“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

THE DAY I KNEW WHO DEEP THROAT WAS

Yesterday I was talking to a guy – I don’t want to say his name, so we’ll just call him BARELY LEGAL ALL STARS #3. And he asks me if I’ve heard “the rumor about Deep Throat.”

You might assume he was talking about a rumor that the landmark pornographical work DEEP THROAT was getting an arthouse re-release to tie in with the already released documentary on its making and cultural impact, INSIDE DEEP THROAT. But I knew that was not a rumor, it was an actual fact, so it could not be what he was talking about. So I figured it was that rumor about that other Deep Throat, the mysterious whistleblower who gave Woodward and Bernstein the tips about Watergate, changing our country’s view of government forever and creating an annoying suffix for all future government scandals. (Just wait until there’s a scandal involving fences, so that every wiseass in the world will think they’re the first one to call it Gategate.)

The rumors have been flying for a few weeks that Deep Throat is very sick, possibly near death, so his identity might be by Woodward upon his death. This has re-started the ol’ speculation with this new clue, people looking at all the suspects, trying to figure which one might be sick. Popular suspects like George H.W. Bush and Pat Buchanan start to seem less likely.

“Yeah I heard the rumor,” I says, “the one about Deep Throat is gonna die?”

“Well, yeah,” Barely Legal says. “But that he did die.” He goes on about a friend of his and a bulletin board and some guy from NBC and speculation that – for fuck’s sake I can hardly believe I’m even repeating this – speculation that Hunter S. Thompson was Deep Throat.

Now my first reaction was of course, no way. Of course not. Doesn’t make sense.

And then it was, holy shit, what the hell? I was surprised to realize how much it does make sense.

Hunter S. Thompson. Arch-nemesis of Richard M. Nixon. Friend and drinking buddy of Nixon speechwriter/prime Deep Throat suspect Pat Buchanan. Connected with many politicians and journalists. And, according to a piece reprinted in The Great Shark Hunt, actually having drinks in the Watergate Hotel at the time of the break-in that started it all:

On the night of June 17th I spent most of the evening in the Watergate Hotel: From about eight o’clock until ten I was swimming laps in the indoor pool, and from 10:30 until a bit after 1:00 AM I was drinking tequila in the Watergate bar with Tom Quinn, a sports columnist for the now-defunct Washington Daily News.

Meanwhile, upstairs in room 214, Hunt and Liddy were already monitoring the break-in, by walkie-talkie, with ex-FBI agent Alfred Baldwin in his well-equipped spy-nest across Virginia Avenua in room 419 of the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge. Jim McCord had already taped the locks on two doors just underneath the bar in the Watergate garage, and it was probably just about the time that Quinn and I called for our last round of tequila that McCord and his team of Cubans moved into action–and got busted less than an hour later.

All this was happening less than 100 yards from where we were sitting in the bar, sucking limes and salt with our Sauza Gold and muttering darkly about the fate of Duane Thomas and the pigs who run the National Football League.

Of course, that means nothing, but isn’t it a strange coincidence that Deep Throat is about to die, and then suddenly we have the death of an iconoclast who was right there when it happened, who was intimately connected with both politicians and journalists, who was daring enough and certainly wanting to take down the Nixon administration if possible, and who regularly drank cocktails with one of the Nixon insiders who is widely believed to have had the ability and motivation to be Deep Throat?

Of course, in order for this to fit we have to also use more speculation and rumor, that the doctor’s suicide came after severe health problems. We know that he had had some spinal surgeries and other problems, but it would probaly be a stretch to say he was “close to death,” unless the problems were more severe than reported or unless it was known or assumed that if he couldn’t walk, he would consider it his time.(“When the party’s over, you leave.”)

Thompson fits some of the pieces of info given by Bob Woodward in his book. He definitely smoked and drank scotch, we know that. Maybe the book didn’t mention peyote buttons, so as not to narrow it down too much. He obviously could’ve known about the DC trucker bar where he chose to meet Woodward, that’s easy to see. He could’ve somehow had access to information from the White House, FBI, Justice Department and re-election committee, depending on who he was talking to, or what sort of Forrest Gumpian accidental discoveries took place while he was reporting in Washington. For that though you gotta suspend the ol’ disbelief, obviously. The one part that would really make sense, as Barely Legal pointed out, he was the kind of guy who would give himself a code name from a porn movie, knowing it would eventually be repeated in every family newspaper in the country. Unfortunately that might be the most compelling piece of evidence to support this theory. But it was enough to halfway convince me for a few glorious minutes.

