Tag Archives: Generation X

(50 million to) 80 million Americans vanish without a trace!

Generational Leapfrog

An August 2000 editorial cartoon by progressive Gen Xer Ted Rall. (Another, even earlier toon by Rall on this topic is here.)

When I saw a little while ago that the new book The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown, which I (probably stupidly) since bought via amazon.com (I just opened the package today), very apparently pretends that those of us of Generation X don’t even fucking exist, I thought of my fellow progressive Gen Xer Ted Rall and his quite correct labeling of us Xers as victims of “generational leapfrog.”

Prompted by what I had read of The Next America on amazon.com, I was going to blog on my thoughts on my generation’s exclusion from the national discussion as though Winston Smith, working at the Ministry of Truth, had simply erased all mention of us, but now, I see, Rall (thankfully) has written a column on the topic, so, at the risk of violating copyright law, I am posting Rall’s column in full at the end of this post (I don’t think that he would mind), because he echoes my thoughts and feelings.

Not only does the title of this latest book about generations of Americans, which sits at No. 239 on amazon.com as I compose this sentence, exclude my generation entirely, but in the preface of the book — in which the author (shockingly!) identifies himself as a baby boomer — my generation is ignored. In the preface, the baby-boomer author, one Paul Taylor, proclaims:

… This book … pays particular attention to our two outsize generations — the Baby Boomers, fifty- and sixty-somethings having trouble coming to terms with getting old, and the Millennials, twenty-somethings having trouble finding the road map to adulthood. It looks at their competing interests in the big showdown over entitlement reform that our politicians, much as they might try, won’t be able to put off for much longer. …

So why has baby boomer (yeah, I don’t capitalize the term, since that might imply respect, which in this case is undeserved) Taylor disappeared (as Ted Rall accurately put it in his latest column) my entire generation?

And let me first interrupt myself to tell you that my generation actually isn’t all that tiny, with an estimated more than 80 million Americans being Xers, for fuck’s sake, while the figure for the number of baby boomers who were born apparently is around 76 million, and it is estimated that about 80 million Americans are members of Generation Y (a.k.a. Millennials).

Yes, there was a baby boom when the boomers were belched from the bowels of hell and into the world from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s (yes, Barack Obama is a [late] baby boomer; we’ve yet to have a Gen-X president [and we very well might not ever have one]), but American population (despite advances in birth control) has climbed steadily since the boomers made their unfortunate entrance, which, I surmise, would explain why all three generations actually have been roughly the same in size, despite Taylor’s assertion that only his generation and the Millennials are worth discussing because they are “outsize.”

(The cover of the book says that it is authored by “Paul Taylor and the Pew Research Center.” Wow. You’d think the folks at the Pew Research Center would have caught the mistake or even the lie that we Gen Xers are so tiny a cohort that we’re not worth discussing. Seriously — this “oversight” has harmed Pew Research Center’s reputation, in my mind.)

Back to what I was saying: So why would baby boomer Paul Taylor exclude my generation almost entirely from his book that is supposed to be a part of the national discussion?

Well, of course it’s easier to discuss only two generations instead of three. So yes, some laziness definitely might have been involved.

But the larger part of it, I believe, is that the baby boomers in general — and we very apparently cannot exclude Taylor from that cohort, based not only upon his age but also based upon his brand of inter-generational politics — long have treated us Xers as though we didn’t exist.

Indeed, one of Ted Rall’s most successful books is his 1998 Revenge of the Latchkey Kids, one of the first, if not the first, Gen-X manifesto.

I was born to boomers and I certainly was a latchkey kid. I won’t go into detail that only will make others (especially boomers) accuse me of being a whiner who blames everything on his parents (for the record, I blame much on them, but not everything on them), but yeah, while the boomers were the cherished children of the American men who had survived World War II and come home to inseminate their wives and while the Millennials were the cherished children (largely if not mostly of boomers) replete with “Baby on Board” signs, we X’ers were, to put it mildly, not cherished. There were no “Baby on Board” signs, no car seats for us. Our parents were not, for the very most part, “helicopter parents.” No, they were more like invisible parents. As Rall stated correctly many years ago, we Xers, overall, were latchkey kids. We were largely left to raise ourselves.

I suspect that this is why we are ignored by the dominant generation, the boomers (almost all seats of power in the U.S. still are filled by boomers, who hold on to their seats of power with death grips, like U.S. Supreme Court justices): they always have ignored us, so why begin to acknowledge our inconvenient existence now?

Also, if any of the boomers are actually even capable of feeling anything remotely like guilt, maybe they have at least a dim awareness that they failed us Xers, their children, miserably, that they are the first generation in the history of the United States to have had it better themselves than their children have had it, and therefore, in order to avoid feeling guilty — because boomers were raised by the so-called “greatest generation” to believe that they are entitled to feel only great about themselves all of the fucking time (a “value” that the boomers seemed to have imparted to many if not most of the Millennials) — they do their best not to think about us Xers at all.

All of my legitimate generational grievances aside, there is no way that you can write a responsibly comprehensive book about the problems that loom over the United States of America without discussing an entire generation of Americans. (OK, to be fair, there are some entries for “Generation X” in the index of The Next America, which I have not read because I just opened the package today, but very apparently the book glosses over Gen X for a much more detailed discussion about the boomers and the Millennials.)

We Xers care about, we are affected by and we affect Social Security, Medicare, retirement security, income inequality, climate change, human rights, social justice, politics, overpopulation, etc., etc., and while millions want to simply ignore us (and so do simply ignore us) because to do so fits their own selfish political agendas, we Gen Xers are right fucking here, tens of millions of us — whether the generation that precedes us and the generation that follows us (and, tragically, they have so many characteristics in common) wish to see us or not.

Now: Here is Rall’s column, with my comments inserted in [brackets]:

I’ve been disappeared.

Erased from history.

Dropped down the memory hole.

(bye)

If you were born between 1961 and 1976, you no longer exist. [Exact definitions of Gen X vary. In my book, Gen X begins around 1962 to 1964. 1961 is a bit early, in my book. And I would extend Gen X at least to those born in 1980.]

Generation X has been disappeared.

The Soviets altered photos to excise the images of leaders who had fallen out of favor, but communist censors went after individuals.

America’s corporate media is more ambitious. They’re turning 50 million people into unpersons. [Again, I see figures that put Gen X at least at 80 million, but even only 50 million people, if Rall’s figure indeed is closer to the actual figure, still is a large chunk of the national population of more than 317 million.]

The disappearing of Gen X began about a year ago, when major news outlets began reducing living Americans to two generations: the Baby Boomers (born 1946-1960) and their children, the Millennials (born approximately 1977-2004).

[I would include 1945, and perhaps also 1944, for the boomers, and I probably wouldn’t start the Millennials earlier than 1980. Again, these generational demarcations vary from person to person. To me, personal characteristics and worldview are important, too, not strictly the year in which one was born, perhaps especially in those generationally cuspy situations. (My husband, for instance, born in 1962, while on the cusp of the boomers and the Xers, has more Xer characteristics than boomer characteristics; otherwise, he wouldn’t be my husband…)]

(Generational birth years are controversial. Many classify the Boom years between 1946 and 1964, but I agree with the demographers William Strauss and Neil Howe’s assessment — and the novelist Douglas Coupland, who defined the term “Generation X” — that people like me, born from ’61 to ’64, called “the most dysfunctional cohort of the century,” identify with the culture and economic fortunes of Xers, not the Boom.)

The unpersoning of X takes full bloom in “Wooing a New Generation of Museum Patrons,” a March 19, 2014, piece in The New York Times about how museums like the Guggenheim are soliciting money from “a select group of young donors already contributing at a high level.”

Take your gum/joint/food out of your mouth before reading further, lest you gag: “Several hundred Millennials mingled under the soaring atrium of the Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue one recent frigid February night. Weaving around them were black-clad servers bearing silver trays piled high with doughnuts, while a pixieish D.J. spun Daft Punk remixes.”

According to the Times’ David Gelles (playing the role of Winston Smith): “Across the country, museums large and small are preparing for the eventual passing of the baton from the Baby Boom generation, which for decades has been the lifeblood not only of individual giving but of boardroom leadership. Yet it is far from clear whether the children of Baby Boomers are prepared to replicate the efforts of their parents.”

