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Explosive Plans for Thompson's Farewell

Hunter S. Thompson (search), the "gonzo journalist" with a penchant for drugs, guns and flame-thrower prose, might have one more salvo in store for everyone: Friends and relatives want to blast his ashes out of a cannon, just as he wished.

"If that's what he wanted, we'll see if we can pull it off," said historian Douglas Brinkley, a friend of Thompson's and now the family's spokesman.

Thompson, who shot himself to death at his Aspen-area home Sunday at 67, said several times he wanted an artillery send-off for his remains.

"There's no question, I'm sure that's what he would want," said Mike Cleverly, a longtime friend and neighbor. "Hunter truly loved that kind of thing."

Colorado fireworks impresario Marc Williams said it's doable.

"Oh, sweet. I'd love to. I would so love to," said Williams, 44, owner of Night Musick Inc. in suburban Denver and a fan of Thompson's writing.

Thompson's wife, Anita, and son, Juan, are looking into the cannon scenario, said Brinkley, who has edited some of Thompson's work.

Brinkley also said Thompson did not take his life "in a moment of haste or anger or despondency" but probably planned his suicide well in advance because of declining health. The author of books including "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (search)" was in pain from a host of problems that included a broken leg and a hip replacement.

"I think he made a conscious decision that he had an incredible run of 67 years, lived the way he wanted to, and wasn't going to suffer the indignities of old age," Brinkley said. "He was not going to let anybody dictate how he was going to die."

Thompson had spent an intimate weekend with his son, daughter-in-law and young grandson, the spokesman said.

"He was trying to really bond and be close to the family" before his suicide, Brinkley said. "This was not just an act of irrationality. It was a very pre-planned act."

Family members had no hint that Thompson planned to take his own life, Brinkley said, and he did not leave a note. "There was no farewell salutation," he said.

Williams, the fireworks impresario, said it is not uncommon for families to have their loved one's ashes scattered across the sky in a fireworks shell, though his company has never done it.

If the Thompson job were his, Williams said, he would probably blast the ashes from a 12-inch-diameter mortar 800 feet into the sky. Then a second, window-rattling blast would scatter them amid a blossom of color 600 feet across.

"If you were going to light up a flash-bomb worthy of Hunter S. Thompson, you'd want to make it an earth-shaker," Williams said.

Sales of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and other Thompson favorites have soared since his death. "Fear and Loathing" was No. 15 on Amazon.com as of Wednesday and publisher Vintage Books has ordered a sizable reprinting.

"We usually sell about 60,000-70,000 copies a year of that book and our next printing will be close to that total," Vintage spokesman Russell Perreault said.

Other Thompson books selling well include "Hell's Angels," "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72 (search)" and "Hey Rube."