Mind Fields: Baby Boomers And Self Hatred

Mind Fields

I’ve noticed that some (as they are called) Baby Boomers are like Jews who are anti-Semitic. My mother was a classic Jewish anti-semite. Hateful rhetoric dropped from her mouth like crap from an owl’s cloaca. “The Jews will trick you every time,” she often said. “You can’t trust them.” Another of her favorites: “Money’s what they’re about. Money money money.  Jews do one thing well, and that’s make money. It’s a shonda that Hitler didn’t succeed in wiping them out!” The word “shonda” is Yiddish for “shame” or “too bad”.

As I got into my early teens I stopped being afraid of my mother. I’d outgrown her. She couldn’t beat me up. “Mom”, I would riposte,  dodging her clumsy right hook and restraining my urge to retaliate with a knockout uppercut. “You’re a Jew, I’m a Jew, dad’s a Jew, Sandy’s a Jew. How can you say this horrible Nazi crap?”

My mom was crazy. I mean truly bat-poo crazy. Her mind ran like the railroad tracks that led to Auschwitz. There were predictable stops at the same stations at the same times. There were no deviations. Is that one definition of crazy? “An extreme rigidity of thought in which facts and nuances cannot be accommodated lest the pathological structure of said rigidity be broken like a bridge without proper support.” 

Let me get back to my original thesis, regarding Baby Boomers. I’m seventy four years old. Demographically I’m a baby boomer. In other cultures I would be a respected Elder but in Amerika I am seen by some as an irrelevant, un-hip old fart who still listens to Sixties pop music. Let me correct this misapprehension. I listened to (and still listen to ) John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and their ilk. I admit to being a huge musical snob.

I enjoyed post-1965 pop music. I bought a limited number of pop records. I bought the second Rolling Stones record. I bought five Bob Dylan records, starting with Bringing It All Back Home and ending with Blonde on Blonde. I hesitated at John Wesley Harding. I had to wait a few years for Dylan’s Multiple Personality Disorder to roll over like slot machine fruit to a configuration I recognized. I never bought a Beatles record. I wasn’t a fan. I am now, but I still don’t buy their records. Who needs to? 

It’s weird when I read articles in which Baby Boomers are generalized into a sociological cluster that resembles a haul of mackerel in a giant net. Our nation has been dominated by some nebulous force called Youth Culture since we were Youth ourselves. Now, if we don’t understand or enjoy Hip Hop we’re relegated to the Outer Limits of cultural discard.

Some of the best music I hear is television tease-music. These are theme songs, fragments or background percussion/guitar riffs. They are sound-memes, identifiers of historic hit series like Sons Of Anarchy or Breaking Bad. My ear tells me, “Hey, that’s pretty good stuff..”.  Fortunately there is a Breaking Bad CD, or several, divided by Seasons. They’re like playlists. Tasty!

The contemporary musical acts to which I am exposed are forgotten as soon I’ve heard them. I give Lady Gaga props for her science fiction wardrobe and catchy tunes. But most of the singers or bands I hear get me to wondering. Can they play at all? Have they spent fourteen hours a day practicing fundamental exercises on their chosen instruments? Can someone explain to me why the musical acts on “So You Think You Can Dance” are so abysmal? We love the dancing and choreography. Love it! I’m convinced that dance is in the midst of a golden revival, the invention of truly new languages. But when each week’s “musical guest” appears we shudder and watch in horrified dismay. Is some paradigm being revealed? Is music being sucked into a rip tide and washed out to sea?

I seriously doubt it. The distinction here is that the music that’s getting “play” is crappy. I have no refuge. If I want to listen to jazz I’m welcome, of course. But there is no more John Coltrane, no more Charles Mingus. Now we have Marsalis Gumbo, that well known New Orleans dish. It’s good stuff, it shows prowess, soul, it’s jazz. It seems, however, that musical innovation is being led by technology. One can buy a machine that makes sounds that seem to emanate from remote corners of the galaxy. It has no difficulty playing in 15/8 time. We can write and play whatever we want! Our imaginations have been unfettered. Where are the people putting these awesome tools to use? There are no musical categories any more. Jazz as a dynamic art form ran out of gas around 1970. It had played itself into a corner called “New Wave” or “New Thing” and hardly anyone could tolerate the caterwauling that emerged from the saxophones of Albert Ayler or John Tchicai. (A confession here: at the time, I loved New Wave. I was taking acid). 

I’m not ashamed of being seventy four years old. The alternative is to be dead. Anyone who has reached such an age has survived a given amount of horrible shit. I’m proud to be a survivor. I know certain things. Shit is a great teacher. 

My mother taught me by negative example not to feel contempt for my own tribe. Her railroad tracks ran out in 1980, when she committed suicide. She rolled up on the terminal station of her mental Auschwitz and it didn’t look very inviting.

I know this isn’t my best-written piece, I know it’s sloppy and barely hangs together. I’m trying to start a conversation. I’m tired of being dismissed by little kiddies half my age who are now taste-makers, trend-setters and power brokers.

I’m trying to make my mark as a writer and I passed Rejection Slip #500 a long time ago for my novel, CONFESSIONS OF AN HONEST MAN. It’s as profound and touching a story as all get-out, it will make you laugh and make you cry but it has no vampires, nor anything with long teeth, it’s just about people and the way they go about healing themselves from having crazy mothers. Seventy pages of this book take place in 1982 Afghanistan! It’s exciting as  hell!

Literary agents, editors,  publishers, taste-makers and other cultural filters and gate-keepers will some day be either seventy four years old or six feet underground. I invite them NOW, (before it’s too late) to get on my train, whose tracks are constantly being built right under the engine and we never know where we might end up.

(Today’s magic word is “Duck on a string”.  Okay, four words.)

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison.

These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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