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Feminism Doesn’t Need Re-Branding, It Needs a Revolution

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg


This past week, Leslie Loftis provided a keenly written summation of the aftermath of Second Wave Feminism when she asked the question, “Can We Rebrand Feminism?” Her conclusion, that”…many women will continue to disavow ‘feminism’ as the label for a life of work.  As women plan for more in their lives, the term will diminish and fade, an ignominious end to a once-powerful historical label,” is far more nuanced and thought-provoking than most conservatives would permit in their black-and-white world of Left versus Right. Which is exactly why feminism must remain a part of the conversation.

Loftis is fully correct in her observation that feminism has become the property of “wealthy, elite-educated,white women, who are closest to perfect [boardroom] parity”. But, to turn our collective back on the real oppression of women that exists in this world because of the ideological failures of Barbie-esque dilettantes is as effective as throwing the baby out with the bathwater. In a post-denominational era where religion has been replaced by cause and community has gone from neighborhood to global, better to rally effectively than disperse into isolationism. What feminism needs isn’t dissolution, but evolution out of the boardroom and into the real world.

While American feminists engage in Dunham-esque debates over their penny-ante problems, over 500 girls in Britain are “estimated to have undergone the procedure of female genital cutting” common in African culture.  According to a recent BBC report, “It is estimated about 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.”

In her book They Must Be Stopped, Brigitte Gabriel explains:

“One of the most devastating practices to young girls in the Islamic world is female genital mutilation. Young girls have their clitoris removed without anesthesia to eliminate their sexual drive and preserve them for a life of sinless purity. As so much rides on a woman’s honor, including the livelihood and community standing of every member of her extended family, the practice is a kind of insurance policy. Female genital mutilation ensures that honor will be preserved because the girl will not have any sexual attraction to boys. It will also ensure that the girl, who is considered a financial burden to the family, will be prime property on the marriage market as a virgin.”

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Give ‘Em Enough Rope Turns 35 (Part One)

Thursday, November 14th, 2013 - by Kathy Shaidle


Twenty-five years ago this week, The Clash released their second album, Give ‘Em Enough Rope.

Artistic sophomore efforts always threaten to over-promise and under-deliver.

Inevitably, then, reaction to Rope was decidedly mixed.

Critics were mostly enthralled. Rolling Stone and Time hailed Give ‘Em Enough Rope as 1978′s album of the year.

On The Clash’s home turf, a writer at Sounds (who probably never lived this down) declared it one of the best records in history.

For many fans, however, such critical acclaim bolstered their own disdain.

The iconoclastic punk band had promised their loyal followers that signing their six-figure contract with CBS Records would never turn them into commercial, corporate puppets. One zine famously declared that “punk died” the day that deal was done.

So as far as longtime loyalists were concerned, Give ‘Em Enough Rope represented a blatant betrayal. They called the record slick and overproduced — by the guy behind Blue Oyster Cult, no less!

For less rabid music lovers, Rope simply got lost between the band’s epochal self-titled debut and their third release, the mainstream masterpiece London Calling.

Heck, Fred Armisen even forgot to make fun of it:

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The Culture of ‘You’re Special’ Is Ruining America

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 - by Becky Graebner

Williamstown_ES_Interior 1

When I was in middle school (early 2000s) my 6th grade math teacher was asked to stop grading assignments using a red marker because the resulting red, massacred papers were too much for students to bear.  Imagine angry calls from parents because their children were sobbing about being failures.  Come on, you’re eleven years old!  (Only a few years later, teachers were asked to grade using green pens because they were less upsetting to students…)

The way children are raised has shifted from “love + small, measured doses of reality” to “love – exposure to the real world.”  Many children today receive stickers on each assignment (even if they failed the spelling test), trophies for being a part of a soccer team (that they never played on), and award ribbons for participating in required activities.  They also probably have their homework marked in either green or pastel blue.  Their graded assignments meet the “sticker quota.”  Parents give them candy because they are sad they failed a test (because they didn’t study).  I understand kids are sensitive, impressionable, and don’t take well to failure, but kids shouldn’t be coddled forever.

The Millennial generation has been raised to believe that everyone is special.  Barney told me I was special.  So did my mom, dad, and Elmo.  Nobody’s feelings are allowed to be hurt or any stress inflicted.  There isn’t much competition and little incentive to work hard.  In short, there are no losers.  But are there really any winners?

This is the paradox: in order to make everyone feel “special,” everyone must be treated the same–no matter what.  What a contradiction.

This mentality is ruining society.

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The Baby Boomer and Millennial Blame Game

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 - by Becky Graebner

Put down your phone and step away from the salad.

Alexandra Petri of The Washington Post wrote a snarky blog a few weeks ago on the Millennials titled, “Please Stop Having Dumb Opinions About Millennials.”

While I think my generation is guilty of some of the stereotypes that are mentioned, like over-sharing and being very into technology, I have to laugh and agree with some of Petri’s points on our views of Millennials.

Essentially, we all need to get a grip.

Every piece about Millennials goes one of the following ways:
1) I am Not a Millennial, and GOSH they really need to get JOBS and stop thinking they’re so SPECIAL and INSTAGRAMMING THEIR DANG SALADS!
4) (This category is sadly underrepresented.) Things are not actually that bad. Although the Internet has shaped our lives and the way we interact in ways that seem FRIGHTENING and DIFFERENT to people accustomed to land-lines and snail mail, and although, yes, we are in our 20s so we are in many cases self-centered because statistically people in their 20s tend to be a little more self-centered than people who are, well, older, we Millennials are mostly doing the best we can in a difficult economy that is not entirely our fault and that we did not expect to have to tackle instantly upon leaving the college bubble.

I think a fair amount of Millennials are part of the #3 category. I know I’m part of this crowd; “PLEASE don’t think I’m an entitled jerk!”  Some of us are embarrassed by our peers that fit some of the horrible stereotypes–and hope that nobody lumps us into that category.

Petri argues that some of the stereotypes surrounding the Millennials are a little exaggerated–and she’s right.  Not all Millennials are pathetic saps and not all pathetic saps are Millennials.  Also, it isn’t just Millennials that are guilty of some of these stereotypical “Millennial sins” that people allege are ruining society.

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Do You Have to Be a ‘Progressive’ to Wear Progressive Lenses?

Thursday, October 10th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard

M13-12 Progressive Lenses(1)

“Failure to adjust.” That’s what Becky, the cheerful optician, said my problem was with the new progressive lenses. “Failure to adjust” sounds like it should be in the same category as “doesn’t play well with others,” or “runs with scissors,” so her words stung a little and I inwardly berated myself for not making more of an effort to make the new glasses work.

For the last few years I have been getting by with dollar store reading glasses as my near vision deteriorated, apparently in anticipation of my 50th birthday. Twenty years ago I had surgery to correct my distance vision and had enjoyed a blissful, lens-free life until about five years ago, when I began to squint when reading small print. Then came the embarrassing stage of holding everything at arm’s length. I avoided reading glasses as long as possible, but eventually, my arms became too short and I could no longer read anything smaller than a STOP sign without glasses.

My dollar store reading glasses, if not fashionable, were cheap enough that I could have a pair handy at all times. Well, at least, I owned enough glasses that I should have had a pair handy at all times. I had a pair in my purse, my car, the living room, the kitchen — even the bathroom. Nevertheless, I could never seem to locate a pair when I needed them. It seemed I had a pair for every room except for the room I was in. I’d find myself at Walmart, unable to read any of the prices and straining to find the English print sandwiched between the French and Spanish warnings. I’d fumble around in my purse looking for the reading glasses, only to remember that I had taken them out of my purse at home because I couldn’t find the pair that had somehow migrated from the living room to who-knows-where.

It could be worse. Recently my husband and I we were at a restaurant with friends — Bob Evans, where people my age are supposed to eat, I’m told — and my friend’s husband had to borrow my reading glasses because he didn’t have his handy. Right there in Bob Evans! At least I haven’t sunk that low yet.

I mean, not completely. I recently returned home from a trip to Kohl’s (Kohl’s is where almost-50-year-old women like to shop because they jigger the sizes so that it looks like you wear a size 4 when you really wear a size 6) and told my husband about how much trouble I had trouble shopping without my glasses, which had mysteriously disappeared from my purse. Again. His eyes widened as he contemplated the prospect of his wife loose at that store with a Kohl’s charge, oblivious to the price tags she was unable to read. But I had a 20% off coupon! (Or maybe it was 10%. It was a little blurry.)

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11 Tips for Job-seeking Millennials

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013 - by Becky Graebner

This is how I feel.

One of my duties at my 9 to 5 job is to screen/hire interns and field applicants for job openings.  People have come and gone in the past few years and I have had thousands (literally, thousands) of job applications come through my email inbox.  I am required to read every single one.

It really isn’t as bad as it sounds—physically reading pages upon pages doesn’t make you completely blind—but I do tend to come out of my “application binges” feeling depressed. Why? The surface reason is that I hate having to go through 1,000 applications, knowing that 999 people are not going to get the job. The deeper reason is that reading ridiculous cover letters and resumes makes me feel very sad for my generation. If you really want to know how horrific the job market is, just read a stack of resumes.  I just had to slog through 15 applications—and my gut reaction to each one was to write each applicant a personalized critique on what they did wrong and why I eliminated them.

Here’s some advice for millennial job applicants:

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Porn, Sex & ‘The Talk’

Sunday, October 6th, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg


There’s a hysterical scene in ABC’s The Middle where the parents ask each other, “Did you have the talk with the kids?” After bantering “I thought you did,” back and forth, they finally conclude, “Eh, that’s what school’s for.”

Not anymore.

As former Loaded editor Martin Daubney recently concluded, “Ultimately, the responsibility lies with us, the  parents. The age of innocence is over.”

For my mother growing up in the 50′s, “the talk” about sex was unheard of. By the time I came of age in the 90′s most of my contemporaries masked ignorance with vague remarks about their older siblings’ Playboy collections or music video observations. “The Talk” was something held in sexually segregated health classes beginning in 6th grade (“We are talking about animals, not people,” I can still hear my health teacher adamantly explain) and stretching through 10th. By the time junior year rolled around the boys and girls sat together for a lecture on STD’s by Mr. Morelli who had no problem telling my fellow underage females that his favorite drink was Sex on the Beach. Senior year brought my friend Chris passing out while watching the live birth video. When my own mother attempted “The Talk” I insisted I knew everything I needed to know.  “Lalalala,” I stuck my fingers in my ears and went running from the room.  Sure, I was near clueless, but no one at the age of 12 wants to think their parents do that.

