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