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Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: 6 Fellow Gen-Xers I Can Actually Stand (Part One)

They're the closest thing I have to a "group identity," but I can still only count six great Generation-X-ers...

Kathy Shaidle


May 28, 2013 - 7:00 am

When my (millennial) editor suggested I write about my favorite (fellow) Generation X-ers, it took me four days to think of one name.

Then the rest of the week to come up with the rest.

For someone who is as cohort-sensitive as I am, who rages constantly about “kids these days,” and who feels most comfortable socializing almost exclusively with other X-ers, I found this assignment surprisingly daunting.

I used a HighLowBrow post about Gen-Xers to try to kickstart my brain.

That site calls us “Recons” and counts those born between 1964-1973 as members of that generation.

The article features a labor-of-love list of famous Recons/X-ers that was invaluable in helping me put together this column.

Predictably, I take issue with their chosen start date, however.

It’s a weird definition of “Generation X” that excludes the guy who popularized the phrase (Douglas Coupland, 1961) or the fellow who wrote our “national anthem” (Gordon Gano, 1963):

Music: Courtney Love

My loathing of the O.J. Simpson jury is boundless.

Thanks to the only twelve people in America who apparently couldn’t even spell “DNA,” a wealthy celebrity got away with murder.

In my review of Ann Coulter’s most recent book, Mugged, I noted that, in her opinion, the trial’s outcome did have one positive (albeit shortlived) aspect:

Coulter’s thesis is that after the ridiculous O.J. Simpson “not guilty” verdict — and particularly, the racially divided reaction to it — sane Americans finally gave themselves permission to say farewell to white guilt and all its attendant evasions, hypocrisy, awkward social etiquette, and toxic lawmaking.

Having said all that, I confess that I’m not entirely immune from the naked tribalism that fuelled that jury’s rationale.

Only a handful of individuals make my “Do No Wrong” list:

Folks like Pete Townshend, Sarah Palin, and Zombie Frank Sinatra, who could team up on a five-state ax-murdering spree and I’d be insisting that, well, they probably had a good reason.

Hole frontwoman, sometime actress, and Kurt Cobain widow Courtney Love (1964) also makes my very short list.francesbeancobain

I wish I cared that she used drugs when she was pregnant, but her daughter seems to have turned out all right. I wish I cared about whatever flaky thing she probably tweeted while I was writing this, or what religion she’s into this week.

But surveying that HighLowBrow list for Gen-X musicians I cared about – or, frankly, I’d even heard of (hip hop and rap have bored me since Malcolm McLaren’s premature attempt to popularize those genres and cultures back in 1980; I can’t tell Kanye from Jay-Z) — I came up short.

Yes, Cobain and company’s “Unplugged” sessions are immortal.

But if you believe he “really wrote” the songs on Hole’s (also immortal) breakthrough album, you’re delusional.

Not even a man as un-masculine as Cobain could’ve written “Jennifer’s Body” or “Doll Parts.” Those are girl songs.

I still listen to Live Through This about once a week.

Recently, I gave Nobody’s Daughter another shot and now have it in regular rotation.

The album’s obvious references to stuff she and I both grew up listening to – I detect hints of America’s “Ventura Highway” and “Sister Golden Hair” — make it the perfect “meta” Gen-X record, actually.

So moving:

Comedy: Adam Carolla

I’ve praised Adam Carolla (1964) a lot in these virtual pages.

I love that he didn’t go to college, that he has a breathtaking work ethic, that he knows how to build and fix stuff, and that he has little time for received liberal wisdom and “goodthink.”

I don’t admire everything about him, of course.

Sometimes Carolla lapses into lazy thinking on topics like gun control, or when he rants too long about hacky topics like airports, hotels, and limo drivers.

And for someone who espouses tough talkin’ bootstrapping in both his bestselling books, I cringe when he talks about how spoiled his kids are.

But he’s my favorite (Gen-X) comedian. (Alas, Nick DiPaolo falls outside the cohort.)

It’s revealing to contrast Carolla’s popularity with that of his rough contemporaries Louis CK and Marc Maron.

The latter two are far more beloved amongst millennial comedy buffs — damn, this was long overdue – whereas I can’t stand Maron’s petulant bitter neurosis or CK’s — for lack of a better word — wimpiness, not to mention either one’s default liberalism and prejudice against “flyover country.”

Both flirt with “edginess” but pull back just before they offend their earnest, politically correct fans.

Listen to Louis CK’s act carefully. Sure, he jokes about race and rape, but gets away with it because he reaches “acceptable” conclusions.

Adam Carolla? Not so much:

Finally, contrast the way Louis CK spends his riches with Carolla’s buying style.

After making a million bucks off his downloadable comedy special, Louis CK guiltily gave a bunch of the cash to various non-controversial charities.

Being a real man and all, Carolla just gets another sports car.