Gelles’ piece doesn’t contain any reference to Generation X.

Really? Museums don’t give a crap about would-be philanthropists among the millionaires born between 1961 and 1976?

By the way, Xers were into Daft Punk before Millennials were even done being born.

Boomer/Millennial articles that ignore the existence of Xers have become commonplace. Again in The New York TimesEmily Esfahani Smith and Jennifer L. Aaker perform the neat trick of disappearing one-sixth of the country. Their November 30, 2013, op/ed about “Millennial Searchers” for the meaning of life asks about Millennials: “Do we have a lost generation on our hands?”

Substitute “1991” for “2008” and everything Smith and Aaker write could be, and was written about Gen X: “Yet since the Great Recession of 2008, they have been having a hard time. They are facing one of the worst job markets in decades. They are in debt. Many of them are unemployed. The income gap between old and young Americans is widening.”

Even in an essay about humanity’s search for meaning — and about the downward mobility that defines Gen X — there is only room for Boomers and Millennials.

It’s like our crappy economy and low wages and student loan debt never even happened. [Infuckingdeed. As I’ve noted here before, it’s incredibly interesting that our Gen Xers’ crippling student-loan debt and lack of decent jobs never were considered to be newsworthy at all, but that those problems sure the fuck are today, now that they are affecting the precious “Baby-on-Board” crowd.]

“No one’s talkin’ ’bout my generation,” notes columnist M.J. Fine, a Generation Xer. “It’s hard to think of an era in which people ages 34-49 had less social currency.”

Remember the great coming clash over Social Security between Boomers and Xers? We’ve vanished from that narrative too, not just in a thousand words but over the course of a full-length book: The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown.

It’s not just the Times. In Sonya Stinson’s frivolous “What Gen Y Can Teach Boomers About Financial Planning” in Forbes, Gen X neither learns nor teaches. Gen X doesn’t exist.

Poof!

I saved the worst for last. Courtesy of a sharp-eyed reader, check out PBS’ Judy Woodruff, defining the generations for a NewsHour interview with the author of The Next America:

I just want to remind everybody what those age groups are, the Millennials, 18 to 33 years old today, Gen X, 34 to 39 [years old] today, the Boomers, 50 — the big group — 50 to 68 [years old], and the Silent [Generation], 69 to 86 [years old].

In PBS World, Gen X has shrunk. If you’re in your forties, you no longer have a generational home.

Life begins at 40?

[To be fair, I listened to the PBS clip, and in it Woodruff clearly says “Gen X, 34 to 49″ years old. The transcript, however, reads “34 to 39” years old, an apparent typo.]

More like the empty void of generational purgatory, as far as the Boomer-controlled media is concerned.

Indeed, the No. 1 reason that we Gen Xers have been so successfully disappeared is that the boomers have controlled the media, and thus the national discussion, for most of our lives. The powers that be want us to be non-existent, and the powers that be mostly still are boomers and they still mostly control the media, and thus they still mostly monopolize the national discussion.

But actually, as much as I have complained about the unfairness and the insanity of it, I think that I would take my “generational purgatory” (an apt description of Gen X) over the unearned and undeserved attention and rewards that the boomers and the Millennials have received.

Having been left to raise ourselves to such a degree and having been systematically and even institutionally ignored and passed over — and, indeed, having been shit and pissed upon — our entire fucking lives, we Gen Xers have, out of necessity, developed strength, resilience and self-reliance that most members of the pretty fucking awful, overprivileged generations that immediately precede us and immediately follow us never will possess.*

And who wants to be a member of a generation whose collective personality is like that of Nellie Olesen? (OK, the boomers and the Millennials do, but that was a rhetorical question.)

Gen X still rules — not literally, not sociopolitically, but where it really counts — which is why we’re so widely ignored by the two generations that don’t hold a candle to us.

*That said, while the boomers have been a lost fucking cause for a long, long time, and will take their generational assholery with them to their graves and urns, I suppose that the Millennials still have enough time to not become just like their baby-boomer examples.

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Thoughts on the Repugnican Tea Party convention I did not watch

Full disclosure: I haven’t watched even one second of the Repugnican Tea Party National Convention that happened this past week. Not even one second of a video clip. I probably will watch a clip of Clint Eastwood’s infamous, reportedly surreal performance later, but in general, for me, watching any of the quadrennial KKK convention is like how it is for the characters in that scene in “Lord of the Rings” in which Gandalf speaks the dark language of Mordor: unpleasant, perhaps even painful.

I will make some remarks, though.

It’s interesting that one of the biggest news items that came from the convention is that two delegates were tossed out for having thrown nuts at CNN camera woman Patricia Carroll, who is a 34-year-old black woman and a native of Alabama, and for having remarked at the time: “This is how we feed animals.”

(Funny — animals throw shit, yet these animals were referring to an actual human being as an “animal.”)

Carroll said of the incident: “This is Florida, and I’m from the Deep South. You come to places like this [she apparently was referring to Florida and/or to Tampa and/or to the Repugnican Tea Party National Convention in the Tampa Bay Times Forum] [and] you can count the [number of] black people on your hand. They [white people] see us [black people] doing things they don’t think I should do.”

Carroll also said that such an incident “could happen to me at the Democratic convention or standing on the street corner. Racism is a global issue.”

Racism indeed is a global issue, but I’d be shocked if she were treated like that at the Democratic National Convention. Not that the Dems are perfect — far from it; thus, I’m a registered member of the Green Party — but your chances of facing discrimination at a Democratic crowd are much lower than at a KKK convention.

I mean, come on. Does Carroll really feel that way or does she feel pressure to parrot the false equivalency between the Repugnican Tea Party and the Democratic Party (“Both parties are responsible for/guilty of [fill in the blank]!!!”) that the corporately owned and controlled mainstream media, including her employer CNN, love to spout, despite its demonstrable falsity?

Some have claimed that the “feed[ing] animals” crack was a slam at members of the media in general, and that therefore it wasn’t an incident of racism, but would the apparent white supremacist fucktards have thrown food at a white male camera operator? Fuck no. (Similarly, President Barack Obama has been publicly disrespected by wingnuts in ways that a white male president never would be.) 

The other big news item from the KKK convention was that Pretty Boy Paul Ryan told so many lies during his speech that members of the stage crew had to rush out with a fire extinguisher because his pants had begun to smoke.

I won’t delve into Ryan’s lies, because with Ryan it’s like it is with Condoleezza Rice: How can you tell that they’re lying? When you see that their lips are moving.

I will say, however, that I take issue with Ryan’s remark, early in his speech: “I accept the calling of my generation to give our children the America that was given to us, with opportunity for the young and security for the old — and I know that we are ready.”

Um, Paul Ryan is not ready to be even vice president, and certainly is not ready to be president if it came to that, and Ryan wants to destroy Medicare and Social Security as we know it, yet here he is, claiming like George W. Bush used to claim, that it’s vitally important to him to ensure that our young people of today will have what our old people of today have — while at the same time proclaiming that of course today’s young people can’t expect to receive what today’s and yesterday’s old people have received; there will have to be significant cutbacks in Medicare and Social Security. Or hey, better yet, privatize both programs to ensure that the treasonous plutocrats can then loot the Medicare and Social Security funds entirely!

They want it both fucking ways.

They can’t have it both fucking ways.

And it incenses me that Paul Fucking Ryan claims Generation X when Generation X does not claim Paul Ryan.

Generation X is not about aiding and abetting millionaire baby boomers like Mittens Romney in sucking up every last crumb before the greedy fucking baby boomers finally kick off, leaving nothing for those of us who have to follow behind them like circus slaves have to follow elephants with shovels.

Of course, Paul Ryan, like Mittens, is a millionaire. (While Chris Matthews recently quipped that Mittens was born on third base, I’d say that it’s more accurate to say that Paul Ryan was born on third base, while Mittens was born on home plate.)

Both Ryan and Mittens come from wealthy families. Neither is a rags-to-riches story. Ryan isn’t the millionaire that Mittens is, but he is Mittens’ Mini-Me.*

And in his big speech yesterday, Mittens himself proclaimed, in part:

“This president [Barack Obama] can ask us to be patient. This president can tell us it was someone else’s fault. This president can tell us that the next four years he’ll get it right. But this president cannot tell us that you are better off today than when he took office. America has been patient. Americans have supported this president in good faith. But today, the time has come to turn the page.”

