b Papa Dog's Blog: Stuff that Baby Dog Will Think is Really, Really, Really, Really Old

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Stuff that Baby Dog Will Think is Really, Really, Really, Really Old

I was born rather late in 1964, which technically makes me a Baby Boomer – if you accept (as I do) the definition of the Baby Boom as a period of 20 years (one generation) starting with the return of Our Boys from overseas in 1945. Technically, I’m one of the last of the Baby Boomers. In practice, though, I’m not. People our age – Mama Dog was born that same fateful dragon year, as were Papa Pirate, Ambrose, Mama’s Dog’s ex, and so many of our circle – are really the kid siblings to the Baby Boom. We’re too young to be proper Boomers, too old to be proper Gen Xers. We’ve been called tweeners, which is not a term I particularly like, but I suppose it’s as good as any other. Being a tweener is kind of like being Canadian – which I should know, being both. Canadians are bombarded more than any other country by the cultural product of the US,* much as we tweeners were bombarded with the cultural obsessions of our older brothers and sisters. I was five years old when the Beatles broke up, but it was still considered more or less cool to listen to hem when I was in high school. TV shows I grew up with: Star Trek, Gilligan’s Island, Bewitched, Hogan’s Heroes, The Man From UNCLE – not a one of them still in production by the time I was eight. M*A*S*H the movie, released when I was six, seemed somehow still relevant when I saw it uncut for the first time at the age of 14. Jack Kerouac, a bloated miserable has-been dead of drink by the time I was five, remained a viable literary role model well into the time I wasn’t going to college. Lenny Bruce, Elvis Presley, the Ed Sullivan Show–which I don’t remember ever seeing, but somehow I knew about plate spinners and that fucking Topo Gigio. Somehow, we were the generation – the demi-generation – who never had our own stuff. Well, okay, we had our own stuff, but it was all lame. The Six Million Dollar Man. The Love Boat. Donny and Marie. Frampton Comes Alive.

All this is the result of musing on how old the stuff we grew up on is going to seem to Baby Dog. So many of our little cultural obsessions spring from the year of our birth or before. I try to draw parallels. The Beatles will be to Baby Dog roughly what Al Jolson is to me. Star Trek is Fibber McGee. On the Road is Finnegans Wake. Raquel Welch is Mary Pickford.

To obfuscate matters further, as we’ve gotten older so to have our film and music preferences. We listen to Bing Crosby and the Andrews sisters. We love the Mills Brothers and the Ink Spots, even though every last one of their songs starts with that same dopy cowboy rhythm. We like Jimmy Stewart movies. I’ve been known to hum “We Did it Before and We Can Do It Again.” Yes, having exhausted the cultural output of our older siblings and having failed to supply anything particularly compelling of our own, we’ve stepped back even further, to the songs and films that delighted our parents. My secret fear is that Baby Dog will grow up thinking this is what people were into when I was a kid. So maybe, I suppose, when she’s forty, she’ll discover the guilty pleasure of Herman’s Hermits.
* …while simultaneously suffering a cultural braindrain because apparently with all its resources America still can’t produce enough rock stars and comedians on its own.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, you are both a Baby Boomer and a Gen Xer. Baby Boomers weer born between 1946 and 1976, and Gen Xers ar the tail end of the Baby Boom, born between 1961 and 1966. Gen Xers realley are the lost generation. When people talk about Gen Xers, they're usually talking about twentysomethings. And while Gen Xers were twentysomethings when Douglas Coupland coined the phrase, they've actually aged since then, and now are in their late thirties and early forties. It's such a lost generation, that even most Gen Xers (like yourself) don't realize they are Gen Xers. And Gen Xers are the lost generation because, the mass of the front lines of the Boomers squeezed them out. So, as you say, we don't have our own stuff.

paul Anonymous

7:54 PM  
Blogger RachelleCentral said...

So you mean The Brady Bunch, Starsky & Hutch and Charlie's Angels didn't contribute to cultural meaningfulness? What about Rick Springfield, Grease and The Village People? I beg to differ!

No wonder you're busy analysing songs about knights and maidens.

2:38 PM  
Blogger ArakSOT said...

As a fellow 64er, I would like to point out that the dragon is unique amongst the fauna of the Chinese new year. All the other critters - dog, rat, horse, pig, et. al. - are merely mortal animals. I've always thought that this must mean something, as if all the people born in one year out of fourteen are somehow special. After all, Barry Bonds is one of our number.

7:34 AM  

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