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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Boomers

My parents both loosely fall into the Baby Boomer generational category (my father being perhaps a little older, since he was a war baby).

I'm sure a lot of you, or your parents do, too.





Like me, you had to endure memories of their bell-bottom pants, bushy long sideburns, and their Dennis Weaver sheepskin coat, with muff collar.

...their inexplicable love for Jefferson Airplane or Judy Collins (to this day, I cannot listen to Send in The Clowns without wanting to kiss the porcelain god).

...their nostalgia for the 1950s, which nominally, they rebelled against for being too oppressive and yet vanilla.

...their hypocritical stances on money, safety, or trusting anyone over the age of 30, which of course, I threw back in their faces when I decided to use those arguments myself (didn't work).

...their love of Marcus Welby, of Cannon, of Mannix, of Hawaii Five-Oh, McMillan and Wife is in there, Susan Hampshire in The Pallisers, and let's not forget any movie starring either Steve McQueen, Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson or Charlotte Rampling.

Yes, Boomers are odd ducks, then and certainly now.

But rarely can you find a generation such in synch with each other, from Europe, to the Americas, and beyond.

It's parts counterculture, parts Vietnam protest, parts group-think mentality of the first modern generation which all grew up at precisely the same time, doing the same things, like watching television.

So when a Canadian market research entity decided to study Baby Boomers today, they came up with a dizzying amount of categories which supposedly, 50/65-something folks fit into.

In fact, they say, there are five groups.

Can you recognise which one you or your parents fall into?

Status Seekers: The largest segment identified, Status Seekers make up 26% of Boomers. The group is characterized as materialistic and feels that money is the best measure of success. They enjoy the finer things in life and are willing to pay more for brand names. 31% of Status Seekers drive a vehicle they feel makes a statement about their personality and style.


Traditionalists: This group accounts for 23% of Boomers. Traditionalists are defined by their conservative political, economic and social views. They have traditional attitudes and belief systems, are known for following the rules, and are smart consumers (interested in value, trust and variety). 45% of Traditionalists report that they'll go out of the way to buy American-made products.


Blue Collar Skeptics: 18% of Boomers fall into this group. The Blue Collar Skeptics are just that – skeptics. They are hesitant to trust big businesses and are concerned about the amount of information online. As they fall on the low end of the Boomer income bracket, this group is more stressed about time and money than the rest of their generation. 68% of Blue Collar Skeptics fear they haven't saved enough money for retirement.


Activists: The most politically and socially active segment, 17% of Boomers are Activists. They are generally liberal and also donate a significant amount of time and money to charity. Activists are concerned about the environment, are brand-loyal, and are financially smart. 37% of Activists describe themselves as 'green consumers' (i.e. buying hybrid cars, recycling, etc).


Achievers: The minority of Boomers, just 16% fall into the Achiever category. This group adopts technology early and relies on it heavily. They are focused on success and wealth and are heavily involved in social activities. 24% of Achievers claim to be the first among their friends to have new gadgets and devices.

You know what I hate and deride in studies like these?

That they do not take into account that people do not stay in one category, at any time of their lives.

(That's true of almost any poll, which stereotypes by trying to deconstruct the stereotypes)

Let's take my parents, as an example.

You know by now that they are well-educated, since they are both physicians. They are also very cosmopolitan, were sociable in their youth when they lived in Palm Beach, but are meritocrats par excellence since always prize in others, personal achievement over inheritence.

One parent was an agnostic/Atheist, when I was growing up, whereas the other had such a pure belief in her Catholicism, that it was breathtakingly charming in its simplicity.

My father is much more politically and environmentally savvy than my mother, but she is much more in the know, about trends, fashions, and technologies, than he is (he being a vague Luddite, alas. He hates computers, e.g. -- they make him feel old).

Both progressives in their youth, today he still leans Left, she leans Right.

So...which categories would describe them?


  • "Status Seekers"?


  • Oh yes. They taught me that the finer things in life are there for us, because we've earned it. Well, they have anyway.


  • "Traditionalists"?


  • Sure. Not in the 'wifey-hubby' sense, but both are conservative in their private demeanour. They don't drink, smoke, or dance the nights away at Regine's Club Jimmyz. He's the absolute boss of our home, but she's pampered and deferred to.


  • "Blue Collar Sceptics?"


  • Well, perhaps this is the category they are least like, but they share suspicions about rampant Big Business, and they also think they haven't saved enough for their retirement.


  • "Activists"?


  • Why are you labeled an activist, when you are environmentally-conscious, give time and money to charities, and are financially smart? My parents are all this, without warranting the specious label activist.


  • "Achievers"?


  • Patently, my folks are in this category, as well. Sure, my father may not like to touch a computer mouse, and we don't have the latest Plasma screen TV, but "they are focused on success and wealth and are heavily involved in social activities" could have described them to a tee, in the 1980-1990s.

    Of course, this generational exposé is going to be re-done for each culture, society, and country, given that it's specifically written about Canadian Boomers.

    But are American Boomers, or British Boomers, French, Senegalese, Japanese or Mexican Boomers so very different from Canadian ones, I ask you?

    I don't think they are, as I have noted.

    They have too much in common, these ex-youngsters who once cried when the Beatles broke up, wore their jeans too tight, and later compromised their ideals and became The Man.

    I'm only left to wonder what categories my co-agists, Generation X (of which I am a late example, but I was born with an old soul, anyway) will be divided into.

