Monday, June 05, 2006


I've been Mick Jaggered, been silver daggered
Andy Warhol, won't you please come home?
I've been mother, father, aunt, and uncled
Been Roy Halleyed and Art Garfunkeled
I just discovered somebody's tapped my phone
Simon and Garfunkel, "A Simple Desultory Philippic"

My mother was once accused of being a Communist. By her high school principal. Because she didn't like the topic she had to use for her valedictory address (what the school had done for the class of 1968) and so she shook it up a little (what the class of 1968 had done for the school). The principal was pissed. As the story is told, there was a threat of her diploma being yanked.

When I was in high school, I once said to my mother that I was really sad that I hadn't been around in the 1950s or 1960s.

"Why?" she asked.

"Because it was such a cool time! The music was awesome! I would've been a hippie, maybe, but without all the drugs." This latter part was actually true. Among other things that distinguished me from most of my peers, I had no interest whatsoever in drugs.

My mother got an odd look on her face. "It was a really scary time," she said. "We had bomb drills in elementary school. Duck and cover!"

"We had a few bomb drills in elementary school," I reminded her. "Also tornado drills. And this isn't tornado country." This was also true. Plus, my mother grew up in Indiana, and although she often talked about bomb drills, she'd never mentioned a single tornado drill. So there!

I held onto this idea that the Boomers had it best. Their generation even had a name. Me? I was born in 1980, but by my count I'm not an 80s child because I turned one before Reagan took office. I went to school with Generation X kids and Generation Y kids, but no one seemed to know whether the class of 1997 was Gen X or Gen Y. Plus, most of my school chums were born in 1979, making me a 70s child by proxy.

For a long time I was stuck on this idea that, for any particular era, popular music is an excellent indicator of quality of life. Perhaps this is a result of having come of music-market age just as New Kids on the Block burst onto the scene. (I hated the New Kids on the Block. And yet I can still sing along when they come on the radio. Go figure.) I didn't think much about things like the Cold War or McCarthyism or Vietnam.

And now I'm scared out of my pants by the way that history repeats itself.

At the moment I am greatly unnerved by warrantless wiretapping and telephone data-mining. I doubt anyone's actually tapped my phone, as the only international call I've made in the past 5 years was to Toronto, and I think Canada's probably more afraid of the US than the US is of Canada. But data-mining?

Let me tell you why this scares me.

I would estimate that about 80% of my outgoing calls go either to my wife or to my mother.

My wife's gay.

My mother's apparently a Communist.

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