I didn’t know a whole lot about Deep Throat, so later in the day I did a little reading and quickly learned how many gigantic sized holes there are in this theory. Actually, it really is more like a bunch of holes, with a thin film of theory debris around the edges. The most obvious hole is that Woodward said that in ’72 and ’73, Throat had a very sensitive position in the executive branch. Whoops, that’s not Hunter. Woodward also said that Deep Throat was accused by his colleagues of being Deep Throat, and that he denied it. This doesn’t fit HST, which is part of the beauty of the theory, that nobody would’ve guessed. Some people believe that Deep Throat in the book is a composite of more than one person (Thompson and Buchanan) but Woodward has denied this. Also, you’d have to wonder why Thompson would even be needed if he was just getting his information from Buchanan (unless Buchanan, or whoever, wasn’t giving it on purpose). Or why Thompson wouldn’t just report the information himself instead of giving it to “two third-string crime reporters,” as he called Woodward and Bernstein (unless he thought nobody would believe him). Or if it was true, why he would keep it a secret his whole life (unless he actually was in a sensitive position in the executive branch, which would then make me wonder where ghosts and yetis and the reptilian agenda come into the picture).

For this to be true, we’d have to accept that much of what we were told about Deep Throat was actually not true. And if it was a composite, wouldn’t Woodward have to wait until all of the pieces are dead before revealing the secret? If so that would rule out a Thompson/Buchanan tag team.

More importantly, Woodward has had a few days to reveal if Thompson was Deep Throat, and it hasn’t happened. When the real guy (Rehnquist) does die, I’m sure there’ll be an obituary the next day, or an hour later, that will reveal the secret.

But let’s ignore all that for a minute – the pure lunacy and stretchin-it-ness of the theory – and go back to those first few minutes when I was trying to wrap my head around the possibility. Before the tyrrany of common sense and basic fact checking set in. In those heady days, it was the shocking third act twist of the idea that made it so appealing. I mean just imagine what it would mean if it was true. How great it would be.

It would mean that Hunter S. Thompson himself had taken out Nixon. That while writing beautiful, vicious reports from the campaign trail, he had stumbled across enough information that he was able to say fuck it, make some calls and get the story going. At first it would’ve seemed like a lark, since the story really didn’t pick up at first, and the fucker got re-elected. But we know Thompson got a good laugh when it all came crashing down, and if he had started the ball rolling it would’ve been all the better.

Better yet, nobody had any clue. In all the years of speculation and investigation, nobody has come up with a suspect anything like Hunter S. Thompson. Okay, to be fair that’s because he doesn’t fit the profile at all. But wouldn’t it be great? Something for him to chuckle about while playing with his peacocks in Woody Creek.

Thompson was pretty disappointed and embarassed when they released Nixon’s enemies list, and he discovered that he wasn’t on it. But if he was Deep Throat that would make it more of a victory. I took you out and I wasn’t even on your list.

Plus, imagine all the revision that would have to be done. Going back through all the years of Deep Throat references and thinking, ha ha, that’s Raoul Duke they’re talking about there. It would be so much fun re-picturing it all with our man at the center of it. We just wouldn’t be able to accept the voice in All the Presiden’ts Men anymore, they’d have to have Johnny Depp redub it.

And then the secrets would have to start coming out eventually. We’d have to find out that what really happened was alot crazier and funnier than previously revealed. The doctor’s family, after firing his remains from the two-thumbed fist cannon in Woody Creek, would reveal the secret manuscript left behind, detailing the whole ordeal from Thompson’s perspective. It would become the most popular and widely read book of his career, making him the Bruce Lee or Brandon Lee of this otherwise horrible new millennium. (Unless he had a whole bunch of unreleased books sitting around, which would make him the new Tupac.)

And anything would seem possible. People would start going back trying to figure out what else he was keeping secret, what else he was involved in. And what other crazy crossovers could possibly have happened under the radar. Did Sun Ra secretly stop a plot to blow up the Golden Gate Bridge? Did a young Jim Henson fake the moon landing with puppets? Who knows? Our minds would all have to shift like Rubik’s Cubes, and we’d have to readjust reality based on the new aligmnent.

But best of all it would be one final laugh, one final shocking upset victory from beyond the grave for my man Hunter S. Thompson. One major jaw-dropping how the fuck did he do that joke, pulling the carpet from under our feet and dropping us hilariously onto our asses. Not only that he pulled it off, but then that he kept it quiet for so damn long, figuring we could appreciate it better later on. Saving it for a rainy day, like now.

Unfortunately nobody really gets that kind of ending. Bruce Lee was not a recluse for ten years to end a demon curse, Andy Kaufman did not fake his death as a prank, and Hunter S. Thompson, I’m pretty sure now, did not secretly punch the hole in the tire of the Nixon Administration. So the best I can offer the poor guy is the mildly amusing information that for some time yesterday, two dipshits in Seattle, and some guy from NBC on a bulletin board somewhere, really believed in the long-shot possibility that he had been Deep Throat.

Sorry Hunter, that’s all I got for you. Wish you were alive. Thanks for the books.

your friend,

Vern

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 24th, 2005 at 8:28 am and is filed under Vern Tells It Like It Is. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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