Today’s young teenagers, however, are better prepared than ever to teach Sex Ed classes, albeit from a rather skewed perspective, that is. A survey of 80 British teens conducted for a BBC documentary called Porn on the Brain “…proves the vast majority of UK teens have seen sexual imagery online, or pornographic films. According to the survey, the boys appear largely happy about watching porn – and were twice as likely as girls to do so – but the girls are significantly more confused, angry and frightened by online sexual imagery. The more they see, the stronger they feel.”

Surveying a group of teenagers, the documentary’s presenter Martin Daubney heard from one 15 year old girl, “‘Boys expect porn sex in real life’.” How are parents already uncomfortable with conversing about the basics of sex with their teenage girls going to breach the topic of “porn sex”? The bottom line is: They don’t have a choice.

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Technology & the Vertical Caveat in Generational Theory

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg


When I turned 16 I had a choice: A Sweet Sixteen Party or a trip to London. Unlike the rest of my peers I chose the latter. Not for the Spice Girls, but for the Beatles. I had spent the past year and a half papering my walls with photocopies my Dad would make on his lunch hour from books I’d checked out of the library. While most of my fellow classmates were crying along with Jewel, I was blasting the likes of The Supremes, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and the Mamas and the Papas. Backstreet Boys versus NSYNC lunchroom arguments baffled me as I tried to explain to my friends how Yoko Ono busted up my favorite boy band of all time.

Thanks to Brad Pitt I was beginning to think I had some kind of mental Benjamin Button syndrome until the other week when I came across the Pew Center’s “How Millennial Are You?” quiz (h/t Becky Graebner). Technically I fall into David Swindle’s Millennial-X’er Blend generation, but according to the  Pew Center, I’m a Baby Boomer verging on Generation X.

No wonder I tend to gravitate towards my elders, especially when it comes to entertainment. Of course, being Jewish, I blame it all on my Mother. At 7 our first video rental was the Amy Irving film Crossing Delancey. Years later I married a good Jewish boy with curly hair and New York roots, and I still have a thing for Peter Riegert. Unlike fellow high schoolers obsessed with Ross and Rachel, my teen years were defined by Rupert Holmes‘s much under noticed classic Remember WENN, a dramedy set at a Pittsburgh radio station in the days before World War II. I scoffed at fellow film students in college who balked at the idea of watching anything in black and white.  The other day, when I found out that Jason Alexander would be performing live in my neck of the woods, I scrambled online to get tickets. I am a middle-aged woman stuck in a Gen X/Millennial body.  How did this happen?

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The Unproductive Obsession with Hipster Anne Frank

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg


I first came to the attention of Hipster Anne Frank thanks to the Forward. I don’t Tweet much and when I do, I’m not exactly looking to hook up with faux profiles. Like most pre-tech dinosaurs (currently known as “the work force”), I can barely keep up with the real friends I have through the ‘net. Most of us still catch up on each other’s news the old-fashioned way — through talking, preferably in person. I found this out this weekend when three folks I collided into at a friend’s wedding all asked me, “So, what are you doing lately?” I did not respond, “Don’t you read my Facebook?” Why not? Because that would’ve been, well, weird.

Unfortunately, most folks don’t have such a laissez-faire relationship with social media. In fact, in the world of 24 hour news and instant Internet, news agencies rely on technology to provide them with fresh material around the clock. Hence a Twitter profile for Hipster Anne Frank became big news in some big publications including Ha’aretz, The Atlantic, and Time. Jumping on the trend, Renee Ghert-Zand proffered her opinion at the Forward: “Nonetheless, I maintain that there are better ways to get young people to learn about Anne Frank’s legacy.”

There absolutely are, and by pointing out that fact, Renee Ghert-Zand has missed the point of Hipster Anne Frank. This Twitter account, as with most faux-Twitter profiles, doesn’t exist to educate or inform, but to feed off the postmodern millennial belief that everything is nothing and can therefore be manipulated at will for the ultimate currency: hits, followers, re-tweets.

“I fear that this kind of tasteless misappropriation of Anne Frank’s memory and legacy, and that of other historical personalities, will only increase now that people can hide behind Twitter handles,” Ghert-Zand remarked.

Exactly. That’s the point.

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Nostalgic for MOM Power

Monday, September 30th, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg


The 1980s were the decade of family television.

Okay, to be fair, family TV is a concept that stretches back to the nascence of the medium. But, unlike previous decades, ’80s family sitcoms featured nuclear families strengthened by empowered marriages, a concept struggling to survive in 21st century television. My generation was raised on the Huxtables, the Keatons, and the Seavers. A decade of friend-based sitcoms later (Seinfeld, Will & Grace, and the eponymous Friends) and what kind of families are premiering on TV in 2013? Struggling single mothers, gay single dads, middle-aged divorcees wreaking havoc on their grown children’s lives, and The Goldbergs.

