Writer's remains en route to funeral

Thompson's ashes, along with fireworks, head to Woody Creek.

Hunter S. Thompson's cremated remains, mixed with fireworks and packed into 34 mortar tubes, were en route to Woody Creek Wednesday.

The unusual shipment from New Castle, Pa., via padlocked truck is one of the final steps towards a funeral Saturday expected to mix solemnity with pageantry.

Thompson's only son, Juan Thompson, stresses the respectful tone he wants to strike, but acknowledges that his father's funeral wishes were unusual. Based on Hunter Thompson's comments in a 1978 BBC documentary, fireworks launchers will arc his ashes from a 153-foot structure capped by a double-thumbed, red Fiberglas fist.

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The ashes wrapped in brown craft paper - similar to a supermarket bag but smoother - are set to fly at sunset, according to Marcy Zambelli, spokeswoman for the prominent fireworks company that bears her family name and will handle the display.

Zambelli said the fireworks will explode 300 feet in the air with a white flourish before Thompson's ashes fall to rest on the rustic property he called a "psychic anchor."

Thompson's ashes equaled the size of a basketball when widow Anita Thompson delivered them to the fireworks company Aug. 9, said Zambelli. The ashes are expected to return to Thompson's home in their new form - depending on such worldly factors as traffic - by Friday.

In addition to the "fist cannon," workers are constructing a bar to comfortably accommodate up to 400, said Moseley, a senior associate with the Denver consulting firm -GBSM. The wooden bar will have chandeliers, Thompson memorabilia, and a "lounge atmosphere."

"Think of Hunter's favorite place where he would love to entertain all his very best friends," Moseley added.

Actor Johnny Depp, a friend of Thompson's who portrayed the writer in a film, is footing the estimated $2 million cost of the send-off.

The Thompson family stresses that the gathering is a closed-door affair only for invited family and close friends. But Moseley noted that interest in the event is "off the charts" and people from around the country are driving into town.

The funeral includes private security. DiSalvo said his office had no "intel" that hordes of uninvited would descend on the Aspen area. "What we're basically gearing up for is any traffic, or any pilgrims who might be going up to the event," he said.


10 Responses:

  1. jmason says:

    it may look like this.

    That seems to be missing one thumb (!), but it is a screengrab from the BBC documentary. It's on the 2nd disc of the Fear and Loathing DVD, according to this weblog posting.

    • korgmeister says:

      You get a second disc in 'Fear & Loathing'?

      *muttermutter* Lucky Americans.

      It took Hunter blowing his freaking head off for them to bother releasing the movie in Region 4, and it was still only 1, rather minimalistic disc.

  2. mackys says:

    It's a better way to remember HST than a lame glitterati festival held for a man that none of them appreciated while he was alive.


  3. specialagentm says:

    Wow, Johnny Depp is just throwing down $2 mil for this shindig? That is a level of filthy rich that I just can't wrap my head around. I would have to think that, even for him, that's a good chunk of change... then again, you can't take it with you, so why not indulge in a Viking funeral for a good friend?

    I mean, I would do it. It's just that with my meager means, it would be more like "I'll launch a few bottle rockets as I scatter your ashes, then we'll all tap a keg in your memory".

  4. kraquehaus says:

    I hope there are pictures from this. Wish I could go.

    If you haven't already. See the movie, Breakfast with Hunter.

  5. ch says:

    I saw the cannon last week when I traveled down valley from Aspen and again when I flew out a few days later. I didn't know what it was at first until I saw an article in the local paper. It's impressive. As your lawyer I ...

  6. scosol says:

    a two-thumbed fist- sweet.

  7. cranaic says:

    I think it's just swell that they're choosing some comment he made in 1978 to define his life and death. He could have said a year later, "I'd like something tasteful, with chamber music" but there's no way anyone would let him stop being his character, not that he seemed to want to stop. Then again, he did put a bullet through his head. Granted, I refuse to acknowledge that the instigator of this thread is abandoning Unix, so same basic principle, I suppose.

    • jwz says:

      Given that the event was organized by his wife and his son, I think it's fair to assume that it bore some passing resemblance to his actual wishes.