Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom

I’m a member of the “me” generation — the baby boomers. Born between 1946 and 1964, this demographic group was conceived during the post-WWII baby boom and has flowed through life and the decades like a pig being digested by a boa constrictor — the lump clearly visible as it moved through the snake.

We rejected and redefined social norms. We were the hip generation. We truly invented rock and roll. Although the official statistics include the eighteen year range, it is the ’46 – ’50 group that led the way. We were teethed on black and white television and taken care of by stay-at-home mothers. We got what we wanted thanks to Dr. Spock, and we were the first to see Mr. Spock.

Our telephones had dials, and some didn’t even have that. We didn’t know terrorism, but we were afraid of the bomb. Our schools were overcrowded, yet we seemed to learn our basics. We were a special generation, maturing in the 60’s, we fought against the war wearing our peace signs and we fought in the war with our M-16s and agent orange. We invented rock and roll and danced in the streets while the cities burned with riots. We invented the artificial heart and the USB port … used in our invention: the personal computer. We invented DNA and Viagra, the world wide web and the Segway Personal Transporter, bar codes and music synthesizers, lithium-ion batteries and ethernet, and flat screen TVs. We’ve got more patents than any generation alive, and we’re now most of the congressmen and women running the country.

We saw the assassinations — of presidents, and leaders, and presidential candidates. We saw the war on our TVs and our cars had big fins. We were always fascinated by cars. Our cars were big and all had V-8’s in an era when gas was so cheap that “mpg” was a foreign term to us. We learned to drive stick shifts and now we’re in little European convertibles speeding down the interstate system that we built.

We discovered the Beatles and celebrated with Woodstock. Nothing like either has come since. Our shows were the Brady Bunch and Leave it to Beaver, celebrating home life with two parents and no swear words … Gilligan’s Island, the professor and Mary Ann … Rod Serling and Ed Sullivan that we watched on our parent's combination 25" TV and record player.

At the movies it was 007 … and still is … or Annette Funicello at the beach. For politics we had John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. We continued to break records through our career days, inventing personal computers, the internet, and the cell phone, but leaving the discovery of social media to younger kids.

Now we approach retirement, forcing social security to fill sandbags in preparation for the flood. We recognize each other in the grocery store, spotting the gray hair and the beards and beads that never went out of style. We see each other on our Harley’s … flashing peace signs as we pass. We never grew out of style since we set the style.

We’ve got a few more good years in us before we move to the nursing homes and start to soup-up the wheel chairs and the (gluten-free) soup. Those that came after will never know the quiet of the 50’s before helmets on bicyclists or pictures of missing children on milk cartons or being strip searched at the airport. It was a simpler time before we started changing it.

We built the city on rock and roll. The music has never been the same since we discovered motown and Santana, or Janice and Jimi. We added the poetry of Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison to the amplified wailings of Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. We explored all the themes from Pink Floyd to Shocking Pink to Blues Magoos and Black Sabbath. We found harmonies in Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and in Peter, Paul, and Mary. The singer / songwriter with something to say was captured on record and eight-track tape as our music went mobile. Our big bands were just guitars and we discovered the sitar and world music … only to bend it to our own special use.

The guitar was the heart, but the Hammond Organ was the soul. There were the horns and even the flute of Ian Anderson too. It was a new time for music. The bands were in the garages until being signed to instant, overnight fame and fortune. We smoked, dropped, and even shot up every pharmaceutical and herb we could find, always trying to get higher.

Our skirts were mini and our shirts tie dyed … for real, not purchased at Wal-Mart. We communed with nature and tuned in, dropped out, and got high on LSD. We created a new world … a world focused on ourselves and creativity and trying new things. We grew up the generation of wealth and focus and we turned that into a greed driven lifestyle as we questioned everything.

We went from communes to condos and vacations on exotic beaches here and abroad, and stock markets and 401(k)s. But we’re not done yet. You have not heard the last of us. We’re those gray haired people in our pickup trucks and our motorhomes and our SUVs, and we are used to having things our way. We’ve broken the bank and the institutions along the way, and now we’re headed down life’s highway, not looking back at the wreckage we've left in our wake, but seeking what’s over the next hill. We weren’t the greatest generation. We had our sacrifices, but it was really, always, just about us. We were the spoiled generation that rejected materialism … for a while. We believed in truth and justice, and drove the civil rights movement and women’s liberation along with the “pill.” We non-conformed in a most conforming way, perfecting the "beat" philosophy from the fifties and going from mono to stereo to quadraphonic. We were always dancing, and thinking, and acting, and doing. We changed the style in a way that will never occur again.

We didn’t age well … fighting father time the whole way. Our stomachs grew like our bell-bottom pants as fast food sprang up across our nation. We were a particularly American phenomenon, and we changed the world … not always for the better.

It’s been a hell of a ride and the devil will be paid, but — for now — it’s “peace brother” and get out of our way. You will see us every day. We’re not as hip as we used to be, but don’t tell us that … we never listened and we’re not starting now. We’ve got our gray beards and our pony tails and we’re still hip. They even have radio stations dedicated to our music. We’ve got a few more years to go, continuing to change things to fit our desires. They’ll never see the likes of us again.

1 comment:

  1. You are right on, bro. It has been one hell of a ride so far, and it's not over yet!