Browsing the New York Times website today, I was greeted with, in big red letters: “Booming.” (Hint: this isn’t about the economy). You guessed it: a proud, shiny new section of the Nation’s News(?)paper dedicated to my g-g-g-generation (sorry, I spilled Yuengling on the keyboard again and the “g” sticks a bit).
The section promises a lot. The description says, “Besides news and information useful to this generation, you’ll find essays by boomers and by their children. You’ll find debates about books, new music to embrace and some secrets to enduring love.” Another page vows that it will not be “a nostalgia trip back to 1965” and that “Booming will not stereotype.”
Sorry, y’all, but you’ve already done that with the title. I doubt that I’m the only one of the 78 million of us who’s thoroughly sick of that word. Why would we define ourselves by our birthdays above all else? If I’m asked, “Who are you?” lots of things come to mind: writer-editor, husband, former journalist, beach bum, football fan, transplanted Midwesterner, and music lover – but not “boomer.”
The articles belie the claims, too. Right now the site has, among other things, a piece titled “Boomers vs. Millennial: Who’s Really Getting Robbed?” (take a guess), an article on staying married for 30 years despite some “dark days,” a review of a spot where “a grownup of a certain age” can get a drink in the East Village, and a music piece called “If You Like Crosby, Stills, and Nash…” which I’ll get to in a sec. So being a typical capital-B Boomer, I’d start my day by saying “good morning” to my long-suffering wife, then sabotage my younger colleagues at work, get tanked up on $10 cocktails that include red pepper puree, and listen to the Local Natives, who are like CSN but of course younger and hipper. The article quotes a BBC review that says the album belongs “at the top of journalist must-listen-to piles and consumers’ to-buy lists alike.”
Times, you kicked the wrong dog in this fight. One thing that is true of a lot of us is that music was never just entertainment but part of our hearts and souls. We still know what we love and definitely know what’s good. Check out the clips on this page. One is like fine, aged whiskey. The other is day-old dishwater.
I cannot, will not, Sam I am, pretend to like this stuff just because it’s new. You think the greatest harmonies in rock history are somehow old and tired? Besides, I don’t need some Brit-Twit to tell me what’s hip. I was hip back when it was still “hep.” I’m so hip I call my girlfriend “man” (oops, I mean wife, and yes, I borrowed that line from Dave Frishberg and Bob Dorough).
I may be rambling on too long, but the whole thing just seems like a misguided waste. If nothing else, “Booming” sets us apart from other generations, which in these times is absolutely the last thing anybody needs. We (and you know who you are) may have been full of ourselves sometimes and maybe even invited the stereotypes, but what a lot of us wanted so passionately was peace and unity. I’m not giving up on it yet.
Teach your parents well,Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
Their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you’ll know by.
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you