Make Your Own Rainbow, Puppy-Bunny. This One’s Mine.

I stopped myself dead in my tracks the other day when I suddenly realized what was happening.  That new Toyota commercial with the mountain biking Baby Boomers was what did it.  The Baby Boomers were off being typically irresponsible.  They continued to do what they’ve always done. Those crazy Baby Boomers were portraying themselves as young, in shape, and cool.  They were everything they are not.  Their Gen Y daughter was at home on the phone, and she was frustrated with them.  She seemed more grown up and much more miserable than her parents.

Skipped us again, did you?  Yes, that’s us.  Gen X.  Remember us?  We let a Baby Boomer write a book about what were supposedly like, and we let him give us a name like a new master.  Well, hear this, I am not Toby. I am 100% Kunta Kinte. I grudgingly accepted the label, and now I’m its poster boy.  We are a generation of strange people separated from each other by our own anxieties and hang ups, and now we have just about disappeared completely.

All that’s left for Gen X and for the Baby Boomers is sucking up to Gen Y.  That was what I realized.  And ZOMG, I’ve done it too! I’ve said they will be awesome bosses someday, and I’ll be glad to work for them.  I’ve said I’m proud of them, and I want them to take me with them since they are going places I cannot.  I am sucking up to Gen Y, and it doesn’t even feel like sucking up!  All the things we’ve said about them are true.  They are a good bunch. So cute.  Like puppies crossed with babies and covered in baby bunny fur. When we clean up after them outside we’ll be picking up chunks of rainbows.

I came across a Gen Y piece of writing not too long ago. The title caught my attention.  It was “Stop telling us we’re not special.” It was a little shorter than the things I like to read, and it was very on topic. I could relate to it on a certain level.  It was as if I liked playing tennis, but I was outside a posh tennis club looking over the wall at a pretty good match.  I was not in the game.  It wasn’t about my generation, and when I came to that conclusion, I got to thinking something typically optimistic like “Wow, it must suck to be Gen Y.”  That’s how they get you.  They suck you into pitying them and giving them food and shelter.

This morning I ran across a request on Twitter for advice to Gen Y folks coming up in the world of curating.  I walked out there on my angry ledge again, and I took a good look down having done some curating from time to time.  I didn’t write the first thing that popped into my head, which, by the way, was “Run away. Run away and never come back.” That’s just mean.  It’s so unfashionable to be mean to Gen Y.  It’s like kicking a dog for no damned reason at all.  You can’t do it.  The public will have your head.

My real advice is to not ask me for advice.  That’s my advice.  I’m planning to be nice to you, and I hope you are planning to be nice to me.  So far, so good.  You never thank guys like me who were the first in your entire county to get an earring or a tattoo.  Now you all walk around with metal through all your soft tissue and paintings of naked dragons on the small of your back. You never recognize how much heavy lifting we did that benefits no one but you.  I’m not really looking for a thank you.  That wasn’t why I did anything I ever did.  That was mostly just for me like most good things are.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like you. But I’m not going to fall into the trap of worshiping any generation. You have to find what’s special about you all by yourself.

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For Those About to Rock – We Salute You!

ImageThere’s been a few OpEd Pieces in the Times about defining elements of generational differences.  Last week’s Old Vs. Young by David Leonhardt. Friedman’s piece on The Rise of Popularism and today’s The Downside of Liberty by Kurt Andersen.

Each of these articles made me proud to be part of a blogging community here seeking a sense of place for (he gringes…) Gen Xers.

I do not want the moniker.  And it seems none of us do.  It’s a definining characteristic even that those in “Gen X” do not like labels, especially the Gen X one.  Still, this is kind of a way to celebrate *US*.  Not U.S.  Not U.S.A.  But “us” — the hard-working, non-profit-minded, culture moles digging trenches around historical legacies, arts integrated educational models, and meaningful collections to safeguard them from the natural tendencies of the free market fire storm.

Jefferson knew it.  We hold these truths to be self-evident.  The fact is that a free-market is not interested in “safeguarding.”  It supports selfishness, in a way, as a prime mover.  Jefferson knew that if he did not give his library to the Library of Congress it would not survive.  A free market would not protect it.

From Carnegie to Ford to Eli Broad and others know that their legacy must be protected by the non-profit model.  Even as there are explorations around whether we are overbuilt, at least as a museum industry.  In the long run, this will work itself out.  Through good work and a focus on truth and hard work by people like us.  We are not-for-profit.  We are proud.  Hard work is the truth part of this equation.

In the Thomas Friedman article referenced above, he quotes Dov Seidman as saying, “The most important part of telling the truth is that it actually binds you to people,” explains Seidman, “because when you trust people with the truth, they trust you back.”  To which he adds, “Trusting people with the truth is like giving them a solid floor.  It compels action. When you are anchored in shared truth, you start to solve problems together. It’s the beginning of coming up with a better path.”

But today, many of us…we do not work.  We rock!  Enjoy the Fourth of July and the “pursuit of happiness…” before you head back in tomorrow, and get back to the hard work we all do together!

And for the hard work you…we…ALL do, we salute you.  And if you are about to rock, well…