Important Things to Know #10: A Tale of Two Gonzos
Stop and think about this: Jim Henson and Dave Goelz named their new Muppet "Gonzo" at about the same time Hunter S. Thompson adopts the term Gonzo to describe his new brand of journalism. I'm not so much enamored by the coincidence as I am the different paths those two Gonzos took from roughly the same starting line.
In 1970, Hunter S. Thompson was watching the counter culture's "high water mark" (his words not mine) recede into the abyss. Drug experimentation was once a means to usher in a New Renaissance and shake hands with your Divine Maker. Now it had devolved into a chaotic mix of hedonism, addiction, and felony arrests. The mantra that "All You Need Is Love" had warped into wanton sex - total pleasure, completely devoid of "Love"; bringing only emptiness, guilt and disease.
In Hunter S. Thompson's mind, the fat lady sang when RFK was murdered. It was no surprise to Thompson when Altamont, the Manson murders, Watergate and the My Lai Massacre followed closely behind. The ensuing decades were nothing more than the backwash of a dream collapsed - disco, Reaganomics, cocaine, and terrorist attacks. Nothing left to do but watch ESPN and shoot your guns... which is exactly what he did.
This other Gonzo, the Muppet, has much more in common with the Children of the Aftermath. Generation Xers were born into a world whose dreams had just been sent throught the sausage grinder. We came into a world that had no Beatles, no Timothy Leary, no Woodstock, no Peaceful Resistance, no transcendental philosophy.... Xers arrived at the party just in time for the hangover. Gonzo the Great was our guy.
Our Gonzo had no identity, no defined species. John Cleese called our Gonzo "the ugly, disgusting little one who catches cannonballs." Gen Xers weren't "important" like their parents: college campuses, once ground zero in the counter culture movement and bastions of protest, now were quiet. You can have your damn Kent State and "Sit-Ins", we'd rather watch the Cosby Show and then do some Jell-O shooters.
Perhaps this younger generation, the ones marching on Wall Street, will be able to ressurect a cause and purpose. Whether the movement is right or wrong, at least there's a cause, a unifying drum beat. Hunter S. Thompson would be proud.
Meanwhile, Gonzo the Great is just interested in laying down some chickens.