It’s true that Barack Obama has been a disappointing president. It was only last night that I finally gave Obama a penny toward his re-election — I gave him an online donation of $30, and that was inspired more from the unfair Repugnican Tea Party attacks upon him, especially this past week, than it was inspired by any hope or change that he’s actually delivered. I may or may not give him a little more money, and I most likely will not vote for him, since he’ll win my state of California and all of its 55 electoral votes in the winner-takes-all Electoral College no matter how I vote, even if I vote for Mittens. We’ll see.

President Obama’s failure is not that he has governed too far to the left. It’s that he’s too beholden to his corporate sugar daddies (he took much more from the Wall Street weasels than even John McCainosaurus did for the 2008 campaign, and then proceeded to put Wall Street weasels in charge of his economic policy) and he has focused too much on this “bipartisanship” bullshit (whether he sincerely believes that there’s any such thing or whether that’s just been rhetoric, I don’t know) instead of taking care of his base — you know, those of us who actually put him in office.

Consequently, Obama has not enacted the progressive vision that he at least implicitly promised us he would. The pro-corporate, center-right Clintonista brand of the Democratic Party has been killing us, just more slowly than has the Repugnican Tea Party.

A real — that is, an actually progressive, and not a Clintonista — Democratic president would have taken advantage of having had the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives controlled by his party in 2009 and 2010 and would have pushed through an actually progressive agenda, not thoroughly squandered it by having tryied to sing a rousing round of “Kumbaya” with the fascists in Congress who never are going to support anything that he says or does anyway (largely, in this case, because of his race).

But if I had to choose between four more years of Barack Obama or four (or even eight!) years of Mittens Romney, if a gun were pointed to my head and I had to choose the lesser of the two evils, it would be Obama, hands down. No question.

Mittens Romney declared in his speech yesterday that “the time has come to turn the page.”

What he doesn’t say is that he wants to turn the page of the American history book back to the 1950s, when women and non-whites had no rights, when gays were arrested solely for being gay or even just being suspected of being gay, when the nation lived in perpetual fear of overseas enemies (real or fabricated, but largely fabricated), when those who disagree with the right-wing fascists were called “anti-American” “Communists” and oppressed (many of them lost their jobs), when there were no environmental protection laws or agencies, when it was easier to suppress the voting rights of the “undesirables,” when, in short, right-wing, “Christo”fascist, (presumably) heterosexual, vulture capitalist, planet-killing, war-mongering white men — like Mittens Romney and Paul Ryan — ran the whole fucking show. 

Indeed, did the Repugnican Tea Party unearth its 2012 party platform from a time capsule buried in the 1950s?

I’m betting that more than half of us Americans on Election Day will reject Mittens’ agenda of dragging all of us back to the time when only people just like Mittens ran the show. The only way that I can see Mittens “winning” in November is if his treasonous, fascistic party is able to suppress enough Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters. They’re certainly trying.

And Clint Eastwood — the man has made some good films, but really, if you have to have a senile old man make your case for you, then maybe your case is not that strong.

*Wikipedia notes of Paul Ryan:

Ryan was born in Janesville, Wisconsin to Elizabeth A. “Betty” (née Hutter) and Paul Murray Ryan, a lawyer, and was the youngest of four siblings. A fifth-generation Wisconsinite, his father was of Irish ancestry and his mother is of German and English ancestry….His great-grandfather, Patrick William Ryan (1858–1917), founded an earthmoving company in 1884, which later became P. W. Ryan and Sons and is now known as Ryan Incorporated Central. Ryan’s grandfather was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin by President Calvin Coolidge.

Ryan attended St. Mary’s Catholic School in Janesville, where he played on the seventh-grade basketball team. He attended Joseph A. Craig High School in Janesville, where he was elected president of his junior class and subsequently named prom king. As class president Ryan also gained a seat on the school board, making it the first time he held political office.Between his sophomore year and junior year, Ryan took a job working the grill at McDonald’s. He was on his high school’s ski, track and varsity soccer teams and played basketball in a Catholic recreational league. He also participated in several academic and social clubs including the Model United Nations.R yan and his family often went on hiking and skiing trips in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

When he was 16 and working a summer job, Ryan received a worried phone call from his father’s secretary. He came home to find his 55-year-old father lying dead in bed after suffering from a heart attack.His grandfather and great-grandfather also died from heart attacks, at ages 57 and 59 respectively, inspiring Ryan’s later interest in health and exercise. Following the death of his father, Ryan’s grandmother moved in with the family and because she struggled with Alzheimer’s Ryan had to help care for her while his mother studied at college in Madison, Wisconsin. Due to his father’s death Ryan received survivor’s benefits through Social Security until his 18th birthday, which were saved up in order to pay for his college education. …

So Social Security sure worked out pretty well for Paul Ryan. But since he already got his

Before he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Ryan worked for the construction company founded by his grandfather (Ryan Incorporated Central), and Ryan’s wife was a tax attorney when they met, so again, we’re not talking about an impoverished family here. Ryan’s net worth (due mostly because he married into a rich family) is in the range of $4 million to $5 million — which, again, compared to Mittens’ net worth of more than $250 million, makes Paul Ryan Mittens’ Mini-Me.

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Yet another massacre from which the sheeple won’t learn a thing

Well, the internet noticed too.

If this guy is elected (or allowed to steal office a la 2000) in November, there will be more massacres. (More Photoshop jobs on this theme here…)

The United States of America is one big dysfuckingfunctional family.

Every once in a while, one of us snaps and kills a lot of people. The rest of us then all act shocked and horrified and say how “senseless” it was (when really we’re primarily just celebrating the fact that we weren’t among the body count), and then we go back to our lives of self-centeredness and greed that will help create the next massacre.

Every time one of these massacres occurs, I write essentially the same blog piece, but fuck it, as long as it keeps happening, I’ll keep writing the same blog piece. So here goes:

James Eagen Holmes, the 24-year-old accused of having blown away 12 people and injuring 58 others at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, early this morning, did not — I repeat, DID NOT — develop within a fucking vacuum.

No, I promise you, he developed entirely within a social context.

My guess is that Holmes has some screws loose, but the fact of the matter is that Holmes is just one of millions of young Americans whose nation has failed them beyond miserably.

The Associated Press reports that according to a neighbor of Holmes, “Holmes struggled to find work after graduating with highest honors in the spring of 2010 with a neuroscience degree from the University of California, Riverside.”

Holmes isn’t a drop-out pothead. The AP also reports of Holmes that he “enrolled last year in a neuroscience Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado-Denver but was in the process of withdrawing, said school officials, who didn’t provide a reason.”

Yes, Holmes was a Ph.D. candidate, one of our brightest young people. Neuroscience, for fuck’s sake. Sounds pretty close to a brain surgeon to me.

My guess is that like millions of his cohorts, and like millions of members of my generation (Gen X), Holmes graduated from college with a mountain of debt but with no good job prospects whatsofuckingever.

I, too, graduated (in 1990 — during the first George-Bush-induced recession) with a worthless bachelor’s degree but with student-loan debt, and I, too, initially returned to school (to get my master’s degree, which I ultimately didn’t get) because there were no jobs out there and I didn’t know what else to do. (At age 44, I still am a member of what my fellow Gen-X foaming-at-the-mouth leftist Ted Rall calls the “overeducated underclass.”)

Since the 1980s, under Ronald Reagan, who couldn’t blow the Wall Street weasels enough, our higher-education system stopped being about preparing students for good jobs. Those jobs, under the vulture capitalism that Mittens Romney and his ilk perpetrate, perpetuate and defend, have been evaporating from the United States these past few decades.*

The American higher-education system now is about, and for some decades now has been about, handing our young over to the student-loan sharks for their feeding frenzies. Our colleges don’t produce young people who are ready for the good jobs that await them — our colleges instead produce young people who start off in life neck-deep in debt to the student-loan sharks, struggling to survive by taking jobs that are way beneath their abilities.

Starting out like this, many if not most of them never even will catch up, but will lag behind for the rest of their days.

