Thursday, January 29, 2009

You Shoulda Been Here 10 Years Ago

Talkin' a bout with my generation

Let's assume, for the sake of this blog, that each generation takes about 20 years to turn over and be replaced by the next generation. And you know what they say about the "next generation," right? It'll be diametrically opposed to its immediate progenitor. If your authority-figure antecedents wore crew-cuts, teetotaled and swam laps at the YMCA pool, you let your hair down, smoked pot and slid in the mud at Woodstock. If your mom wanted you at the table by sundown for a dinner of meat and two-veg, you preferred the greasy burger, fries and shake at the local diner at two-o'clock in the morning. If your parents were Republicans, you were doomed to be a Democrat. Or perhaps it's the other way around. Come to think of it, it is. Well, you get the idea. It's generation gaps like this that lead to phrases like "You've never had it so good," "Eat your peas" and "Axis of Evil."

Now think about the half-generation that precedes you. Ten years isn't all that big a difference; we have much in common with the elders of our generation. But there's a sibling-rivalry in thinly veiled detente between us and those who have that decade's extra under their belts. And don't they let us know about it. Except that rather than push us around like our parents/betters they tend towards one-upmanship. (Because we're younger and fitter and can out-box them, that's why!)

To whit: In Boston I knew a gal -- a sweet, generous soul, usually, but 10 years my senior, so she took on the aspect of my better-heeled big sister on occasion. And on such occasions she liked to paint a picture of the town in its heyday, 10 years before I got there. Everything worth doing occurred during that inaccessible window of spent time, 10 years ago. Anything worthwhile anywhere seems to have happened that magical decade ago. I might point out contemporaneous experiences to match her vintage ones, but to no avail. Her trump card? The night The Jam -- unknown in the U.S. and doomed to stay that way -- played at some now-defunct club in Kenmore Square to a tiny house of aficionados. "You shoulda been here 10 years ago, when The Jam..." Sigh. True, I shoulda, but something kept me what was it? Oh, yes: I was 13 and living in Scotland at the time.

The same thing happens here in laid-back Austin. Well, formerly laid-back Austin. Now it's more "easy-going," but not so laid-back as the city has grown into a, well, a city. If the trend continues we'll mature through the inevitable growth stages: "fun loving," "friendly," "hard working," "serious," "stressed out," "hardened," "bitter" and, ultimately, "dangerous." Sort of like Boston these days. Ha-ha! Take that! Yet I digress.

"You shoulda been here when the Armadillo World Headquarters was around," is the approximate equivalent to the now-defunct-club-in-Kenmore-Square jibe, and it galls just the same. Sure enough, the place shut down 10 years before I got to town. Anything that happened worth happening happened at that happening haunt. Huzzah! And I missed it. All of it. Ten years ago and to this damned day.

At least I was here long enough to see my fair share of gigs at Liberty Lunch. What? You've never heard of Liberty Lunch? You shoulda been here 10 years ago...

Photo by Steve Hopson

No comments: