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Mountain News: The funeral of Hunter S. Thompson

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ASPEN, Colo. — An odd apparition has taken shape at Owl Farm, the home of the late writer Hunter S. Thompson, in the Woody Creek area near Aspen. A crane has hoisted steel cylinders covered with gray cloth to resemble a clothed arm, and atop these cylinders will be a clenched fist made of fiberglass, two thumbs holding a peyote button.

All of this will be 153 feet high, about two feet higher than the Statute of Liberty in the harbor at New York City.

As the typewriter-ribbon-sniffing fans of Thompson will immediately recognize, this is the fist that Thompson used as a symbol of the "gonzo" writing. In a 1978 television documentary, Thompson revealed his desire to have his ashes blasted from a cannon at his home. And so it will be on Saturday, Aug. 20.

The actor Johnny Depp, who portrayed Thompson in a movie based on Thompson’s book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, is paying for the unusual cannon. Costs are estimated at $1 million to $2 million, reports the Rocky Mountain News.

Just who gets to see all this, at least close at hand, remains at issue. The affair will be strictly private, inasmuch as a 153-foot cannon can ever be private. Writers and journalists on the guest list for the funeral have been asked to refrain from writing about the event. Just the same, everybody from the New York Times to CNN has expressed a desire to be there.

Meanwhile, fans of Thompson – both invited and uninvited – are streaming in from across the world, some by jet, others on foot. Among the latter is Rick McKinney, who earlier this year began walking south from Yellowstone National Park with plans to attend the funeral. Arriving in late July in Steamboat Springs, he told The Steamboat Pilot that he had been so affected by Thompson’s writing that, at age 19, he had gotten Thompson’s trademark gonzo fist tattooed on his right forearm.

McKinney told the newspaper that he had struggled with depression and the temptation to commit suicide for years. Last year he hiked the Appalachian Trail, partly to help spread awareness about depression, the eighth leading cause of death of men in the United States. Last winter he wrote a book based on the experience called Dead Men Hike No Trails.

The website for McKinney’s trip is www.jigglebox.com .

New events boss in Park City

PARK CITY, Utah — Park City is getting a new employee dedicated to putting on events. The employee is to spend two-thirds of his or her time focused on events appealing to destination visitors, such as the Sundance Film Festival, and one-third to community events like concerts. The salary is to be picked up by the town’s chamber and resort bureau and the town government, and the employee is to report to both bodies, reports The Park Record.

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