BEATNIKS ARE BACK. They may look a little like hippies, but they're really beatniks. Hippies have hope and social consciousness and a plan for the future. Beatniks have no hope, no future, and no plan. Beatniks are cool and hard, as opposed to warm and fuzzy. Beatniks are not involved. These anti-political people are products of nihilism, which is itself a product of the realization that nothing you do makes any difference. Unless, of course, it makes things worse. But poetry readings, long straight hair (curly is out, too bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, too Shirley Temple) black eye makeup, black leotards, black clothes, sandals, Maynard G. Krebbs beards, close-cropped hair, bulky black turtleneck sweaters, and pegged pants are all back in. PIBs. People In Black. It's all coming back! The 'fifties are coming back again to get us in our sleep! Cultural repression breeds cultural activism. In about ten years we may see the rumblings of some sort of real political awareness, but I really tend to doubt it until the first quarter of the coming century. Our children, the children of the baby boomers, will be the next silent generation, same as our parents.
The baby boomers, among whom I am numbered, were born in the twenty year span roughly bounded by 1945 and 1965. From their natal cries, they have had it all their own way. When we were young, we created rock 'n' roll, displacing our elder's tastes in music almost overnight. As we moved into young adulthood, as well as throwing most of our parent's sexual morality out the window, we displayed a sharp social conscience, and had a rip-roaring good time in the '60s playing at revolution and sex. As we grew older, we grew more conservative. As we grew more conservative, so did the world. We also got a good hold on most of the money. As we age, becoming in the natural order of things both richer and duller, we will repress, by our numbers and power, the coming generations. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction: a great head of social steam will be building, unable to find expression until the baby boomers have been substantially eroded by death. When this happens, blooie! the lid will come off once again, same as it did in the early 1960s. My guess is in the late 2020s or early 2030s. Hope I'm around to see it. If I stay in shape, I should make it easy. My forbears have all lived into extreme old age without any benefit of yogurt, jogging or modern dentistry and they smoked, drank and got shot up to boot. See ya.
August 23, 1994
Everything Old is New Again Title of song (Rod Stewart?).
Kevin Padian comments: Judging from this logic, we should now be as repressive as possible so as to hasten the cycle that will produce more people like us. Perhaps we should start by making a law against wearing black. Just a thought.
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