    Let's see:

    Loved Madonna, Breakfast Club, Facts of Life and the A-Team, cried when the Smiths broke up, took a VERY long time to marry, get a job or move out of the house, likes technology since Atari/Gameboy, voted Tory, voted Labour, Democrat, Republican, didn't vote, thinks Helen Mirren is still hot, U2 are the Rolling Stones of our generation, and just got their fastest Dell/Powerbook yet.

    Oh yes.

    Our kids will have a field day making fun of us.

    We SHOULD be put into neat little categories, which not only define us, but mock our generational impulses.

    I mean, the Goonies? What was that all about?





    So, next time you see a Boomer and are tempted to put them into categories, the better to narrow them down to sell to them, or worse than that, to actually speak to them like a human being, remember!

    One day, that Boomer will be you.

    And your Farah Fawcett layered haircut will look every bit as silly as Nehru jackets did then.

    Labels:

    36 Comments:

    • I tried to send you to the feathered back hair site, but it seems to be gone!

      Try this for boomer delight:
      http://www.go-go-boots.com/

      or even this!
      http://www.vinyltimes.com/

      By Blogger Ron, at Tue Feb 13, 03:03:00 am GMT-5  

    • At a car show -- in Detroit, of course! -- I'll never forget seeing St. Louis Cardinals great pitcher Bob Gibson in an electric blue Nehru jacket, complete with peace medallion!

      Hey, I like Breakfast Club and the Smiths (and the Cure) too! Although Morrisey should be the guest of honor at a boot butt banquet!

      By Blogger Ron, at Tue Feb 13, 03:10:00 am GMT-5  

    • There are two categories of people in this world:

      1.) Those who put people in categories, and,

      2.) Those who don't.

      Hyuck hyuck.

      By Blogger Pete, at Tue Feb 13, 05:58:00 am GMT-5  

    • Excellent post Victoria! You are right that people change over time, but also, at any one time we are sufficiently complex to not fit entirely into just one category.

      By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Tue Feb 13, 08:58:00 am GMT-5  

    • This was interesting. I think it's difficult to categorize individuals, and that much more difficult to categorize tens of millions of people just because they happened to be born in the same time period as a bunch of others. But the media and sociologists will try again and again.

      By Anonymous Rhea, at Tue Feb 13, 01:15:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Boy, Ron, I can sure tell my age, because when I think vinyl and Boomers, I think "Vinyl".

      Heh.

      Love the Go-Go boots which my mother had!! WE don't have the pic of her wearing it anymore, since it was lost during Hurricane Andrew, but I'm sure she looked like a lot people's mums did.

      Bob Gibson in an electric blue Nehru jacket, complete with peace medallion!

      LOL! Wasn't he supposed to be an ornery sumbitch? I can't imagine that now, with this visual in my head.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Feb 13, 05:44:00 pm GMT-5  

    • 1.) Those who put people in categories, and,

      2.) Those who don't.

      Hyuck hyuck.


      Categories are fun, in terms of list making. I'm big on lists, Pete. ;)

      But for narrowing down people according to sociological-driven jargon -- forget it.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Feb 13, 05:45:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Excellent post Victoria! You are right that people change over time, but also, at any one time we are sufficiently complex to not fit entirely into just one category.

      Jose, my fellow Gen-Xer! ;)

      The most awful part of this survey, is that according to where a person fit, there were sales techniques tied to them, the better to get them to cough up dough.

      So if they labeled you a Blue Collar Sceptic, they'd say something like,

      "Well sir, you are under no obligation to buy our product, unlike those snooty women who approach you in those hoity-toity department stores like Macy's. Oh you don't like them? Yeah, they think they're so rich. I don't like them either. Our products are aimed towards REAL Americans, who aren't ashamed of doing a hard day's work."

      Man, I could work for that company, easy. Hire me!

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Feb 13, 05:48:00 pm GMT-5  

    • This was interesting.

      Hey Rhea! Welcome to the blog. :)

      I also took a peak at your Boomer blog, and found it very helpful with news, and websites of interest to my parents.

      I think it's difficult to categorize individuals, and that much more difficult to categorize tens of millions of people just because they happened to be born in the same time period as a bunch of others. But the media and sociologists will try again and again.

      Alas. But then, marketting is tied at the hip to American culture.

      But there's also something else at work.

      Americans, even before PC-ness hit the big time, were always walking on eggshells so as not to offend this or that group.

      So in my experience, I have found that Americans like to ask what you do, how much you earn, where you are from, so that in their minds, they put you in these boxes.

      "Okay, if I mention this person, he might not know it, because he is a mechanic. So I'll say this, because he's also Cuban. But this lady is a doctor, so I can talk to her about this."

      Etc.

      Of course, all people do this. And in and of itself, this attitude isn't wrong -- there's something incredibly polite and sweet about it.

      But I think this is what drives poll-makers:

      The need to know just exactly what a target group would know, and therefore, wants to hear.

      I plan to expand my points in a blog, one day.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Feb 13, 05:53:00 pm GMT-5  

    • One of the things that probably distinguishes Boomers, at least American Boomers, more than any other generation is the extent to which their collective adolescent temper tantrums were so public. With media the way it is now, everybody's acne is going to be on display but Boomers were the first and they won't let us forget it. I think that justifies just a little bit more derision.

      Additionally, the hyper-consumerist pop culture of the succeeding one or two generations could probably be justifiably laid at their feet too. Music, movies, fashion--let's just say "marketing"--as industries were never anywhere near what they are now prior to the early to mid-Seventies.