Why does television have to flash back to the ’80s to produce a good look at American family life?

To be fair, we do have Modern Family, The Middle, and Last Man Standing. But where are the power couples? Where are Cliff and Clair Huxtable, the working professionals who managed to raise 5 brilliant kids in a rather down-to-earth upper-middle -class household? Or Jason and Maggie Seaver, who cut a deal so dad could work from home and be there for the kids? What about Steven and Elyse Keaton who relished in the political-intellectual challenges posed by their son Alex? Even Roseanne, for as brutish a look at blue collar America as it was, featured a loving and supportive married couple that weathered some serious storms.

This year’s premieres feature MOM, a single mother going through AA with their own drug-addicted mother, Back in the Game, a single mother left penniless on her father’s doorstep for refusing to get a boob job, and a self-titled Trophy Wife trying to relate to her step-kids.

So much for female empowerment.

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Urban Outfitters ‘Punk’ Jacket Inspires Scorn, Amusement, Self-Pity

Friday, September 27th, 2013 - by Kathy Shaidle


In the wake of its release, Bowie bemoaned the fact that when he performed ["The Man Who Sold the World"] himself he would encounter “kids that come up afterwards and say, ‘It’s cool you’re doing a Nirvana song.’ And I think, ‘**** you, you little tosser!”

– Nicholas Pegg, The Complete David Bowie

I can’t figure out who saw it first — DangerousMinds? Someone on Facebook? — but I wasn’t surprised when Gavin McInnes jumped on the “Urban Outfitters ‘Punk’ Jacket” meme.

Urban Outfitters, you see, occasionally sells one-of-a-kind vintage fashion finds on their website.

To the palpable disgust of many GenXers, one of these “finds” went on sale this week.

It’s the $375 “punk” jacket you’re looking at at the top of this post.

If you don’t immediately recognize all the factors that make this jacket the exact opposite of punk — and therefore a matter we all need to talk about right away and for three whole days in great detail — then I can’t be friends with you either keep reading or, well, don’t I guess.

I was particularly eager to learn McInnes’ take on this.

You may know him as a regular guest on Fox News’ Red Eye. He’s also the author of The Death of Cool (which used to have a more, well, punk title…)

Canadians of a certain age know McInnes better as a founder of the once awesome Montreal-based Vice magazine, which is now just an international “content provider” phenomenon owned by some giant media conglomerate.

In the old days, Gavin’s “Do’s and Don’ts” section, mocking street fashion disasters with exquisite, withering precision, was some of the finest miniaturist writing anywhere.

McInnes is also, like me, a former punk — although like the Marines, we tend not to accept the “former” designation with graciousness.

The temperaments and attitudes that attracted us to punk are ones we were likely born (and stuck) with, even if our hair is now more likely to be grey than green.

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Five for Fighting Shines in Bookmarks

Friday, September 27th, 2013 - by J. Christian Adams

After weeks of Miley Cyrus, Bookmarks, the new album from Five for Fighting, couldn’t come soon enough. The twelve songs remind us pop music can be about family, love and life rather than twerking.

John Ondrasik’s latest project follows previous tunes woven into American memory such as “100 Years” and “Superman.” That’s where Five for Fighting always shines – capturing that sense of life, joy, and small moments which taken together are grand. Bookmarks is no different.









Ondrasik always seems to be up to something grand, even if it isn’t obvious.  His music, like Bob Dylan, U2, Van Morrison, is about bigger things, in everyday form and gently presented.

The album beings with the explosive and uplifting “Stand Up“:

If your dreams put you asleep/ If you have to paint your face/

and you’re not a clown/ If you’re naked lost in space/

and all you wear’s a frown/

Stand up Stand up/ Cause you’re falling down.

What If,” the song’s first single is a story of empathy:

Imagine all the pain that might be forgiven/

What if I had your heart/

What if you wore my scars. . . /

What if your hand was my hand/ Could we hold on and let go?

Bookmarks is about permanent and good things, not vain and transient ones. 

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3 Cultural Divides Between ’80s and ’90s Millennials

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013 - by Becky Graebner
UNDATED FILE PHOTO- Kurt Cobain, lead singer of the "grunge" rock group "Nirvana," was found dead in..

Then and Now

Are you “typical” for your generation or are you a “freak?”  Well, now you can find out.

The Pew Research Center has a quiz, “How Millennial are you?” It surveys your beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors and compares them to other Americans who have taken a national survey. Intriguing.

I took this quiz. Although I was born in the late 1980s, I wasn’t very “Millennial.”  The Millennial point spread is from 73-100, with 100 being the “most Millennial” you can be. Below 72 points, you leave the Millennial spread and enter into Gen Xer range.

I received 80 points on my test, putting me on the low end of the Millennial attitude/behavior range. A good friend from college also took this quiz. She received 40 points; putting her in the Gen Xer range (the Gen Xer range is 33-72 points). I know many of my other friends would either be on the low-end of the Millennial scale or a Gen Xer.

Honestly, I’m not surprised.  I’ve noticed that there isn’t just a difference between generations, but also within them. Sometimes, I look around at my generational peers and think “who are these people?”

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The Goldbergs & Michael J. Fox Sending Millennials Back to the Future

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg


“I hate the ’80s!”

