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Hunter Thompson: Gonzo Unleashed

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Dr. Hunter Thompson, the famous gonzo journalist. Rolling Stone writer, and drug user, sauntered into Hill Auditorium Tuesday Afternoon, February 1 2, replete in Converse All Stars, red turtleneck, blue jeans, and with a small traveling bag filled with a couple of books and a couple of bottles of Wild Turkey. Dr. Thompson was in Ann Arbor for the U of M's Future World's series, ostensibly to deliver a lecture entitled "Politics and Lifestyle of the 70's." After two inaudible introductions, the presentation of one gift bottle of Wild Turkey, the appearance of Jake the Shaker Woods and an adoring gorilla, Thompson finally got down to brasstacks, announcing that he hadn't engaged in the lecture sort of thing before, but that he would satisfy contractual obligations by reading "The Cocaine Papers of Sigmund Freud" for the rest of the afternoon. He never did manage to deliver a lecture, but he did demónstrate a little about politics and lifestyle of the present decade. The question and answer period that consumed the time was inane, mostly inaudible, and at times incredibly interesting. It was fairly clear that a great many of the 1 500 people who carne had already gotten some idea of where Thompson is at, as they showed up in various states of altered consciousness, ready to gonzo on out with the Prince of Gonzo himself. Now gonzo is a difficult term, but as Thompson has applied it to the art of journalism it combines some truth, some fiction, a tremendous personal involvement in whatever is happening, a disregard for traditional convention, and a need for constant artificial stimulation in order to keep thewheels turning. It is defïnitely stoned, tive writing and living, but with a unique insight, a straight to the point, teil it like it is insight which cuts to the core and expresses a situation in a new light when it is on, but is flatulent, fraudulent, and off the wall when it is not. Thompson has just recently risen to fame and notoriety with nis book "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72" which has been acclaimed by journalists and hippies alike - it describes Hunter Thompson's life and thoughts. including all the ups and downs, as he accompanies the candidates around the country. The pieces which make up the book originally appeared in Rolling Stone, who hired Thompson as National Affairs editor, a post which Thompson admitted is still being defined and is one of his major projects. Thompson is the author of two other books, but the most recent one has really brought him into the limelight. And it is that book which has brought him onto the college lecture circuit. (Ann Arbor was only the second lecture - or 'anti-lecture' - ever for him.) Some people expected a real lecture from Thompson, and expressed their irritation by walking out or bitching but it really didn't matter. The most obvious thing about the situation was that it was out of Thompson's control. He is a journalist after all, a watcher and describer by nature, a "word-freak"(as he described himself) above all., and he seems to attract weird happenings. Tuesday was no exception, as his speech was certainly one of the weirder events on campus in many moons. But certainly it was as much brought on by an audience which wanted weirdness rather than a speech, an audience that really wouldn't listen to what the man had to say(if anything). than it was by the faulty sound system, or the faulty reasoning of the Future Worlds people who thought Dr. Hunter Thompson might have something to say, rather than show, about lir'estyle and politics in the 70's.