      By Blogger Ploorian, at Tue Feb 13, 07:04:00 pm GMT-5  

    • One of the things that probably distinguishes Boomers, at least American Boomers, more than any other generation is the extent to which their collective adolescent temper tantrums were so public. With media the way it is now, everybody's acne is going to be on display but Boomers were the first and they won't let us forget it. I think that justifies just a little bit more derision.

      Darn you, Ploorian.

      I can't argue with that, and that frustrates me! ;)

      Additionally, the hyper-consumerist pop culture of the succeeding one or two generations could probably be justifiably laid at their feet too. Music, movies, fashion--let's just say "marketing"--as industries were never anywhere near what they are now prior to the early to mid-Seventies.

      You're right here too.

      But here are some points which we mull over:

      If the Boomers were the first generation to have regular "spending money" in forms of allowances, and if they were thus, the first generation to be marketted to specifically, trying to disgorge them of these funds...

      ...can't it also be said that it was their parents' generation and before, who were doing the targetting?

      They were the ones who were the advertising execs, the owners of the toy companies, of the record labels, of the TV shows, who cynically aimed all kinds of goodies to this demographic.

      So, sure, they are the parents of the consumer-fascist kids we have now (or indeed, in my case, ARE now), but they were "programmed" to love to spend with their sense of entitlement by those Great Depression forebears.

      Programmed is too strong a word, though.

      I'd say "encouraged"...by giving them no choice, save being cool or being a nerd.

      Ahh, that's another thing the Boomers have in common, that wasn't prevalent at all, before them.

      The preternatural need to be cool -- that's a very American invention.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Feb 13, 07:19:00 pm GMT-5  

    • One of the reasons Barbie succeeded in the '50's is that the advertising avoided the parents altogether and went right for the little girls directly. They told the parents what to get, not the other way around.

      Bob Gibson, actually bought me hot dogs at that car show, while I grilled him about the NL hitters who I never saw...Mays, McCovey, Clemente, etc...

      I pointed the zingermans people towards Sundries, so perhaps you got some hits from them!

      By Blogger Ron, at Tue Feb 13, 07:53:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Darn you, Ploorian.

      I can't argue with that, and that frustrates me! ;)


      Sorry, I'll try to be more of an ass from now on.

      You're right here too.

      Of course I am.

      So, sure, they are the parents of the consumer-fascist kids we have now (or indeed, in my case, ARE now), but they were "programmed" to love to spend with their sense of entitlement by those Great Depression forebears.

      Programmed is too strong a word, though.


      Yeah, there's a certain amount of inevitability there. Combine the height of the industrial age and the hell that was most of the first half of the 20th c. and it's no wonder that, finally having the means, parents would want to spoil their children.

      The preternatural need to be cool -- that's a very American invention.

      No kidding.

      ...can't it also be said that it was their parents' generation and before, who were doing the targetting?

      It's unfair to dismiss Boomers outright but I do think they need to be given special recognition for really running with the culture of vapid consumerism. Take what hucksters did in the '50s and '60s to rope people into fads and it looks almost childish. Call it proto-vapid consumerism.

      It isn't until the '70s that the marketing juggernaut really gains steam. I recall something about how until Frampton Comes Alive!, the music industry was more-or-less just doing okay. Despite the popularity of acts like Elvis and the Beatles, the music industry wasn't organized and ginormous. But after the spasms of the late-'60s/early-'70s, the hucksters figured out how to make really big money--thus the invention of arena rock. You could have a Woodstock-like experience in a smaller venue with less mud and really charge people for it this time.

      Anyway, you can apply that across the board for pop culture and see similar trends.

      I dunno, the nostalgia Boomers show for their youth is so in-our-faces (all of the way from pop culture to academics) that I have to wonder if Gen-Xers, Gen-Yers, Gen-Whatevers can ever match it.

      [BTW, despite their hero worship of it, most Boomer music really sucked.]

      By Blogger Ploorian, at Tue Feb 13, 08:02:00 pm GMT-5  

    • What do you do of me, sporting a vague Harrisonesque look?

      By Blogger Charlie Bravo, at Tue Feb 13, 10:10:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Note to self:

      Do not attempt to listen to an Althouse podcast whilst replying to a commenter on Sundries.

      Dun't work.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Feb 13, 11:49:00 pm GMT-5  

    • One of the reasons Barbie succeeded in the '50's is that the advertising avoided the parents altogether and went right for the little girls directly. They told the parents what to get, not the other way around.

      One of the most important innovations in marketting/retail, since credit cards came into being.

      Unsurprisingly, Ron, they both took off here in the US.

      Bob Gibson, actually bought me hot dogs at that car show, while I grilled him about the NL hitters who I never saw...Mays, McCovey, Clemente, etc...

      Wow! That's awesome. What did he say?

      I pointed the zingermans people towards Sundries, so perhaps you got some hits from them!

      Ohhhhhhh. That's why someone from Zingerman's showed up on the SiteMetre (under "webmail.zingerman"). Thanks Ron! Mwah. :)

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Feb 13, 11:51:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Yeah, there's a certain amount of inevitability there. Combine the height of the industrial age and the hell that was most of the first half of the 20th c. and it's no wonder that, finally having the means, parents would want to spoil their children.

      That was also the case with the (UK) mid-Victorians, of course, for precisely the same reasons.

      A long period of peace which had preceeded very tumultuous times, followed by industrial prosperity, stability and a newly-given importance to the "child".

      The 1950s differed in that it was more about the importance given to the "teenager".