Little millennial twerp, I thought. I was a grad student, she was a freshman. Thrown together by virtue of shared religion/culture, I balked at this barely legal ’90s babe who scoffed at my decade of choice. Ten years later, she’s the loser now.  The ’80s are back and better than ever.

’8os nostalgia, birthed in the fashion world through stretch pants (now termed “leggings”) and blousy tops, is coming of age on television this fall with the premiere of the ’80s-era flashback sitcom The Goldbergs and the return of ’80s icon Michael J. Fox to the small screen in The Michael J. Fox Show.

Rattling reality TV ennui is a task welcomed by ABC, the frontrunner in resurrecting the family-sitcom formula. The marketing campaign for The Goldbergs is as ‘roided as Hulk Hogan on Saturday morning WWF. Along with lacquering social media with a series of ’80s flashbacks and publishing endless ‘80s nostalgia lists on BuzzFeed, ABC mass-mailed every Goldberg in the country (including this one) a faux 5 1/4″ floppy with a letter from “the family.” A USB sticking out from the cardboard classic linked you to the Goldbergs’ TV room online, harkening back to a simpler, pre-cordless phone time when everyone in the family watched television and did virtually everything else …together.

Michael J. Fox’s new self-titled show on NBC brings Family Ties into the 21st century. In the “old school family comedy,” Fox is now the dad who, in this case, isn’t letting his Parkinson’s get him or his family down. While the show is not set in the nostalgic decade, Fox’s return is the crowning moment for the family sitcom, a genre nearly murdered in the ’90s by snark and the rise of friend-based sitcoms.

The Michael J. Fox Show

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The Spiritual Journey Of Billy Corgan

Thursday, September 19th, 2013 - by Chris Queen

Billy Corgan then and now

When you put together a list of the most influential and interesting bands of the ’90s, you have to put Smashing Pumpkins near the top of the list. The band and its charismatic leader, Billy Corgan, took a flair for the grandiose, a generation’s angst, and Corgan’s distinctive voice and parlayed them into a successful career, selling 25 million albums.

Smashing Pumpkin’s songs spoke to certain members of my generation in ways that no other band could. Lyrics like, “The killer in me is the killer in you,” “In spite of my rage, I’m still just a rat in a cage,” and “We don’t even care” reflected a particular spiritual emptiness in Generation X. Whether fans were drawn to that brand of nihilism (remember the Zero T-shirt?) or, like me, just enjoyed the music, there was no denying the darkness at the core of Corgan’s music.

Corgan admits that he had a definite reason for such darkness – he struggled with depression and often harbored suicidal thoughts during the band’s heyday:

“I think I had to hit rock-bottom to even be open to ask for help,” he says of his state of mind during much of the 1990s.

“There were days, months and years where I just stared out the window and felt miserable…”


Corgan’s music was always hailed for its raw honesty but overt spirituality didn’t seem to be part of his earlier life. In 1993, while their second album, “Siamese Dream,” catapulted The Pumpkins to nationwide popular success, Corgan says he felt suicidal.

Throughout that period, Corgan’s maniacally creative genius helped him suppress the unhappiness and emptiness he felt inside as the world seemed to simultaneously hand him the best and worst of everything. Band members’ drug addictions, messy personal relationships and the pressure of living up to expectations of becoming the new Nirvana locked Corgan into a deep depression while record sales soared.

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My Oddball Theory of When and How Generations Blend

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013 - by Dave Swindle


Among my preoccupations for a number of years has been the theory of generational archetypes laid out in Neil Howe and William Strauss’s 1992 book Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069, 1997′s The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy and 2000′s Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation.

The central idea underlying generational theory is the belief that across American and British history since the colonial era there have been four repeating generations, each with a kind of “peer personality” shaped by shared experiences at similar times in life that united together those born in close proximity. A 5 year old experiencing World War II is shaped differently by the experience than a 15 year old, 30 year old, or 50 year-old. Howe and Strauss name the four generations — which shift every 15-20 years — with character types from literature, Wikipedia’s summary works to explain the basics:

The two different types of eras and two formative age locations associated with them (childhood and young adulthood) produce four generational archetypes that repeat sequentially, in rhythm with the cycle of Crises and Awakenings. In Generations, Strauss and Howe refer to these four archetypes as Idealist, Reactive, Civic, and Adaptive. In The Fourth Turning (1997) they update this terminology to Prophet, Nomad, Hero, and Artist. The generations in each archetype not only share a similar age-location in history, they also share some basic attitudes towards family, risk, culture and values, and civic engagement….

Prophet generations are born near the end of a Crisis, during a time of rejuvenated community life and consensus around a new societal order. Prophets grow up as the increasingly indulged children of this post-Crisis era, come of age as self-absorbed young crusaders of an Awakening, focus on morals and principles in midlife, and emerge as elders guiding another Crisis.

Due to their location in history, such generations tend to be remembered for their coming-of-age fervor and their values-oriented elder leadership. Their main societal contributions are in the area of vision, values, and religion. Their best-known historical leaders include John WinthropWilliam BerkeleySamuel AdamsBenjamin FranklinJames PolkAbraham LincolnHerbert Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt. These people were principled moralists who waged idealistic wars and incited others to sacrifice. Few of them fought themselves in decisive wars, and they are remembered more for their inspiring words than for great actions. (Example among today’s living generations: Baby Boomers.)….

