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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Could it Be 40 years?

It was yesterday, wasn't it?  When I was wearing the World's biggest, thickest and geekiest eyeglasses known to man.  When I took to the basketball floor in Rec Specs and short shorts.  Picture Kurt Rambis and Rhea Perlman reproducing.  That's me!   Toughskins and Sears sweaters were all my rage.  Members Only jackets were cutting edge (and it was ok if you could only afford Club Member jackets, wasn't it?)

A time when heading to the arcade meant quarter after quarter deposited into Pac-Man machines, and Q-Bert, and the sweet rolling ball action of Centipede.  Does anyone remember Asteroids?  Space Invaders?  We did not need the cool gaming systems either.  Atari 2600 was just fine.  Those handheld battery operated Mattel or Coleco football games provided countless hours of fun.

DVD's and pay per view were crazy pipe dreams.  We liked our movies on VHS (or even Beta!)  John Hughes was God and Molly Ringwald was the girl next door.  We waited on line for Star Wars.  No Jar Jar Binks and CGI for us thanks, we like our monsters Jim Henson and/or Rick Baker-esque.  Vampires were not pretty boys with lip liner and big hair.  Werewolves were pretty boys in red leather jackets singing "Thriller."  Wait, Twilight might be a push there.  Both pretty queer, huh?

We bought vinyl, then cassettes, then cd's.  The sound was crisper.  We could touch the music.  We read liner notes.  When was the last time you were blown away by cover art?  Can you tell me what the Maroon 5 album looks like?  So, you only know what it sounds like???  Double fail.

Video killed the radio star and we liked it.  Thomas Dolby and the Thompson Twins were stars.  Human League were viable artists.  Bruce, and The Police, Tom Petty, and Dire Straits made huge records.  Hair metal made us rock our heads and take things less seriously.  Def Leppard were legitimate stars.  Van Halen was guitar rock, not a sibling sideshow.  Madonna and Janet Jackson tore up the dance charts.  Paula Abdul was choreographing Laker girls and dancing with DJ Skat Cat.  Her hazy critiques of karaoke artists would come later, much later.  Diamonds in the Sky were Beatles tracks from Sgt Peppers, not Rhianna songs.  Has anyone ever seen a diamond in the sky?  Is it a musician thing us non-artist types are not capable of seeing?  Although Rhianna sees something redeeming in Chris Brown so here credibility is lacking.  Let's move on.

Do you remember scripted television programs?  Michael Keaton annoyed his hippie parents.  Cosby wore crazy sweaters and shilled for pudding pops.  Oh pudding pops, how I miss you...  Hill Street had its blues. St Elsewhere introduced us to a lucid Howie Mandel.  Moonlighting showed us what romantic comedy could be, then promptly made us hate everything about it.  That's Incredible was our Funniest Videos.  Monday Night Football had Howard Cosell and drop in guests like John Lennon.  World Series games were played during the afternoon.  60 Minutes had Mike Wallace, Andy Rooney and Don Hewitt producing.  We hated watching it on Sunday (school the next day-yuck!), but we appreciated it like an old t shirt.   A creature comfort if you will.

Dancing and "Stars" were things you saw camping (ok, not me, but other people), not network television.   We relied on A&R folks and studio execs to find music talent.  Ever take a hard look at X Factor, or American Idol?  Those shows resemble Rollerball (the James Caan version, not dreadful reboot from a few years back.)  Or to make it more relevant, The Hunger Games.  Kids competing each other and often times brought to tears by judges at a panel or the masses.  "We like you!"  "We love you!"  "We hate you!"  Go away and die!"  "You win!"  "You lose!!!"

This rejection and praise should be done behind closed doors, not on Primetime.  Why are we so fascinated by the public spectacle?  Again, I have veered off topic.  But the whole thing speaks to our primal appetites, no?  How long until we arm a Clay Aiken type with a microphone in one hand and pistol in the other?  Hmm, Clay Aiken and pistol...  maybe not the best analogy.

Back on topic, sort of...  Eventually we had to worry about which college we would go to (or get into it in my case.)  What major would we choose?  What do we want to do when we grow up?

Which brings me here.  40 years in and asking many of the same questions.  Turns out liberal arts majors are kinda useless unless you really have your shit together.  "You gonna teach??" they all said.  "Um, no." was my curt response.  "So then what???"

"Well, um..."

Marriage, a child, mortgage, pets, car payments, coaching duties, aging parents, expanding waistlines, graying hairs, failing eyesight (could it get worse???!!!), bad backs, bad loans, questionable political systems, antiquated infrastructures, menacing natural disasters, and countless other questions we ask ourselves:   What have we gotten ourselves into?  How will we get out?

Really not so different from what my folks faced, and their folks before them.  The one certainty of getting older is uncertainty.  Ours is a World of constant threats, lingering doubts and the struggle to make ends meet.

It is coming to terms with that daunting World view that defines us today.  Can you do it?

Do you have a choice?  Forces work more against us than with us.

But we cannot throw in the towel.  And we cannot live life like some sort of automaton.  Simply going through the motions will only succeed in stifling the very freedoms we work for, and often times take for granted.

For every eight hour day we earn at least one hour of me time?  5-7 hours a week at a minimum.  Spend it doing whatever.   Play catch with your child.  Read a book by the fireplace.  Call a friend or loved one you have not connected to in a while.  Hit the gym.  Catch a movie.  See a show.  Live damn it!!

Otherwise what is this all for?

We had the misfortune of putting our house on the market a few weeks back.  Silly us, we wanted a little bit more space and some more fruits for said labor.  Naturally Hurricane Sandy blew the sign off our well manicured lawn mere hours after the stakes went in the ground.

Bad timing, not unlike moving to the NYC area months before 9/11.  

Not to worry.  It will sell.  We will live to see another day.  And we will all laugh about it years from now.

It will not prevent us from decorating for Christmas.  It will not stop us from attending concerts and watching our daughter play basketball.

Another obstacle in a series of obstacles that appear determined to beat us down.

Scratch that, it sounds too much like an irritating Facebook post from one of your cousins who thinks everything is part of a cabal intent on destroying him or her

This is life.  After 40 years you learn to take it all in and smile.

There are so many that have real problems!

Not here.  Count me amongst the thankful, grateful and fortunate.

Bring it on!!  And bring it on another 40 years!!  (but no more than that- we live too long damn it-)

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