      Both social constructs didn't exist in quite the same form, as they then did.

      It's unfair to dismiss Boomers outright but I do think they need to be given special recognition for really running with the culture of vapid consumerism. Take what hucksters did in the '50s and '60s to rope people into fads and it looks almost childish. Call it proto-vapid consumerism.

      Sooner you than me, though. ;)

      It isn't until the '70s that the marketing juggernaut really gains steam. I recall something about how until Frampton Comes Alive!, the music industry was more-or-less just doing okay.

      You're absolutely right, I think.

      It's with glam rock that the music industry really became cutthroat.

      Despite the popularity of acts like Elvis and the Beatles, the music industry wasn't organized and ginormous. But after the spasms of the late-'60s/early-'70s, the hucksters figured out how to make really big money--thus the invention of arena rock. You could have a Woodstock-like experience in a smaller venue with less mud and really charge people for it this time.

      How ironic...

      Anyway, you can apply that across the board for pop culture and see similar trends.

      Save for the whole Starbucks phenomenon, I think.

      That was an attitude that wouldn't have been possible with the consumerism of the Boomers and young GenX'ers seeking better quality, than the Maxwell House diner coffee they had slurped for years.

      That goes for olive oil, the wine industry (which Robert Parker changed, almost single-handedly), fashion in the guise of super-models, etc.

      All of these trends became fixed cultural points around the world, in the 1980s-90s.

      I dunno, the nostalgia Boomers show for their youth is so in-our-faces (all of the way from pop culture to academics) that I have to wonder if Gen-Xers, Gen-Yers, Gen-Whatevers can ever match it.

      We seem to be doing a very good job of it, IMHO.

      As a very small example, check out VH-1: How many "I Love the 80s" series are there? I think last I counted there 4 of 10 years each!

      The 1970s and the 1990s, just merit one series each, so far.

      And we won't even talk of all the subsidiary 80s nostalgia programmes they have, ranging from Top 100 Toys, to Top 100 Child Stars, etc.

      Gen-X-driven talking points, all.

      [BTW, despite their hero worship of it, most Boomer music really sucked.]

      Are you serious??

      Now, I'm not a musical person in the least, and I hesitate therefore to say anything definitive, posing as some kind of expert.

      But even I know the 60s-70s music was better than our 80s bubblegum standards.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 14, 12:02:00 am GMT-5  

    • What do you do of me, sporting a vague Harrisonesque look?

      Harrison Ford-esque? As in Raiders of the Lost Ark? RRRRRRR!

      (BTW, yay, that the new Raiders movie is coming out soon. That's more important to me than Star Wars)

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 14, 12:03:00 am GMT-5  

    • Psst!

      Rethink Barbie Contest:

      My So-Called Barbie : She faces the same troubling issues as teens who don't have huge wardrobes, perfect “bods”, pools, ponies and boyfriends.

      Cook's Arms Barbie : Hide Barbie's droopy triceps with these new, roomier-sleeved gowns. Good news on the tummy front, too: muu-muus are back! Cellulite cream and loofah sponge optional.

      Soccer Mom Barbie : All that experience as a cheerleader is really paying off as Barbie dusts off her old high school megaphone to root for Babs and Ken Jr. With minivan in robin's egg blue or white, and cooler filled with doughnut holes and fruit punch.

      Single Mother Barbie : There's not much time for primping anymore! Ken's shacked up with the Swedish au pair in the Dream House and Barbie's across town with Babs and Ken Jr. in a fourth-floor walk-up. Barbie's selling off her old gowns and accessories to raise rent money. Complete garage sale kit included.

      top of page

      home

      Admin Barbie : Works twenty hour days for little pay (80% of Admin Ken's salary), and is the lowest on the totem pole despite being the one that actually runs the group. Comes with mini laptop. Pull the string on her back and she'll schedule a meeting with your other dolls, replace the toner cartridge in the laser printer, co-ordinate a re-org and a move and order airline tickets for Admin Ken.

      Birkenstock Barbie : Finally, a Barbie doll with horizontal feet and comfortable, if ugly, sandals. Made from recycled materials.

      Transgender Barbie : Formerly known as G.I. Joe.

      Dinner Roll Barbie: A Barbie with multiple love handles, double chin, a real curvy belly, and voluminous thighs to show girls that voluptuousness is also beautiful. Comes with a miniature basket of dinner rolls, bucket o' fried chicken, tiny Entenmann's walnut ring, a brick of Dreyer's ice cream, three bags of potato chips, a T-shirt reading "Only the Weak Don't Eat" and, of course, an appetite.

      top of page

      home

      Bunion Barbie : Years of disco dancing in stiletto heels have definitely taken their toll on Barbie's dainty arched feet. Soothe her sores with this pumice stone and plasters, then slip on soft terry mules. Colors: pink, rose, blush.

      Hot Flash Barbie : Press Barbie's bellybutton and watch her face turn beet red while tiny drops of perspiration appear on her forehead! With hand-held fan and tiny tissues.

      America's Most Wanted Barbie : She's on the run after 30 years of crimes against feminism!

      Bisexual Barbie : Comes in a package with Skipper and Ken.

      Punk Barbie : Has rings in all sorts of strange places.

      [I think I like Bisexual Barbie best, but I'm not sure why having two hot guys would make her bisexual. Unless she were Trannie Barbie by then]

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 14, 01:07:00 am GMT-5  

    • I think the Althouse has flipped her noodle on the podcast tonight! I'll bet Twinkies and DingDongs were consumed in mass quantities after that one! Whew!

