Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

The death of HST

I just finished snaking out my tub drain with an $8 auger I bought at the National Wholesale Fernandez store next to work. (It is so nicknamed after a coworker who has far too strange of an attraction to the place, buying made-in-China snack food by the cubic ton.) I extracted a good five years’ worth of male pattern baldness in a greasy, black, slimy turd hanging off the end of the corkscrew tip of the low-tech endoscopy tool. I hope this means my shower will drain in under an hour from now on, but I’m expecting many repeat performances, so I’m glad I finally made the investment.

Speaking of roto-rootering, I just ate an immensely hot Indian meal from the local delivery joint. They are pretty bipolar as far as how they spice the food. Sometimes, the vindaloo is about as spicy as a mean cinnamon applesauce, and other times, it’s eternal damnation to a weekend on the throne, after you drink a gallon of milk to kill off the burning in your mouth. I never ate Indian food at all before I got to New York, except for maybe Simms’ experiments from cookbooks. For whatever reason, Bloomington had no Indian restaurants when I was in school, and I don’t even know why I never found any in Seattle. It’s possible that my whole digestive malady during those years, plus my white-bread childhood, made me avoid anything spicy. Now, I actually like the stuff.

I should probably write something about the fact that Hunter S. Thompson killed himself on Sunday. It was weird to hear about that, although I agree with the concensus that he’s probably overdue by about 30 years, with all of the shit he’s pulled in his lifetime. It’s strange, because HST is in many ways a huge influence on the work I’ve done and the path I chose with some of my fiction, but I didn’t choose to do the kind of journalism he did. And while he had a couple of really great books and some pretty good moments in his articles, his body of work is also pretty small when you discount the volumes that are nothing but reprints of his articles and letters. And there’s Rum Diary, which was a great book, but totally not his style. Compare that to someone like Burroughs or Kerouac or Steinbeck, and it makes you wonder what the role of media stuntman really leaves behind. Years from now, only the Johnny Depp caricature of the man will remain, and nobody will remember his interaction with the media regulars, the politicans, or the sport coaches. All that will be left will be a few books that don’t entirely add up to the life he lived.

I’m sad to see him go, but if he had his reasons, it’s his life. I mean, the rumor is that he was having health problems, with a broken leg, some hip and back surgeries, and a lot of time with his ass in a chair. Maybe it got worse, maybe a doctor told him he’d never walk again or he’d need another painful surgery or seven. I don’t know why he put the .45 through his head, but if he felt he didn’t have another ten volumes of investigative journalism ahead of him or twenty years of twilight in a wheelchair and didn’t want to live a life of shitting and pissing into plastic tubes in a hospital bed, well that’s his game.

The livejournal group for HST has other thoughts on the matter, and they’ve spent the last few days whining the most inane babble about Thompson’s death. Most of it goes like this: “D00D, I’VE BEEN READING HUNTER FOREVER, SINCE LIKE 2003 AT LEAST, AND I DID MY SENIOR PAPER ON HIM, AND OH MAN, WHAT A LOSS OF A VOICE FOR OUR GENERATION! I MEAN, FUCK CHIMPY BUSH AND AMERIKKKA AND NOW WE DON’T HAVE DOCTOR GONZO TO HELP US. OH DUDE, PASS THE BONG MAN. HERE’S A 47-PAGE TONE POEM I WROTE THE OTHER NIGHT AT THE SKATE PARK ABOUT HOW I FEEL ABOUT LOSING THE GREATEST MIND SINCE THAT NIRVANA DUDE.” Basically that, about 478 times a day. I should unsubscribe.

I ordered another laptop bag. I think I’ve bought three since Christmas. I can’t find one that fits right and holds the laptop and feels comfortable. I have this Ogio one on the way, and it looks a little bit better. I had a Trager bag that was perfect, but after about a million miles and four years, every strap and zipper and buckle was broken or fucked, and I gave up on it. I think Toshiba makes some “solutions” for carrying the damn computer, but that basically means they got some cheapo company in Korea to make Jansport bag knockups they could price up at four times their value. Meanwhile, my 15-year-old IU backpack is holding up fine. Too bad it doesn’t hold my laptop.

OK, the new Wired is here, so I have to go read that and make fun of every other page.