Eliot Rahal highlights some of his favorite excerpts from the new Great Gonzo memoir, due out this summer.
By Eliot Rahal
March, 1979. I remember. Although my memories are brief, few and far between, I remember. It was happier then. America was still a place where you could buy a burger and soda for a buck, and get a good fuck for even less. Love was still free, although hard to come by. With those fascists Nixon and Ford out of office, the future looked bright. We thought, just maybe, innocence was being reborn; a second chance, the rebaptism of America, the great spiritual reawakening (with less hellfire and more Fire Island). Roller blades were in and suits were out. It was the seventies, and we thought that it could never end. It was back in those days that I had found God, his name being Kermit the Frog, and I believed in him. All of us did. He had the love of Christ in him and the know-how of Rockefeller. We followed him to New York. We thought we would change the world, rattle some cages, shake a fence or two, blow a few minds, get back to being what we thought life should be….real. Human connection and spirituality combined in those days; love, fraternity, feminism. We had the spirit of the 70’s. It was like Godspell, but without the fags.
December, 1981. Those first few years were not what we expected, though optimisms prevailed despite minor setbacks. We thought we would be famous right away; we figured New York was waiting for our revival. Fat chance. Apparently, there were about half a million people with the same idea. We all got day jobs at this diner. It was nice being together, like we always had been. Maybe we didn’t change the world right away, but we were still trying. No compromises would be made. Kermit was in love with Miss Piggy, and I was alone as usual with my chickens. Kermit spoke of the future like everything would happen tomorrow; we just needed that one chance. I remember thinking to myself, “Jesus, I hope it comes, for his sake.”
January, 1982. It happened. We got that chasing dream to come true. Conversations of childhood hopes while chasing fire flies became reality. The swamp was only a memory now for Kermit, though the memory of the side show was still painful for me, assuaged only by an assortment of colorful friends mixed with something called Liquore. Kermit had made his word true. I remember thinking, “I can’t believe I can call him a friend.” Sometimes I feared he felt the same way, just with a different cadence and enunciation. I was still alone. Chickens only gave you so much. We killed on Opening Night. It was amazing; I never felt so alive! Kermit, though…there was a madness in that frog’s eyes.
October, 1985. Ralph was dead. I remember his body, laying there lifeless on the bedroom floor. Heroin was a terrible drug. Everyone took it hard, but it was a long time coming. Eventually, one of us would fall. Fame had changed us. Beaker refused to share his room with Bunsen; Fozzy started hanging out with George Carlin and lifting material from Lenny Bruce; Sam the Eagle hopped on board Reaganomics; Rizzo, he just stopped talking. But the worst…the worst was Kermit. I don’t know whether it was the delusions of grandeur or the methamphetamines, but he would only speak to people one on one and with appointment only. He hardly spoke to me anymore. His relationship with Piggy was over, and he had moved on to a harem to secure his line. He thought he was a God. Maybe he was, but back then, I couldn’t help but think, “Do Gods forget their friends?” Kermit had certainly forgotten me. I was so alone.
October, 1987. I have a memory of waking up to find Fozzy shouting “Gutterslut!” as he, Swedish Chef, and Bunsen gangbanged Miss Piggy. She wasn’t saying anything. She released no pleasure, no moans of ecstasy. She just had a look of removed apathy. She had given up. I cried for her that night. I remember missing the sideshow.
September, 1990. I checked into rehab, forgotten by my friends. Miss Piggy shot herself. I will always remember her as beautiful. I wish I could have told her that I loved her. I had read in the newspaper that Kermit was arrested for having sex with underage girls, some sort of cult conspiracy. I thought it was finally over.
November, 1999. My life is better now. I have hobbies. I am clean. I live in Manhattan and spend my time writing books and playing jazz with a band on weekends. I still think about the sideshow, and how I used to be called the “Great.” I miss my friends; I miss her. Sometimes, Fozzy and I get together. He’s washed up, and he knows it. We talk, but never about old times. Never about anything, really. Those early years will always stay with me. The hope, our love, our friendships, the memories: they will live forever in my mind. A particular memory stands out among all the rest: Kermit, Piggy and I went to Central Park. It was a crisp autumn day. We took a picnic by the lake after a long bike ride. Kermit went to go get some ice cream and left me with Piggy. Her golden hair swayed in the wind as she took long, slow, deep breaths. We just sat there, admiring the scenery. When she finally spoke, with long, breathy, syllables, she said, “Do you think we’ll be friends forever?” I said to her, “I hope so.” I have always been haunted by those waters.