Chicago Boyz

                 
 
 
What Are Chicago Boyz Readers Reading?
 

 
  •   Enter your email to be notified of new posts:
    Loading
  •   Problem? Question?
  •   Contact Authors:

  • CB Twitter Feed
  • Blog Posts (RSS 2.0)
  • Blog Posts (Atom 0.3)
  • Incoming Links
  • Recent Comments

    • Loading...
  • Authors

  • Notable Discussions

  • Recent Posts

  • Blogroll

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Not with a Boom, With a Whimper

    Posted by John Jay on August 22nd, 2006 (All posts by )

    A couple of good reads apropos the comment-fests on the Boomers. First, one from the Times (via Rachel):

    It was a time of collective self-importance, which masked not very effectively a striking indifference to the way the world actually did and might work. I hardly met a single person in the underground context who didnt, no matter how sexually available or amusing, turn out in the end to be ignorant and rather a bore.

    The depths of tedium that can be plumbed by sitting around half stoned, listening to people chatter moonily about reuniting humankind and erasing its aggressive instincts through Love and Dope, are scarcely imaginable to those who have not suffered them.

    And the other one, from the incomparable Lileks:

    Before the 50s, when there were actual problems like an interminable Depression and Nazis, adolescents were mostly unseen in the culture. You had kids, and you had grown-ups. Adolescents were young grownups, expected to adhere to the same general rules of behavior. It was an adult culture, and adolescents were the interns. The culture would tolerate some things like Bobby Soxers, but with wry eye-rolling amusement. After the war, though, the adolescent was not only the focus of the cultures attention, he was taken seriously. He was an inarticulate oracle, a mumbling sage, a jeering jester with a switchblade. One of the dumbest lines in cinema is one of the most famous: asked what hes rebelling against, Marlin Brandos character in the The Wild Ones says Whaddya got?

    Oh, I dont know. The Pure Food Act, antibiotics, an industrial infrastructure that makes it possible for you to ride your bikes around, paved roads, a foreseeable successful conclusion to rural electrification, sewers, the ability to walk into any small caf and order a Coke and know you wont be squitting your guts out 12 hours later into a hole in the ground alive with squishy invertebrates. Little things.

    Someone please tell me why Lileks is not writing for the NYT.

     

    8 Responses to “Not with a Boom, With a Whimper”

    1. XWL Says:

      Someone please tell me why Lileks is not writing for the NYT.

      Taste, respect, talent, just to name a few reasons.

      He’d make the looney tunes they currently employ look very bad.

      Plus, he’s pro-family, pro-America, and pro-Christian, hardly fitting with the ‘global’ and ‘urbane’ bent the NYT prefers to project.

      The last few Bleats Lileks has posted have been brilliant (having not read any of the editorials in the NYT recently, I can’t say if the same can be said about any of what passes for writing over there)

    2. fred lapides Says:

      Lileks, as noted, always good. But. I was around then. We had quotas for Jews to go to Ivies; we had segregation (black and whites) though not legal; we had girls who used brains to become–nurses or school teachers and little else. We had commie witch hunts and lots of good people losing jobs because of it. We had no air conditioning or little of it; we had closed places on Sunday (Ct) cause this a Christian nation and Sunday the Sabbath. We had fpeople looking back to the 30s and 40s and saying: Those were Grand Times back then.We we did have that was good? G.I. Bill so lots of folks who would not otherwise to go college did get to go and changed this nation significantly.

    3. Rachel Says:

      You’re both right. I don’t think Lileks is saying the world was better then. He’s saying adults acted like adults. And adolescents weren’t indulged the way they are now. To say nothing of adults who behave as though they’re adolescents.

    4. Ken Says:

      “We we did have that was good? G.I. Bill so lots of folks who would not otherwise to go college did get to go and changed this nation significantly.”

      Yeah, into one where you now must go to college in order to prove you’re not a complete idiot, as opposed to going to college and proving that you’re an unusually good thinker.

      “We had fpeople looking back to the 30s and 40s and saying: Those were Grand Times back then.”