Nomad generations are born during an Awakening, a time of social ideals and spiritual agendas, when young adults are passionately attacking the established institutional order. Nomads grow up as under-protected children during this Awakening, come of age as alienated, post-Awakening adults, become pragmatic midlife leaders during a Crisis, and age into resilient post-Crisis elders.

Due to their location in history, such generations tend to be remembered for their adrift, alienated rising-adult years and their midlife years of pragmatic leadership. Their main societal contributions are in the area of liberty, survival and honor. Their best-known historical leaders include Nathaniel BaconWilliam StoughtonGeorge WashingtonJohn AdamsUlysses GrantGrover ClevelandHarry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower. These were shrewd realists who preferred individualisticpragmatic solutions to problems. (Example among today’s living generations: Generation X.

Hero generations are born after an Awakeningduring an Unraveling, a time of individual pragmatism, self-reliance, and laissez faire. Heroes grow up as increasingly protected post-Awakening children, come of age as team-oriented young optimists during a Crisis, emerge as energetic, overly-confident midlifers, and age into politically powerful elders attacked by another Awakening.

Due to their location in history, such generations tend to be remembered for their collective military triumphs in young adulthood and their political achievements as elders. Their main societal contributions are in the area of community, affluence, andtechnology. Their best-known historical leaders include Cotton MatherThomas JeffersonJames MadisonJohn F. Kennedyand Ronald Reagan. These have been vigorous and rational institution builders. In midlife, all have been aggressive advocates of economic prosperity and public optimism, and all have maintained a reputation for civic energy and competence in old age. (Examples among today’s living generations: G.I. Generation and the Millennials.)

Artist generations are born after an Unraveling, during a Crisis, a time when great dangers cut down social and political complexity in favor of public consensus, aggressive institutions, and an ethic of personal sacrifice. Artists grow up overprotected by adults preoccupied with the Crisis, come of age as the socialized and conformist young adults of a post-Crisis world, break out as process-oriented midlife leaders during an Awakening, and age into thoughtful post-Awakening elders.[44]

Due to their location in history, such generations tend to be remembered for their quiet years of rising adulthood and their midlife years of flexible, consensus-building leadership. Their main societal contributions are in the area of expertise and due process. Their best-known historical leaders include William ShirleyCadwallader ColdenJohn Quincy AdamsAndrew Jackson, andTheodore Roosevelt. These have been complex social technicians and advocates for fairness and inclusion. (Examples among today’s living generations: Silent and Homelanders.)

As these different imprinted generations age and interact they take the different experiences of their childhood — and the effects of the very different parenting styles of each era — and then set out to compensate for the excesses of the previous generations. And often this happens in conflicting ways, and not always consciously. Different religions and ideological movements, though having the same experiences, may argue about how to understand them and what to do in response. So comparable peer personalities will take on different forms and then engage in political combat and cultural warfare.

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Cut the Millennial Generation Some Slack

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013 - by Becky Graebner


I’m 24.

I’m young. I’m old. I’m almost mid-20s and six years from 30.  It seems like just last year I was legally allowed to drink, but every time I consult the calendar, I come out age 24.  I’ve been out of college for a few years, but each fall, when a new school year starts, I realize that I’m getting further and further away from my college memories.  I’m starting to feel—confused.

I’m 24–where did the time go? But I’m 24! Shouldn’t I have accomplished a myriad of amazing things by now? That’s what everyone says…  What’s with all this pressure?

And these last few questions are just it.  I find that the Millennial generation is stuck between expectations set by tradition and rigid reality.  What are we supposed to do in such a tough economy with such critics looking over our shoulders?

Tradition is the nursery rhyme, “First comes love.  Then comes marriage. Then comes a baby in the baby carriage.”  Slap a college education before “love” and “1.5 kids” after the first baby. Yep, you’re set! Not.

Reality is a sluggish economy, few jobs, loads of debt, and the possibility of relinquishing independence in order to live for free with family members.

This is the plight of the Millennials.

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What is the Cultural Profile for the Class of 2017?

Monday, September 9th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard


Every year, Beloit College produces the College Mindset List, which documents cultural indicators for the incoming freshman class. The class of 2017, born in 1995, like many previous generations, has seen stunning developments in technology in their lifetime — the use of “smart” technology is now pervasive and commonplace in their lives. Beloit says that “The use of smart phones in class may indicate they are reading the assignment they should have read last night, or they may be recording every minute of their college experience…or they may be texting the person next to them.”

They are more likely to amass student debt than their parents were and most don’t expect to graduate in four years. Most will at some point take advantage of online learning at a distant university.

Beloit also notes the political clout of their generation:

[They] realize eventually that they will soon be in power. After all, by the time they hit their thirties, four out of ten voters will be of their generation. Whatever their employers may think of them, politicians will be paying close attention.

Here are some highlights from the list:


  • As they started to crawl, so did the news across the bottom of the television screen.

  • As their parents held them as infants, they may have wondered whether it was the baby or Windows 95 that had them more excited

  • Having a chat has seldom involved talking.

