Monday, December 28th, 2009
121

The End of the 00s: How To Lose Your Idealism In Under Ten Years, by Natasha Vargas-Cooper

.Blanca, a 50-something nursing assistant, was sitting across from me at the nurses' station at the Intensive Care Unit inside of a Tenet Healthcare Corporation-owned hospital in downtown Los Angeles. It was midnight, and this was 2004. Blanca's patients were gurgling, asleep or comatose. I was there talking to Blanca on behalf of workers at Kaiser, who were bargaining away benefits because Tenet, the for-profit, non-union hospital chain was driving down wages in the county. The argument was that every one would be better off, Blanca and Kaiser workers, if they were all in one union.

During advanced pneumonia the lungs fill with fluid so there's a wet gurgling sound emitted during exhalation. The respirators made a swoosh-pffft noise as they breathed for people who can't. Every thirty minutes or so there'd also be a moan; some sort of agonized cry. If the moan lasted for more than 30 seconds, its owner would be visited.

Blanca made $13.25 an hour after 12 years of being a nursing assistant. Her main issue was pension. She wanted to retire in ten years. Tenet offered no such deal. Blanca eventually became a leader in her department. She signed up her co-workers on a petition to organize, proudly wore her "union: yes" button, and put her face on a flyer with a pro-union quote. The risk of going public in support of a union in a hospital of 700 hundred employees when you're an immigrant whose job it is to wipe asses from 7pm to 7am should be self-evident.

The union won the election a month later by a narrow margin. Blanca and her co-workers got a solid contract, complete with 401k plans and 14% percent wage hike.

Four years later, Blanca and her co-workers would be picketing outside my office at the union's headquarters in Washington D.C.

It was an extremely ugly fight. It went on for more than a year. It was essentially was a war over who had jurisdiction to organize sectors of the healthcare market, between the local union chapter and the international union. It was turf war cloaked in the language of ideology, union democracy, progressive organizing and political purity. Any one with the smallest sense of organizational acumen could see it for what it was: a naked power struggle between two union bosses that employed the rank and file to carry out their competing agendas.

So, there's Blanca's and other union members holding picket signs, chanting 'SHAME ON YOU' at anyone who crossed the picket line. I crossed without a second thought. By 2008 I shrugged at any symbolism that act held; I was completely disillusioned and numb and just wanted to get to my WiFi connection.

* * *

My disillusionment was not inevitable. It's not a story about a boundless idealism that could only rot when exposed to the mendacity of 'real politics.' Actually I'm a pragmatist to my core: I was well aware that I was part of an imperfect institution that was trying to solve a very big problem. 91% of the American workforce did not have the right to collectively bargain their wages, job security or retirement. My belief was that I could have a fulfilling career by trying to fix this problem. I knew that any bureaucracy or institution would be clogged with deadwood, indolence and dysfunction. But I also knew there those who were capable of transformational leadership.

The problem was that most of the decision makers-whose salaries were funded by the 1.2 million dues-paying members-were made up of baby boomers. And today, I can tell you that I will never work for an institution that is lead by that generation, never again.

* * *

Those who make a career of professional do-gooding, do so because it fulfills some psychological need; altruism, guilt, vanity, ego. Obviously, there is no problem with that. Whatever motivates someone to get into public service, or any profession, is immaterial when compared to their accomplishments.

But the psychological needs of the Boomer generation are not something I can suffer.
And suffering is a big part of it. Their ideological hangups are infecting every aspect of life. As they age, they are only getting worse.

Politically, their numbers and self-regard are basically the reason why our 'idealistic' generation is disenfranchised by the political process. The left has ceased to be an agent of social change for the past forty years; the right is cannibalizing itself. The political battles between the two have, as the battle has gone on, become symbolic, rather than being about actual, tangible benefits for real-life people.

This is not a fight worth my time. I don't plan to squeeze any humans from my womb. What problems and solutions exists now are the only ones I will ever know.

Culturally, I find the Boomers tedious and unhelpful. Their confused notions about counterculture have infected our generation. The kind of water bottles you buy, car you drive, fair trade coffee you slurp: can this serve as some kind of political action? This idea is laughable. It gives the false illusion of social engagement. It leads us to the conclusion that you fight the structural problems of capitalism by buying non-mainstream things: like leggings or a Prius! But capitalism loves counterculture. It thrives on it! Just flip on your TV at 3 a.m. and watch Peter Fonda hawk the TIME LIFE GOLDEN 60S music collection!

Economically, the Boomers have devastated the country. We inherited debt, a shredded safety net; pensions went the way of the horse and buggy; largely, no one born after 1982 will ever have a full-time job. I don't know what the new economic model is. We are a waning empire that has seen unparalleled progress and expansion in the modern era. That's unraveled.

