Don’t call me a Boomer (part 1 of 3)
They say that these are not the best of times, but they’re the only times I’ve ever known. — Billy Joel, “Summer, Highland Falls,” 1976 I still remember an insult leveled at me in 1981. A writer in Newsweek magazine, doubtless a Baby Boomer, described the new generation of young people as “silent, selfish, and tractable.” I had to look up “tractable,” and when I did, I got mad. When I read that Newsweek article, I was 19 years old and beginning to take an interest in politics. Ronald Reagan had just taken…Read more »
Don’t call me a Boomer (part 2 of 3)
The Boomers’ disdain of my generation’s political involvement was a perfect analogue for what they thought about music in the late 70s and early 80s. They’d had the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Hendrix, Dylan, Janice, the Who. They dismissed the music I listened to in high school as insubstantial pop fluff—disco and Top 40. OK, that’s fair. We didn’t have any equivalent to the Beatles. But the Beatles came ashore in very different circumstances than in the 70s. The top artists on mainstream radio prior to the Beatles’ arrival in 1964 included Bobby…Read more »
Don’t call me a Boomer (part 3 of 3)
We were the D.I.Y. Generation. While our elders were buying glossy copies of Vogue and Rolling Stone, we made our own ‘zines and printed them on the photocopiers at Kinko’s. We silk-screened our own shirts and made superstars out of grafitti artists like Kenny Scharf and Keith Haring. We released underground music on cassette tapes and 4-song EPs produced in garages and basements. Our subcultures grew sub-subcultures. We were never a unified cultural movement. Our generation generated an explosion of diversity that propelled the culture into a thousand fragmentary directions. And that’s where…Read more »