      By Blogger Ron, at Wed Feb 14, 01:47:00 am GMT-5  

    • Here are a couple more:

      Homeless Barbie: Wearing mismatched clothes taken from the shelter and walking barefoot, this Barbie has unkempt hair, and her dumpster diving has left patches of various kinds of garbage on her outfit. She has only a single crooked tooth in front and will eat anything. [BONUS: (Los Angeles area only) Comes with a hospital van that will pull up, two goons will shove her out the door onto the street and the van will then peel away.]

      Substance abuse Barbie: For this Barbie, her tiny waist and unrealistically thin build are actually about right for once. Only you get to see bony ribs, yellow skin and hollowed out cheeks. Her arms are full of tiny needle marks and her face looks like death warmed over, at least twenty years older than any of her contemporaries. Doll comes with a strong and unremovable odor of cigarettes and alcohol.

      By Blogger Eli Blake, at Wed Feb 14, 02:41:00 am GMT-5  

    • Or Divorce Barbie: Has all of Ken's Stuff, His car, the House...

      By Anonymous BrotherDarryl, at Wed Feb 14, 05:46:00 am GMT-5  

    • No Vics, not that Harrison. The other one....
      I mean, George in mature days!
      Great piece, by the way, and great piece on the ten top sluts!

      By Blogger Charlie Bravo, at Wed Feb 14, 06:26:00 am GMT-5  

    • You're absolutely right, I think.

      It's with glam rock that the music industry really became cutthroat.


      There's this persistent misperception that ever since Elvis, the music industry has been raking in wads and wads of cash like they do now. It wasn't until the '70s that that started happening, though.

      How ironic...

      Indeed. I always think of Ben & Jerry Ice Cream when I think of Boomers who really commodified their so-called purist ideology. That phenonmenon really hit the music industry, though. Everybody was over with their huge public adolescent temper tantrum and it was time for them to start to impose some order (the orderliness taught them by their parents) and cash in.

      That was an attitude that wouldn't have been possible with the consumerism of the Boomers and young GenX'ers seeking better quality, than the Maxwell House diner coffee they had slurped for years.

      That goes for olive oil, the wine industry (which Robert Parker changed, almost single-handedly), fashion in the guise of super-models, etc.

      All of these trends became fixed cultural points around the world, in the 1980s-90s.


      Not sure if I totally agree with you on this. Those sorts of "high-end" products aren't necessarily that high-end. More often than not they're merely perceived as high end. And even if the quality is slightly higher, they're still sold as a mass-market commodity.

      We seem to be doing a very good job of it, IMHO.

      As a very small example, check out VH-1: How many "I Love the 80s" series are there? I think last I counted there 4 of 10 years each!

      The 1970s and the 1990s, just merit one series each, so far.

      And we won't even talk of all the subsidiary 80s nostalgia programmes they have, ranging from Top 100 Toys, to Top 100 Child Stars, etc.

      Gen-X-driven talking points, all.


      True. Then again, that nostalgia is more mocking than Boomer nostalgia where there's always a sense of moral superiority attached.

      Are you serious??

      Quite.

      Now, I'm not a musical person in the least, and I hesitate therefore to say anything definitive, posing as some kind of expert.

      But even I know the 60s-70s music was better than our 80s bubblegum standards.


      Misperception nicely dovetailed with moral superiority. Boomers, whenever cornered on the awesomeness of their youth, always fall back on how much better their music was. Their music was played by real musicians who had something important to say. But if you go outside the finite circle of truly great musicians from the mid-50s to the mid-70s, you start to realize that a lot of what was produced really wasn't that great.

      80's music gets a bad rap as being too technology heavy allowing musicians to be less-skilled, but if you look at the progress of music over the decades, you see that musicians become more skilled as they build off of the work of people before them and as instruments become better. I guess along this argument, I'd challenge those who say the 80s produced no good music to listen to the Talking Heads and tell me that they lack musicianship, originality, or innovation. I'd even go so far as to say that Remain in Light blows Sargeant Pepper out of the water.

      Boomers have built up such a myth around their music that all anyone ever hears about is the greats, they never hear about all of the crap that was also produced.

      By Blogger Ploorian, at Wed Feb 14, 03:48:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I'd challenge those who say the 80s produced no good music to listen to the Talking Heads and tell me that they lack musicianship, originality, or innovation. I'd even go so far as to say that Remain in Light blows Sargeant Pepper out of the water.

      Who's saying the 80's produced no original music? But no one thinks Big Band played in the '60's is as good as Big Band in its heyday of the 30's and '40's. Even Jazz is not in it's peak era now, vs. Ellington, Coltrane, Miles, etc. So I think it is with rock, which doesn't really slight 80's music at at all. The '60's and '70's defined it and perhaps brought it to it's peak.

      I saw Talking Heads at CBGB's when they first started, along with Blondie, the Ramones, etc, and loved them all a lot, but Remain in Light can't even hang with the parodies of Pepper, in terms of influence, sorry.

      Boomers have built up such a myth around their music that all anyone ever hears about is the greats, they never hear about all of the crap that was also produced.

      That's true for every era, about everything! How many bands from the '20's or '30's do we listen to now? Certainly not the 3rd, 4th, or 5th best! Every thing fades; without a living memory to hang onto, every act fades away. This is not related to the Boomers, but to the whole process.

      By Blogger Ron, at Thu Feb 15, 01:08:00 am GMT-5  

    • Who's saying the 80's produced no original music?