This was the same critique that was leveled at the stultifying Eisenhower generation by the Boomers. Maybe my disappointment is just a product of being young. Or maybe the Boomers were right then and they are wrong now.

* * *

Mine is, I suppose, a transitional generation. Things may get worse; they may get better. I don't have any interest in butting against the structures of the previous generation any longer.

My father, Marc, told me a story about his anarcho-syndicalist reading group in college. Their leader was Farhar, a British-educated Iranian who loved to wear silk scarves and crushed velvet blazers. He was from money, his speeches were entrancing, and he loved Marx. One day my dad and his dirty finger-nailed crew asked Farhar why he traipsed around campus dressed like a Victorian aristocrat? Why, if he believed in the power of the proletariat, did he live his life like an elite? Farhar expelled a plume of cigarette smoke and said, "Marc, just because I know the workers will take over the means of production doesn't mean I have to join them."

Best of luck, tweens.



Natasha Vargas-Cooper works for herself now.

121 Comments / Post A Comment

lawyergay (#220)

Seriously depressing.

Zack (#2,609)

Seriously. Maybe it should be called: How To Lose Your Idealism in Under Ten Minutes, Reading Natasha Vargas-Cooper

(Great piece, though)

lawyergay (#220)

It is a great piece.

As 1) gay and 2) male, I don't see myself participating in the procreation of the next generation of consumers, but I think that even if I were not both 1) and 2), I would feel the same way. I have a friend who has frequent nightmares about her grandchildren growing up in a "Mad Max"-ian post-apocalyptic world in which the number of body piercings, mohawks and sidecar-mounted Gatling guns bears an inverse relationship to the amount of potable water.

Zack (#2,609)

What? Like Waterworld?

Moff (#28)

I don't know that I blame the boomers so much anymore as I used to; I mean, yeah — but it seems like back when they were coming of age, they were operating as best they could under what little knowledge they had (on both sides). Or in other words: They were no more clueless or full of it than any other generation; they just had the bad luck to be born when they did.

Which does not mean I'd go to work for any of them either, ever again.

Please, don't beleive the hype.Just because I was born in '55 does not make me a Boomer. I know plenty of people my age who have spent their working life in education and social services, scraping by. And plenty of people 25 years younger than me who buy fair-trade coffee and have the values of the Robber Barons. (And I was a union rep and was as disgusted by the personal politics at work in my local as by the institution that employed us.

And really, Moff, you wouldn't work for "of of "us?" That's dumb.

Moff (#28)

But I wouldn't go to work for anybody of any generation ever again! If at all possible. But yes, I should have clarified that. Sorry, sorry.

Ok. Me too. I'm resigned/psyched for self-employment because I know more about what I do than anyone who's interviewed me in the last 10 years, plus, at 54, I'm not expecting to be hired.

Too many things. Here's two:

The union of which you speak. Been there, as a shop steward in a failing shop, negotiating contracts with said shop and a boomer union rep who wasn't getting paid enough to care and made it clear, and finally, on my way out, went through an arbitration there. Been to their national conference (in San Francisco in 2006) where the only people I wanted to deal with were nurses from Canada. The union staff were so disconnected from 'the field' as to make me never want to leave 'the field.' Not that the workers were perfect. Most of them saw no worth in a union. Given the union we had, why argue? (And that's not to justify how I closed out the decade, as a freelancer without any benefits, and who's going to organize bloggers anyway?)

Thing two. Now, from back inside professional do-goodery, I don't know why it will be any different. The organization I work with advances the organizing efforts of folks 15-35 and hires in that same age bracket. So there's a start. We actually age staff out. It's like Logan's Run but no jumpsuits.

I guess eventually all those scions of boomer activism have to die. We know how crap their health insurance packages are. So. Si se puede, etc etc.

El Matardillo (#586)

Assuming you get older, your future looks rather grim, eh?

And then we start a home for aging riot grrls!

Matt (#26)

Those Time-Life infomercials are so soothing. I especially like when Billy Dee and Vanessa Williams talk to me about Motown.

Apres Ski (#2,812)

Did you buy any of those CDs? ROTFLOL!!

mike d (#61)

Never trust anyone over 60.

(This was fantastic. Depressing, as well, but that is 2009 for you.)

petejayhawk (#1,249)

I work for a company owned by boomers. Greatest company/bosses I've ever had – they let me run things however the hell I want with nothing but positive input – they are more concerned with doing the right thing than doing the profitable thing (though luckily the two are generally not incompatible).

The few gen-Xers I have worked for have been soulless, money-grubbing assholes who want nothing more than to exploit workers and consumers.

