Operation Concrete


Where to start with this man. A true legend of our time, he's the person responsible for me studying journalism, and finding a bit of a path in life. That path may have gone astray from time to time, in a wave of alcohol and experimentation, but I've generally stayed true to the fact that, I want to write, and I had never really understood how much I wanted to write, until I found Hunter S Thompson.

I once read a quote, that said something like, 'Any young journalist worth their salt, wants to be the next Hunter S Thomspon,' the great thing about that quote, is that being the next Hunter, is completely impossible. He was a man that, unlike so many other imitable folk on this planet, was and is completely impossible to replicate. From his vitriol and scathing power and tongue in his writing, to his drug fuelled hyper-binges of Pompeian magnitude, he was an unstoppable force.

I think everything that could have been written has been pretty much written about Hunter, I for one certainly can’t add anything to the innumerable accounts of his legendary status as a journalist by fellow journalists, academics, actors, novelists, politicians and other people of good breeding, nature and education.

All I can say is, he truly inspired me, anyone that wants a reason to write, should read Hunter, just start at the beginning with Hells Angels, and then work your way through, everything is there, all you need to find something special. And then there’s all his later writing, he was a massive sports fanatic, to the point where he was the only journalist allowed on Air Force One, to interview Nixon on the campaign trail in ’72 because he promised only to talk about American Football – which also saw him nearly blowing up the plane in typical Hunter style.

But his later writing, for ESPN, I remember immediately going onto the website when 9-11 happened, I wanted to know what the most trusted journalist I knew thought about this tragedy, one of the wisest and truthful political minds would say about this horror, and he did not let me down. He predicted the future that day, and it hit him that hard, that not long after he took his own life, when he did I wore one black leather glove on my right hand for a week in University, and dedicated my Student Journalism Award to him.

Thank you Hunter.

Below is a snippet of some writing I did whilst traveling in the States, trying to be HST back in 2004, almost exactly six years ago, only six...seems like a world away.

"This is ultimately a trip in the name of fun, for all the apprehension and paranoia it is, at the end of the day, a delve into potentially one of the most paranoid cities on earth. A physical experiment to see if all the hedonistic attributes have clung three years after the death of ignorance. Eyes are truly open now, closed minds still exist but they know what they are trying to block out. A fluid enemy ebbed under America’s doors and drove terror deep into an already savage and reckless society.

It’s a known fact that New Yorkers drink more and take more drugs now than previous to 9/11 and depending on ones own boundaries and ideals of fun that can either be good or bad. For an excessive brute like myself it has to be towards the good. But with the drink and drugs there comes the obvious depression, the need and distinct want to block out the realities smashing down around these city folk, but they do not seem depressed. A reasonable man may be willing to accept that New Yorkers are simply celebrating their freedom with more vigour and potency than before. The people I’ve met, the painters, publicists, DJ’s, rock bands and everything else in between seem to be emanating a few found confidence in their freedom an appreciation, no longer taking it for granted and it’s beautiful. And it’s not as if the city doesn’t have an excuse, this was the pinnacle of what can be seen as the time of depression. In a democratic city the Republican Party decides to hold its national convention just days before the third anniversary 9/11. The inevitable protests ensued with or without reason employing both peaceful and violent means.

If you weren’t protesting? Grab whatever you can, gobble it up or drink it down to get away from the harsh realities plastered all around…but these weren’t the reasons for all over-indulgence. Stood outside a bar smoking a cigarette I asked a young man about how the city would be reacting on 9/11. “You know man,” he replied, “Everyone’s upset, but a lot of people also see it as a true reminder of our wonderful diversity, we’ve got it and we ain’t letting go”. Good man I thought and cracked him on the back in a drunken alpha male type gesture.

And it’s true; the kids are still running rampage full of life and intensity. After an initial 14 hour, $200 drink binge, a case of alcohol poisoning, severe cellular dehydration, hallucinations, 40 hours of sleep and the fleeing in absolute terror of 7 Japanese teenagers from the hostel room I was sharing with, I was able to go out and truly absorb the city. It seemed subdued on the outside, but once I had looked hard enough and cracked the edges a little I found a pool of fun with broken filters. Nothing’s getting purified by our invisible enemy of terror and the governments relentless need for protection of the greater good. On the ground the vibrancy of youth lives on and is just debauched and extravagant as ever."

Richard Galbraith  - 14/09/2004