      I didn't say that anyone was saying that specifically, though I've heard plenty of people make the "bubblegum" charge as a way of dismissing '80s music as unskillful and self-indulgent--i.e.: not as good as what came before.

      Even Jazz is not in it's peak era now, vs. Ellington, Coltrane, Miles, etc.

      I dunno, there are some pretty damn good jazz players out there. Just because jazz isn't as widely popular as it used to be doesn't comment on the quality.

      So I think it is with rock, which doesn't really slight 80's music at at all.

      Maybe not but I'm talking about general perception.

      I saw Talking Heads at CBGB's when they first started, along with Blondie, the Ramones, etc, and loved them all a lot, but Remain in Light can't even hang with the parodies of Pepper, in terms of influence, sorry.

      You think not? Eno's production value? Byrne's meaningful, eclectic, yet eminently musical lyrics? The incredibly tight and complex rhythm section led by Weymouth and Franz? The awesome burning solos of Belew? (I'd even go so far as to be heretical and say that Belew took what Hendrix--his idol--did and made it infinitely better.)

      I hear plenty of snippets out there that make me say, "Okay, that was a bit of Eno, that riff is definitely Belew, there's a poor imitation of Frippertronics/Soundscapes..."

      Current rock musicians may not be jumping up and down in the popular press over those people, but the depth of their influence can be heard everwhere. Particularly Eno.

      Pepper's influence was seminal and important, but it was just the beginning.

      That's true for every era, about everything! How many bands from the '20's or '30's do we listen to now? Certainly not the 3rd, 4th, or 5th best! Every thing fades; without a living memory to hang onto, every act fades away. This is not related to the Boomers, but to the whole process.

      I agree. But we're living now and Boomers have been running a very loud campaign of agitprop for the superiority of "their" music ever since I can remember. A campaign which I don't think Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers aren't, and probably won't, engage in.

      By Blogger Ploorian, at Thu Feb 15, 03:12:00 pm GMT-5  


    • I dunno, there are some pretty damn good jazz players out there. Just because jazz isn't as widely popular as it used to be doesn't comment on the quality.


      I think it emphatically does; maybe you have quality players, but without a popular base, you will fade away, no questions about it. This is not music, but around 1950 the three most popular sports were baseball, boxing and horse racing. One out of three is strong, but the other two? Yeah, they're not gone, but a fraction of the audience they once had. There is nothing stopping this from happening to any musical form whatsoever.

      You don't have to praise Eno to me! Good grief, I have over 50 Eno boots, videos, (like "Memories of Mideval Manhattan", where he wants you to stand your TV on its side!) vastly overpaid for the lithos from Before and After Science, and used a sample of Brian as my answering machine into (from a radio demo of Wrong Way Up) for years! And because it went through the door first, Pepper still takes the title as far as I'm concerned. Tougher for the Fabs to use oddball tape loops, etc, etc, in '67 than Fripp to noodle away just less than 10 years later.

      You're complaining that the Boomers have better agitprop than later generations? Tsk Tsk, don't be a sore loser, just either fight better or don't fight at all! After all, we've had more of that from "The Greatest Generation" than even the Boomers! I love The Talking Heads a lot; but will they be remembered in 50 years? Doubtful. Perhaps the Beatles or the Stones won't be either, for weirdo factors in the future, but if I gotta get a bet down, Keith Richards or dorky ol' Ringo will trump Eno, Fripp, Byrne et al. Didn't say it was right or fair, just likely.

      By Blogger Ron, at Thu Feb 15, 08:06:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I think it emphatically does; maybe you have quality players, but without a popular base, you will fade away, no questions about it.

      I really disagree. Take what Bruford is doing with jazz. It's just as good, if not better, than anything that's come before it and he's doing it not with old cronies, but with young up-and-coming musicians. Jazz has lost ground to it's children, but I don't see it fading away, possibly ever.

      years! And because it went through the door first, Pepper still takes the title as far as I'm concerned.

      And this is my point. As we get farther and farther away, the Beatles only tend to retain godlike status because of being first through the door, not because of any inherent superiority over what has followed.

      You're complaining that the Boomers have better agitprop than later generations? Tsk Tsk, don't be a sore loser, just either fight better or don't fight at all!

      I didn't say better agitprop, just louder. And I'm not looking for a fight, I'm looking for them to shut the Hell up once in a while.


      After all, we've had more of that from "The Greatest Generation" than even the Boomers!

      I don't think the Greatest Generation has been nearly as loud and in-your-face as Boomers. For example, olde tyme nostalgia radio is certainly out there, but compared to all of the "Greatest Hits from the 60s and 70s" radio? Not even close.

      I love The Talking Heads a lot; but will they be remembered in 50 years? Doubtful. Perhaps the Beatles or the Stones won't be either, for weirdo factors in the future, but if I gotta get a bet down, Keith Richards or dorky ol' Ringo will trump Eno, Fripp, Byrne et al. Didn't say it was right or fair, just likely.

      We'll have to see. For me, I would put the likes of Fripp and Belew up against Hendrix and Jimmy Page and say that the while the latter are great, the ways in which the former have expanded musical vocabulary is just as, if not more, influential.

      By Blogger Ploorian, at Thu Feb 15, 09:35:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I really disagree. Take what Bruford is doing with jazz. It's just as good, if not better, than anything that's come before it and he's doing it not with old cronies, but with young up-and-coming musicians. Jazz has lost ground to it's children, but I don't see it fading away, possibly ever.

