I recently read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas -- a book that I really should have hated, but enjoyed for reasons that are out of my comprehension -- and was rather intrigued by the content. After all, several days of obnoxious behavior, drug-fueled mayhem, and near-violence without a whiff of repercussion is rather surprising. The description of all manner of substances that will twist your brain like a wet t-shirt is at first amusing, then disturbing. And the riffing on the substance and failure of the '60's is illuminating. However, nothing is quite as fascinating as the essential message I got from this book. And that message is the fact that baby boomers are completely incapable of operating without drugs in their systems.
Let's take a gander at the history of baby boomers. It is, in essence, a movement from one drug to the next. The people who were using marijuana and LSD in the '60's were using heroin, quaaludes, and anything else they could get their hands on to deal with disco in the '70's. And after cramming themselves with any chemical they could find in the '70's, they simplified things and just snorted cocaine in the 1980's. Then they took a break in the '90's and mercifully shut up for a while. And now... well what about now?
Prozac. Lipitor. Viagra. Celebrex. Claritin. Coumadin. Enbrel. Lamisil. Vioxx. Paxil. Strattera. Lunesta. Rogaine. If there is a perceived problem, there is a drug for it. From one escape to reality to another, the baby boomers are using pills to try to alter whatever aspect of their own lives they don't like, just like they always have. It's probably their most identifiable trait. And if it weren't for drug use (sorry, the use of drugs), I'm not sure any of these people would be able to move.
Steroids. Oxycontin. Anti-aging drugs. "Herbal supplements." If there's a problem, there's a drug for it. And if the kid won't sit still, there's a drug for that too.
Just so I know, are baby boomers able to function without drugs in their systems? If there isn't a pill, there'd better be a capsule. My God, there's a pill that you have to take for something like four months just so you have a chance to clear your toenail fungus! If it's that bad, just keep your damn socks on and deal with it.
"All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit" are now buying a few more years and a better lifestyle for $75 a pill. The only thing that has changed is lower expectations and higher prices. And that seems to be the final, sad punctuation for a generation that talked a much better game than it played. Maybe it's better that Hunter S. Thompson killed himself and wasn't around to see the last flailings of a generation that runs entirely on chemicals. Then again, if he'd been taking Prozac, he'd probably still be here.