Monthly Archives: November 2011

i pledge allegiance to the heels

11/9/11

CarrierBasketballShip(bl).jpg

I’m sorry, how is it NOT POSSIBLE TO GET EXCITED ABOUT THIS? Unless your heart is made of shale, you hate sports (or you went to Dook) there is all kinds of awesomeness in Carolina playing Michigan State on an aircraft carrier tomorrow afternoon.

Pre-season #1, potential 30mph crosswinds, the possibility of rain, washing away the vomitous taste of 2009-10 and the morons of 2010-11… I haven’t been this excited for a new season of hoops since, well, 2008-09! Can a brother get an AMEN around here?

where you goin’ with the mask i found

11/8/11

And now for your final report on the on the Generation X research from the Longitudinal Study of American Youth, otherwise known as I Parse the Recent Gen X Data With Spurious, Anecdotal Bullshit. Let’s get it straight from the CNN article and see what happens, shall we?

Myth #1: Gen Xers are slackers.

LSAY says: Generation X devotes more hours to work than average and pursues continuing education, with half completing a post-secondary degree.

I say: When we were called “slackers”, there wasn’t an internet and there weren’t as many cool toys, and, oh yeah, we didn’t have kids to clothe. So I bloody well hope we’ve gotten past that. Besides, what exactly did you want us to do in 1991 – fold shirts at Benetton and pray for an early death?

Myth #2: Generation X is hopelessly single and pessimistic about marriage.

LSAY says: A higher percentage of Gen Xers stay married than Boomers, and most want to be married. Two-thirds of Generation X is married and 71% report having children in the home. Additionally, divorce has been declining since 1996.

I say: Hey, when you learn marriage from the Boomers (and worse yet, the generation before them) you get the Don’t Do What Donny Don’t Does guide to lasting romance. It’s easy. In any situation while married, simply think to yourself, “what would my parents do?” and do the opposite! Problem solved!

donnydont.jpg

Myth #3: Generation Xers are disengaged, existential isolationists.

LSAY says: 95% of Gen Xers report talking with friends or family on the telephone at least once a week.

I say: Geez, that’s a pretty low bar.

Myth #4: As former latch-key kids, Gen Xers are wimpy, neglectful parents.

LSAY says: About 84% of Gen X parents expect their children to earn at least a baccalaureate. 72% of parents of preschool children read to them three or more hours a week, and 83% of parents of secondary school students help with homework.

I say: It goes way beyond that. I thought our generation would rebel, at least slightly, to the precious “Baby on Board”-ification of American babymaking, but apparently we seem hellbent on purging every last demon of our own childhood by over-correcting on our brood. If you thought the Baby Boomers were bad, you haven’t seen overprotective, painfully earnest, twee, fetishized worrywarting until you’ve followed one of us around. We would have hectored Willy Wonka over corn syrup, and fired Mary Poppins for letting our precious darlings consort with Dick Van Dyke.

Myth #5: Generation X is depressed.

LSAY says: Generation X is actually pretty happy. Two-thirds of Generation X are satisfied with their job. On a scale of 1 to 10, the median happiness score was 8.

I say: In a world with iPhones, Pandora, Fruit Ninja, the Daily Show, Netflix, triple espressos and Effexor, WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE YOUR PROBLEM?

“i burn for you” segues to “take me with u”

11/7/11

To continue with yesterday’s blog theme, I’d like to address the issue of Generation X’s surprising amount of “happiness” by explaining how we used to listen to music. Most of you folks already know this, but bear with me for a moment.

When I first went to the University of North Carolina in August of 1985, I brought my entire collection of albums – LPs – shoved alphabetically into two crates that looked almost exactly like this:

RecordLPCrate(bl).jpg

The albums were so heavy that the wood bowed down the center, meaning you had to carry them with your fingers under the bottom. Along with my bass amp, we flattened the shocks of my dad’s Mustang somewhere on US Hwy 58 outside South Hill, VA.

Later on, as I committed myself to the art of the mix tape and frequent road trips, I resorted more and more to cassettes. Even in the mid-to-late ’80s, we knew cassettes sounded like shit, but every car had a cassette player, and I was part of the million-strong cohort that believed mix tapes could make people fall in love with you. Before long, many of us had walls that looked like this:

SomebodyCassettes.jpg

My first CD experience was in 1984, when a friend played Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly on his dad’s $2000 player. I was gobsmacked, of course, but CD players were for the indiscriminately wealthy until about 1988, when we all started to switch our collections over. The mix tape still ruled, but if we wanted to hear our music for reals on trips, we had to get this set-up:

CDCarMountKit(bl).jpg

That is a Sony Discman sitting on a car air-vent mount. The mount had little springs in it to keep the CD from skipping to the next song every time you made a left turn or went over a speed bump. Soon, the passenger side floor was littered with both tapes and CDs, and half the bulk of every trip was taken up by music media and players.

