Oi ... wha'appen?
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
  How cool is "cool"?

I just wanted to stop by and say a quick “thanks” to the American generation shaping my country’s culture before I was born in 1966. Again, I say, “thank you” because you’ve done something, when all is reduced to the lowest common denominator, that no other generation before you has done--- or now, will do again.

The television newscaster and best-selling author Tom Brokaw referred to the baby boomers as “The Greatest Generation” and many of the multinational corporations couldn’t agree more. I look at you and realize, you just might be the only generation who made all of their cultural decisions based on who was cool or what they were doing … which of course eventually became “cool”.

In the 1950s hundreds of thousands of kids wore jeans, white t-shirts and because James Dean did so, and James Dean was cool. Add the leather motorcycle jacket that Marlon Brando wore in the movies and you couldn’t be cooler. In the 1960s, Rock and Roll was the definition of cool and people who wrote lyrics to rock and folk songs told us not to support the Vietnam military action in Southeast Asia. These musical poets were cool and you were also cool, not only to protest the Vietnam War, but you were on television being cool for saying how “uncool” the whole war scene really was, man.

Along rolled the 1970s, and fashion designers who dressed movie stars and rock stars were cool. They dressed all of the beautiful people in polyester and they hung out with their beautiful international fashion models. They were cool and had a lifestyle with a lot of pressure so they openly used cocaine, heroin and went to disco clubs to enjoy the good life. Talk about cool….. these people were ‘cool wrapped in a Halston label’ and people stood in line to wear clothes with someone else’s name on the outside of the garment, rather than writing your own name on the inside of your underwear, like when you were a kid at summer camp. Everyone got to wear cool clothes, be hip and happening, listen to awesome music in clubs and get high and have sex in public places. How cool could you get?

Thank the gods the eighties came along and with this beautiful decade we had the ultra-cool athlete. The athlete was cool because he (generally male, sorry gals) was able to do things we physically couldn’t do. Michael Jordan was everywhere and Nike was on Mr. Jordan like cool flies on cool shit. Why purchase a pair of $30 canvas gym shoes when you could spend $120 or more on leather high-tops with a fat checkmark sewn onto the sides. Hey, now people KNOW you’re cool, just look at the shoes dude. Spending $160 on a pair of tickets for 5th row seats at the stadium made you cool because you could tell everyone where you sat and how awesome Bo Jackson was as Bo ran down the sidelines. Besides, you had his Los Angeles Raiders jersey and wore it out to the bars at night so the chicks would think you were cool. You paid $175 for the jersey, but you know what – overspending was cool, too.

The final 10-year stretch of our century was cool-on-wheels. Arnold Schwarzenegger bought a Hummer-Humvee and he was the Terminator. The Terminator would “be back” and hell THAT was cool. Now buying oversized cars was cool, especially if you could afford Arnold’s $70,000 military vehicle, oh you were SO cool! Otherwise you could get a luxury Jeep or a tricked-out Suburban or a stylin’ Ford Bronco. You’d have to wait until your lease expired to get the newly minted models such as Tahoe, Excursion, Land Cruiser or Navigator. Then you could be cool, especially if you were talking to someone cool on your cell phone while you were driving to somewhere that was really cool.

Yep, the baby boomers had “cool” down to a science and practiced it hourly. Their lives were filled with cool plastic stuff and sped up by technology which kept them so busy they almost skipped their cool vacations with people whom they hardly saw, such as their kids. Awesome! You lived a life -- those of you born between 1946 and 1964 -- emulating people who you were convinced had it all figured out; people who were cool. You lead our culture down a path where, in the year 2005, someone who plays a kid’s playground game for a living is referred to as a professional baseball player. On average, a professional athlete makes about $5 million annually but an Emergency Medical Technician (note the “technician” part) will pull down…… ooohhhh…..erm…. around $32,000 each year. One of these people saves your child’s life in case of a house fire or an accidental drowning, the other one hits a ball with a wooden stick. But, hey … that’s cool…..

But I digress; I wish again to say a heartfelt “thanks” to you American Baby Boomers for showing me cool, being cool, and what it takes to stay cool. I’ve learned alot and can promise from what I’ve seen of your lives, this country, our economy and our national sense of pride, I’m going to avoid cool for awhile. Maybe it is not cool to emulate or support someone who is not on television but who follows their sense of integrity to begin a noble cause, but I think that’s what I am gonna do for the next several decades. Maybe it will become cool to spend your life’s energy trying to get rid of suffering and allow dignity for those of us who are starving (not cool), who are homeless (not cool), those people who have no clean drinking water (not cool), or those people recovering from a natural disaster (not cool).

I’m gonna be very ‘not cool’ for as long as I can stand it and hopefully no cool people will bother telling me to ‘get a life’.

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