All Hail Gritty, Nightmare Hero of the Common Man
We live in dark and despairing times. The president is an evil lunatic. Racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia have skyrocketed. The people need something to believe in. The people need a reason to not give in to despair.
On September 24th, 2018, an American public silently but powerfully crying out for a hero received one in the least likely of forms. He was a seven foot tall monster with googly eyes and a look straight out of our collective nightmares the public came to know and instantly revere as “Gritty.”
Gritty was introduced as the new mascot for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers but he immediately transcended not just Philadelphia professional hockey, hockey and even sports to become an instant pop icon whose popularity and appeal spread to the kind of obnoxious people who refer to all athletic endeavors as “Sports ball”, as if that has ever been clever, even for a little bit.
It’s easy to see why. Gritty is so wrong that he’s right. Gritty is ugly. Gritty is horrifying. Gritty is nightmare fuel. You know how some Muppets seem like they’re on drugs, particularly Animal and the rest of Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem? Well, Gritty seems like he is drugs, or at least the kind of hallucination you experience when you’ve been up for three days without sleeping or eating on a crystal meth bender.
Gritty is not the mascot for a Philadelphia sports team: Gritty is Philadelphia. Upon his unveiling, Gritty instantly became a greater and more beloved icon than Mickey Mouse because Gritty is real. Gritty is authentic. Gritty is, well, gritty.
It’s not surprising that groups have been racing to claim Gritty. Antifa has claimed Gritty as their own, as have other marginalized demographics and organizations that see their own shaggy weirdness reflected in the hockey mascot’s nightmare-inducing presence and heady, druggy, psychedelic vibe.
Here’s the thing. Gritty has lived a long, hard, weird life. Gritty has seen things. Gritty has snorted things. Gritty has gotten fucked up plenty. Many of Gritty’s best memories are when he was blasted out of his mind.
Gritty followed the Grateful Dead for a couple of years in the early 1980s. He sold a little acid, got busted a couple of time by undercover cops in the lot but it was no big deal. Gritty has been to prison a couple of times but for minor bullshit like drunk and disorderly.
Gritty is a Juggalo. He’s been to the Gathering a couple of times. He spent a couple of years as a roadie for an undistinguished Southern California punk band. He filled in for them on guitar a couple of times when the regular guitarist was too fucked up to play. Gritty doesn’t consider himself a musician, per se, but he’s okay on a couple of different instruments, including drums and keyboards.
In other words, we are Gritty and Gritty is us. He’s the distraction we need at this uncertain time in our culture, when so much seems hopeless.
Gritty may not be the hero that we want but he’s the hero that we need.
All hail the age of Gritty. May it last a thousand years!
Like Gritty, I am a man of the people. I make my living largely through crowd-funding so if you would be kind enough to consider pledging as little as a dollar over at https://www.patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace it’d be