Highway Gump Revisited
By Gary Gordon, July 1994
"I was feeling kind of seasick
When the comet hit
Sent me into a light fandango
Followed by a bowl of Cocoa Krispies
Hadn't eaten that in years
Should we call out the agitators?
Is there something in the air?
Clinton visited the floods in Georgia
Fell out of the boat and drowned
Al Gore took over
All part of the cultural memory loss
Legend has it you can pinpoint the moment
when people forgot everything
to the moment when that plume of gas
shot off Jupiter
But nobody remembers for sure
So now everybody just wanders
Scratching their heads like goofy cartoon characters
Trying to figure out what they were about
Looking for clues
Here's a street: we must travel here
Here's a streetlight: what's that mean?
Here's a lottery ticket: that must be important
The library's closed: must not be important
Here's huge well-built homes where only a few people live
Here's shitty shacks where lots of people live;
What's that all about?
Was Elvis president?
Was Nixon a rock star?
Who is O.J.?
Mama says when a comet strikes a planet and
everyone loses their cultural memory,
There are lots of questions
Maybe more than ever before
People bump into walls and say
"Okay, I hear you" or "I'm a victim! or
"Bumping into walls is my job"
They used to say "Ouch".
They read newspapers
listen to music
go to movies
Trying to sort it out
Who are we?
What are we doing here?"
A week after the Comet hit an answer begins to sweep the population:
We are here to
Sunglasses are cool
It is the thing that everyone in the culture can agree on and does well
Maybe there are other cultures halfway around the world who disagree
Sunglasses are cool and we are here to wear them
Everyone looks better in sunglasses
Sunglasses make you look cooler
Ask James Dean
Or General MacArthur
Or the Highway Patrolman
Or the jazz player
So the sociologists and anthropologists and
TV talk-show hosts and newspaper pundits
begin their scramble
Why do Sunglasses make everyone look so cool?
What is it about our society?
Our make-up that makes this simple thing so?
It's an image
Deeply ingrained in the modern population
Hasn't existed long
But long enough
Jesus didn't wear shades
King George the Third
Or Davy Crockett
It's in the 20th Century DNA
So now it's two weeks after the comet hit
Everybody's wearin' shades
Trying to follow something called
The Health Care Reform Debate
The National Drug Policy Debate
The Crime Bill Debate
None of it makes much sense
But there is a movie everyone is starting to buzz about
It's great, it's great, it's GREAT, IT'S GREAT!!!
It's all about recent history, they say
It tells us what we once knew but forgot when--
"Did a comet hit a planet?
Well, this movie,
it's about a guy like us
Doesn't know much
bumps into walls
Well, he met presidents
And fought in Vietnam
And was the fastest runner ever
(Faster than O.J.)
And he was the best Ping Pong player ever
And that's why there's peace with China
And he helped John Lennon write a song
And he helped make up that bumper sticker, you know...
And it shows what really happened in that war
See, our soldiers were nice guys
They shoot only when they're shot at
That's what you see
And you don't see them kill anyone
And these peace movement people
They wear strange clothes
They love to say the "F" word 'cause they're obscene
And one of them hits a girl
And the black ones carry guns
Our soldiers didn't hit any women
But the peace movement guy did
Our soldiers didn't threaten anyone with physical violence
But the peace movement people did
That's what you see
That's the images on the screen
Images for our DNA
For our cultural memory loss
I was feelin' kind of seasick
When the crowd called out for more
And God told Abraham to kill his son
I asked poor Howard where can I go
Mack's trying to unload busted telephones
At the foot of a statue of Paul Revere's horse
And Saint Annie and Sweet Melissa are dancing with the Sergeant-At-Arms
Mama's in the basement
Someone's trying to sell me a postcard of a hanging
While a promoter's trying to stage the third World War
My job is not to endorse your values
My job is to point out what I see
And I've just seen
"Ballad Of A Gump Man"
On Disinformation Highway 61