot of people are still reeling from the news that he's dead and we honestly don't have time for your ill informed musings.

Long time members will note I don't usually write "shut up" let alone "shut the f**k up." (Gina may e-mail that I've stopped channeling Oprah and latched onto O'Reilly.) But that's how upset I am by this. (And e-mails regarding certain remarks made on the radio are a lot more vocal.)

I didn't (and don't) expect a week long marathon of hagiography. I do expect that on the day of his death certain people can be a little more respectful and honor the legacy of his work. (Which includes a little more than scoring drugs -- a hint for your researchers if they're the ones assisting with these jokes.) So let me close with this, to those attempting to explain Hunter S. Thompson's importance via drug jokes: Shut the f**k up.