EIGHINGER: The sights and sounds of the generation gap

Posted: Mar. 26, 2013 8:12 pm Updated: Apr. 24, 2013 12:15 am

It's almost time to tear another sheet off the calendar, which means we're all a month older. And if you're in the age bracket that I am, each month is to be cherished. (Heck, each hour and each minute are to be cherished.)

The older I get, the more I learn to appreciate the so-called generation gap. And the surprising thing is, I have come to appreciate my side of that gap more with each passing day.

For example, when any of our kids and grandkids are over for a visit I don't know how many times I hear one or more of them say, "There's nothing on television to watch." They have more than 200 channels, plus movies and assorted other events to choose from -- in HD, no less -- and they can't find one thing that is enticing?

Raise your hand if you grew up with three channels to watch -- in black and white, no less. I never remember having a problem finding something that was entertaining. Of course, by today's more sophisticated viewing standards, I doubt if programs like "My Mother The Car" or "Get Christy Love" would hold up to "Breaking Bad" or some of those "CSI," "NCIS" and other acronym-centered series when it comes to storylines and overall content.

But for every non-sensical "Beverly Hillbillies" and "Welcome Back Kotter" my generation contributed to the fabric of society, we also provided ground-breaking shows such as "All in the Family," "Shindig" and "Hullabaloo." (Don't laugh, without "Shindig" and "Hullabaloo" there would never have been MTV, and without MTV there would never have been music videos.)

Speaking of music, that is always guaranteed to be a hot topic when it comes to the generation gap. My kids would rather have me talk about kidney stones than hear about the Rolling Stones, and I would not lose any sleep if I never again heard of Neon Trees, Jay Z or Pitbull.

To me, the main difference in the musical generational gap is the relationship my generation developed with our favorite artists. Mike, Davey, Mickey and Peter were the Monkees. Roger, Pete. John, Keith and Kenney were The Who. Robert, Jimmy, John Paul and John were Led Zeppelin.

It was as if "our" bands were part of our day-to-day lives. I have never sensed that same kind of connection with today's generation and its music. I can never remember hearing my son or daughters talk about members of the Swedish House Mafia or Imagine Dragons.

Some of the lyrical content of today's pop music is far more developed and personal than, say, the Dave Clark Five's "Glad All Over" or the Lemon Pipers' "Green Tambourine." But I wonder if 40 years from now one of my daughters will be listening to Rihanna's Greatest Hits with the same attachment my generation embraces the best of the Grass Roots or Motown? For example, how many artists and bands have stood the test of time from the 1980s or 1990s? Very few, when compared to the 1960s and 1970s.

At this time of the year, one other generational gap difference always comes to mind -- the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. When I was (much) younger, I always remember running to mail box on Thursday of the week it was due to make sure I grabbed it before my mom caught a glimpse of the cover. I used to love looking at the "pictures" -- over and over.

These days? There's no running to the mail box -- or anywhere else -- and I actually get the magazine to read the articles. Honest.

My son, however, still loves the pictures.

Just another sign, I guess, of the generation gap.

And that I'm growing old(er).




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