'WIERD SCENES INSIDE THE GOLD MINE'
(Jim Morrison - 'The End')
Tim Page is going back over 50 years of archive images & he's mining gold..
We find ourselves again in times when governments feel it necessary to abjectly lie to us. Here in Australia it is 'On-Watergate' as opposed to the deviousness of America's 'Watergate' in all it's D.C. duplicities. Back then it led to a regimes downfall, will it now sow the same twists of fate, seed similar consequences?
The Watergate trial had sequelled the case of the Pentagon Papers when Daniel Ellsberg & Tony Russo were on trial for disseminating the back story on the Vietnam war. Parallell to the Democratic headquarters break-in at Watergate, a Nixon controlled mob, 'the plumbers' had broken into Dan Ellsberg's psychiatrists office in Los Angeles to gather possible incriminating evidence against him. It all culminated in the first major broadcast of a quintessential legal case and the resignation of a president.
The foul bowels of governance were exposed live on TV from the senate committee chambers, it made for gripping viewing. Ratings soared while the mighty lied and fell like nine-pins; live, bloodless, history. Nixon finally exposed as a criminal. Swathes of America were AWOL from work, hooked. Daily I would walk down the hill past the 'Whisky-A-Go-Go' on the corner of Sunset Boulevard, down to my mate Bill Cardoso's tiny bungalow behind the Safeway on Santa Monica. We had met through Tim Cahill at Rolling Stone magazine. Bill had for a spell edited the Boston Globe magazine, ran a jazz club in the Azores and will amongst the cognoscenti, forever be known as the scribe who cornered the term 'gonzo'.
On the contentious '68 campaign trail in New Hampshire, he had used it to label his journo mate Hunter S. Thompson's writing. Hunter was in town for the Rose Bowl, daytimes he squatted at Cardoso's crib watching the demise of the man he loathed; the central figure of dispite in 'Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail'. I guess he was reporting the event live, well off of Cardoso's Trinitron.
It was an incredible piece of theatre, shaping the worlds future and history. Unravelling corruption and criminality played out on the screen as we passed joint after joint and ingested odd coloured pills. It was stream of consciousness, woefully unrecorded, interjected by Hunter's rants against swine, calmed by Coors and another voddy. The day destroyed itself and Hunter had another piece for Rolling Stone and his book, paying homage to our host, the original prince of gonzo, which by Cardoso's definition comes from the Canuk 'gonzeaux' and means 'shining path'. Yet Hunter always 'looked' so straight, chinos, sports shirt, loafers, shaved head - sure my head was a bit fuzzy but those were post 'Nam times with christmas bombings, Kent State students shot by their own government, break-ins financed by the White House and the culprits now facing the Senate Select Committee.
Later there was a two day shoot when Hunter got us to drive him to Long Beach to pick up a Vincent Black Shadow. An enterprising bike nut had imported the last of the legendary British super bike parts and was assembling them as faithful replicas. The machine with it's V twin 1000cc engine made Harleys look like Vespas. The street version could max at 112mph without any soft saddle or suspension, possibly the meanest bike ever built. I digress but this is a gonzo tale. Hunter was a bike and gun nut, his first book was on the Hell's Angels, the gun bit eventually spelling his cosmic ride. For Hunter the drugs were the icing on the cake. We breakfasted on vodka screwdrivers and multi hued 'vitamins' at the Sunset Plaza which made focusing from the 'red sharks' backseat a tad difficult as we careened along Mulholland Drive, the rim that runs atop the Hollywood Hills. Looking back from a Chevy Impala convertible at 40mph on a touristy road trying to track a gleeful, banking, grinning, Ray Bans glinting, whooping rider with lit ciggie in a long holder clamped between his lips. Cardoso was following commands to the winds, while a clean image eluded me as we pulled along the notorious twisty tarmac. I shipped the film off to the San Francisco office of Rolling Stone, who promptly lost it, never to be seen again. Hunter flew back to Colorado leaving Cardoso and I with a stash of 'vitamins'.
Just over a year later he proposed to Jann Wenner that he go to Saigon to cover the fall in April '75. Jann suggested that I go to take the pictures. Hunter chimed that I was too crazy. In the US I wept my eyes out as the bells of peace peeled for an hour and the PAVN tanks broke down the palace gates. I had wanted to be there for the end. His Gonzoness had bottled out two days before and flown to Hong Kong. Anyway, the case against Dan Ellsberg was opening in the federal court downtown with both TIME & LIFE wanting coverage and I had stoned Dan back in Saigon with his first opium and unquote 'changed the course of history' or so he inscribed on my copy of the Pentagon Papers.
The rest is history and we will still try to congratulate all that is the finest form of stream of consciousness style and brevity that spans insanity to lucidity that tears across your screen in a jagged reality. alerts you to the alternative and to the truth.
The moral of this tale is to make us aware of the lies that are being fed by those we once believed should run our bewildering times.
"Hunter's such an amazingly brutish physical specimen. I couldn't believe his stamina. I remember he tore apart his hotel room in New Hampshire when he was covering Jean-Claude Killy. It was a f--king mess...I mean just demolished it. Everything. I said "I'm getting outta here. I'm the editor of The Boston Globe Magazine. The police are going to be here any minute."...Then he wrote the Kentucky Derby piece...And I sent him a letter. I said, "I don't know what the f--k you're doing, but you've changed everything. It's totally gonzo.
I think the word comes from the French Canadian. It's a corruption of g-o-n-z-e-a-u-x. Which is French Canadian for "shining path".