We lie to our youth about the importance of going to college and doing well so that they can get fulfilling, well-paying jobs — jobs that don’t fucking exist and haven’t for some decades now.

Our youth are punk’d royally, so of course they become angry and bitter.

True, not all of them shoot up a movie theater. They just become alcoholics and/or druggies and/or go on Big Pharma’s antidepressants and/or abuse those in their lives and/or immerse themselves in materialism and commercialism and/or become sex addicts or some other type of addicts and/or commit suicide.

Everything is connected, whether we want to acknowledge that fact or not. (And for the most part, we don’t. We prefer what we believe is the safety of our own little bubbles, even though are bubbles are not our own safe houses, but are our own fucking caskets.)

Blowhard Rush Limbaugh recently accused filmmaker Christopher Nolan (“Inception,” the latest “Batman” trilogy, etc.) of, in Nolan’s current “Batman” movie, modeling (or at least naming) Batman’s enemy Bane after Mittens Romney’s vulture capitalism outfit Bain Capital — in order to make a political, anti-Mittens statement.

(Bain, Bane — apparently one-syllable homophones mesmerize great minds like Limbaugh’s.

Of course, the “Batman” comic-book character of Bane was created in 1993, well before Mittens ever decided to run for the White House, but mere facts never stop the likes of Grand Dragon Daddy Limbaugh and his fans.)

It was at a midnight showing of the latest “Batman” installment, “The Dark Knight Rises,” that James Eagen Holmes committed his massacre, and yes, it seems to me, there is a Bain connection here: It is vulture capitalism run amock that created the socioeconomic context within which this latest massacre occurred.

As insane income inequality grows, the pain and suffering of the poor and the middle class and the working class increases, and yes, some of the victims of vulture capitalism do snap and act out.

The only thing that’s shocking is that we don’t see a whole fucking lot more of it.

James Eagen Holmes very apparently snapped under the pressures of the oppressive socioeconomic system that not enough of us fight against. If enough of us did fight against it, our oppression at the hands of the filthy rich, treasonous few would stop.

Instead, way too fucking many of us, such as cops (the taxpayer-funded security guards of the plutocrats, who, of course, pay no taxes themselves) and members of the U.S. military (a.k.a. cannon fodder for Big Oil), and, of course, the Repugnican Tea Party traitors, insanely side with our oppressors instead of with their fellow oppressed.

Better to curry favor with the oppressors, the rich and the powerful, than to be one of their victims, right? Of course, cops and soldiers and “tea party” dipshits are just as much victims as are the rest of us. These fools are the plutocratic oppressors’ tools, whether they realize it or acknowledge it or not.

Of course I don’t advocate massacres in movie theaters — I see a lot of movies myself, including at the Century Theatres in my area** — but it nauseates me to hear the same old predictable bullshit that the American sheeple bleat when massacres (Columbine, 9/11, this morning’s, etc.) are in the news.

We don’t understaaaaaaand, the sheeple bleat.

Yes, the sheeple do understand, at least dimly, at least on some level.

It’s that they don’t fucking care.

If they did, they’d have to change.

And that might even mean — gasp!having to fight.

The sheeple secretly would prefer more massacres of other sheeple.

P.S. Of course the Mittens and President Hopey-Changey campaigns had to weigh in on today’s massacre. They have to pretend to care about us, you see.

Mittens’ statement was:

“Ann and I are deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence that took the lives of 15 [sic] people in Colorado and injured dozens more. We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief.  We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice.”

“Senseless” violence. Right. A brilliant young man can’t find decent work in a nation that doesn’t give a flying fuck about him and sees no future for himself and so he snaps. “Senseless.” Makes no sense at all. None whatsofuckingever. Happened just out of the blue. Randomly. Just one of those things that no one possibly could even begin to explain.

Look how quickly Mittens was to pounce upon the idea of “justice” for the perpetrator.

It’s funny, because if those truly responsible for today’s terrible crime actually ever were brought to justice, Mittens and his treasonous, plutocratic ilk would be behind bars, where they belong.

But they can rest easy.

So-called “justice” is meted out only to the 99 percent of us, and almost never to the 1 percent.

If you kill a dozen people, like James Eagen Holmes apparently did today, and are a member of the 99 percent, you at least will go to prison.

But if you are a mass murderer and are among the 1 percent, like George W. Bush or Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld or Condoleezza Rice — or yes, like Barack Obama, who loves assassinations (with and without the use of drones) and who loves keeping the traitors who comprise the military-industrial complex happy with billions and billions of our tax dollars that aren’t going to the things that we need, such as job creation, education, health care, environmental protection and infrastructure improvements — you are allowed to run loose.

It’s not just within the arena of the military-industrial complex that mass murderers go free. Corporations’ profits-over-people practices routinely kill scores and scores of innocent people, yet the corporatocrats get off scot-free — even though corporations, according to the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court, are “people.”

“Justice.”

Indeed.

Why would, how could, anyone snap in this oh-so-fair-and-just United States of America?

*The No. 1 goal of capitalism is not job creation, as the Repugnican Tea Party traitors among us proclaim. The No. 1 goal of capitalism is profiteering. Fucking duh.

Labor is expensive. Under American capitalism, if you can replace your American workers with machines or with other automated systems and/or outsource their jobs to sweatshops overseas, you do so in order to increase your profits.

The vulture capitalists are not job creators. They are wealth aggregators, as fucking evidenced by the fact that over the past several years the wealthiest have gotten even wealthier while the jobs have dried up and rest of us have gotten poorer.

If these treasonous plutocrats were job creators, there would be jobs.

There aren’t jobs because it isn’t about us. It’s all about them, the 1 percent.

**I will see “The Dark Knight Rises,” by the way. I love Anne Hathaway and the character of Catwoman, Nolan is a good director, and Tom Hardy is a hunk (OK, even though as Bane his face is obscured), so I’m there. I just generally avoid trying to see blockbusters on opening weekend.

You are much more likely to be killed in a car accident, or killed by a car while crossing the street, that you are to be shot dead in a movie theater.

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Why I don’t blog for the baby boomers

Infanticide suddenly seems like a good thing…

Most people who read blogs probably assume that most bloggers want to appeal to as wide an audience as possible — and therefore, never to (gasp!) offend anybody.

Not me.

I don’t think that I’ve ever come out and said it, but for these past almost 10 years of blogging, I’ve been writing primarily for those in my age group (Generation X) and younger.

If some baby boomers or even older folks read my blog, fine, but if they don’t, perhaps that’s even better, since I don’t write for them. I long ago stopped looking to the baby boomers (generally identified as those born between 1946 and 1964, but to me the cohort really spans from about 1944 to 1960) to be agents of positive change, and I look to those in my age group and younger instead.

Most of my critics turn out to be (I see from their blog avatars) baby boomers. Before I take their criticism to heart, I look at their mugshot avatars. Chances are, they’re boomers (who apparently think that an Internet presence makes them young again [it doesn’t], and who of course have to plaster their faces on their blogs, being spotlight hogs). If they have a bio, I read that, too. Chances are, from their bios I surmise that they’re people I wouldn’t like in person, so it comes as no shock that I’ve written something that (gasp!) offends their delicate sensibilities. (People who act as though they have the fucking right never to be offended in the least bit — they’re interesting. [Psychiatrically, I mean.])

I could write a book on the fucking baby boomers, but I’ll try to keep this to a blog post, albeit a long one.

George W. Bush (born in 1946) could be the poster boy for the baby-boom generation.

He accomplished nothing on his own, but coasted on his family name. If George Sr. hadn’t been president first, there’s no way in hell that George Jr. would have been governor of Texas and then the second president named George Bush.

Not only that, but George Jr. in 2000 stole office (with the help of his brother Jeb, who then was the governor of Florida, the critical state that George Jr. “won”; with the help of then-Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who infamously disenfranchised voters by deeming them felons when they were not; and with the help of the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court, which stopped the recounting process in Florida). George Jr. didn’t even win the presidency outright.