  • Their TV screens keep getting smaller as their parents’ screens grow ever larger.

  • Plasma has never been just a bodily fluid.

  • With GPS, they have never needed directions to get someplace, just an address.

  • They have never really needed to go to their friend’s house so they could study together.

  • A tablet is no longer something you take in the morning.

Law and Government:

  • They have known only two presidents.

  • The U.S. has always been trying to figure out which side to back in Middle East conflicts.

  • Spray paint has never been legally sold in Chicago.

  • Courts have always been ordering computer network wiretaps.

  • The U.S. has always imposed economic sanctions against Iran.

  • Smokers in California have always been searching for their special areas, which have been harder to find each year.

  • Washington, D.C., tour buses have never been able to drive in front of the White House.


  • Eminem and LL Cool J could show up at parents’ weekend.

  • Gaga has never been baby talk.

  • Captain Janeway has always taken the USS Voyager where no woman or man has ever gone before.

  • Dean Martin, Mickey Mantle, and Jerry Garcia have always been dead.

  • Their parents have always bemoaned the passing of precocious little Calvin and sarcastic stuffy Hobbes.

  • Their favorite feature films have always been largely, if not totally, computer generated.

  • They have never attended a concert in a smoke-filled arena.

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On the Death of Frederic Pohl, Science Fiction Grandmaster

Sunday, September 8th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt


Frederic Pohl died this week.  He was the last of the authors I grew up reading.  I won’t lie and say he was my favorite, but I have one poignant memory of him.

It was 2000 and I’d just sold my first series, the Magical Shakespeare trilogy.  I wasn’t incredibly young, at thirty eight, but I was relatively young for a published author.  (As Charlie mentions in Book Plug Friday, it used to be a long slog to even break in to publishing.)

There was a large “newly published” class who had just broken in. We were ebullient; we thought we were headed to success, and we hung out in a large, noisy group, hitting all the parties together.

At one of the parties, we were all making jokes and laughing, and I looked over and realized that Frederic Pohl was sitting alone in a corner looking at picture someone had tacked up on the wall of all the greats together: Heinlein, Asimov, Pol Anderson and, yes, Frederic Pohl. I went over and he gestured to the picture and told me “they’re all gone.  All of them.”

It was moment of reminder of the cycles of science fiction: the young authors who come in, should they live long enough, will be the last ones standing from their generation.

Thirteen years later, most of my friends who broke in with me are sidelined, and can no longer get published, or gave up writing altogether.  And Frederic Pohl has gone forth hopefully to where his old friends gave him an uproarious welcome.

The Telegraph eulogized him as a man who shattered utopias:

Mr. Pohl was involved in publishing since he was a teenager, when he served as a literary agent for his science fiction-writing young friends. He went on to edit magazines and books before finding renown as a writer, often with collaborators.

Perhaps the most famous of his anti-utopian novels was “The Space Merchants,” a prescient satire that Mr. Pohl wrote in the early 1950s with Cyril M. Kornbluth. More than a decade before the surgeon general’s report on smoking and health, the authors imagined a future dominated by advertising executives who compete to hook consumers on interlocking chains of addictive products. One such chain is started by a few mouthfuls of Crunchies.

While I didn’t see eye to eye with Frederic Pohl on politics, later on at a dinner, in that 2000 World Con, he told me that Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, arguably my favorite novel was “the best novel ever written.” For which clear sighted vision he’ll always have my admiration.

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Meet The Least Likely Songwriter to Have A Top Ten Hit

Saturday, August 31st, 2013 - by Chris Queen

Fred Stobaugh

These days, most pop music consists of style over substance. Regardless of talent, today’s top stars like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Justin Bieber are largely more concerned with dance moves and video poses than songwriting chops – which makes the appearance of a delicate ballad like “Oh Sweet Lorraine” by Green Shoe Studio featuring Jacob Colgan and Fred Stobaugh in the iTunes Top Ten (#10 as of this writing) a pleasant surprise.

What’s even more astounding is the story behind the song. Stobaugh, the songwriter, is a 96-year old Illinois man who wrote “Oh Sweet Lorraine” in memory of his wife of nearly 73 years who passed away in April.

On a whim, the widower entered a songwriting contest that he saw advertised in a local paper with a love song he’d written for his bride.

Green Shoe Studio, the company running the contest, couldn’t accept his handwritten entry (the competition was digital-only), but they were so touched by his story that they decided to produce his song — and a short documentary about it — anyway. That video, which was posted in July, recently went viral, and the exposure has sent “Oh Sweet Lorraine” soaring up the charts.

What sounds like a cute little consolation prize of a story turns out to be a touching tribute to lifelong love.

“After she passed away, I was just sitting in the front room one evening by myself, and it just came right to me,” he says of his song. “I just kept humming it and singing it. That’s how I came to write it. It just fit her.”

The resulting song is simple, but that’s the beauty of it. “Oh sweet Lorraine,” the chorus begins, “I wish we could do all the good times over again.” The song continues, “Life only goes around once, but never again.”

The resulting song is one of the sweetest, most beautiful songs you’ll ever hear. The folks at Green Shoe Studio deserve kudos for taking a chance on a lovely and deeply personal lyric, and Mr. Fred Stobaugh has every right to be proud of his song. No doubt Sweet Lorraine is smiling down from heaven at the tribute.

