I’ve been looking at my early columns lately. Not all of them sold – hard to figure why. Well, maybe not. Here’s one from January 2001.
Like thousands of you out there I was very impressed by Ebay when it started up in the mid nineties and thought to myself: “I really should buy a few shares of their stock.” Of course, I didn't and having missed that boat, I made up for it by buying plenty of tech stocks just before the crash. Ebay ran a business that was based on making money as opposed to the other dot-coms that based their business on spending it. I don’t hold a grudge against Ebay for leading me astray (especially since the court injunction). As a matter of fact, I was thinking of running a search, or, if they allow it, placing a want ad:
“Balding baby-boomer male WASP in search of cool identity”
All right, I was raised in Leave it to Beaver-land. I even whistled on the way to school. The closest I ever came to being a bohemian was that I took swimming lessons at Walden Pond. I've consumed enough peanut butter, Wonder Bread and Campbell’s soup to sufficiently inoculate me from any inkling of abnormality. My problem is that my decidedly conformist existence has hit the most challenging of all conundrums. Non-conformity is now the accepted norm.
Who would have guessed back in 1973 as I traveled the hallways of Acton Boxborough Regional High School in my Greg Brady style maroon velour button-fly bell-bottoms and my green and gold puffy-sleeved shirt that I was headed for such a predicament? Somehow, miraculously, ninety five percent of the student body, who were also Greg or Marcia look-a-likes were transformed through the process of time, to former rockers, dope-heads and hippies. Am I the sole remaining member of my generation who will admit he faithfully watched the Partridge Family, who found the Courtship of Eddy’s Father moving and who was frightfully disappointed when Mayberry RFD was cancelled? Did no one else marvel at the gastronomical breakthroughs of Bunt cakes, Shake-a Pudding and Jell-O 1, 2, 3? Am I the sole remaining purchaser of either pet rock or mood ring? I could have sworn there were others who enjoyed songs like Mandy, and Brandy and that coke commercial where they’re teaching the world to sing.
I’ll tell you what happened. Someone built a clover-leafed on-ramp to the road less traveled by.
Who, you ask?
I know that too. It’s them there kids, dagnabit! (I've always wanted to say that)
Baby boomers were yuppies in the 80s because, let’s face it; kids were boring in the 80s. Campuses were quiet, music was boring and Alex P Keaton was a popular icon. It’s hard to respect serious cultural discussion when both sides wear little alligators on their shirts. Blame Ronald Reagan. Blame Arnold Schwartzeneggar. Blame Jane Pauley for marrying Gary Trudeau and putting his sense of humor in the Goodwill bin along with his old sports coats. Say what you will; Iran/Contra could never hold a candle to Vietnam. Madonna was fun, but Janis Joplin she was not!
Sometime in the last several years something changed. Kids got cool! When I was a teenager if anyone said navel piercing, I would check my lunch bag to see if someone was messing with my orange (OK, it was a lunchbox – but I stopped using the one with spacemen all over it long before high school). Sure, the really cool guys started having their ears pierced decades ago, but now anyone under twenty five without at least one hefty body piercing is given an honorary pocket protector and the keys to the audio-visual department. Limp Bizkit may not be Led Zeppelin but Lenny Kravitz beats the heck out of Barry Manilow. Who clued them into the fact that the Democratic Party was just a sugary version of the Republican Party?
These kids are sharp! These kids are savvy! These kids are dangerous!
We baby boomers have always had the market cornered on cool. Sure, the majority of us were still basically geekie but we took pride in the fact that a certain percentage of us were true revolutionaries. Suddenly a generation rises that makes its own rules, revolutionizes its own culture, and then invites everyone into the pool.
The attendance figure at the first Woodstock has tripled over the last several years. I wasn't there but I did go trout fishing in upstate New York that summer and I watched the movie twice so it’s only a matter of time until I claim to have been there as well. Is it natural for an entire generation to resort to revisionist history? No, but at least we have someone to blame!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m splicing my high school graduation photo with a picture of Jimi Hendricks. Anyone know where I can get a paste-on graphic for love beads?
Penn shows a great trick for our generation.