      You know that it will say 'Bill Bruford, Yes drummer' on his tombstone! Again, the quality of his playing totally beside the point. Jazz today is a tiny fraction of its former popularity, according to a person I know who sells cds (which, themselves, are fading away!) less popular than bluegrass or Celtic music. Again, it may never fade away, (...possibly) but the popular base is gone.


      the Beatles only tend to retain godlike status because of being first through the door, not because of any inherent superiority
      Being first through the door is part of the inherent superiority, not incidental to it! That's certainly true in more fields than music.

      The Boomers have won the culture war, so, guess what,they ain't gonna shut up, regards if we think they should! Thomas Kuhn is right; you just have to wait for them to die off...

      My Greatest Generation reference was not about their music per se, but about a cultural influence over all.

      We'll have to see. For me, I would put the likes of Fripp and Belew up against Hendrix and Jimmy Page and say that the while the latter are great, the ways in which the former have expanded musical vocabulary is just as, if not more, influential.

      That may be true for musicians, but expanders will always be secondary to creators, even if the creators actually are inferior, which I'm not conceding, and a general audience will regard them as such. The expanders have to do considerable more than just alter a vocabulary! I would never say Buddy Holly or Chuck Berry are as sophisticated as later singer/songwriters, but coming as early as they do, gives them more cred.

      By Blogger Ron, at Fri Feb 16, 01:51:00 am GMT-5  

    • Again, it may never fade away, (...possibly) but the popular base is gone.

      Right, but that's the natural time-and-tide of popularity.

      Being first through the door is part of the inherent superiority, not incidental to it! That's certainly true in more fields than music.

      I really disagree.

      The Boomers have won the culture war, so, guess what,they ain't gonna shut up, regards if we think they should! Thomas Kuhn is right; you just have to wait for them to die off...

      I realize that.

      My Greatest Generation reference was not about their music per se, but about a cultural influence over all.

      I see that and I can sympathize. There was nothing more cloying and pathetic than watching Tom Brokaw drooling over them. OTOH, they did drag the world out of a depression and win a massive world war. Even begrudgingly, they need to be given some latitude for crowing.

      That may be true for musicians, but expanders will always be secondary to creators, even if the creators actually are inferior, which I'm not conceding, and a general audience will regard them as such. The expanders have to do considerable more than just alter a vocabulary! I would never say Buddy Holly or Chuck Berry are as sophisticated as later singer/songwriters, but coming as early as they do, gives them more cred.

      By that logic, then all must bow down to Les Paul's superiority.

      But, I really didn't want to turn this into a pissing match over music--that sort of thing is always pointless. In response to Victoria's "bubblegum" charge, I wanted to point out that what's been forgotten in all of the "me too-ism" over Boomer music is that a lot of crap was produced along with the good stuff. No less crap than was produced in the '80s. That gushing, unquestioning fawning over albums like Sargeant Pepper has a lot more to do with hearsay than with an honest assessment of rock and roll. "Well everybody knows Sargeant Pepper is the greatest album of all time! No other opinions are allowed!" The accepted wisdom seems to be that time stopped for music and all we've been hearing since have been poor imitations.

      You see, Boomers will accept criticisms of the politics of their youth, the whole "free love" concept, drug experimentation. The one thing they absolutely will not give ground on is music. No way, no how. That's their cultural Alamo.

      By Blogger Ploorian, at Fri Feb 16, 02:49:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I see that and I can sympathize. There was nothing more cloying and pathetic than watching Tom Brokaw drooling over them. OTOH, they did drag the world out of a depression and win a massive world war. Even begrudgingly, they need to be given some latitude for crowing.

      I have a pet theory which is part of the reason the Boomers rebelled (outside of the statistical population bubble) is the Greatest Generation spent waaaay too much time in the period 1945-1960 (roughly) telling everyone how wonderful they were for winning the war! I believe it's all over the pop culture of the time, and the Boomer reaction is not unlike yours to the Boomers themselves!

      I believe rock and roll took off because of the sexual frustrations of young women, which were radically underaddressed for a long time. Sinatra taps into that, and Elvis exploits it based on racial tensions, and The Beatles really blew it up, simply by not being Americans!

      By that logic, then all must bow down to Les Paul's superiority. But by the logic you espouse, isn't any high school guitarist today better than Les Paul, just based on the gear alone? How could anyone who's playing something better than Les Paul's old railroad tie not be better? Is that really where you want to go? I must try and see Les Paul in the Iridiam in NYC on a Monday night before he kicks the bucket!

      It facinates me that the aging of things changes because things are recorded now and have been for 100+ years. In past times, this very discussion would not have been possible.

      By Blogger Ron, at Sat Feb 17, 02:10:00 am GMT-5  

    • I have a pet theory which is part of the reason the Boomers rebelled (outside of the statistical population bubble) is the Greatest Generation spent waaaay too much time in the period 1945-1960 (roughly) telling everyone how wonderful they were for winning the war! I believe it's all over the pop culture of the time, and the Boomer reaction is not unlike yours to the Boomers themselves!

      There's some truth to that. I have to wonder if the Boomer rebellion also had to do with their parents attempting to impose the Depression-era restraints and frugality of their youth on a generation which was enjoying the fruits of a reinvigorated economy.

      Sh*t always runs downhill and generational conflict is inevitable.

      I believe rock and roll took off because of the sexual frustrations of young women, which were radically underaddressed for a long time. Sinatra taps into that, and Elvis exploits it based on racial tensions, and The Beatles really blew it up, simply by not being Americans!

