2014 is the year that the youngest of the Baby Boomer Generation (those of us born between 1946 and 1964) turns 50.
Baby Boomer Then Baby Boomer Now
We are the so-called spoiled generation, because our parents wanted us to do better and have better than they did and had.
We are also the "Sex, drugs and rock and roll" generation.
As P.J. O'Rourke says in his article "How the Boomers (ruined) SAVED Everything,"
"The boomers can be scolded for promiscuous sex, profligate use of illegal intoxicants, and other behavior that didn't turn out to be healthy. But somebody had to do the research."
Since we have been running things, a case can be made that we have screwed things up for the next generation. My son thinks so, anyway. But we have also given the world the PC, smart phones, the artificial heart, the Internet, DNA fingerprinting, Viagra and free shipping.
So other than being born between 1946 and 1964, what identifies us as Baby Boomers?
Some of us Baby Boomers
- Had a Pet Rock (I named mine Pooky)
- Had parents who talked endlessly about the depression and those starving children overseas who would supposedly gladly eat the food we didn't want to finish
- Were raised on Dr. Spock (DOCTOR Spock, not MISTER Spock)
- Watched Howdy Doody and "American Bandstand" on TV
- Didn't trust anyone over 30 (now we don't trust anyone over 90)
- Lived and breathed the Beatles, the British Invasion and all things rock & roll
- Got divorced (we pushed the divorce rate up to 50% - and I hepped)
- Ironed our hair (upside: long straight hair; downside: steam burns on your face)
- Got Tattoos
- Made out at drive-in movies
- Ate 15 cent hamburgers at McDonalds
- Joined consciousness raising groups
- Smoked lumpy joints with stems sticking out and seeds exploding in our faces (this one is Hubby's contribution)
- Thought we would live forever
- Tried to look like Cher (well, I did, anyway)
We were also greatly influenced by books, movies and albums (albums, remember those?)
This is what Erica Jong thinks are the ten essential Boomer Books:
"The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
"The Fire Next Time" by James Baldwin
"Catch-22" by Joseph Heller
"The Group" by Mary McCarthy
"Couples" by John Updike
"Portnoy's Complaint" by Philip Roth
"Whole Earth Catalog" by Stewart Brand
"Sisterhood is Powerful" by Robin Morgan
"The Female Eunuch" by Germaine Greer
"Fear of Flying" by Erica Jong
Not surprising that Erica is a bit heavy on sex and feminism here and includes her own book. But "Fear of Flying" did greatly influence me. However, I was more influenced by Kate Millet's "Sexual Politics" than the Robin Morgan or Germaine Greer books.
This is Oliver Stone's list of ten essential Boomer Movies:
"The Graduate" "Easy Rider"
"A Clockwork Orange" "Jaws"
"The Godfather, I and II" "All the President's Men"
"Annie Hall" "Apocalypse Now"
"Kramer vs. Kramer" "Reds"
Heavy on the masculine side, if you ask me, and he missed some big ones: "A Hard Day's Night," "Woodstock" "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Dr. Zhivago." Those left lasting impressions on me.
Music critic Nelson George weighs in on the ten essential boomer albums:
Bob Dylan, "Highway 61 Revisited" Carole King, "Tapestry"
Marvin Gaye, "What's Going on?" Led Zeppelin, "Led Zeppelin IV"
Rolling Stones, "Exile on Main St." Stevie Wonder, "Innervisions"
Donna Summer, "Love to Love You Baby"
"Saturday Night Fever" Soundtrack
The Beatles, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
Bob Marley & the Wailers, "Exodus"
Donna Summer? What about Elvis?
So Baby Boomers.
What do you think?
Did they get it right?
Were these the ESSENTIAL books, films and music that shaped your Boomer years?
What are your favorite Baby Boomer memories that you will take with you to the nursing home?
See you Friday for a follow-up on the Golden Globes and the Academy Award nominations and my Week in Reviews.
Check your local library for the books, movies and music listed.
Jong's, Stone's and George's lists from The AARP Magazine December 2013/January 2014.
Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.