Stairway To Boomer (Persons of the Year) Heaven
You're definitely a Baby Boomer if you recollect the line, "Does anyone remember laughter"?
If you don't, it's a classic that singer Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin often added to his "Stairway To Heaven" anthem when he sang it live in-concert, following up the line "And the forests will echo in laughter".
If one looks at this year's "Time Persons of the Year" cover, (sponsored nicely by Chrysler), many of the flower-powered culture's forests, front lawns, back yards and country-club golf courses should all be echoing in laughter as Generation "V-W" -- The alphabetic '60 & '70's generation before Gen "X or "Y" -- can look with pride on the social activism these 3 gifted late boomers have taken, since that fateful summer of love in 1967.
Back then, a VW bus was a badge of anti-establishment; giving hippies the opportunity to travel in groups. Unlike cars, the buses had curtains, to provide privacy as they flew down the highway. Some of society's elders born in "the greatest" generation often speculated quizically and cynically that those curtains in the back of the bus were used cover up the "sex, drugs and rock n roll" going on behind the driver. They were probably right!
"Does anyone remember laughter?" From the looks on the face of Bono and Melinda and Bill Gates, the answer is a definite "No". Ain't that a shame! Many boomers could relate to the fact that these three individuals won't let themselves become dust in the wind. They are still fighting the good fight; taking the optimism and altruism boomers had to change the world into "adult age". Yes, with two boomer presidents into the 21st century, the Baby Boom has finally reached "Adult Age".
"Sex/Techs, Drugs/Thugs & Rock'nRoll/SaveYourSoul
The term "middle age" was never a clear definer chronologically. Today, it is even less relevant. Attitudinally, Boomers would never enjoy being labeled middle age. Rather, long before Cold Play or Snoop, Boomers were out there breaking all the rules, standing up for a different way of life. In the process, somewhere within it all, they did whatever they could to make the world a better place.
And they did. They did make "that" world a better place. But now they are confronted (some say stuck) in "this" one. Being of adult age, many with kids, bills, family and career pressures, there is little doubt that the old freak-flag fly expression, "Sex, drugs & Rock n Roll" can safely be put in the oldies, nostalgia section.
So what is the baby boom up to now? We propose "Techs, Thugs & Save Your Soul". The more things change, the more they stay the same!
Sex/Techs - "Houston, We Have A Problem".
Is it any coincidence that problems with NASA techs' technology arose shortly after we put the first "person" on the moon. We all know how smart Bill Gates is and now his tiny little micro-software company changed the world. Yet in the process, he may have also paved the way for the "vaporware" business society boomers see themselves in today. Gates gets many badges of being first, like also be the first "techno-thug". It took a US Justice anti-trust case to take the computer chip off his shoulder. Perhaps Mrs. Melinda Gates had something to do with it as well. We are pleased that Bill can enjoy his money and are very appreciative of his philanthropic efforts.
However, could there be connection with Time Inc's equivalent to a Nobel Peace Prize of societal respectibility for Gates in return for his MSN taking the AOL bidding war more seriously than it ultimately did. If so, Bill's vaporware prowess made Time Inc's editors blink a little too quickly, since Gates is on the cover and Google is in the House (Luce built) :--)
That said, many Boomers wish the incredibly disturbing connecction between techs and sex combo would vaporize, though not all. Recent stories in The New York Times report how those teenagers who have robust business with live online kiddie porn have boomer parents who enjoy sharing in the profits. This would even boggle the mind of Charles Manson today.
Unforunately, Gates is NOT a roll model for his other rich friends. Boomers recently learned that middle income households between the $50-100K brackets are more generous supporters of charities than those in the $5 million worth range. Many of those are likely boomers who made their bread through a creative use of technology in one way or another. Bill, perhaps your arrogant "me generation" actions spoke louder than your "Road Ahead" book's words. But then, that's the effect roll models have on society! Do as I do, not as I say!
Drugs/Thugs - "You're Fired"!!!!!!!!!!
Power and fame are as much a drug as any "herbal jazz cigarette". Boomers don't have to travel far to find a few bullies. Other than Oprah and a few others, our society's largest personalities are warm and fuzzy...NOT! That goes for our corporate bully's who rape and pillage retirement accounts. Media thuggery also promotes this behavior with "the every person for themselves" mentality programs Survivor and The Apprentice reinforce. Who needs drugs anymore when we have 250 million channels to stroke our media-made selves? Once upon a time, the media rocked and rolled a few demagoges. Proud we were when they read about two boomers exposing "all the president's men" and Nixon's cutsey-named "White House Plumbers Unit" set up to "stop leaks". Clearly there are differences between then and now, though stories of FBI wire-tapping animal cruelty and poverty relief organizations...even Greenpeace, may be uncomfortably familiar to some Boomers.
Pharmaceuticals are now more media-related than opium-based. Forget about the message, the medium is now the addiction. And cash is now the opium of media companies. Roughly 90% of the world's media is controlled by roughly a dozen companies. Yet with all that goliath power, there are only one or two media companies who still raise the first amendment torch brightly, carrying out the fourth estate's roll Thomas Jefferson and our founding father's empowered it to do. These days, many boomers feel the only estates our cherished media company execs are investigating are their own forests in the wealthiest of gated community suburbs or highrise townhouses. Perhaps they are fond of the grunge-era 10,000 Maniacs Band tune, "Give Them What They Want". Some Boomers see a disturbing connective tissue between techs, sex and Network TV. It doesn't take a Marshall McLuhan to figure this out when the CEO of CBS (once called The Tiffany Network)pronounced earlier this year in a nationally circulated interview how he'd broadcast news anchors in the nude if he could in order to increase ratings. Ahh...now it makes sense, all those viagra emails have found a prime time audience at 6th Avenue's "Black Rock", the house the Paley built.
Save Your Soul - "All That you Can't Leave Behind"
It's debatable if the desire for inner spirituality is/was all that different from rock n roll or whatever tunes boomers were/are into. We think not. Music has always been and will always provide some sanctuary for those who need to lose themselves in a tune. The song has not remained the same but the desire for inner connectedness has. In a crazy world of hype, T1-speed and family collisions, boomers have increased their search inward. Nothing wrong with that. Some boomers do take it a tad too seriously though when they choose to hear messages from messengers who fan the fire and by doing so, build more walls than bridges.
And then there's Bono; the "Mickey Mantle" of rock n roll and global activism. Though unlike Mantle -- who was one of the original boomer roll models -- he seems to have no dark secrets to hide. He certainly doesn't hide much. He shouldn't. Could many boomers make the case that he and he alone should be the "person of the year"? Probably.
So, with this Persons Of The Year, it can be said that Boomers can have joined all other of society's elders who have been complaining about the decadence of the next generation since the age of Socrates. "Sex, Drugs & Rock'n Roll" has absolutely morphed To "Techs, Thugs & Save Your Soul". Boomers sholdn't feel bad about that. That's life. In fact, the only thing that IS wrong with it is that many boomers look amongst themselves in the back of their VW Touareq's and ask themselves "Does anyone remember laughter"?
"Does Anyone Remember Shopping?"
Back in Plant's day, the entire Boomer audience would shout the line in unison, though how many would today? Judging by Time's cover, perhaps too many boomers don't feel much like laughing. And who's fault it that? Maybe it's not Gates fault after all. Maybe it was Led Zeppelin's. Maybe Plant asked the wrong question. Perhaps he should have asked it after the song's last line, "And she's buying her stairway to heaven"!!