      Oh, sure. Not to mention that their mothers remembered a freedom they had during the war and lost when the men came back.

      But by the logic you espouse, isn't any high school guitarist today better than Les Paul, just based on the gear alone?

      In a simplified version, yes. But I'm talking about a generalized trend. Any high school guitarist today may not be better than Les Paul, but I'm sure there are many who are, partly based on the rig, wider availability of competent instruction, and the accumulated knowledge of guitarists who have come before.

      The rap that '80s music always gets is that improvements in technology made music too easy to create which, in turn, made musicians less interested in being competent as musicians, therefore '80s music couldn't possibly be as good as what came before.

      How could anyone who's playing something better than Les Paul's old railroad tie not be better? Is that really where you want to go?

      I'm not going there at all. I'm shooting at the sacred cow presumption that musical quality is inversely proportional to it's distance from the starting point and going one step farther and saying that music has, quite to the contrary, generally improved.

      OTOH, I'm of the opinion that music being produced now is crap. But I also know that this opinion is based primarily on my own prejudice.

      I must try and see Les Paul in the Iridiam in NYC on a Monday night before he kicks the bucket!

      Wow. I didn't realize he was still performing publicly. has he still got his chops or have his muscles started to betray him?

      It facinates me that the aging of things changes because things are recorded now and have been for 100+ years. In past times, this very discussion would not have been possible.

      Oh, yeah, imagine what the discussion would be like if we had recordings of original Mozart performances?

      By Blogger Ploorian, at Sat Feb 17, 05:01:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I must try and see Les Paul in the Iridiam in NYC on a Monday night before he kicks the bucket!

      Wow. I didn't realize he was still performing publicly. has he still got his chops or have his muscles started to betray him?


      Paul really only has two fingers that aren't crippled by arthritis on his left hand. He's 91! His original guitar, "The Log", was a railroad tie with "powered" strings, and the body of a cello sawn in half, and tacked on to both sides of the tie. Oh, and I forgot, he was one of the first people to try multitracking, and was backed, by all people, Bing Crosby(!) when he was trying to do his weirdo stuff. Crosby gave him the first commercial reel-to-reel tape deck, the Ampex 200, I think. Look what Wikipedia says about the "Les Paulverizer":

      During his radio shows, Paul introduced the legendary "Les Paulverizer" device, which multiplies anything fed into it, like a guitar sound or a voice. This even became the subject of comedy, with Ford multiplying herself and her vacuum cleaner with it so she could finish the housework faster. Later Paul made the myth real for his stage show, using hidden equipment which over the years has become smaller and more visible. Currently he uses a small box attached to his guitar - it is not known how much of the device remains off-stage. He typically lays down one track after another on stage, in-sync, and then plays over the repeating forms he has recorded. With newer digital sound technology, such an effect is available commercially. To this day no one knows exactly how the Les Paulverizer works, although from demonstrations he's given it's clear that some of the things it does still cannot be exactly duplicated with current technology.

      Hilarious!

      My God, the man won two Grammys last year!

      My God, again, the Klingon word for "guitar" is "leSpol", pronounced "Les Paul!" The ultimate nerd tribute!

      There is a video about the early recording engineer Tom Dowd, that's extremely interesting, and some great stuff about Les Paul.

      And every week he still does his show...gotta admire that.

      By Blogger Ron, at Sun Feb 18, 12:01:00 am GMT-5  

    • Speaking of Mozart, we know for example, that originally Mozart hated the flute and refused to use it. This was somewhat of a mystery for a long time, until through musical historical research,we found that early flutes of the type that Mozart had heard sounded more like a modern pennywhistle, than the richer sound of the flute. Once Mozart heard that flute, he used it frequently...

      Which we would have known immediately if we had had recordings!

      By Blogger Ron, at Sun Feb 18, 12:07:00 am GMT-5  

    • Paul really only has two fingers that aren't crippled by arthritis on his left hand. He's 91!

      That's pretty amazing.

      For the last major comet encounter mission, NASA wheeled the original Comets out for a performance. It was amazing and sad at the same time. Amazing that these 80-year-old guys could still play coherently, sad because the singer's voice was shot, the instruments weren't quite in tune, and the musicians' chops were degraded. I imagine that after the performance they all went straight for oxygen bottles.

      His original guitar, "The Log", was a railroad tie with "powered" strings, and the body of a cello sawn in half, and tacked on to both sides of the tie.

      According to the Wikipedia entry The Log was a 4x4 fence post with an Epiphone sawn in half attached to it for looks. Then again, it's Wikipedia so who knows how accurate it is.

      Oh, and I forgot, he was one of the first people to try multitracking, and was backed, by all people, Bing Crosby(!) when he was trying to do his weirdo stuff. Crosby gave him the first commercial reel-to-reel tape deck, the Ampex 200, I think.

      I saw a television demo that he and Mary Ford did of multi-tracking. It was pretty incredible.

      And every week he still does his show...gotta admire that.

      Oh, yeah. I'm sure they'll have to pry his guitar from his cold, dead hands.

      By Blogger Ploorian, at Sun Feb 18, 01:37:00 am GMT-5  

    • According to the Wikipedia entry The Log was a 4x4 fence post with an Epiphone sawn in half attached to it for looks. Then again, it's Wikipedia so who knows how accurate it is.

      I saw that, but I think that Tom Dowd film told it differently...

      Thanks for letting us abscond with your comment thread, Vic! Much appreciated!

      By Blogger Ron, at Sun Feb 18, 02:30:00 am GMT-5  

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