Now in general, I don't like the Olds any more than the next jaded 20-something, and I'm sorry that you found out the hard way that organized labor is as corrupt as the corporations they purport to keep in check, but if you hadn't noticed, own generation isn't exactly comporting itself with grace and class.

"Now in general, I don’t like the Olds any more than the next jaded 20-something…"

pjh, that's just babyish thinking. True maturity comes when you turn into an across the board, equal-opportunity misanthrope.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

Trust me, I'm working on it…

petejayhawk (#1,249)

*our own generation…

HiredGoons (#603)

I'd say we could stick the Boomers on some ice floes, but they're all melting.

Also: thoroughly enjoyed.

HiredGoons (#603)

Also also: needs more Sally Fields.

Oh man. SO TEMPTED.

katiebakes (#32)

Kind of weird to think that little Bobby Draper is the one responsible for the destruction of our collective soul.

By 2008 I shrugged at any symbolism that act held; I was completely disillusioned and numb and just wanted to get to my WiFi connection.

This line is a dagger.

Scared 4 Sally Draper in the 70s. : [

LolCait (#460)

Obviously there's going to be a disconnect between any generation and the one twice-moved (the parents' age).

But in the specific case of the Boomers, I think there's a real self-satisfaction, a constant looking back and congratulating (The Wonder Years, Forest Gump, pretty much everything else ever made about the late '60s/early '70s) that has been extremely toxic to American inertia. If revolution and graceful upheaval was done so perfectly the first time around, what's the point in ever trying to do it again?

All the kids I know raised by old hippies have kind of turned sour and really… downward-looking as they've stumbled through their twenties, because, I think, they're realizing that the old strategies don't really apply anymore and, even worse, that they're antiquated. Subaru driving, co-op shopping Mom & Dad aren't as quite as free thinking as these kids had been raised to believe.

The Boomers got arrogant and rested on withering laurels and demanded that we always harken back to their successes (real and imaginary). Thus the future looked ever bleaker in comparison. Thus cynicism. Thus Gawker. Thus The Awl. Weird.

HiredGoons (#603)

Did you just besmirch 'The Wonder Years'? Will. Cut.

LolCait (#460)

I love 'The Wonder Years', but it is representative of a certain kind of golden-ageism, no?

HiredGoons (#603)

Undoubtedly.

HiredGoons (#603)

And his sister was such a flake.

Just you wait until you turn 50, whippersnapper, andsSee what the next generation says about YOU guys.

Wait? I'm sure the 19 year olds who wait on them in bars and shops are rolling their eyes as we type….

LolCait (#460)

They totally are, Sarah. A be-tattooed check-out guy at Urban Outfitters practically asked me for an AARP card the other day.

belltolls (#184)

They will say, "No problem."

Abe Sauer (#148)

This, in all its wonderful brevity, is completely correct. And (I cannot believe I am going to defend "them" but), yes, they often demand we look back to their successes but at least they have some successes. And yes their legacy, in part, has poisoned the political discourse in the US and old hippies are insufferable but that doesn't negate the achievements made during their youth, which were very real and worthy and we all benefit from every day in ways that are not always immediately obvious. At 50, is the next generations going to look back and be able to say it had any successes? Will it be able to say it even TRIED to have any comparable successes?

Also: Get off my lawn!!

Abe, I kind of wonder if a lot of social change isn't organic and would have happened in any event. Things change because people want them to change and the collective consciousness is sounded in unison.

I've never been able to afford a house so I don't have a lawn to kick anybody off of.

Abe Sauer (#148)

@Kitten: Not a chance. The honest to god risks a ton of people took during that time with their future's (and in some cases, lives) brought about outstanding social advancements that had they occurred organically certainly would have taken decades longer. And while we generally focus on the anti-war stuff, the real changes were social esp. in the cases of rights for women, minorities and attention to (the often overlooked area of reform) the environment. Today's campaigns are all about "awareness" and are fought not by a bonded generation but by a small group of "do gooders" who get support from the larger population by way of message t-shirts and, maybe, (tax deductible) financial donations.

Moff (#28)

@Kitten and Abe: I think the honest-to-God risks some people took were how things occurred organically.

Don't we as a society at some point say enough is enough without bloodshed? I am not discounting those efforts but do you think segregation or the Viet Nam war would still exist today. Or are you saying we need martyrs for a cause before any effective results can occur?

Abe Sauer (#148)

I'm saying status quos of power are entrenched with a vengeance and tend to go to all measures to avoid change. So, the answer to your question is, I don't know; maybe they would have changed by now on their own. maybe not. If you were on the working end of terrible social imbalances would you just wanna hang around and wait to see?

