Thursday, December 31, 2015

Nowhere Generation

From NOTES FROM L.A. 
JUNE 1991 - VOL. 1 NO. 1 - TEMP 72°
Now you can’t afford to take all the drugs your parents used to take
Because of their mistakes you’d better be wide awake.
- Elvis Costello, “The Other Side of Summer”
I’m a member of the Nowhere Generation. I’m a representative of the youth of today, and I’m mad. The world’s in a mess (again, as it always has been, as it always will be) and as a youngster I naturally find it necessary to blame those who came before for all the world’s problems. In fact, no generation in the history of the world has had their rebelliousness so thoroughly documented as the generation that came just before mine.

In the next few months I will be writing about the world, and my place in it, but first I’d like to get a few things straight about the New Generation Gap and what it means to me.

If a generation can be defined in sociological terms in a twenty-two year span, anyone who was born between 1961 and 1983 qualifies. 1961 was a very special year. The introduction of the Pill effectively brought down an enormously self-indulgent birth rate and brought to a screeching halt the production of that generation know affectionately as the “Baby Boomers” and less affectionately as “Those Hypocritices Who Might Have Saved The Planet If They Weren’t Side-Tracked By Their Own Desire For Wealth And Power.”

Harsh words. But this is coming from a member of the Nowhere Generation, a moniker divined, oddly enough, from Esquire yet highly preferable to other titles, most prevalent being the Twentysomethings.

The fact is the top end of My Generation is turning thirty this year, including my brother. He’s no yuppie. He was too young to have been a hippy if he wanted to be, which he didn’t, and his aspirations for power only concern furthering his modest career as a radio producer in Minneapolis. He always used to remind me of Doonesbury’s Mark Slackmeyer, and that’s cool, seeing as Gary Trudeau remains on of the few Boomers who recognized very early on the selling out his peers would be doing. His animated Doonesbury special in 1977 showed his characters, still in college, pondering whether or not any of their heroic civil disobedience during the turbulent late sixties and early seventies would amount to anything, and his 1983 Doonesbury musical chronicled these same characters’ graduation and individual desires to abandon idealism and strive only for personal achievement.

And what’s wrong with personal achievement? you might ask. Nothing. I’m all for it, and if I were any better at it I wouldn’t have time to sit here and bitch. But, as a friend of mine expressed recently, the Boomers came up with several good ways of changing society as we know it, but didn’t have the patience to stick with any of them. So we, the younger generation, who should be impressing our elders with our vibrancy and promise, only depress them and remind them of how short they fell.

As a result, the great media/entertainment machine, which has followed the whims of this most-largest-generation-in-history ever since their conception, churns out television shows stroking the Boomers’ egos on matters such as their success (Thirtysomething), their past (The Wonder Years), and they even tried to glamorize their future with the (thank god) cancelled-almost-immediately My Life and Times, a drama about an octogenarian in 2035, reminiscing over his life. As Tom Carson of the LA Weekly said about this latest effort, “given their track record so far, it may be vanity to assume the baby boomers will have valuable lessons to pass on to later generations.”

But what’s my point, right? Well, for a moment there is no point. But that’s what’s wrong with my generation, or haven’t you been reading Time? We find no point in anything. The great majority of us will settle for modest comfort, and we don’t even expect that.

Everyday I hustle my youthful, 22 year old butt up the Santa Monica Mountains and look out over the staggering metropolis of Los Angeles, and if you know much about L.A., you know I can’t see very far. Rather than taking it all in and feeling a burst of self-aggrandizing energy and proclaiming, I can change the world! I will change the world, me and all my friends! -- instead I curse those who came before me, promise not to drive as much, and hope I outlive the planet.

POST NOTE: Almost twenty-five years ago, a small tribe of Cleveland expatriates lived on a cul-de-sac in Venice, CA. One of my pastimes was editing a newsletter, with plans to mail copies to our friends and family. Before the first issue was completed, I had decided to come back home. Happy New Year 2016.

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