GONZO (originally and chiefly U.S.) [1970s and still in use]:
1) adjective – a) Of or relating to a type of subjective journalism characterized by factual distortion and exaggerated rhetorical style. b) an intense, off-the-wall, or surreal experience, mood or style, bizarre, crazy, eccentric, far-fetched. c) finished, defeated, useless d) drunk, gone.
2) noun – a) ‘gonzo’ journalism; one who writes in this style. b) a crazy person, a fool.
[The word perhaps derives from Italian ‘gonzo,’ foolish, or simpleton, one easily duped, or Spanish ‘ganso,’ fool, a lazy or dull person, literally ‘goose’; another view is that it was formed from ‘gone,’ drunk + ‘crazo,’ fake Italian for ‘crazy,’ and a pun on ‘gung-ho’]
GONZO JOURNALISM: A style of journalism that mixes fact and fiction, in which reporters rather than taking the usual unbiased, neutral, and distanced position, interject their thoughts, emotions and actions into the story. It is allegedly produced by a writer in a crazed state, sometimes induced by the excessive consumption of drink and/or drugs. One source described it as “a crazed mix of sharp incite, humor, drugs, sex, and violence.” The word is said to have been coined by Bill Cardoso, journalist and author, in 1971 and first used in print by his colleague Hunter S. Thompson, the preeminent practitioner of ‘gonzo journalism.’ Thompson was the political reporter for ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine in the 1970s who gained fame for producing his copy while under the influence of Wild Turkey bourbon and a variety of drugs. Thompson’s works include ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ (1971) and ‘Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972’ (1973). His writing is characterized by outrageous false allegations about public figures and grotesque and exaggerated descriptions of events. His legend has been embellished by the character of Duke in the comic strip ‘Doonesbury.”
(Oxford English Dictionary, Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Allusions, What is Gonzo: The Etymology of an Urban Legend by Dr. Martin Hirst, Random House Unabridged Dictionary, A Word a Day by Anu Garg)<1971 “But what ‘was’ the story? Nobody had bothered to say. So we would have to drum it up on our own. Free Enterprise. The American Dream. Horatio Alger gone mad on drugs in Las Vegas. Do it now’: pure GONZO JOURNALISM.”—in ‘Rolling Stone’ by H. Thompson, 11 November, page 38/4>
<1977 “To make sure that I wouldn’t make too big a GONZO of myself . . .”—‘Custom Car’>
<1985 “He has a small, weird triumph with his GONZO psycho docudrama.”—‘New Yorker,’ 22 July, page 16/2
<1988 “The poppa of GONZO is, of course, Hunter S. Thompson, who at 49 seems to have lost his bite . . . For true spite and malice one must now turn to P. J. O’Rourke, 40, a baby boomer who seems to have teethed on brass knuckles and suckled on bile.”—in ‘Time’ a review by R. Z. Shoepard of P. J. O’Rourke’s ‘Holiday in Hell,’ 17 October>
<1996 “What’s with the _Wall Street Journal’s_ editorial page? It’s more than knowledgeable about a wide range of economic, political, and social topics from foreign affairs to the economy—it can be sharp, urbane and sensitive. But get it on the subject of Whitewater, and . . . GONZO City! It’s Paranoids-of-the-World Unite! time.”—in ‘Kansas City Star’ by Paul Greenberg, 28 March>
<1997 “Since the sweeps months are so important for these local stations, it is hardly surprising that they tend to go a little GONZO to draw viewers to the set.”—in ‘Fortune’ by Tim Carvell, 13 January>
Ken G – November 18, 2004