a brief anecdote about altamont
that’s baseball

woodstock, or, b-legit meets daryl hall

Ann Powers does her usual fine job on the recent Woodstock Anniversary invasion, taking a different approach than most:

Who cares about 'My Generation' anymore?

Music still gives expression to cultural divides, they're just not often generational now. The next great pop icon might be primarily Spanish-speaking … such a star could really shake things up, the way Dylan did back in the day.

Until that happens -- or as it's happening, if Shakira's career continues on an upswing -- we'll undoubtedly keep looking to the 1960s for a vision of a unified movement based on popular music. In fact, the most telling thing about Woodstock nostalgia is that it's now being felt by plenty of younger fans.

Baby freaks who enjoy the music of the Fleet Foxes and Devendra Banhart, grow their own tomatoes, rock woolly beards and retreat to the desert for vision quests don't feel the need to rebel against their elders at all. Such a warm embrace of their legacy may not be something the golden children of the 1960s expected, but I'm sure they're happy for the dissolution of that generational divide.

The above, which comes at the end of her piece, hits right at the heart of my own desire for the generational divide to continue. I’ve often argued that boomers’ arrogant claim to own youth culture made it hard for subsequent generations to create a culture of their own. Even though I am a boomer myself, I found this problematic. What Ann is suggesting (and it’s nothing my own kids haven’t tried to explain to me) is that today’s generation finds value in connecting to “their elders” … they don’t feel the need to rebel. Which, if true, and I have a suspicion she’s onto something, means that what boomers “own” isn’t youth culture, but rather the adolescent need to rebel. That need, which so many of us never abandon, is what identifies boomers as a generation that refuses to grow up.



today’s generation finds value in connecting to “their elders” … they don’t feel the need to rebel.

Hmm, I don't see why or how your first thought here leads into your second thought. Young people finding value in connecting to their elders does not eliminate young people's desire to rebel against all sorts of other things. I guess from this vantage point (and I might view it much differently if I hadn't experienced "the sixties" in diapers and a high chair) I just tend to think that "Don't trust anyone over 30" was one of the more hollow sentiments expressed by the hippies. It seems like a shallow sentiment, especially as there have always been more than enough folks under 30 mucking things up in the world just as badly.


I just realized I'm assuming a fair bit there. Maybe by saying "they don't feel the need to rebel" you were also implying "against their elders"?


Yes, I wrote that poorly. I did indeed mean "against their elders." I am also a self-hating boomer ... I think there were a lot of hollow sentiments back in the day, many of which I shared then and, in some cases, haven't escaped. But that's my flaw, not a flaw of later generations.


I guess the "anyone over 30" idea carried a lot more weight then, given that virtually everything at that point was still controlled by adults. So I realize that I'm in many ways the product of a particular democratization (of ideas, industry, etc.) that likely wouldn't have happened without the boomers. And believe it or not, I'm much more grateful to the sixties generation (and still inspired without shame by lots of sixties stuff) than resentful even if I did sometimes feel while growing up that I missed out on all the fun.


Kael once said that we are always particularly fond of whatever came just before our own awareness took hold. She cited the college kids of the 60s liking Bogart as an example.

My take is that post-WWII American youth marked a clear line between themselves and their parents' generation, a line with a rock and roll soundtrack. We (and our parents) "invented" the generation gap, and then assumed it had been around forever as some kind of natural force. I, at least, gave this more importance than it deserved, and I fully expected my kids' generation to continue to fight for the gap. But two things happened. Boomers became parents without actually becoming adults, and to the extent they could, co-opted subsequent youth cultures, as if the generation gap could no longer exist if the boomers never grew up. And the next generation didn't have the same emotional/cultural fixation on the gap ... postmodern collage artists, they were able to pick and choose the best stuff from any and all generations.


we should talk


I dunno if the B-legit track -- or any other rap song that samples boomer tunes -- is a good example of what you're on about. If there's any genre that abhors age more than rap, I guess it would be punk. The DJ's predilection for sampling old school choruses is out of necessity or aesthetics. OTOH, paying respect where it's due is also a part of hip hop culture.

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