Tuesday, January 31, 2006

We don't swim in your toilet (much)

An open letter to the boomer generation--

Why I am a cynic

I grew up in the reflected glory and painfully frank disillusionment beamed in through Uncle TeeVee mostly because staying up to watch Cheers or Thirtysomething (I remember a romantic comedy called Duet that ran around the time I was 11 (it was (I hope) never syndicated), or listen to semi-hippies (who now, in my memory, are about the same age as the friends that I have now (how could someone my age have been a fount of certainty for anyone (but I still thought so in my memory)) sit around and converse (I can read tarot cards for no particular reason, and have a photograph of my aura somewhere), were both prefereable to going to bed, where the light necessary for reading would be detected and commanded out (but I knew your preference for character drama and comedy were compelling even then (and the documentaries, Monty Python, Dr. Who (certainly not Star Trek), and filmed surgeries), and so they became interesting).

The epic of a living generation was broadcast nightly for the consumption of any innocent child who was inclined to pay attention at an early age. I saw The Graduate, Dr. Strangelove, The Wall, 2001, Roman Holiday, Father Goose, ET, The Empire Strikes Back, On Golden Pond, Barbarella----

Hold On

A brief word about Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda, for me is an entirely unique kind of temporally compressed amalgam of several impressions of a single person with an extensively varied public image that all entered my consciousness fairly concurrently. It only took the length of an interview or a movie to transform Henry Fonda's daughter, finally able to interact with her father onscreen in a way that may never have occured offscreen, into Barbarella. To wrench me from Barefoot in the Park to footage of Hanoi Jane. And now the wife of an entertainment tycoon. This isn't Madonna; these were'nt drastic changes for the people that actually lived through these phases as they happened; there was a lot of living in which anyone could be expected to do a lot of changing between subversive political activist to the founder of the exercise video Renaissance that got rid of the highly sedate yoga instructors and perverted cameramen that dominated the exercise show circuit up into the eighties.

Getting back to business---

What it comes down to is the fact that when I was in junior high school, I was pretty aware that I would find college shocking, that I would become an idealist in college, be disillusioned by the compromises that I had made, become increasingly alarmed at where my life is in comparison to where I had imagined it to be in the time that I will then envision as the only time in my life where I was really alive, and finally settle into a kind of vague second mortgage middle aged liberalism where people who really want to discuss politics make me uneasy, but I vote for the green party (sometimes, for local offices only) and donate to charity (ACLU membership lapsed) and begin to understand when people start talking about family values and building more prisons.

Why did I swallow the coping myth of a generation that wasn't my own? Why is my generation so fucked up?

Because you, all of you, forced your children to watch while you engaged in self obsessed, masturbatory, alienated psychoanalysis crosses with a 12-step repressed memory morality---

In front of your children!!!


  1. I think all of us in the Walrus extended network probably had pretty similar childhoods. When I was in the 12th grade my English teacher told me I was too young to be so cynical. I asked what an acceptable age would be? I believe he said wait until I was in my thirties. In the moment he took to give the answer, It was like i could see 20 years of disappointment and realization flash across his face. I think at that moment I solidified my resolve never to believe a word from any politician or anyone in any position of power for that matter. I think looking back that the teacher (who drove a blue Volkswagen bug with the round back window) was standing in the Haight-Ashbury in '68 and really believed that he could make a difference. I think he wanted me to be able to feel that way for a while, before reality set in. What he did was save me from those same disappointments.

    In college I learned that understanding the past was more rewarding than hoping for the future.

    Not that there is nothing to be said for the future. We just sent a probe to Pluto. By the time it gets there my son will be old enough to share the excitement when the first pictures come back. He is after all, though my wife will disagree, going to be the first man on Mars. Either that or a Jazz musician. Both noble professions.

    "John Boone, Went to the moon, No fast cars, He went to

    Remember on thirty something when Peter Horton's character got killed riding his bike in the snow? What a shocker.

  2. Anonymous6:35 PM

    Well first off since you finally wrote something more that a brief howdy doo, I will get a bit more serious. First a mild aside maybe I should get a blogger account, but why as I commented elsewhere in this blog the cat's out of the bag. Anywho since it appears that this is a place I can have a meaningful interaction with you, well without flying 3k miles or waiting for you to drive to work, there are some things I need to comment on from this post. As for many of those shows that you say impacted you so much at an early age, I didn't see them until much later so they meant far less to me. One of the few boundaries that was imposed upon me from even an early age was the dreaded bedtime, I never understood why in junior high I was forced to be in bed by 8pm, now that I have kids I see there is a parental need for sometime without worrying about "what the hell the kids are doing" and maybe having a little time to spend with your life partner.

    I will leave the Jane Fonda thing alone we have done that to death...

    I never really understood the point of school really, I always felt that I learned far more from reading, then I had ever learned from a teacher. Well I am using teacher in the traditional sense, I learned so much by watching the way people interacted with each other and how those same people spoke about some of their "friends" when they weren't around. Often made me wonder about how they spoke about me when I wasn't around. I learned quite a bit by watching the way our mothers interacted with each other and by watching your reactions to the same. I spent quite a bit of time watching the world through your eyes and looking back it did make me less cynical. As hard as that may be to believe.

    I find it amusing how you say people that want to talk about politics make you uneasy since more often that not that seems to be all you want to talk about with me. Even though politically I am very easy to read, there are few political shades of gray with me from the federal aspect, I am very strict to what the constitution says, don't try to put in artificial meaning what do the words say. Maybe it has to do with politics beginning when there are three or more people and how the family politics played out when you were the third person. I had some of this to deal with too until I grew a foot in a year and then they pretty much left me alone. I won’t even get into the bad Beatles adaptation that was oft sent your way, I’ll just say that kids are cruel.

    I do find it amusing that many people in the family think I made the decisions I did just to be contrary. Like it is some sort of crime to think that the federal government should stay out of the matters of the people and deal with international relations and defense alone or god forbid thinking that Coke actually tastes better than Pepsi. Like it’s some sort of act to set myself apart from the matriarchal structure that is our family.

    As for the mess that is our generation I think it has more to do with the style that children of the boomers were brought up with. Although I am sure there are exceptions it seems to be to grow up free without boundaries and find your own way, or the polar opposite where the structure was ironclad to ensure their children didn't make the same mistakes they had made. While a compromise may have the better solution children need structure in areas, like keeping themselves and their living area clean, this is to lower disease and infestation in the living areas, but when it comes to developing there philosophical identity they should be exposed to as many varying ideas. Don’t teach them to believe what you believe because it may not work for them like it did for you.

  3. Anonymous5:14 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.