I value their contributions to history/progress/equality. Of course, that's what inspired me to 'make a difference'. But now, today, I need something more than that.

zidaane (#373)

Are you saying I'm a bad parent?

Moff (#28)

But: Part of the reason the boomers are so self-congratulating and looking-backy is that they were the first generation that really could do that. I mean, their parents were the ones who figured out the fundamentals of storytelling with movies and TV, but the boomers, having been raised on those media, were obviously going to be the ones who started examining their psyches and histories with them.

I mean, if we're speaking in sweeping generalizations, I think, yeah, the boomers should be an object lesson. (In what, I'm not sure, but something.) But I think that was sort of a doom they couldn't avoid. I mean, at this point their self-lauding has gotten a little obviously silly, but I don't think we see nearly as much of it as we used to, either. Considering this year was the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, I'm actually surprised there wasn't lots more!

Great point. I'll look for the remix in which you substitute "Gen Y " for "boomers" and "free wifi" for "those media" in about 10 years.

Moff (#28)

Ehhh, maybe. I don't think you can tell generational stories or whatever the way the baby boomers could anymore. I mean, sort of you can, but the national experience became a little less massively shared not long after 1969. We haven't really had events like Woodstock or the moon landing or Beatlemania or JFK or MLK or Vietnam since that era. Even 9/11 isn't quite the same; there was this self-awareness of it that sort of altered it, besides the fact that it's not a nostalgic memory and happened in less than a day.

zidaane (#373)

Your dad clearly edited that-

“Marc, just because I won't join the workers when they take over the means of production doesn’t mean I don't want to sleep with them now.”

iplaudius (#1,066)

YAHTZEE!

This is actually a rather optimistic way to summarize this abortion of a decade.

(And it goes without stating: Needs hella more cigarettes.)

joeclark (#651)

I feel I must point out that these sentiments were unequivocally expressed a very long time ago now, in Generation X. They were alluded to in Coupland’s little-known magazine article that preceded the book. (“[T]hey do not get along with members of the Baby Boom…. [I]f the possibility exists of separating the two groups, it is not a bad idea.”)

RAP vs. SWEDEN (#2,668)

Douglas Coupland is a smarmy douche.

MatthewGallaway (#1,239)

I thought this was a great piece for bringing to light a palpable sense of anger and disillusion, but I will say that as someone solidly in the middle of the two generations at issue here – and one that was in fact effectively labeled Gen X by D Coupland (his smarmy douchiness notwithstanding) — I felt a tiny bit overlooked, given that we (speaking generally) have been disenchanted (and largely ignored) by boomers since at least the mid-8os? (This of course is a function of demographics.) That said, I would be happy to see the younger generation (who have the numbers to do so) finally through off the yoke of boomer philosophy/consumerism/optimism (again speaking generally) and reinvent the world in a more coherent, sustainable manner. Or something like that. (Or more to the point: Go get 'em, NVC!)

Heh! I was going to put in aside that all my editors who are gen xers are lovely! (angry, in debt).

24601 (#1,071)

Totally agree that leggings will not bring the revolution. But. The dispute I think you’re describing was the result of a serious and important debate about the benefits of short-term versus long-term union growth. It played out badly, in large part because Andy Stern tried to go forward without building consensus among the rank and file or local staff. This is a becoming a consistent weakness of Stern’s. (Remember the early Justice for Janitors campaigns? Different times.) But that’s no reason to throw up your hands. Disagreements among workers and (not unrelatedly) among the leaders who represent them will of course lead to a “power struggle,” with all the unpleasantness it entails. If you shrink from that kind of unpleasantness, leggings are all you’ll have left — leggings and the fatalistic witticisms of Trustafarian Marxists.

Great stuff – Well-written, and it made me really *think* for the first time in days.

Man, those boomers! Boy howdy. Am I every glad I don't work for myself!

Kataphraktos (#226)

If you really want to understand why you feel this way, then read this book.

Yes, the title sounds hokey, but trust me, it will open your eyes.

mathnet (#27)

Thank you for helping me sort out why I hate Boomers.

HiredGoons (#603)

shrooms give me gas.

mathnet (#27)

You say you want a revolution? Elect Choire and Balk!

brilliantmistake [#108]
It may be too late, but you can try beating Jalopnik at their own game

Go to http://sitereloader.appspot.com/

Paste in this url in empty box
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You can also cut and paste the above (frickin long) url from
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KarenUhOh (#19)

You're shorting a lot of generational coin, older and younger than this "Boomer" age you've singled out, for the erosion of culture, economy and society.

