Hunter S. Thompson? Bill McKenna? Anonymous?
Question for Quote Investigator: Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson has received credit for a remark about living an exuberant life and sliding broadside amid a cloud of smoke into the grave. I am skeptical of this ascription because I have been unable to find a solid citation. Would you please help?
Reply from Quote Investigator: QI has been unable to find a match in the writings of Hunter S. Thompson who ended his life in 2005.
The earliest match located by QI appeared in the Usenet newsgroup rec.autos.makers.jeep+willys in October 1998. The quotation appeared within the signature section of a message from Jeff McRae, and no attribution was listed. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: Usenet discussion message, Date: Oct 12, 1998, Newsgroup: rec.autos.makers.jeep+willys, From: Jeff McRae, Subject: Your Ultimate Driveway. (Google Groups Search; Accessed June 26, 2023) link
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, shouting “GERONIMO”.
Based on current knowledge the saying remains anonymous.
Additional details and citations are available in the article on the Medium platform which is located here.
Image Notes: Illustration of blue smoke from Stephen Hocking at Unsplash. The image has been cropped.
Acknowledgements: Great thanks to Adam Gee and Daniel Saunders whose inquiries led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.