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Jul 18 2010

Hunter's Birthday: "Walk, Don't Run"

Seventy-three years ago today, Hunter Stockton Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky.

A profound influence on Flying Dog founder George Stranahan's life, Hunter and George were longtime friends in Woody Creek, Colorado.

In his recent book Phlogs: Journey to the Heart of the Human Predicament, George describes a dynamite-and-whiskey-filled afternoon with Hunter:

One of many lady friends left her Wagoneer behind Hunter's house; perhaps thinking it would be there if she returned...The Wagoneer stayed through more than a winter, and one day Hunter called me and barked, "Bring down some dynamite -- a lot of it."

Well, I did that, and we sat in his kitchen drinking whiskey as he spilled out his need to eliminate the Wagoneer from his view and his memory. There were fist poundings and many loud "Goddammits," and more whiskey.

Eventually it became time to act; there is some rationality required when mixing whiskey and dynamite. Hunter hauled a twenty five pound canister of gunpowder from the war room and we went to work. Seven sticks of dynamite were placed head to toe from mid-engine to the firewall, the gunpowder placed in the driver's seat. My fuse burns roughly ten seconds per inch, I jammed eighteen inches into the blasting cap and crimped it with my teeth.

My rule is "walk, don't run," and I made it down to the picnic table with about a minute of fuse left. I didn't look at my watch, the vagaries of fuse chemistry ensure that the explosion always comes as a complete surprise, which it did.

We were barely one hundred yards from the blast and the shock wave knocked the wind out of our lungs, yet we "yeehaaed!" hugged and clapped each other on our backs. When haying that fall I found a fender that had sailed over our heads and three hundred yards further, almost to Woody Creek.

"Walk, don't run." That's wisdom we should apply to all walks of life. And we think Hunter would approve.

Happy birthday, Hunter.