Red Tory said...Red Tory left a comment regarding the "Baby Boomers," and it packs a wallop. Having been born in 1959, Red lands in the latter part of the Boomers, and apparently is quite resentful of it! I certainly will conceed all that Red wrote; he's quite articulate and certainly has thought about it long and hard. And no offense taken, I've often thought myself that the Boomers missed their calling because of economic complacency and self-indulgence.
I’ve always harbored more than a little resentment at “baby boomers” given that I was born in late 1959. It seems I totally missed the boat and have always been riding in their wake. Too young to enjoy/appreciate the youthful liberation of the 60’s, mired in schizophrenic disco/punk world during much of the 70’s when I was attending school. Then hitting a shithole recession just when I was seriously entering the labour market (18%-22% interest rates… give me a break — buying a car or a house was out of the question.) Then having to deal with these smug bastards when they were making off with all the candy in the store during the mid-late 80’s and entrenching themselves in the establishment. To me, they have been and always will be the utterly selfish, self-absorbed “Me generation” and I really believe they’re a huge part of the problem with America these days. To paraphrase Tom Brokaw, they’re “The Crappiest Generation.” No offense intended.
And hey, my 'generation' is hardly any better.
In Boomer formulation, 1964 technically straddles the end of the Boomers and the start of Gen X (a term I hate with a passion) or the Cold War Generation, so maybe I'll rename my blog to ward off further angst!
I started this blog as an exploration of my birth year and current events. So Red, if you think you felt never quite in place at the tailend of the Boom, I feel as if I've been swimming in a sea of complacency and the 'defiance' that supposedly is pinned to the members of Generation X. But having been born at the end of one generation and the very start of another, I've often felt too young for one and too old for the other. Having parents that were Depression-era kids complicates my scenario. My parents' generation did all they could by the books; working hard, keeping their nose out of trouble, and trying not to get stomped by 'the man.' It was more about survival with them, things were easier, except for the constant haunt of racism that dogged their lives for the most part.
1964 was a seminal year (no pun intended), in my opinion (birth or no). It marked a transitional phase in America, at least. The trauma of Kennedy's death in 1963, the end of a certain kind of utopian (if flawed) dream that America was at its youthful best was tragically ended. 1964 brought a new unsteadiness as the country struggled to move forward with a new President, a new way of viewing race, new threats (perceived or real), and a new war brewing. It was the end of one boom but the start of another: a booming world of free love exploration, drug experimentation, countries around the world yearning to break free from colonialism, and a direct confrontation of the older youth of your generation, Red, coming of age and trying to change the world.
I don't know how old my birth parents were when they they joined the Peace Corps and ended up in Pakistan in 1963, but I certainly think that they were influenced by whatever social happenings that affected kids of the older boom generation, the same generation as President Clinton, born in 1946. (Though horror of horrors, President Bush was born in 1946, too, which may blow my hypothesis straight out of the water.) When I think of the Boomers, I like to fantasize about them as an example of the best of the generation: they heard the call of Kennedy's words when he spoke extemporaneously on the stairs of the University of Michigan in 1960:
How many of you who are going to be doctors, are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives travelling around the world? On your willingness to do that, not merely to serve one or two years in the service, but on your willingness to contribute part of your life to this country, I think will depend the answer whether a free society can compete. I think it can! And I think Americans are willing to contribute. But the effort must be far greater than we have ever made in the past.My birth parents, in college, heeded this call to reach out to the world, but ultimately, the call was far too great and the effort seems to have failed. The Boomers who heeded the call ultimately wasted their time and energy and became somewhat self-absorbed and materialistic. Clinton became so self-absorded that he gambled it all away on a tryst, and Bush certainly is one self-absorbed motherfucker himself. It's a pity. I wonder what would have happened if something different had occured.
Therefore, I am delighted to come to Michigan, to this University, because unless we have those resources in this school, unless you comprehend the nature of what is being asked of you this country can't possible move through the next ten years in a period of relative strength.
But hey, I'm one self-absorbed Booming Xer myself. Welcome to my generation.