Here’s the documentary. (Warning: you’ll need a tissue or two.)

YouTube Preview Image

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The BBC Sex Scandals and the Birth of Punk

Thursday, August 29th, 2013 - by Kathy Shaidle


The longest and most expensive trial in United States history prosecuted crimes that never occurred.

The McMartin pre-school case was The Children’s Hour come to Godzilla-like life.

That sordid story sits on my mental desk like a momento mori, cautioning me against rushing to judgement whenever the media comes down with a contagious new sex-related “epidemic,” be it real (those Catholic Church abuse scandals) or fake (like “rainbow parties.”)

Moral panics we will always have with us, and the real harm they do is incalculable, both to those accused and to society at large.

Caution is advised.

Which brings me to Operation Yewtree, a.k.a. the BBC pedophilia scandals involving the late children’s show presenter, Top of the Pops host, and conspicuous philanthropist Sir Jimmy Savile, along with who knows how many others.

Now, I don’t doubt that, particularly during the permissive 1960s and 1970s, myriad sexual hijinks transpired in and around BBC headquarters, or that underage girls and boys were frequently targeted.

And space doesn’t permit an in-depth rumination upon public school “fagging” rituals or the matter-of-factly mainstream “St. Trinians” series.

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Is Your Church Too Old — Or Too Young?

Sunday, August 25th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard


Several years ago, while we were vacationing in Florida, our family visited a church and inadvertently wandered into what can only be described as the last rites being administered to the congregation. Instead of meeting in the sanctuary of the beautiful, historic church, members assembled in the basement — because they could not afford to pay to air condition the entire building. We awkwardly sat through an uncomfortable meeting at which the church members (the majority over 50) agreed to rent out the main part of the building on Sundays to a younger group of church members who had broken off from the main church. It appeared that neither side would compromise on the worship style and church growth philosophy. There may have been other, more substantive doctrinal differences at play — we were only privy to the final vote on what had obviously been a long, drawn-out family squabble — but the sad episode gave us insight into the dangers of a church that does not encourage or appreciate generational diversity.

Not very long after that church visit, our family found it necessary to change churches. It was an agonizing decision after nearly 20 years at the same church. We had spent the early years of our marriage  immersed in the seeker-sensitive mega church culture, raising our children alongside other families in similar circumstances. Now we were suddenly  learning to become — of all things — Baptists.

Believing that church should be a full-participation sport with no bench sitters, our family immediately plunged into the full range of activities at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church — youth group for the kids, Sunday school for everyone, church Sunday mornings and evenings, and midweek prayer meeting.

Those early months of midweek prayer meetings were grueling. I had been out of the habit of spending time in corporate prayer and the discipline of praying for people I didn’t know was a challenge for my media-saturated diminished attention span. At one of the first prayer meetings, though, a prayer request jolted me out of my inattention and made me realize that we had spent the last 20 years more or less in an age-segregated bubble: “I would appreciate your prayers. I have to turn my wife every two hours to keep her from getting bed sores and things are kind of hard right now.” The man, in his 80s, was caring for his bedridden wife at home and struggled to keep up with the demands. I was touched and heartbroken. I was inspired by the man’s love and dedication to his wife and saddened by his suffering.

But I was also saddened at what we had missed in our years of age-segregated church.

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5 Uncomfortable Truths About Girls

Sunday, August 25th, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg



Sometimes what the media doesn’t want you to notice can hurt you. I grew up with Silent Generation parents who held some fairly strong Victorian values, so I heard plenty about the shameful evils of modern media before I entered college to study communications. There I learned the perspective of many critics and behind-the-scenes media makers: “The masses are asses.” While “shameful” has become a subjective quality in our postmodern era, the fact is that the folks bringing you your media think you’re downright dumb, no matter what.

They’re also motivated to do more than entertain you; today’s artists who garner attention are those that encourage you to “think” …just like them and their promoters. This, in essence, is the dark side of Girls. At 26, Lena Dunham stands the chance of becoming the next Orson Welles — a young individual with talent, ability and the right connections to make waves in the media. That is, if she weren’t so damned educated. And before you jump on the “evil liberal universities” bandwagon, be warned: the uncomfortable truth is that you, too, have been brainwashed.

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Gen X Dream Girl Phoebe Cates Turns 50

Friday, August 16th, 2013 - by Kathy Shaidle


I’m turning 50 next year, and I can’t decide if hearing that Phoebe Cates hit that miserable milestone first makes me feel better or worse.

As the girl in the red bikini in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Cates climbed out of a pool and was pause-buttoned into the brains of millions of teenaged Gen-X boys, where I’m pretty sure she remains.

Meanwhile, almost as many Gen-X gals, including me, are jealous as hell:

Phoebe Cates married the talented and adorable Kevin Kline in 1989.

She dropped out of acting, opened a cute little Madison Avenue boutique called Blue Tree, and still looks exactly the same.

What’s not to hate?

Anyhow, by sheer coincidence, Salon just posted a piece called “Generation X Gets Really Old: How Do Slackers Have a Midlife Crisis?” so I guess I have “getting really old” on the brain.

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