Before this scheduled post, I wanted to acknowledge a major event in this country. 50 years ago the governor of Alabama, George Wallace, blocked the entry of Black students to the University of Alabama. President John F. Kennedy acted to remove him from the steps of the school so the students could attend. Today marks the day that NAACP activist and civil rights pioneer Medgar Evers was gunned down at his home. The vitriolic political climate today rivals the hatred of that time, even though people keep claiming that we’re in a ‘post-racial’ society (whatever the fuck THAT means)! It’s an amazing, fascinating, and very sad thing. From the Huffington Post:
“Evers was 37 when he was shot and killed outside his home in Jackson, Miss., on June 12, 1963. The man accused of his murder, Byron De La Beckwith, was freed in 1964 after two trials ended with deadlocked all-white juries. In 1994, he was retried and found guilty of murder. He died in prison in 2001.
Bill Clinton called Evers the first assassination victim of the civil rights struggle. The former president said it was a time when African-Americans could fight and die in combat overseas but, in many Southern states, couldn’t vote or run for office.
“The next time you hear people complaining around Washington about what a rough business democracy is, we might do well to remember what it was like 50 years ago and the sacrifices that were made,” he said. “When you get angry about what you see and frustrated in Syria and the aftermath of the Arab Spring, remember 1963 when we lost a genuine soldier, citizen, hero, and left his wife to chart her own course for 50 years.”
I would add that Emmitt Till might be called the first recognized assassination victim, for many reasons!
On another note, Tata Madiba is gravely ill. He’s been in hospital for five days now, battling a recurring lung infection. He looks so frail…Winifred has been to see him; one of his daughters flew in from Argentina, where she is an ambassador. They are saying their good-byes to that great man. He’s a true king; a legend, a giant among men. I remember when he was released from that South African prison…I thought, “Wow…this man has been behind bars longer than I’ve been on this earth.” Some things are very humbling when you take the time to think about them. He’s fought long and hard for his entire life, it seems. It’s time for him to rest, and I will be saddened by his passing…I, and multitudes of others.
Back to the topic: The ‘generation gap’ has been on my mind recently, due to conversations I’ve had with my son about things in his life that he’s wrestling with. Like many ‘millennials,’ he’s on Facebook and tends to be very vocal about his life; I’ve tried to let him know that he leaves himself very open and vulnerable to heartless sociopaths by doing so, but he doesn’t listen. He thinks that having an assload of online ‘friends’ means something, even though his loved ones are merely a phone call, text, or email away – and always available if he wants to talk. It frustrates me at times that he places so much value on some faceless interweb denizen’s opinion! Anyway, there was some ‘news piece’ on a local channel, talking about how the generation labeled ‘baby boomers’ are experiencing hearing loss at an earlier age than, say, the ‘greatest generation’ did. It made me reflect a little bit on my own, ‘lost’ generation – the one labeled ‘Generation X.’
To me, the ‘boomers’ seemed to be the most self-centered generation. They acted like the only historical events occurred during their lifetimes, even though plenty of events have happened since they stoned it up at Woodstock. They spoke of Vietnam, murdered politicians, marches for everything under the sun, and The Beatles. They think that, because the ‘civil rights’ and ‘equality for women’ era was in the forefront, they’ve solved all of the problems and “nope, nothing more to see here – we’ve done it all!” They talk about the four students killed at Ohio State as if nobody else has ever been murdered by police during peaceful protests. They were the most vocal about childbirth, sexual development, and sex after 40…now they’re vocal about geriatric sex. Come to think of it, obsessing about sex-related things seemed to define their generation the most – and, I can see that ‘millennials’ have the ‘boomers’ beat when it comes to sexual obsession and blind self-absorption! It’s so strange…I recall a time when knowing how to ‘read’ people was an important skill. Because of this, I much prefer face-to-face interaction when I have to talk with people – they can’t hide their thoughts, because their expressions give them away!
I’m a GenXer, but I was born after my time…I also feel, in some ways, that I was born before it. Where and when I ended up in the world when I was born is just that – I’m here now, at this time. I’ve never ‘fit in’ anywhere, with anyone, so being a solitary loner is my nature. I observe anything and everything that catches my attention. I also enjoy life to the utmost – it’s a treasure to appreciate!
What defines Generation X? Depends on who you ask, I guess. Lots of people would say, “Apathy – GenXers don’t care about ANYTHING!” Not true, not true at all. Speaking for myself, I would say that I care TOO much sometimes – I have to step back at times and ask myself, “Is this really what it seems?” The Cold War was at its height during my youth, so propaganda about the ‘evil Russkies’ and the ‘great bear’ was everythere, much like the anti-Muslim propaganda is now. The point is, those of us who were exposed to propaganda tend to recognize it for what it is – although, admittedly, a lot of people still fall for it! Personally, I try not to jump on a bandwagon or ride coat-tails, and that’s why I’m accused of not caring. I care, but I don’t need people pushing my buttons or demanding that I see things exactly the way they do. It’s impossible! Cynicism and skepticism is big amongst us, too.
My generation shares common experiences. Here are but a few:
- The launching of the first space shuttle.
- Owning a ‘personal computer’ – the home-based PC.
- Video games! Atari, Coleco, Activision, etc.
- The fear of nuclear war.
- Personal stereos: if you had a boom-box, you were righteous; if you had a Walkman that had two headphone jacks, you were too cool for school!
- Making those gawdawful fashions of the ‘70s and ‘80s work – it was tough, but doable! Best leftover fashions of those days are bell-bottom jeans, platform shoes, and big hair. Yes, I rocked ‘Afro-puffs’ before they were in style!
- “I want my MTV!!!” – those words were on EVERYONE’S lips! The video age was in as ‘video killed the radio star.’ Music took evolutionary leaps with the mighty Moog synthesizer, amongst other things.
- We were called “latch-key kids” because we were the first generation to come home to an empty house after school. Both parents working; the baby-boomer ‘hippies’ morphed into ‘yuppies.’
- Corporal punishment still occurred in schools – the teacher could beat your ass at school, then you would get another ass-whipping when you got home for acting up! No worries about some psychotic fucktard shooting up the classroom, or getting shot yourself for giving some nerd a wedgie.
- If you don’t remember Esperanto or the real ‘generic’ foods that used to be sold in stores, then you’re most likely NOT a GenXer.
- The news stations hadn’t quite gotten into the entertainment industry, so you could still trust what was reported. Being a journalist still meant something, so you could still see ‘real’ journalists in action. No, Geraldo wasn’t counted even then because of his moronic stunt with Al Capone’s vault, along with everything he did on his fucked-up ‘talk’ show.
- Video cassette recorders and video-discs. The original DVDs were larger than LPs! The question to ask in stores was, “VHS or BetaMax?”
- Cassette tapes, 8-tracks, and vinyl could all be found in the same place – now, what stores remain will turn over entire departments to fit in the ‘latest technology’ and get rid of the tried and true, all because of some blast on Facebook, Twitter, or Yelp.
That was merely a tiny sampling of common experiences that link a lot of GenXers. I’ll leave you with a few more songs, because I can’t stop looking out of the window. The sun is peeking through the clouds, I saw a rabbit just outside of the fence this morning, and the fawnless doe was bedded down next door for a few hours. I enjoy living in an area that’s like a nature preserve…it keeps me in touch with reality!
Before the music, one final thought: what do you do when you go to a baseball game and a hockey game commences? Wow…
Steve Miller Band: “Serenade”
Howard Jones: “New Song“
Bruce Hornsby & The Range: “The Way it Is“
Faith No More: “We Care a Lot”
Dire Straits: “Money For Nothing”