Anyhow, I can’t wait to watch his new reality show, in which he’ll confront lazy contractors who’ve messed up people’s homes.

I’m pretty sure neither Mark Maron or Louis CK knows one end of a hammer from another.

Just another reason to love Adam Carolla.


Next Week in Part 2: Kathy’s picks in Generation X TV and film…

(KATHY SHAIDLE is a blogging pioneer who runs FiveFeetOfFury, now in its 15th year. She's been called "one of the great virtuoso polemicists of our time," by MARK STEYN. Her NEW book is Confessions of A Failed Slut (Thought Catalog, 2014).

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All Comments   (11)
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I have never thought of myself or my siblings (born between 61 and 66) as "Boomers" at all.

After 1955 the Postwar baby boom was over for the most part. Culturally, people born from 55 to 65 were more likely to be the neglected children of teenaged hippies (the actual baby boomers) who were busy finding themselves, exploring "free love", playing around with the psychedelic drug culture, and attending "happenings" like Woodstock and Altamont … debauchery which could last for days at a time.

All the while the toddler children of those teen moms and dads (us) were cast off to grandparents, aunts and uncles.

This unnamed decade of kids (pre-X- ers?) rejected Rock and Disco for the most part by the time they reached high school age and, starting in the early 70s, adopted Punk rock, Metal, New Wave, Grunge and eventually Industrial dance music. Music stylings which no other generation admits to liking, but music that somehow appears in nearly every modern movie soundtrack.

It is this (my) unnamed generation that remembers the “Disco Demolition” at Comiskey Park with such great fondness. Interestingly the Disco Demolition kids were then was criticized and marginalized using similar terms to those used to criticize the Tea Party today.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sorry you had a troubled childhood, but the oldest 'Boomers, (b. 1946) were 9 in ''55 and 19 in '65, so there might have been a few births to teenagers in there, but not many. In those days, it was REALLY hard to get a girl under 18 to have sex with you because you and she were terrified of pregnancy and it was very hard for her to get pills until she was over 18 and out of the house.

I know how much everyone seems to like the myth but of the 75 or 80 million people born between '46 and '64, only a couple hundred thousand went to "happenings" like Woodstock or Altamont.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The music died in 1972!

I don't know what my bio-daughter (b. 1971) and her husband listen to. He's a real movie and comic fan so he's pretty far into modern popular culture but I don't think she is very much. They live a pretty affluent lifestyle in Seattle so they're a little groovy for my tastes; probably voted for Comrade Obama, but she's been away from my good influences for twenty-odd years and his parents are Democrats.

All that said, while they're products of 'Boomers (b. 1949 and 1951 in the case of my daughter's parents) and in my and her mother's case pretty adventurous 'Boomers, they're both right out of Ozzie and Harriet and The Donna Reid Show; they're almost painfully straight! The only other couple I know well about my age and who have kids about the same age, a little younger but not much, have had the same experience. They, like Wife v1.0 and I, were pretty "adventurous" in the '60s and early '70s but straightened up enough to become pretty successful by the '80s and by the time the kids were in their teens and young adulthood in the late '80s and the '90s were absolute straight arrows, pretty successful, and quite affluent. The kids all turned out to be like we were in the '50s and early '60s before the World went wild in the late '60s and early '70s.

My own observation of X-er popular culture is that they tried very, very hard to be as bad and edgy as their '60s forebears but the bar was just too high. I actually can't think of much of the popular culture from the late '80s, '90s, or even early '00s I want to see, hear, or do again. Welll, there were some women from those times ...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
CK is such a sucker that this piece is redeemed, but I am unhappy with the Courtney Love inclusion. You know one commie sympathy is going to send you to hell, right?

People in their thirties and forties who are wonderful here is such a weird abbreviated list. Comics like Chapelle, Key and Peele and that caucasian sensation Doug Stanhope.

Prince Harry. Army guys. Too unsung even in this highly enlightened age *cough cough cough*

I'm stretching to think of a musician or author. My dixie Godfather says name-dropping leads to homophilia though. But they know whom they are.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Key and Peele are comic geniuses.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Clicked on the article just to see if I'd ever heard of any of these people...

Courtney Love. Isn't she a vocalist of some sort?

Adam Carolla. Right... the Man Show.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Pete Townsend? You mean the one who downloads photos of naked little boys on his PC?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What's abnormal about a guy setting himself up as a one-man kiddie porn detective agency only he and his credit card company knows about?

I myself recently set up an organization called the National Geographic Society, dedicated to the amateur sleuthing of the world's natural wonders. Tomorrow I'm climbing into a tree in my back yard to explore the multi-layered world of the canopy culture, or whatever it's called.

I'm planning on bringing back samples of bark, caterpillars and spiders and putting them in my fridge. Then I might call someone.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No! He downloaded kiddie porn and pled quilty to it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've a bridge to offer you.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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