Truth is, every crop contains its share of weeds. Boomers didn't invent smugness or self-absorbtion, and I suspect those younger didn't need Boomers to teach those skills.

The problems are much deeper, and it takes idealists of every age and stripe to give breath to making things better for everyone.

I sense a public service ad coming on…

"Creeping Andy-Rooneyism can strike anyone, at any time, at any age. Know the warning signs, and get help!"

Tulletilsynet (#333)

What KUO said. But I admired Natasha's post, even if I think we boomeroids were just poorly prepared for the demands of our time. Mumbledy mumble cast the first mumble.

Mostly agreed. Just not in my job description any more.

KarenUhOh (#19)

I want to be clear–your anger, dismay, disdain, however it's best described–is deserved. I suppose I'm part of this target you chose, so perhaps I'm a bit nicked that My Generation got singled out.

But I also am a great believer in the redemptive powers of youth–we kind of bought into that ourselves, but forgot that what we rebelled against was stagnation as much as anything else, and that's why any generation has to not only fight the power, but believe in building a new world.

It's also why, when you don't die before you get old, you keep on trucking. Or something with a Classic Rock, not Elevator Music, feel.

Omg. Karen, I would intern for you.

"This is not a fight worth my time. I don’t plan to squeeze any humans from my womb. What problems and solutions exists now are the only ones I will ever know."

Huh? Not planning on coming up with any new ideas? Or changing your mind about kids or other things? Sounds old to me.

"Mine is, I suppose, a transitional generation."

Show me one that wasn't/isn't?

cathy (#2,770)

How To Blame Your Parents For Everything in Under 10 Years – you kids are kinda slow – we Boomers blamed our parents for everything before we were 21.

zidaane (#373)

THEY GAVE US LEAD TOYS DAMMIT. Not our fault.

BoHan (#29)

Well granted, the Boomers did get a head start in being pissed at their parents in that they were being forcibly shipped overseas to fight an insane war that they weren't allowed to vote on. But that's crazy talk. We are talking major ennui here over a bad end to doing social service work.

Mindpowered (#948)

Well NVC that was classic. Especially "Their ideological hangups are infecting every aspect of life. As they age, they are only getting worse. "

Like every generation they've hardened. But what's important is that they're more numerous than those before and after, and that has allowed them to have a disproportionate impact, in the states. They are a cork on progress, cynically feathering their nests at the expense of both past and future generation. Their moral collapse into mass consumerism, pop psychology, and zero sum polictics in the 1970's and 80's, has lead to the suburban wasteland, populated by lip service the 60's ideals, overwieght gluttons, rotting strip malls and a host of traumatized youth acting out the pathologies of their parents. School shooters are boomer child phenomena.

Perhaps, as they finally begin to kick off in the nest few years we'll have the opportunity to effect real change, freed of the paranoid constraints of aging populace.

But I doubt it. The dead weight of tired and self-important generation will slowly drag us into the mire. Perhaps we should all read "Il gattopardo" and accept the reality of the twilight the US.

Mindpowered (#948)

Man, I'm grumpy today. Also I'm sloppy.

"accept the reality of the twilight of the US".

BoHan (#29)

As someone from Generation X, I am fucking ecstatic to be able to push my anger in all directions. Tammany Hall – those fuckers. Made me never feel politically engaged again. Burning Man – makes me think we need a new draft. And where are these fucking entitled boomers of whom you write? I'll kick their ass. As soon as I can figure out which of them voted for Reagan because ma'am you are painting with just way too big a paintbrush in this screed.

And death to Tippecanoe and Tyler too.

missdelite (#625)

Ok, I just wrote a gorgeous comment – a thing of beauty! – and the page refreshed itself, dumping it into the netherlands of WordPress. WTF?

missdelite (#625)

The gist: Boomers' true values revert to their spoiled, Leave it to Beaver childhood which is why they do what it takes now to acquire the newest, shiniest toys – even if it means engaging in senseless wars – the very thing they protested against as hippies. I question whether the majority of them ever were anti-war and just merely pro-self in order to save their own ass from roughing it in the jungles of Vietnam. How convenient to rebel against "The Man" and his capitalist values when he wants you to blow up babies and live off of army rations. Not the very same kids who grew up in the 'burbs surrounded by a white picket fence and watching I Dream of Jeannie on the teevee. And yet, look at what these kids have become…

Abe Sauer (#148)

The group you describe here exists in each sect, from the Greatest Generation never-in-danger rec program WWII Army guys who gave sob stories to sleep with USO girls to 23 year old bloggers today who write about terrible right-wing corporate globalization and hogenomy on the keybpards of their globally-sources Macbooks. These people exist. But there was an incredible amount of non-anti-war bommer social involvement by the boomers from gays to blacks ad Asians to the Green earth movement who don't deserve the charcaterization even if they have grown a little lazy and soft.

missdelite (#625)

Of course, not every Boomer is a mindless, gas-guzzling consumer, but when it comes to effecting real, lasting social change, the only group that matters is the policy makers. Take an age-range survey of these top dogs and get back to me on how we've benefitted from the heightened social conscience of the Boomers. Was the economic meltdown a figment of my imagination? Or should I get down on my knees and thank god your brown-skinned compatriots can now sit at the front of the bus?

