Saturday, December 04, 2004

I had forgotten all about that

Hat tip to New Donkey for reminding me of one of the most interesting races for mayor in the history of the country. As a student of politics, you hear all sorts of funny stories, but none so funny as from Hunter S. Thompson and his Freak Power in the Rockies campaign helping a young Texan, Joe Edwards, run for office in Aspen, Colo. Thompson, in true Gonzo style, wrote about the experience.

Thompson describes his campaign's poll watchers on election day: "Behind them, lounging around a coffee dispenser in an old VW van, were at least a dozen others, most of them large and bearded, and several so eager for violence that they had spent the whole night making chain whips and loading up on speed to stay crazy." "Why bother voting?" we are tempted to ask. What makes it worth all the effort? These people knew. Specifically, they were concerned with overaggressive land developers and the loss of Aspen's original character. "Most of us are living here because we like the idea of being able to walk out our front doors and smile at what we see. On my own front porch I have a palm tree growing in a blue toilet bowl, and on occasion I like to wander outside, stark naked, and fire my .44 Magnum at various gongs I've mounted on the nearby hillside."
Fucking beautiful, man. I guess because I'm a freaked out flower child born in the wrong era, Thompson has always spoken to me. While other reporters shun his work as more novelist than journalist, I find his Gonzo approach to be more revealing than anything Tom Brokaw could tell me. Journalism should be about finding and telling the truth. If some things have to be made up, if names and dates are skewed in favor of story, then that'st he way it is, as long as the Greater Truth gets told. I imagine myself, sometimes, as very Gonzo when I'm writing in my blog. I don't make stuff up, but I do seem to abandon some general principles of journalism in order to tell the Greater Truth. Objectivity is its own bias, I think, so I leave it behind and tell what I know as openly and honestly as I can. I seldom hold back, even when the language is coarse. I'm not ashamed of who I am, so I don't hide it. That, to me, is the essence of journalism and politics themselves.


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