Rolling Over 65

SUBHEAD: That's officially old. It's like turning that 100,000 miles on the odometer of your car. Not a real milestone so much as another billboard along the way.

By Juan Wilson on 28 May 2010 for Island Breath -  

Image above: The author ruminating in the offices of on 5/28/10

I was born sixty-five years ago (5/28/1945): That was after the first test of an A-Bomb, but before the drop on Hiroshima. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, but before the surrender of Imperial Japan. It has put me in a slightly odd no-where-land regarding the Baby Boom generation.

Technically, I was born before the Second world War was won by America, but after it was a foregone conclusion.

When I was a young man I was certainly counted a member of the Baby Boom. I was in the first generation to live in the archetypal suburb of Levittown, Long Island, amongst the GI veterans living the dream of house, car and BBQ.

Back then my generation felt that it consisted of those born between 1945 and 1950. Some have even dated the Boom back to 1943. Others have defined the span of Boomers to be those born between 1946 to 1964. What the..?

As I've aged, the Baby Boom era has gotten younger. Hell, 1964 is years after Bob Dylan started cutting albums for Columbia Records. It's after the Vietnam War had begun. I'd call those born then the V Generation, maybe. Certainly not Boomers.  

The same sort of phenom happened to me regarding hipness. I am of an age to have fallen between the Beat Generation - Beatniks (coffee houses, jazz, beat poetry, marijuana) and the Acid Generation - Hippies (free-stores, psychedelic music, underground cartoons, LSD). Again, 1964 seems to be a kind of watershed.

In 1963, as Beat Generation member, I saw the original Dave Brubeck Quartet jazz ensemble... but by 1965 I had sampled Sandoz Lab LSD in a Manhattan artist's loft as an entry to the Acid Generation.

By the time of the 1967 Summer of Love in San Francisco, when mobs of youngsters (including myself) descended on the city to see what the brouhaha was all about, the residents of Haight Ashbury held a march celebrating the death of the Hippie.

 But somehow youngsters seem to have glommed onto the Hippie thing and now anyone born even into the 1980's can consider themselves in the Hippie generation. Many skipped-over identifying with the Disco scene... probably a good idea.

Two people dear to me wrote this on my birthday. My son, John, said,
"I was talking to a group of 8th graders about Iraq and Afghanistan the other day and realized half way through the conversation that they had no memory of 9/11 or the early years of the Bush Administration and therefore no emotional response. It was a bit of a shocker! Luckily as a result their collective conclusion was that both wars were pointless and a waste of lives and money! Sometimes the emotional detachment time can be useful. Maybe the next generation won't have an attachment to empire and oil. "
A mutual friend, Dana, whose age falls between us, responded,
"John, that's how I feel when I mention Viet Nam. Their eyes gloss over and I realize just how old I really am."
History really begins when there is no one left who lived through the events in question. When there are no more eyewitnesses... when there are only cold artifacts. As it is, I have personally listened live to the music of 8 decades.

The 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, 00's, 10's. That means without the clawing veil of nostalgia... I've heard Lena Horn and Lady Gaga both as new and fresh. That seems incredible. How old am I? I can remember when toys contained no plastic... just wood, metal, string. I now own an iPod Touch.

 My grandmother lived from about 1890 to 1971. She visited and lived in Southwest US over several decades. On her first trip to Arizona she arrived by a horse drawn stagecoach when Arizona was a territory in Indian country. Her last departure from the bustling state was from modern Phoenix on a Boeing 707 jet.

 A single life can span seven generations and not much more. You may have been held in the arms of your great-grandmother, and hold in your arms your great-granddaughter. Their eye-witness memories of you are your extent in this world. .

1 comment :

noel, maui said...

wonderful piece. thankyou. happy birthday. fwiw you look, maybe 50 or so.

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