Monday, April 4, 2005

There was a brief time—and though it was quite a while ago, we assure you it is still tingling fresh in our minds—when we were the up-and-comers, the It people. We were the young guys with energy aplenty, fresh on the job and making the older guy nervous—that guy who’d sometimes have to leave work when his kid had an ear infection and then we’d all laugh about his socks after he was gone. Well, get a good look at our socks today and start chuckling.1 We have officially passed into a post-It Guy period of suffering.

Look, here’s the thing. We don’t have a problem with aging—in fact we fully endorse our increasingly hairy-nostrilled state in which we are allowed (indeed, expected) to become cynical and snide about smooth flesh, high expectations and hopeful attitudes. We embrace the early stages of curmudgeonliness. We eye the ratty old coat of doubt and slip it on like Bacall getting into a mink.

The problem is this: we feel that our generation did not get the proper degree of DiCaprio-esque spotlight during our It Years. The grumpy old fucks we work for (that is, the baby boomers, the American generation whose driving purpose in life is to irritate others) still bask in their It years’ glow, listening to “A Day in the Life” while condescendingly wondering, “Whatever happened to politics among young people?” On the other side, today’s twenty-something Internet generation grew up with Commodore 64s in their cribs and can out-program, out-design, out-code and out-html us on the only tool that matters anymore in the marketplace.2 We find ourselves marooned between rampant self-involvement and—um, better-off self-involvement. And we’ve just about had it.

Thus it is that today, as members of a generation famous only for buying lots of prerecorded cassettes, eating socially significant quiche, and snorting too much cocaine, we look at the recent trends made popular by both our older and younger brethren and find ourselves deeply, even profoundly, disquieted. We are, like, so totally over both of you, even though one of you signs our paychecks and the other will pay our Social Security. Oh wait, we forgot—that dates us too. Feh, who needs you.

Boutique Energy Drinks
These would be your Red Bulls, Amps, etc.—the stuff in the little Starbucks go-cans but with neon lights and lightning bolts on them to appeal to a younger, hipper, more loose-with-the-cash-and-likely-to-also-impulse-score-some-high-stim-“lad magazines” crowd.

We would note—quaintly, as it turns out—that these cans resemble Hot Wheels cars more than anything else directly marketed to anyone over the age of ten. (Except real cars that look like Hot Wheels cars, which we of course dig, especially the new Mustang. Growwr.) We would further postulate that this is no accident; these products are aimed right at this generation’s version of those of our vintage who used to pour Pop Rocks into their pull-top cans of Pepsi and pound it in order to see if something “extreme” would happen. Whatever happened to those kids? As need not be said, we were not those kids. Those were the kids who were “extreme” before “extreme” existed as either an ESPN marketing niche or a laudatory adjective in general. Those kids owned skateboards back when skateboards were skinny and made of blue plastic. They mocked you for your Underoos and revealed the band of your Underoos to your peers by yanking them upward, and upward, lo, even unto your tender places. They also called you rude names because of your detailed knowledge of the make, model, and specs of your Hot Wheels cars. As may become apparent soon, we had close interaction with these people and continue to have some issues with them.

Thus our disquietude re: their contemporary doppelgängers’ drink of choice, if you can follow us back up this free-associative slope we have been barrel-rolling down unapologetically. The Red Bull and its ilk are the NEW cool thing that is done by the NEW cool people who we don’t get and who don’t like us. We see these people as they do this thing with the people we can’t be with, in unimaginable ways. They drink these things at bars! With vodka! Before taking pills and having sex! With each other! Shame on you Red Bull-swilling, extreme-sport-zeitgeist-creating, cooler-than-us people! We were told that you would one day work for us, but no! In the fevered glow of your Red Bull-beaded foreheads, you work 16-hour days and lap us on our annual reviews! Damn you, überkinden! Damn you to cool-kid overachiever hell!

The Boom in Erectile Dysfunction Medication
Needless to say, we have steered clear of the comic bonanza that is Viagra, etc., for months now. Even now, we are uninterested in cashing in on the absurdity of the ads themselves (Footballs thrown through tire swings, and does anyone else notice how the heart of the flame in the Levitra® logo looks just like a vagina? We notice. Yes, we do.) or the pathos of the dysfunction. But we must note how appropriate it is that the baby boomers would luck into the one medicine that will allow them to extend the Summer of Love well into twilight. Fucking yippee for them. Don’t that just figure. This particularly cheeses us off because they are embarking on a festival of late middle-age porking just as our wives—exhausted from the twin tasks of childbearing and working in an economy increasingly burdened by Boomer conservative voting trends and impending Boomer retirement—are suggesting nightly cold showers. That younger folk are apparently using Viagra to produce über-erections the likes of which our generation never knew (another thing we don’t get but sort of want to, see supra) in its boner-ific youth just underlines our sense of generational crack slippage (all we really know about crack slippage involved our Underoos, see supra).

Rock Bands without Bass Players
Frontman singers are strutting peacocks, attention-grabbing cocksures (i.e., “Cock? Sure…”) who get all the chicks because, well, someone’s gotta remember all the idiotic lyrics in rock ‘n’ roll. Lead guitarists are cool but commanding captains, silent chick-magnets whose mastery of their long, pulsating instruments can hardly be denied. Drummers are brutes with torn-off sleeves who pound and pound and pound. We have been more than willing to stand behind each of these rock-star figures in the pathetic but undeniable evolutionary/genetic lottery3, because we always knew that even we were cooler than the band’s bass player, a vaguely zoned-out coat hanger who plainly got in the band because (a) his mom was best friends with the guy in the band who had a big basement, or (b) he would let everybody else share his pot. 4

Thus, we find the new bass-player-less model of rock band to be particularly discouraging and humiliating. Bands such as the Black Keys, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the White Stripes are saying to us: each one of us is cooler than you; indeed we have no room in this band for a hanger-on, so hungry and lean is our hard edge of danger. We often imagine that these bands once had bass players and then, when a tragedy befell him, the band turned about and said, “Ha! We are even better without you, Bluto, pounding out your low and monotonous quarter notes which no one can really hear anyway and, besides, you are getting fewer chicks than those ‘Disquieting Modern Trends’ guys at Y.P.R.!” We picture Jack White and that chick drummer in their stylized red and white clothes giggling in our general direction. Maybe even derisively pointing at our socks.

Internet Porn
Wait: we all love Internet porn. Never mind

Next Edition: People who pronounce the “T” in “often.”

1 What do you want from us? Kids get ear infections, the little monkeys. Had we known, back in our It Guy heyday, that staying home with an ear-infected four-year-old meant long lines in some pediatrician's office watching videos by the Wiggles while seven green-snot-spewing fire hydrants dressed in OshKosh scream like Marion Anderson, trust us, we would have gone easy on the argyles.

2 It has not escaped our notice that the Nintendo generation we so loathe was raised by the boomer generation that is even now suggesting for the fourth time today that the music of our teenage years sucked compared to the Velvet Underground. Nor does it escape our notice that our children are going to work their whole lives for these bozos-twice-removed. We find this exponentially disquieting, in extremis.

3 We too are musicians. However, we beguile women--imagine ourselves quite beguiling, really--with the cleverness by which we use the Dorian mode while improvising on a Thelonious Monk tune in a bar full of Jewish guys and Japanese tourists. We could have sworn that jazz was once cool and that cats like Chet Baker and Miles Davis were the baddest muthas on the block.

4 The obvious and glaring exceptions to this rule are hereby noted (McCartney, Entwhistle, Joseloff, etc.), and our response is simply this: Duff McKagan. 4a

4a we know you just Googled him. And you think you rock. Pitiful.
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