LondonLee (#922)

I'm pretty sure Dick Cheney and George Bush never protested against any wars in the 1960s.

Abe Sauer (#148)

well, if you insist on these things being the only two options from which to select I would say get n those knees and thank god my brown-skinned compatriots can now "sit at the front of the bus." Economic meltdowns happened before the boomers. They will happen after. It's the nature of the system we have chosen for ourselves.

joeclark (#651)

Now you see why any form of autorefresh of any kind of page is wrong. It doesn’t just fail WCAG, it kills people’s content.

NOW you're talking, Joe Clark!

Sorry, that was to joeclark.

The Boomers and their calcified identity politics are the reason New York City won't have another Democratic mayor for at least 10 years.

Until their poisonous politics are washed out of the system, nothing will get done. Nothing. Real healthcare reform, environmental regulation, reproductive rights, immigration reform, the revival of the labor movement…none of these things will happen until the boomers stop playing out the 1968 election over and over and over and over.

HiredGoons (#603)

GOD IT'S TRUE!

Abe Sauer (#148)

Having thought about this longer, my take is that the Boomers are like a once-great band that put out excellent albums but have grown content to tour for $200 tickets and make Disney soundtracks. Meanwhile, the subsequent generation is the kid whose garage band fell apart junior year so instead he became a rock critic who despises the elders for having a sense of success.

brianvan (#149)

Which sort of reinforces the lament that all of the music sucks and that we don't know how to get the good music back.

LondonLee (#922)

I always thought this notion that "music was so much better then" buys into the Boomers smug insistence that the the 60s was the Golden Age for pop music and all other eras pale in comparison. As a child of the 70s and 80s this pisses me off no end and it depresses me when I hear 20-somethings going on about The Beatles. Personally I'd take Bowie over Dylan.

Abe Sauer (#148)

I agree.. but my metaphor was just any once-great band with the subsequent generation just any spiteful music critic.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ career trajectory is a metaphor for the boomers?

Sakurambobomb (#1,722)

The Boomers became culturally significant and self aware when they realized how demographically dominant they were/are.

Gen Ex have become culturally self aware as we realie how demographically insignficant we are. Gen Ex has been swamped by the Boomers for 30-40 years and will be swamped by the Millenials for the next 30-40 years.

Basically, Gen Ex will have to try to hold on to whatever scraps the Boomers leave behind as the Millenials start to come on line and start grabbing those scraps from our wizened bleeding hands.

I honestly feel that the Millenials will have horror upon horror to deal with in the prime of their life, and the pathetic old Gen-Exers will be snuffed out early.

LondonLee (#922)

Well that's just great, guess I should have taken a leaf out of Natasha's book and not had any kids.

H.T. (#2,808)

Oh, my god, what insufferable whining. So you spent the first 30-40 years of your life whining about Boomers. Now you're going to spend the NEXT 30-40 whining about the Millenials? God, why snuff our the Boomers and Millenials? I'm not completely nuts over either group, but at least they're doing things – not all of it good, by any mean – and not just whining.

chkhsl (#2,791)

This is why we need to legalize euthanasia, QUICK! Fuck it, I'll start a non-profit. Our slogan will be, "Let the miserable, old people commit suicide with dignity."

Apres Ski (#2,812)

Soylent Green anyone?

lotsoftreble (#2,715)

This is true. We (Gen X) may be too few to do anything but observe what the larger generations have done and will do. That and try to do our best at whatever we happen to do. And try to point out some truths about how things work… And… And…

PinkPundit (#155)

This generational stuff is so fucking tedious. Forget class, the structure of American government, the enormous power of business throughout almost all of U.S. history, a boneheaded national ideology that's inside all our heads – it's all about the alleged psychological hangups of people born between 1946 and 1964. Like Gen X is any better. Or the Greatest Generation. Or any of the other idiotic cliches about birth cohorts you could summon. It's all because Andy Stern was born in 1950?

