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We Know Where The Matches Are Though.


Believable generational research relies on strong academic studies, insurance statistics, and the federal census.

This triumvirate of detailed minutia creates a colorless picture of the past. Instead of men in grey flannel suits, it looks like grey men in flannel, lines of them.

Baby Boomer research is the same, but with more color. And this is the danger.

The time is coming when future generations see Easy Rider as a documentary encompassing an entire era, instead of a movie directed by Dennis Hopper.

It could be worse.

The same concern for good history drifts over to Billy Joel. His song, ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire,’ is a list of people and events shaping the Boomer era, but he doesn’t get into the 60’s until the end.

He said we didn’t light the fire. He could have said, “Don’t blame us.”

Or, “Check the backstory.”

Late 40’s – Early 50’s
Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray,
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio,

Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe.
Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, “The King and I” and “The Catcher in the Rye,”
Eisenhower, vaccine, England’s got a new queen,
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye!

The shock of the post-WWII world settled in with tough guy President Truman, the man who fired the heroic General McArthur during the Korean War.

After Harry gave ’em hell, WWII’s Supreme Allied Commander shifted gears to become Leader of the Free World, one that was getting less free by the year.

Mid 50’s – Late 50’s
Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc,
Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron,
Dien Bien Phu falls, “Rock Around the Clock”
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s got a winning team,
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland,

Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev,
Princess Grace, “Peyton Place”, trouble in the Suez.

Getting the Russians in there is key. The road from Stalin to Krushchev set the course for the Cold War, the backdrop of the Boomer years.

Late 50’s – Early 60’s
Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac,
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, “Bridge on the River Kwai”
Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball,
Starkweather homicide, children of thalidomide,
Buddy Holly, “Ben Hur”, space monkey, Mafia,
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go,
U-2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy,
Chubby Checker, “Psycho”, Belgians in the Congo.

This was what the beatniks had to deal with. Ken Kesey said he was too young to be a Beat and too old to be a hippy, but did that stop him?

Early 60’s
Hemingway, Eichmann, “Stranger in a Strange Land”
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion,
“Lawrence of Arabia”, British Beatlemania,
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson,
Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex,
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say?

That was the backstory of the Baby Boomers, born 1946-64. It’s the part everyone forgets , which ignores the social pressures adults in the above lyrics lived under.

Billy Joel might not be a history expert. but his graduate level studies will serve future students much better than Don McLean’s Bye Bye Miss American Pie, or Paul Simon’s American Tune.

The Legacy Verse
Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again,
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock,
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline,
Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan,
“Wheel of Fortune”, Sally Ride, heavy metal suicide,
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz,
Hypodermics on the shore, China’s under martial law,
Rock and roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore.

Boomers didn’t start the fire, neither did GenX, or Millennials, but all three share responsibility to manage it.

To help bring things up to date, I’ll add a boomerpdx verse.

Portlandia is on the air, a nation sees the special flair,
Eastside is where it’s at, if you have a pork pie hat,
Naked bikers in the dark, rolling by city parks,
Green is the only way, marijuana wins the day,
Park blocks, church and art, Portland State U,
Famers market, inner-city, and the famous loo,
Visitors from out of state, sunny days are always great,
Wait for the rain to come, see how fast they turn and run,
We didn’t build the city, but it’s changed so much since we’ve been here,
We didn’t build the city, now everyone thinks it’s so dear,
We didn’t build the city, neither did loads of high tech start-up cash,
We didn’t build the city, we’ll be gone and it will last,
(the fade out rap)
The riverside flip of a coin in the air, landed a name from the east where, the lobster shore and bitter snow, turned to fish and rain with an alpine glow, where volcanoes melt rock and mud floods rivers and roads, where everything blown down grows again, where every burned thing blocks the singe, where every loser starts to win.





About David Gillaspie
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