I got involved with protest, philosophy, reading my work--doing public work--only after I read Thompson. He didn't make me want to be a journalist; he made me want to explore the possibilities for fiction.
I left his work behind with my early twenties, moved quickly to Americans like Creeley & Williams, to modernism, to German romanticism, to phenomenology, to film, to art. Those moves that led me from being a crass punk to a philosophy degree are a bit too blurry to recall. I stumbled through my twenties, but the lead paragraph is a gonzo-hued.
Regardless, we saw him around Denver often enough that I have never really been without his personality, which I have always found appealing--an affinity possibly.
What do I need to excuse? Certainly not my feelings nor his act.