One minute I was pondering how we got here from there, and the next I was arriving at the intersection of Jesus and Caramba. The someplace else I dialed back to was 1980. Okay . . maybe it wasn’t the age of innocence. It was inside a time where disco was on life support. We staggered over the edge of a decade replete with post-moon landing meh, and life without torch song heroes named King and Kennedy and life with Nixon. Before Watergate sent him away in a helicopter. And Vietnam. And Kent State and the hostage crisis and inflation and race riots . . .
But if you were to fix 1980 into a lineup of comparables, welp . . 2020 would be the El Chapo to their Sonny and Cher. We took their Paradise Lost and we doubled down into a Full House of Horrors. Their dearth of heroes became our reality television. Their Watergate became our daily trend, where “gate” gets caboosed to the latest scandal as if it were a wicked smart ensemble piece. Their Vietnam became our patriotic mission to spread truth, justice and the American way by co-opting the best laid plans of our Founding Fathers into a drive through dominion where branding is our inalienable right. Kent State became Columbine and Flint, Sandy Hook, Marjorie Stoneman and Las Vegas, and then things got worse when those days no longer shocked us. Their hostage crisis became our Oklahoma City and September 11th, and Boston. Their inflation became our great big heist. Their race riots, well . .we kept that tradition going.
There was plenty of promise to the way things started off, with a bunch of college kids beating the Russians in ice hockey. We couldn’t have imagined that our sports would morph from that quaint little Norman Rockwell moment into a bread and circuses cinema. And then Reagan lied to us about a shining city upon a hill. And George H. had us focusing on a thousand points of light instead of the stupid economy. Or is that the economy stupid? We got lost in the shroud of the cigar smoke from the Clintonian Era, and while we were busy trying not to inhale, an election went into overtime with the Supreme Court serving as referee. And then W became a four letter word before stepping up inside the darkest days . . before turning back into a four letter word.
The rear view tells me it’s been a hot minute since those days were busy happening. And here we are, the numb OG’s of a feckless age where the modern day proverb- Shit Happens- is mired in the muck of our everyday existence. And this isn’t to say that our mast is hurtling to the edge of the world and that all hope is lost. But . . . . damn!
So this is where the voices in my head make their money. Because yanno . . the questions I get to cooking up possess the kind of riptide that circumnavigates all the logical conclusions we’ve been taught to abide to since grade school. And either I’m Randall McMurphy on a stick or there is something happening here, even if what it is ain’t exactly clear.
Because I really don’t know what to make of this place we currently reside inside of. Are we a miserable scrum of beastly conclusions to which there is no honest to goodness fix, outside of a runaway meteor? Is the global script we’ve been reading from ever since fire led to the invention of the cheeseburger one big lie? Is this nothing more than one great big romantic tragedy in which the lovers (that’s us) are destined to lose in the end?
When Higgs met boson inside that celestial tryst and then mass showed up nine months later, was Trump destined to be President from that very moment? Was race supposed to be the great divider in perpetuity? Was Joe Exotic supposed to be the elixir to a global pandemic? And is it too late to call for a cosmic rewrite?
Hunter S. Thompson called.
He wants his fever dream back.