Ugh. I really don't want to dip my toe in the toxic pool of labor's feuds. But I will say that Andy, who I worked for and still admire, is hobbled by the hang ups and politics of his generation. They plague his organization. I hope Andy and every one else working the nightshift bring about the change they want to see. I think it'll take about twenty years, which in terms of 'historic change' is a blink of an eye. But it would gobble up my lifetime. Not interested in spending my adulthood rebuilding something that could easily be destroyed again by power politics. It's boring.

I'm just happy to have read a sentence with two semicolons.

Was her name really Blanca? Wasn't Tinsely Mortimer's friend/assistant's name Blanca?

Ok then. I'm off to deride the consumerist fashionability of postmodern cultural criticism while affirming my universal emancipatory stance and love for grand explanations, and touch up a critique of The Pervert's Guide To Cinema

That might have been interpreted as rude.

UBS, you are a charm. :)

Dave (#2,801)

But, the Boomers invented the Internet. How many Gen Exes have done anything close?

Clip Arthur (#2,024)

I used to be fairly neutral about Boomers until I grew up and things with Boomer relatives started to hit the fan in my family. I used to chalk it up to simple generational differences everyone goes through, but now I really lay blame on one thing more than anything: Boomer entitlement and delusion is the real engine behind the credit/bankruptcy nonsense we all are dealing with nowadays.

What other generation had a major institution say “Look, we know your kids are great and they deserve the best. Here, take all this money… When your kids make their fortunes, pay us back! You deserve it!”

And past that there is a darker part of Boomer life that affects a lot of younger folks nowadays: Divorce. What other dysfunctional generation can repeatedly cry about what is great for the world and their kids, yet have the highest rate of divorce in generations? No disrespect to any children of divorce reading this, but what comfort can a kid get when they know their parents gave them the "best", yet then decided divorce was the "best" thing for their marriage/family?

That's all a wee bit of a tangent but seriously, what a dysfunctional mess.

H.T. (#2,808)

Wow, what an ugly and angry article. And one that doesn't really deal with much of anything. Blame an entire generation? You sound just like the Boomers when they complained about their parents and how THEY had ruined the world. Our problems aren't about Baby boomers or velvet jackets or Peter Fonda selling his soul late at night. It's about about people – and employers and legislators – who say one thing and do another. And from my experience, that sort of thing crosses generations. It's about people who look backwards instead of forward. It's about people who are protecting their asses instead of searching out a little vision. Any argument by an "us" that blames a "them" is doomed. It's not as simple as that.

jerrywrite (#2,810)

Allow me state my bias way up front. I am 63 years old (this makes me one of the first of the baby boomer generation – literally). I think "my" generation did a great many good things – the civil rights struggle (which began long before i was born),the rise of feminism, the drive for participation and openness in government (a pompous phrase for the expansion of democracy). "We" also did some awful things – our treatment of returning soldiers during the Vietnam War is probably the most egregious. Having said that, here's my problem: when you talk about Boomers you are talking about people born between 1946 and 1964…Now,even if you want to shorten the span, that's a hell of a lot of people So collective guilt may not the most constructive way to go. (And, btw, divide and conquer works quite nicely for the capitalist, statist rulers of this country). But to talk about such a huge number of people in mind-numbing cliches is really beyond belief. It's about as smart as saying "I hate Jews," "I hate blacks," "I hate Catholics," or "I hate people with hyphenated last names" — which i do btw since that says to me that you are a person who can't decide who you are so you hang on to two identities, or you just want to sound more European. I can't decide which is worse. Whatever. There are real problems in this world. There is real evil in this world. EVERY group consists of good people, evil people and people somewhere in-between. Even hyphenated last name people. This line of thinking is just a fatal distraction – not that different from thinking recycling and driving a Prius will change the world. In my experience, most people of all generations, in all times, are just doing the best they can. Trying to live decent lives and not hurt other people. Just like the people who read and respond to this column. Sorry to end on cliche.

"I hate people with hyphenated last names â€" which i do btw since that says to me that you are a person who can’t decide who you are so you hang on to two identities, or you just want to sound more European. "

It's not two identities, it's one. It's traditional in Latin America (which is where my family is from) that girls are given their father's and mother's last name until they take on their husband's. My parents gave me this name and everything else they could. A swath of politicians, bosses, and bureaucrats of their same cohort have marred everything so bad that I am no longer interested in helping them solve it. I'd rather do what is most rewarding for myself.

You wanna get hitched so I can settle on one last name? Get a tax break? And cut me off a slice of your retirement plan? I'd consider becoming Mrs. Write for that.

jerrywrite (#2,810)

i knew you had no sense of humor. thanks for confirming that.

jerrywrite (#2,810)

And, btw, most of the people watching the Baby Boomer TV shows were the children of Baby Boomers, curious about their parents and how they grew up. Now I'm done.

