200px-Bill_Clinton.jpgI’m proud to be a Baby Boomer, because of all the historical implications my generation has had. Not the usual stuff about living through the Vietnam war and rock and roll and Kennedy and civil rights and the space race (all of which is true), but more the fact that simply having such a large cohort of people growing up at the same time forced society and industry and business and culture to change to accommodate us all.

Bill Clinton, who’s the quintessential boomer — the first avowed rock and roller (OK, so maybe playing Fleetwood Mac for campaign music isn’t hardcore, and he didn’t “inhale,” but he’s still more like us, than, say, the first George Bush or Ronald Reagan) who moved into the White House — turns 60 this week, and the BBC had this interview with the guy.

I’ve unabashedly celebrated my boomerness all my life. My pal Leland Rucker and I co-authored The Toy Book, a history of Baby Boomer era toys, and I was born in 1957, the year that had the biggest birthrate in the history of the world.

I know, I know, a lot of people, including a lot of boomers but definitely younger people, are sick of boomers being all nostalgic about their youth and thinking their era was the best ever. I’m not sure anymore that it was the best ever (the ’60s and ’70s and ’80s were the years of my youth, college and early adulthood).

But I will say that it remains the period that I think back on, for myself, as the years that influenced me the most and instilled the values I live my life by. Yes, I like a lot things about those years. No, I don’t want to go back in time to that era… at least, not often.

I like living today too, and find a lot to love and enjoy and know that 30 years from now, for instance, the early days of the Internet will seem quaint and old-fashioned.

But it’s been fun watching my generation grow up with me. I rooted for Clinton when he became President. For all his flaws, I agreed with his politics (mostly) and I thought — and still think — he has incredible charisma and leadership qualities.

And, I loved that he was of my generation. Anyone who’s younger may hate that, but when someone who’s 25 or 30 today becomes President and topples the older generation in 30 or 40 years, I think they might feel something of the same realization, that they’ve now come of age.

It’s corny, but when Clinton played his kinda lame-o sax, I felt that coming of age. It felt like we’d arrived where we’d been heading for all of the ’60s and ’70s, and although there was still a lot of work to do, and there still is, it seemed a little easier to do the work now that we had one of our own as top dog in the country.

And, the boom hasn’t played out yet. I’m looking forward to seeing where we all end up.

Happy birthday, Mr. President (<-- this itself is a boomer-era reference, huh?).

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2 Responses to Boomerama

  1. ric says:

    howdy from colorado. have been enjoying your blog, gil. this one, in particular, hit close to home. i liked clinton, also. having inhaled a few times, i never bought the fact that he didn’t, given what i know of his bio. but it’s things like that (his lame denial) which illustrate how our generation has been molded into the shape of the status quo. maybe we haven’t sold out, really, but we have, in large part, been subsumed by the entrenched culture. the far-reaching impact we hoped to make stalled a couple decades ago when that B-actor defeated jimmy carter. yes, the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement and the environmental movement are all legacies we will leave for future generations. but we should remember that someone else celebrated his 60th birthday this summer. his middle initial is W. as a boomer, also, this president is the darker shadow of what happened to our generation when we allowed ourselves to be absorbed into the mainstream. maybe we became distracted — with families and careers and 401ks and such, our attention wavering in the flickering light of the new technology. or maybe we just got old. i’m a few years older than you. but i don’t think of myself as old yet. still, i see my parents generation vanishing into history. and one day soon “satisfaction” will seem as quaint as “take the A train” did to us. but i know in my heart that we can, and will, have the opportunity to make another, greater impact on the future — when we refocus our retirement years on those issues we once championed in our youth. –ric

  2. Gil Asakawa says:

    Hi Ric, thanks for your comments. Yes, it’s worth noting that W is also a solid boomer. Yuck.

    I wonder if “Satisfaction” doesn’t already sound quaint to someone who’s 25 today…..

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