Then, once in the Oval Office, George W. thoroughly trashed the nation, among other things allowing 9/11 to happen (remember the August 2001 presidential daily briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”?), allowing Hurricane Katrina to kill hundreds of Americans, taking the nation to a bogus war for the no-bid federal-government contracts for Dick Cheney’s Halliburton and the other oily subsidiaries of BushCheneyCorp, and giving giant tax breaks to the filthy rich. George W. Bush had received the nation in good shape from Bill Clinton and the prosperous 1990s, and delivered it to Barack Obama in January 2009 on the brink of collapse.

That, in a nutshell, is the baby-boomer modus operandi: inherit your power and your wealth from your parents, squander it selfishly and recklessly, and leave nothing behind for those who follow you, not even the polar ice caps.

Baby boomers unabashedly display a bumper sticker that reads “I’m Spending My Children’s Inheritance.” (I’ve seen this bumper sticker on cars driven by boomers several times.)

This is supposed to be funny. Ha ha.

Except that the baby boomers’ parents, the members of the so-called “greatest generation,” didn’t spend their children’s inheritance. They gave their children — the baby boomers — their inheritance.

Not so with the baby-boom generation, the first generation in the history of the United States of America that did not care in the fucking least about at least trying to leave things in better shape for those who must follow them.

The baby boomers, endlessly doted upon by their parents, had no problems going to college and getting good jobs. Hell, they didn’t even have to go to college to live well. (Neither of my baby-boomer parents has a four-year college degree, but neither of them during their young to middle adulthood ever struggled with buying homes and cars. My four-year degree, on the other hand, which I worked hard for, was worthless when I received it — along with considerable student-loan debt — in 1990 during the first George Bush recession, and I gave up on having a paid job that allows me to make good use of my skills [without doing evil and without completely being exploited by some talentless plutocrats] and I gave up on home ownership long, long ago.) If the boomers put just a minimal effort into attaining a college degree, a good job, a home, a nice car, these things were theirs for the taking. The members of the “greatest generation” made sure of that.

But do the baby boomers today give a rat’s ass about our young people of today?

Hell fucking no.

This is from The Associated Press today:

The college class of 2012 is in for a rude welcome to the world of work.

A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don’t fully use their skills and knowledge.

Young adults with bachelor’s degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that’s confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.

An analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press lays bare the highly uneven prospects for holders of bachelor’s degrees. …

Again, when this Gen X’er received his worthless bachelor’s degree in 1990 — a journalism degree, which in the face of mass newspaper layoffs at the time was worthless (and still would be mostly worthless today, although as a blogger it gives me a leg up) — there were not, to his recollection, any news stories about the fact that in the face of the recession, college degrees were worthless, and newly minted college graduates had to take jobs that greatly underutilized their talents and abilities — and struggle with student loans they couldn’t afford to repay. (Massive student loan debt was something that the boomers did not experience when they were of college age and young adults because their parents saw them as young people to be fostered — not as cash cows to be milked dry.) 

It would have been nice to get the media attention then that today’s struggling young college grads are getting today — in my day, for instance, crushing student-loan debt wasn’t seen as any problem whatsofuckingever, since my generation always has been viewed by the boomer majority as wholly disposable, but today, both the Democratic and the Repugnican candidates for president are promising to work on the suddenly-now-obvious problem of crushing student-loan debt — but, I suppose, better late than never. (And ah, well, as my fellow Gen X’er Ted Rall has noted, we X’ers indeed are the “leapfrog generation,” the generation [between the boomers and Generation Y] that has been passed over entirely.)

Why have Gen-X and younger college grads struggled so much in the job market since at least the First Great Bush Recession (circa 1990)?

It’s not just the economy, although the greedy, get-mine-and-get-out boomers fucked that up, too.

It’s the boomers’ sheer numbers — 76 million of them, according to Wikipedia — that alone would create at least some amount of scarcity in the American job market (and indeed, the majority of the plum jobs have been taken by the boomers for decades now), but their sheer numbers are coupled with the fact that, unlike the generations before them, they refuse to leave the fucking stage when their act has long been over. The boomers view their jobs just like the U.S. Supreme Court “justices” view theirs: We’ll have to pry their cold, dead fingers from their desks.

Other generations of Americans knew when it was time to hand over the reins. And they handed them over. Not the boomers.

Witness baby boomer Madonna (born 1958), whose latest big video has her playing a high-school cheerleader. She’s fiftyfuckingthree. It apparently kills her to fucking pass the torch already. And she’s typical of her generation, thinking that she’s some hot shit acting and trying to look decades younger than she is, when in fact, she’s just fucking pathetic, refusing, like Peter Pan, to grow the fuck up already.

With the baby boomers we have and will continue to have a nation full of old people, but not old and wise people.

Baby boomers whine that they can’t retire because they can’t afford to retire. Bullshit. Most of them can afford to retire — it’s that they want to live in excess and opulence (“enough” isn’t in their vocabulary) and it’s also that, whether they will admit it or not, out of their egotism they must believe that we younger folk can’t get along without them.

As Wikipedia notes of the boomers (emphasis mine):

One feature of boomers was that they tended to think of themselves as a special generation, very different from those that had come before. In the 1960s, as the relatively large numbers of young people became teenagers and young adults, they, and those around them, created a very specific rhetoric around their cohort, and the change they were bringing about ….

Yes, indeed, all of that rhetoric from the boomers in the 1960s about changing the world, and boy, have they. They fought against the Vietnam War, only to create the Vietraq War themselves. (Apparently the only reason that they opposed the Vietnam War was to save their own skins. They were perfectly OK, however, with bogus warfare in Iraq. After all, it was someone else doing the dying for the baby boomers’ profits.) The American empire, which is being sucked dry by the vampires who comprise the corporate-military-prison-industrial complex (the majority of them boomers, of course), is on the brink of death, and even the North Pole is melting. The baby boomers ushered in change, indeed.

The baby boomers are the first generation of Americans in the nation’s history who are leaving things much worse off for the generations that follow them.

Before the boomers it always had been the American ideal that the current generation in power leaves things in better shape, not in worse shape, for the generations that follow them. And congratulations, boomers; your generation very apparently is the one that, history probably will record, destroyed the American empire. You fucked it all up on your watch.

Point out these obvious truths, and the boomers almost invariably will tell you (the post-boomer) how “Angry!” you are, as though you’re defective for being angry about obvious injustices.

No, when you are being raped in the ass with ground grass for lube, you have every fucking right to be ANGRY!

The boomers are taking everything with them, shamelessly — and even bragging about it in their “funny” bumper stickers.

Here’s another cheery story from The Associated Press today (emphases mine):

Social Security is rushing even faster toward insolvency, driven by retiring baby boomers, a weak economy and politicians’ reluctance to take painful action to fix the huge retirement and disability program.

The trust funds that support Social Security will run dry in 2033 — three years earlier than previously projected — the government said [today].

There was no change in the year that Medicare’s hospital insurance fund is projected to run out of money. It’s still 2024. …

At age 44, I’ve been paying into Social Security and Medicare since I began working when I was a teenager, but I don’t expect to see a fucking penny of either. The baby boomers are poised to blatantly steal my money — and slam me for being “so angry!” while they do it.

The boomers are leaving those of us who follow them with less than nothing, but we’re supposed to think that they’re great fucking people nonetheless. (Or, at least, we’re supposed to keep our fucking mouths shut while the boomers screw us over like no other generation in U.S. history has screwed over the next generation ever before.)

That’s part of the baby boomers’ mass narcissistic sociopathology — they are a “special” generation, indeed — and the reason that I put the “greatest generation” in quotation marks is that I don’t see how you can assert that the parents who created the most spoiled generation in the nation’s history comprise the “greatest generation.” No, in producing the baby boomers, the members of the “greatest generation” fucked up big-time. It’s almost impossible to overstate what awful parents the members of the “greatest generation” were. Regardless of what their intentions might have been, the results of their parenting have been catastrophic for the nation — and for the world.

And the boomers’ bumper sticker sums up their credo, their manifesto, indeed, their raison d’être, neatly: “I’m Spending My Children’s Inheritance.”

Yes, I got that long, long ago. Consequently, I stopped looking to the boomers long ago. The ones who created the colossal mess aren’t the ones to fix it. The boomers exist to cause problems, not to solve problems, and to consume, not to produce. They are the problem, not the solution. They are, essentially, dead to me. That’s why I could give a flying fuck if a single baby boomer ever reads a single blog post of mine.

