January 20, 2013

Toward Gonzo Obits

Mount Hope the city owned cemetery.  2012.

Just by chance, my eye caught the title of Marilyn Johnson’s book, The Dead Beat.  On bringing it home, I was caught up in the web of words surrounding the world of obituaries.  What a celebration.

I don’t know about you, but after reading the obit of Gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson, I wondered why we all didn’t write our own obits.  In a article,Wikipedia describes Gonzo journalism  as beginning with in an article on “Thompson, who later popularized the style. The term has since been applied to other subjective artistic endeavors.

Gonzo journalism tends to utilize personal experiences and emotions to achieve an accurate representation of a phenomenon, as compared to traditional journalism that favors using a detached writing style and relies on facts or quotations that can be verified by third parties. Gonzo journalism disregards the strictly edited product favored by newspaper media and strives for a more gritty, personal approach—the personality of a piece is just as important as the event the piece is on. Use of sarcasm, humor, exaggeration, and profanity is common.”

Could we all do that for ourselves…this brutal honesty?  Our obits would be lively things, and our deaths would keep us out of jail.  Do we have it within ourselves to have some fun with our own departures?  I’m certainly willing to try.

  • Keeping those on the east coast in my thoughts.
  • Himself:  ”Ya know, we are doing ok today.”
  • Herself:  Showering and off on a short road trip in the sunshine camera in hand.
  • Reading:  The Dead Beat.  Disappointed that many of the web sites mentioned in the book are dead now themselves.
  • Balance:  Sunshine.


    1. You are gonzo....never a boring moment.

    2. Thanks for the education about Gonzo journalism. I don't know that my personality or life would be juicy enough for a Gonzo obit. Maybe I could add a dash of fictional spice?

    3. I'm no Gonzo, but I did write general obits for my husband and me, just so that whoever ends up submitting them knows the details.

      I am appalled at omissions in the descriptions of some family members. (Example: they didn't have to mention me, but it was stupidly cruel to forget the deceased's sister.)

    4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    5. I knew there was a decided shift in journalism in recent years (I studied journalism for four years many moons ago). I did not know its name.

      Personally, I have a problem with some of the recent journalism which is overtly subjective. Perhaps all journalism was, even when we thought it was objective. Currently reading Didion and other "reporter" writing again. What fun.

      You bring up the problem of fiction versus nonfiction. Although emotion certainly plays a role, Fact Checking is still order, ala Glen Kessler in the Washington Post.

      Wrote my obit and then after a few years erased it. I figure by the time I die no one will care anyway. That's the job of a blog. Important to share your thoughts now while others can ask questions I think.


    6. I don't intend to have a tombstone so I guess I need to write about myself ~ to be read at a memorial....

    7. If ever my memoir is published I hope that that will say it all.


    What a delight to get a note from you. Thanks for leaving one.


    Peter in front of a wall sculpture. We were invited up to Peter Knego’s home to see the latest installation.   Abstract flat ...