Going, Going, Gonzo

Although Dr. Hunter S. Thompson was called many things during his 67-plus years on the planet — brilliant, disturbed, innovative, dangerous and more — few observers ever accused him of being a role model. Nevertheless, Anita Thompson, who’s in town today to sign copies of The Gonzo Way, her new celebration of Hunter, hopes future journalists will emulate what she sees as the most important aspects of his character. “I want people to be inspired by the courageous side of him rather than just his lifestyle,” she says.

The college student formerly known as Anita Bejmuk began working for Thompson at Owl Farm, his Woody Creek headquarters, in 1999, and as author Douglas Brinkley writes in his Gonzo Way intro, the doc’s “lust for the younger beauty… distilled into love.” She soon put scholastics on hold, married Thompson in 2003, and devoted herself to his care and well-being. Following his 2005 suicide, this mission shifted to defending his legacy, with an emphasis on spotlighting his indelible writing as opposed to disseminating anecdotes about controlled-substance consumption, fun with explosives and memorably bad behavior in the company of famous friends.

“I got a lot of letters and correspondence from young readers, and many of them didn’t understand that it took Hunter a lot of work to get where he was,” Anita says. “Some of them assumed that ‘if I took fifty caplets of Dexedrine and stayed up for four days on Wild Turkey, I could write Hell’s Angels, too.’”

The Gonzo Way drives this theme home via seven lessons Anita learned from Hunter — among them, “Truth Is Easier.” As for the slender volume’s final section, it consists entirely of the words “Res ipsa loquitur,” a Latin phrase that translates to “The thing speaks for itself.” According to Anita, the saying was one of Thompson’s favorites.

These days, Anita is preparing to resume her studies at New York’s Columbia University. (She expresses surprise that she got into the school, even though Brinkley and ex-Senator George McGovern wrote letters of recommendation for her.) In the meantime, she’s proud of having completed Gonzo Way. “I thought a short book would be easy,” she concedes. “It turned into a long, complex project that I’m proud of now — and I think Hunter would love it.”

Anita Thompson visits the LoDo Tattered Cover, 1628 16th Street, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free. Learn more at 303-436-1070 or http://www.tatteredcover.com.

 
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