I look not to the boomers, but to my fellow members of Gen X and to those poor souls who have to follow us. (I’d thought that my generation had it bad, but today’s young people are even more screwed, apparently, than has been my generation. They do have one thing that my generation didn’t have, however, and that’s a national conversation about how badly today’s young people have it.)

We, the post-boomers, are the clean-up crew. It’s not a job that we wanted. It’s a job that the boomers have forced upon us.

What the baby boomers probably should do while those of us who have had to follow them perform the incredibly difficult work of cleaning up after their decades-long wholesale trashing of the nation is shut the fuck up and be very thankful that the national conversation has not yet turned to the elephant in the room, to the root of our nation’s problems: the baby boomers and the increasing burden on the nation that they are. And that we post-boomers have not yet begun to seriously discuss a much, much better use for the baby boomers: something along the lines of Soylent Green.

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‘Tree of Life’: For critics or for viewers?

Film review

“The Tree of Life” (which contains all of the images above, among many, many, many others): Great art or the self-indulgent, inaccessible pretensions of a baby boomer growing ever closer to death?

It is telling that (as I type this sentence, anyway) Yahoo! Movies shows American director Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” as having garnered an “A-” from film critics — and only a “C+” from the common folk.

The question then becomes, I think, whether the film is flawed or whether the film is just above the audience’s head.

“The Tree of Life” spectacularly peculiarly alternates between the very apple-pie story of a white middle-class family in the suburbs of Texas in the 1950s, patronized by Brad Pitt — and “2001: A Space Odyssey”-like grand views of the cosmos, views of dramatic geological events here at home (lots o’ lava, that is), and micro-views, such as that of a developing embryo (which we also saw in “2001,” and the same guy who did the special effects for “2001” [which was released the year that I was born] was involved with the special effects for “The Tree of Life,” and thus the deja vu). And throw in a lot of surrealism involving our real-life characters, such as an apparent family reunion in the afterlife on an ephemeral beach. Oh, and dinosaurs, too.

In “Tree of Life” Sean Penn plays the grown-up eldest son of Pitt’s character — and Penn apparently is the stand-in for Malick, kind of like one of Woody Allen’s stand-ins for himself — but Penn actually isn’t in the film all that much. It’s mostly Pitt, but Pitt does a great job, as he usually does, and the child actors also impress with their very natural acting.

The main problem with “The Tree of Life,” I think, is that the previews make it look like a Pitt-and-Penn vehicle with a little bit of artsy-fartsy stuff thrown in there, but the actual film is two hours and 15 minutes of an awful lot of artsy-fartsy stuff thrown in there. American audiences, at least, aren’t, I surmise, ready to go back and forth among watching Brad Pitt playing a family man in 1950s suburbia and Sean Penn playing his reminiscing grown-up son and watching Carl-Saganesque grand cosmic events and more down-to-Earth lava flows and even dinosaur politics.

(The French, however, have loved “The Tree of Life,” which they awarded the top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival…)

Don’t get me wrong. The dinosaurs in “The Tree of Life” are quite well done, perhaps the best technically done dinosaurs to hit the silver screen thus far in cinematic history. I’d love to see a feature-length film about dinosaurs made by Malick — even if the dinosaurs aren’t anthropomorphized, even if there is no plot, so to speak, even if it’s just the dinosaurs hanging out and being dinosaurs. (Actually, I don’t like it when critters are inappropriately anthropomorphized, such as in Disney’s “documentary” “African Cats,” even though its target audience is children.)

And the story of the humans in “The Tree of Life” probably would have made a much better stand-alone film, stripped of the “2001”-like surrealism of cosmic vomiting and universal diarrhea, in which creation often rather violently explodes all over the place.

Indeed, not long into “Tree of Life” it occurred to me that just as they hand you your 3-D glasses before you view a 3-D movie, they should give you a joint to inhale (or maybe a bong would be less cleanup afterward) before you view the surreal “Tree of Life.” Then you’ll love it.

I suppose that there are two general camps when it comes to art. One camp maintains that art is whatever the artist wants it to be. Therefore, highly personal art is perfectly acceptable, probably even more preferable to art meant for the masses, to this camp. The more inaccessible, the better — the more artistic/“artistic” — some if not most of those in this camp seem to believe.

The other camp, which I favor, believes that art should be accessible, that art should communicate, or at least touch those who experience it, and that if the artist does not touch his audience, then the artist has failed.

It probably isn’t an over-generalization to state that we might call the camp of artistic/“artistic” inaccessibility the French Camp and the camp of accessibility the American Camp. Those in the American Camp often view those in the French Camp as pretentious. Those in the French Camp don’t really understand the incomprehensible art that they claim to understand, those in the American Camp believe (and thus the charge of pretension), and I tend to agree.

But art doesn’t have to be comprehensible, doesn’t have to be logical and rational and linear. As I stated, as long as the art touches you, in my book, then the artist has succeeded.

It is true that with American audiences, Malick had an uphill battle making such an impressionist film that would be well received (if he really even cared at all how it would be received by American audiences, indeed). Americans aren’t used to impressionism in their movies. American audiences are used to realism, to literalism, to fairly clear, point-A-to-point-Z plots.

“The Tree of Life” has elements that succeed, but in my eyes with the film Malick fails as an artist because his film goes on for so long, and becomes so ponderous and so difficult to experience, that he loses his (at-least-American) audience. In the audience that I was in, I think that most if not all of us were ready for the film to be over at least a half-hour before it actually ended, and at the end of the film we felt only the type of satisfaction that a long-suffering cancer patient might feel during the last few moments of euthanasia.

I’m down with the dinosaurs, and I am open-minded enough to be able to give a chance to a film that tries to capture Life, the Universe and Everything, but in my book when the viewer just wants it all to be over already, please please please God just make it end!, the artist probably has done something wrong.

I get the impression with “The Tree of Life” that the 67-year-old Malick had two films inside of him trying to claw their way out of his chest cavity like identical twin aliens a la “Alien,” but that he was concerned that if he didn’t put them into one film, he might not live long enough to get both films made, so he put both of the films into a blender.

Again, either of these two films probably would have been or at least could have been great, Malick’s ode to Stanley Kubrick’s “2001” (and to “Jurassic Park”) or Malick’s very personal (perhaps too personal) recap of his own childhood as an American baby boomer having grown up in Texas.

Malick’s fellow baby boomer Roger Ebert ate up* “The Tree of Life,” which, while apparently is accessible to white American baby boomers who grew up in families that were at least middle class, isn’t as accessible to the rest of us. (I, as a member of Generation X “raised” by and surrounded by baby boomers, had quite a different experience growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. Yeah, my memories of childhood are not so fucking idyllic.)

So we come back to the question as to whether a film succeeds even if it loses most of its viewers (here in the United States, anyway, since I am an American writing this review primarily for my fellow Americans). I say that it does not. (Again, the French, apparently, say that it does [indeed, a good number of them apparently believe that if a film is comprehensible, then it is shit].)

So, while I appreciate Malick’s technical achievements — again, love those dinosaurs, and he directed his child actors masterfully — I cannot ignore the fact that as patient as I am, “The Tree of Life” wore out its welcome, wore out my patience, and apparently wore out my fellow audience members’ patience even more so and even more quickly than it wore out mine. A good film, it seems to me, makes you regretful, not relieved, at having to leave the movie theater at film’s end.

And again, unlike Roger Ebert, I cannot ignore what doesn’t work in “The Tree of Life” — such as the apparently uber-pretentious scene, among many apparently pretentious scenes, that has Sean Penn walking through a door frame that is erected in the middle of nowhere — and focus on how great it is to take a stroll down Baby-Boomer Memory Lane, because I think that I can relate to the lives of the dinosaurs a lot more than I can relate to the reportedly idyllic childhoods of the baby boomers, who made my childhood much less idyllic than theirs.

“The Tree of Life,” as a whole, fails (at least here in the United States of America) because it loses its (American) audience.

And the grade for failure is an “F.”

My grade: F

(I surmise that Yahoo!’s commoners give the film an average grade of “C+” only because some people will give a movie a decent grade if there are at least some scenes that they liked and because there are plenty of pretentious, “artistic” people who will claim to have appreciated and understood an incomprehensible film.)

