Everything Was Fine Until I Looked Down

Yeah, and I saw a crazy Great White Shark coming at me, bringing ten tons of total terror with him—and I was okay with it. See, despite my relatively young age, I have a long history of tightrope-walking, water-skiing, and chum-trawling over various toothy monsters in the sorry seas of American politics. I have now seen nine presidential elections (1976 to 2008), and was eligible to vote (and did vote) in four of those: ’96, ’00, ’04, and this year. All of them were vile showcases of the worst this country has to offer, with shameless pandering and sniveling by electoral whores of all stripes. I did my best to counter that with, naturally, some of the most refined and urbanely arrogant apathy this side of a white jazz musician convention. Only it didn’t work.

No, I was never able to shake the one fatal aspect of any hopeless nerd who seeks to geek over their handful of chosen obsessions. Until today. Today, my own unique brand of sneering pseudo-cool seems to be going out of style, or at least into an extended hibernation, and that’s okay. Oh yes, the humorless have done their homework, people, and They are Coming. Stewart and Colbert are quite right to fear the oncoming juggernaut of Earnest Do-Gooders, and the Onion deserves to shake in its little booties for a few nights before the end of this awful year. The Axis of Snark is about to lose its grip on the so-called Satirical-Industrial Complex, but only if they’re not careful. Many Robespierres will haunt the parapets of media culture in the ensuing weeks, and no one is safe from their righteous wrath.

Including cheap-ass dilettantes like me, which is why I’m checking out early. That sort of too-cool-for-school, pathetic posing that I’m so comfortable with these days ain’t working with the new kids. No, mutant gonzo-slacktivism is not their bag at all. And again, that’s fine. Sometimes you have to learn when to surrender, before it gets too personal (like 2004), too icky (1988), or just plain ugly (2000). Oh, I found a temporary respite—a tactical retreat into the waiting arms of terminal narcissism, of egomaniacal soothing in a way I’d not experienced since before my siblings were born and stole my only-child glory.

And let me tell you, it’s been fucking awesome. Seriously—after some initial virtuosic, insular stumbling, I found some mid-career chart success in a previously (for me) untried and unmastered medium, and recently. I took to it like plumbers to burglary, though, and for most of last year and this one, it looked, felt, smelled, and tasted like the perfect fit—enough to earn me some token latter-day critical recognition. I mean, I’d studied this shit long and hard, paying attention to not only the Master but also his Prodigal Scion, and learned enough to even pass on a final spastic frenzy of unsolicited wisdom of my own when fellow travelers submitted their own theses for my approval:

From: The Bass Player
Subject: Re: “Desperation is a Stinky Cologne, John”
To: The Frontman
Date: Tuesday, October 21, 2008, 11:07 PM

Brother of mine,

Verily I say unto thee that this is Good. In fact, it’s better than 90% of the Daily Kos diaries out there. You are a worthy student of Thompson and Taibbi.

However, for this piece to truly cross into the realm of Gonzo, you must shamelessly embrace your inner hyperbole. Throw “objectivity” to the feral hyenas, man—that shit is for do-gooder wimps. You know the Truth. You’re not just right. You’re righter than the most miserably wise guru who’s ever been stuck up on K-2 without a decent porno for all eternity. You’ve ruminated on these evil aphorisms of our sick age for so long that they simply must be vomited up like…well, you get the picture. Compound those similies, and never be squeamish with the nastiest metaphors, for Gonzo is a caricature based on a grain of truth, where fiction and reality collide violently, and the Author is irreversibly self-injected into The Work.

Where was I? Oh yes—metaphors. John McCain can’t just be a grumpy old fake maverick. No sir, he has to be the Holy Grail of Epic Fail, the ugly afterbirth of everyone from Barry Goldwater to Bob Dole, the final pathetic result of a party hopelessly in thrall to the Dumb Brutes and Rich People of our nation. And Sarah Palin? She is Caribou Barbie, of course, and the farcial scion of Quayle himself, sure- but she is also the screeching, sneering coda to an army of raging apes that has counted everyone from Spiro Agnew and James Watt, as well as latter-day, cerebral degenerates like Delay and Santorum, among its steaming hordes. They were all Losers, eventually—all slipping down the slick grease-pole of filth into oblivion.

Don’t forget the Democrats, either, but lay off til 11/5; my gut tells me we’ll still have some of them to kick around for a bit. So yes, keep a handle on that righteous anger, and channel it. Distill it further into what it really is, and where it really comes from inside of you, and don’t be afraid of what you see in there. Ah, but so what? Everyone does Teh Gonzo in their own way, so indeed, who am I to judge? Was it fun to write? Did the air crackle with electricity? If not, don’t worry- because one day it will, if you keep doing it.

You’re Welcome.

That nugget of truth was, of course, taken for what it was worth—six bottles of Anchor Steam—but it was not unlike other semi-spontaneous vomit that I had foisted upon the unsuspecting Public in the past two years, which included meditations on the PermaGov Seeks Rebranding Theory, the U2 Album Theory of White House Drapery-Arranging, the Philly World Series Victory Bookends of Reaganism Theory, the Discredited Birthday Theory of 28-Year Cycles vs. the New Consecutive 16-Year Cycle Theory, and other unmatched flights of insanity.

But hey, any of that shit would equal the sterling analyses of cable news pundits, though of course that’s not saying much, but this is still America in the 21st century, children—a nation of Rude Snobs and Hopeless Wankers, where not even the crafty wiles of Neo’s Glamorous Arm-Candy can persuade me to get off my ass to help ensure that selfish tax-ophobes will weep bitter tears in California’s 19th State Senate district—where a stage-time devouring, mediocre anti-Bush rant by an otherwise competent administrator can seal her own fate at the polls seven years later.

None of that, of course, changes two of the few immutable certainties in life—Republican-Baiting will always be the Sport of Kings, and Yuppie-Punting forever the pastime of princes—but it would appear at this juncture that my methods of gonzo-ripoff verbal spew have indeed jumped the shark, for now. One day they shall rise again, though, and on that day—when President Barack Obama is chased out of the Oval Office after only one term by the cerebrally-undead ticket of Huckabee/Bachmann—on that day, my fellow crazies, I shall walk tall and kick ass again, with the awesome power of Quetzalcoatl himself.

You’ve been warned.