That Seventies Show

Whatever the demographers say, to be a Boomer you had to come of age during the Sixties. If you grew up in the Seventies — like Barack Obama, like Sarah Palin, like me — you’re not a Boomer. You’re not really Gen X, either — that’s Eighties. We weren’t born with Sesame Street, we didn’t go to high school with MTV. Video games? Pong.

We don’t have a label. We’ve rarely been pandered to — Dazed and Confused, Wayne’s World, that’s about it. (Rocking out to Queen in a Pacer? That’s ours, baby.) We’re in the shadows of two mountains.

Let me tell you a few things about the Seventies. It was the decade when retro first hit the market, when America started looking back instead of forward. American Graffiti. Happy Days. Grease. Animal House. We didn’t have our own moment. We had a rerun of the Fifties.

And at the end of the decade, we embraced Ronald Reagan.

Not all of us, heavens no. But enough to make it noticeable. Some of the smart kids were tired of the Democrats, tired of Jimmy, tired of Teddy, who wasn’t yet the Lion of the Senate but the idiot brother who drowned a chick and supported what we called fascist legislation. No, he wouldn’t do.

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness. (Even our protest lines were borrowed from the Fifties.) My co-editor of the student newspaper’s annual satire supplement — who loved the Who, who as a copy editor suggested “All We Are Saying” as the perfect headline for a John Lennon candlelight vigil — would a few years later start a campus neocon tabloid.

I followed Carlin. He followed P.J. O’Rourke.

This fall, we’re taking over the country. The torch has been passed to a new generation, and this time it’s personal. It’s the Barry & Sarah Show, hosted by Jon Stewart, fortysomethings all. Joe and John will have walk-on parts, but they’re both irrelevant to the story. It’s our world now, and you kids will just have to deal with it. You’ll get your turn soon enough. If anything’s left.

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