*Ebert swoons:

I don’t know when a film has connected more immediately with my own personal experience. In uncanny ways, the central events of “The Tree of Life” reflect a time and place I lived in, and the boys in it are me. If I set out to make an autobiographical film, and if I had Malick’s gift, it would look so much like this.

Yeah, like I said, I had a different life experience…

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Wazzup in Wisconsin? (Part 2)

I don’t live in Wisconsin (I live in the great state of California), but I’m paying fairly close attention to what’s going on in the Badger State (which has become the nation’s No. 1 laboratory of democracy and where, except for the rather extreme cold, I could see myself living). Here are three news items that have caught my attention:

(1) Progressive JoAnne Kloppenburg yesterday requested a recount of the April 5 election results for the race for the seat on the state’s Supreme Court, since the official results put her at less than 0.5 percent behind her right-wing opponent David Prosser. Prosser has an official 7,316-vote lead out of about 1.5 million votes cast, but ever since the surprise announcement of thousands of more votes that materialized in Repugnican Tea Party-dominated Waukesha County after Kloppenburg initially had been given a preliminary 204-vote lead, doubt has been cast as to the integrity of the election results at least for that county.    

Kloppenburg not only asked for a statewide recount, but she asked the state to appoint a special investigator to look into the “actions and words” of Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, whose suprise announcment of more than 14,000 votes to be added to the preliminary vote count put Prosser up by more than 7,000 votes.

“With a margin this small — less than one-half of 1 percent — the importance of every vote is magnified and doubts about each vote are magnified as well,” Kloppenburg said in announcing her request for a recount, the first statewide recount in more than two decades in Wisconsin but to which Wisconsin state law entitles Kloppenburg. “If there are problems, we need to identify them and fix them. If there is doubt, we need to remove it. If there was misconduct, we must hold those who perpetrated it accountable.”

Team Prosser is criticizing Kloppenburg for having requested the recount, even though state law entitles her to it.

Unless the members of Team Prosser are afraid that fraud might be found, I don’t know why they would criticize Kloppenburg’s decision to utilize the democratic process that the right-wing nutjobs apparently like only when it delivers to them what they want. On that note, I have little doubt that if Kloppenburg were up over Prosser by less than 0.5 percent — the threshold for a candidate to request a statewide recount free of cost to the candidate — then Team Prosser would request a recount, just as Kloppenburg has.

Even if Prosser is declared the eventual winner of the election for the seat that he holds on the state’s Supreme Court, at least the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in Wisconsin have been put on notice that they are being watched for any attempts at committing election fraud.

(2) The media report that while recall-election petitions have been filed against three Democratic Wisconsin state senators, recall petitions already have been filed against five Repugnican Tea Party state senators. Eight Democratic and eight Repugnican Tea Party state senators, by state law, have been subject to recall efforts that anyone might have chosen to launch.

If the Democrats can maintain their current number of seats in the state Senate and flip three state Senate seats from the Repugnican Tea Party to the Dem Party, they will take control of the state Senate, greatly politically weakening Repugnican Tea Party Gov. Scott “Dead Man” Walker.

(3) Repugnican Tea Party U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has been named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people on the planet.* Shouldn’t he be listed as one of People magazine’s most beautiful people instead? I mean, here is the photo of Dreamboat Ryan that Time used:

Time.com photo

Damn, he looks so harmless, doesn’t he? Cuddly, even!

Anyway, as if Ryan’s inclusion in Time’s top 100 most influential weren’t bad enough, who composed the little write-up for Ryan? None other than Repugnican Tea Party Gov. Scott “Dead Man” Walker.

Here is “Dead Man” Walker’s ode to Ryan:

Paul Ryan, 41, came of age down the road from me. Although we didn’t know each other at the time, it’s clear now that growing up in south-central Wisconsin during the Reagan years had a lasting impact on both our political philosophies. Like our 40th president, Paul has always stuck to his core beliefs: in limited, effective government; individual liberty; and making the hard decisions so our children will inherit a country at least as great as the one we did. Overnight, his economic plan has redefined the nation’s conversation about public spending.

It has been said that there are two types of people in politics: those who want to be somebody great and those who want to do something great. Paul Ryan is the latter, and our country is better off because of that.

Let’s be clear: Ronald Reagan sucked. His pro-plutocratic, social Darwinist policies, including his union-busting and his “trickle-down” bullshit (the rich only “trickle down” on us to piss all over us), began our national economic collapse — including the largest gap between the rich and the poor seen since the Gilded Age.

And yes, putting forth a so-called “path to prosperity” that has the rich and the super-rich paying even less in taxes than they are paying now and that destroys Medicare as we know it sure has “redefined the nation’s conversation about public spending,” just as how if I were to put forth a proposal that every fucking baby boomer be exterminated at age 65 (which is pretty fucking generous, as in “Logan’s Run” the age of extermination is 30) — an actual path to prosperity, but never mind that — it would redefine the nation’s conversation about retirement.

And to claim that Paul Ryan, who wants to destroy Medicare, is “making the  hard decisions so our children will inherit a country at least as great as the one we did,” is a great big fucking joke, since one, my generation, Generation X (to which, unfortunately, both Ryan and Walker also belong), inherited a nation in much worse shape than it was when the baby boomers first got their greedy grubbies on it, and two, Ryan’s plan for dismantling Medicare grandfathers those who right now are 55 or older but screws the rest of us — including, of course, “our children.”

Today’s old farts vote, you see, but the Repugnican Tea Party traitors very apparently believe that they can fuck over the rest of us without a fight.

Maybe Ryan doesn’t spend enough time in his home state of Wisconsin. Otherwise, he would know that we, the people, are in a fucking fighting mood.

*Repugnican Tea Party U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota also made Time’s top 100 list (Archie Bunker-like blowhard Rush Limbaugh wrote the little piece for her, beginning it, “I don’t mind telling you that I’m a great admirer of Michele Bachmann’s,” which of course suggests that he at least somewhat does mind telling us that) — and so did androgynous teen-girl heartthrob Justin Bieber — so it’s not like it’s a Nobel prize or anything, but still…

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Deep thoughts on the week that was

I post only a fraction of what I could post, because my time is limited (like it is with most bloggers, I have to earn a paycheck, and that doesn’t happen with my blogging, which is a labor of love) and because I’m a bit of a perfectionist and don’t like doing something unless I do it right.

So here is some of what I would have posted in the past week or so if I’d had the time (and if I weren’t such a perfectionist):

Movie reviews

“Countdown to Zero”: This documentary about nuclear weapons was disappointing. It taught me little that I didn’t already know or that I couldn’t have discovered on my own via Google (which now is evil, I understand, and which is too bad, because I’ve always liked Google).

“Countdown” apparently lets the United States of America off of the hook for having been the first nation on the planet to nuke another nation. It’s an obvious conclusion that if nukes are bad and the United States is the first and thus far the only nation ever to have nuked another nation — what does that say of the U.S.?

“Countdown” also doesn’t delve into the uber-hypocrisy of the United States — the only nation ever to have nuked another nation (I never tire of saying that) — dictating to the rest of the world which nations get to have nukes and which nations don’t. No, I’m not big on the idea of Iran having the Bomb, either, but it was the United States that opened that Pandora’s box, and “Countdown to Zero” doesn’t even begin to address that adequately.

My grade: C+

“Inception” is entertaining enough, but it also could have been titled “Deja Vu,” because it’s a mixture of “The Matrix” and “Shutter Island.”

“Inception” explores what is real and what is not, and features characters kicking each other’s asses in a video-game-like fantasy land while their physical bodies are unconscious and wired up, a la “The Matrix.” What’s most bizarre about “Inception” is that in both “Inception” and “Shutter Island,” Leonardo DiCaprio plays a man who is tortured by the ghosts of his dead wives. The similarity is such that my having seen “Shutter Island” first made me able to enjoy “Inception” less.

