Fear and Loathing

For this week's Time Out cover story, in talking about celebrating smart folks, I mention tonight’s event at the Wheeler Opera House, a 20th-anniversary benefit screening and discussion of the 1999 film “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” The implication of that would be that I count the film’s real-life protagonist, author Hunter S. Thompson, among Aspen’s (and America’s) intelligentsia.

I’m fully comfortable with that assertion, but I can understand why someone whose only exposure to HST is “Fear and Loathing” might question my judgment. Although he’s expertly portrayed by Johnny Depp in the movie, Thompson doesn’t exactly make the most informed choices in print or on film, and calling his actions “smart” would be a stretch.

But that’s where tonight’s program is going to come in handy. After the film screening, the gonzo journalist’s widow, Anita Thompson, and former Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis will be on hand to talk about Thompson and the film and give some context to the depiction of the man viewers will see on the screen. Because even though “Fear and Loathing” may be madness, yet there’s method to it.

“It’s so fascinating to me how Hunter affects different people in this community and this valley,” said Susan Wrubel, executive director of Aspen Film, which is presenting the screening. “The film was something that I loved back in the day. I loved the book, and there’ so much lore and history around Hunter in that time period.”

The event, which will be preceded by a “slightly upscale” cocktail reception in the Wheeler Bar Lobby, is a benefit for Aspen Film and an awareness raiser for Anita Thompson’s Gonzo Foundation, a non-profit created to promote literature, journalism and political activism. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Hunter S. Thompson Scholar- ship for Veterans at Columbia University – the late journalist’s alma mater following his service in the U.S. Air Force.

Tickets to the 7 p.m. screening and talk are $30, and tickets to the 5:30 p.m. reception, screening and talk are $75, but that’s not all there is. For those who want to get really immersed in Thompson’s world, there are still two or three $300 VIP tickets left that include not just the Wheeler events but an exclusive cocktail reception beforehand at Thompson’s Owl Farm in Woody Creek.

“It’s more high-end, catered, with an open bar,” said Wrubel, “and then everyone will be coming to the Wheeler from there.”

If you’ve got the money and you’re curious about HST, it’ll be a great way to learn more and decide for yourself just how smart he was.

For more information, visit aspenfilm.org.

Todd Hartley is the special sections editor for Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at todd@aspendailynews.com.

Special Sections Editor