      We did? I thought people weren’t getting high in such numbers until at least ten years later.

      Anyway…

      “You had kids, and you had grown-ups. Adolescents were young grownups, expected to adhere to the same general rules of behavior. It was an adult culture, and adolescents were the interns. ”

      Would that were so today. Now adolescents (which seems to include 18-25 year olds!) are classed as large children, expected to behave frivolously and idiotically, and it is generally held to be a waste of time to even try to teach them to behave differently… all you can supposedly do is either regiment them and watch over them like small children, or resign yourself to their stupid behavior. And this is often justified by an increase in life expectancy, as if our very lives ought to be subject to a progressive tax the way that our money is, that getting a few extra years of old age should be balanced by having some young and healthy years taken away from us and gobbled up by an extended childhood.

      (Not that the standards that young and old grownups alike were held to “back in the day” were flawless, of course. But at least they didn’t deliberately shorten our useful adult lives to the extent that is done today…)

    5. Shannon Love Says:

      I think two factors create our extended (and sometimes permanent) adolescence.

      First, as Lileks points out, technological and social progress has made us materially comfortable and socially secure. We have the slack to act like children if we want for as long as we want. We get to chose our responsibilities. They no longer come upon us as inevitably as the tides. Once people chose between celibacy and children. Now one can live a life of near consequence free debauchery. The contemporary world maybe a dodgy place to be an actual child but it is a great place for an adult to act like a child.

      Second, adolescents and young adults are voracious consumers of media in all forms and the demographic most responsive to advertising. This meant that media grew in size and importance all popular culture rapidly evolved to flatter the egos of the young and to hold them out as the most important members of society. Adolescents buy media that tells them how interesting and smart they are while simultaneously telling them how dull and stupid older people are. Being inherently emotionally immature, the young easily fall prey for such manipulation.

      I think boomers are so narcissistic in main because they were the first media saturated generation. They got concentrated, monolithic media beamed into them during a time when we had little cultural experience with it. The media flattered them to sell to them and they integrated that flattery into their generational consciousness. Gen-X,Y and whatever not only have a more diverse media but a more experience driven cynicism about the overall message. The youth flattering message is still there but signal is more muted.

    6. Shannon Love Says:

      fred lapides,

      I think you missed Lileks point. He is not pining for a golden era but pointing out that Brando’s character is in fact an ungrateful spoiled brat.

      Compared to most of humanity in the contemporary world (even in the 1950s) and definitely in historical terms, everyone living in the developed nations is fantastically wealthy. We should scorn Brando’s character the same way we scorn some rich kid who even though they have much more than everyone else still complains vocally about the stuff he doesn’t have.

      To many people throw intellectual tantrum and declare their world crap because it doesn’t meet their fantasy expectations.

      The word progress comes from the latin “progredi” meaning “to walk forward” It is less the state reached at any point in time that counts than it is the motion itself. A progressive society moves and changes.

    7. mishu Says:

      Gen-X,Y and whatever not only have a more diverse media but a more experience driven cynicism about the overall message. The youth flattering message is still there but signal is more muted.

      Later generations are cynical about “flattering” messages because they know those messages are coupled with a message trying to sell them something. They’ve long since realized condescension is not flattery.

    8. Ginny Says:

      Boomers from another (not with the style of either Lileks or even Hughes) across-the-pond perspective.

      The real problem is smugness – it was in The Graduate and it is now. We were a generation who wasn’t taught sufficient deference to authority – that may have made us more creative & helped get rid of some of the bad old things but it also made us less mature & part of maturity is empathy – or at least not thinking you are the center of the universe. It was less concern for the Vietnamese that inspired those demonstrations than fear of the draft (why else did all of Asia pretty much fall off the radar when the draft was cancelled?) Less concern for others & willingness to compromise the ego led to domestic problems we are only now beginning to understand. Politicizing the personal was often saying I’m the center of the universe. Sure, many nineteenth century Americans said that too, but most of them didn’t really believe it.