I always said the difference between the Baby Boomers and Generation X was innocence – the Boomers lost theirs in the ’60s, and we never had any to begin with. Having been born after the JFK assassination, the sexual revolution and (for some of us) Watergate, our lack of faith was in our DNA.

To a more quotidian extent, kids in the younger generation today will have the same attitude about computers and digital media. Gen X still remembers a time when this shit was a kluge, a duct-taping disaster, a struggle… but these kids will have the digital life as second nature.

Which is too bad, in some ways, because my generation will always be amazed by things that seem like magic. Our rap for being sourpuss cynics doesn’t hold up when you show us an iPhone, or nano-sized cameras, or a Slingbox that can stream a show you DVR’ed two weeks ago in another country.

I lugged albums and tapes across the country so I could rock, so I could create the perfect self-defining mix tape shoved into a canary yellow Walkman. Music had weight, and I hoisted them everywhere. When I look at my iPod Touch, and know that it contains every note of a thousand songs I have ever owned, I still sigh and marvel at the brave new world that hath such things in it.

i’m so happy ’cause today i found my friends

11/6/11

The invariably excellent Ehren Gresehover sent this link to my FB wall, complete with stock photo of My Generation Having Fun:

CNNGenXStudy(bl).jpg

Along with it, he wrote one accusatory word:

“Well?”

Once upon a time, this was my stock in trade, making sweeping generalizations about Gen X (anyone born between 1961 and 1981) but to be honest, I was really only speaking for myself and whoever I was living with at the time. So when I said “we” – which I did a lot – I usually meant the Purple House in Chapel Hill, NC circa 1994.

So, in essence, I only pretended to give a voice to lower-to-upper middle class decently-educated mostly-white folks who had the same cultural experiences I had. You are your circumstances, and whether we like it or not, being a small kid in the ’70s and early ’80s hews us together like strangers in a bus where somebody farted.

With that disclaimer, I will now pontificate: that CNN article makes perfect sense to me. However, they left out one important fact about the study – the subjects who said they were “balanced and happy” are also all still alive.

I hope I’m not giving away any secrets, but many of us in Generation X consider every day we don’t kill ourselves to be a fuckin’ revelation. You may think I’m kidding (and you’d be half right), but when you grow up with the kind of existential dread we did, pretty much anything that works at all can be filed under Minor Miracle.

If one looks at Happiness as the remainder when you subtract Reality from Expectations, Gen X was stunningly well-prepared. Our expectations for the world were so low that we are virtually impossibly to offend. The government is corrupt? No fucking duh, my first President was Nixon. Technology can’t save us? No fucking duh, we watched Christa MacAuliffe and Chernobyl explode the same year.

As for our personal lives, almost every single one of my friends was the result of a broken family. Many of us continued the tradition with an EUM (Early Unfortunate Marriage) of our own, but still more of us waited out the horrendous dating scene until we were ABSOLUTELY GODDAMN SURE we married the person we were waiting for. Either way, we’ve mostly figured it out by now, so when we roll over in bed and actually like this other person we’re sleeping with… well, again, it’s a goddamn revelation.

Gen X is “balanced and happy”? Yes, and all it took was a fucked-up childhood, parents throwing dishes at each other, AIDS, drunkenness, therapy, pharmaceuticals, and the kind of expectations that would have made the Grinch hang his head in despair. That we choose life every day, even now as we get older, is proof positive of what I have been saying since we were 23: Generation X may be pessimistic, but we are not now, nor have never been, cynical.

NEXT: more generational fun!

duct-tape cell phone charger to leg

11/2/11

I have absolutely no time to write a blog tonight, and I’ll tell you why: the wife and I just had a heated argument about how I’m always late to begin every trip we take. Late to cabs, always forgetting one last thing, etcetera, etcetera, etfuckingcetera. So now I have to absolutely nail the morning takeoff (even though we’re driving to Santa Cruz).

Which leads perfectly to a code word question: what habit of yours is absolutely your significant other’s bĂȘte noire? What do you consistently do that drives them batshit?

wheelsup.jpg

wheels up 9:30am

an unlicensed salon

11/1/11

I’m not one to stick a bunch of videos in your face that you could have found yourself, but these guys are LOCAL HEROES from FUQUAY-VARINA, NC! Yes, I know if I was 17 I’d already have seen these forty times, but since I’m a bit of a shut-in, I’m posting a few of my favorites.

Rhett and Link went to Buies Creek Elementary School together, then to NC State for engineering, and needless to say, they are making the internet work. This is the first thing Lars showed me, and it’s very complicated on all kinds of levels:

…which led to their amazing, purposely-bad local ads, like this one in High Point:

…which, of course, led to all my Mormon cousins in beauty school in Salt Lake/Provo, Utah:

the music in this one is GODDAMN BRILLIANT

Be sure to check out their pillow song, T-shirt war, and Jones’ Big Ass Truck Rental & Storage. You know, if you haven’t already because I’m horribly late to the internet meme party. Go Old North State!