Any movie starring both Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, two of my favorite young actors, however, can’t be all bad. (Marion Cotillard, as DiCaprio’s character’s deceased wife, is pretty good, too, although her accent sounds a bit like Arianna Huffington’s…)

“Inception,” besides being too derivative, is too long, though…

My grade: B-

“The Kids Are All Right” is more than all right. Julianne Moore and Annette Bening do a great job playing a lesbian couple with two teenaged kids. Each of them had been inseminated by the donations of a sperm donor (played by Mark Ruffalo, who can donate sperm to me any time…) who later is contacted by the older teen (played by Mia Wasikowska, who starred as Alice in Tim Burton’s latest film) and who comes into their lives.

Probably because I’m a gay man, I have no problem seeing any two people of either sex in a relationship, and having been in a relationship for almost three years now, I see certain dynamics in all relationships, regardless of gender and sexual orientation. (While my boyfriend and I watched “The Kids Are All Right” together, I poked him in the arm several times to declare: “That’s us!”)

I understand that the lesbian community is not thrilled about the type of porn that the lesbian couple in the film enjoy, but, as Moore’s character explains, human sexuality is complicated.

My biggest problem with “The Kids Are All Right” is that Ruffalo’s character isn’t all that believable. Is he a care-free Bohemian or is he a successful businessman? And how does he have all of that time and energy (and the money) to do all that he does, including having a romance with one of the lesbians? Still, the insightful dialogue and the realistic situations in “Kids” make it worthwhile.

My grade: A

Politics

Leave Michelle alone! Had Barbara Bush or Laura Bush gone to Spain on vacation, it would have been no big fucking deal. But because Michelle Obama went on vacation to Spain, and not, I suppose, to Haiti or Darfur or Uganda, she’s taken shit for it. Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker recently huffed:

Is it really such a terrible thing that the president’s wife took a few days off to enjoy the beaches of Spain? Yes and no. Michelle Obama’s trip, though expensive in the context of our dire financial straits, isn’t putting a dent in the Treasury.

But as a political move, it could not have been more out of step with most Americans’ reality. The obvious reasons include the stagnant job market, the depleted fortunes of the middle class, millions of lost homes and, for many, the prospect of an insecure financial future….

On balance, the vacation was poorly conceived but hardly a crime befitting the condemnation. Perhaps of more lasting concern is the missed opportunity for the first lady to set an example of restraint and even generosity. I hear the Gulf Coast beaches could use a cash infusion.

When do the Richie Riches of the Repugnican Party ever “set an example of restraint and even generosity”? Why the fucking double standard that a conservative white man is expected to be a selfish asshole, and gets away with it, but if a black woman takes a trip that any well-enough-to-do white woman would take, she instead should have “set an example of restraint and even generosity”?

And talk about pettiness. Parker notes in her column that

George W. Bush largely escaped scrutiny because his preferred getaway was a place no one else, especially the media, wanted to go. Crawford, Tex., in August? Fabulous.

Whatever else one thinks of Bush, he did have a sense of propriety in matters recreational, perhaps in part attributable to his life of privilege and attendant guilt. He gave up golf after invading Iraq because he felt it would look bad to be perfecting his swing while those he had consigned to battle were losing their limbs. A token, perhaps, but a gesture nonetheless.

A token gesture “perhaps”? And oh, please. The xenophobic, parochial George W. Bush never showed interest in other nations or cultures unless they had vast oil reserves that could be stolen. He didn’t take vacations at home out of some “sense of propriety in matters recreational,” but out of his utter lack of curiosity about the rest of the world.

And Gee Dubya gave up golf? Oh, gee, what a sacrifice! That almost makes up for the damage that he did to his own nation, including leaving office with (not in any certain order) a record federal budget deficit, an overextended military, a crumbling domestic infrastructure, far more enemies around the world than there were before he stole office in late 2000, and what economists have dubbed the “Great Recession.”

Why does Kathleen Parker get paid to write and I fucking don’t?

(Well, that’s mostly a rhetorical question, but the answer is that she’s a baby boomer, and boomers never have needed any actual talent to make big bucks, and because as a writer she supports the status quo, which includes keeping Americans stupid and disempowered by discussing such non-issues as Michelle Obama’s vacation, and my intention when I write is to destroy, not to prop up, the status quo. And, we Gen X’ers historically have been shit and pissed upon by the talentless boomers.) 

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a Gen-X hero!

Steven Slater, a JetBlue flight attendant (pictured above in a MySpace photo), had had it. As a (U.K.) Guardian columnist tells it,

…as the plane was coming in to land, Slater asked a passenger who was attempting to get her luggage from the overhead compartment to remain seated. After the passenger verbally berated Slater, a piece of her luggage fell on to his head. [This website states that Slater’s mother says that Slater was hit in the head by the door of the overhead bin the foul-mouthed passenger was yanking open, not by luggage.] Slater took to the plane’s PA system and announced that he was quitting. Then, after grabbing two beers from a food cart, he opened one of the plane’s doors, slid down the emergency chute, and was gone for good.

This story is being told as a simple episode of “take this job and shove it,” but I think that there is a lot more than that beneath the surface.

Slater is in his late 30s — a Gen X’er, like me, who, I am sure, is sick and fucking tired of being squeezed in the middle between overly demanding (mostly baby-boomer) customers and rich (mostly baby-boomer) overlords who do little to no work themselves but who reap all of the profits while we Gen X (and Gen Y) wage slaves, who usually live from paycheck to paycheck, make their wealth and their comfort possible. (I felt this big squeeze especially in nursing, which I left in 1998 and to which I’ll never return.)

I don’t know how old the obnoxious passenger is, but my guess is that she’s a fucking baby boomer. (I’d bet money on it.)

The passenger’s selfish, inappropriate and illegal actions — this website reports that the Federal Aviation Administration is looking for the passenger because she is accused of “several airline infractions,” including “unbuckling her seatbelt and walking while the plane is taxiing, [constituting] two separate fines of $1,100” — ended up creating a visible wound on Slater’s forehead, but, as a Gen-X wage slave in the “service sector” (the new slavery system) he was just supposed to take it.

The boomers clearly expect us Gen X’ers to continue to take it up the ass indefinitely. We Gen X’ers are overeducated and underpaid, and we’re quite clear as to the future that the uber-selfish boomers intend to leave us, yet the boomers expect their gravy train to chug on forever at our continued expense.

If we Gen X’ers — and the “illegal aliens” — all ever were to refuse to continue being whipped wage slaves for the overprivileged boomers — if we all were to activate and slide down that emergency chute — their comfort would come to a screeching halt.

We Gen X’ers and other wage slaves have the real power, not those parasites who are dependent upon us yet act as though we need them.

Severing the hand that feeds you (and slapping your benefactor in the face with it): I’d already decided long before Obama administration spokesweasel Robert Gibbs called us progressives members of the “professional left” who should be drug tested that I’ll never give another penny nor another vote to Barack Obama. So I can’t call Gibbs’ smug comments the final nail in Obama’s coffin. That coffin was nailed shut long ago, so I guess that Gibbs’ latest statements are just concrete poured over that coffin.

You know, George W. Bush is a major fucktard, but neither even he nor any of his spokesweasels, to my recollection, ever publicly bashed the Repugnican Tea Party’s far-right-wing base.

You may not like your base all of the time, but you don’t alienate your base.

Clearly, starting with DINO (Democrat in name only) Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party decided that it’s OK to promise some things to us progressives but then to do other things — because where else are we progressives going to go?

Well, this member of the “professional left” won’t support Obama anymore. Clearly, the Obama administration has decided to sell us progressives up the river for the unstable, volatile support of the “swing voters,” who can’t tell right from wrong, good from evil, or friend from foe.

I’m more than happy to pick up my marbles (which Gibbs claims I’ve lost) and go home, even if doing so means the quicker collapse of the American empire. I’m with Ralph Nader, whom I voted for president in 2000 and whom I should have voted for president in November 2008 (instead of Obama) — and of whom one of his detractors once claimed believes that things have to get even worse before they’ll ever get better.

And this pundit had it right when he remarked:

We “professional leftists” do indeed need drug testing because apparently the … hallucinogenic of “hope and change” has worn off and the ugly mediocrity of modern Democratic leadership stares us in the face with the not-so-friendly smugness of a hookah-smoking caterpillar.

Yup. It was the Obama campaign that had sold us the drug of “hope” and “change” and now criticizes us for having imbibed it.

Well, we of the professional left are going to have to find a new drug.

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