Apres Ski (#2,812)

Did you say you know work for yourself? Aren't you about to dip your toe into some of that political/union stuff if you decide you need to hire someone who totally disagrees with you? You fire them, they sue and so it begins.

Boomers are responsible for that, everyone is. I heard of one person who quit because they didn't believe in seniority on the job. The person had been there years and years and years & it was just their turn as far as seniority. If you're on the job that long, that's what happens. This person wanted to buck the system, eliminate seniority because they had a good idea that no one wanted to listen to.

And when they did find someone who would listen, they said it had to be cleared by the person with seniority. That behind said, the person got pissed off & quit. I'm sure the next job, they found some other annoying rule they couldn't stand and eventually quit and created their own business and their own rules.

It's not a perfect world and no matter where you go, someone will be taller than you, smarter than you and OMG, tanner than you!! LOL! Honey, since you started your own business, you're going to find out it wasn't all the Boomers fault even when they disagreed with one another.

That's just how from 1946 to 1964 went . . . You're going to have to learn to deal with those older people.

Thanks, Honey.

Apres Ski (#2,812)

When I was younger, like you Natasha, I thought why were these fossils still around . . . and they were my parents. As I got older and ran into my dad, I realized why they were still around because my dad would always slip me $50 cash, take me out for a much needed hot meal and I could raid his apartment when he was out of town for food and some paper towels.

However, when I had to get a job, I had no car and was forced to take public transportation. I had to take a north-south bus and connect to an east-west bus in order to get to work.

It never failed. The north-south bus would pull up and I would ALWAYS miss the east-west bus. Eight out of 10 times, this would go on, no matter what I did.

Then one day as the north-south bus pulled up, I flew across the street at the risk of being run over because I could see the east-west bus. But I queried why the east-west bus hadn't pulled away leaving me screaming and cursing out loud at every bus driver in the universe.

As I ran to catch that east-west bus, I rounded the corner, but the bus was still there, why? As I rounded the corner, there was a little old lady with a walker, no less. She was attempting to get on the bus, but the bus driver was having problems with the lift, it was stuck and refused to be lowered. He did managed to get it lowered but by then, I was in a nice long line waiting to get to work on time. And this woman was definitely born in the 20s, she was ancient! LOL!

So for the Boomers whom you find annoying, just remember that every so often, one of them if not a few, will block your access to the sun for a short time, but when they've finished, they'll have done all the waiting for you & the kinks will have been worked out much like that poor woman who had to wait in the cold while the driver struggled with the buttons.

Oh and yeah, the Boomers will have also blocked your access to that bird who dropped all that sh!t on your designer haute couture!!! ROTFLOL!!

Rox (#2,814)

Great article. Great excuse not to try and fix things too. What are you all doing other than blaming the Boomers for the world's ills? It wasn't all beer and skittles in the fifities, you know.

Dpock (#2,824)

It's tough being a boomer. We suck. I wouldn't work for me either…

But what do you expect? Most of us had very easy lives raised by married people who stuck together (that part's not so good), who paid for our colleges, then marriages, loaned us the down payments for our first homes (no interest) and, even today, give us bailouts when we when screw up. Sound familiar?

mau1 (#2,839)

See, now this is why I like people in their 20s these days better than some other younger people. The whining and blaming moves over for DOING SOMETHING IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE WAY THINGS ARE. It's just sad people who blame boomers for the troubles of today sit around mealy-mouthing why they don't do anything. WAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! If somebody got run over by a car in front of you would probably just step over them. I can work with people no matter how old or young or smart or stupid they are without whining and mewling about it. Does NVC think she is too precious to mingle with the commoners? Dpock comes from a privileged background. I can tell you most militants or anybody else in the 50s-70s did not have what Dpock did. I am a boomer and nobody gave me anything! I had to work my way through college. My dad told me there were cheaper ways to find a husband! My parents were not supportive of anything I did. What first home? What bailouts is this guy talking about? I know not and neither do most of my contemporaries. And it was not just about the f-ing war! There were several HUGE civil rights issues. Then there were the local issues that we really could do something about besides run our mouths. That varied from 1 community to another but many of the share-based activities that occur now occured in the 60s and 70s, like swap meets, community kitchens and gardens, free medical and legal help. Oh snap! They aren't doing medical and legal anymore, huh? We got ideas from communism and the 1930s Depression. The article was good as expository writing but would have been better if it were not so full of self-pity and rationalized selfish, navel-picking behavior.

peopleperson (#2,863)

To be clear here, Bianca's a baby boomer too.

Mar (#2,357)

I'm curious about this 1982 cut-off. Since I was born in '81, does that mean that I'm guaranteed full-time employment 4ever?

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