Essays & Images on Cities, Travel and Contemporary Culture. A web journal of James A. Clapp, Ph.D., an UrbisMedia Ltd. Production

Vol.60.9: NOSTALGIA PORN

V060-09_rememberConfession: I ask for the “senior discount” when I go to the movies. That way I don’t have to hand them the deed to my home. (Related confession: I sometimes slip in to see another movie at those multiplex theaters, without paying. Serves them right for not having double features like when I was growing up.)


That’s a good segue to my theme for the day. It is nice that we are having senior citizens who are living to ripe old ages, but I have some reservations about it—one of which is that some of them should not be allowed near computers and the Internet. Not all of them, but those who have what I would call arrogant nostalgica. This concerns me because, at least demographically, I am on the cusp of, if not already a member, of this generation. Otherwise, they are oooh, soooo not me.


They are the generation that somebody had the foolishness to call “The Greatest Generation,” but some of them are becoming the greatest pain in the ass.” Yes, some members of that generation that lived through the Great Depression and fought in WWII so we wouldn’t have to learn to speak German and Japanese did wonderful and often heroic things. They were my parents’ generation, and like my 92-year-old mom, many of them are still around. But I am speaking also of a cohort that was a few years later than them, those who were kids during the depression and the war, and were on the cusp of the social changes that occurred during the tumultuous period from 1955 to 1968. These are the ones who have been allowed to have computers and Internet access.


I also suspect that a good number of this generation is responsible for the likes of Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes. Why? Because they are suspiciously socially, if not politically, conservative and would easily fall for slogans like “Morning in America,” that offered them a return to those “good old days” of their “greatest” youth when the culture was not so complicated and polychromatic.


But maybe I’m pushing that a bit too far for my theme—that is, that too many of this generation, many of whom have lived more years in retirement that they spent in the work force, are becoming a nuisance in filling the Internet with nostalgia porn. They are trying to turn the country into a national front porch of a retirement home on which legions of codgers sit around on rockers in gated retirement communities and lament the passing of the days when “men were men (who only liked women), women were in the kitchen, kids played baseball rather than Grand Theft Auto 4, phones were rotary and Bakelite, Coke came in glass bottles, you could tune your own car, movies weren’t on long sex scene, cigarettes and hot dogs were not harmful . . . well I could go on, and on, or just direct you to some of the emails I receive from people (mostly guys) who, if they find the 21st Century so unacceptable, might have gone “gently into that good night” of Aqua Velva, hair pomade, and all cars were made in America.


But no, they would rather sit there, rocking on their prostates, on the front porch of gauzy, over-sentimentalized memory, cranking out on their lap-tops an endless stream of “remember whens,” Glen Miller 78s spinning out on “His Master’s Voice,” reminiscing about the days when we could tell our enemies by their uniforms, and our friends by the pallor of their complexions. So, here are some examples from stuff that has been seen to me.
From something called “Wisdom from Grandpa”:


Whether a man winds up with a nest egg, or a goose egg, depends a lot on the kind of chick he marries.
Trouble in marriage often starts when a man gets so busy earnin’ his salt that he forgets his sugar.
Too many couples marry for better, or for worse, but not for good.


Just use the white bag if you feel your breakfast coming up.


This one is from a site called “Geezers”:


At sporting events, during the playing of the National Anthem, Old Geezers hold their caps over their hearts and sing without embarrassment. They know the words and believe in them. . . . It’s the Old Geezers who know our great country is protected, not by politicians or police, but by the young men and women in the military serving their country. This country needs Old Geezers with their decent values. We need them now more than ever. Thank God for Old Geezers!


OK, I’ll get you another bag. You’re gonna love this next one, from something called “The Drug Problem in America”:


The other day, someone at a store in our town read that a methamphetamine lab had been found in an old farmhouse in the adjoining county and he asked me a rhetorical question, ”Why didn’t we have a drug problem when you and I were growing up?” I replied: “I had a drug problem when I was young”:
I was drug to church on Sunday morning. I was drug to church for weddings and funerals.

I was drug to family reunions and community socials no matter the weather. I was drug by my ears when I was disrespectful to adults.
It goes on, but you get the idea. The guy who wrote this probably uses Flomax, Celebrex, Cialis, and Lipitor, washed down with Metamucil.

I like this next one because it employs the sort of logic you hear from protesters at health care town hall meetings. It’s called “We Survived”:
TO ALL THE KIDS WHO WERE BORN IN THE 1930’s 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s !!

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us.
They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.
Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.


This, of course, is not being read by the dead mothers and children who might be alive if idiots like this guy were not influencing public policy. But this idiot has company—the guy who write something called “SCHOOL — 1957 vs. 2007” Just two of his comparisons are enough:


Scenario: Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack. 
1957 – Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack’s shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack. 
2007 – School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers. 

Scenario: Pedro fails high school English. 
1957 – Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college. 
2007 – Pedro’s cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro’s English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.


He left out the scenario where Jack brings his gun to school and blows away Pedro for being an undocumented worker.


There are many more sites and emails, but I will close with this one, because it begins a little defensively. It didn’t have a title, but used colored fonts for emphasis (some of us codgers are pretty clever), although the graphics were wretched. It goes:


Senior citizens are constantly being criticized for every conceivable deficiency of the modern world, real or imaginary. We know we take responsibility for all we have done and do not blame others. 
HOWEVER, upon reflection, we would like to point out that it was NOT the senior citizens who took: The melody out of music, The pride out of appearance, The courtesy out of driving, The romance out of love, The commitment out of marriage, The responsibility out of parenthood, The togetherness out of the family, The learning out of education, The service out of patriotism, The Golden Rule from rulers, The nativity scene out of cities, The civility out of behavior, The refinement out of language, The dedication out of employment, The prudence out of spending, The ambition out of achievement, or, God out of government and school.


Hey, Jack, can I borrow your shotgun?


Memory can be very selective. Within the mnemonic orbit of he “Greatest Generation” is Jim Crow, “No Irish (Italians) Need Apply,” castrating Gays, and I could go on. But these people still believe in “Mourning in America” and they still vote, still show up at “town hall meetings,” still exert a strong influence on public policy. If they spend too much time dwelling on the past, uniformed about the present and not concerned enough about the world their grandchildren will inherit, their memories of the great days of their generation will help bring about the demise of America in which they share blame.

So let this “senior” offer a few un-gezzerly aphorisms of my own :

The present has plenty wrong with it, but its parent is the past.
Nostalgia can be wonderful, even when reminiscence doesn’t always tell the truth.

Memories are a nice place to visit; but if you live in the past, you are already dead—you just don’t know it.
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© 2009, James A. Clapp (UrbisMedia Ltd. Pub. 9.17.2009)
Note: I have saved the links for the sites I have quoted from (in the event you accidentally swallow some rat poison and need a quick regurgitive).
http://www.libertyhigh56.net/special pages/seniors/seniors.htm

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