These photographs are some of my favorite possessions.
Yes, that is me and Hunter S. Thompson, in New York, 1996. How bitchin is that!
HST was one of my favorite authors. Well, I guess he still is. I haven’t read everything he’s written – some of it is just ranting – but in principle I always admired the founder of Gonzo Journalism and his ability to blend fact and fiction into a great story.
So in 1996, I was living in Queens and commuting to Manhattan every day, working at the Barnes & Noble corporate office on 5th Avenue. I had 2 jobs there – I would order signage for all new and existing stores, and I would help coordinate the opening process for new stores. Most of it was pretty rote, but every so often I would get an emergency call from someone needing something special, real fast.
When I got the call that the PR department needed a giant Hunter Thompson banner, I was all over it. Even if they hadn’t promised me I’d get to meet him and that they would take some pictures for me, I would have done it anyway. But heck yeah! I would not refuse getting the chance to meet Dr. Thompson.
The book signing at the Union Square Barnes & Noble was a pretty interesting affair. Dr. Thompson showed up with his entourage, which included Johnny Depp, who was spending time with HST to prepare for his role in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Typically alcohol isn’t allowed in bookstores – go figure – but when it’s being swilled by Famous People, apparently it’s OK. Johnny Depp and his entourage stood in the back, drinking red wine and smoking and generally acting kind of creepy. But it was OK – it was Johnny Depp.
While we waited in line we got to talking to a few of the employees – who happened to be from Broken Arrow, OK. I think they were there trying to break into Show Biz. I wonder if they ever made it.
And so here is the photographic documentation of my encounter with Dr. Thompson.
What do you say to a person like that? He was sitting there with his Chesterfields and his Chivas Regal and may have been on god knows what. I’m not sure how coherent he really was. I’m not even sure what I said anyway. Probably something lame like thank you for writing all those amazing books.
But it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’m happy to be able to say I’ve met Hunter Thompson. That rat bastard.